In this sizzling story of family drama, money, and seduction, one woman’s desire for a luxurious lifestyle leads her to prey on a vulnerable man—until his father’s suspicions threaten to undo everything.Aniyah Sanchez is a wild, sexy, and seductive woman—and has just been released from prison for crimes of fraud, kidnapping, and embezzlement.
Without parents to turn to, she’s surprised when her aunt Tessa comes to her rescue and sets her up in an apartment until she can find work. But Aniyah is determined to move out and start a new life her own way—by finding a wealthy man who can provide the extravagant lifestyle she longs for.
That man turns out to be Jarvis Powell, Jr., who finds Aniyah very attractive and gives her a job at one of the banks owned by his father. There’s just one problem: Jarvis’s father is suspicious of Aniyah and will do everything in his power to protect the family legacy…especially from a woman he suspects is trying to ensnare his son to get to the family fortune.
Now, with Jarvis, Sr. watching her like a hawk, Aniyah is more determined than ever to win over his son. Will the bond of a father and son undo her plan, or will she finally get her chance at a new beginning?
As she stepped out of her cell, a male prison guard whispered in her ear, “Fruitcake, I’ll see you when you get back.”
Sniffing the fish odor that escaped from his breath, Aniyah turned up her nose. Didn’t he know after lunch to eat a peppermint?
“Goodbye, Slut,” an inmate yelled from another cell to her.
“You better get your last feel, Officer Mann,” another inmate added.
The inmates laughed throughout the ward, including the guard who sported a broken front tooth. He cupped Aniyah’s left breast with his right hand. Then he took the club he held in his other hand and placed it between her legs.
“I don’t think so!” Aniyah snapped her head, brushing him away. “Your time has expired.”
During her prison term, she had fulfilled the guard’s sexual needs in exchange for protection from conflicts that she had endured with other female inmates.
Aniyah, almost jogging, hurried ahead until she came to a point where she met up with another guard and other inmates that were being released. Once the official documents were finalized, the guard let Aniyah out of the last door that gave her back her freedom. A chill ran through her body, but it quickly disappeared once the doors were slammed shut behind her. Turning around, she took one last look at the place of residence she had called home. The fourth inmate in line wearing loafers donated by church volunteers, her feet made contact with the concrete ground.
Aniyah adjusted her eyes to the sunlight that blinded her. She pulled down on her red spandex dress that had risen up to her hips. It was the same dress she had worn before she became a part of the prison system. Her once slender hips stretched the dress to its limits, but Aniyah strutted as if the garment was brand-new. She faulted her excessive weight gain from her no longer being able to shake her hips in the nightclubs. In prison, she mostly sat on her rear in her cell or in ongoing therapy sessions.
Under her armpit, she carried a plastic bag of her belongings and a pair of pumps. Her hands free, she twisted her flowing black hair up in a bun. Other released inmates stopped to say farewell to each other, but Aniyah kept walking, too afraid that she might be called back by one of the guards. Two female inmates ran past her, once they saw familiar faces of loved ones waiting to take them home. Aniyah was not looking for any family to come to her rescue. She would not know her father from any other black man on the streets. He was her mother’s one-night stand with no name. Julia, her mother, had died two months ago in Mexico, during the time dyed eggs were given to inmates for holiday treats. Aniyah remembered the day the warden delivered the news to her. Guilt troubled her, since she had run away from home at the age of sixteen, leaving her mother behind to suffer a broken heart. The only family she had left was her mother’s sister, Tessa Sanchez-Chavis. And she was not counting on her self-righteous aunt to come to her rescue. Where am I going? I have no idea. As the heat beamed down on her forehead, sweat dripped down her neck. The spandex dress felt like rubber against her body.
“Rosie Aniyah Sanchez.” She heard the name echoing in her ears.
Her eyes lit up, when she recognized the familiar voice. She locked eyes with her aunt. The solemn look on her face turned into a bright smile. “Aunt Tessa.”
She studied her aunt, noticing how much she had aged. Streaks of gray highlighted Tessa’s jet-black hair. Aniyah, elated, ran into her aunt’s arms. “I can’t believe you’re here.”
“You’re family,” her aunt said humbly in her Spanish accent and giving her niece a kiss on the cheek.
Together, they strolled to a parked black Mercedes-Benz.
Admiring her aunt’s ride, before prison life and without hesitation, if a man were driving the Benz, Aniyah would have easily flagged down the ride. She would have unraveled her bun to let her hair fall past her shoulders, propped one hand on a hip and batted her dark brown eyes. Then she would have worked her charm on the man behind the wheel, giving him her middle name instead of using her first name, Rosie. Played him for a sucker. After all the counseling, her former lifestyle of being an escort and manipulating people, especially men, was supposed to be her past, but only time would tell. Tessa unlocked the car door, hopped in and quickly Aniyah jumped in and took a seat on the butter-colored leather seats. A free ride from her aunt would do.
“How did you know I was getting out?”
Tessa reached over and gave her niece another loving hug. Then she became emotional. “I’ve been keeping up with you. And although I can’t forget what you did to the Houstons or me, you’re still family. I have made peace with it.”
“How about your lawyer-hubby, Baron?”
“He’s Mr. Chavis to you from now on. And, he’ll never forgive you for what you did to the Houston family, nor him,” Tessa admitted with a hint of bitterness.
“It’s not like it was his money.” Reaching down between the seats, Aniyah picked up a bag of boiled peanuts. She cracked open the peanuts, tossing a few in her mouth. While chewing, she continued to speak. “The Houstons are garbage people. Mr. Houston was a male whore. How can you defend him?”
“Don’t speak of the dead in a bad way,” Tessa argued. She recalled working as a young woman in the home of Rupert Houston, owner of Houston Commercial Construction Company. He was a man who loved to have his way with his beautiful female workers.
Aniyah sucked her teeth. “Mr. Houston can rot in hell. And so can his spoiled-ass daughters.” She slouched back in the seat. In past years, Aniyah had crossed paths with her aunt’s prior boss, Rupert. Her greed for money led her to become his mistress. He had promised her a false dream on Lake Murray, South Carolina, to later do away with her. Aniyah vowed to get revenge on him. To keep her quiet, Rupert included her in his will. Aniyah took a few more peanuts, folded the bag, and placed it back where she got it. “I still say you were more loyal to his spoiled-ass daughters than you were to me.”
Staring at her aunt as she drove, Aniyah wanted to grab and shake her. Rupert’s unexpected death had left her a happy and wealthy young woman, instead of his three daughters, until Tessa discovered her wrongdoings. Instead of living the life of royalty, Aniyah had landed in prison. Tessa sensed Aniyah was still bitter. “I believe in doing what’s right. You had no right to do wrong.”
“I didn’t want to be a maid like you and mama. I could have sent plenty of money to Mama.” Aniyah lowered her voice. “Now she’s dead.”
Tessa was surprised. “I asked the warden to not tell you about Julia.”
“You should have come and told me yourself.”
“I didn’t want you to be hurt. You couldn’t go to Mexico to your mama’s funeral.”
“Did you go?” Aniyah asked sadly.
“I went to visit her in her sickbed a month before she went to her heavenly home. She wanted so much for you to come to her bedside. I simply couldn’t tell her that I found you. You were in jail for doing bad things. It would have destroyed her. I stayed by her side to the end.”
Tears flowed down Aniyah’s face. “I’m glad you didn’t tell her.”
Tessa softly patted her niece on the hand. “Your mama loved you with all her heart.”
“I know…I miss her.” Aniyah wiped away her tears.
“Let’s go shopping. You don’t need to dress like you’re a loose girl.” Tessa had witnessed her niece’s dress code. The dress had risen up on Aniyah. It resembled a tunic shirt.
“I’ll go shopping. But I’m not throwing away this dress.”
“It’s too little.”
Aniyah saw her aunt glancing at her. She tugged at her dress, trying to cover her exposed thighs. “So I gained a few pounds. No big deal.”
“After shopping, you’ll trash it.”
“This hot dress stays with me.”
Tessa concluded that it was going to be a long day for her. The sooner she took her niece shopping and got her settled, the sooner she would be rid of her. She sighed. “Aniyah, you have always been difficult.”
“I think for myself. No one tells me what to do.”
After shopping, Tessa drove Aniyah to a two-story apartment complex in nearby downtown Columbia.
Aniyah looked out at the buildings as Tessa parked. Startled, she said, “This is where you and Baron live now. What happened to his house?”
“We still have our home. This is where you’re going to rest.”
Aniyah’s voice escalated. “Are you for real? Here?”
“I’m sorry, but there’s no way Baron will let me bring you into our home.”
“I’m your niece. He can now trust me.”
“I’m afraid not.”
Aniyah marveled. She heard the nervousness in her aunt’s voice. She was flattered that her aunt thought of her as a threat. In the past, she had seduced her aunt’s husband, prior to their marriage, in order to manipulate him to get to his client’s fortune.
They got out of the vehicle, carrying shopping bags by the handles. Aniyah followed her aunt to the front door. Unlocking it, they entered the one-bedroom apartment.
She proceeded to the middle of the living room, while Tessa, clenching her handbag, stayed put near the door.
Aniyah felt her aunt’s eyes piercing on her, well-informed that she was uncomfortable being alone with her, but her attention was focused on her living arrangements. Next to a small wooden table, she tossed the bags that she held on a futon. Then she headed to see where she would sleep; leaving her aunt on edge to figure out if she would show any signs of psychotic symptoms.
Inside the bedroom, Aniyah spotted a four-drawer chest and twin-sized bed that was the bottom half of a bunk bed. Secondhanded crap.
“I hope you like it.” Tessa dropped the other bags on the linoleum floor.
Aniyah mumbled under her breath, “No bigger than a jail cell.”
Returning back into the living room, Aniyah decided not to complain. She was convinced without her aunt rescuing her, she might be sitting on a bench like a homeless person.
Aniyah grinned. “It’s good.”
“There’s food in the refrigerator. I’ve stocked it with a few things, sodas and sandwich meats. In the cabinets, there’re cans of corn, black beans and a five-pound bag of rice.”
“Any steaks, lobster tails or shrimp?”
Tessa laughed. “There’re frozen foods, and chicken for you to cook. Tonight you can heat a frozen chicken TV dinner.”
Aniyah went directly into the kitchen adjacent to the living room. She looked in the freezer to see that few products loaded the freezer, including one ice tray. She slammed the door shut. Then she opened the refrigerator section. Removing a can of orange soda, she snapped it opened and took a swallow, quenching her thirst.
Tessa entered. As she watched her niece’s every move, she noticed the spandex dress Aniyah wore had risen up her thighs. “I say you should change into something more appropriate.”
Aniyah tussled with the dress. “Stop looking at my clothes. It’ll fit fine once I lose a few pounds. I’ll get sexy-looking again.” Shaking her hips, Aniyah looked around the kitchen, noticing something was missing. “Hold up…no microwave?”
“You can use the stove to heat a TV dinner.”
“Whatever.” Aniyah rolled her eyes.
“Change your style of dressing. Start off fresh by getting yourself decent work. And, find a good man that you can start a family with,” Tessa lectured with an air of sophistication.
Aniyah stared at her aunt as though she were a hated prison guard. She had not thought about a job. She twirled around. Cheerfully, she said, “I can use a money man.”
“It’s nothing like making your own money.”
Aniyah walked past her aunt, stepping back into the living room. Tessa followed behind her while Aniyah searched for any sign of communication technology.
“No telephone in here?”
Tessa shook her index finger at her. “When you get work, you can buy one.”
“If you want me to get a job, at least get me a cell phone.”
“For now, no phone. I’ll be coming by to check on you.”
Aniyah slouched down on the futon. She shoved her fist into the cushion, feeling the steel frame underneath. “I hate being broke.”
“In due time, you’ll find work. Make your own money.”
“I have no skills. No one will hire me.”
“There has to be something you like to do or you can go to college.”
“Aunt Tessa, getting out of jail is not the same as getting out of high school. I didn’t just graduate. No college for me.”
“You know how to clean.”
Aniyah jumped to her feet. Her mind went to the days she was forced to clean the toilet in her jail cells. Enraged, she yelled, “Hell to the no. I’ll die before I scrub another toilet.”
“It’s an honest living.”
“Never!” Aniyah snapped as she sat back down. “I’ll find something else to do.”
“Start looking for some kind of work.”
Aniyah banged her fist on the table. “I need money now.”
Tessa eased her way near the door. Digging in her purse, she pulled out a few bills. “This should be enough to get you by.”
Aniyah hurried over to her, snatching the money out of her aunt’s hand. Before she shoved the bills down in her bra, she counted up to a hundred.
“The rent on this apartment is paid in full for three months. By then you should’ve found work.”
“Give me a break. That’s not enough time.”
“You must have work by then. Baron won’t allow me to give you any more money after that.”
“He rules you.”
“Nonsense. We agreed on that decision.”
“Tell him what you want…you’re his wife, Mrs. Tessa Sanchez-Chavis. Stop being too easy.”
“I’m loyal to my husband. He’s a good man. I won’t let you ruin my marriage. Three months it is.” Tessa peered at her through hooded eyes.
Aniyah heard the authority in her aunt’s voice and said no more. She was not about to let three months turn into get-out-right-now.
“In the drawer, there’s a nightgown for you to rest in.” Tessa jingled her car keys as she made her way to the door. “I must go. I must prepare dinner for my husband.”
“I need to eat, too.”
“Heat your dinner. I pray you’ll turn your life around. My sister would want that for you. I’ll see you in a few days. And for God’s sake, don’t go anywhere near Milandra, Noelle or Kenley Houston. Baron and I have agreed not to disturb them about your release. They’re in a good place in their lives.”
Aniyah chuckled. “The fake sisters are history to me. I’m going to be in a much better place then, them uppity snobs.”
“I have faith that you’ll do fine, once you find work.” Tessa noticed she still had the apartment key in her hand. “You’ll need this.” She tossed the key to Aniyah. “Don’t lose it.”
Following her aunt outside, Aniyah watched as she got into her vehicle. “Weak bitch,” she hollered, once Tessa drove away.
Back into the apartment, Aniyah slammed the door behind her. She stood in the middle of the living room, sniffing the stale odor. She screamed, “I’m still in jail. The one time my Aunt Tessa could do right by me and she put me in a hell hole.”
Aniyah went into the bedroom. She bounced on the bed. “Dead mattress,” she fussed. “Aunt Tessa is going home to her fancy bed. I’ve got to sleep on a board for a mattress. Once again she shouted, “Weak bitch. Get a job, no way. My job will only be to find me a man with money. You and anyone else that gets in my way, will pay for treating me like I’m beneath you.”
( Continued… )
© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Christine Young-Robinson. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.