Authors: Allison Hobbs
All I can say is fasten your seatbelt because you are about to go on a breathtaking ride. Allison Hobbs is an author whose time has come. It is time for her to garner the attention that she deserves with this, her third novel. If you have not read
, you have been sleeping on one of the best novelists on the scene. It amazes me when so many authors or their publishers put them out there to be “hotter than Zane” or “in the tradition of Zane” and they write nothing like me, nor do they understand my market. I can honestly say that if there is any author in existence today who writes similar to me, but yet has her own controversial and erotic style, it would be Allison Hobbs.
I met Allison at the Baltimore Book Festival several years ago. She had self-published
and I approached her and asked her a ton of questions; all of which she answered with much enthusiasm and excitement. I purchased her book and was convinced it was going to be awesome before I cracked it open. Why? Because Allison was an author writing for all the right reasons. She was bubbling with creativity and believed in her product; much like myself from the onset of my writing career. I was right because the book was off the chain. I did not believe she could top
because it was so realistic, so sexy, and so engaging that I was ready to go hang out in a brothel. I was wrong because
was equally amazing. Now with
Dangerously in Love
Allison has yet again outdone herself. That is the mark of a great writer; one who is committed to growing with each offering.
I want to thank you in advance for reading this book. I guarantee you will love it. I guarantee you will love all of Allison’s novels. If you have enjoyed my books, then you will go crazy over hers. The characters are conversation pieces all by themselves. The amazing storyline is the icing on the cake. This is an ideal book club selection because it can be discussed for hours among members. Some books are good for fifteen minutes of discussion and then it is time to eat and mingle. With Allison’s books, you could talk and debate into the wee hours of the night. She keeps it real and serious readers cannot help but appreciate her dedication to her craft.
I want to thank those of you who have been gracious enough to support the dozens of authors I publish under Strebor Books International, a division of ATRIA/Simon and Schuster. While writing serves as a catalyst for me to release my personal creativity, publishing allows me the opportunity to share the talent of so many others. If you are interested in being an independent sales representative for Strebor Books International, please send a blank email to [email protected]
Peace and Blessings,
Strebor Books International
P.O. Box 6505
Largo, MD 20792
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2005 by Allison Hobbs
Originally published in trade paperback in 2006.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. For information address Strebor Books, P.O. Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792.
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I Thank You For Sharing Your Male Energy
For It Has Empowered Me
I want to first thank the publisher of Strebor Books,
New York Times
Bestselling Author Zane, who has opened doors that were closed to me and continues to graciously share “her” spotlight with me.
Next, I want to thank my best friend, Karen Dempsey Hammond. Actually, calling you my best friend doesn’t adequately describe the relationship. You are my
in every sense of the word. I don’t know how I would make it through this adventure called life without you by my side. Thank you for holding my hand through the entire process of writing this book as well as
. Honestly, there isn’t enough room on this page for me to adequately thank you for all you’ve done for me and mine.
Shari Reason: You’ve traveled up and down I-95 to book signings with me for the past two years and I deeply appreciate your loyalty, love, and support. Most important, I love you for loving my son. Hugs and kisses to my new family: Marquan Reason and Raekwaan Reason and my two little angels: Kha’ri Johnson and Kareem Johnson.
Kameron Hobbs and Keenan Hobbs. I probably don’t say it enough, so here it is in print…I love you both from the bottom of my heart.
Kyndal Hobbs & Carl “Korky” Johnson: I love you, love you, love you.
To my Sister authors: Darrien Lee and Tina Brooks McKinney. You two are more than just fellow authors…I truly consider you both friends.
Rick and Charmaine Parker, Destiny Wood, Carlita Marsh, Dante Feenix, Shelley Halima, Harold L. Turley II, Keith Lee Johnson, Daaimah S. Poole, Nane Quartay, Rasheda Lewis, Reds and Wandan at the Delmar, Chanelle and Kendrick Sealy, Salima Jones, Frank Black, Kia Meyers, and Aletha Dempsey, I thank you all. Your sincere kindness has been a blessing in my life.
Bestselling Author Mary Monroe: We may be kindred spirits but I’ll always be your biggest fan!
Nakea S. Murray of As The Page Turns Book Club in Philadelphia: Nakea and the book club members graciously invited me to their book club meeting in the park back when I was still a self-published author. I was scared to death to read a passage from
, but their warmth and encouragement made it a wonderful experience. I’m so proud that these intelligent and passionate readers are still holding it down in Philly.
Sunni K. Harley of The Princess Book Club: Thanks for the wonderful gifts and your support.
Special thanks to the best web designers on the planet: Cory and Heather Buford.
Thank you, Keith Saunders of Marion Designs for the banging book covers.
Finally…Dear Readers: Thank you for your support. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to come out to my book signings and I thank you for the emails you’ve sent letting me know how much you’ve enjoyed my work. I’m humbled by your words of praise and encouragement.
ayna Reynolds stared at the test stick, took a deep breath, and waited for it to turn pink. Nothing happened. It was negative…again. Stabbed by the familiar pang of disappointment, she closed the lid of the cushy toilet seat and sank down onto it. Inconsolably sad, she dropped her head in her hands. Then, overtaken by a sudden hot anger, she hurled the test stick along with the empty home pregnancy kit into the wastebasket. Another fifteen dollars wasted. The hell with home pregnancy kits; she would not give the E.P.T. manufacturers another red cent.
She’d stopped taking the Pill a month after her marriage…and now, three years later, she still wasn’t pregnant.
No longer able to skirt the issue, she had to face the fact that she and Reed had a problem. She wrinkled her brow in thought. Surely,
wasn’t the cause; she was as fertile as they come. Two abortions during her college years attested to that fact.
Reed, on the other hand, had no children and had never been accused of fathering a child. He took pride in having been responsible when he was young, wild, and single, using condoms even when his partner swore up and down that she was taking the Pill. Most of his friends had been making child support payments since their early twenties. Teasingly, Reed often said that at the rate his buddies were still impregnating women, they’d be making child support payments well into their retirement years.
That line used to make her laugh, but today she found no humor in the fact that Reed’s friends were procreating like jackrabbits. At thirty-four years old, her biological clock was ticking loud and fast. If she didn’t conceive soon, she’d be at risk for all types of complications during pregnancy and while in labor. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she’d read somewhere that a first-time pregnancy for women over the age of thirty-five was considered a
Reed didn’t seem the least bit concerned that they were childless.
Gloomily, she gazed around her beautiful mauve and gray bathroom. From the glitzy multi-colored shower curtains, plush bath mat, and thick towels and washcloths, to the soap trays and toothbrush rack—everything was expensive and perfectly matched. Great care was given to every room in her spacious Mount Airy home, yet her lovely home provided little joy.
She wanted, no,
a baby. The pain and yearning was constant and felt quite physical.
Something had to be done and it had to be done soon.
First, Reed had to get tested. He needed to take a sperm count test or something. But how could she bring up such a sensitive subject without bruising his ego? It was bad enough that she had a master’s degree in special education and had been teaching for over ten years in the Philadelphia school district, earning a salary that more than doubled the money Reed made as an office manager at a telemarketing company.
He just wasn’t ambitious enough.
After dating only six months, Dayna and Reed got married. Reed Reynolds, a product of the ’hood, was bilingual. He was articulate when necessary, but also fluent in hip street jargon and had convinced Dayna as well as her newly divorced parents that he had a plan to overcome his humble beginnings. That plan included obtaining an undergraduate degree from Penn’s Wharton School. That prestigious degree would open many doors in corporate America, he’d said optimistically.
Dayna’s father, Joshua Hinton, Esquire, typically overly cautious, was so easily won over by the charming future Wharton grad that he’d eagerly forked over twenty-five thousand dollars as a wedding gift to be used as a down payment on Dayna and Reed’s Tudor-style home.
It was guilt money. Her father had left her mother after twenty-nine years of marriage. His new bride, or
as Dayna’s mother called her, seemed none too pleased about the wedding gift. Tough! Who cared what that home wrecker thought?
Though Dayna was a grown woman, the wound of her father’s abandonment had yet to heal and it didn’t help that she was being further traumatized because her father and mother were having what could only be called an adulterous affair. Her father had somehow managed to turn his former wife into his mistress. It was a shameful disgrace and it hurt to the core to see her mother reduced to
Sucking her teeth in disgust, Dayna directed her ponderings to her own marital problems. Unbeknownst to her parents, Reed had dropped out of school, deciding that higher education was a waste of a black man’s time. He said he could accomplish more by becoming a member of the PBP, the Professional Brothers of Philadelphia, and networking with the members whom he referred to as his brothers. Dayna dreaded having to break that news to her parents and decided not to share this information with them unless they asked her outright.
Now he was rarely at home; he seemed more like a guest than an actual resident of the household. Reed spent long hours after work involved in PBP business. He often went away for weekends to secretive locations with his professional brothers. Wives were never welcome.
Aside from the innate desire to bear a child, Dayna also believed a baby could save her floundering marriage. No doubt, Reed would balk at being dragged to her gynecologist for testing, but perhaps he’d agree to see a male fertility specialist.
Buoyed by the idea of cajoling her husband into seeking help from a qualified physician, Dayna sprang up and trotted down the stairs to her fully equipped, ultra-modern kitchen. Preparing her husband’s favorite meal might soften him up just enough so she could initiate the discussion of seeing a doctor.
And if it turned out that Reed had a low sperm, count or worse, if it turned out he was sterile, they’d at least know what they were dealing with and could make an informed decision on what to do. Artificial insemination, adoption, or perhaps there was some new miracle treatment for sterility? They’d never know if they didn’t confront the problem.
“You really put your foot in this potato salad,” Reed said cheerfully as he forked up another heap that instantly disappeared into his mouth. Dayna accepted the compliment with a proud smile, though she’d merely added a little Dijon mustard and a couple teaspoons of relish to the ready-made container she’d purchased from the Farmer’s Market in Chestnut Hill. The chicken he’d already devoured, however, was breaded and fried by her own hands.
“Try the green beans,” she encouraged sweetly. The fresh green beans seasoned with minced garlic and basil was also her own creation.
“Don’t worry; I’ll get to those in a minute. Hey, how come you’re not eating?” he asked when he realized Dayna was sipping tea and had not prepared a plate for herself.
“No appetite.” She shrugged. “I guess I did too much taste-testing while I was cooking.”
In three short years, she’d ballooned from a size eight to size fourteen and she realized if she didn’t cut back, she’d be an absolute blimp during and after the anticipated pregnancy.
Reed nodded in understanding and continued wolfing down the potato salad.
She briefly gazed at him with pure adoration. He was so good looking, with his bright brown eyes, wavy hair, and gorgeous kissable lips. Reed was definitely considered a pretty boy! Together, they’d make a beautiful child.
Wondering if it was the right time to bring up the subject that weighed heavily on her mind, Dayna took another sip of tea, watching Reed like a hawk as she tried to gauge his mood.
Taking a chance, she cleared her throat. “How was work?” she asked, easing into the sensitive discussion.
“Same ol’ shit.” He looked up. “That’s why I’m glad I joined the PBP. Those brothers are really about something.
“Yeah,” he went on, “one of my brothers is hosting a meeting tonight at the Hilton Hotel on City Avenue. He’s conducting a seminar for a new business venture that I’d love to get involved with while it’s still on the ground floor. I’m gonna go check it out tonight.”
“Tonight!” Dayna blurted. “I thought we’d spend a quiet evening together. You’re hardly ever at home, Reed.”
Reed pushed his unfinished plate away, shoved his chair away from the table, and stood up. “You’re always complaining about my job…I don’t make enough money…there’s no potential for growth. I want to go to the meeting to get some information on a career where I might be able to make a decent income and call my own shots. Why are you trying to stop me?”
“That’s not true, Reed. I don’t complain about your job or any of your extracurricular activities. You know I’m one hundred percent supportive of—”
“Cut the crap. You’re always bragging about your education and your salary.” His face twisted with what appeared to be hatred. “I know your parents think you’re slumming with me…”
Dayna stood up and calmly maneuvered around the oblong table and stood next to her husband. Determined to salvage the evening and keep her husband at home, she smoothed the hairs on his forearm comfortingly, and spoke softly. “My mother welcomed you with open arms and my dad certainly wouldn’t have given us that down payment for this big house,” Dayna waved her free hand extravagantly, “if he had any doubt about your earning potential.”
Reed jerked his arm away. “Yeah, that’s right. Your daddy gave us the down payment for the house. You know something? Accepting that money was a big mistake because every chance you get, you throw it up in my face.” Reed flung the cloth napkin he’d been clutching onto the dining room table. He stomped into the living room, and grabbed his briefcase. “I’m out! Don’t wait up for me!”
The slam of the front door, followed by the sound of Reed’s car screeching out of the driveway, dashed all hopes of a civilized conversation that would lead to a visit to a qualified fertility specialist.
Dayna sagged into the chair Reed had just vacated. Feeling disoriented, she tried to sort out her thoughts and figure out what had just happened. What had she said to set him off like that? Absolutely nothing, she concluded. The numerous PBP meetings and even the alleged meeting at the Hilton was probably just a façade, convenient excuses to get out of the house.
He hated being around her; she was too fat. Oh God, why had she allowed herself to gain so much weight? Pondering the question, Dayna gobbled down the leftover potato salad on Reed’s plate as well as the untouched green beans that were slathered with butter. Pushing away from the dining room table, she got up and ambled to the kitchen, where she stuck her hand inside a plastic container lined with napkins and helped herself to two fried chicken wings, a breast, and a thigh.
Filled to the gills, she felt worse than ever, but couldn’t stop eating. With spoon in hand, she sought comfort inside a container of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Then, shaking her head in bewilderment, she trudged up the elaborate winding staircase to relax and mentally prepare for another work day.