Y’all I can’t believe we’re at the end of February. Where has all the time gone?! I need a pause button!!! I also think – while things were slow (comment wise) – we had a nice mix for Black History Month, and I fully expect more people to browse later. Because that’s how this works! And along those lines … it’s Teaser Tuesday! As you see today we have D. L. White visiting with us, with her author hat on this time! And isn’t this cover gorgeous? 🙂 Not only do we have an exclusive excerpt being shared, this book isn’t available until March 24, but you can pre-order it now! 😀 Brunch at Ruby’s is D. L.’s second book! How exciting!
Ruby’s Soul Food Cafe has been the neighborhood hot spot their whole lives, so it’s only fitting that Ruby’s is where Debra, Maxine and Renee meet monthly to do what girlfriends do– eat, drink and offer unsolicited advice on life and love.
Debra Macklin has it all: a successful career, a long marriage and a happy 12 year old daughter. But she’s hiding a secret that could not only shatter her perfect image, but destroy her marriage and career. When her secret is spilled, Debra is poised to lose everything she holds dear.
Maxine Donovan is a self made woman but despite all she earns and owns, she’s on a constant quest for Mr. Right. Handsome, aloof Malcolm Brooks might just be The One, but when Malcolm’s attention turns toward her friend instead, Maxine is ready to risk a strong bond to fight for him.
Renee Gladwell left a lucrative job and a handsome boyfriend to nurse her father and Gladwell Books back to health. A temporary stay has turned into four years of struggling with Alzheimer’s and a family owned bookstore that is in no shape to sell. Renee is in limbo, caring for a man who is slowly forgetting his past—including her. When she meets Malcolm Brooks, her life brightens, but is love worth risking a friendship?
Brunch at Ruby’s is a funny, inspiring, soulful look into a lifelong friendship where bonds are bent, but never broken.
It’s a beautiful day, cool but bright and not a cloud in the sky. Beams of sunlight stream through the front windows, illuminating the dust that I’m kicking up by moving the books around. Next to the register at the front counter, an 80’s era boom box crackles, sending static and tunes to mix with the dust swirling in the air.
I bounce between rows of mahogany book-filled cases, singing along to the Sunday afternoon Old School Show on 107.9FM. My inventory sheet is soon full of hash marks and scribbles. I bump my shoulders to the beat of a familiar tune as I migrate from self-help to travel. These are my smallest sections, so I like to get them out of the way first.
“Looking really good in here.”
It’s not the sound of his voice, full of barely concealed laughter that makes me nearly leap out of my skin as I whip around to face Malcolm, the beautiful man with an affinity for books that I met last night. It’s the knowledge of how I looked as he crept into the store and came behind me. My back was to the door, the music was loud and, thinking I was alone. I was having a good time. My mind’s eye runs an instant replay of shoulder bouncing and hip shaking and so much… jiggling.
I suppress a cringe, but can’t stop the nervous, embarrassed giggle. I inhale a calming, steadying breath and push it out. It sounds like I’m in labor.
“Hi, Malcolm. I didn’t hear you come in. It’s nice to see you.”
He graces me with a wide, gorgeous smile and it’s like the sun came out all over again. “I was pretty sure I walked into a bookstore, but it seemed more like a dance club a minute ago.” His shoulders shimmy in imitation. My breath catches in my throat and my heart flops around in my chest like a fish out of water.
Malcolm is a handsome drink of café mocha. His wide shoulders and stocky build fill a dark blue, short sleeved shirt collared shirt very well. I’m sure Maxine could name its designer on sight, but I’m not educated on such things. All I know is it looks good, laying open at the neck and tucked into well-fitting blue jeans. I watch a muscle ripple down his arm as he chuckles and leans against the nearest bookcase.
Inventory day calls for crawling on the floor, climbing ladders and hauling boxes from the storeroom. I’m wearing a t-shirt and sweats, thankfully a pair that doesn’t have JUICY spelled out across the backside.
I reach across the counter to flip the power switch on the boom box to OFF. The sudden silence fills the empty store to the rafters. “Sorry about that. Did you decide what you’d like me to order for you? Or would you like to take a look around the shop?” I smile, hoping he’ll move past the recent sight of my shaking rump.
No such luck. “I was hoping to see more of your moves.”
Were it possible for me to blush deeply, my skin would resemble a tomato. My gaze drops to the worn wood of the front counter. “You know… it’s just that… it’s inventory day and I wasn’t expecting company.”
He smiles, his eyes crinkling in the corners, which somehow both excites and calms me. “This is a great little place. I’ve passed by a few times, peeked in the windows. I’m glad I decided to stop in this evening.”
“Well, I’m open for another hour. Unless I can help you find something, I need to finish the… uhm…” I gesture, waving my sheets around.
“Inventory,” he finishes, nodding. “And dance party.” He laughs.
“I’d offer you some coffee, but…” I angle my head toward a darkened corner of the store where a few tables and chairs sit empty. “The lady who runs it is off on Sundays. If you like that sort of thing, she usually has coffee, tea, juice and homemade pastries.”
“You bake, too? As well as you dance?”
“Worse, actually. That’s why I sublet the space to a nice lady that sells her product here.”
“Okay. I see.” Malcolm nods as if he’s completely interested in the inner workings of Gladwell Books. His eyes rove the stacks near him but eventually make their way back to me.
Something inside me pushes me to keep him here, not to let him get away. Damn that Maxine, rubbing off on me! “It’s great to see you exploring the neighborhood, finally. Especially on such a pretty day.”
“I bring the sunshine, I like to say.” He laughs again. It’s a nice sound, a baritone rumble from deep in his chest.
“Well, except for about five years, I’ve lived here all my life. If you have any questions about the neighborhood– or the city for that matter, or if you want someone to show you around, I’d be happy to.”
One hand slides into a pocket of his jeans while the palm of the other smoothes over a closely cut head of hair. “I appreciate the offer. I didn’t mean to interrupt your work. I should let you get back to your inventory.”
I know a gentle letdown when I hear one. I’ll see him walk by the store and he might even come in a time or two, but I know he’s way more Maxine’s speed. I’m just Renee, the nice girl next door that could do things for you because she doesn’t have anything better to do. Of course he wouldn’t want to spend time with a frumpy bookstore owner in that lives in jeans, sweats and t-shirts.
I pick up my inventory sheets and turn back toward the stacks. The warmth of his hand covering mine stops me in my tracks. “You live around here, right? Do you know a spot where we could grab a bite to eat?”
Frozen in place, my mouth forms a perfect circle of surprise. “I… well, sure. But…” I glance at myself, mindlessly brushing away dust and dirt from my t-shirt.
Those broad shoulders effortlessly lift and lower in a shrug. “We don’t have to eat at a five star joint. I just want something besides Fat Burger.”
I hesitate, for no good reason. Just say yes, I tell myself. See where it takes you.
“I’ve made you uncomfortable,” he says, misreading the long pause between his suggestion and my answer. He withdraws his hand and begins to back away. “Please forgive me. I don’t know what’s too forward down here. Sorry to bother you–”
“Malcolm.” He pauses, so still he could be a mannequin. “I know a place.”
The bright, wide smile returns to his face. “Yeah?”
“I have to finish this.” I wave a few pages around in the air. “But give me an hour, hour and a half tops. If you like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread−”
“About as much as I like breathing air.” Bless him, he seems excited. “I’ll see you in an hour, then.” With one hand on the door handle, he turns back and says, “Can’t wait.”
I watch him saunter across the sidewalk and climb into a jet black Denali. The truck rumbles to life, Malcolm pulls into traffic and disappears down the street. “Brother,” I mutter under my breath. “Neither can I.”
I have been writing for most of my life but began seriously pursuing a writing career in 2009. I began writing my debut novel, Brunch at Ruby’s in 2011. Four years later, my dream of becoming a published author is finally coming true!