Champagne Life

A Novel

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About The Book

Would you compromise your marriage to get out of debt? Naomi and DeShaun seem to have the perfect life, but when money runs low, they have to face the hard truth: Nothing lasts forever.

Would you compromise your marriage to get out of debt? Naomi and DeShaun seem to have the perfect life, but when money runs low, they have to face the hard truth: Nothing lasts forever.

DeShaun and Naomi think they have it all: a wonderful marriage, steady jobs, and most important, undying love for each other. It’s a great life. Who could ask for more?

Naomi, twenty-three, works for a bank and is steadily climbing toward a promotion—until her coworker, Jeremy, blows the whistle on her after she spurns his advances. DeShaun, twenty-nine, is a server for a high-end restaurant, where women hit on him all the time. His favorite customers are an older, wealthy couple who love DeShaun and his service—especially Jenn, the wife. DeShaun is tired of his job, so when his boss fires him for stealing, he’s more than happy to walk.

As money runs out, Naomi and DeShaun decide to compromise their morals, trying to stay afloat by any means necessary. Since Jenn, a wealthy wife, loves wasting money on extravagant gifts, why not have some of those gifts come their way—only until they can get on their feet? With Naomi’s urging, DeShaun agrees to provide Jenn with companionship, but things take a terrible turn when he begins to fall for Jenn. Add murder into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

In this cunning novel of moral dilemmas and romantic intrigue, author Nicole Bradshaw shows what happens when Indecent Proposal meets Unfaithful and results in murder.

Excerpt
Champagne Life Naomi and DeShaun One Year Earlier
Sunday afternoons were my time of solace. At the age of twenty-eight, before getting married, I lived in a sexy, single apartment in downtown Philadelphia. I said sexy because the place always reeked of sex; not in the overpowering, recently finished getting down and dirty way; more like in an artsy way. More specifically, I took pleasure in displaying the sensual nude paintings on my walls of black men and women alone and as a couple. Back then, I liked to walk around naked when I was at home, especially in the sweltering summer months. It was my apartment and I did as I pleased. My single Sunday afternoons consisted of sticking in a Paulinho Moska CD and doing a little baking. It was something I enjoyed. Now, at thirty-two, things were definitely different. I was married and didn’t hang out much with girlfriends because my husband had become my best friend. I had an older sister, but to say we weren’t close was an understatement.

Back then, I never invited guys over much. I preferred to keep my space just that; my space. DeShaun and I dated a year before I even brought him over to my spot. I didn’t want him becoming like the guy before him, who took all of two weeks to move out of his momma’s place and into mine—without paying rent, a power bill or even a measly cable bill. That definitely wasn’t going to happen again. DeShaun had his own spot and I had mine. My momma didn’t raise no two-time fool. You got one mess up; twice was not an option.

“Move a little closer to the cage,” DeShaun said. “That way I can get the full shot of your sexy body.”

I inched myself closer to the edge of the birdcage. It was in the middle of the summer and we were in the midst of a heat wave, the second one of the season. My peach-colored sleeveless summer dress stuck to my thighs as tiny droplets of sweat rolled down my back and settled inside the tip of my crack.

“I feel disgusting,” I complained.

DeShaun narrowed his big, doe-like gray eyes and scanned my body up and down as if he wanted to take more than the picture. He rubbed the tiny, coarse stubbles of hair on his chin and licked his thick, juicy lips. “I like sweat. That’s why I married you.”

I stared him up and down, almost in disbelief that he was my husband. I never ever thought I would get married, especially to a man that was six years younger than me. Add the fact that he was born and raised in the Bahamas and this four-year marriage was damn near mission impossible.

He reached inside his back jeans pocket and pulled out a washcloth. He wiped away the sweat from his deep mocha brown face and neck. “Here. Let me wipe you down now.”

“Ewww,” I squealed. “Get that nasty thing away from me.”

My married Sunday afternoons consisted of DeShaun and me visiting the bird sanctuary, a hobby I hadn’t acquired until three years into our marriage. The admission was free from eleven until closing and we usually carried our own snacks. In the late afternoon, we’d sneak off to our cherry tree in the sanctuary quad and enjoy whatever goodies I had baked early Sunday morning. Today it was apple turnovers that Mom had taught me how to bake from scratch, and a bottle of wine that Mr. Stiles, DeShaun’s boss, had given him. His boss was always giving him bottles of wine. I figured it was because he recognized that DeShaun was such a hard worker and Mr. Stiles needed him much more than DeShaun needed that crap waiter’s job.

His smile was wide and mischievous. “A little closer.”

I squeezed in next to the cockatiel as much as I could, with the scorching steel bars pressed against my left shoulder. The bird squawked and I jumped, but I pressed up against the bars once again. “Hurry and take the pic.” My dress, matted down with beads of perspiration, pressed up against my leg. Damn, it was hot. The lingering scent of the birds was far from pleasant.

“Now smile.” DeShaun lifted his head and took in whiff of the air. “Damn, girl, is that you or these nasty birds?”

“Very funny. Shut up and take the picture. It’s hot as hell out here.”

He raised the camera and focused. I pulled my sun hat over my spiky, cropped cut and gave my silliest, toothiest grin. “How does this look?”

Click.

I lunged at him. “Oh, no you didn’t! Delete it now!”

He held the camera above his head. “That’s what you get for trying to be cute.”

“Oh, so I have to try now?”

“Yeah, well, you know how it is when you’re an old lady,” DeShaun said. “You have to work at it.”

“Is that so? And I’m only thirty-two, thank you.”

“And a beautiful, sexy thirty-two you are.” DeShaun’s smile faded and he got those tiny wrinkles between his brows, the way he did whenever he was deep in a thought. “Do you know how much I love you? If I paid you five hundred bucks, would you let me take you right here?”

“First of all, you ain’t got five hundred bucks,” I said. “And second, if I did take the money for that, wouldn’t that make me a prostitute?”

“Well, then let me hit it for free.”

“If I was a prostitute that would make me stupid.”

He laughed. “Bring your sexy body over here.”

I inched up alongside him and delicately ran my fingertips up and down the panther tattoo on his sweaty bicep. Today we both were in a playful mood. “I dare you.” I leaned over and gently licked away the drips of sweat from around his tat. “I have on a sundress and guess what?”

“What?”

“I don’t have any panties on.”

DeShaun’s smile widened. “Seriously?” He moved in closer. “You freak. Why don’t you have on any drawers?”

The real reason was that I hadn’t done the laundry before we had left, and the only undergarments clean were my monthly big drawers. Plus, I wanted to wear my cute sundress since I had recently lost five pounds and big ol’ drawers were not cute under a sexy sundress.

Instead of speaking the truth about the laundry situation, I winked and told him, in my best Marilyn Monroe knock-off voice, “I wanted to be sexy for you.”

“Keep playin’, girl. You know if you start it, I’ll finish.”

I knew that, which was exactly why I was tempting him. I reached up, pulled down the right side strap to my sundress, and let it rest against my shoulder. “Well?”

My excitement traveled south. He could do that even before laying one finger on my body. It took a truly gifted man to be able to do that to a woman. DeShaun was a man who was endowed with many gifts.

He grabbed for my wrist. I moved back. He glanced over his shoulder. When the coast was clear, he reached for my waist again, this time securing his arms around me so I couldn’t get away. He steered me toward a shaded corner of the sanctuary. I felt my back against the jagged edge of a limestone rock. “Do you think—”

“Shhhhhh.” He placed his opened mouth over mine and kissed me…hard.

An older couple had wandered into our sanctuary section, so he pressed his body up against mine to back me further into the corner. A tiny drop of sweat trickled down his forehead and dripped onto my shoulder. We stayed mushed up against each other, listening, until the voices faded around the bend.

DeShaun took a step back. He was watching me. He liked to see how incredibly crazy he made me. He wanted to witness me on my knees—literally—begging for it. He unbuckled his belt and his khakis dropped around his ankles. I dropped to my knees. He grabbed the back of my head and pulled me toward him. After all these years, you’d think I’d be used to his size, but DeShaun required effort every single time.

When I finished, I stood up and he kissed me, his lips starting at my forehead, working down my cheek and finally finding a home on my lips. His sweaty cheek rubbed against mine as he reached down for the hem of my dress. He pulled it up around my waist and felt around, trying to find out if I told the truth about not wearing any undergarments. When he realized I hadn’t lied, he quickly stepped out of his pants and kicked them to the side, where they landed in a bush. This was ridiculous. We were like oversexed teenagers doing it in the bushes while the parents were inside watching television.

But, I couldn’t stop.

While he was pulling his shirt over his head, I fumbled around with the buttons on my dress. Unable to wait, he ripped open my dress, popping two or three buttons in the process. Seconds later, he was inside me. He placed his mouth over mine to keep me quiet. The more he pushed, the more I wanted to scream. We did this for ten minutes, until he finished. Quickly, he retrieved his pants while I hurriedly fastened the remaining buttons on my dress.

“Are we crazy, DeShaun? Why are we acting like dogs in heat? We’re grown adults, not seventeen-year-old kids, getting it in before Momma comes home.”

“You like it that way.” He fastened his belt buckle. “You’re a freak.”

“If I am, I learned it from you.”

“Let’s go home and finish this conversation—in bed.” He tugged at my elbow, but I pulled back.

I shook my head. “Oh, no, you don’t. Sunday is my bird sanctuary day. Besides, they recently opened up a new Avocet exhibit.”

He shrugged and threw his hands up in the air. “Don’t know what the hell that is, but if that’s what you want to do, we’ll do it.”

We lasted a total of seven minutes in the Avocet exhibit. I spent the entire time holding my dress closed where he had popped the buttons. We visited three other exhibits and between each, I found myself swatting away DeShaun’s hand from my backside as I tried to read about each bird. DeShaun hated birds almost as much as I hated sitting around the house, watching football. He hated the way the birds smelled, especially on a day like today. He hated the squawking sounds they made. He didn’t much care for the birds at all; however, he trudged along with me on Sundays because I loved them.

That was one reason I adored him.

“Did you know the macaw typically mates for life and can have a long lifespan together with his partner in the wild for more than half a century?” I asked, swatting away his roaming hands.

He kissed my neck. “Like us.” This time, his kiss was tender and sweet. His tongue licked away a bead of sweat dripping down my face.

Right then and there, I decided it was time to go home. We drove seventy miles an hour to get home, and when we did, we spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.



I searched the entire upper shelf for the bottle but could not find it. In the cabinet, I pushed aside the canned spaghetti sauce, the box of instant mushroom noodles and even the canister of dehydrated gravy, which I had only used once for a Thanksgiving dinner two years ago. I still couldn’t locate the four-ounce bottle of real vanilla. I didn’t splurge on much. My purses could come from Walmart and my sandals from Payless, but my baking supplies and my lip glosses—they had to be top-notch.

I opened up the next cabinet and began frantically searching. I reached behind the package of brown rice and found the box of mac and cheese I had searched for last week and a single dusty pack of beef-flavored ramen noodles. Those noodles had to have been stashed back there from last year or so.

Since buying this house, DeShaun and I hadn’t changed a thing in our three-bedroom, two-story contemporary home outside of Philly. We made a few updates here and there, like stainless steel appliances since I loved to bake, and minor updates to the three bathrooms, but other than that, I considered our cozy place perfect. DeShaun wanted to add another bedroom for all the kids he wanted, but thank goodness I was able to hold him off that—the kids and the bedroom.

I pulled open the cabinet above the sink.

Aha! There it was, hiding behind the box of instant mashed potatoes. I poured a teaspoonful of vanilla into the wet mixture and stirred.

You could not pay me a million dollars to enjoy cooking, but baking, that was a different story.

When I was a kid, Mom introduced me to baking by way of homemade apple pie made with granny smith apples. She taught me how to treat and slice the apples so that they were thin enough to properly cook, but thick enough to hold on to the gooey sweetness of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. One holiday—I wasn’t sure if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas—we woke up early, before the sun rose, and spent the morning peeling and slicing apples. It was a moment when I remembered being truly happy. By the time the sun was high in the sky, the entire house smelled like the sweet sensation of Momma’s homemade apple pie. My mouth watered from merely thinking about it.

“What smells good in here, Mimi?” DeShaun entered the kitchen, wearing only a beige terrycloth towel wrapped around his midsection.

We had spent the entire Sunday afternoon, making love. While he slept, I was full of energy, so I hopped out of bed and started baking chocolate chunk cookies, one of DeShaun’s favorites.

“It’s a surprise.” I sifted through the bottom kitchen cabinets in search of the electric mixer.

He dug his index finger into the open bag of flour and flung it at me. I ducked and the flyaway flour missed. He then dipped his finger into my batter. “I put it on you that good that you had to jump out of bed and bake me cookies? Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.” He raised his finger to his mouth and sucked off the chocolaty goodness. “Mmmm, this is almost as good as your sexy chocolate.” He smacked my backside. He took four fingers and dunked them into the mixture once again, this time producing a big chunk of batter and shoveling it into his mouth.

“Hey, I need that, you know.”

“It tastes different.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” Greedily, he licked off the remaining batter on his fingers. “Am I tasting a hint of peanut butter?”

“Yup. I’m trying something a little different. What do you think?”

“You should sell these things. They are damn delicious.”

“Aw, thanks.” With mitted hands, I went to the oven and pulled out my first batch. I reached over to the counter and stuck in the awaiting second, and last, batch.

He sidled up next to me. “How long is that going to take?” He grabbed my waist and then planted a small peck on my forehead, then my cheek.

“Why?”

He looked down, grinned and then tugged at the hem of my lace boy short panties. “I’m ready for round two.”

“Hmmmm, really? Didn’t we have round two about an hour ago? I think we’re up to three.”

“Whatever, I just know I’m ready.” He whipped off the towel wrapped around his waist and let it fall to the tiled floor. Standing in his nakedness in the middle of the kitchen, I saw his member slowly rise to attention and salute me. “Hurry up and finish those cookies,” he said, turning and heading back into the bedroom. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

I turned off the oven, pulled out the last batch of underdone cookies and placed them onto the countertop. I scooped up several fully baked cookies from the last batch. I licked away the warm, melted chocolate chips from my fingertips as I headed back into the bedroom

Tonight we were having dessert in bed.
About The Author

Nicole Bradshaw has written a historical novel for young readers titled Unsinkable, which details a fictitious day-by-day account of the only black family on the Titanic. She is also the author of Caviar Dreams and A Bond Broken. Bradshaw currently resides in Freeport, Bahamas, with her husband and three children. 

Product Details
  • Publisher: Strebor Books (January 2014)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781593094850

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