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By Aubrey Leatherwood


Never in a million years would Nicole Donaldson have imagined she'd become a rapper. But when the reserved middle-manager gets caught up in a lark with her Prince-obsessed brother, she's offered a music deal by hot music producer, Baron Odom. Nicole doesn't know what to make of her entrance into a world and lifestyle she's disdained from afar. She also can't quite wrap her mind around the quickly deepening attraction she has to Baron. Can she resist the call of the stage? The call of her heart?



I introduced myself as “Nix.” No idea where that came from, but I liked it. Thinking of myself as Nix helped me come out of my shell and channel some of that wildness that had cut up with Lorenzo the night before. I did the whole song by rote, didn’t miss a cue. It was shaping up to be the most fun I’d had in any single weekend for a very long time. And I was going to have hell to pay on Monday, but I didn’t mind.

I walked off stage and started toward Lorenzo. But before I made it, I felt a big hand engulf mine, dragging me back toward the dance floor.

Baron Odom.

Big, fine ass Baron Odom. Now, I know I said I was staying away from that, but I was feeling friendly…at least that was the word my mother used when she first told me about “relations.” She said, “One day you’ll start feeling really friendly toward a fellow.”

The energy from my onstage display, the drinks, and even my obsession with mortality due to my birthday helped get me amenable. The way the man looked got me…friendly.

“Was that really your song?”

“Yeah. Me and Lorenzo were just messing around in the studio last night.”

“It’s hot,” he said.

“That’s not even cute, Baron.”

The song pulsed and I moved with it. I really love to dance. Baron apparently didn’t share my love because he wasn’t that great a dancer. Then again, he wasn’t putting much effort into it. He seemed more interested in getting us both excited while using the packed dance floor as a cover. I didn’t like for guys to have their hands all over me when dancing.

I’m lying.

I loved it, at least when Baron did it. I know that sounds bad, but I didn’t sleep around, so I was getting my jollies where I could. I especially enjoyed Baron’s hands on my tummy, on my behind, a careful “accidental” brush against my breasts, him turning me around so my back was pressed into him, the feel of his lips grazing my ear. My whole body tingled in response to his attention. As I leaned back into him, my eyes closed and I licked my lips. It wasn’t long before a fantasy took hold and I was transported to a different setting altogether. He supported my rapidly melting body with his strong one. But then I stumbled and nearly fell when I felt his erection pressing into my back. I wanted to rub against it, but luckily I came to my senses. Embarrassment made my cheeks hot. He was only doing this because of the over-the-top performance I’d put on. He was thinking I was something—someone—I wasn’t. I stepped away from him.

“I’m sorry, Nicole.”

I tried to answer but instead threw up a hand and went back up to the reserved section. He followed, but went about making a big production of trying to find my jacket. I didn’t want to look directly at him looking directly at me. His goal was obviously to remind me that he was attracted like I was attracted and that maybe I could have the very best birthday present if I gave in a little bit.

I didn’t give in. At half past three, most of my friends were gone, and Tanika and Lorenzo were ready to depart, too.

Lorenzo tried to say our good-byes to Baron, but the producer decided to walk out with us as well. As we piled into the car, he came around to the passenger side. I rolled down the window so he could talk to Lorenzo.

Eyes glued to the dash, I felt my whole right side heat up from his gaze. Relieved when we finally took off, I sank down into the seat.

“So, Nicole,” Tanika started. She leaned forward and put her hands on my shoulders. “You and Baron seemed to be close on the dance floor.”

“You’re imagining things,” I responded.

“No, I’m not.”