Nola Brentwood is back and this time she’s ready to break down any and all men for the crimes of the heart they’ve committed on their women.
She was hired to do a job, to expose Bernard Williamson’s infidelities so that his wife would have some peace. But what happens on the shores of beautiful Antigua will set in motion events that will forever change lives.
Exposing Bernard’s affair was meant to be a simple act, but when one affair turns into two and her job becomes personal, things get twisted and feelings get hurt.
Nola doesn’t want a relationship, she doesn’t want anything permanent, but somebody has other ideas. Her life as she’s known it, as she’s tried so hard to make it, is about to take a drastic turn. Can Nola handle her own exposure? And will she wise up before it’s too late?
Read an Excerpt
Now let’s find the no-good, cheating asshole, Nola Brentwood thought to herself as she stepped off the elevator into the posh reception area of Censor Creative Media.
Decorated in a rich burgundy hue and plush gray carpets, from the crown molding on the walls and to the brass handles on the glass doors, Censor’s home office spoke volumes to their success. By way of research for this assignment Nola now knew that Censor had been family owned and run for the last twenty-five years, but had only reached the top of the advertising game in the last ten. This office, however, was fairly new, occupying space in downtown Baltimore’s newest skyscraper.
This was Nola’s fifth assignment in the ten months since her private investigation office had opened. Breakdown, as she’d so aptly named her company, was designed for the woman not only looking to catch her man cheating, but for the woman who was determined to get even.
After her six-month stay in jail for assault, Nola still hadn’t gotten over the sting of betrayal at the hands of her cousin, Jenna and her trifling-ass boyfriend, Mark. No, correct that, she had gotten over that. What she hadn’t and probably would never get over is the gall of some men to do the low-down, disgusting things they do to women. Moreover, she was determined to never let them get away with it again.
Almost two years ago Nola had met Mark Riley, or the man she knew as Mark Riley. He was a law clerk in the firm where she was a partner. As a result of her two closest friends and cousins, Serena and Cally, coming up with the idiotic plan that they would all take dates to their hometown of St. Michaels, Maryland where their cousin, Jenna was getting married, Nola had broken one of her hard and steadfast rules. Never before had she even considered dating a man she worked with, and a man that was in a position beneath her at that. Still, desperate times had called for desperate measures. To keep their mothers from harping on the fact that they didn’t have men of their own, Cally, Serena and Nola had quickly found weekend dates.
For Nola, Mark had turned out to be a weekend mistake. After a week in his bed and to everyone’s shock and dismay Mark Riley turned out to be Mark Drew Riley, Jenna’s ex-boyfriend. That fact had been revealed while they all partied with Jenna and her fiancé during the rehearsal dinner, proving to Nola once again that men were no damned good.
Unfortunately, Jenna, in Nola’s opinion, was just as stupid and conniving as Mark or Drew or whoever, because she took him back, leaving her rich and influential husband-to-be-looking like a fool. But Nola was gullable and she wasn’t above getting revenge. Shooting Mark had been all about revenge. Fortunately for Nola, her lack of a prior record and the excellent high-priced lawyer she’d retained got her off with three years jail time, all but six months suspended.
So Breakdown was funded and opened with her own idea and her own money. Sure, Cally and Serena had helped her, once they’d gotten past the revenge-for-hire theme to the business, of course. Cally and Serena had found happiness with the men of their choices. Serena had married James, her high school sweetheart, while Cally and Steven were still happily living together. And Nola certainly did not begrudge them their good fortune. She just didn’t believe in fairy tales. She lived in the real world, the one where her bastard of a father had left her mother with an infant and never looked back.
Nola’s thought behind the company was to catch cheating men, husbands and/or boyfriends and break them down completely. Attack their careers, their personal connections any and everything until they saw the error of their ways and begged for mercy or gave their women significant monetary settlements that would make up for the hurt and misery they’d put them through, whichever came first.
It was lucrative to say the least. So far Nola had helped wives of politicians, girlfriends of professional sports players and housewives of CEOs. Her bank account was heftier now than it had been when she’d been fired from her job at the law firm for shooting fool-ass Mark in the balls.
This was her calling.
“May I help you ma’am?”
Nola’s attention snapped to the woman sitting behind the marble desk. She was pretty enough with her perfectly tanned skin and amber eyes. Her hair was cut in a stylish bob a few inches longer than Nola’s own, short crop. Her lips were full, covered in a peach gloss…Nola caught herself mid thought. Ever since Serena had shared her threesome experience with Cally and Nola, Nola had been seeing women in a different light.
It was probably natural since she practically hated all men, that Nola finally tried her own hand at a female/female encounter. She remembered Kandy and her dark smooth skin. The way she’d rubbed her naked body all along Nola’s butter toned one. That night had been a wonderful experience, one Nola was sure she’d indulge in again. But not right now and not with this smiling receptionist.
Today was strictly about business.
“I apologize,” she began with her own smooth smile. “I’m here for the Panzene meeting. I think I might be a few minutes late.”
The girl nodded her head, then stood coming around the desk. “Yes, they started about fifteen minutes ago. I’ll show you which conference room they’re in.”
“Thank you,” Nola smiled and fell into step behind the woman, enjoying the view as she walked.
The Panzene meeting was the advertising group and the key players at the Panzene Corporation, an exotic cosmetics company. Lisette Williamson, Nola’s client, had given her the complete rundown of the Panzene and the large account that CCM had fought long and hard to obtain. Now that CCM and its top group of advertising executives had pulled off the coupe of the century by snagging this exclusive deal with Panzene, they had no choice but to wow them. Shooting their first round of commercials at the Horizon, Antigua’s beautiful hedonistic resort, was an impressive step in that direction.
Nola was allowed into the meeting through Lisette’s connections to both boards of directors at Panzene and at CCM, her sole purpose, to find out which woman in the company Bernard Williamson, Lisette’s husband, was sleeping with. Nola didn’t know specifically how Lisette was connected to the board of directors for both company’s and didn’t really care to. If it didn’t directly involve her assignment she simply brushed it aside.
The pretty receptionist opened the door for her and Nola offered her a smile before entering the room full of—at a quick glance four men and two women.
“Good morning,” she said. “Sorry I’m late. I’m…”
“You’re Kinglsey Mason from Panzene’s Toronto office.”
Answering to the name she’d taken for the purpose of this assignment, Nola’s gaze shifted quickly to the tall dark-skinned man who had stood and now walked towards her with his hand extended.
“Yes, I am,” she replied, not the least bit impressed by his height or his well-fitting suit. Men were so cocky, always thinking that all they had to do was stand up in front of woman to impress her. Because this was business, Nola shook his hand and assumed the identity she and her client had worked out.
This would put Nola right in the middle of this campaign, in range of Bernard Williamson and the woman she suspected him of sleeping with. Lisette didn’t have a name for the woman, only that they were working on this project closely. So with only two other females in the room Nola didn’t anticipate having a difficult time figuring this out. Lisette was certain that the woman her husband was sleeping with was working on this
Panzene account with him, thus the field had been narrowed for Nola before she’d even arrived.
“I’m Leonard Black, senior account exec for Censor. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Why was it a pleasure? Nola thought. Because I’m wearing this low-cut camisole and tight fitting suit most likely. Look at him, he was already eyeing her like she was the main course at a barbeque. “The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Black. Now where do I sit so we can continue?”
Mr. Black wearing cologne that Nola recognized as Burberry’s Touch and ready smile led her to a seat that was, surprise, right next to his own. When she was seated he took the liberty of making introductions. “From the top, this is Corbin Censor, our CEO; Jerome Pettiway, junior account exec.”
Nola was amazed at how he’d stressed “junior” meaning the other man was below him. She hid her laughter at this fool only because she needed to focus on putting names with faces.
“This is Casey McKnight,” Leonard continued. “She’s an account exec and Meosha Cannon, assistant copywriter. Bernard Williamson is the Vice President and Management Supervisor here at CCM.”
He kept talking and while Nola’s gaze went to each person introduced to her, her mind had paused at Bernard Williamson.
He was what one would call a fine ass brother. His skin was buttery smooth just a shade darker than her own.
His close cropped hair was cut precisely, his face clean shaven, with thick eyebrows and bedroom dark brown eyes. Even through the outline of his suit Nola could tell he was buff. The gold cufflinks and wristwatch said he took his appearance seriously. The way his gaze had roamed over her for a second more than was professional said he was just as his wife had predicted—a lying, cheating bastard of the lowest form.
“Shall we continue?” she asked, knowing she really didn’t care what they did at this meeting. Her sole purpose here was to observe.
Was it the too cute Casey McKnight, with her long curly black hair and perky smile? Or was it Meosha Cannon, the mocha toned beauty with sensually slanted eyes giving her an Asian flare?
Bernard was sleeping with one of these women and she was going to find out which one, then make his ass pay!