The Sexy Scribblers are stirring up a little magic with our latest series, Enchanted Keepsakes. Fourteen tales of romance, mystery, and of course, enchantment!
My story, Legacy, set in 1930s Detroit, centers around a charmed locket that brings two unlikely lovers together.
In 1930s Detroit, Jackson Chandler owns the most successful speakeasy in Black Bottom, one of the city’s poorest sections of town. Born into a family of wealth, he’s lived most of his life trying to distance himself from his uncle, a notorious cathouse owner. But with prohibition, a spoiled fiancée, and his family’s nefarious reputation, he’s got his own problems. When his club’s rumrunner is murdered by mobsters, things go from bad to worse. He needs a replacement, fast. With his legacy at stake, Jackson will do anything to protect his name and his club—including offering the job to someone no one would expect.
Jolene Edwards has seen her share of hard times. With a terminally ill grandmother to support, she does whatever is necessary to survive during the nation’s Great Depression. When an opportunity to become a rumrunner lands in her lap, she leaps at the chance to make enough money to lift herself out of poverty. The stakes are high. Transporting liquor illegally means danger, possible imprisonment, and dealing with Jackson Chandler, a man she can’t stand, but one she fights her attraction to from the moment they meet.
When the two realize they both have a connection to the same gold locket, they begin to see each other in a new light. One night, a near-fatal accident throws them together and forever changes their destiny.
HERE’S A SNEAK PEEK:
“I’m coming back for my locket,” Jolene vowed. “I just need this money for a short term loan. When I get my promotion next week, I’ll be able to buy it back.”
The shop owner nodded. “I can tell you have a deep attachment to it.”
Jolene had a much deeper attachment to her grandma. The old woman had raised her since Mama died twenty years ago. Now, at age twenty-four, Jolene tried to take care of Orlean the best way she could. She slid the money into the deep pockets of her coat as she thought about the medicine this would buy.
The bell jingled at the shop’s front door.
“Hello!” a man’s voice bellowed. “Anyone here?”
“Excuse me for a moment,” the woman said to Jolene.
Jolene wandered near the back of the antique store, her eyes sliding across a bookshelf loaded down with oddities. Old paper fans. Engraved metal boxes. A tall lamp in the shape of a parrot. This shop really did have something for everyone.
“I’m looking for a gift for a woman,” Jolene heard the man’s deep voice caress the air. Goosebumps pricked her forearms. What kind of man owned such a velvet voice?
“It can’t be just any gift,” a second man added. “Because the woman ain’t just any woman. It’s his soon-to-be-fiancée.”
Jolene hid behind a dress form draped in a Victorian dress. The full taffeta skirts and puffed sleeves provided the perfect hiding spot for her to view two men. They both wore fine, long cashmere coats over dark suits with polished, wingtip shoes. The tallest one was staggeringly handsome, so much so that Jolene grasped the dress form’s padded shoulder to steady her wobbly knees.
The man’s sable gaze languidly roamed the room. His broad nose dipped into full lips and a strong chin. His coal-colored, pencil-thin mustache was the only hair she could see until he removed the black fedora covering his head. His close-cropped dark hair was exactly what she’d expected. The man was as sharp as a new tack.
Both his clothing and the powerful way he stood—as though he owned the place—indicated a quiet strength ready to be unleashed at the slightest provocation. A bowtie hung loose around his starched, white collar as if waiting until the last moment to be tied. Could it be that he wasn’t comfortable getting all gussied up?
At that moment, long mahogany fingers reached up and tugged on his collar, confirming her suspicions. Something or someone had made him dress up for the occasion.
The shorter, thick-necked man was identical in appearance, and based on his resemblance, she figured the two were related. She didn’t see colored men this dapper on a regular basis—not even in Vincent’s place, and he catered to an upscale clientele.
The shop owner approached him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“I’m looking for a gift for a woman.”
“Only the best for Jackson Chandler’s woman,” the shorter man quipped.
Jolene almost knocked over the dress form.
She’d heard the Chandler name whispered in awe by wealthy and poor folks alike. Jackson was the nephew of Lincoln Chandler, the notorious proprietor of The Honey Pot, a cathouse that catered to well-to-do clients, both colored and white. Of course, the front façade was merely that—a front. Lincoln had the audacity to operate it as a real condiments store, complete with homemade jams, jellies, sauces, and honey.
But everyone knew what went on in the bowels of that den of sin. The Honey Pot was rumored to be rife with underground tunnels and an elaborate setup of rooms to house his working girls.
Jackson owned Chandler’s, a successful speakeasy, which he’d vainly named after himself. In all these years, she’d never laid eyes on any of the Chandler men. Now, she finally knew what two of them looked like. She was disgusted by her reaction to Jackson. How could she have found him remotely attractive? He was spawned by a family of flesh-peddlers!
The brothers were quite a pair. Jackson was a ruthless businessman. Monroe was a known womanizer. It was time she high-tailed it out of here before she said something to them she would end up regretting.
While the men had their backs to her, she tiptoed toward the front of the store.
She’d almost made it to the door when she stepped on a rickety board. The old wood groaned beneath her feet, crashing her hopes for a quick getaway. She cursed under her breath, as she kept walking, determined to escape. Her goal was to make it to that red door, flee into the dark streets, and be swallowed up by the black night.
But fate was not on her side. The frayed hem of her tattered coat snagged the corner of a metal desk and tugged her back. She lost her balance momentarily, flailing her arms in an attempt to stay upright. Her shoes refused to cooperate. She teetered on her heels before falling backwards. The room tilted as she went down. Her heart slammed against her ribcage. Just when she thought she would collide with the floor, a cloud of soft cashmere wrapped around her.
She didn’t know whether to be relieved or annoyed when the pair of strong arms caught her. She looked up and stared directly into the handsome face of Jackson Chandler. Her breath hitched. Up close, the man was even more striking. His black licorice eyes held hers hostage. His woodsy cologne invaded her senses. His embrace was protective and confident. His full lips looked…kissable.
A tangle of emotions whipped through her. Fear. Excitement. Desire. Confusion. The one she clung to was indignation. How dare he arouse these feelings in her? And even worse, how dare her body respond?
“Well, are you going to hold me prisoner all day?” she demanded. “Or are you going to let me go?”
Available for pre-order October 24th.