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Excerpt for Persuading Lola by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Persuading Lola , Copyright © 2016 by Elke Feuer

Published by Elke Feuer

Cover design by RedBird Designs

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Smashwords Edition, License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from the author at hotcaymanmama@yahoo.com. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.


For more information on the author and her works, please see http://elkefeuer.com


Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

The Love of Jazz

About the Author



Chapter 1


Chicago, 1958


“William Pullman Found Dead in the Wrong Part of Town.”

Those would be the words grazing the front page of the newspapers. His family would hate him for the bad publicity.

Humid night air blasted his face as William followed his friend Gary down another street, leading them farther away from their cars and, in his mind, their safety.

The buildings they passed were dingy along with the streets, and the streets light flickered on the sidewalk. Smells of rich food cooking assaulted his senses. The faces of the people he and Gary passed became darker the longer they walked.

William’s palms were a sweaty mess and his stomach clenched when Gary paused before a flashing neon sign: JAZZ JOYNT.

Anticipation flooded his chest with tingles every step he took down the narrow concrete staircase until they reached inside.

Smoke moved above them like shifting clouds, hovering and swirling. Flickers of neon lights colored them as the mist meandered between the crowd standing or sitting at tables and the bar.

Gary had assured him they had the best jazz in town, but from the look of the place, he wasn’t sure about the risk. Deep breaths, Will.

Gary patted his back in reassurance, appearing to read his thoughts. “We’ll be fine.” He nudged his chin toward a table near the stage.

Tension coiled his gut. He and Gary were the only white men in the club. Will sensed eyes in the room watching him, especially the men. Dangerous-looking men. Do they know who I am?

William eased into a seat at the table. His gaze darted about the club for signs he needed to stay on guard. His back relaxed into the chair when the eyes that had stalked them lost interest.

His family would pitch a fit if they knew he stopped in a place like this. It was perfect.

Gary had been rattling on for weeks about a singer Will had to see perform. Will enjoyed jazz, but only agreed to come because wanted to meet the woman who had rattled the unflappable Gary.

They ordered drinks and Will tapped his feet to the beat of the music as they waited. A wiry young man set a Scotch before him and smiled with teeth so white against his ebony skin that they didn’t seem real.

“Thanks.” Will said.

The man nodded and trotted back to the bar.

When William glanced at the stage, a woman stepped in front of the sitting band. The noise from the crowd dimmed and then went silent as she stood before the microphone. The soft glow of the spotlight narrowed until it framed her face in a circle. And what a face. It would stop traffic—colored skin and all.

Adrenaline rushed through him until every hair on his body stood to attention, leaving his skin tingling with tiny aftershocks.

The woman’s hand moved to the microphone, a silent indication for the band to start playing, one instrument at a time, each after the other, until they became a singular tune.

The notes to “I’m a Fool to Want You” echoed through the club, filling the deafening silence until she opened her mouth to sing and his world turned upside down.

Raspy, sweet, and incredibly sexy. The kind of voice that knocked you on your ass and then picked you up again—like her face.

The curves beneath her dress enticed him to touch them. Face, body, and voice—a deadly combination he wanted to explore and enjoy. Thoughts his brother and uptight new wife would crap themselves over given who they were directed toward.

William now understood Gary’s fascination.

The woman’s hand caressed the microphone and then her hips as they swayed seductively. What thoughts were churning in that pretty head while she sang, eyes closed?

Her eyes opened and locked on him, renewing the electrical charge that had dulled.

William’s thundering heartbeat drowned out all noise as their gazes remained locked. He felt light-headed and his heart hurt so bad it wanted to burst.

She looked away. Had she sensed their connection? Felt the spark? The easy way she glanced away said no.

When her set finished, she bowed graciously, thanked the crowd and band, and blew a kiss randomly into the air.

William glanced around, scanning the men for an indication it was for someone specific, but like him, they all appeared enamored. Damn! He had competition—and lots of it.

“Spectacular, isn’t she?” Gary’s voice interrupted as William watched her leave the stage. “Her name’s Lola Johnson.”

“Huh? What?” He turned to face Gary, whose gray eyes crinkled. Gary was grinning and all but laughing.

“And you didn’t want to come.”

“Stupid me.” Will drank the last of the Scotch and stood.

“Where are you going?”

“To talk to her.”

Gary laughed and straightened his lanky frame. “You won’t get past the door. No one does.” He lifted his chin toward the crowd. “Why do you think no other men are heading to her dressing room? They’ve all gone there and been shot down, myself included. We wait until she comes out and maybe get to buy her a drink.”

“You asked her out?” Gary was usually lucky with the ladies. William could hold his own, but never knew if they were interested in him or his family connections.

“Shot me down as quick as every other man in here.”

Will started to sit down, but remembered how long their gaze had held. It couldn’t have been his imagination. Right? Only one way to find out. He fisted his hands in determination and shifted his chair out of the way.

Before he took a step, a man—tall, thick, and black as night—beat him to the door Lola had exited. Will didn’t intend on waiting in line, so he sat down and waved to the server for another drink.

Lola was popular. Based on Gary’s comments, the drooling men in the crowd, and the smartly dressed burly man, he needed a different strategy.

Will inspected the door, sipped his drink, and wished he could see through walls.


Chapter 2


Lola came out onstage again. The red sequined gown she wore hugged her curves tightly, grabbing everyone’s attention.

The band started playing and like before, Will sat on the edge of his seat as she sang “Lover Man.” Every move she made enthralled him. Her voice and body seduced him, slow and painful until all he thought about was her: kissing her, running his hands over her body.

She hadn’t looked at him once, but he didn’t care.

As though sensing his thoughts, her eyes settled on him, and like the first time, her gaze lingered before she looked away. Heat seared him and a jolt shocked his heart, like his body had been dead this whole time and she jump-started it and got it beating for the first time.

Will’s heart thundered in his chest and she was still the most beautiful woman he laid eyes on. He’d expected the quick attraction to taper off, but no.

He still wanted her, and she was going to be his.

“I’ll find out what I can about her,” Gary said when she left the stage.

“Don’t.”

Gary gave him a sideways glance. “Why not?”

Will and Gary had been friends since childhood and digging into people’s backgrounds was what Gary did, but Will didn’t want to hear everything about Lola. Will wanted to discover it for himself—from her lips.

“She’ll be a tough broad to crack.” Gary sipped from his glass. “She laughs and jokes with all the fellas at the bar, but not once have I seen her leave with anyone. The bartender walks her out and then comes back in.”

Will raked a hand through his dark hair. Gary was right. The burly man who followed Lola to her dressing room had come back disappointed and angry.

The bartender was the same person who’d brought his another drink.

Will handed him a five and told him to keep the change.

“Thank you, sir.”

“What’s your name?”

“Joe.”

“Tell me something, Joe. How do you get a date with Lola?”

Joe’s smile vanished and his lanky frame stiffened. “You don’t.”

“Why not? Is she seeing someone? You, maybe?”

Joe studied him for several seconds, appearing to contemplate his response, making Will wonder if Joe would say, “Leave her alone,” or something more colorful.

“She doesn’t date men like you,” he said tentatively.

“Men like me? You mean white?”

Joe’s expression didn’t change. “No. Rich and privileged, who think they can have anything and anyone they want.”

Will laughed, although his heart beat wildly. Does Joe know who I am? Maybe it’s the five dollar tip, Will. Gary’s sarcastic voice in his head stated.

“If I thought that, Joe, I wouldn’t need your advice, now would I?”

Joe chewed over his words before answering. “She don’t date no one. Don’t take it personal. She turns everyone down, me included.”

“What have the other guys done? Gifts, flowers?”

Joe nodded.

“Looks like I got my work cut out for me then, right?”

“I’d give up now if I were you,” Joe offered.

Will chuckled. “My brother thinks I’m too stubborn. He might be right.”

Joe shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

“What does she drink?”

“Red wine.”

“Open a bottle of her favorite and have it waiting when she comes out of the dressing room.” Will put another five-dollar bill in Joe’s hand. “Don’t tell her it’s from me. Just someone who admires her talent.”

Joe snorted, but took the money.

“Keep the change.”

“It’s your money, sir.”

“Will. My name is Will.”

Joe glanced at him and then Gary. “Will it is.” He shuffled back behind the bar and took out a bottle of red wine.

Gary shook his head. “You’re in for a whole lot of disappointment.”

Will shrugged. “She’ll be worth it.”

Gary didn’t argue with him. When Will made up his mind about something, there was no changing it, no matter how bad the decision. Will’s father and brother had learned that firsthand.

“Let’s get out of here,” Will said, nudging Gary.

“What? You want to leave now?”

Will stood.

Gary shrugged. “Let’s go.”

When they passed the bar, Joe appeared as shocked as Gary to see him leaving.

Will followed Gary to his car and got inside, his mind racing with images of Lola—the sound of her voice, the way she glanced at him from the stage. He smiled and turned on the radio as Gary pulled out of the parking lot and headed to their regular bar.

The rest of the night breezed by. Will paid little attention to anything, his mind filled with thoughts of Lola.

Will waved good-night to Gary when he dropped him home. His parents were ecstatic when he built the house, thinking he was finally considering settling down. The house had nothing to do with his parents and everything to do with the connection he’d felt.

A house was the last thing on his mind. While driving around trying to clear his head after another argument with his brother, Myles, about joining his political campaign, he’d ended up on this street and the FOR SALE sign jumped out at him. A woman had approached him—a pretty young widow who helped the realtor with inquiries.

When he went inside the model home and walked around, Will sensed he had come home. More at home than his childhood house. Pullman Manor was cold, like the houses on the magazine covers with perfect families—two kids dressed for church and their parents, pillars of their community. Will snorted. What a joke. The people in his parents’ circle were more corrupt and vile than some of the criminals he prosecuted. They’d stab you in the back and walk over your rotting corpse—all with a camera-ready smile, and not a speck of blood on their designer clothing.

The thought of becoming part of that dream made him ill. Will wanted passion and fun, and a life away from the spotlight. Not the life his parents had. Neither did he want someone like Elsa, his brother’s wife.

Will thought Elsa would shake up their family. She wasn’t part of parade of women in his mother’s circle, but the moment he laid eyes on her, Will realized Elsa was like his mother—or wanted to be: perfect, poised, and the wife of a senator. She wasn’t with Myles for his money, but for the social position as his wife.

Will valued his friendship with Gary, who knew how a perfect family hid secrets and told lies.

A package sat at his front door when he climbed the steps. An apple pie was inside the neatly wrapped brown box. Sofia, the pretty widow who lived next door, left one for him once a week. She was sweet and attractive enough, but nothing was there. At least, not on his end. Sofia had invited him over on more than one occasion, but he always found an excuse not to go. He didn’t want to lead her on.

Taking the pie inside, Will set it on the kitchen counter next to an unfinished one.

Will planned to be at the club every night she performed. He’d study her, and the best way to do that, in his mind, was to watch her interact with people—discover what she liked and didn’t like before making his move. Being a lawyer had its benefits, and Will planned to use everything at his disposal to win Lola.


++++


Lola glanced at the glass of wine waiting at the bar. Joe always saved her usual spot when she finished for the night. “Who’s this one from tonight, Joe?” Hopefully not the rude burly guy. She didn’t want anything from him.

Was it from the man in the crowd? He’d left when she left the dressing room, and she thought he might be waiting for her at the bar. Lola was surprised but grateful he wasn’t there.

“Someone who admires your talent.”

Lola’s brow knotted. “That’s new.” She chuckled. It was him. She didn’t need to ask Joe, although he would say if she pressed him. The less she knew about him the better.

“He purchased the whole bottle of wine.”

“Really?” She tapped her fingers against the glass before shrugging. “I only need one glass. Why don’t you and Pearl enjoy the rest?”

“You sure?”

“Of course. What do I need with a bottle of wine? I don’t have anyone to drink it with.” I sound pathetic.

“You could find someone to drink with. There’s lots of men to choose from.” Joe gestured with a sweep of his hand over the crowd in the club, his eyes landing on a row of greasy guys with padded suits at the end of the bar.

Lola shivered before shaking her head. “No thanks. They’d chew me up and spit me out without giving me a second thought.”

“You think the guy who left this will treat you better?” Joe asked coolly, wiping a glass dry.

She snorted. “Hell no! He wants forbidden fruit, and once he got it…” She’d be taken to the nicest restaurants in town they could get into, and he’d charm her pants right off… but after? The man with the sexy smile would toss her aside like yesterday’s garbage and go back to his world. She had no interest in him or any other man.

“Be careful. He’s not like the others.” Joe’s black eyes bored into her, firm but caring.

“I know.” That scared her the most. It wasn’t the wine, or his good looks. Men like him approached her all the time. White men, colored men, married men, and rich and powerful men: they all wanted her once they heard her voice, or thought she was attainable because of her profession. The intentions behind their smiles, fancy words, and expensive gifts were obvious. Brushing them aside was easy for her, but her reaction to the man in the crowd terrified her.


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