Nona is a fighter, though, and she's gathering her friends around her for support against the special interests. But her cherished business partner, handsome Allen Wade, is growing distant, weighed down by a shattering secret that could destroy both their futures. Best girlfriend Leila has her own problems, suffering through the disintegration of her marriage to a New York Knicks superstar. And Nona's determined battle is pulling her deeper into a web of treachery, deceit, and scandal that stretches into the very highest circles of New York power.
But help is on the horizon, even when things are looking hopeless, coming on strong from the last place Nona Simms ever expected ... and from the last man she ever expected to love.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
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By Rita Ewing
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Rita Ewing
All right reserved.
The airplane continued its descent, and Nona leaned back in the seat, gripping the leather armrest. As the L-1011 slowed, she opened her eyes and sighed, taking in what were the still regal edges of the New York skyline. The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and even the gaping hole where the twin towers of the World Trade Center had once stood welcomed her into the city. Despite the deep pang that jolted through her as she fought back the memory of September 11, Nona found herself saluting Lady Liberty as she caught a perfect aerial view of the famous monument.
Home sweet home. Those were the first words she thought every time her returning plane's tires touched the tarmac. Today, though, she felt those words deeply. Fifteen days was the most time she had ever spent away from home while on business. She couldn't wait to lie on the smoothness of her own silk sheets and sink her head into the softness of her own feather pillows.
Her heartbeat matched the slowing of the plane's speed until it no longer raced. She spent what seemed like forever in airplanes; still she didn't like the takeoffs and landings. As the plane taxied toward the gate, Nona began returning the papers on her lap to the leather folder she'd placed on the empty seat beside her. She glanced through the appointments marked on her upcoming week's schedule, which her assistant had faxed to her. She shook her head. The 168 hours in each week were not enough to accomplish all that was expected of her. But that didn't matter -- her todo- list would have to wait. She planned to put aside as much as she could for a few days to make room for her most important priority -- her daughter.
The thought of Kelly made Nona smile. Still, her heart ached with thoughts of her eleven-year-old and how she hadn't seen her in over two weeks.
The jetliner jerked as the plane came to a complete stop and before the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign clicked off, Nona was standing with her backpack slung across her shoulder.
"Ms. Simms, here's your jacket," the flight attendant said, handing Nona her ankle-length cashmere duster.
"Thank you." She beamed her practiced smile with her picture-perfect teeth and stood at the door as the jetway moved toward the plane. She impatiently tapped the tips of her Gucci pumps, waiting for the airplane's door to open. Nona wouldn't fly unless she could have seat 1B in first class. That way, she never spent a moment longer than she had to in the confined space. When the door opened, Nona hurried through, and was greeted by Marco, who had a special pass to meet her in the terminal.
"Hey, Nona." Marco smiled as he reached for her carryon.
"It's so good to see you," she replied. "Now, show me just how good you are and get me home to my baby."
Marco laughed. He'd been her bodyguard for the last fifteen months -- ever since the mass marketing of her last video made it impossible for her to go out without being mobbed. "The car is circling," Marco said. "By the time we get to baggage claim, you'll be able to go right to it."
Nona nodded her thanks, put on her sunglasses, and lowered her head. They walked quickly, past the shops in the Delta Air Lines terminal. At five-feet-eleven, Nona strutted like a model, and her arms swayed with the elegance of a ballet dancer. With her short black hair slicked back, her chiseled facial features were even more prominent. Many had wondered why Nona Simms wasn't gracing the runway for a top European designer. But even with her looks, modeling had never entered her mind. Nona was all about business.
She had scheduled her arrival for the middle of the afternoon; still the terminal was filled with people, and in moments, Nona began to feel the stares. Then, a few minutes more and the stares turned to shouts.
"There's Nona Simms."
"Hey, Nona. I love your books. Especially the last one."
"What's up, Nona? I have every one of your workout tapes."
She kept her head down, but could still see the glare from a flashing bulb. She hoped it was one of her fans rather than the paparazzi. She'd had enough of made-up tabloid stories.
Her bodyguard kept Nona at arm's length from her admirers, but Marco couldn't stop the swell of the crowd that followed her. As they trotted down the escalator, the screaming requests continued.
"Can I get a picture, Nona?"
"I just want your autograph."
"I just want to touch her," Nona heard someone say.
"Maybe some of her looks will rub off on me."
The people around her laughed, but Nona's eyes remained lowered. She didn't want to be rude, but she couldn't stop -- not today. She'd given herself to her supporters for fifteen days. It was time to go home.
By the time they reached baggage claim, they were almost running."I'll go back for your bags."
"Let's just get you into the car, where it's safe," Marco yelled above the crowd's cheers.
Nona took a deep breath as they swept through the automatic doors into the chilled New York air. Just as they stepped outside, her black Cadillac Escalade with the license plate "BRCKHSE" veered to the curb. Marco opened the rear door for her, and the automatic running board hummed as it dropped.
"Excuse me, Ms. Simms. May I have your autograph?"
It was the gentle voice that made Nona turn. While the rest of the crowd had remained inside, two young girls had followed her. They couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen. The one who spoke was tall, almost five-seven, with her head covered in hundreds of microbraids ...
Excerpted from Brickhouse by Rita Ewing Copyright © 2005 by Rita Ewing. Excerpted by permission.
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