The first installment of the BWWM Captive Series, SEAL's Captive was nothing like what I had expected. I first published this book under the title Bringing The Heat. The only issue? There was no heat. I got everything wrong and the book was a total flop.
I could have given up, but I didn't want to. I loved the story, and I knew with some more work, I could bring you a book that you would love just as much as I did. I made big changes. I consulted with a cover designer and told her that I wanted the best look for my readers. She came up with this cover you see here. But that wasn't enough…
This is the beginning of a story that's about both love and sisterhood. Three black women are connected by a father that they barely know and his death sends the heiresses spiraling into a dark world that they'd grown up knowing nothing about. In this extraordinary world, they find men capable of loving them more than they'd ever anticipated and from the darkness that they are thrust into, they find a beacon of light…
These stories aren't "too serious" either… I made them plenty steamy with hot new locations for hanky-panky that will have you heading out to experiment with hubby TONIGHT. Don't believe me? Check out this free sample and read the available books in the trilogy. You'll have a WILD time, I promise.
Gigi barely knew her father. She knew that he was wealthy and that her mother had been knocked up at nineteen years old by a man a decade older than her.
Jerome Jackson had always been a mysterious absentee figure. To Gigi, he was daddy, the person who paid for her education, the person who sent her to horseback riding camp, he'd sent her on trips to Mallorca and Bangkok, but he'd never been there.
Gigi could count on her hands the number of times she'd seen him in person.
Gigi stood next to her two half-sisters looking down at the body of the man she barely knew. Jerome Jackson — born June 11th, 1958, died February 14th, 2017.
Dinah was the one who had found him. As she told it, he’d been sitting in his study with his hand clasped around a glass of whiskey.
Gigi stood next to the sister that she barely knew and slipped her hand into hers. Dinah was crying, but neither Gigi nor their third sister Tyra could muster up tears yet. Neither of them knew Jerome quite the way that Dinah did. Dinah was the only one who had grown up with him.
The funeral would start in forty-five minutes. Strangers would fill this room and gawk at her father’s body. Most of them would probably know Jerome better than Gigi ever had. Her father, the stranger.
Even if he had been a stranger, Jerome had ensured Gigi had the best of the best. She’d attended the best private day schools in New York and then she’d been shipped off to a New England boarding school for high school. All on her father’s dime.
In her community, Gigi’s life had caused whispers. Despite her expensive education, she had grown up in a small two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Her mother’s job as a public school teacher could never have afforded her all the luxuries she had growing up.
She’d only met and hung out with her sisters three times in the past. When Gigi was eighteen years old — Tyra, sixteen, Dinah, fifteen — Jerome persuaded Gigi’s mother to let Gigi join him for a special summer vacation. He thought it was important for all his daughters to know each other. After much pleading, Gigi remembered her mother reluctantly allowing her to go.
She remembered being eighteen and standing in line at JFK, ready to meet her father in person for only the tenth time in her life. She remembered the image she had constructed of him from his letters alone and filled in by her active imagination. She remembered picturing her sisters in her head; she imagined they would all be perfect copies of her, the best friends she’d been searching for her whole life.
Gigi cracked a smile as she recalled that vacation. It had been far from perfect. Tyra and Dinah were nothing like her and they were used to being “only children”. Jerome hadn’t been the perfect father either on that vacation. Instead of spending time with them, he’d given them each a credit card and sent them off on their own. Gigi and her two sisters had an insane month in Paris together followed by a month in London. There had been laughter, shopping… and more fighting than ever.
Those were some of the best and worst memories Gigi had of Jerome. She reached out and touched his stiff hand in the coffin. Those tears finally found their way out of her eyes. Dinah squeezed her hand tightly and rested her head on Gigi’s shoulders.
“I don’t know if I can do this today,” Tyra whispered.
“Well. We have to.”
“I know,” Tyra replied, “But I think I’ll need a drink.”
“Don’t drink too much,” Gigi warned.
“Easy for you to say,” mumbled Tyra.
“I think I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
They walked into the other room. It felt strange having the funeral out of Jerome’s house, but that was what he requested. He'd been specific too. He wanted the viewing, the repast, and funeral in the foyer downstairs and then he’d be cremated later that week. Each of his daughters would get 1/3 of his ashes and 1/3 of his assets.
He might have been more absent than not, but he’d always provided financially, even in death.
Dinah had hired an event coordinator to manage the entire affair. They approached Jerome’s bar and each ordered a drink. Tyra ordered a stiff whiskey on the rocks (Jim Beam, just like her father drank).
Dinah ordered a glass of white wine. Gigi ordered cranberry juice with a splash of vodka in it. She wanted the presence of mind throughout this entire affair. She wanted to remember — even if remembering would hurt like hell.
She felt sad that Jerome had died but not from missing him. Heck, she’d grown used to missing him her own life. What really gnawed at Gigi’s heart was all the time she didn’t get to spend with her father. She realized all the things she didn’t know about him. She knew that he’d made millions of dollars in investment banking and investing in technology. She knew that he was a renowned womanizer who hadn’t just dated their mothers but a number of celebrities.
But Gigi didn’t know how he liked his coffee. She didn’t know what her father liked to do in his downtime. All she knew was that he’d worked, provided and then died. His personality would always be a mystery to her. His death was so painfully final. She downed as much of her drink as she could manage, her racing mind causing her to rethink her abstinence from alcohol.
“What happens next Dinah?” Tyra asked.
Dinah morosely took a sip of her wine before answering. By some cruel fate, the youngest of them had been completely responsible for putting all of this together. She was the only one of them who really knew Jerome. She’d grown up in this very mansion and ultimately, she’d been the one to find her father’s body. It was like Dinah was suffering just for being the only one of Jerome’s children he’d paid any mind.
“I meet with the estate lawyer and the accountant. You guys don’t have to stay here. Once you send me your banking information and addresses, I should be able to sort it all out.”
“Jesus,” Tyra mumbled.
“It’s a lot of money,” Gigi confirmed.
Dinah smiled, “I guess it is. I’m just so used to all this, you know?”
Tyra nodded, “Lucky you. I grew up in East L.A. Daddy provided for me but mama would have never let any of this get to my head.”
Dinah furrowed her brow a bit.
“Don’t mean any offense.”
“None taken. It’s just… Sometimes I wonder how daddy could have left y’all across the country. Why me?”
Gigi shrugged, “My mama had me at nineteen. It was a long time ago. Maybe with you he just wanted things to be different.”
“I guess. But it still bothers me. Doesn’t it bother you? That we didn’t grow up together?”
Tyra and Gigi exchanged glances. Yes, it did bother them. Of course, it did. Their father was internationally renowned and incredibly wealthy but for a reason, neither of them knew, he’d only picked the youngest of them to take care of properly.
To them, Jerome was a more of an idea than a person. Dinah was the only one of her sisters who had grown up with a real father.
“I guess it bothers me,” Tyra mumbled.
“Well, we have a chance to get to know each other now,” Gigi offered.
Dinah sighed, “But how? After this… you’ll head east and Tyra’s going to head west.”
“And then you’ll be the baddest bitch left in Costa Rica,” Tyra grinned.
The three of them laughed. It was the first time that the three of them had shared a proper laugh since they’d arrived at Jerome Jackson’s tropical mansion. This was the country that Dinah had grown up in while Gigi was away at boarding school and while Tyra had attended a private day school in California.
“Well, since we only have a few minutes, why don’t we just have another drink,” Dinah said.
They were starting to realize that like it or not, they would have an emotionally exhausting day. They ordered second rounds of their drinks as time ticked towards the start of the funeral service.
“Do you remember Paris?” Gigi asked.
Dinah cracked a smile.
“Yes, I remember Paris. It was insane… The drinks, the shopping…”
“The fighting…” Tyra finished.
“What did we even fight over?”
“Everything,” Gigi smiled.
“It all seems so silly and so far away,” Tyra replied.
Dinah nodded, “Daddy barely even spent any time with us that vacation. We had no clue about anything but we ran around the streets of Paris like little African princesses.”
Gigi had never really thought of herself as African, but Dinah wasn’t wrong to refer to them as such. Their father, Jerome Jackson was an African immigrant who changed his name when he was eighteen years old to the alliterative, Americanized name Jerome Jackson.
Gigi had no clue who her father had been before he’d changed his name. Growing up in Brooklyn, she was utterly cut off from her Nigerian heritage. She never even thought about it. As far as she was concerned she was just a regular African American girl. Tyra felt the same way.
“Have you been to Nigeria?” Tyra asked Dinah, letting Gigi know that they were probably thinking the same thing.
Dinah pushed the hair from her wig out of her face and she nodded.
“Yeah. I went last year to daddy’s mansion in Maitama. It’s beautiful out there.”
“I can’t believe I’ve never gone.”
Dinah shrugged, “Maybe we should go there sometime. After the funeral.”
“If I can get time off work,” Tyra answered.
Gigi wondered if Tyra was serious.
They would each be inheriting something to the tune of $42 million dollars each. They would co-own his mansion in Costa Rica, his apartment complex in Chicago and the mansion in Maitama.
For the rest of their lives, they could sit back and relax. With a team of investors to manage their portfolios, accountants, and lawyers, they would never have to work again. Gigi always knew her father had money, but she didn't realize it was this much until he'd passed.
Once learning about the inheritance, she struggled to imagine working again and heading back to the daily grind.
She’d struggled in her adulthood since graduating from college and she didn’t feel ashamed about putting an end to that struggle, whether or not she earned the money to do it. Tyra was different.
Maybe things are easier out in California, Gigi thought to herself.
They sat back and they reminisced about Paris. They reminisced about the boy that Gigi had fallen for in France — a black twenty-year-old Parisian named Christophe. They reminisced about the time Dinah drank so much they had to sneak her into the apartment through the back entrance. They reminisced about how Tyra had almost had them kicked out of a nightclub because she tried to fight a loud-mouthed bully on Dinah’s behalf.
As they reminisced, they did everything to try to forget the fact that their father’s body was dressed up in a custom Italian designer suit only a few feet away.
They tried to forget the fact that this might be the last time they all saw each other. They tried to forget about all their anxieties about growing older, about love, happiness and the lot of it.
“Are any of you married?” Dinah asked.
Gigi and Tyra both shook their heads.
“Do you ever want to be?” Dinah asked.
Tyra shrugged and Gigi nodded.
“I do. But I’ll need to meet the right guy. Maybe I’m getting too old though.”
“Nonsense!” Tyra said, “There’s no such thing as too old.”
Dinah replied, “Well, I don’t think I want to get married. I watched daddy go through three wives in my childhood. None of them could have kids and none of them lasted very long.”
They were silent again. Even if they tried, they couldn’t help but think of Jerome. The good, the bad, the ugly — they were forced to confront all of it now in his death.
“I never knew he was ever married.”
Gigi knew about her father's other children but she didn't know enough about him to know he'd had spouses.
“After I turned eighteen,” Dinah said, “But I still lived here after college and during vacations. So I got to see a lot of it. I wonder if any of them ever really loved him.”
“Are any of them coming today?” Gigi asked.
Dinah shook her head, “They all made excuses when I called.”
They were silent again as they were forced to confront another unpleasant truth. Jerome had a string of women on his arm but his actions had also made him many enemies throughout his life.
They talked until guests started to pull into the driveway. Black cars manned by mixed race Costa Ricans with thick dark curls and walnut brown skin pulled up and then all manner of Americans and Nigerians descended upon the Jackson mansion for Jerome’s funeral.
Gigi, Tyra, and Dinah waited by the door, playing the part of perfect daughters and loving sisters. They greeted everyone who came. A man gripped Gigi's hand with tears in his eyes and told her that her father was the most loving man he'd ever known. Gigi couldn't muster up tears in response, but it moved her to know that her father had impacted someone like that.
Maybe he wasn't all bad. Maybe he just couldn't do family the traditional way, she mused.
The house was filled with upwards of 100 guests who all fit into the viewing room. The priest arrived somewhere in the middle of the pack and Dinah pulled him aside to discuss the proceedings. Gigi took in the room before making her way to the reserved seats in the front.
The room smelled like new leather and designer perfumes. Gigi had never been surrounded by so much wealth in her life. The odd venue for the funeral bothered no one. The ultra-wealthy are accustomed to eccentricity.
Gigi's mind wandered as she waited for the priest to begin. She'd never understood what Dinah’s life had been like until now. In Paris, she remembered thinking Dinah was clueless, some barely-black Oreo who couldn't possibly understand what she'd been through. Now, she empathized with Dinah, for having to be enveloped in such a cold, stiff world.
The start time of the funeral drew near. Tyra joined Gigi in the front and their eyes moved over to Dinah as they waited for her to join them. The priest stood in the front of the room waiting to officiate and Dinah stood off to the side talking to a short, gently tanned latino man.
When Dinah finished speaking to him, she joined the duo.
“Who was that?” Gigi whispered to her.
Dinah whispered, “A friend of my father’s. He helped me get everything together today before you guys arrived.”
“Oh. I see.”
Before Gigi could ask any more questions, the funeral service started. The priest began to speak about her father’s life. Gigi started to learn things that she’d never known about Jerome. She learned about his childhood in Nigeria, where he'd been the smartest of his brothers who were now all dead.
His parents had pegged him out for success and he'd attended Oxford for two years before dropping out to begin his enterprises.
Enterprise was a good word for it, Dinah thought to herself. Neither her sisters nor the guests knew as much as she did about what her father had done to make his money. Except for Luciano, of course, the bearer of her father's secrets, the guests were ignorant.
When it came time for Jerome’s eulogy, Luciano was the one who stepped up to the podium to speak. Gigi drew her eyes to him, hopeful that she could gain some final lasting insight into the man her father was.
Luciano spoke with a thick Spanish accent, but he eulogized Jerome well. He spoke about their memories together in Costa Rica and all the times that Jerome bailed him out of trouble. He spoke to the heroic image of her father that Gigi had always carried with her (whether intentionally or not).
The image Gigi had of her father persisted as a Nigerian man that loved laughter, liquor, and making love with equal vigor. He had been boisterous, untamable and loyal to a fault once he decided you were worthy.
Gigi could feel tears spilling out of her eyes involuntarily. Dinah was weeping softly and Tyra sat up stone-faced. She never allowed her grief to be on display in the room full of people. Dinah and Gigi couldn’t help it. They all gripped each other’s palms as Luciano said his final words.
“…And I want to say a final goodbye to you, amigo. I promise that I will carry you in my heart forever and I will make sure that nothing happens to your beautiful daughters. Adios.”
Luciano left the podium and Gigi watched as a single tear streamed down his face. The room was filled with people who were either weeping or looking sullenly forward. The priest continued with the rest of the service and when the collection box was passed around, people dropped $100 bills into the box as if it were nothing.
Everything about that day had felt utterly surreal, including the ease with which a room full of people parted with what would total up to a year’s worth of her rent.
Gigi made mental notes of everything going on so she could remember to tell her mother. Her mother had declined the invitation, but Gigi promised her she'd spare no details about what happened.
Towards the end of the service, they sang and a friend of Dinah’s played the piano. And just like that, the funeral service was finished. The gangly events co-ordinator led the guests to the other room for a small wake while Gigi and her sisters said their final goodbyes to Jerome.
The end drew closer. Jerome's requests would be followed and carried out by his team of assistants. Their lives would change and three regular black women who barely knew each other would become heiresses overnight. Jerome would be cremated and the ashes would be split in three and shipped priority mail to Gigi and Tyra. This was it — their last time with their father.
Gigi’s chest balled up like a fist as she stood above her father’s body for the last time.
“Goodbye,” She whispered through her tears.
Tyra handed her a handkerchief which she used to dab beneath her eyes. Dinah planted a kiss on their father’s forehead and Tyra just stood there staring at him. Gigi thought her head seemed like it was swimming with thoughts. There was a lot to think about and a lot to mourn.
When the funeral home arrived and the coffin closed for the final time, Gigi felt the fist around her heart clench even tighter. They had to go back out there and face the folks who had all come expecting to see the three of them after the funeral.
“I’m starting to think the next part is what’s going to be the hardest,” Gigi said.
Dinah sighed, “You’re right. But… We can do it. I know we can.”
“At least we’ve got each other for this next bit.”
“Let’s go then.”
They pushed open the doors into the next room and walked out into the…
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Book 3 | Hitman's Captive (available after Dec. 21st 2018): smarturl.it/HitmansCaptive
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