The Men All Paused. That’s what happened when Raven stepped into the Rambling Hills County Club ballroom. Omar looked at her and wondered how a woman could send the message that she could and would lay any man she wanted, while looking like the very definition of class.
Keith, who hadn’t had sex since Thanksgiving, felt himself stiffen. Raven wasn’t the type of woman he would take home to his mother—but still!
Senator Michael Joseph gagged and almost spilled his drink down the front of his wife’s dress.
She was a vision. The top of Raven’s strapless evening dress was liquid gold lame. The dress hugged and lifted her lush breasts and was long-waisted enough to show that her stomach was tight and flat. The dress was backless, all the way down to where her spine gave way to her beautiful round rear. It was almost indecent. Just far enough above Raven’s pelvis so as not to make her curvaceous hips appear wide, her dress became kerchiefs of soft, ivory chiffon. When Raven walked, smooth silkiness caressed her thighs, making an almost inaudible whoosh. Yes, the men all paused, and they thought about caressing Raven with their hands, their lips, their tongues—the way her silken scarves did.
Raven glided into the room and dispensed glowing bits of her aura casually, greeting this person, returning that man’s eye contact.
Her cool attitude masked her mission. She had to find that son-of-a-bitch Michael and let him know, school him on the real Raven Holloway.
For him to pull some crap like this, she’d obviously waited too long. How dare he set her aside for his whiney wife? Michael didn’t know who he was messing with.
“Girl yourself. You’re looking good.”
“You’re responsible for that,” Callie admitted. She was relieved at Raven’s warmness. Since their tiff over Senator Joseph, Raven had been distant and it hurt. Callie spotted the Senator and his wife as soon as she entered the ballroom. She silently resolved never to tell Raven I told you so. Callie glanced up at Omar who was by her side, as he’d been all night. “Omar can’t get over this dress. I’ve gotten compliments all night,” she told Raven.
“It’s not the dress Callie. You have the look of a satisfied woman.” Raven turned to Omar. She had to admit he did look yummy. “Why is Callie looking so good?” she asked pointedly. “Have you been surgically enhanced?” Omar was still on Raven’s payback list. She zapped him whenever she felt like it.
“Not me,” Omar said as he sucked his teeth and fixed his gaze just above Raven’s head. “I see that Joseph’s wife has him tonight. Bet he picks up another three inches at just the thought of not having to deal with you.”
“Omar!” said Callie.
“Haa!” Raven’s laughter was loud and carefree. It made Omar feel that she’d won their verbal skirmish, even though he’d taken the last shot. “Callie, you sound surprised. You’d better learn what you’re dealing with.” Raven tossed Omar one last, dismissive look, heaved her gorgeous breasts high and said, “Now to find my Senator, extra three inches and all.”
Raven was glad that Omar tried to piss her off. She needed a razor-sharp edge, draped in chiffon, for her confrontation with Michael. She eagle-eyed the ballroom. No Senator and Mrs. Joseph. Raven’s heart pounded. Had she missed them? It would be just like Michael, the slug, to duck out early to avoid a confrontation. Just as her blood lust started to ebb, Raven’s eyes swept past the ballroom doors. There the lovely couple stood, in the lobby. Fine Michael and his plain-Jane wife, greeting Mr. and Mrs. John Reese.
Raven swept through the doors of the ballroom. She smiled at the couples and glanced briefly, but directly, into Grace Joseph’s eyes while brushing almost imperceptibly against Michael. Did that girl deliberately bump into my husband? Raven saw the question in Grace’s eyes and knew that Grace didn’t know the answer, and that she cared. A lot.
Raven positioned herself near the men’s room and waited, never looking at the foursome. Moments later Joseph strode into the men’s room and as he passed her said, in his most senatorial voice, “Back off, Raven!”
Rambling Hills Country Club is lavish, opulent. Even the men’s room has a sitting area. Raven sat down and watched as the men slowly became aware of her presence and, one by one, scurried out.
Michael alone didn’t move. His face played between revulsion and fascination. One never knew what to expect of Raven. After the last man zipped it up and moved on, Raven locked the door behind him. She wasn’t surprised that the door locked from the inside. In elite settings men sometimes need to be alone.
Michael’s disgust turned to wariness and an unfamiliar unease, yet his fascination held tight. Michael’s shirt collar suddenly felt two sizes too small, even the sweat forming there didn’t give him wiggle room. Maybe she knows karate or something; maybe she can kick my ass, Michael wildly thought. He’d never seen Raven fail at anything she attempted, and right now she was like a lioness closing in on her prey. His irrational panic left as quickly as it seized him. Raven is just a woman—my woman, at that. Now was as good a time as any for her to be taught her place.
“Now, Raven…” Michael began, his index finger stabbing the air. He shut up when Raven reached down and gathered the chiffon scarves of her dress to her waist. Beneath it she wore lacy stockings that gripped her thighs. That was all. Michael’s shirt started choking him again.
Still holding her scarves Raven walked slowly to Michael and kissed him full on the lips, pressing to him as she did so. Abruptly she stepped away and moved towards the marble basin countertop.
“Take your pants off,” Raven commanded. Michael did as he was told. Then somehow—he didn’t know how—couldn’t reconstruct the scene afterwards to save his life,
Raven perched above one of the basins and he was inside her. When she felt him shiver, Raven introduced Michael to her index and middle fingers, and she wasn’t too gentle about it either. Michael arched his back and would’ve screamed, if Raven’s other hand hadn’t been clamped on his throat like a vise. As much sex as he’d had, Michael got a glimpse, at that moment, of what really turned him on.
Raven pushed him away and gracefully hopped from the countertop.
“Raven,” Michael pleaded, reaching for her. “Raven, please—I’ve never—please, just once more. I need more. C’mon baby.”
Raven ignored Michael until she finished washing her hands and tidying herself. Then she turned to him.
“I need some things, too. First, I need that summer internship.”
“But I’ve already hired….”
“That’s your problem, not mine. Fix it. Two, I need, or rather I don’t need, to see you in public with that bitch ever again.”
“Wait a minute, Raven,” Michael began. “You’re overstepping….”
But she was gone.
Grace Joseph offered up one more glazed smile before again craning her neck toward the ballroom entrance. “I wonder what’s keeping Michael,” she said to John Reese and his wife. Grace pivoted and took one step toward the entrance. “Maybe I’ll….”
“No. I’ll go see” said Reese, stopping her. That damned Michael! Reese didn’t know where Michael was, but he had an idea who hewas with. Better for Grace not to see.
Michael was too far gone to think of what Grace or anyone else might see. Just as Reese opened the ballroom doors, Raven swept past him. Michael was so close behind her that, had the scarves of Raven’s dress been longer, Michael would’ve tripped them both. Michael’s arms, his whole body, pleaded for Raven to stop, turn around.
Reese gripped Michael’s upper arm and yanked him back. Reese, his words masked by a smile whispered, “Remember where you are.”
Reese didn’t know if Grace saw Michael; he was afraid to look in her direction, but plenty of other guests noticed the senator.
Michael snapped far enough out of his trance to still his feet, but he kept his eyes on Raven until she disappeared into the throng.
“Let’s go be with our wives,” Reese ordered.
“Well,” Michael said, as they approached the women, “anyone care to dance?”
Grace smiled, but her eyes were dead. She took her husband’s arm, and they headed to the dance floor. Grace was ill at ease for the rest of the night. She still did the Senator’s Wife thing, could do it in her sleep, but Grace kept her eye on the young woman who had entered the ballroom just before Michael and Reese. She knew that Michael saw other women, but this was the first time in a long time that Grace actually crossed paths with one of them. Someone told her the woman’s name, Raven Holloway. She was beautiful, but that wasn’t what bothered Grace. It was the way the young woman carried herself, as though she feared nothing and owned everything.
After Michael pulled to a stop on the circular drive of his and Grace’s austere Oak Cliff home, as was his custom, he went around to open his wife’s door. Grace sprang from the car and slammed the door. Michael thought, she’s tearing up my ride, but all he said was, “What’s wrong, honey?”
“You smell like that tramp, that’s what! Her perfume is all over you.” Grace’s chest, heavier since the birth of their second son, heaved like she’d just run home instead of being driven there in a Benz. “How dare you embarrass me like that!” Grace stomped toward the front door.
For the second time that night, Michael found himself on a woman’s heels, begging. In the weeks and years that followed he would become intimately familiar with that position.