Yolan Belle walked into the Ensemble Theatre for the premiere of ‘Dream Girls’; her yellow, custom-made Romeo Hunte form-fitting gown with the thigh-high slit caused her bronze-colored skin to glow.
She was turning heads as she walked, the liquid beading made it look as if it was melted and molded to her body like a second skin.
Her hair was perfectly coiffed, touched by the magical hands of Khyrs and Jaidyn who dropped everything to fit her in when she called.
Her manicured toes were wrapped in Ferragamo open-toed sandals from Shay and Monet’s boutique that matched her gown perfectly, needless to say, she was perfection personified; her best friend and boss Tayana aka Whisper would be so proud.
As she reached the bar, she was the center of attention, men lifted their glasses to her behind their date’s backs, eyebrows lifted in hopeful question, looking for an upgrade.
Yolan barely acknowledged them. One thing she hated more than anything else in the world was a whorish, cheating man and she made sure they knew it with her trademark deadly glare.
Her face lit up when she spotted his familiar tall frame at the back end of the bar, his back was to her as she moved his way. His custom gray suit hung from his 6’9”, fit-thick frame highlighting his broad shoulders and muscular arms. At 5’2”, Yolan had always been attracted to tall men, it was his height that first attracted her to Thomas ‘Tower’ White.
Yolan walked past him and slid onto the stool directly behind the pretty peanut butter hued female he was leaning in talking to, his perfect pretty boy smile on display as the woman reached up and stroked his face.
Yolan and Tower had been together for 2 years and 5 months and had lived together for almost as long. Imagine her surprise when he informed her he had a dinner meeting tonight, the same date and time she saw printed on the theatre tickets she had discovered in his suit jacket pocket a week ago when she went to drop off his clothes at the cleaners.
Yolan didn’t trip or even ask a single question, instead she began to plan, and now she grinned with wicked excitement, as the last leg of her plan was about to go down.
She ordered an amaretto sour smiling sweetly at the bartender just as Tower looked past his pretty date and his eyes fell on her. She noted with pleasure as the color drained from his face, a look of fear dancing in his brown eyes.
She flashed him a cover girl smile and took a sip of the drink the bartender had just placed in front of her.
Thomas threw the rest of his drink to the back of his throat, moving his head when his date tried to touch his face again. He whispered something to his date and moved over to stand next to Yolan.
The woman, now feeling rejected, quickly rose from her seat in a huff glaring over at Yolan and Thomas and stormed off.
“Take it easy, Yo, she is just a business associate. There is nothing going on between us, I promise you,” Tower explained running his hand over his bald fade haircut nervously.
Yolan smiled up at him as she continued to sip her drink. To think at some point, she was actually in love with this wayward dick ass joke of a man.
Not saying a word, she pulled a phone out of her clutch and after cueing up one of the videos it housed, she set it in front of him and pushed play.
Tower watched in horror as the video of him and his pretty date being a little too friendly played on the screen. They weren’t having sex but they were damn close.
“Yeah, so that being said I’m going to need my keys. To the house and to the Bentley I bought you for your birthday,” Yolan stated quietly smiling up at him again, relief washed over her as she said it. If she had to lie next to him one more night she might have killed him.
“Get the fuck outta here, you are really acting out, Yolan. Now if you want to go home and talk this shit out, cool, but nah, I ain’t giving up the keys to anything for shit!” Tower growled quietly leaning on the bar signaling the bartender to bring him another drink before glaring at her.
Yolan finished her drink and stood up next to Tower, even in her stilettos she was barely past his waist.
“And here I thought this would be easy, pity.” Yolan sighed and leaned on the bar looking up at him, shaking her head.
“Yeah, you got me all the way fucked up. I think you forgot who I am huh, Yolan?” Tower snapped, snatching his drink off the bar throwing it back, wincing when it hit the back of his throat.
“Correction, Tower, you have clearly forgotten who the fuck I am,” Yolan said calmly as she slipped back onto the stool, crossing her legs. Her dress exposed her upper thigh and the yellow silk garter that cradled her all-white 357 ‘Angel’.
“I know you’re crazy, Yo but you ain’t crazy enough to shoot me in front of all these people. So yeah, go ahead and try to punk somebody else with all of that.” Tower smirked, still clutching his empty drink glass rattling the ice around in it. “Now, like I said before, we can talk this all out at home where my shit is,” Thomas said with steely determination, glaring down at Yolan. He stood upright to his full height so he towered over her. She smiled even brighter, this idiot was really feeling himself tonight!
“I have never been crazy, Tower, not in the least, but let me ask you this, did you forget who I run with or how deep we are willing to go to get results?” Yolan asked stirring her basically untouched drink with the straw in the glass. “Did you really think I wouldn’t find out about your little double-cross you tried to blame on me?” Yolan asked, reaching over and cueing up a second video on the phone resting on the bar, this one of Thomas lying to save himself by throwing her under the bus about some missing money, the third and final video was him tonguing down his boss Bismark’s wife, his hand down her shirt, his dick in her hand.
This was why they were here at this crossroad, not only had he been dumb enough to cheat and disrespectful enough to bring the bitches back to their house, he was also fucking his boss’ wife, while stealing from him and lied on her about it!
She had no fucking clue until the day Bismark stepped into her office at Royalty Realty making idle threats in front of her clients about his missing money.
Yolan made a call to Tayana and Jazz who green-lighted her to handle the situation and was told to make them both disappear.
Thomas for disrespecting her and bringing trouble to her business and Bismark for overstepping his boundaries and going to Royalty in the first place. No one disrespected the crew and moreover no one fucked with business!
She was ordered to bide her time until moves were put in place to take down Bismark’s entire operation with no man left standing. Thomas was the last man to fall because Yolan wanted to be there when it happened, you know since she ‘loved’ him and all.
Yolan watched with satisfaction as Thomas began to sweat, looking downright spooked before grabbing the phone and snapping it in two, his breath came out in panicked pants as he ran his hand down his face.
“What’s done in the dark always comes to light, Tower. Now, for the last damn time before I really lose my patience, hand me my keys,” Yolan said sweetly holding out her hand, her long lacquer painted nails glistened in the light that shined down from above the bar.
Tower reached in his pocket and dropped his keys in her outstretched palm.
Yolan dropped them in her purse, placed enough money on the bar to cover her tab as she moved to leave.
“Hold up, what about my stuff, Yo? And does Bismark know the truth about all of this?” he asked her cautiously, his face was covered in nervous sweat.
Yolan sighed, shaking her head like she hated to be the bearer of bad news.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself? I’m sure he’s dying to talk to you. As for your stuff, try the Salvation Army on Austin Street, I’m sure some of your stuff will still be there if you hurry,” she said, smiling sweetly as flashing lights announced ‘Dream Girls’ was about to begin.
Rini stepped up behind Tower, pressing her gun into his ribs. One of Jazz’s security staff, a man they all called ‘Pressure’ fell in line on the opposite side of Thomas and nudged him in the opposite direction. Thomas cast one last regretful look over his shoulder at Yolan as he was escorted away.
Yolan paused long enough to make sure no one noticed them leaving out the back door that led to the alley and their ‘work van’ before sighing and walking towards the theater entrance.
Thomas’ date, the woman from the car dealership he slipped his number to as Yolan sat in the manager’s office signing the paperwork for his birthday present, a paid in full, black on black fully loaded Bentley stood next to the entrance of the VIP section of the theatre waiting on Yolan.
“Damn, Yo remind me never to piss you off,” Meika said, shaking her head and taking the keys Yolan discreetly passed to her, the keys to Thomas’ new Bentley.
It was already arranged that the car would be taken overseas, new VIN numbers and papers would be placed on it before it was resold at auction. It was a shame really, it was a beautiful car, for what was a beautiful man.
Right after he drove off in his new car, Meika, – an old neighborhood friend – who now worked for Joy and Rini at The Firm told her about him inviting her to their house to ‘get to know each other a little better’.
After her visit from Bismark, Yolan sent Meika to plant more cameras in the house to see what Thomas was really up to. She was almost finished when Thomas came home early, so she slipped out of her clothes and was waiting for him in her bra and panties in the middle of the bed when he came into the room, pretending to be there waiting on him, telling him she wasn’t afraid or worried about Yolan if he wasn’t.
“This is not about being pissed off, Meika or even about him cheating on me, this was about business. Tower was getting greedy and he was getting sloppy, two things I have no time or respect for. If I was a dumb, clueless female, he would have fucked around and got a price put on both of our heads with that dumb shit he pulled and I ain’t having it. Sometimes the one that holds you closest at night as you sleep is the very one sharpening the knife to drive into your back. Tower was just too stupid and cocky to notice my knife was bigger and sharper.”
“You sure you’re all right, Yo?” Tayana asked Yolan two days later after the morning meeting. Her hand moved slowly down her baby bump as she looked over at Yolan with concern.
“You know me I am always good, Tay. Besides losing Tower ain’t really a loss, erasing that man is most definitely a gain. I can honestly say I learned my lesson and will never be that stupid again,” Yolan said, sitting back in her chair thinking to herself about how cute Tayana looked pregnant, she was actually glowing. “Anyway, on to more important things, how are you and my god baby doing? I’m surprised Jazz finally let you out of his sight,” Yolan took the last bite of her spinach omelet, Ms. Lanie, Tayana’s cook, had prepared for her. She had hung back after the meeting at Tayana’s request.
Since finding out Tayana was pregnant, her husband Jazz had become more overprotective of her. This was the first time in a long time she saw Tayana alone at her own house – the one the crew held meetings at every morning – without Jazz in tow.
“We are both doing just fine and I had to tell his ass to back the fuck off before I killed him. I’m pregnant not dying and stop changing the subject. I know you, Yolan and you would have never let Tower move in unless you really loved him or at least thought you did.
I’m sorry he hurt you, Yo. I only wish it had been me and Mary Jane that sent his double-crossing ass to the hereafter. No one hurts my ladies, especially you, y’all are my sisters,” Tayana said, her voice shaking as pregnancy hormones took over, trying to bring her to tears.
“I know, Tay but I was wrong, I made a mistake. A mistake, I know for damn sure, I will never make again, but I’m straight, you know how I get down. Now, before you go into the full-fledged emotional mode, anything else before I get to the office and my meeting with Mr. Feng?” Yolan asked, pulling out her mirror to make sure she had no spinach caught in her teeth and to check her makeup.
“Just one thing. Please, Yo, don’t let this harden your heart, you are an incredible woman and one day the right man will come along and make sure you are treated like the queen you are,” Tayana answered standing up from the table and moving closer to her.
“Okay, who are you and what have you done with Tayana? Those hormones got you tripping. I remember a time not too long ago you had washed your hands of ever falling in love and now look at your sappy emotional ass!” Yolan teased, allowing Tayana to pull her into a hug. She closed her eyes tight from the tears that wanted to fall.
She couldn’t win for losing when it came to men and it was time for her to take her hat out of the ring for a while.
“I’m still here. Still Whisper, all fire and ice, but because of my best friend and the rest of my ladies pushing me to trust someone and allowing him to love me I’m more than that. I’m truly happy and I want that for all of you too,” Tayana explained, letting Yolan go and watching her gather her briefcase and purse to leave.
“Tay, I am happy, trust me when I say that. But thanks for looking out for me. Now go find Jazz and hug and love on him for a while, some of us have work to do,” Yolan teased, walking to the door that led to the foyer and the front door.
“Xie Xie ni,” Yolan said ‘thank you’ in Mandarin, returning Mr. Feng’s handshake and bow a few hours later.
Mr. Feng had a dual purpose for reaching out to Royalty Realty, he had large properties he wanted to purchase and ‘antiques’ he needed to move out of the country. Yolan’s company was just the avenue he needed to do both.
“To you as well, Miss Belle. I look forward to moving forward with our business arrangement, please send the listings we discussed to my secretary as soon as you are able to,” Mr. Feng said in English with a forced and obviously fake smile. The way his narrow eyes trailed up her frame before nodding approvingly told her all she needed to know about him. Mr. Feng had little to no respect for women and didn’t particularly want to work with one, let alone an entire group of them. She figured he thought, like most men in power, women were only good for one thing, and he was only doing business with them because he wanted the best working with him which, he found out after lots of research, was their crew so he had no choice. Like Tayana said all the time, most people they conducted business with might not like what they were serving but, to have their needs met in the most professional way possible, they always ended up eating it anyway.
“I will compile the listings and have them sent over before the end of the day,” Yolan answered, looking over her shoulder when the bell above the door chimed alerting her that someone had walked into the office.
She watched as her business partner Asia aka Neutral greeted the tall, suit-wearing gentleman and began to engage him in conversation.
Asia was yet another childhood friend of hers and Tayana’s, she was not in the crew but was trusted and protected like she was. She, like Tayana, was having her first child, they were about a month apart in gestation.
“As for your antiques, I will have my associates get in touch with you to make the necessary arrangements in a few hours as well,” Yolan stated, moving to escort Mr. Feng to the door.
“Perfect, I will await your associate’s call, until next time, take care Miss Belle, Zai Jian,” Mr. Feng stated pausing his exit again to shake Yolan’s hand.
“Zai Jian – Goodbye in Mandarin – Mr. Feng and thank you in advance for your business, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed,” Yolan said smiling as she shook his hand before watching him leave.
The $2,000,000 he wanted to have cleaned and transported once a month through their channels would be a great addition to the crew’s bottom line and reputation.
Yolan turned to move back towards her office when she felt eyes watching her, the tall gentleman sitting with Asia was sipping coffee looking over at her curiously.
“Yolan, this gentleman is interested in purchasing property on Caroline Street in the Museum District,” Asia explained, gesturing to the still silent gentleman, his intense gaze was still trained on Yolan as he continued to drink his coffee.
Yolan could tell from how his long legs were bent in front of him, his knees inches away from touching the underside of Asia’s desk that he was at least 6’6”.
His beige, tailored Armani suit complemented his milk chocolate hued skin, his big hand dwarfed the coffee cup he was gripping, just that quick glance of him had a few wayward thoughts popping up in her head.
“Ah, perfect, great location. We have a few units that just came up on the market, do you know in which building you would like to purchase Mr.–?” Yolan asked, settling in the second chair positioned in front of Asia’s desk while admonishing her hormones as she crossed her legs facing him.
“Devoe, Ryan Devoe and to answer your question, I am looking to purchase one of the buildings as a whole, not just a few units, is that something your company can handle or do I need to take my business elsewhere?” he asked, turning his body in his chair to full-on face Yolan with a small business-like smile on his face.
Yolan smiled at his no-nonsense air and at his handsome face. Sometimes she swore God had a serious sense of humor when it came to her, ‘tall, dark and handsome’ like the man sitting beside her wasn’t just her type, it was her kryptonite!
He had a smooth, somewhat angular face, his honey-brown eyes were shielded by full eyebrows, his nose was a nod to his ancestors, full and proud. His soft-looking full lips peeked out from the well-groomed, full beard that hugged his face.
“I assure you, Mr. Devoe, we can handle whatever you choose to throw at us. Now I know there are three new buildings going up in that area, the starting bid for the cheapest building is over $300,000,000. Should I have Asia pull those up for you?” Yolan asked, standing and going to pour herself a cup of the gourmet coffee he was enjoying.
“With all due respect, Yolan, is it? I would much rather work directly with you on this. While I’m sure Asia is capable in most instances, I need the experience of an expert on this,” Ryan stated, standing and joining her at the coffee station.
Yolan felt her ears grow hot in anger at the disrespect he threw at Asia. Like everyone else in their crew, she only worked with the best of the best.
“Mr. Devoe, I assure you if we chose to work with you, you would be well taken care of by our entire team including Asia, who is, by far, one of my best agents as well as my business partner. That is how it works here at Royalty.
If that does not appeal to you then maybe you should take your business elsewhere as you previously alluded to,” Yolan stated, calmly bringing her cup to her lips, blowing on it to cool the steaming coffee before taking a cautious sip.
Ryan’s eyes darkened as he watched her, before pouring more coffee into his own cup. Almost defiantly he took a healthy gulp of the scalding hot coffee, while looking at her pointedly.
“I see. Perhaps, I should consider that while I am reaching out to one of your competitors, to assure that my needs are met?” he challenged with his eyebrows arched looking at her from behind his raised coffee cup.
Yolan moved closer to Asia and set her coffee cup on the corner of her desk, her hand rested on the back of Asia’s high back chair.
“Perhaps you should, and when you come to realize that no one in the greater Houston area will give you the service we will here, at Royalty Realty, with our attention to detail and top notch services, you will be back. The accolades and awards hanging on the walls in this room are not just for show, we worked hard for each one and earned our reputation.” Yolan picked up her coffee and took another sip. “Now as enlightening as it has been to speak with you today, Mr. Devoe, we do have work to do. I’m sure you don’t need me or Asia to show you to the door,” Yolan stated, her smile not quite reaching her eyes.
Ryan took his time finishing his cup of coffee before gathering his trench coat and briefcase.
“Ladies, it’s been a pleasure, thank you for the coffee. I have to admit, when I walked in and heard you speak Mandarin, I had high hopes of this establishment having what I was looking for,” he said looking over at Yolan, returning the half-hearted smile she tossed at him.
“As I said before, Mr. Devoe, shop around, see what’s out there and make an appointment with us when you are ready to come back. I will set aside a few listings for us to discuss if and when you are willing to respect me and my team. Until then take care, Mr. Devoe,” Yolan replied confidently and turned, moving back to her office.
She settled behind her own desk and logged in to get the listings Mr. Feng would be interested in, when she heard the bell at the front door sound before their heavy oak door snapped closed as Ryan Devoe left.
She closed her eyes to check her attitude. Men, especially cocky ones like him, got on her fucking nerves, or at least that’s the lie she was telling herself at the moment, as the soft touch of feathery, light tingles moved up her spine just replaying how good he looked in that suit!
Ryan folded his long legs into his custom painted, mother of pearl colored Bentley Continental GT, his right eye twitching, something that always happened when he was aggravated. He was given an assignment and he needed the right people on board to make it happen. He didn’t have time for bumps in the road like the one he just got from Yolan Belle.
Like just who the hell did she think she was? Women didn’t talk to him or dismiss him the way she did. The fact she didn’t even bat an eyelash when he said he was going to competing realtors really resonated deep with him. It told him either she was a very foolish businesswoman who let her wounded pride get in the way of a multi-million dollar deal or, just as she said, she and her team were the best of the best so they could take or leave his business and it didn’t affect them either way.
More than anything else it was the very last thought crossing his mind that was annoying the fuck out of him. From the minute she sat next to him at Asia’s desk, with that sexy ass smile of hers, he wanted to know more about her, not Royalty, but her as an individual. Even though she and her strong personality were the opposite of everything he was usually attracted to.
For now, he was going to let her think she had the upper hand and had even thrown him off of his game a bit, but he knew better. He would do some research and make sure Royalty really was the powerhouse she made them out to be and, even if they weren’t, he was coming back for many reasons. The first, of course, was to satisfy his own curiosity and try to figure out what it was about Yolan Belle that had him ready to stake his claim after their very short encounter.