She knows the behavioral science behind any problem... except for the one in her heart for thirty-two years, Laney Travers has handled a lot of problems, but a relationship with a white man wasn’t one. Her love affair with gorgeous Tie Stevens seemed destined, however. She fell in love with his voice over the radio waves nearly three years ago. When Laney finally crosses paths with Tie at his talk and book signing, sparks fly between the two, and like two months to flickering lights, they find themselves inseparable in bed and out of it. But are they? As a psychology professor, Laney can’t help but evaluate her interracial relationship through a socio-political lens, a cause of potential strife. Tie disagrees but secretly worries about maintaining his relationship with Laney because of his self-made status. When it comes to diplomas, he doesn’t stack up. And Laney has a shameful secret that is enough to keep her from admitting her emotions. Is their chemistry one for the books or just a theory?

Other places, including the Tule Bookstore, are listed on the Tule order site:

THE SUNDAY BEFORE Thanksgiving, Laney examined her reflection in her standing mirror. Not bad at all. She had spent more time than she cared searching for the right dress to wear to the gala, but she chose well. Anyway, Nette gave her stamp of approval. They had blessedly mended ways the week before.

“Don’t you just look like a Barbie? Perfect!” Nette’s face beamed in the mirror.
She turned to her friend, smirking. “Again, you test my
feminist sensibilities. Well, one thing is for sure. I’m sticking ballet shoes into my clutch because I don’t think I’ll survive in these stilts all night.”
“I’m going to give you a sticker for just having the
chutzpah to buy them and put them on. I’m seeing real
growth in you, Laney.”  Laney rolled her eyes.
“We’d better get going soon, right? Starts at six-thirty?”
Laney sucked in a breath. “Yes, that’s mingling time,
which I could stand to miss. Nette, I really don’t want to go tonight. I’m still feeling weird about being in public with Tie, even though this isn’t a faculty function. We still haven’t addressed my issues head-on. Maybe if I weren’t seated at his table…”
Nette put her hands on her hips. “First of all, your concerns are ridiculous—we’ve already been through that.
Secondly, if you really don’t want to sit by this hot man
who’s clearly into you, then you’ll probably not have to
worry. He’ll be up mingling or on the raised platform half the time.”
True. But she still wished it weren’t so soon after the faculty of color gathering. She still hadn’t quite shaken off her prickly qualms about whether they should even continue to see each other. Well, never mind. She’d committed herself to this event, and go she would.
She took a deep breath and looked at Nette, who was
stunning in a satin blue dress that made her eyes and hair look sensational. “You’re right. At least about your second point. By the way, you really do look incredible tonight.
Maybe you’ll meet someone. Like you always tell me, you never know.”
Nette looked away and Laney immediately regretting
bringing up the subject. “Not at all interested. Let’s go.”
“Okay. We should probably take separate cars because
I’m going to have to stay late to help with some of the
“No prob.” Nette jingled her keys as she walked toward
the door.
They simultaneously pulled up to the parking lot, and Nette emerged from her car, smoothing her dress. She waited patiently at first while Laney went through the motions of double-checking the contents of her clutch, reapplying pink cherry lipstick, checking other features in the mirror, taking a tissue out to wipe her nose, checking her nails, which she took the time to get manicured, and— Thump, thump, thump. Laney turned to see Nette knocking on her window. She read her lips. “Get out!”
Laney sighed and opened the car door. “Okay, okay.”
Nette gave Laney a quick squeeze. “You’re going to be
The decorations came out nicely. There were festive balloons, and the green was a gorgeous shade one wouldn’t expect to see in a balloon. Laney was surprised to see white lilies on each table. Had Tie specifically requested the flowers with her in mind? Silver streamers were draped elegantly. A live band was playing soft instrumentals off to the side.
There was even a streamer of dollar bills draped tastefully across the platform at the front of the room. Laney approved of the hall, with its high-hanging lights and generous space.
It would easily accommodate the three hundred and fifty or so people they were expecting. She was pleased they went with her suggestion.
Nette immediately recognized people and Laney followed behind. Nette was actually responsible for bringing in several big donors given her connections in the corporate world. As Nette introduced the couple, Laney went through the motions of smiling and shaking hands. Her attention, however, drifted around the room as she wondered about who would be in attendance.
Don’t get wigged out, Laney. You belong here as much as anyone. You’re not that poor girl from Franklin anymore. Yes.
She knew what she was doing. She’d been to several of these functions with even wealthier people present. And she was a professor, so her quick speaking stint would be easy. Pfft.
Everything was tight. She saw Tie across the room. God, what a sight. Laney was amazed the man could look handsomer than she’d already seen him, but his slim-fitting tux made him look unreal. And the lights were hitting his hair in a way that accentuated his natural golden highlights. She could loosen up and be her usual charming self. She would do it for him.
LANEY WORE A knee-length dress with sparkling, vibrant green sequins and a silver collar. Tie was touched that she thought to coordinate with the theme colors. Emerald-like earrings were radiant in her ears, and her thick hair was neatly pulled up, although a tendril escaped here and there.
He was surprised to see strappy silver shoes on her gorgeous feet. She hated heels. She exuded a sense of regality. She owned the room. Tie smiled. She had helped to create this moment. She and Nette were in conversation with a couple of people he didn’t know. Well, Nette was in conversation; Laney’s head swiveled about.
She spotted him and moved in his direction. Tie noted
the turning heads as she walked by. He gave her a kiss on the cheek. Only then did he realize she was a bit nervous. There was a hint of worry in her eyes and her hands were shaking barely.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” he whispered.
“Yes,” she said, looking around, lines creasing her forehead.
“I’m just feeling a bit uneasy. I don’t know why. I
already had a glass of wine at home to calm my nerves, but something isn’t feeling quite right.”
“Well, everything’s good here, partially thanks to you.
Everything you were responsible for has been completed, and then some. You look spectacular, by the way.”
The worry lines softened a little and she looked into his
eyes. “I know tonight will go very well for you, and I’m
proud of you for pulling this off. And I plan to have a good time.” She smiled and kissed him on the cheek, but he could tell by her shaking hands that she was still nervous.
They headed to their table, where several of his most
generous donors were standing or seated. He introduced Laney to each one and offered to get her a drink from the cash bar. As he went to get her a glass of wine he wondered what was bothering her. Lately, they hadn’t had much time to discuss anything besides the gala and her work, but he hadn’t noticed any anxiety during those times. She wasn’t nervous about her brief speaking part, because she was accustomed to speaking in front of people. Well, maybe the wine would help take the edge off.

Tavi Wayne is an educator and a lifelong learner. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and son. She has been writing stories since she was six (under another name). She adores writing tales of romance. She also enjoys reading, good company, beaches, moon rises and sunsets, and good food.

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