There’s not a whole lot happening in Gary, Indiana. That is, until nationally renowned relationship expert Lance Montgomery bursts onto the scene. Twice divorced, Montgomery is now on a mission to perfect the art of being single. His tantalizing book The Playa’s Handbook, is causing quite a stir. His rules include:
• Never give a woman the key to your apartment.
• Playas “have sex”; they don’t “make love.”
• Don’t be afraid not to commit, no matter how hot the sex is.
• A woman can’t use you if you use her first.
One night, while watching a game and drinking beer, three friends, Marcus Lowery, Samuel Gunn, and Phillip McKenna, all admit to having bought Montgomery’s book. Recent divorcés, Phillip and Sam are looking to unleash their hidden playa. And after being a widower for a year, Marcus is ready to cautiously ease back into the dating scene. So they decide to put the rules to the test. . .and end up going on the wildest ride of their lives.
“This is Rachel Cason, and you’re listening to V-103 and Chicago’s most titillating late-night talk show, Hot Throb, that’s exclusively for mature minds,” the woman said as her opening.
“It seems our guest last night had a lot of men waking up this morning getting the evil eye from their women. Even I have to admit that Dr. Asia Fowler might have plucked hairs off a few brothers’ chests when she got into the real nitty-gritty of her latest book, Sistahs Beware.”
Rachel chuckled. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook with calls from guys who feel they deserve equal time, and you’ll definitely get that with tonight’s guest. But before I introduce that individual, I want to go to the phone lines to hear what some of our callers have to say about last night’s show.”
She leaned back in her chair. “Thanks for holding, Paul. What do you think about last night’s show?”
“I think the women got their panties in a twist over nothing. Men are men and they can’t expect us to be perfect. Not all men who have been unfaithful to their wives or girlfriends are players, but once in a while we screw up. Good men can stray, so get over it. Straying doesn’t make us dogs.”
“Hmm, but what does it make you, Paul?” Rachel asked jokingly.
“A man who takes advantage of a sexual opportunity that’s too good to pass up.”
“I guess that’s one way of putting it, but I doubt most women would look at it that way, including me. Thanks for your call,” Rachel said, disconnecting and going to the next caller without missing a beat. “And, Dennis, what is your take on last night’s show?”
“Last night’s show gave me a lot to think about, Rachel, and I think Dr. Fowler hit on some important points.”
“It’s all about what you want out of a relationship. I wouldn’t want my woman seeing other men, and I’m sure she wouldn’t want me seeing other women. What’s important for us is exclusivity. I’m hers and she’s mine. It seems these days no one wants to belong to anybody. No one wants to commit.”
“No one wants to commit …” Rachel repeated as if mulling over Dennis’s last statement. “And I agree. So where do the playas fall within all of this? Do we go out and burn them at the stake, or just accept that this world is full of them and move on? That question is a wonderful intro for tonight’s guest who is causing quite a stir around the country with his latest book, The Playa’s Handbook. A book that’s supposed to perfect the brotha’s art of being single.”
Rachel disconnected the line, and instead of picking up another, she turned to the man who, moments ago, had come to take the chair opposite hers: someone she was extremely aware of as a man. He was so good-looking that she was fighting the urge to start twitching in her chair.
She’d heard that he was as arrogant as he was handsome. He was a divorcé two times over, and had a reputation for changing women as often as he changed his socks. He was a true playa, so his books were based not only on his scholastic opinions but also on deeply ingrained experience.
She breathed in deeply before speaking to the listening audience. “I have with me Dr. Lance Montgomery, whose previous book, How a Brotha Can Avoid Getting to the Altar, also caused quite a ruckus a couple of years ago. Dr. Mont gomery is a renowned divorce and relationship expert who gives advice to men on how to stay single and remain happy. Drawing on his own experiences, as well as those of men he has counseled in his acclaimed workshops and on his popular syndicated radio talk show, his books supposedly help men understand and accept that there is nothing wrong with being a playa and show them how to avoid the big C-word, commitment.” Her voice grew soft and seductive. “Welcome to our show, Dr. Montgomery.”
Lance smiled. “Thanks for the invitation, Rachel.”
“Well, now, Dr. Montgomery, you have really stirred up a hornets’ nest this time with your rules that playas should live by. I understand there are several marriage and family groups that are asking for a recall of your book.”
He chuckled. “Yes, so I hear.”
“And that doesn’t bother you?”
Lance chuckled again. “Not at all. Unfortunately, the truth hurts at times, and some women refuse to own up to the fact that they are the main reason men are avoiding commitments, becoming bona fide playas, and preferring to remain as such.”
Rachel leaned back in her chair. “Would you like to explain that, Doctor?”
He smiled. “Certainly. The majority of women fail to know what a man wants and needs, and those who have a clue don’t give a damn. So what you have is an abundance of high-maintenance women who expect all and want to give nothing. What man wants a woman who could leave him in financial ruins? What some women don’t like to admit is that in a way they are playas, too. Instead of playing around with other men, they resort to playing around with a man’s mind, often being manipulative in the process, and they enjoy using sex as a power play instead of keeping it real.”
Rachel glanced over at the computer monitor and noticed how it was flashing. The calls were coming in fast and furious already. It was apparent that the good doctor had hit a nerve with a majority of the radio audience and they had a lot to say. Some of her female callers could be ruthless, and she was anxious to hear how Dr. Montgomery would respond.
She pressed the button for caller number four and saw the name Erin pop up on the monitor. She smiled. Erin Drayton was a regular caller and a playa hater of the worst kind. “Hello, Erin, you’re on.”
Later that night … or rather very early the next morning, Lance lay in his Jacuzzi bathtub, leisurely soaking his body and absently watching the play of the lathered bubbles that covered his chest, torso and thighs.
Sexual fulfillment had him so relaxed, he could drift off to sleep at any moment. Somewhere in the back of his subconscious, he could still hear Rachel Cason scream his name when an orgasm ripped through her. She had almost burst his damn eardrums. The woman had been easy. After the show, he had suggested a nightcap at her place and could all but inhale the scent of her wet panties.
He shook his head as he began sponging the bubbles off his body. As far as he was concerned, hindsight was twenty-twenty. If he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t marry the first time and would certainly not have been stupid enough to do it twice before realizing there was no special woman out there for him. One of the most important aspects of being a man was knowing what was good for you, and what was not. Commitment was not for everyone, and for those who thought it was, they had his blessings. And for those who thought it wasn’t, they had him to reinforce that ideology.
He smiled as he stepped out of the bathtub to dry himself off and glanced across the bathroom at the book that was lying on the floor next to the commode, Sistahs Beware.
It was the damnedest thing, but he was actually obsessed with a woman he had never met … at least not officially. Of course, since they were technically in the same line of work, he knew of Dr. Asia Fowler and was well aware of her books. He had purchased her current release out of curiosity, and although he didn’t agree with her take on things, he had found her thoughts and ideas rather entertaining.
He had listened to Rachel Cason’s show the other night when Asia Fowler had been a featured guest. He hadn’t had anything better to do and figured her subject matter would be stimulating. But what he hadn’t known or figured on was the sound of her voice seducing him across the airwaves, firing his libido and arousing him to the point where he’d had to go into the kitchen and get a cold drink of water. It wasn’t anything she said in particular. Some men were leg, breast and booty men, but a sexy voice could get him hard each and every time. Even when she had referred to some members of his gender as “those damn no-good brothers,” his erection had been throbbing.
Desire had purred through him, momentarily taking his mind off the disagreement he’d had with his agent about his refusal to participate in a panel discussion at the Harlem Book Fair next month. Asia Fowler’s voice had had him thinking about hot summer nights, a bed with satin sheets and scented candles strategically placed around the bedroom to provide the ultimate romantic effect.
Too keyed up for bed just yet, he decided to indulge in a glass of wine. Tossing the towel aside, he strode butt-naked from his bathroom, through his bedroom and to his living room where he had a stocked bar for his enjoyment. After pouring a glass of wine, he decided to at least put on a bathrobe since it was the day for his housekeeper to pay a visit. He definitely didn’t want to give Mrs. Jones heart failure.
Moments later he was sitting in a wingback chair that had a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful August night. With a classical piece by Mozart playing in the background, he stared out of the floor-to-ceiling window that dominated an entire wall. Living on the twentieth floor of one of the most luxurious apartment buildings in Chicago, he had certainly come a long way from his humble beginnings. He had been the third child of a single father whose wife ran off with another man within months of giving birth to the fourth child, taking the baby with her and leaving everyone to speculate that his father hadn’t been the baby’s daddy anyway.
Lance had been born thirty-three years ago in Gary, Indiana. One thing he and his brothers knew was that their hard-working father would not tolerate them getting into any kind of trouble. Jeremiah Montgomery would not have hesitated to beat the crap out of them if they had. Lance was proud of his two older brothers who had eventually graduated from medical school and were now specialists in their chosen fields. Instead of remaining in the Mid-west, Logan and Lyle had moved as far away as their professions could take them. Lance had been content to make Chicago his home and at least once a week made the forty-five-minute drive to Gary, to check on his father. He had offered to move his pop to Chicago, but the old man preferred to remain in Gary.
They didn’t hear from his “mother” again until he had reached adulthood and she had hit rock bottom. She had heard that he and his brothers were successful and had come looking for a handout. That had been almost ten years ago. After not giving her a damn thing and practically telling her she could go back to wherever she’d come from, neither he nor his brothers had heard from her since. But before taking off, she had tried using information she had about the whereabouts of their babysister—who she had placed years earlier in a foster home—as bargaining power. They weren’t about to be manipulated and told her that she could very well keep the information to herself. Instead they hired a private detective to locate the babysister they had never seen, and within a year’s time, at the age of eighteen, the streetwise, wild, reckless Carrie Montgomery had entered their lives.
It had taken his oldest brother, the easygoing Logan, to take charge of their she-cat of a babysister and domesticate her. Now, at the age of twenty-four with college behind her, Carrie was devoted to her job as a social worker, enjoyed the single life and had purchased a nice place near Logan’s in Tampa.
Lance’s thoughts shifted back to Asia Fowler. Her bio in the back of the book didn’t tell much but her picture sure did. The face in the photograph projected the same sexiness that he had heard in her voice.
As he took a sip of his wine, he decided that he wanted to find out everything there was to know about Dr. Fowler. Reaching across the table he picked up the phone. Seconds later he could hear the gruff sound of his agent on the other end.
“Carl, this is Lance. I’ll participate in that panel discussion in Harlem, but only on one condition.” A smile curved his lips when he said, “Dr. Asia Fowler has to agree to be a participant as well.”
Excerpted from The Playa’s Handbook by Brenda Streater Jackson.
Copyright © 2004 by Brenda Streater Jackson.
Published in 2004 by St. Martin’s Press
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Mass Market (Reprint)
Pub Date: 9/28/10