Enjoy the first chapter of all our urban romance books from Arsen Ward.
Welcome to Sensual Wonderland, where the safety and anonymity of the internet allows you a chance to explore every decadent corner of your fantasies. The first rule of the Wonderland is secrecy, meaning what happens here, stays here. Remember the Queen of Hearts don’t have a problem chopping necks if you break the rules…
“And, up on the chopping block today is MackMain Bitch.” I typed this into the update status field, along with an image of a gleaming guillotine, and hit enter. We had a rule-breaker in the midst that had to be dealt with. As Sense of Wonder, founder and head of Sensual Wonderland, I played the role of a woman always in control. So, I had to do something about the rebel.
My fellow admin, Gigi, commented, “This bald-headed, bad weave wearing bitch, who calls herself the main one but is really the lame one, committed the ultimate crime of posting to a group member’s private page and endangering his relationship. Y’all know we can’t have that shit.”
“Humph!” I cackled. I responded under Gigi’s comment with a smiley face crying with laughter. This was my daily dose of drama, although in reality I tried not to be petty. Hell, MackMain and I had gone to the same high school a decade ago. I didn’t have any hard feelings toward her, but she did have a bad weave with silky Malaysian tracks holding on for dear life to her non-existent edges. Gigi wasn’t lying. And, this wasn’t her first time causing problems in Sensual Wonderland either, so cutting her was just very, very entertaining business-as-usual.
Less than a second later, the wall lit up with Wonderland members weighing in. That was the way things were here, never a dull moment, and I wished I had some popcorn as I stretched out on the black suede couch in my tidy living room, fresh off work from my tech job. My chuckles turned to full-fledged laughter as I kept reading. I knew my neighbors had to think I had mental issues, the way these fools on the internet kept me cutting up every evening.
“What she done did now?”
“Lawd, no, don’t chop my baby! MackMain one of the flyest bitches up in here!”
“Fly where, muhfucka? #RoachesFly”
Another guy commented with a gun emoticon, “Shots fired!”
I almost rolled off the couch, killing myself laughing.
I could picture my group members all over the nation, some from other countries, peering at their phones, their laptops, their computers—checking in for what they knew would be another day of shenanigans. We were three-thousand strong, and about eighty percent actively participated. The membership ran the gamut from professionals with a lot to regular joes, killing time on pay by the minute devices. It made for a motley guest list to a never ending party, but if word got out that someone was screenshotting our kinky antics and posting them for the world to see, that participation level would plummet.
MackMain hopped on the post with a ton of buck-eyed emoticons like she was shocked and appalled. She commented, “Who tf you tryna call out? First off I didn’t know he was married, cuz he was all up in my inbox with dick pics. Second, all I posted was a picture of me in my lingerie like his ass requested. If you want to chop somebody, chop that small dick nigga!”
“Girl, boo!” I shrieked aloud. “You’re done! Finito! Finished. I don’t even have to cut you. These cutthroat Sensual Wonderland muhfuckas are about to roast you alive, and you don’t even realize you’re a dead man walking. Ha!” I swiped tears of amusement from the corners of my eyes and tried to calm down before one of my neighbors came knocking. This shit was hilarious.
I had to take a break from giggling over the comments section to kick off my heels and find something to fix for dinner. I took my phone with me into the kitchen where I seasoned up some salmon and tossed it in a wok with coconut oil. The yummy aroma had my mouth watering for the healthy alternative, while at the same time missing good ole fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. Staying fit could drive a woman insane sometimes.
Despite my uncouth behavior on the internet, I had great discipline and self-control. That was how I had risen in the ranks in my career field, how I kept my body looking tight and the reason I had a lot more going for me than other women my age. The trade-off was missing out on misbehaving, which meant the sex group was the highlight of my single, lonely life. I wasn’t about to let anyone ruin it for me, especially not MackMain’s can’t-keep-a-secret ass.
By the time I sat down at the glass dining table and glanced at my phone, there were too many comments to go through each one. I knew the general gist of things without looking. There’d be the party poopers who felt the roast sessions went too hard and the other offenders who yapped the loudest just to take the attention off of themselves. Every member on the chopping block had a fan or two begging us not to kick them out, as if by striking them from the group we were banning them from the rest of the social networksphere. It was crazy.
I tittered to myself as I got to the bottom of the feed where a more defensive MackMain was throwing barbs as sharp as her attackers’. My name was tagged in a handful of comments. “No she didn’t!” I growled, shocked, when I deciphered the broken English and typos to read what she had to say about me.
“An Sense of Wonder you need to chill!! This group shit goin to yo wide ass forehead. Who tf you think you are, hoe? You just another thirsty trick hiding behind a keyboard, gettin off to these squiggly dick niggas and tank booty bitches cause you ain’t got no life, with yo frontin ass. We from the same city, bitch. You ain’t even a freak. Your just an attention whore. Na kick me from the group. I’m done.”
I dropped my phone, and it clattered to the dining table. This blabber mouth bitch was acting like she really knew me! However, my usual aplomb kicked in just in time before I virtually blasted her ass when I looked around and remembered I was pulling damn near six figures as a computer programmer, living in a very nice condo that I owned—not leased—and giving myself the finer things in life without needing a man to take care of me. Meanwhile, Mack was sending pics of her busted can of biscuits looking ass dressed in Walmart lingerie to dudes on the internet. And, I was the thirsty one?
I laughed all the way to the stove to turn off the heat and arrange my dinner on a stylish black plate. I didn’t deign to respond to her. I just kicked her stupid ass from the group and blocked her from my personal page too for good measure.
“Now a moment of silence for another deceased group member,” I typed.
But, the half-smile that slanted across my full lips as the comment posted didn’t quite reach my eyes because, to a certain extent, she was right. I wasn’t a freak. I did kind of front online. I wasn’t quite as confident in real life. Yet, I had my life together, regardless. The lame bitch wished she had my life.
Page Count: 34 pages, Word Count: 10K+
THE SUBURBAN WIVES SEX CLUB
The new house in Sunny Heights Park looks like something straight out of a magazine spread. I have to crane my neck and gaze up into the blinding summer sky to take it all in—the full three stories in blond brick and stucco with its Mediterranean red tiled roof.
The house makes an L-shape with a courtyard on the ground floor behind a wall of open arches. It boasts a lush green garden and natural wading pool clogged with water lilies and lily pads. It has a beautiful, rustic appeal, but as I fall in love with the sight of it, I remind myself not to get too attached. This dream house is temporary.
Behind me, the movers make short work of installing the furniture, and I hear my husband somewhere talking a mile a minute on the phone with a business associate. The conversation is peppered with curse words and demands. Raphael works for Big Oil and Gas, and we’ve moved here on business, the fourth such move in the three years of our short marriage.
I sigh and take off my designer shades, gazing down the wide, tree-lined boulevard at the other residences—neat rows of mini mansions with spacious lawns, not too cramped. As if an example of the status of the inhabitants, at the top of the hill at the end of the boulevard is a monstrous house the real estate agent told us belonged to a wealthy older heiress. But, most of these people are nouveau riche or upper middle class. The green grass grows all around to a manicured two inches. I spy joggers and dog walkers meandering along the winding sidewalk that makes its way through the neighborhood.
A pool boy breezes past me—tan, shirtless and flirtatious—and keeps his eyes on me until he stumbles on an uneven piece of sidewalk. I hide a small smile and glance away. He isn’t the only hottie, either. Three brown shirtless fellas pushing lawn mowers and sculpting shrubbery wave when they catch my eye.
If there are any pluses to moving to yet another strange place, it’s that this one has more than the average amount of fine ass men. It’s enough to make a lonely woman consider entertaining an affair.
“Hey, honey?” Raphael calls out as I turn to take my wandering thoughts inside. He cups a hand over his phone to talk to me. “I’m headed to the office. I don’t know what time I’ll be back.”
I refrain from getting irate, but we haven’t even gotten settled in yet. “Raphael, I thought we were doing dinner together in the new place tonight,” I mumble, disappointed. He shrugs as if there’s nothing he can do about it, and I wave him off, stepping into the big, empty house.
Boxes everywhere. I guess, as usual, I have to make sense of this mess by myself.
“What you need to do is have an affair,” my mother says into the phone. “I’m just sayin’, Julissa!”
I gasp, scandalized by her nonsense. “Mama, you know better. I can’t believe you’d say that to me.” She giggles and I realize, Looord, my love life has to be in dire straits if my very own Christian mama is telling me to dip and dabble.
“Now, I didn’t raise you to be no desperate housewife. But, hell, Raphael is turning you into one.” I can hear the smirk in her voice and picture her patting her salon-fresh curls like it’s none of her business but…
I joke with her, “For that, I oughtta call you up this weekend and give you a play by play of my birthday date and why I don’t need to cheat. My husband can take very good care of me, thank you very much.”
I hear the sound of a car door slamming out front and figure my busy husband has finally made his way home. I hop up from the pillows piled at the head of the bed where I’d been reading a book before my mom called, and I scurry over to the vanity to put on a dab of perfume.
“I figure he can, too,” mama retorts. “The question is, will he?”
“Oh, hush, mama. I gotta go. I think Raphael is home.” I fluff my lustrous black hair and smile at my prettily made-up reflection as I say my goodbyes.
“One last thing. Julissa, a man’s gotta eat. You be sure you fixin’ him a plate he can’t resist, if you know what I mean, or he’ll eat elsewhere.”
“Bye, mama, with your mannish tail!”
Laughing, I hang up the phone and hurry down the stairs to the front door to meet Raphael at the car. Mama can’t possibly know, but I stay on top of my game. It’s Raphael who doesn’t seem to want to catch the plays I throw his way. But his face splits into a grin as he unfolds from the sports car and leans down to chastely kiss me. I get a warm, rosy feeling at the rare show of affection.
“Look at you,” his baritone voice rumbles. “You missed me?”
I slide my arms around his muscular torso. “Always,” I murmur, burying my face in his wide chest. He gently disengages from my hug to place a familiar distance between us. I can’t hide my crestfallen look because I simply don’t understand his behavior. He ignores the pouty face I pull. We used to be so close. And, now? I feel like I’m living in this big, ole garden of Eden by my damn self.
After being in Sunny Heights Park for close to a month, I don’t know why I keep thinking things will be different. It just seemed like a new place, a fresh start. So much for my wishful thinking.
“How was work?” I ask in a dry, tired voice as he reaches into the passenger seat to grab his briefcase. It’s late evening, and the sun is low in the sky. The light slants across his handsome face when he leans forward, and I have to harden my heart to the effect he still has on me since I clearly no longer have such an effect on him. Not even in the black cocktail dress, silky hair hanging down my back, high-heels on point. It’s like he doesn’t see me.
“Work was work,” he says without giving much away. “You need something, baby? I kind of have a lot on my mind, and I want to head inside and take a look at these schematics before I get some rest.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t need anything. Wait, one thing. Are we still on for my birthday date this weekend?” I ask, offhand. I glance up and notice the same nosy neighbors always sitting around outside next door seem to be all ears. I try to keep my voice down.
Raphael turns to me with a surprised look. “Damn, that’s this weekend?”
I cross my arms. “Yes.” I bite off the word, begging God to please let him not have forgotten about my birthday weekend.
“Honey…baby…” I put up a hand and shake my head with disgust.
“Julissa, don’t act like that! You know I have to work!” At the vehemence in his voice, I angrily shove his chest.
“The fuck you mad for? It’s my birthday I’m getting stood up on! You know what? Don’t even tell me how sorry your ass is. I already know. I’m sick of this shit!”
It’s an involuntary outburst, all the months of pent-up sexual and emotional frustration coming out. Another birthday missed. Another date canceled. Me, begging my own fucking husband for a sliver of attention. I’m a damned fine woman and a good wife! I don’t deserve this!
I stomp into the house and slam the door. At this point, I hope the nosy bitches next door heard every word. As I stand there fighting to calm down, I hear the car crank back up outside and realize Raphael is heading back out. I throw the door open in a huff. “And, where the fuck do you think you’re going?!” My face turns red in my fury.
“Out,” he yells through the open window of his blue Forgiato Camaro. Raphael revs the engine and peels out with a squeal of tires and a smirk. I stand there, dumbfounded, unable to believe this is happening.
This can’t be my happy life, my wonderful marriage. Who is this man and how on earth do I get back to the love we used to share?
Page Count: 48 Pages, Word Count: 10K+
SLEEPING WITH HIS SISTER
I’m in a dim-lit comedy club staring at a brick wall background behind a narrow stage, just enough room for amateur comedians to either hang themselves or launch their careers to the moon. My boyfriend, Chris, fancies himself a funny guy. I, personally, would call his act immaturity immortalized, but he gets a laugh every time he hits the stage. And, I love him.
So, I’ve been supporting his ass the last six months since he dropped out of college to “make it big time.”
From where I’m sitting, I see him standing in the wings backstage. He waves at me and smiles, flashing perfect white teeth in a pecan brown face. If he wasn’t so damn fine…I smile back and give a little wave with my fingertips. Chris isn’t half-bad. He cooks, cleans and makes an all-around good boyfriend, but he can’t keep a real job to save his life. That’s my only complaint.
On the stage, round after round of semi-famous—or, at the very least, locally popular—men and women take to the open mic. Some of the sets are decent, others fall flat. This is the one place where raw, unadulterated bigotry cloaked in hilarity trumps being politically correct.
“Women? Don’t get me started on women. Let’s just say karma is real. That’s why y’all get periods every month. Payback for all the hell you raise them other three weeks. Can I get some noise?”
“I hit one for English, then talk to Paloma, Ahmed and Dabboo. Shit, did I call customer service or Rosetta Stone?!’ Cause I can’t understand a word they be saying. I be like, ‘English, motherfucker, do you speak it?’”
“Yeah, I stopped doing rape jokes. They’re not that funny, are they? Unless it’s happening to men, right? If a dude goes to jail, what’s the first thing we tell him? Don’t drop the soap!”
By the time Chris gets his turn, I’m at the point of wishing I had a good book or even some damn knitting to distract me, but I turn my glazed eyes back to the stage and try not to yawn. His set is a handful of minutes, then we can leave. Chris told me he had written all-new jokes. This should be fun, I think sarcastically to myself.
He opens with, “Let’s hear it for gay marriage!” The audience whoops and hollers in approval.
“Woo-hoo!” I shout along with everyone else. I wonder where he’s going with this opener.
Chris pumps his fist in the air and ambles from one end of the stage to the next, using his blocking. I’ve watched him practice it a million times, but now jokes, blocking, setting and tone come together.
“I don’t have a problem with gays,” Chris says with a wide grin. He points to a lesbian couple in the front row, who clap harder and cheer louder. I gaze around at the whole club excited to see my dude perform. I admit, it gives me a sense of pride.
“My twin sister is gay. Studs just creep me out, though. Know what I’m talmbout?” The live band plays a sound effect and people laugh. I smile nervously. Christopher’s twin sister, Maria, is a stud. I’ve never met her and probably shouldn’t feel any kind of way about him saying that, but I would feel uncomfortable about joking about one of my close family members that way.
“I mean,” Chris says, “I can understand how one gorgeous, sexy, womanly woman finds another gorgeous, sexy, womanly woman attractive. Alright, that’s logical. But, why would anyone want a Rambo looking woman wearing boxers and a strap-on dick? That is not logical. I’m sorry. I gotta tell the truth!”
With a small gasp, I cover my mouth at the crudeness of the joke. My liberal side kicks in and doesn’t find it funny at all. Or, rather, it’s funny how the disenfranchised become the easiest punchlines. He meanders along to other topics as I count down the minutes to the end of his routine so I can give him a piece of my mind. I don’t think he needs to use cheap shots to get laughs. He’s better than that.
“So, my mom was working on her will earlier this month. Aww, thank you, thank you for the sympathy clap. Ha! No, she’s not dying. My mama just happens to be the world’s most prepared woman. I swear she had all four of her kids’ names picked out by the time she said her first words. Anyway, my sister and me had to help mama with the paperwork.
“It was stressing me out to think about it. Nobody wants to examine mortality and all that shit. I say to my sister, ‘Ria, do you ever think about dying?’ Maria say, ‘Yeah, Chris. I think about dying, but I don’t worry about it. Know why? ‘Cause I got all my shit in order.’ I look at her funny, ‘cause we’re both, like, twenty-nine. I’m wondering if she know somethin’ that I don’t know. Like, is our health in danger? Wassup?” The audience members chuckle and giggle.
“I say, ‘So, you got your will written up and e’erthing?’ ‘Nah,’ she tell me. ‘I got a friend who know what to do if I randomly drop dead—where to find the spare key.’ I say, ‘For what, Maria?’ ‘So she can destroy my twelve-inch, molded-from-a-porn-star, feels-real-life, as-seen-on-tv, always-stays-hard big DICK!’
“Lawd, help. I turn to her and say, ‘Bish, whet!’” The audience howls and cackles with unending laughter.
“Oh my god, Chris,” I mutter, unable to keep from snickering at his delivery. My boyfriend throws his hands up in the air and drops the mic. Then, chuckling, he bends back down to pick it up. He can’t even get another word in for how they’re cutting up.
“That’s it for me. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen! You’ve been a wonderful audience! Peace!”
I stand up with the rest, a standing ovation. But, when we get in the car later and head to the apartment we share across town, I figure I should address the issue of him making his sister the butt of his jokes. We fly through the glittering city with R&B playing softly on the stereo. It’s a hot night, but the A/C pumps out chill air. I peek over at him in the darkness.
“You didn’t have to do Maria like that.”
“Ah, don’t be sensitive!” Chris replies with a laugh. He grips the steering wheel of my Range. “Did that offend you, really? You don’t even know my sister. She lives all the way across the country. Maria wouldn’t be bothered by that set.”
I cross my arms and stare out the window at the dark night, mad ‘cause he always says I’m too sensitive. “I’m just saying, Chris, couldn’t you have come up with better material that didn’t throw your twin under the bus?”
“It was a joke.” His face drops and he sighs. Not in the mood to fight, I drop the subject and crank up the radio louder so we can listen to some tunes the rest of the way home. I hope it will put him in the mood to wear my pussy out the way he mastered that stage. I drop my hand into his lap and inch my fingers higher and higher up his thigh to his real-live Mandingo dick. Nothing like the strap-on he described. Thinking about it makes me snicker with amusement ‘cause I can’t picture any woman wanting a replica when she can get the real deal.
Chris doesn’t let the topic rest entirely, though. “Well, I’m sure Ria will be glad to hear you took up for her when she gets down here this weekend.”
“She’s flying in to spend some time with mama. That last will shit put us both on edge. We’re tryna find out if mama’s really sick and don’t wanna tell us.”
I reach over and grab his hand, squeezing it supportively. “I’m sure Mrs. Redding is healthy as ever,” I reply. “…So, I finally get to meet your sister.”
“Yeah. Just watch out, though. She’s my twin, and she’s a stud.”
“Meaning don’t get tempted.”
I howl with laughter and throw his hand aside. “You can’t be serious! Boy, I’m strictly dickly.”
“Mm-hmm, that’s what they all say.”
“What, you don’t trust me?” I ask incredulously.
“Nah, it ain’t you I’m worried about.”
Page Count: 35 Pages , Word Count: 10K+
Danny Jo was twenty years old with no kids, her own place and a nice whip. Jealous much? She slung her glistening, sleek black hair over her brown shoulder and grinned at her thick-as-molasses-in-winter reflection in the mirror. Of course they were jealous. Danny had her share of haters, and she had enemies, but envy only fueled her.
“Hurry up, Danita!” her best friend, Chloe, called from the other room.
“Don’t rush me,” Danny calmly retorted. She wouldn’t be told what to do. This was her shit, her show. “We leave when I say we leave.” Danny slowly swept inky black mascara over her mile-long lashes to finish off the look and studied her smooth, radiant copper skin. Her face was a masterpiece without the make-up. With it, she was otherworldly, inhuman, too perfect to be true. And, that was precisely the effect she was going for tonight.
Let that motherfucker envy what he can’t get back, she thought wryly.
She knew jealousy made the world go round. It was the lifeblood of capitalism. When she’d gone out and gotten a gleaming, pearl white Tahoe, damn near everybody in her apartment complex rushed out to go broke trying to compete. And, when she fucked a fine brother, every chick and her mama wanted a piece of him after that. But that, she could deal with, mostly by ignoring it and continuing to do her thing.
Disrespect, on the other hand…well, disrespect had to be dealt with differently. Danny came from a long line of killers, kings and queens, and fucking with her royal reputation was the surest way to get silenced long-term.
There was a gun on the edge of the bathroom sink.
Danny set aside her makeup bag and smoothed a hand over the black leather shorts that ended just beneath the curve of her ass. Voluptuous breasts spilled out of a shirt so tiny it could’ve doubled as a sports bra. She didn’t let her full figure keep her from dressing sexy, but tonight she had a more serious reason for going half-naked to the club. She needed her body unhampered for this ass-kicking she was about to dole out.
Danny picked up her weapon and tucked the cold, hard steel in the back waistband of her shorts. There was nothing to conceal it. But, where she was going, she wouldn’t need to. Her last name rang bells and blew whistles. Not a soul would talk, if shit went left and she had to use it for more permanent damage than she intended.
“Now, I’m ready,” she whispered to her reflection. Anticipation thumped in Danny’s bloodstream like a bassline as she turned away from the full length mirror hanging on her bedroom wall and strutted into the living room where her home girls, Lacey, Chloe and Kennedy were waiting for her.
The heels of her boots clacked across the tiled floor with force and determination in every echoing footstep. All eyes turned to her when she entered the room. Danny’s cherry-red lips spread into a sultry, fierce smile as she returned the stare. The mood in her apartment was tense, but she could change that.
“Light it up,” she commanded. Lacey grabbed the blunt Chloe had expertly rolled, and the lighter clicked and flamed up in the dark living room. As the acrid smell of Purp went up in smoke around the four sexy vixens, just as Danny had suspected, things livened up.
“What if”-type questions got started, and before long the women were giggling with amusement as the jokes got more and more ludicrous. But, somber ass, serious ass Kennedy wasn’t on the same level as everybody else. She sat on the edge of the sofa, declining the blunt being passed around. She had an irritated look on her face, and no one paid attention to it because they were used to her being stuck-up. Danita, however, noticed. She noticed everything.
Danny nudged Kennedy’s foot with the heel of her boot. When her cousin looked up, she smirked and asked, “What’s wrong with you, cuz?”
“You’re serious about doing this, huh?” Kennedy muttered for Danny’s ears only.
“Hell, yeah. I’m serious. Get your mind right, ‘cause it’s about to go down,” Danita replied, looking around at her aces. Kennedy was her first-cousin. Chloe and Lacey, she had known since middle school, and even though in the past the four of them had had their ups and downs, there was no shade in her circle. She couldn’t have picked a better set of riders if she tried. Though her cousin might act reticent to participate, Danny was sure she could count of her just like her other two best friends.
“Now, y’all ready?” she asked, voice like silk and blues. She tucked the blunt to her sensual mouth and inhaled deeply. A puff of gauzy blue smoke exhaled and with it, she felt her confidence lifting. It was a bold plan, a brash one, one bound to get them in a helluva lot of trouble if they were found out, but they wouldn’t be found out.
Lacey over-eager ass hopped up off the couch so fast that she almost knocked over the coffee table, and Chloe threw a hand out to steady her, laughing. “Girl! Calm down!” Chloe shouted. Danny blew out a breath, shaking her head. These bitches were her kind of crazy. She could trust them with her life.
“I’m trying, but the way my personality set up, I been waiting on a good fight for the past two months, and Bryce ass is overdue for a beat-down. Woot-woot!” Lacey whooped. “Now, let’s go get ‘em!”
Danny felt the war-call like a rumble beneath her feet. “Let’s go!” she seconded. As the four women strutted out the front door, she added, “Let the mayhem begin.” Kennedy was the last one out, and she looked like the only one who wasn’t gunning for blood, but that was alright, too. Every player in the game had a purpose. Some were pawns. That was just the nature of things. Danita was slowly figuring out who was who on her board, and the sooner she understood everyone’s position, the better.