Young Hearts

an excerpt

Chapter One

"What can a young man do for me but help me throw my back out?" Zoya Marshall asked sarcastically as she and her waitress friend Patricia Williams straightened up the cafe Zoya owned.

"He can make you forget you're forty," Patricia answered as she filled ketchup bottles.

The cafe door opened and the object of Zoya's desire entered, dressed in a pair of low-riding blue jeans and a dark blue pullover shirt. Joaquin Webb was accompanied by a young black male, wearing khaki cargo pants and a short sleeved brown and green cotton shirt. The other guy was nice but all her attention fell on Joaquin. That young man was so hot he made her pussy wet every time she laid eyes on him. Never in her life had she ever wanted a man so much.

Her sister-in-law Marie skedaddled over to the door to greet and seat them.

Joaquin waved and smiled at Zoya.

The cougar inside of her stood up, took notice and purred happily.

Zoya waved and began ringing up a customer who'd just come in to buy one of her homemade sweet potato pies. She smiled sheepishly to herself. What in the world was she going to do with a twenty-one year old white boy? Hell he wasn't even twenty-one yet. His birthday was in two weeks on Valentine's Day. "Thank you for stopping by. Come again," Zoya told the elderly black woman.

Mrs. Griffin smiled at her. "My husband and I just love your pies."

"Thank you," she said absently as her gaze landed on Joaquin again.

Mrs. Griffin took her pie, waved goodbye and left the cafe.

Zoya had to find something to keep her mind off Joaquin, but it was so hard not to sneak a peek at the gorgeous raven haired, blue-eyed advice columnist. She'd known him since she first opened the cafe just a little over eleven years ago. He'd come in with his mother and five brothers and sisters. But he stood out with his jet-black curls that glistened under the fluorescent lights. She remembered it being his birthday and his mother had brought them in for cheeseburgers and French fries to celebrate. She remembered how he followed her around the cafe with curious eyes as she waited on customers. His mother had told them they could order anything they wanted for dessert. His siblings all chose ice cream sundaes, but Joaquin wanted a piece of homemade apple pie.

"Would you like it topped with ice cream?" she had asked him.

Joaquin nodded. "Yes, ma'am. You have beautiful eyes."

Back then she just smiled and thanked him. How did she know for the next eleven years he'd come in at least once a week for apple pie and ice cream? She'd watched him grow over the years from a shy studious young man to the hunk he was today. She never realized that she was in love with him until a couple of months ago when he braved up enough to tell her she was the prettiest woman in the world, and the best cook. Of course she hadn't encouraged his little infatuation with her, but she hadn't run him off either.

Patricia sidled up to her at the counter. "You better stop looking at that boy."

"I'm not looking at him," Zoya lied. She pouted. Patricia needed to mind her own business. She and Patricia went way back. They'd known each other since high school.

"Girl, you are simply undressing him with your eyes."

Zoya returned the eye roll. "There's no harm in looking, and besides, I know he's too young for me."

Patricia laughed and grabbed a couple of menus to take to a group of people who'd just entered the cafe.

Zoya walked from behind the counter and headed back into the kitchen to check on the pies she had baking in the oven. The only thing she loved more than Joaquin was baking desserts.


Joaquin watched Zoya leave the counter and go into the kitchen. He smiled. She got prettier every time he saw her.

"She is very lovely," Russell Sanders said to him. "But you don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting with her."

He met Russell in college where they both studied journalism and photography. Joaquin frowned. "Why would you say something like that?"

Russell smirked. "Because it's true. She's a black female and she's used to dating black men. If you know what I mean."

"I don't think Zoya's the type who cares about race."

Russell shook his head. "That's not what I'm talking about. She's probably used to dating guys with nice muscular behinds that are heavily endowed."

Joaquin scowled at him. "I have a nice ass and you're just talking shit. All black guys aren't Long Dong Silver."

"Who is Long Dong Silver?"

"Never mind," Joaquin said. He didn't have time to fill Russell in on the retired porn star. Then he would also have to explain why he knew about him. "Anyway, it's not what you have, but how you use it."

Russell chuckled. "Spoken like a man who lives in a fantasy world. All women want men with big dicks." He sampled his French fries. "I like these. They're not too salty."

Zoya came back out and walked toward them.

"Shush. Zoya's coming this way."

Russell continued to eat his French fries.

Joaquin sighed. Zoya really has it going on. He allowed his gaze to sweep over her, taking in her ample chest and wide hips. She also has big fine legs that he often envisioned wrapped around his waist. His cock did a slow rise in his briefs. If he didn't stop thinking about her everyone in the cafe would know how he felt about her.

"How are you guys doing?" Zoya asked when she arrived at the table. He loved her deep, sultry, southern voice.

Joaquin smiled on the inside.

Russell nearly choked on his fry. "We're doing fine, ma'am."

Zoya winked at Joaquin. "What has the Internet king been up to these days?"

She'd given him that nickname once she learned he had a live advice column online.

"I've been making a living," Joaquin answered. "This is my friend Russell Sanders. We went to college together. Russell, this is Ms. Zoya Marshall."

Russell stood up and offered his hand to Zoya. "It's nice to meet you. Joaquin is always bragging about your desserts, so I had to check them out for myself."

Zoya shook Russell's hand. "It's nice to meet you. Joaquin is a loyal customer. He's tried every dessert in the cafe."

Joaquin smiled. Not everything. I still haven't sampled those luscious brown lips. "She makes the best homemade apple pies in the world."

Russell sat back down again. "I will just have to take your word for that, but I have my heart set on a piece of her sweet potato pie."

Zoya chuckled. The sound nearly stopped Joaquin's heart.

"Just let your waitress know when you're finished eating and she'll cut you a slice," she told Russell.

Zoya turned her attention on Joaquin. Those dark brown eyes seem to sizzle beneath the jet-black lashes. Joaquin gulped. He had a full-fledged hard-on now. He probably would have to go home and jerk off, again.

"Will you have your usual?"

Joaquin nodded.

"With ice cream?"

Joaquin continued to nod. "Can you please put a cherry on top?"

Zoya smiled at him. "I'll put two cherries on top for you, sweetie."

And it wasn't his imagination. Zoya ran her gaze over him, smiled and walked away.

"Maybe I underestimated your charm," Russell said to him once Zoya left and Russell stopped checking out her butt. "That smile she gave you when you asked for the cherry could light up the state of Georgia."

"I was referring to her cherry," Joaquin said with a wicked smile. "I'm so glad I wore a shirt with a hem that comes down to my hips."

Russell chuckled at his discomfort. "I feel for you, brother. Ms. Zoya does have a nice ass. Do you still plan to invite her out for Valentine's Day?"

Joaquin nodded. "I have it all planned out. My family is joining me here for cheeseburgers and fries to celebrate my birthday. Then I have a reservation for dinner and dancing at the Bradford Ballroom." Both he and Zoya had taken lessons there a couple of years ago. He only enrolled in the classes after he learned Zoya was there and he actually liked it.

"So when do you plan to ask her?"

"Soon," Joaquin said. But not in front of him in case Zoya turned him down.

An older black man entered the cafe dressed in a nice business suit. He walked up to Zoya and kissed her on the cheek.

"Who is that?" Russell asked.

Joaquin shrugged. But he sure as hell was going to find out. He signaled for Patricia. If anyone knew, she did.

"Are you ready for dessert, darling?"

Joaquin nodded. "And information. Who is that guy with Zoya?"

Patricia looked toward the counter. "Oh, him. That's James Thomas. We went to school with him."

Joaquin frowned. He thought he knew all of Zoya's friends. "Are the two of them dating?"

Patricia smirked at him. "Are you jealous?"

"You know I am. Just answer the question." He and Patricia went way back. His mother was friends with her and she knew how he felt about Zoya.

"They used to date back in high school, but he married someone else. He broke poor Zoya's heart. But he got a divorce and he's sniffing around her again. He's a big time financial analyst now."

Joaquin continued to frown. He had to make a move and make it fast. "He is so not going to have her."

Patricia chuckled. "You better bring your A-game. James is quite the smooth talker."

"That doesn't mean she will fall for him." Zoya laughed at something the man said. Joaquin looked over at them. Zoya had moved behind the counter and James was now seated on one of the stools. Zoya had a big smile on her pretty face. "What time is she getting off tonight?"

"Six-thirty," Patricia answered. "Why?"

"Because I have something to ask her."

"Ooh, you're finally going to ask her out on a date."

Joaquin put his finger to his lips to shush her. "Not so loud, but yes. I want to take her out for Valentine's Day and you're going to help me convince her to say yes."

"Got it," Patricia said. "You know I have your back."

"You better sweep her off her feet with loving words and flowers," Russell said. "That brother looks like he's serious about Zoya, too."

Joaquin rolled his eyes at Russell. "I have my speech all planned out."

Patricia started clearing away their dirty dishes since Marie was busy cleaning another table. "I'll be back with your dessert. I have to get close to them to get your pies out of the display case."

Joaquin smiled at her. "I am going to name our first born daughter after you."

Patricia chuckled. "You know I'm rooting for you. I've never liked James." She walked away with the tray of dirty dishes.