Hi everyone!! The One For Me, the fourth book in the Into You series, is coming tomorrow, and I am so excited! This book is a bit different from the previous three books in the series, as readers will take a journey with Carmen as she not only discovers herself, but also get reacquainted with a past love.
Want to read the first chapter from The One For Me? You can, because I have the first chapter below:
“I can’t believe this is happening!”
“Girl, you should be proud of yourself. Not only are you one of the top business owners in the city, but you’re also about to be interviewed for a major magazine. That’s huge!”
I smiled at my business partner slash best friend, Hanna, before taking a deep breath.
“Technically, we’re the top business owners in Dallas. And it’s a local magazine.”
“Stop being modest. You’re still being interviewed for one. And you recently invited me onboard to be a partner for one of your stores. You built this empire all on your own.”
My smile became wider at that compliment. Hanna was right; I did build an empire that I had worked so hard to achieve. When I opened my first clothing store, Victory Lane, seven years ago, I didn’t think it was going to be as successful as it turned out to be. Since then, I’d opened five more stores in the greater Houston and Dallas area, and even opened a children’s clothing store with Hanna called Victory Petite. I never thought about opening a store but, when Hanna became pregnant with her daughter, Delia, I knew that was a great business venture to get into. That, and because Delia was my niece, so I figured I could keep it in the family. I still couldn’t believe Hanna and my twin brother Sebastian were married, let alone parents, but I guess that saying was true that you couldn’t help you love.
I took another breath, realizing the accomplishment I’d made business wise but not in my personal life. With both Sebastian and my older brother Mark having kids, my dad had been asking me when I was going to have kids. He should know by now that my businesses came first. I was never the type to be tied down and popping out kids. Yes, career women could be mothers too, but that’s not in my plans right now. Just like I had envisioned where my life was heading when I was 15 working at Suds, I still had that mindset and that’s not going to change.
“I know that look. You’re in daydream mode.”
I glanced at Hanna with slight annoyance. “I wasn’t in daydream mode.”
“Yes, you were. You and your brother do the same thing when you’re thinking about something. I thought when you’re older that twin vibe goes away.”
“That will never go away, no matter how old we are.”
“I know you’re thinking about your life right now. That, despite everything that is going for you, you’re still missing something.”
I gave her another annoyed look before pulling a shirt from several boxes that was behind the counter. Hanna and I had been friends since childhood, so the two of us had been through our shares of ups and downs. When she and Sebastian announced that they were dating, I was a bit surprised, mainly because I never pictured the two together. I expected Hanna to be a football or basketball wife, not with someone who loved to mess with electronics for a living but, regardless, I was happy for the two because they’re clearly in love with each other.
Hanna pushed her dark brown hair from her mocha face and smiled. “You know I’m right, sis, that’s why you’re annoyed.”
“I’m not annoyed. I’m happy with my life, Han. Remember, I was the one who wanted to strive for her goals first, then marriage and kids later. Hell, I might not even go down that road. I’ll probably just be grateful for my businesses and have a litter of cats in the future.”
“Please don’t be that lady with a house full of cats. I don’t want to rename you the cat lady.”
I laughed. “Probably won’t be that, but we’ll see.”
“Anyway, I’m really happy for your success. Not only are you planning on opening another boutique soon, but you’re going to smash this interview.”
“Which probably not going to happen since Reece is not here,” I spoke. When Smack Magazine announced their annual “Top 10 Business Owners in Dallas”, I was thrilled to learn that I was hand-picked to be a part of the feature. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was because I actually was or because my cousin-in-law was a part of the magazine staff who hand-picked the list. Regardless, I was grateful for the honor and to have family in such high places.
“Have you talked to Reece and Troy about the car wash? They’ve been doing big things down there. I actually went there to see what the hype was about.”
I continued taking shirts of out a box, not listening to this part of the conversation. When I heard that Mark and his wife, Vanessa, wanted to expand Suds to other markets, I was happy because it showed that Mark had a bigger vision than my dad wanted for the business. My dad never wanted to expand to other cities; but when Mark announced that it would be in Dallas, I was a bit hesitant, mainly because it was a constant reminder of what I was trying to escape. Suds would always be a part of me because I spent majority of my life there. I was grateful for learning the business from my dad because it taught me the ins and outs of owning one, that’s
why I was adamant on starting my own. But one of the issues I had with my father was the fact that I didn’t want to continue in his footsteps by owning a piece of Suds. I knew that would cause a strain in our relationship, but that’s not the life I wanted for myself. I wanted to embark on something that was mine and mine only.
Even though I opened up shops in Houston, I wanted to go in another city so, when I wanted to build my third Victory Lane, I figured why not in Dallas, especially since I didn’t have to deal with any type of Suds business. Little did I know that was going to be short lived when Mark opened up a car wash in the city and decided to have my cousin-in-law Troy buy out that location.
“It’s still hard to imagine that Troy is the owner,” Hanna pointed out.
“I still can’t believe you slept with Troy.”
This time, Hanna gave me an annoyed look. “Do you really have to bring that up? And please don’t even mention that to Sebastian.”
“I know it was before you were with Sebastian. It’s still hard to grasp, that’s all.”
“We were single then, so it was cool. That’s when I wasn’t looking for love.”
“Just don’t say anything about your tryst with Reece. Although Troy is a changed man, no woman wants to hear how much of a ho her husband was before her.”
“She should be happy since she changed him. From what I’ve heard, he’s a family man now. So that shows you that people’s lives can change in an instant.”
I smirked when the door opened, and Reece walked in. She looked beautiful as she wore a radiant smile. She had a certain glow on her caramel-colored skin when she approached me and Hanna.
“Hey, cuz,” I said while going to her for a hug. She exchanged pleasantries when she turned to Hanna.
“Hey, Hanna. It’s good to see you.”
“Likewise. I probably should go, so you two can do the interview.”
“You can stay. It would be good to have someone else here, especially since this is my first interview,” Reece said.
“Which I’m so honored that you’ve chosen me to do your first interview on.”
“When Liam knew that we were family, he jumped at the chance for me to do it. But please stay, Hanna.” She smiled before sitting down near the bench near the handbags.
“I hope I’m not interrupting with the store opening today?” Reece mentioned before sitting down. “If so, we can always reschedule for a different time.”
“You’re okay. I have to do inventory, so the store was closed anyway. Besides, you’re doing me a favor by doing this interview.”
“You are a force to be reckoned with. Not only are you one of the biggest business owners in the city but also the youngest since you opened your first Victory Lane at 20.”
“It was a long, hard road, but I made it.”
“You most certainly did. There is someone who wants to congratulate you on this great honor.”
I gave a confused look, as Reece reached for her phone. She handed to me, and I smiled. It was a video of Mark and Vanessa, who were grinning happily onto the screen.
“Congrats on being one of Dallas’ hottest business owners. We knew you would take Victory Lane to great lengths. We’re proud of you,” Mark commented.
“We’re so proud of you, sis. We’ll definitely be throwing you a party when you return to Houston.” Vanessa smiled.
The video ended, as I almost teared up. That was one thing I could say about my family, no matter how far apart we were, we’d still celebrate in each other’s successes. I was the same way when Mark opened his restaurant, Lucinda’s, which I was definitely crying over since it was named after our mother, and when Sebastian opened up his electronic store, Fernandez Electronics. The Fernandez family was very business savvy, but we did get that from our father. I just wished he was happy about the successes that we all achieved. I was sure he was with Mark and Sebastian but probably not so with me.
“When did they have time to do this?”
“Trust me, those two will make the time to congratulate you. They really are happy for you,” Reece mentioned. “But let’s get this interview started, shall we.”
I got my composure together, so the interview could start. As Reece was asking questions regarding my upbringings, my passion for fashion and how it all tied into me opening Victory Lane, and what the future held for me, all I could think about was the company and what else I could do to generate more revenue. When Reece asked about my personal life, I couldn’t even think about that. Sure, I did want to eventually settle down and have a family but, honestly, I had too much going on professionally to think about that. Right now, my business ventures were both my man and baby, so a personal life would have to take a back seat right now.
Once the interview was over, Reece put down her phone and pen and gave a huge breath. “Phew, I’m glad that’s over.”
“Girl, you did a great job.”
“Let’s hope I did. This is my first interview, so I’m trying not to mess it up.”
“It was great, Reece. With you holding down Smack and Suds, I don’t see how you have the time to do anything.”
Reece smiled. “I guess it’s because I enjoy what I do. You should understand that.”
“I also don’t have a husband and son to tend to.”
Reece nodded. “That’s true, but Troy understands, so he’s supportive. Although our lives are hectic, when we go home, we leave our jobs at the door and connect to our relationship. We balance each other out from the everyday issues that we call life.”
I laughed. “It’s still hard to imagine Troy balancing anyone’s life out. No offense, but I still see him as the playboy who graced Suds.”
Reece shrugged. “I know, but he really has changed. You should ask Mark about that.”
“Maybe if you’re not busy, you should come by the house and have dinner with us. We all could compare business stories and maybe give us some advice on how to keep Suds prospering.”
“I don’t think you need any help on that. Y’all doing just fine.”
“We are, but it’s still good to have some fresh ideas going to keep the store relevant. Especially with the other stores. I’m not sure if you heard about the Overton store. It’s not doing too well.” I slowly nodded,
wondering why Reece was telling me this. Mark didn’t say anything about it nor had the manager, Albert Garcia. Albert and I were good friends, so he would have told me.
Or would he?
After what Reece said, all I could muster was an, “Oh.”
“I guess Mark didn’t tell you?”
“He doesn’t really discuss Suds too much to me, especially since I sold the Overton store to him.”
“I guess Mark didn’t want to bother you with it, then.”
I nodded again, knowing that could be true, but there was probably more to it than just that.
Once Reece left, I turned to Hanna, who was busy scrolling on her phone. I sat down again, still puzzled to why Reece mentioned that.
“Why are you still worried about that?”
I looked up to see Hanna giving me a ‘stop worrying’ expression.
“Because Reece wouldn’t have said that if something was really wrong. Besides, how would she know before me?”
“Maybe because Reece is not only Vanessa’s cousin but Troy’s wife. I’m sure Troy and Mark talk.”
“They do, but something doesn’t seem right about it. Does Sebastian know?”
“He hasn’t said anything to me about it.”
I stared at the pastel green wall, still bothered by what Reece said. I knew I shouldn’t be concerned about Suds, but a part of me still did have love for the business. If they were in trouble, I just hoped Mark and Albert knew how to savage it.
Make sure to download a copy of The One For Me, to read the rest of Carmen’s story. Pre-order is still available, so make sure to 1-Click if you have not done so:
Until tomorrow, everyone, where I will not only post that The One For Me is live, but also announce the release date for Endless Love. 🙂