Hi everyone! The 31 Days, 31 Authors event continues with today’s featured author, Tonya Brown Rivers! Although Tonya is a new author, her debut novel, Renewal To Passion (under SBinkley Publishing), has already created quite a buzz in the Christian Fiction genre. A lot of readers (including myself) is looking forward to what else she has in store.
Now, here’s Tonya! 🙂
Author Tonya Brown Rivers was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. She continues to reside there with her family. She began her writing journey in childhood and penned in her many diaries and journals over the years. And then she began to write several stories in her personal journals at the tender age of sixteen. Tonya loves to create stories that will not only inspire but entertain her readers. She warmly welcomes her readers to connect with her and share their reflections and thoughts of those fictional characters and storylines she enjoys crafting…
1. Besides writing, what else do you like to do?
I love to make essential oils!
2. What inspired you to become an author?
I was inspired by my love of romance as a hopeless romantic.
3. What was your first reaction when your debut novel was published?
My first reaction when my debut was published, I screamed of utter joy!
4.Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
5 years from now I pray to see more successful novellas published and even a novel, or two.
5. What advice can you give to anyone who wants to become an author?
My advice to anyone who wants to become an author is believe in yourself and your passion to make your aspirations become a reality!
Excerpt from Renewal To Passion
“Please tell me you can be civil and professional with Corliss?” Tanner Morris’ exasperated tone zapped Gavin McCoy from his musings. He had been successful ignoring the scolding while sketching his innovative designs, but his best friend and publicist just put a monkey in that wrench when he mentioned her name. To say he was salty by it all would be an understatement; he was stone livid.
Throwing up his arms and letting them drop to his sides, Tanner tapped his foot expectantly while Gavin pouted, twisting his mouth wryly as a petulant child. This was not how he expected his day to turn out—a conversation about her. As far as he was concerned, the woman didn’t exist in his life anymore and it was all her fault. End of story.
“Tell her to go away!” he huffed. His dark, chocolate-brown face matched the stoic mood he tried to convey, when he really wanted to yell his frustration from the mountain top.
“Really? Gav dude, come on already,” Tanner sighed heavily. “Is this how you want to allow things to blow up in your face? Grow up, man!” he replied with a shake of his head.
Gavin grimaced, exhaling in a long breath. He prepared to ask the dreaded question that had his stomach knotted in a fiery ball, threatening an ulcer. “How long, Tanner? How long will I have to work with her?”
Tanner winced. Obviously annoyed by Gavin’s cool reproach, he glared at his best friend of twenty-six years, “She has a name and…” he paused. Scratching his head, he blew out a wisp breath. “I know you’re not going to like this but more like a season-”
“What the-” Gavin’s words stalled in mid-sentence. He would not fly into a litany of cursing. He promised his mother he would work on bridling his tongue so, instead, he bit into his bottom lip, hard, and squeezed his eyes shut, only reopening them when he heard Tanner drone on.
“Look. Gavin, you’ve got to play it cool, man. I’ve got you, right?”
He sauntered over and clasped Gavin’s shoulder, patting it lightly. “Let’s ball, playa. Let’s make it do what it do!”
Gavin chuckled low. Tanner was a Harvard graduate with a Master’s degree in public relations. It was always intriguing to hear him trying to be hip when he was trying to drive a point home; in fact, Gavin always thought Tanner should’ve been an attorney. He knew how to plead his case and was doing a magnificent job convincing him, even if he had resulted to his brother man style of tactic.
His show of two seasons meant a lot to him. So, if he had to stomach being in her presence longer than he could handle, he would have to do it for the sake of increasing his ratings and popularity, for that matter. After all, it was all about the mighty dollar and the ‘brand’. Gavin knew he was a hot commodity; great looks, stellar talent, and personality were all that had him at the top of his game as a celebrity interior designer, until he discovered some bad news, turning his life upside down and inside out.
Yes. He still had it, but the luster had faded in a slight dimming. Nothing he thought couldn’t be resolved. And, besides, he didn’t need her to come to his rescue. But his hands were tied, and Gavin had to be around Corliss Valencia Adams now, in a different light. Not to mention, he wasn’t completely over her and a day didn’t go by that he didn’t at least think about how she was doing? Or that smile, the woman took his breath away. Literally.
Gavin was a glutton for punishment. Shaking his head furiously, he knew things were about to get complicated again, and he didn’t need this right now. But, he didn’t have a matter in the case. Innovative Designs Network was showing a decrease in ratings and the producers stayed in his ear about getting out the funk they said he was entrenched in for the last few months. Gavin halted his friend’s words with a raise of his hand. “Chill T.” He nodded.
“So, you good?”
Gavin shook his head vehemently. “No. Nah, man. I wouldn’t say I’m all that, but business is business,” he groused.
“Exactly! And personal is personal, so let’s not confuse the two, aiight?” Amusement danced around in Gavin’s dark onyx eyes. Tanner was trying to distract his sour mood; he wasn’t slick. Momentarily, it was working, but then it hit him like a ton of bricks. She was back. He tried squelching the gut wrenching feeling that churned his stomach and stung his chest in a dull coil of pain, all reminders that he still loved her just as the day he laid all his inhibitions on the line and asked her to be his soul mate for life. There was no denying it. The connection was still there, drawing him in at a magnetic force too potent to ignore.
Gavin grounded out a menacing groan. His long torso sank further in the charcoal-gray wingback sofa. He reflected on all that took place before his regular morning jog. It now made sense. “Talk about having a ‘you have got to be kidding me’ kind of day,” Gavin thought out loud. It was all about trepidation. He now knew why or, more importantly, whom.
This morning, he almost knocked himself unconscious slamming his skull into his Butler design kitchen cabinets; how many times had his mother Evangelist Gretchen Clarke McCoy warned him about those cupboards. She was always preaching functionality over innovation and, with Gavin at six-foot-three today, he agreed wholeheartedly with her logic.
His best friend since childhood and publicist, Tanner Morris, informed him that his syndicated TV hosting show, Gavin Makes House Calls with Home Designs Innovations, would be canceled this fall if viewing rates didn’t pick up, and, now, the assault of all nuisances, Corliss, was back in town. And, this time, he was told she was here to stay.
“Are you sure you made the right decision to taking Gavin on as a client? I mean, we can haul it out of here like we breezed in. I’m fine with the return for job purposes, but I’m not relocating and staying my behind in Atlanta. Which reminds me, why are you moving back permanently? Do I have to remind you that you’re a freelance image consultant and can reside wherever you want?” Caitlin Reynolds, Corliss Adam’s cousin and personal assistant, implored. They were dining at one of their favorite Italian restaurants, Buca, for dinner.
Corliss chewed her lasagna thoughtfully, swallowing hard, before turning uncertain eyes at her. “That’s if he agrees, Cay.” Cay, she affectionately called her since she could remember. She was the youngest first cousin on her mother’s side. “I have to admit when Tanner called to request our help in boosting sales for Gavin’s show, I was more than hesitant but knew I wanted to support and, so, I’m back to do just that and nothing more. Trust, I know how irresistible Gavin can be. I love… I mean admire him and I’m proud of his accomplishments.” Oops! She almost let that declaration slip. “So there, yes.” She nodded, “I know what I’m doing and you don’t have to worry about me. And for why I’m making Charlotte my home again is because I’ve been planning to return for over a year, remember? Don’t worry, I won’t allow myself to be hurt by him ever again. This is only business.” And only a test so help me Lord…
Caitlin chuckled knowingly. “Right, and that’s why you dragged me back here with you so fast, to convince me to move back, too.” she smiled coquettishly, “knowing I would be tempted to say yes, so I could get all close and personal with Tanner. Whew! That man makes me want to-”
“Rein those cravings in girl.” Corliss laughed heartily. “I need you focused and on board to saving the show, remember? Operation save Gavin?” Corliss arched a teasing eyebrow.
“And you have my allegiance, but a girl got needs, you know?”
“Yeah, right.” Corliss pursed her lips. “You know you’re not giving up the goodies until he makes you his wifey.” She smiled affectionately. Her cousin was celibate, still at the age of twenty-five.
Back when she decided to move to Charlotte after studying Landscape Design at Art Institute, Caitlin was at Queens University and, of course, when she and Tanner met for the first time, her cousin was just a ponytail and braces wearing cutie with a huge crush. But, if she knew her cousin and, she certainly did, she would show twenty-nine-year-old Tanner what her intentions were, now that she would be commuting back and forth to Charlotte from the suburbs of Atlanta. Gavin was also twenty-nine and Corliss hoped he still held his bachelor’s card. At twenty-eight, Corliss had mapped out a plan to be married with at least one child and working on two more by the age of thirty and knew that was her future with Gavin but, then, that night. I’ve got it bad, still.
Corliss recovered before her inquisitive cousin called her out for daydreaming of Gavin once again. “Look who is talking,” Caitlin countered. “You might have not been a nun back in the day, but you sure put a stop to Gavin dipping in the cookie jar after, what? Two of those years?” Corliss felt her cheeks heat.
“Hush, that.” She glanced around the crowded restaurant to see if anyone had heard her loud mouth cousin. But, indeed, Corliss had made up her mind; she wanted to harness the sexual side of their relationship until their impending nuptials, in which she knew would be their future. But it wasn’t an easy promise to keep, especially when she and Gavin, who agreed to the vow, had to take plenty of ice-cold showers, letting them know they needed a little more restraint in that area. Corliss could only shake her head because the test hadn’t even begun to measure how she felt then and even now. She wanted to whisk away all articles of clothing and have her way from sunrise to sunset with this man.
“So, she’s back, so what?” Gavin whispered, shrugging broad shoulders in mock nonchalance. Tanner had long gone, leaving him to sulk in the news of Corliss being forced back into his life, but who was he kidding? It was a deal a very big deal. One that was causing the hammering of his heart to capitulate and brain befuddle in a puddle of mulch. With just the mere mention of her name, he was rattled and didn’t like how she managed to have that much powering control over his senses. In learning she was back in Charlotte, he couldn’t concentrate on his clients’ master-bedroom retreat. Why did she still own his heart and thoughts when, obviously, she didn’t want it nor deserve it, for that matter?
Setting his designer’s graphic board aside and twirling its pencil between nimble fingers, Gavin continued his path down memory lane. The year was two-thousand and nine when he first laid eyes on the gorgeous and promising landscape design major.
She was the most intriguing young lady he had met since walking the campus of Art Institute of Atlanta. Not only was she pleasing on the outside, with supple latte mahogany-brown skin, exotic specks of golden hazel brown eyes, and a smile that was both endearing and sexy, she was smart and compassionate, and he was drawn to her like a bee to a honeycomb. Corliss had captured his heart, then crushed it like a power drill, wreaking its due diligence seven years later.
He needed to just relax and ride with the flow. Work with Corliss for a season or chance being canceled; he had to trust Tanner knew what he was doing, suggesting his old flame. She wasn’t the only image consultant out there but, like he and his best friend knew, she specialized in working with design stars and was the producer of her own landscape blog and podcast; she was proven to be the best. And, right now, he knew what else he needed, and that was a visit to his ex-girlfriend, Veronica Edward’s, home. The voluptuous former airline stewardess was sure to keep him preoccupied. Gavin made a mental note to call her first thing tomorrow to see if she was up for one of his visits. In one visit, he would be able to at least relieve a smidgen of the painful tension Corliss left him with when she walked out on him that night.
Second thought, Gavin stole a cursory glance at his Burberry wristwatch that read 9:15. Grabbing his cellphone, he decided to make the call. The woman’s touch he grown to crave would be the kind of therapy he needed tonight, if he had it his way.
“Yeah. Right there, babe. Your hands are phenomenal,” Gavin praised.
Veronica grinned and continued to knead the pressure points in Gavin’s muscular back and broad shoulders. She allowed her hands to spray over the corded muscles appreciatively. Minutes later, she frowned slightly. “G, you are so tense. Who is she?” This made Gavin’s eyes snap wide open.
“What did you say?”
Veronica chuckled, continuing to pleasure her ex. She owned Savvy Massage, a spa mobile service. “You heard me loud and clear, even if your girl, Sade’s greatest hits, are playing in the background.”
Gavin shrugged lightly. “I can’t help it if I’m old school and happen to be star-struck by the gorgeous and tantalizing R&B artist. You know I met her once; I did tell you that, right? It was-”
Veronica laughed, causing Gavin to relish in the smokiness of her laughter over the sexy ballad. They dated off and on and were now just friends, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still list off all of her fine attributes and the woman had plenty. Like now, her raspy and sexy voice alone would make any red-blooded male want to hear it in their ears when…
“Stop trying to avoid the question!” she chided, breaking into his thoughts over Sade’s, Sweetest Taboo, popular hit. “Who is she? Or I’ll be forced to take these same hands and-”
“Okay. I hear you.”
Veronica’s hands went still. “Corliss,” they said in chorus.
Gavin blew out a heavy sigh and started at the beginning. “Wow,” Veronica murmured, once he finished recapping from why Corliss would be forced back into his universe. Ending with bated breath, Gavin paused for his ex-girlfriend to put her opinion on the table—nothing.
“Is that all?” he interjected, flipping fluidly on his back. He needed to see her facial expression to his question.
Veronica nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders. “Gav, you know as well as I do that you two have a history and it has never gotten resolved. So-”
“So? What are you saying V?” He was getting annoyed by the second. “So, you saying I should just let by-gones be by-gones? Now that she has rolled back in town? Cause I sure ain’t feeling this return! Is that what you’re saying? I’m supposed to be like ‘let’s pick up where I thought we had that ‘real connection’ kind of love before that night’?”
Veronica’s eyes softened. Her heart went out to him. “Gavin, you still love her, you always have. Take it from me; if you will just swallow your pride and stop letting that big head of yours swell,” she playfully swatted at his chiseled chest,” you will know that she still lives in your heart and soul, so don’t mess it up but work hard to repair the damage, okay? Now, turn back over before I forget we are friends!” she said.
Gavin grinned. “You’re my girl, always gotta a brotha’s back,” he complied obediently or else. Gavin knew Veronica Edwards was dainty as they came, but had a ‘kick-butt’ persona. To say she was a tomboy would be a correct assessment. She would challenge him into a headache. The woman was a fierce competitor.
“Yeah, yeah, already.” She returned a grin of her own. “Got me up doing you a service after ten at night. Shut up and I’m charging you double for the advice, too!”
Gavin chuckled. “That’s my V for you. The lucky man in your life should know he has a keeper.”
I thought it was you… but your heart belongs to her… “Whatever man! My advice is not cheap and better not be wasted!”
Gavin heaved out a long breath. “I hear ya, V. I hear ya.” Gavin left Veronica’s with pep in his step. He felt refreshed and knew he would be sleeping like a baby once he hit his designer’s sheets. Breathing in the cool brisk air of early May, Gavin allowed his body to soak in the invigorated service of his girl, Veronica. He always enjoyed being surrounded by nature’s gift, although it had become a painful reminder in his childhood. He smiled serenely, still in effect mode of his massage. She had hands of a Goddess and had given him the ‘in your face’ advice he knew she would never hold back.
He and Veronica were always upfront with one another and that’s what made their relationship so easily able to transition from lovers to friends, but sorry; he wasn’t going to follow her sage advice, this time.
He thought Corliss would one day become his wife, but it didn’t happen. If only he could let go of his stubborn streak and just maybe hear her out in the reason why she made the decision to walk out his life, but things happened for a reason and, obviously, her rolling back in town was for business only and needed to be left there. But, he was taking it personal and he didn’t feel like being the bigger person.
Gavin smirked; his lips upturned in a guileful grin. He would seduce her, then turn around and give her a dose of her own medicine. Was it right? No, but what did they say about pay back? Yeah that…
Well dear heart, get ready to feel the wrath of yours truly. First, my father the austere reverend and then you—the one I trusted to be there for me…
Fifteen-minutes later, Gavin whipped his Mercedes Benz Coupe into his driveway in South Charlotte. He sat there a lingering moment, scheming out the details of how he would exact revenge. Of course, he knew it wasn’t right, but he was sick and tired of feeling caged like an animal with bottled-up anger toward them both. He just wanted things to subside, especially because he still respected his father. Although their relationship had been strained over the years and since then, all over again when he overheard his father and coworker of the network talking what appeared to be an intimate conversation. Deep down, he knew he needed to forgive but, for Corliss, she wasn’t family and he didn’t expect to ever have to deal with her again. He could hold a grudge from afar, but the anger was gnawing him inside; he had to grudgingly admit to himself. And, where his mother was concerned, she was not privy of what really happened between Corliss and him and, certainly, she didn’t know about his father’s infidelity years ago that had started back, but she kept telling him to “let go and let God.” He only further kept both betrayals inside, only sharing both with his boy, Tanner, who tried to get him to open up and approach his father about his cheating ways.
As for Corliss, he encouraged him to do the same. Gavin thought about his devious plan en route to his home. He was going to make her pay dearly for crushing his heart, as a sly grin crested his handsome face; he now had the perfect demise. She should have chosen to be there for him, no matter what.
“No, he didn’t. The nerve of that man!” Corliss retorted aloud, flouncing herself back into her Honda Accord. Once all the details had been finally ironed out and she and Gavin’s first matter of business a week later was to meet up for their first exercise, he had the nerve to cancel on her at the last second. Thank God she had told him to meet her at her office an hour before the actual time of their appointment. Two can play that game… Corliss knew that this was one of Gavin’s ploys. She detected it in his voice.
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