Book of the Week – Greed by Victoria Christopher Murray

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Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written over twenty other adult novels, including: JOY, Grown Folks Business, The Ex Files, The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the popular Jasmine Cox Larson Bush series.

Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction. Since 2007, Victoria has won nine African American Literary Award for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year — Female. After four nominations, Victoria finally won an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literary Work for her social commentary novel, Stand Your Ground.

Several of Victoria’s novels have been optioned to become movies, including The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the Ex Files series.

With over one million books in print, Victoria is one of the country’s top African American contemporary authors.

 www.victoriachristophermurray.com

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Greed: the Seven Deadly Sins Novel

Passion, money, and a deliciously devious twist: Greed is the newest novel in award-winning author Victoria Christopher Murray’s Seven Deadly Sins series—“the drama of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (Booklist)—and soon to be a Lifetime movie.

You can’t put a price on love…

Zuri Maxwell isn’t happy. Her job is a grind, and money is always tight. Her boyfriend Stephon is the best part of life, but between his income as an artist and her commission-based paycheck, they are barely scraping by.

When Zuri meets a sleek entrepreneur eager to pick her brain, she jumps at the chance to talk business with someone who has everything she wants. As he wines and dines her, Zuri starts moving in elite circles, and she faces a crossroads: Will she give up the stable, loving life she knows for one that glitters, but may not be gold?

 

Chapter 1

“Just got paid…it’s Friday night.”  

I tapped the button on my steering wheel, silencing the booming base

because even though for years this had been my jam every Friday night when I

was at Spelman, I was not feelin’ the musicality of Johnny Kemp right now. As I

rolled into my assigned parking space, I didn’t miss that irony.  

In college I didn’t have any money, but on Friday nights, I sang this song and

hunted for parties as if I did. But now….  

Maybe part of the problem was that my life was out of sync — like this song.

Today was Thursday, not Friday. Maybe that’s what was wrong. I was so

discombobulated that I couldn’t even line my music (or my life) up right.

I turned off the ignition, leaned back in the seat and sighed through my

exhaustion, remembering those college days a decade ago. These days were

supposed to be so much better. Ten years out, a full‐time job, yet, I hadn’t made

any kind of real strives in my life. My J.O.B. was truly keeping me just over

broke.

 2

Leaning across my seat, I reached for my made‐in‐China designer tote and

paused at the envelope that laid on top. Another sigh eased out of me as I

slipped the check from the envelope and paused before I looked at it, as if that

hesitation would change the numbers that followed the dollar sign. But when I

glanced down, the numbers were the same as they’d been when my boss had

given me my commission check earlier. This was money I earned every quarter

over my base salary — $1,557.19.  

My best commission check yet and in the office, this was considered more

than decent. Still, it was way short of what I’d hoped, so much less than what I’d

worked for. This was about a thousand dollars less than what I needed.    

    Groaning, I slipped the check back into the envelope, then grabbed my

tote and slid out of the car, trying to figure out how I was going to make this

check stretch so that it could do what I needed this money to do.   

If I hadn’t had plans for this check, I would’ve been ready to celebrate. The

first time my commission check broke a thousand? Yeah, there would’ve been a

party over here. I may have even gone on a little shopping spree, which for me

meant buying more than one item at Marshalls in one visit.  

But fifteen hundred dollars was just not enough.   

 3

The weight of that felt like shackles on my ankles as I dragged myself to my

first floor garden apartment. The only thing I was grateful for as I struggled up

the path that was flanked by more dirt than grass was that I didn’t have to climb

any stairs.

Pushing my key into the lock, I didn’t even have a chance to turn it before the

door swung open, startling me. Before I could even take a breath, I was swept

from my feet.  

“Oh,” was all I could get out before my mouth was covered — with Stephon’s

lips.  

And when his tongue pressed against mine and we danced that waltz we’d

come to know over the past three years, every single care that had tried to take

me down and knock me out this week, faded away. Dropping my tote and the

check and everything else onto the floor, I wrapped my arms around my

boyfriend’s neck as he cradled me like a baby, then carried me, stumbling over a

couple of paint cans and almost knocking down his easel before we stepped into

our bedroom.  

By the time he laid me on our queen‐size bed, I was ready. That was how it

always was with Stephon. He could take me from zero to throttle up with a

 4

glance and a kiss. That was who he was. Forget about whether a woman was

black, white, brown — if red pumped through her veins, she was hot for

Stephon. Because he had the best of everybody and everything: he had the

smoldering eyes of Idris, the sexy smirk of Kofi, the swagger of Morris and just

enough gangsta in him like M’Baku (which is the name I would forever call

Winston Duke). And then, can I talk about his body? Michael B would come in

second to my man. So all I wanted to do was undress him, straddle him, and love

him until I forgot that we were on earth. But when I reached for his T‐shirt, he

pushed my hand away, then pinned my arms above my head.  

He straddled me and kissed me again, just so gently. When he eased up for a

moment, my breath had already been taken away.  

He said, “Tonight, it’s all about you. This,” he paused and glanced around the

bedroom, “is for you.”

I followed his glance and for the first time, noticed the candles, even though

the softening light of dusk filtered through our bedroom window.  

By the time my eyes were back on him, he had already slipped my sweater

from my shoulders and unbuttoned my blouse. I blinked twice and he was down

to my bra. Just a dozen more blinks and I was naked, on my stomach and the soft

 5

sounds of Arabesque 1 by Debussy (I only knew that because of Stephon) played

from the dock on the nightstand by his side of the bed. My man did his best

work listening to the instrumental tales told through classical music. I closed my

eyes and inhaled the fragrance of lavender almond oil (from the nightstand

on my side of the bed) that scented the air.  

The moment Stephon’s fingertips touched my shoulders,  I moaned. And if

there was any residual stress inside of me, it melted beneath the hands of my

man. When he kneaded his knuckles into my back, I groaned through the

pleasure of the pain, breathing in rhythm with him. I had no thoughts, my senses

all centered on his touch, his scent as he pressed and plied my skin and my mind

to his will. I floated outside of my body, gliding like I was high — my drug:

Stephon Smith.  

There was no way I would have been able to say how long Stephon massaged

me into submission. I slipped into that euphoric state where my body tugged me

toward unconsciousness, but I was still aware.  

The passage of time…and then, Stephon lay next to me. Even then, so many

moments passed before I was able to flex enough muscles to roll over. When I

faced him, his brown eyes, his full lips were right in front of me.   

 6

I said, “How did you know….”

“That was what you needed?” he asked, completing my thought. And before I

could nod, he finished with, “Because on days that end in y, I’m in tune to your

every need.”  

If I weren’t already lighthearted, his words would have made me so. And

since it was one of those days that ended in y, there was something that I wanted

to do.  “Hand me the oil,” I said. “Your turn.”

When he shook his head, I frowned, or at least, I tried to. I was still so relaxed,

the muscles in my face hadn’t awakened.  

Stephon learned so close to me that when he spoke, his lips grazed mine. “I

don’t want a massage,” he whispered. “I just want you.”

He had just kneaded me into a noodle, and still, I weakened from his words.

“I love you,” I told him.

“Beyond infinity,” he said, before he sealed our love with a kiss that went on

and on and on.

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