Cover image for Naughty or nice
Naughty or nice
Dickey, Eric Jerome.
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Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2003]

Physical Description:
275 pages ; 22 cm
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Much beloved and New York Times best-selling author Dickey delivers a real gift of a Christmas novel sure to warm the hearts of all his devoted readers. With all the elements that make a classic Dickey tale - humour, heart, soul and enough spice to keep out the cold winter nights - fans will be counting on finding this beautifully packaged blockbuster under their tree. Heart pumping and electrifying' - Publishers Weekly'

Author Notes

Eric Jerome Dickey lives in California.

Eric Jerome Dickey was born in Memphis, Tennessee on July 7, 1961. He received a degree in computer system technology from the University of Memphis. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked in the aerospace industry as a software developer. Soon after starting his job, he decided to become an actor and a stand-up comedian, which eventually lead him to a writing career. He attended UCLA's Creative Writing classes and in 1994, his short story Thirteen appeared in the IBWA's River Crossing: Voices of the Diaspora - An Anthology of the International Black Experience. His books include Milk in My Coffee; Liar's Game; Chasing Destiny; Between Lovers; Thieves' Paradise; The Other Woman; Sleeping with Strangers; Waking with Enemies; and An Accidental Affair. He received the awards for Best Contemporary Fiction and Author of the Year (Male) at the 2006 African American Literary Award Show.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Just in time for the holidays, Dickey offers a very funny and engrossing novel about the McBroom sisters, born and raised in Los Angeles. Frankie, Livvy, and Tommie are very close and support each other unconditionally. Oldest sister Frankie has acquired her wealth through investing in real estate and has been dating via the Internet. Surprisingly, her dates are never as exciting in person as they are online. Middle child Livvy is distraught because she has learned that her husband is having an affair. After suffering the embarrassment of having paternity papers served at her home in front of guests, Livvy fights fire with fire and begins her own clandestine affair. The youngest sister, Tommie, is reclaiming her life after a physically abusive relationship. When she becomes enamored of her neighbor and his daughter, it takes all of her therapy and determination to trust her feelings and follow her heart. Each of the sisters must make hard choices to forge a future unclouded by their past mistakes. Dickey's latest offers plenty of the laugh-out-loud humor that has made his work a staple on best-seller lists. --Lillian Lewis Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dickey's holiday gift to readers follows his usual sure-fire formula of African-American sex, love, infidelity and redemption (Sister, Sister; Cheaters; The Other Woman). This time the backdrop is Christmas/Kwanzaa in Los Angeles, with lights twinkling in the windows and fake snow glistening beneath the palm trees. The McBroom sisters-Frankie, Livvy and Tommie-all have serious man problems. Frankie, the oldest, owns a lot of real estate, drives a Benz and has to advertise on the Internet to snag a date. The unfortunate result is a mailbox full of e-responses from losers: "I should've been more specific and said no Jheri curls, brothers who wear pink curlers, played-out pimps, wanna-be gangstas, streetpharmacists, or gold-tooth-wearing hustlers." Middle sister Livvy's husband has betrayed her with a white woman, the result of which is a baby and a torrent of legal bills. Livvy's answer is to hit the Internet as well, answering an ad from a man searching for women who have been betrayed. Readers be warned: Livvy's hookup and resulting affair are hot enough to scorch fingers. Tommie is the youngest, and she's in secret love with the gentle, single dad across the street who thinks she's just a good friend. The whole Christmas/Kwanzaa business is almost a throwaway; the real focus of the book is sex. Dickey is a master at writing about women and what they want and how they want it. There are three kinds of physical love in these pages: hot, red hot and nuclear, and all three McBroom women get it on and have it every which way. To say the problems of the trio work out for the best in the end is to state the obvious. What reader would expect any less? Agent, Sara Camilli. (Oct. 27) Forecast: This latest Dickey sports an attractive, new-look cover that downplays the holiday angle, which should make for added curb appeal and a shelf life that extends beyond December. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this holiday novel by Dickey (The Other Woman), the course of true love is not running smoothly for the McBroom sisters, who fear that they'll be spending Christmas alone. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



LIVVY, TOMMIE, and FRANKIE Livvy ARE YOU A WOMAN BETRAYED? Iwas reevaluating my life. I'd been keeping busy at work, teaching skincare and body- care therapists the correct treatment protocol, product knowledge classes, taking out-of- town trips to teach business classes on how to be successful in the skincare industry. The irony was that I smiled at my nine-to-five and taught people how to get it together when my marriage was ragged and everything in my world was falling apart. I went to my hotel window, looked at the never-ending whiteness falling from above, at the mountains of snow that lined the street, folded my arms, and went back to my laptop. The ad read, ARE YOU A WOMAN BETRAYED? It was from a Website for discreet encounters. The Webpage had popped up on my screen while I was surfing the Net. For the most part, I was a West Coast gal with most of the Ten Commandments carved in my heart. But this weekday seemed to be one of my weak days, the kind of day that made me gaze at my wedding ring and ask myself some hard questions. My cellular phone rang and pulled me away from the computer. It was Tommie, my younger sister. There were three of us McBroom girls. Now McBroom women. Frankie was the oldest. I was the baby of the family until Tommie came along and made me a middle child. They were my bookends, my support. In her haunting, soulful voice, she said, "Whassup, Sticky Fingers?" I laughed. "Don't start with that." Most of the time Tommie was pure sunshine. But with all she's been through, I should be calling to check on her three or four times a day. Loving somebody makes you worry about them twenty-four-seven. But her voice had that motherly tone that worked my nerves. She asked, "Where are you today?" I told her I was in Newark, Delaware. America's first city. She asked, "How did it go today?" "Wasted trip. Classes were canceled. We're snowed in." "Still snowing back that way?" "More like a blizzard. As soon as the trucks plow it away, it's right back." "How cold?" I told her that it was six degrees out. So cold that the snow looked like it had been crystallized, and was as hard as ice. I'd gone outside to touch it and damn near froze to death. "What's there to do back there?" "Grow old and die." "Look, I have issues with you being gone and nobody knows where you are on any given day. I don't know what hotel you're at, what city you're in. That's kinda jacked up." Tommie wanted to know if I'd been working out, if I'd been eating three squares a day. I told her they had put me up at the Embassy Suites and there was a TGIF attached to the hotel. That was their only room service. I'd thrown on my gray sweats and worked out in the rinky-dink gym for two hours, then went over to the restaurant, ordered a low-fat salad, sat in the lobby in front of the fireplace, ate, and watched the hotel employees decorate a Christmas tree. She said, "You have to keep your health up." Tommie was talking and I was back at my computer, looking through those personal ads, every now and then punctuating the conversation with "uh huh" or "okay" or "right." My fascination was with the cyber world. There were a lot of explicit ads on that site. MAHOGANY WOMAN SEEKS IVORY LOVERFOR ORAL PLEASURES. I read them, and I saw the people, doing things that illicit lovers do. BI-CURIOUS ISO THREESOME WITH BOYFRI: . I blinked away from those images. I asked Tommie, "Where is Frankie?" "Think she went to look at some more property." "You seen her?" The television was on in my hotel room. Ten o'clock news. The city and the airports were shut down. I was trapped inside this four-star cave being tortured with local news about "pothole patrols," and a bulletin letting the city know that Home Depot was out of salt and shovels. Tommie said, "We worked out at Sand Dune Park this morning, then we drove to Hermosa Beach and had brunch on the boardwalk at a bistro cafe." "Don't rub it in." I cleared my throat, tried to stay focused. "You work today?" "I'm at Pier 1 now. On break. Heading over to Barnes & Noble so I can get a cup of tea. It's crazy today. Old Navy has a sale, and I think we're getting a lot of their customers." "All sunshine in Manhattan Beach, huh?" "Let's kill the chitchat and cut to the chase," Tommie said. "Staying on the road isn't going to make Tony's paternity suit go away, Livvy." That hit me hard, a blow to my stomach and my throat at the same time. She said, "Everybody who was at your dinner party . . . Well, you know how people talk." "Tell them I said fuck off." The fact that Tony had had an affair was bad enough, but the fact that the baby might be his, my life had become a bad dream that I couldn't shake. My head throbbed. And what I felt, it all came back just like that, that feeling that there was no word to describe. "All I'm saying is running away will not make it go away." I snapped, "I'm not staying on the road to make it go away." I rubbed my temples, took a hard breath, and told her that one of our instructors was sick and Dermalogica had asked me to travel for a couple of weeks and teach some classes: Seven Steps to Success, Environmental Control, Spa Body Therapies, and Hormones and Menopause. "Get real. You're not the only friggin' overpriced-lotion-pushing instructor they have." "I'm not a lotion pusher. I'm trained to teach over fifty class-" "Yeah, yeah, whatever." She told me to hold on while she ordered a ginger- peppermint tea and a muffin. The server's voice came through Tommie's mouthpiece, told Tommie she looked very Christmassy in her red top and green pants. After that she came back to the phone. "You're using avoidance behavior as a defense mechanism. Stop being a coward and face-" "Well, fuck you too. Don't spit that Norma Rae therapy bullshit at me. You went to Galveston, spent a few months with Nurse Ratched, and came back a regular Freud." Tommie introduced me to the click. She'd brought up my pain and I'd brought up her therapy issues. I slapped the phone against my head, cursed. I closed my eyes. Wished I were riding down Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible, top down, all of my cares blowing into the ocean breeze as I headed up into wine country, maybe to Oakland. I'd always wanted a convertible as a second car, my weekend car. Shit, as much money as we spent on friggin' attorney fees on this damn paternity suit, I could've had one. I took a breath, tried not to get too worked up, tried not to cry any more useless tears. I called Tommie back. She answered, "What?" "Tommie, what I just said . . . I apologize." Everything about me was heavy. "Don't sit on my nerves like that. Remember who you're talking to. I used to change your Pampers." "And I'll be changing your Depends." "Oh, please. I'm only six years older than you." "Six dog years." Sounded like she was sipping on her tea, eating her muffin. "So be nice or I'll come to whatever convalescent home you're in and kick out the plug on your life support." That eased the tension a little, but not much. She asked, "Well, since everybody is asking, and you won't say, I guess I have to ask-" "Don't." "Have you heard anything about Tony's DNA test? She his baby momma or what?" "Where are you?" "In the kiddie section of the bookstore." "You saying that to fuck with me?" "What? Oh, no, no. Straight up, I'm buying a book for . . . for my neighbor's little girl. And don't trip, nobody can hear me talking about family business. Whassup with the DNA?" I took a hard breath. "Tommie, will you give it a break?" "We need to face this, Livvy." "I don't want to do this." "Stop walking around the pink elephant." I snapped, "Stop stressing me the fuck out." She snapped back, "You're stressing me out too." "I don't call you to stress you out. I'm not there to stress you out." "You're flying all over the country and with all these crazy people in the world blowing up buildings I keep thinking you're going to end up on a plane with Bin Laden." "Baby, Bin Laden doesn't want to fuck with me right about now." Both of us backed down. ARE YOU A WOMAN BETRAYED? taunted me. I took a hard breath, sat on the floor, my head between my knees, eyes closed. "I'm just . . . all this drama . . . these attorney fees . . . eight fucking thousand in attorney fees . . . court papers because he fucked around and . . . shit . . ." That was when the tears came. I shivered and choked. I was feeling lonely and fat and unattractive. I'd gained so much weight that my body didn't feel like it was my body anymore. After I told Tommie all of that, I wiped my eyes, grabbed a tissue, and blew my nose. She softened her tone, "It's gonna be okay." "Can we please get off the phone now?" "Hold on." She was at the cash register paying for a book. The cashier's voice came through and I heard her complimenting Tommie on her frosted makeup and reindeer socks. Then she asked Tommie if she played basketball. I could see my little sister now, tall and dressed in solid colors, long-sleeve shirt, her long hair braided and hanging down her back. I went to the bathroom and grabbed some tissue, blew my nose again. She came back on the line. "Stop blowing snot bubbles in my earpiece." "Wait . . . wait. You're wearing frosted makeup?" "Don't start. I know it can be bad for my skin." "That is . . . Damn, Tommie. Make sure you cleanse so you don't break out." "Don't change the subject. You're making the ugly crying face?" "Wait. Red shirt, green pants, frosted makeup, and ugly reindeer socks?" "Hey, I work at Pier 1. It's the Christmas sale. What do you expect?" "That's so fugly." I chuckled. Fugly was one of our family phrases. It meant "fucking ugly." "And yeah, I'm making the ugly crying face." We talked while she hurried down to Farmer's Market to get a banana, then as she hustled back into Pier 1. Customer after customer stopped her for decorating suggestions. If they only knew how hideous her apartment looked. Sounded like the store was crowded. It took her a moment to make it back to the break room. She was moving a lot, no doubt putting on her blue apron and name tag and that cheesy button that says "ASK ME HOW YOU CAN GET 10% OFF!" She asked me, "What's the worst thing that could happen with you and Tony?" "God." I sniffled, wiped my eyes with my palm. "You sound like Momma." "Would your world end?" I blew my nose again. "Can we end this conversation, or at least change the subject?" "You gonna be okay, Livvy?" "Head hurts. I need a sleeping pill." "Take a Tylenol PM." "No, I need one six feet tall with nice-sized hands and feet." My baby sister howled. "I'm not joking." I blew my nose again. "Need an orgasm to get rid of this headache." "What do those feel like?" "Headaches or orgasms?" "That works?" "Headaches, cramps, depression, you'd be surprised what a good O can fix." Tommie just turned twenty-three and hadn't had one decent sexual experience. When I was her age, I had my esthetician license, was shacking up with Tony, playing wifey, making love like rabbits, and making plans for us to get married. Her break was over. She had to hit the floor and smile at the customers. Now I wanted to keep talking to her. But I told her I had to pack and get ready for the morning. We ended the conversation with kisses and I love yous. I walked to the front window, looked down at the courtyard. People were in front of the fireplace, but I didn't see anyone I might be interested in having a conversation with. Slow night. The Christmas tree was almost decorated. Right after that my cell phone rang again. I thought Tommie was calling back, or maybe it was Frankie's turn to call and harass me. Antonio Barrera popped up on the caller ID. My husband was calling. Numbness ran through me. The room turned colder. I didn't answer. Just paced the suite, phone glowing, vibrating in my hand. When the vibrating was done, I held the phone another minute. It didn't beep; he didn't leave a voice message. Minutes later I called him back. I let it ring once, long enough for my cellular number to display on his caller ID. Then I hung up. Our way of communicating without talking. His: Are you okay? I miss you . Mine: Life is great. I'm doing okay . I held down the red button until the cell phone turned off. I kept going back to the ad that stirred me, read it over and over. ARE YOU A WOMAN BETRAYED? I'M A MAN CHEATED ON TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HIS PAIN. ISO HAND-HOLDING AND PASSION. ONLY THE SERIOUS NEED APPLY. I stared at that screen, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, moving in bicycle motions, like anxious legs suspended in air, getting closer to the keys with each breath. I clicked the ad. The stranger's objective was for consenting adults to meet and "To get together during the day and both go home with a smile and a twinkle in our eyes. This would be my first time being involved in an indiscretion. My purpose is not to hurt anyone, but there comes a time when the pain has to be stopped. I'm searching for that excitement again, that special feeling of passion. I need passionate kisses, hand-holding, cuddling. Maybe I am dreaming." I mumbled, "Excitement. Searching for excitement." My fingers in my locks, I walked away from the computer, showered, looked over my changing body, pinched more than an inch of fat, damned how the pounds had come on so fast, damned Tony and that skinny bitch. When I made it through that wave of anger and sadness, I washed my face with a special gel, then smoothed on skin renewal booster before using a cream around my eyes and lips to keep my skin from wrinkling too soon, tied a satin scarf over my locks, put on my pajamas and thick socks. I cleaned up my room, folded my gray uniform, flossed again, packed everything I wouldn't need, kept moving so I could keep unwanted thoughts from clinging to my mind. There was only so much I could do. I went back to my computer. I was about to turn it off. ONLY THE SERIOUS NEED APPLY. I typed in my e-mail address, paused, then typed in my message. From: Bird I AM A WOMAN BETRAYED. I HAVE BEEN CHEATED ON. I DON'T UNDERSTAND. NOT SURE IF I EVER WILL. I CANNOT FLY. I CANNOT SIT. I AM RESTLESS. Livvy The tears came as soon as I hit ENTER. Regret became the platinum ring around my throat. Head in my hands, eyes closed, I remembered when Momma used to stress over men. Couldn't remember all the uncles we had until she found the man who loved her unconditionally. When I was much younger, I asked Momma what was marriage all about. She said, "The end." Then I asked what that meant. She smiled and gave no answer. "Does that mean it's about children, getting a big house, stuff like that?" "Children ain't guaranteed. A house ain't home. In the big picture, it's about the end." "I'm confused. You gonna tell me what that means?" "Momma can't do all of your thinking for you, Livvy. You'll figure that out on your own. All you need to know is this, when all is said and done, it's about the end." "That's okay. I'll ask Frankie." "If Miss Know It All had a clue, she wouldn't keep getting herself in situations. Momma say don't do it, Frankie does it anyway, and you're following right behind her. You might as well ask Tommie. Hell, Tommie is the only one who listens and might ever figure it out." "Tommie's like . . . She's not old enough to know nothing about nothing." "You still arguing instead of listening." "I am listening." She said, "Grown folks are often blind to what a child sees." "You sound like that old man on Kung Fu ." My thoughts moved away from Momma, back to my husband. For a while I closed my eyes and wished I could go back in time to the day before I met him, change everything. I was twenty-two. That year I'd gone solo to this Halloween party in Ladera Heights, the biggest house at the end of the block with a huge backyard overlooking La Cienega Boulevard. An adults-only party thrown by this mogul in the music industry who did it up big time. Either dim lighting or tea lights were everywhere. African art, both sculptures and paintings. Stuffed cats and jack-o'-lanterns lining the walkways. Spooky and sexy all at once. And inside, on both levels, it was pretty dark. Dry ice machines created smoke. Lots of exotic foods and plenty of booze, enough alcohol to make everyone want to sign up for rehab by sunrise. Costumes ranged from the absurd to the near childish, fantasies and fetishes represented in full force: schoolgirl uniforms, bondage clothes, and adult versions of superhero costumes. I had on my devil costume: leather bustier and leather pants. Every man I walked by would tell me that he had been bad and wanted to visit my hot spot. As soon as I made it to the room that was the official dance floor for the party, I saw a sister in a big Afro, miniskirt, and thigh-high boots on the dance floor doing her thing. That was Frankie. My other big and tall sister. I made my way through the crowd and asked her, "You supposed to be Angela Davis?" "I'm Foxy Brown." "You look like Angela Davis." "Whatever." "Some of these sisters are kinda skanky." "They have prizes for best costumes." "Is naked a costume?" "It is tonight. The most naked girl with the best body always wins." "Damn. So this the kinda place you hang out at." "Stop cock-blocking and dance with somebody." I started dancing with someone dressed like a pimp: pink polyester suit with a red shirt, matching hat, white patent leather stack-heel shoes with goldfish in the heels, the whole nine. I told him, "Nice costume." "What costume?" "Oh shit. Never mind." Me and Frankie were side by side, rocking the room McBroom style. Frankie told me that it was the kind of party where schoolteachers wore masks and makeup, had three shots and let the whore in them run free. Blackula was playing on television screens in almost every room. Music was loud, bumping hard, lots of nasty dancing, and with all the masks and costumes, you didn't know who you were dancing with. It was like Mardi Gras. Then I saw Dracula, his foreign eyes watching me. Golden skin, wavy hair slicked back. Dracula adjusted his mask, followed me. The living dead followed the fallen angel. Drink in hand, I left Frankie on the floor and strolled outside, admired the property and moved beyond the waterfalls in the backyard. A circular bar with bartenders in costumes was in the far corner. People were grabbing drinks and vanishing out into that private part of the yard, only their laughs and sensual sounds letting you know what spots were already taken. The golden-skinned Dracula in the midnight mask stayed on my footsteps. I stumbled over a woman. She had on a cat's mask, a black see-through cat suit, her hair funky and Afrocentric. Cat Woman with dark skin. She was on her knees, pleasing Batman. He jerked. "Ouch." I shrieked. "Oh, damn . . . oh, damn . . . I am so so so sorry." Cat Woman laughed and I saw her braces. She went back to handling her business. I was so embarrassed, had never seen anything like that, and I broke away from my wide-eyed stare and hurried back to the rest of the party, pretty much ran into Dracula. He had his mask pulled back, showing his chiseled face. His hair was wavy, combed back. I told him, "You might not want to go over there." "Pretty wild, huh?" "Think I almost made Batman get circumcised by Cat Woman." Again, I walked away. When I was at the back door, I looked back. He had an accent that sounded provocative. He'd only said a few words, but they were hot, sensual. He was so different from what I was used to. Very erotic. I smiled, held the door open. Dracula pulled his cape away and followed. He asked, "What's your name?" "Beelzebub. Where you from?" "Transylvania." We played that game and laughed our way to the pool room. A lady dressed like a witch was on the pool table with her legs wrapped around a shirtless man in army fatigues. G.I. Joe was tonguing and grinding the hell out of the Wicked Witch of the West in front of a room filled with French maids, Spider-man, Darth Vader, and Wonder Woman. That wasn't my kind of party, but I loved it all the same. Dracula followed me wherever I went. He brought me drinks, food, spoiled me. He said, "I want to know all about you." "Not much to know." He asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I had just started working as an educator for Dermalogica, a skincare company. He told me that he was a vascular surgeon at UCLA. "What's a vascular surgeon?" "I operate on the cardiovascular system. Routine operations." "Like what?" "Arterial blood vessel bypass surgery, repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms, insertion of synthetic grafts for dialysis access." "With all those ten-dollar words, bet you did good on your SAT." Again he asked me my name. I told him I was Olivia, but people called me Livvy. His name was Antonio, but everyone called him Tony. Anonymity was gone and we were no longer strangers. I told him I was from Inglewood by way of good old South Central. He was born in Quito, Ecuador, raised in Hermosa Beach since he was a teenager. I said, "That explains the accent." "You have the accent." We danced a little while, and for a few songs he taught me how to salsa. Then we walked around the side of the house. A basketball and a hoop were there. I picked up the ball, dribbled, wanted to drive in for a layup, but shot from where I was. Swoosh . He said, "Easy shot with nobody guarding you." I groaned. "If I didn't have on heels and leather . . ." I was slimmer, quicker back then, an insecure woman who used arrogance as her shield. He didn't back away. "Sounds like shorty is a shit talker." "Shorty? You're barely taller than I am." "Tall enough to . . . Damn you're quick." "Shit, think I just broke my heel." I didn't. I took my pumps off anyway, put them to the side, walked the driveway barefoot and picked up the ball, dribbled, did a few crossovers, went to the free-throw line, got my shoulders square to the basket, cocked my right wrist, left hand on the side of the ball and right hand behind, right foot in front of left, feet shoulder-wide, focused on the whole basket. Swoosh . He clapped his hands. "Impressive." "You don't want none of this." He grinned like he wanted all of this. I chewed my bottom lip and blushed. Right about then, Frankie came outside looking for me. I introduced her to Tony. She asked, "You have any brothers?" I gave her the look, the one that told her to stop cock-blocking. She left, laughing, drink in hand, wagging her ass back toward the party. A slow record came on and we danced the dance of people high on the spirits. Tony flattered me, touched me, put his face close to mine, his beard grazing my neck as he whispered in my ear, his accent so provocative and as erotic as his words, as stimulating as his promises. He put his heavy hand on my shoulder, let his fingers trace down my back to my butt. We kissed. And just like that, we became inseparable. You've got mail . That came from my computer, startled me. It was the response from a man betrayed. I e-mailed him again. He had insomnia, was stressing. Just like me. He invited me into a private chat room. In the back of my mind, I heard Momma telling me that it was about the end. Excerpted from Naughty or Nice by Eric Jerome Dickey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.