When Ice Melts
by AlTonya Washington

Icia Graham’s love affair with Rakim Transou had the makings of a fairy tale romance with the happily ever after ending, until the night of Rakim’s college graduation gathering. For Icia, it was the night her life was forever changed. Sadly, the changes were brought about by a horrific incident causing Icia to close herself off to everyone-especially Rakim. So desperate to escape the memories of being assaulted by Rakim’s two best friends, Icia left school and the man she loved.

Years passed and; in that time, both Rakim and Icia reached goals that carried them to the heights of success. For Rakim it was a powerful advertising agency that brought him a respected and revered name in the business. Icia’s accomplishment was a bit darker, but no less revered. In addition to counseling battered women, she offered her clients a special service-the service of destroying their abusers.

For Icia, her business brought her a satisfaction that could only be topped by seeing her own attackers pay the price for what they’d put her through. At any rate, she had no desire to revisit the past and be tortured by thoughts of love lost with the only man she’d ever wanted.

A series of events however would bring Icia right back to where she swore she’d never return. Once more Rakim Transou was back in her life and Icia was simultaneously overjoyed and distraught. How could she start anew with the man who still meant everything to her, when there were so many secrets between them? When the need for vengeance on two men; who were still very much a part of Rakim’s life, still raged so viciously inside her?

Meet the Author
AlTonya Washington has been a published romance novelist for 10 years. In 2013, her Harlequin Kimani novel "His Texas Touch" won the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Series Romance of 2012. She also works as a college Reference Librarian. As T. Onyx, AlTonya released her latest erotica "Ravenous: Ruler of Perfection II" in 2013.  In November she released "A Lover's Debt", the 17th title in the Ramsey Tesano saga.

Connect with AlTonya Washington




“This is fantastic,” Leontynne McRae whispered, her slanting green stare focused through the magnifying glass. The contact sheet from her photo session of downtown Houston had turned out perfectly. She had been a bundle of nerves waiting on some word from The Transou Agency. The initial interview had gone so well, they called her back for a second meeting. Now, she was at her wits end waiting on a decision about the job. In an attempt to dispel some of her nervous energy, she decided to get out of the hotel and spend the day shooting the city.

A fashion photographer out of California, Leontynne was proud of the landscape shots she’d taken. It was a refreshing change, but Leontynne knew she’d never exchange it for the success and notoriety she’d acquired in fashion.

The phone rang, bringing a halt to the critique of the contact sheets. She rushed over to the maple message desk and uttered a silent prayer before answering.


“Leontynne McRae?”

Leontynne smiled at the deep voice on the line. “This is she.”

Rakim could hear the anxiety tingeing the woman’s voice and chuckled softly. “Ms. McRae, this is Rakim Transou from The Transou Agency.”

Leontynne pulled the phone from her ear and pressed it against her chest. “Yes, Mr. Transou?” She replied, once she’d calmed herself.

“I’m calling about the portfolio you left. It’s very impressive.”

“Thank you,” Leontynne managed, her excitement continuing to mount.

“Ms. McRae, we've been commissioned for several high profile TV spots around the time for the Super Bowl. We’re in the process of choosing a model and lead photographer. We hope to choose them both from the portfolios. We believe this would go further to insure a rapport with the team.”

“I agree.”

Rakim chuckled. “I’m glad, because I think you’re perfect for the job.”

Leontynne let her excitement show. She uttered a piercing scream and jumped up and down with the phone clutched to her ear. “I’m sorry! Mr. Transou. I’m sorry. It’s just that this is-I just didn't think I could do this. I know the competition was something fierce.”

Rakim nodded, leaning back in his chair. “You’re right, but I think we’re going with the right person.”

“Oh, you are. I can’t wait to get started.”

“Glad to hear it,” Rakim said, coming to the second reason for his call. “We’d like to contact one of the models in your portfolio.”

“Which one are you interested in?” Leontynne asked, taking a seat at the desk and opening her laptop.

“Well, that’s the problem. We have the photo, but no follow-up information on it.”

Leontynne frowned. “That’s strange,” she replied, opening the photo program. “Is there a number on the back of the shot? Top left corner?”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing.”

Leontynne was stumped. “That’s strange. I always save my photos to disc. They should all have a number on the back. Mr. Transou, would you mind describing the picture?”

Rakim’s striking black stare, scanned the photo with probing intensity. It took him a while to respond. “The woman is um, dressed in a white robe. She’s…she’s on her stomach and looks like she’s laying on a bed of roses or tulips, I can’t tell which.”

Suddenly, Leontynne laughed, ending with a sigh of realization. “I’m so sorry. The woman in the photo is one of my best friends. She’s not a model.”

Rakim figured that. “She’s so familiar to me,” he whispered, brushing his fingers across the entrancing face in the weathered picture.

“She did a little something in school, but nothing major,” Leontynne was explaining, as she shut down her laptop. “Now, she’s in business for herself. I’m sorry about this, Mr. Transou.”

“Call me Rakim, please,” he offered, never taking his incredible, deep-set eyes off the photo. “What’s her name, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Icia Graham.”

“Icia,” Rakim whispered, his long heavy lashes fluttering as he closed his eyes.

Leontynne chuckled. “Not a very common name.”

“Not at all,” Rakim massaged the bridge of his nose. “How’d this picture get into your portfolio?”

“I’m so sorry about that. It must’ve gotten trapped in a loose sleeve when I cleaned out the other photos.”

“The two of you live near one another?” Rakim probed, his light tone of voice belying his deep interest.

Leontynne chuckled. “No, Icy lives in Florida. I've been hoping she’d move out to California, but I don’t think it’ll happen.”

Rakim had so many questions, but he resisted the urge to question Leontynne further. “Will you be able to meet me in the morning? Nine a.m.?”

“Oh, I’ll be there.” Leontynne assured him.

“I’ll see you then.”

“Alright, Rakim and thank you.”

Rakim set the phone down and focused his attention on the picture. He kept it on his desk for the rest of the day.


When he returned home later that evening, Rakim kept Icia’s picture propped against a window sill. He didn't take his dark eyes off it as he raised the beer bottle and took a long swallow. He’d never believed in signs, but this had to be some kind of message. At the very least, he had to know what had happened to her. Why she left him…Whatever the case, he had to find answers to questions that had haunted him for too long. It was time to close that part of his life.

(  Continued...  )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, AlTonya Washington.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek.

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