The Champion Sisters is a series spotlighting four sisters with very different personalities that are conquering their own world, in their own way, at their own pace. Join them on their journey as they navigate through family, careers, and life. Discover how they all end up coming out as champions.

Book 1: The Heart of a Champion

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How does a man handle the risk-taker, a no-nonsense type of woman such as Zafirah? The one who seems so well put together on the outside but won’t let anyone within an inch of discovering what’s inside. Without a doubt, Zafirah is a daddy’s girl and in her eyes has the perfect role model as a father which makes it hard for any man to compare. Is her heart even capable of allowing another being to direct her steps? Does she even want to be handled? Her passion for designing clothes and opening a boutique is all she’s worried about until her heart takes a turn when she realizes the chemistry that she and Troy share.

Mr. Champion, Zafirah’s father regards Troy as his son. Will the close-knit relationship they share be a stumbling block for Troy and Zafirah? Is Troy what Mr. Champion envisions for his daughter? Will Zafirah and Troy go against the grain to be with one another?

Troy Cunningham is an example of a man that can overcome any obstacle and still succeed despite the statistics. He went from dealing in the streets to owning a successful business and his growth as an evolving individual shows daily. However, hardships later plague him and his heart is on the line. Will he continue to win in the game of life?

“Please… When you have me all to yourself, you don’t know what to do.” ~Zafirah~
“I missed you too Zee, so stop flexin’ all the time.” ~Troy~

 

A black and white framed photo of Muhammad Ali standing above his opponent was in plain view plastered on the wall as I walked through Champion’s Barbershop. Business was in full swing and the spicy smell of bay rum and mix oils tickled my nose.

 

J. Cole’s lyrics, “We ain’t picture perfect but we worth the picture still,” caught my attention as I bobbed to the beat. Along with the music, the clippers buzzing filled the room with men laughing and talking.

 

As usual, when I did my weekly visits I ignored the distractions and went straight back into a private room where I would get on the laptop and oversee the back office of the barbershop. My dad, Isaiah Champion, not only owned the shop but had a reputation as one of the best barbers in Atlanta.

 

I wheeled the chair from under the desk and cut the laptop on. The screen lit up when two knocks rang through. I gazed up to see the door opening slowly. A big head peeped in. Jet black hair with swirls of waves was the first sight. Immediately the thick eyebrows became visible with slanted eyes staring at me. Troy’s nose spread slightly as his perfect white teeth lit up the dark room. Somehow in the process of setting up, I forgot to cut the light on. 

 

His tall muscular body slid in and shut the door behind him. He leaned against the door resting the back of his head. No words escaped our mouth as we stared at one another. I finally sat down, crossed my legs one over the other, pushing back into my chair and took a deep breath while rolling my eyes. 

 

Troy was a guy that my dad took under his wings many years ago when I was about 16 years old. I remember coming home from school and Troy was in our living room with his dreads pulled up into a ponytail with a bun talking to my dad. He looked like one of those dope boys from the local neighborhoods that stayed into unsavory things. Though my family lived in a nice area in Decatur, and my sisters and I went to private schools, I was really familiar with the hood/local areas since my friends and I partied frequently with neighboring friends and I was a major fixture at my Dad’s barbershop. Somebody always knew somebody, which caused me to become fairly popular in many areas.

 

Troy, however, was dealing drugs for years but thankfully avoided jail. My father always thought he was the voice of reason for many. Since he was born and raised in College Park, my dad had a heart for anyone in unfortunate situations. He wanted to give back to communities but Troy was his personal project and he was determined to keep him on track.

 

Troy finally moved closer to me and posted against the desk, “Zafirah, what’s up? Clearly, everyone inside spoke to you but you brushed passed them without a word. What’s your problem?”

 

“I am grown as hell, I don’t need you checking me,” I spoke with an attitude. The truth was, I wasn’t in the mood to really talk to anyone. I had so much on my mind with trying to open my boutique next door. A few days prior I went to the Fulton County Auction to bid on a property that was specifically zoned for community revitalization,  and I was fortunate enough to win it. The only issue was what should have been a final bid of about $45,000 quickly doubled. I was only one of two women in attendance and the men present made sure to overbid when they noticed me, they were like animals. Every offer I went for they outbid it until the property price eventually reached $80,000. Being the saver that I am and with my online boutique doing well, I was able to come out my pocket to fund a majority of my storefront boutique but I needed to leave some cash in reserve in case of an emergency. I knew I could go to my parents but I hated to ask for help. A business loan would have worked but I had to take an emergency loan out a while back to help my close friend with her business, so I needed another way.

 

He got even closer staring down at me, but this time his hands cupped my face, “Zee, you don’t scare me, girl. I can handle yo little ass.” Troy’s booming voice caused my body to shudder and the hairs on my neck reacted; I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. 

 

He quickly removed his hand as if he didn’t mean to be so close but he stayed glued to me. As I let out a deep sigh, I shrugged. “Troy, I have a lot going on today. I’ll make sure to speak when I come out of here. Happy?”

 

He shook his head with a smirk, rubbing his finger against his chin and contemplated his next line. His eyes scanned me from head to toe. But his vision remained affixed on my thighs for a while longer than he did any other part of my body. “Wanna do lunch and talk about it?”

 

I pursed my lips, “How about a smoke session first, then lunch?”

“Zee you still smoke weed? We ain’t smoked together in years,” Troy’s eyes lit up.

I stood from my chair and placed my hand to his hard pec, “No. But I can use it right about now. Haven’t been this stressed in a long time.”

 

 

I turned on my heels when I felt his hand grab the back of my arm. I didn’t look back at him but his vocals were loud and clear. “You should pull down your dress before walking out.” That’s when I felt his hands brush against the back of my thigh. I looked down and felt my navy dress being pulled down from the back. Where my dress had managed to rise up from me moving and sitting, and here he was adjusting it to meet my knees. Without looking his way, I whispered, “Thanks, Troy. You always looking out.”

Six cherry colored seats lined the barbershop on each side and in my special chair was my long-time client Drew. I had just finished trimming his salt and pepper beard followed by a razor. After adding the last bit of alcohol around his face and removing the black cape from around his neck he quickly zoomed out into the night while Mr. Champ, the owner, and myself cleaned up. 

 

“You’ve done a lot of great things with this place, Troy. I never imagined that having a tv at every station would be a bonus but now I see you’re a visionary and you know your stuff.”

 

I chuckled knowing what he was saying was true. That man taught me a lot after my dad died when I was about 17 and I’ve shadowed him ever since. “Yeah, I know a few things. But like I said people are always plugged in via electronics and we want to give them an experience that other shops can’t or won’t offer.”

 

I moved towards Mr. Champ then rotated the seat he stood near and pointed at an electrical outlet that was built into the chair. “Getting these incorporated into every chair was important considering no one wants their phones to die. Everything we invest in should serve a purpose.”

 

He studied my movement in agreeance while his full graying beard touched his chest as he nodded. He rubbed his palms over his bald head, a gesture he hit whenever something troubled him. 

 

I took two steps forward and questioned, “What’s up Mr. Champ?” 

 

His jaw tightened causing his vein to showcase on the side of his head. I could sense the apprehension in his voice. “I’m worried about Firah. She seems a bit distant and I figured you might know why.” Mr. Champ grimaced then let out a sigh. “You would tell me if you knew what was going on right?”

 

Three dings sounded, “saved by the bell,” I thought to myself. I pulled my iPhone out my back pocket and noticed a message. 

Zafirah: We on for tonight? Since you curved me earlier.

 

I closed my eyes shut, imagining her crazy facial expressions. I could hear her word for word reading the text. Opening my eyes I smiled. 

Me: I didn’t curve you! I told yo ass to wait until 2 but you dipped out on me.

 

I placed the phone on the counter near the clipper stand. “Whoever texting you, got your attention I see,” Mr. Champ wiggled his eyebrows. I laughed out loud because if he only knew it was his daughter. But it wasn’t anything like that, Firah and I were just cool. We weren’t best friends or anything, but we could talk and keep things between us. Instead of replying to his statement I changed the subject. “Business boomin over here for real, man. This place stays busy but now it's crazy.” I slapped his shoulder, “Every barber in here do strictly appointments, yet we still get a ton of walk-ins. We will have to get a system in place, because you and this shop hot right now, Mr. Champ.”

 

“Yeah, thanks to you. You gave me a few suggestions and since then people made this place their own and it doesn’t seem like they want to leave either.”

 

I nodded agreeing but went towards my phone because it kept notifying me of new messages.

 

As I picked my phone up, Mr. Champ walked over to me. “Troy, I’m proud of you.” Then he pointed to a shelf that was once fully stocked with men’s hair and beard products that I created from scratch. Out of eighty products, only three remained.

 

“You outdid yourself. We’ve had plenty of people come in here for the gel and shampoo itself. That’s huge.”

 

When I cut my dreads years back, I needed a product to keep my hair intact since I was waving it out. The problem with the products that were on the market was the way they left my hair looking and feeling after applying. My head always felt so heavy, I needed lightweight, natural products. I was no pretty boy but I was mindful with my appearance and never failed to keep myself together and everyone noticed. 

 

Within a few weeks of using my products, men in the shop were asking what I used to keep the shine and my waves from drying out. Or how did I grow my full beard out so fast and thick? I always shared my regimen but then my clients wanted me to package the ingredients in one and I tried it and been selling out ever since. Starting in Mr. Champ’s shop then eventually selling online as well. Business was booming and through the success of that, it afforded me to open my own barbershop in the Southside of Atlanta as well, where I worked from three days out the week. But I made sure to give Mr. Champ two days in his shop since I still had a fairly large clientele there. His shop was centrally located in Little Five Points and traffic was consistent. Plus, I didn’t want to disappear on him because I had my own business. He was the main reason I was business savvy and he taught me how to perfect my craft as a barber. 

 

“Daddy!” A soft, sensual voice shouted barely above a whisper. I turned around and there was Zafirah with her deep espresso brown arms around Mr. Champ’s neck. She kissed his cheeks as he held her tight. She was such a daddy’s girl and there was no doubt about it. 

 

He pulled away from her, “Firah baby, what you doing here?” He glanced at the clock on the wall, “it’s already 8:30. I thought you’d be out and about or working on more designs. You know you always working on something new.”

 

“Umm, I stopped by to line Troy up. You see how crazy his head look.”

 

He shifted my way, “I could have lined him up if he asked. But suit yourself.”

 

I cut in, “it’s not even like that. Zafirah came to fuss, you know she spoiled and think she can always get her way.” I grabbed the cape and handed it to her, “but you can line me up though.”

 

I sat in the chair and her dad shook his head, “I’ma stay out of this. I’m done for the night. Make sure you two lock up. He came over and gave me a side hug and then he leaned in to kiss Zafirah on the forehead. 

 

A cool breeze brushed against me as he walked out the door and Zafirah peered down and pinched me. “What the fuck man? Why you do that?”

 

“For making me look stupid. And I did come here to line you up. Don’t I always hook you up whenever I’m around?”

 

“Yeah, but like your dad said, he could have done it.”

 

She swiveled the chair while pushing her foot against the lever to elevate my body. The cape swung up and fell against my chest. The whiff of cedar with a light mix of sandalwood drove me crazy as Firah ran circles around me. 

 

Her glossy sangria manicured nails shined as her hand maneuvered the clippers carefully along the side of my head. She was as girly as could be but she could handle anything she put her mind to and her dad made sure of that. Her creativity was surreal to the point if you asked for it, she would more than likely duplicate the vision. Creating clothes and dressing others was her passion and she lived it. Not to mention her skills in decorating homes and events. Though I wouldn’t admit it to her, she was fye as hell with cuts too. She could slap a design in someone’s hair real quick and that’s why kids and teens requested her a lot whenever she made an appearance at her dad’s shop.

 

Looking into the mirror I could tell she was in deep thought. Her black and red streaked hair bounced exposing her high cheekbones as she angled to the side to cut me precisely. 

 

“Get those itty bitties out my face Firah. I done told you about that before.” 

The buzzing got louder when she moved the clipper away from my head. And she stood directly in front of me but closer.
 

*END OF EXCERPT*

Troy's very first shop he opened in 2015 after being under Mr. Champ

Located in the Southside of Atlanta

Troy's second shop opened in February 2019

Located in Midtown Atlanta

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Book 2: The Rise of a Champ

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Life. Love. Loss. Repeat. Meet Mestari “Star” Champion, the baby sister of the group who feels like her life will never be destined to include love again...In the romantic sense. She has plenty of love from her family, but she’s secretly hoping for more. But who can give that to her? Who can fill that void?

“What if I love someone else and they leave me too?” ~ Mestari Champion

Kabir Chestnut has always followed the rules and made sure that his life was planned to a T. He’s used to making and keeping promises, used to fixing things, and most importantly, used to being there for his family. But the definition of family has recently become skewed and he has to decide who gets to keep that title and who no longer qualifies.

“She needed help and I helped. I’m just looking out for them… that’s it!” ~ Kabir Chestnut 

Will Star and Kabir be able to tackle the obstacles and secrets that are holding them back from their future? With everything on the line, they have to decide to either go for it or stay in their friendship lane they’ve established over the years. Book two of The Champion Sisters Series is an emotional journey alongside Kabir and Mestari as they discover what it means to go from friends to lovers when everything is working against you.

The Rise of a Champ is Book 2 in The Champion Sisters Series and may contain spoilers for Book 1. It is recommended that you read The Heart of a Champion by Donnia Marie first.

 

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TEASER TUESDAY for books 3 & 4

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BOOK 3

BOOK 4

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REVIEWS

Where do I start? This book had me laughing, crying, and not wanting to put it down. The H is the man of my dreams 😍. The h got on my nerves a few times but it was nice watching her grow. I would recommend this book 💯💯

Wow...I am kicking myself for not reading this one sooner. Zafirah and Tory are combustible....in a good way. They have chemistry in spades and they match and balance each other where needed. I love how their connection unfolds and the initial teasing of will they or will they not finally get together. I love the Champions and their whole family connection, along with how they bring others in - just beautiful.
Ms. Marie showcases some important topics in this one, especially that regarding mental illness like Alzheimer's and the caregiving involved. She does such a wonderful job of showing its struggle, but the relationship between Troy and his mother remains absolutely beautiful. I definitely recommend this and am quickly checking out the next in the series!

Amazing book so many different layers a definite page turner it was hard for me to put down I read it in 2 days !

This is the story of Zee and Troy friends who become lovers. There is a mutual attraction that Troy tries desperately to suppress . Zee's is not having it she knows that they are attracted to each other and she wants to pursue it. Dedication is Troy's care of his mother who suffers from Alzheimer. The love and support of friends is amazing in this story. This is a good book I couldn't put it down I didn't finish until 5 a.m. and it was definitely worth the loss of sleep. Well done 💕

I enjoy Donnia Marie's books very much and I was excited to see this one. Zee and Troy my oh my what can I say about this friends to lovers couple. They were absolutely great together. Mr. Champ he loved his girls and didn't take any nonsense. I can't wait to read the stories of the other sisters. Keep writing Donnia and I'll keep reading!

I really enjoyed this story! I loved Zafirah & Troy's chemistry. And I liked that they were good friends first. It was beautiful, yet heart wrenching to see Troy Carr for his mother through her illnesses. He was so devoted! And I loved seeing Riana & Benji again. I especially enjoyed reading about successful Black business owners! Great read! Can't wait to read the rest of the sisters stories.