Meet Tony D’Amato, wealthy single father who loves soap operas and is starring in a real-life version of one.
Caught up in a world where Baby Shark reigns supreme and running his very successful barbershop, Tony doesn’t have much time for any games unless they’re a variation of Peek-A-Boo. He completely erased his ex from his life and moved on. So he thought. A chance reunion made him realize he never stopped loving her but now things are different.
He has a baby daughter that is not his ex’s.
All Krista Allen cares about are Blahniks, bling, and Bentley’s – and not necessarily in that order. The flashier her lifestyle, the better. She’d never envisioned herself as a mother due to her painful upbringing and long accepted that role. So when Tony introduces his infant daughter to Krista, she realizes she has a lot of soul-searching to do. She also wonders if a dry cleaner can save her beloved Louis Vuitton from infant vomit.
Will Krista finally have the family she’d always wanted? Or will their reunion be short and dramatic like Tony’s beloved soap operas?
Stay With Me is the standalone conclusion to One More Chance. This is a contemporary erotic romance deals with trust, second chances, and true love.
After they had a first kiss that led to everything and more…
After they adopted two puppies named Gina and Pam….
After they fell in love (hard), out of love (not really), and back in love (definitely)…
After they made a commitment in front of God and their closest friends and families…
They laid on top of his roof and watched the numerous firework displays from all over New York. He pointed different cities where certain fireworks were. He shared stories about having his own illegal firework hustle when he was a teenager.
She smiled and shared her own stories, recalling bits and pieces of her childhood that were fond memories and none of the painful ones that still kept her up at night.
He watched her cradle his infant daughter and treated her like she was her own, with a love and care he’d only seen with his mother. She took to motherhood as if it was made just for her, and she relished in the role.
Now with their baby on the way, life couldn’t have been more perfect for them both. “You know what’s more beautiful than this sky tonight?” He asked her.
She shook her head and smiled, as the little girl cooed in arms. “What?”
“This moment with you and her. It’s the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced.”
Before any of that could occur, it was a regular night in Staten Island fifteen years prior. It was a hot night in Staten Island and every single window in the broken-down two-story home was open.
The air conditioner worked but unless Antonio “Tony” D’Amato had money for the AC bill and not money for his Playstation games, the fans and open windows were just going have to do.
Sweat poured from his head as he reached into the sink and grabbed another dish to scrub it off. His mother just bought a brand-new dishwasher that she was struggling to use, despite the numerous times Tony and his brothers had shown her. She wasn’t that impressed with the water spots on the glasses, which meant everything had to be done by hand before they put it in the dishwasher.
Which meant more work for Tony and he just didn’t have time for that shit.
He just finished doing an ungodly amount of dishes since it was his night. He always felt he received the shit-end of the stick when it came to doing that particular. It seemed no one really ate that much when his four brothers had to do dishes, but when it came to his night, everyone hadto get a third helping of lasagna.
Smelling like the nice lavender scent of Palmolive with a faint touch of bleach, Tony’s eyes were focused on the TV screen in the living room. He did all of his homework and made sure he was on his best behavior so he could have a moment’s peace to watch his favorite show, Passions. If Tony wanted to be honest, he only started watching the show because a girl he liked couldn’t stop talking about it.
The first episode he watched was laughable. The second was eye-rolling. By the time Tony watched a third episode, he was dying to know if Ethan was going to be with Gwen, once and for all. He wasn’t a fan of that skank, Theresa.
Wiping away the remaining sweat from his forehead and quietly cursing why his mother couldn’t just get another dishwasher soap instead of the cheap shit she always bought, Tony finished the last pot and set it on the drying rack. He finished the dishes just in time to shudder at another product advertising towards women as he reached for a glass of Kool-Aid.
For those days when you don’t feel so fresh, try these and see how instantly better you’ll feel!
Tony shrugged and couldn’t understand it. He had to wash his ass just like everyone else did. What was there not to feel fresh about it? Just clean your ass better was his thought. No one needed special wipes to do so.
Exhausted and sweaty from the dishes, Tony finally made his way back to the living room and was relaxing when his brother, Eli, and their mother, Nicola, walked in through the front door.
Eli sat next to his brother on the sofa and Tony already knew he would have to turn off the TV. There’s no way he was going to be able to watch Passions in peace, not with Eli beside him. Nicola sat in the arm chair across from them and Tony already knew something was up. What the hell did he do? He did all the godforsaken dishes.
“This situation doesn’t involve you, Eliodoro.” Nicola sternly warned her second-youngest son. “You need to stay out of it.”
“It’s Krista, ma.” Eli replied in a quiet, low voice. “She’s Faye’s best friend. I have to do something.”
“Krista is staying with Faye and her parents. They’ve taken her in. That’s it.” Nicola stated. “There’s nothing we can do. We need to let the legal system work and that’s that.”
Eli shook his head. Anger burned in his eyes and he blew out a harsh breath. “What kind of man…I…I just don’t get it.”
“Wait a minute…” Tony turned towards his brother. “What?”
“Antonio, go upstairs.” Nicola ordered.
“What did I do? What happened to Krista?” He asked.
“Go upstairs, now!” Nicola ordered and Tony didn’t bother arguing. He would never win when it comes to his mother and didn’t bother to try. He went upstairs and quietly shut his door. If he slammed it – or Nicola interpreted it as a slam – his butt would’ve been whupped.
He wasn’t upset he couldn’t listen into the conversation, whatever it was. He was more pissed off he couldn’t finish his episode of Passions. He wanted to finish it before he saw Becky the next day. The things Tony did for a kiss and a smile.
He remained upstairs and entertained himself with Harry Potter for a while. Taking a break from the book, Tony ventured downstairs where he saw a sniffling Krista sitting on the porch. The door was open and Tony looked around to see if anyone else was with her. He grabbed two glasses of Kool-Aid and joined her on the porch.
Krista quickly wiped her tears when she felt Tony’s presence. “Thanks,” she muttered as she accepted the glass.
Tony grinned. He always had a small crush on Krista, but she never reciprocated the favor. She was five years older and more into college things and whatever stuff girls her age did. Why would she entertain a 13-year-old child?
It didn’t stop him from hoping, wishing, and praying for the day Krista would finally acknowledge him in the same way he liked her. With her light brown skin, long black hair, and curvy figure, Krista was a force to be reckoned with.
Maybe when he’s finally 18 and had his own place, Krista would show him the same love and affection. He was rich, after all. Well, technically speaking, his mother was rich. He still had to mow the lawn to get Playstation games.
“Your brother and Faye went to get some food. They’ll be right back.” Krista sniffled.
“Are you okay?” Tony asked.
Krista shook her head. “It’s nothing you should be worried about. What’s done is done and I’ll just have to move on.” She took a sip of the sugary red beverage and smiled. “Did you make this?”
“Yeah,” he replied, “I don’t put that much sugar in it like some of my friends do. Sometimes they’ll be dumping sugar and I’m like, ‘Dude, I still want my teeth.’ And then they all complain about how they got cavities and stuff.”
“Smart young man, you are.” Krista smiled between sips. She blew out a harsh breath and released her shoulders at the same time. She shook her head and stared up at the sky. “Have you ever just wished you had a different life?”
“Sometimes,” Tony looked up at the sky, though he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. “I never knew my dad. My brothers remember him. Eli kinda does, but I have no memories of him whatsoever. I wish I had a dad.”
“Yeah, well, I wish the one I knew could just drop dead right now. I don’t think I would even cry.” Krista’s voice turned cold. “I think I would give him the final punch that would do him in.”
Tony looked over at Krista and stared at her for a long moment. Whatever was going on between her and her dad – really it was her stepfather because her real dad passed away from cancer when she was super young and her mother married a dude that no one really liked – caused enough drama that Krista wished him dead.
Tony wished he could relate. His real father might as well been dead. He couldn’t pick him out of a line-up. “Would it be a sucker punch? A pimp slap? Or like Mike Tyson?”
“Probably Mike Tyson. I would kill him.” Krista realized what she was saying and whom she was talking to. “I shouldn’t be telling you any of this. You’re too young to understand and I don’t want hear any grief from Eli about what I said to you.”
“It’s okay, Krista.” Tony took a gulp of Kool-Aid. “I’m old enough. I just saw my first PG-13 movie the other day!”
Tony was so innocent, it was adorable. Krista wished she still had that innocence but it was stolen from her. “What movie did you see?”
“Pirates of the Caribbean!” Tony beamed. “Nicky took me and a couple of my friends. He took his girlfriend, Kayla. They sat in the back making out but I sat in front with my homies.”
“Did you like the movie?” Krista asked.
“Are you kidding me? I loved it! I hope to see another one soon!” Tony paused for a moment and grabbed Krista’s hand. “I’m sorry whatever happened between you and your dad. He was a horrible man and didn’t deserve your love. I hope you can find another dad who would give you the love you deserve.”
Krista blinked back tears. “Thank you, Tony.” She kissed his cheek just before Eli and Faith arrived back home. “Don’t tell anyone I kissed you.”
Tony vowed he would never wash that cheek again. “I won’t.” He looked up at the stars. “Do you ever wish upon a star, like how they do in those Disney movies?”
Krista followed Tony’s lead and looked up at the starry sky. So many stars were out that night and it looked so beautiful. It was the only good thing about her night besides Tony making her smile and laugh. “I used to. I stopped believing in that.”
“You should never stop believing in something. Just because it doesn’t come true now, it doesn’t mean it would never come true at all.” Tony replied. “At least that’s what my mom tells me. I don’t know if I believe it yet, but I hope one day it’ll come true.”
“What is your wish to come true, Tony?” Krista turned towards him. “What do you wish for more than anything?”
“Well, it used to be getting to know my dad but that’ll never happen. It used to be I want to be a millionaire, but that already happened, though I don’t have access to the money yet and not until I’m 25. Do you know how far that is? That’s ancient history!” He shook his head.
Krista laughed. “It’s not that far from 13. Trust me, a lot will happen between now and 25 and you’ll be glad you waited to get that money.”
“I hope so!” Tony thought about a good lie to tell Krista what he’d always wished for. He’d always wished for her to be his girl. He’d keep wishing and praying for that to come true. “I guess I wish for everyone to find love and happiness in their own way.”
“I think that’s a good wish,” Krista agreed, “everyone deserves love and happiness.”
“Everyone.” Tony looked at her. Krista was still upset but at least her tears had dried up. Small steps, Tony thought, small ones still made a difference.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” He asked her.
Krista sniffled and chuckled. She was 18 and far from grown up. “I want to be a hairstylist to the stars,” she mentioned, “I’m going to cosmetology school with Faye right now. What about you?”
“I’m going to barber school and become the best barber there is!” He beamed. “I’ll be so good at it, people are going to be like, ‘Tony! Tony! Please cut my hair! You’re the best there is, the best there was, and the best that ever will be!’”
Krista loved Tony’s innocence. It reminded her of what life was like before it was stolen from her. “Why barber school?”
“I like cutting hair. I’ve been cutting my own hair since I was nine,” he lifted his chin, “no one cuts better than me. Ask my brothers, they’ll tell you. I cut all of their hair.”
Krista agreed. All of the brothers looked great and their hair in various lengths and styles, always looked good. “Who taught you?”
“Self-taught!” Tony replied. “Plus, YouTube helps a lot.”
“Ah,” Krista agreed, “I was self-taught as well. I need to go on YouTube and check it out.”
“You should! You’ll get a lot of great ideas from there. I watch a lot of silly stuff, too, but I have tons of cool stuff to watch.” He wondered if Krista liked soap operas. “What kind of shows do you watch?”
“I watch a lot of reality TV, though I know a lot of it is fake and what-not.” She admitted. “Sometimes you just need to watch junk to escape from reality, you know?”
Tony knew all too well. He often entertained himself with TV now that his brothers were out of the home. Eli just moved away to live on the NYU campus. Tony appreciated having all of the extra space and freedom at home, but he did miss the chaos his brothers brought. It was never a dull moment. “I feel ya.”
Krista leaned back against the steps and Tony followed. She stared back up at the stars. “Do you believe in miracles, Tony?”
Tony wasn’t sure what he was looking for but he played along. “Sometimes. Some of it is just coincidence.” He glanced at Krista, whose eyes remained on the stars. “Do you believe in miracles, Kris?”
“I don’t know yet.” She honestly answered. She wanted a change in her life but she wasn’t sure if she worthy of such change. “I just don’t know.”
“You’re always worthy of the best, Kris.” Tony placed his hand on hers. “Don’t let anyone or anything tell you otherwise.”
Krista glanced down at Tony’s hand and gave it a squeeze. He was going to make a girl so happy one day. “Thank you, Tony.”
To read the first several chapters, click here.
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