#ThrowbackThursday: Nothing Even Matters

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“Jeremy, let’s go check out that restaurant I wanted to go to,” Faith yelled from the bathroom. “Jeremy?” She walked back out to the living room and saw Jeremy sleeping butt naked in the same chair he just fucked her in.

“Or we can just stay in…” She sighed. She shook her head and retreated to the bedroom where she quickly got dressed. She took extra time to do her hair and makeup. Ever since her relationship with Jeremy, Faith’s profile had increased and she never knew when TMZ was lurking in the corners.

Her stomach gnawed at her and Faith quickly went to the kitchen to get a small snack before she left. The cupboards were empty apart from fitness shakes, other protein-related snack, and shit Faith knew she was not interested. It wasn’t a complete surprise. Jeremy didn’t keep a lot of food inside when he had to travel for long stretches of time. Okay, so she had to go grocery shopping while she was out. She could do that.

She began making a list and opened the refrigerator to get an idea on what she needed. She sighed as she saw she was going to need everything. Fucking great. She decided to treat Jeremy to a homemade meal. “What can I make…?” She quietly spoke. “…what can I…” Faith’s body froze as stillness took over. The flashback hit her like a ton of bricks.

“So, this is what I have for lunch!” She proudly opened her refrigerator door and showed Eli all of her Lean Cuisines. “So just grab which one you want.”

Eli eyeballed the frozen food and blinked several times. He paid for Faith’s apartment and bills, even contributing to her tuition. Yet, she had no food in her shared apartment with her best friend, Krista.

He wanted to ask where the money went but he already knew – she was wearing it. She recently sported a new pair of boots. “We’re going grocery shopping.” He grabbed her hand and led them to the parked Range Rover.

After spending a small fortune at the store, Eli and Faith came back to her apartment where he taught her how to cook spaghetti with homemade sauce. “Don’t ever buy that store bought bullshit,” Eli’s deep baritone warned his girlfriend. He concentrated on chopping up the parsley. He sprinkled some in the sauce followed by a pinch of oregano and basil. “You don’t know what the hell they put in it and it’s not real Italian.”

“I don’t know how to cook, Eli.” Faith watched her boyfriend in the kitchen. Jodeci’s “I’m Still Waiting” played in the background and she nursed a small glass of wine. It was so sexy to see him cook. She was getting aroused just by looking at him.

“I’m about to teach you,” he beckoned her over to him, and Faith followed his lead. He stood behind her and placed a tomato in front of her. “Feel the tomato. Feel how soft and ripe it is.”

Eli’s deep voice feathered against Faith’s earlobe and she licked her lips. She smelled his musky cologne and felt all of him pressed against her. “Uh-huh.”

“You want to love it and take care of it,” he grabbed a knife. He placed Faith’s hand over the tomato while his hand covered hers. “You want to be gentle with it. It’s going into your body, giving you life and nourishment.” He gently began to cut the tomato. “See? Like that, baby girl? You have to treat your body like the temple it is and not fill it with bullshit. Your body will forever hate you for it.”

Faith softly bit her lip and nodded. Only Eli could make her aroused by cutting a tomato. “Only good inside me.”

“Only,” he finished cutting the tomato, “the best for my Faye.” He set down the knife and turned Faith around. He lifted her against the wall and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He somehow managed to get his jeans undone and his hardened shaft jutted out. He pulled Faith’s panties to the side and swiftly entered her.

Faith loudly moaned as Eli pushed more into her, filling her completely as her slick heat wrapped around his thickness. She moaned with each stroke as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Eli,” she cried as he began to thrust faster. Every stroke ripped moans from Faith; sounds she didn’t know she had long-buried inside her.

Eli’s thrusts were deliberate, hard, and slow. He spoke in Italian with each thrust, claiming Faith with each movement as she moaned and clawed at his back. “You feel so good, Faye.” He whispered.

He felt the small flutters inside her and knew she was close. She contracted tighter around his shaft and the feeling drove him nuts. He loved how she became totally raw and primal with him, as if that was only a side of her she reserved just for him. His good girl gone bad. “You’re about to come for me? Do it. Come all over me, baby girl.”

“Oh my God!” Faith screamed as her body convulsed. Eli thrust a few more times inside her before he climaxed as well.

He rested his forehead against hers. He swept his lips across hers, gently playing with her tongue. “Now we can start making the pasta.”

“Tomatoes,” Faith said aloud as the memory dissipated, “I’m going to need tomatoes.”

 


 

Nothing Even Matters is available on Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and select local libraries.

War will be out later this spring.

#BrothersBae is now LIVE!

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It’ll be on sale this weekend for 99 cents before the price goes up so hurry up and grab your copy!

Don’t you love the cover? Five roses, get it?

To purchase, click here.

It’ll be on Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo over the weekend.

#BrothersBae is on wattpad

I really tried to come up with a clever title but #BrothersBae seemed to stand out the most.

This is short story in the form of an interview by the D’Amato Brothers, their mother, Nicola; stepfather, Arturo; and finally, a word from Absent Daddy, Giorgio.  Also making special guest appearances are Eli’s exes – Faith Sheppard and Dr. Erica Toure.

This story will be on sale for 99 cents for a few days before the price goes up so be sure to grab your copy at 99 cents!  It’ll be available across all platforms as well.

But for now, go check out the interview sample chapters. You might be surprised at who is interviewing the family.

Next post will be the cover reveal and link to purchase.

Last note – I did mention on Facebook how I was starting a special reviewers program for those who consistently review my works. There’s about 10 of you who do that (and you know who you are). So, with that being said, please email me ASAP. 

To view the story, click here.

Happy Easter!

 

 

Lord of the Flowers, Pt. 2

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Eli’s and Joseph’s shared office is a lot neater and nicer than I expected it was going to be. I thought I was going to see papers in disarray, orders everywhere, spilled coffee stains on desks.

Instead, I see sleek leather sofas (“Nap time,” Eli laments, “people know when that door is closed, do not bother me.”), Apple computers perched on oak furniture, and a large window that overlooks the New York skyline. A small bar sits in a nearby corner and a bathroom is hidden in another.

A foosball table and two arcade machines are in the other corner. “You’ll be surprised the number of ideas I get when I’m playing Street Fighter,” Eli laughs.

“Right there,” Joseph’s baritone points me toward Eli’s desk, “that’s where the magic really happens.”

Numerous family pictures adorn Eli’s desk. One in particular – a picture of Eli and his ex-wife, Faith Sheppard – stands out.

Faith, the daughter of famed minister, Reverend David Sheppard, met Eli when the couple was teenagers in high school. “I knew he was trouble the moment I met him,” she says as we met later for coffee, “but he was the kind of trouble I wanted.”

Faith is small in stature, just a little under five and a half feet. But her presence is big. She often greets everyone with a warm smile and doesn’t shy away from the latest gossip offerings. She had an interest in hair when she was a teenager and when she graduated from high school, Eli paid her to attend college and cosmetology school.

The pair dated for several years before they had an extravagant wedding at the St. Regis Hotel. “This was before social media so it was a huge deal. I was more or less a socialite and Eli was already famous on his own due to the shop.” Faith commented. “It was a production but it was totally us.”

Several children followed later but Eli’s affair with an ex-girlfriend nearly broke the couple. Faith’s retaliation affair did not help matters, neither. “We were both stupid,” she sighs, “really stupid. I guess I was so hurt by what he did, I figured if I did it back to him, he would feel the pain he gave to me. I was the one that got burned twice.”

The couple, once shown on TV as playful and understanding of each other, went through an acrimonious divorce that almost played out in the media.

False accusations that Eli was abusive in their marriage put a dent into the D’Amato armor and caused a few advertisers to pull their ads. Madre’s saw protests from domestic violence groups and Eli’s personal Instagram page was a landmine of hateful comments.

“I have never hit any woman ever,” he declared, “I wasn’t raised like that neither were my brothers. I don’t play that mess. I’ve never emotionally or mentally abused her nor our children.”

“If my Eli had ever hit a woman, he would have to deal with his brothers before me,” Nicola replied during our lunch gathering, “his punishment from us would’ve been worst than anything a judge would’ve given him.”

As soon as the accusations came, they left. Faith soon put out a statement denying Eli was ever abusive to her or their children. Numerous friends and family members rallied around Eli and the controversy surrounded him seemingly boosted his popularity and wealth.

It’s clear the former couple have a lot of issues to sort out. They stopped speaking to each other completely for two years, only having all communication go through attorneys. Recently, the pair spent Christmas and the New Year together. “We’re in counseling now,” Faith’s voice is soft, “I don’t know if it’s a sign of reconciliation but it helps when our kids have parents who don’t hate each other.”

“Let’s talk about the affair,” I begin and Faith’s eyes draw a blank stare, “Eli’s been pretty open about it on the show but you haven’t.”

Faith circles her cup of coffee with a finger as she contemplates an answer. “I understand why he cheated on me. I’m not saying it’s entirely my fault but I can admit I played a role in it. Not a lot of women want to admit that. I didn’t at first.” Faith takes a sip of coffee. “I was so happy on blaming him and only him that I didn’t think, ‘Well, how did I contribute to this?’”

“So what happened when you did realize it?” I ask.

Faith scoffs and shakes her long, black hair. “Honey, let me tell you that was a very sobering moment. It wasn’t even just one big thing. It’s like the snowball effect – something small here, something small there, until there’s an avalanche. A lot of things led up to it and the signs our marriage was in trouble was there. In fact, our marriage had been in trouble for a while before the affair happened.”

“Do you think the affair possibly saved your relationship with Eli?” I ask.

She gives a casual shrug. “Maybe at first, but the problems were still there. He was apologetic and I didn’t want to forgive him. I liked being angry at him.”

Faith’s subsequent relationship with high-profile basketball player, Jeremy Griggs, was the subject of much adoration and scrutiny. The former couple received offers for a reality show but those were shut down when Eli wouldn’t agree to have their children on the show.

That action, Faith reveals, led to a relationship that was even more contentious between her and Eli. “It felt like he hated me and wanted to get even with me for everything. I didn’t help matters. I wanted to move to L.A. and take the kids with me.”

“So what happened? I get the feeling the two of you are on good terms now.”

Faith looks away and tries to hide her wide smile. It’s not a smile of a woman who is just on good terms with her ex-husband and father of her children. If I didn’t know better, it was the smile of a woman who got that old thing back. “Things aren’t perfect but I’m probably the happiest I’ve been in years and so are my children. Things are really good between us now.”

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“I can honestly say the affair was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,” Eli later admits, “I know why I did it. I wanted attention from my wife and I wasn’t getting it. I’m not blaming at her at all. I was the one that stepped out and that started a very unfortunate chain of events.” He’s trying to grasp at the words but what he’s feeling isn’t coming out in what he wants to say. “It’s like I hate the affair happened but I wondered what would’ve happened if I remained faithful. Our marriage before the affair wasn’t great. We were fighting a lot and I wanted her to stay at home more so she could raise the kids and not rely on nannies and babysitters…I don’t know…”

“Do you think you still would’ve divorced if you didn’t have the affair?” I ask.

Eli carefully thinks for several moments before he finally gives his answer. “Yes.”


 

The rest of the character interview will be in a short book that’ll be out this weekend for 99 cents. A preview of said book will be posted on wattpad later.

#TBT: Love

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Sunlight woke up Eli from his slumber. He cracked his eyes open and yawned before rubbing his eyes and looking for the nearest clock. It was only eight o’clock. Shit. He had to get home, check e-mail, and sleep a bit more before he picked up the boys from Faith’s home for the weekend. Knowing his kids, he wasn’t going to get any sleep at all.

The aroma of coffee wafted in the air and he followed the scent to a smiling Erica at the door. “I didn’t mean to wake you up,” she offered, “you just looked so peaceful and I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind a beautiful woman waking me up.” Eli motioned her to join him in bed. She put the coffee mug on Eli’s a nightstand and joined her paramour. “How did you sleep last night?”

Erica chuckled. “What sleep?” The pair went through Eli’s two condoms plus an additional two Erica had in her nightstand. Despite the soreness between her thighs, Erica could go another round with him. “We had the Sexual Olympics last night.”

“But did you gold medal, though?” His tongue darted out to wet his lips.

“You know I did,” Erica lost count of the orgasms she had. She couldn’t decide if her favorite way to climax was by Eli’s fingers, his shaft, or that incredible tongue of his. She was getting hot and bothered just thinking about it. “Anyway, I need to go to the hospital later and start my shift. I don’t want to make this a big deal and you feel you have to see me or call me because what happened last night. Whatever’s clever.”

Eli kissed Erica before falling back into bed. “How about this?” He snuck in kisses. “Let’s be friends with some wonderful benefits? No pressure on either of us. We’ll go at the pace you’re most comfortable with.”

Erica reached over for another condom. “I’m pretty comfortable with hard and demanding right now.”

Eli moved Erica onto her back and mounted her. “That sounds great.”

****

“You look like hell.”

Eli yawned as he sat in Faith’s kitchen drinking a cup of coffee and held E.J. It was already his second cup that morning. While he took out all of his frustration on Erica the night before, he sacrificed any sleep doing so. “And Good Morning to you, Faith.”

She laughed as she grabbed her coffee from the Keurig machine. “You wanted me to be open and honest about my feelings so there it is.” She joined her ex at the table. “Is everything okay, though? I know with wedding season coming up, everything is starting to become crazy again.”

“It’s always crazy at the shop but nothing we can’t handle,” he flashed his trademark smile, “how are you doing? Is everything okay here?”

“Yeah,” she nodded, “the boys are great. Everything is working and there are no problems I can think of.”

“Cool. Just let me know if there are any issues and I’ll send someone over to fix things,” he nodded.

“Actually, there is something you can help me with,” Faith slid her hand over her ex’s. “There is something you can definitely fix.”

Eli glanced at Faith’s hand over his and smiled. “I thought we learned in therapy sex doesn’t fix everything, Faith?”

“Sex doesn’t fix everything but it does help with some things, yes.” She mentioned.

Eli kissed her hand. “When the time’s right.”

Faith visibly shivered when Eli kissed her hand. It was then she realized how much she truly missed his touch. “When will that be?”

“You tell me. You’re holding the strings and I’m just your marionette.” Eli heard the hustle of Nathan down the stairs and the child rushed over to hug his father. “Hey, little man!”

“Hey Daddy!” Nathan tightly hugged his father.

“Are you ready for the week?” Eli asked.

“Yep! I’m ready!” Nathan yelled.

“All right, let’s go.” Eli stood up and put E.J. in his car seat. Faith followed them outside to his truck and helped them buckle up. “So next Friday afternoon is still good for drop off?”

“Um, yeah.” She walked over to the driver’s side and leaned into the window. “I started reading the marriage book.”

Eli’s face noticeably lit upon Faith’s admission. “Really? What do you think?”

“It’s pretty good. I learned a lot about myself and things I need to work on. I guess I’ll talk to you about it at some point.” She shrugged.

“I would really like that.” Eli started up the truck and smiled back at her. “Nathan, say goodbye to Mommy.”

“Bye, Mommy!” He shouted from the backseat.

“Bye, baby!” Faith waved to him. “Bye to you, Eli.”

Eli motioned for Faith to come closer to him and she leaned in the driver’s window. Their lips met each other and a flurry of emotion passed between the pair. She softly moaned when his tongue entered her mouth and quietly protested when he withdrew it. “When the time’s right,” he whispered. “Have a great weekend, Faye.”

Faith stood in the middle of the street, holding her cheek and smiled from ear to ear as she watched Eli leave. He called me Faye.

There was some hope for her marriage after all.

****

“All right, listen up, people. Listen up!” Joey instructed at the weekly Madre’s meeting. “We have a huge week ahead of us. The cameras will be here in about an hour! Again, if you don’t want to be filmed, just say the word and we’ll blur your faces out. Are we good? We’re good. Let’s go!” The employees filed out of the conference room, leaving Joey, Nicola, and Eli. “We have one of the craziest weeks coming up so it’s going to be a bit of a madhouse here but nothing we can’t handle.”

“That’s good to hear. I have a luncheon to prepare for Donne Forti, so I won’t be around. I think the cameras will be there and that’s good. It’ll give the women an extra confidence boost knowing they’ll be on TV. ” Nicola smiled. “How are you doing, Eliodoro?”

“Great,” he replied, “I have the boys for the week so it’ll be a little crazy but nothing too bad.”

“How’s Faith?” Nicola asked.

“She’s doing really well,” he nodded, “she started reading the marriage book and wants to talk to me about it.”

“Really?” Joey commented. “That’s great! That’s really great!”

“It is. I think there just might be a chance for us, after all.” Eli sounded hopeful. “But I told Faith it’s up to her if she wants to make this work. I’m also happy the way things are.”

“Hmm…” Nicola sipped her coffee. “A man would only say that if there was someone else in the picture.”

Joey turned to his younger brother. “Oh?”

“I’m seeing someone, yes.” Eli revealed. “We’re just friends.”

“Okay,” Joey smiled. He knew a tired sex yawn when he saw it.

“Does Faith know?” Nicola asked.

“Of course not,” Eli replied. Erica reminded him he was still a man with urges but Faith had his heart. He briefly touched his lips, thinking about their shared and heated kiss that morning. “It’s not serious enough to tell her. We only went out on one date. But I dig her. She’s a really sweet woman with just a big heart.”

“How did you meet?” Joey asked.

“At the hospital when Nate had a fever. She was his doctor.”

“A doctor!” Joey almost shouted. “It’s about time one of us dated a doctor!”

“Joey,” Nicola warned, “your brother is still married.”

“Yes, and your son is separated because of your daughter-in-law,” Joey reminded. “So tell us more about Lady Doctor.”

“Here’s a pic of her,” Eli pulled out his phone and showed them the selfie he and Erica took the night before, “that’s Erica.”

Joey and Nicola were impressed with Erica. She was beautiful with a smile that traveled up to her eyes. “Very pretty, Eliodoro.” Nicola approved. “Very pretty.”

“So yeah, I’m just seeing where it goes before I tell Faith.” Eli sent a quick text to Erica. “It might be nothing or something.”

“She deserves to know soon,” Nicola advised. “You shouldn’t lead her on to get her hopes up if you’re seeing someone else.”

“I know. I’m going to tell her when the time’s right. Hopefully soon.” Eli replied. “She has a right to know.”

“Eli,” Maria opened the conference door, “I’m sorry to interrupt but there’s a lady out in front asking to see you.”

“Who is it?” He asked.

“She says her name is Katilyn,” Maria shrugged.

“Katilyn?” Eli got up and followed Maria out of the room. “I’m not familiar with a Katilyn.”

Joey waited a few moments then chuckled. “You know how to keep silent when the mood suits you, Ma.”

“What do you mean?” She jotted some notes down. “I merely said his new girlfriend was pretty.”

“And you and I both know Erica is a carbon copy of Faith,” Joey smiled. “Eli certainly has a type.”

“I’m wondering what Erica thinks of all of this,” Nicola mentioned. “She doesn’t seem like the type who wants drama.”

“How would you know? Some Type A women want drama in their lives.”

“No, not doctors,” Nicola shook her head, “they don’t have time for that. They’re too busy saving lives to worry about what the next person is doing.” She stopped writing. “There’s a saying I like, ‘Water often rises to its own level.’”

“Birds of a feather flock together,” Joey replied.

Nicola nodded. “Erica won’t last long because she doesn’t want drama and your brother is full of it. Simone never had a chance because she would try to create the same drama he had with Faith.”

“But Faith is perfect because…”

“Despite how much your brother claims he’s tired of her dramatical, as he calls it, he’s used to it. Faith brings a certain element to Eli’s life that no other woman could or ever will.” Nicola smiled. “They’ll be back together and I have a feeling, relatively soon. Sometimes people are put together because God ordains it and no one can come between that.”


 

A character profile featuring all of the brothers will be on sale tomorrow for 99 cents.

Part Two of Eli’s character profile will be posted on the blog tomorrow.

Love is available now.

War will be out this spring.

Lord of the Flowers

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The famed two-story brick building is quite unassuming from the outside yet this is where the magic happens.

This is the place where brides and their families spend big bucks for extravagant designs, only custom made to the bride. This is the place where young Latina girls want their quincereras done just right with only the best flowers. This is the place where a young man who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend, will get a custom bouquet for the special person in his life.

Of course, this is the culture phenomenon of Madre’s and the D’Amato family. Every Sunday night for an hour, we get to follow members of the family as they navigate through New York’s finest (and sometimes, not-so finest) for their celebrity clients, rich clients, and just regular-degular folks like you and me.

We also get to take a sneak peek of their private lives away from the floral shop as cameras travel with the family to vacations and get-togethers.

Walking inside the building, a hostess a la restaurant-style, shows me to my seat. We walk past walls of pictures full of celebrity and high-profile clients, all hugging a curvy woman with sandy-blondish hair and a big smile.

That woman is the impeccable Nicola D’Amato-Rodriguez, co-owner of the Madre’s floral shop and who in person, greets me with the same big smile and hug. “I’m a hugger,” her voice is smoky and full of wisdom, “everyone gets hugs here.”

The rise of the D’Amato family is  what legends are made of. Winning the only lottery ticket to a staggering $300 million jackpot, Nicola quit all of her jobs and opened her dream shop, a floral store. It started as a little corner shop in a hidden nook on Staten Island before the popularity of the flowers grew the store into the middle of Manhattan.

A reality show, numerous magazine covers, and a ton of celebrity and noteworthy clientele spread the word about the flowers. Anyone can get a dozen roses; no big deal. It was the personal touches, the customer service of the family and all of the employees that made Madre’s stand out from the competition.

A small menu of appetizers and beverages awaits me and Nicola tells me to order whatever I like. “No charge,” she smiles again, “we order from here all of the time.”

I decide on the caprese sandwich and small pizza while Nicola gets the chicken Caesar salad. “Just one moment,” she pulls out a walkie-talkie and speaks fluent Italian into it. A deep voice replies in English and Nicola rolls her eyes. “I can speak nothing but Italian to them,” she refers to her sons, “and they all answer back in English.”

I want to ask her who was the voice on the other end but the anticipation holds me back. It could be any of her sons or other family members of the D’Amato tribe that work in the business. Of course, the floral designs are just one small fraction of the show’s viewership. The D’Amato brothers – Nicholas, Kieran, Joseph, Eliodoro, and Antonio – are very easy on the eyes.

While the world knows them as the #BrothersBae, their upbringing was no laughing matter. Nicola was nearly eight months pregnant with Nicholas when she became a teenage bride. Four more sons in several years rounded out the family.

Antonio was just an infant when the family patriarch, Giorgio, left. “No rhyme or reason,” Nicola says with a sigh, indicating a pain that’s still present many years later. “Never a phone call or a letter except the divorce papers.” She looks pensive for a moment as if she’s trying to decide the next thought. “I read the Book of Job a lot during that time.”

While Nicholas and Kieran helped support the family with after-school jobs, Nicola worked a variety of jobs to keep a roof over their heads, lights on, and food in the pantry. “A lot of things weren’t repaired back then. We couldn’t afford someone to come out and fix things when my kids were small so as they became older, they learned how to fix things themselves. Regular handymen, I tell you.”

A chance lottery ticket changed the entire landscape of the family. Other than the typical new money purchases – upgraded clothing, cars, and each brother has a nice home – most of the lottery winnings remained in the bank. Joseph, the family’s business manager, invested the money wisely. The D’Amato family owns several properties and are silent partners in a few other businesses.

“When you grow up poor, you remember what it feels like,” Joseph commented as he joins us for lunch. “No one looks back on being poor and thinks, ‘Ah, yes, the good ol’ days!’ No one does that. We never want to go back to that, neither.” Looking every bit of a wealthy executive, Joseph appears he just stepped out of Wall Street and into Madre’s.

He’s the COO of the D’Amato Enterprises and makes all of the business decisions for the family. He’s also the reason why the family didn’t become like many lottery winners and broke within a few years. Married with twins to celebrity fashion designer, Zoe D’Amato, Joseph is often seen on private planes, having expensive lunches with business clientele, and around Silicon Valley, where the family are private investors in a number of start-ups and businesses.

Out of the five brothers, he’s definitely wears his wealth on his sleeve. “Appearances only,” he grumbles, “if I could go to a board meeting wearing my Timbs, I would.”

I ask Nicola and Joseph if they would ever consider meeting with Giorgio to finally clear the air and get closure. “I got all of the closure I needed the moment he left us,” Joseph says rather defiantly. “Look, he only showed up when we won all of that money. Once he heard about our popularity, he writes a bestselling book telling his side of the story. What side of the story? You left your wife and five sons. There is no story to tell about that.”

“But you are in some contact with him, right?”

“A few emails here and there isn’t going to make up for thirty years of being gone. It wasn’t like he was kidnapped or was a POW in a foreign land; that stronzo was living just a few miles away from us at one point.” Joey tightly clenches his fist and lets go. “I really don’t know what we would have in common to talk about.”

“What about you?” I ask Nicola. “How would you feel if Giorgio wanted to have a sit-down talk with you?”

Nicola lightly shrugs. “I’m open to it but I don’t see the point. I spent two years of my life, angry, very angry at him. And those are two years I can honestly say I wasted. He was still gone and I was still alone raising five boys. I had to teach them how to become men when I was still trying to figure out where in the woman handbook was the chapter, ‘You’re Going to be a Single Mother.’” Nicola softly shakes her head. “Whatever is done is done. He made his decision thirty years ago; I’m good.”

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I’m about to take a bite of pizza when the chair besides me suddenly moves. I look over and my heart is lodged in my throat. Ladies (and some gents), Eliodoro “Eli” D’Amato is even more handsome in person.

He has these light brown eyes that aren’t quite brown but aren’t quite amber. He smells heavenly and that smile…my goodness, that smile, is why millions of women turn in every Sunday.

“I apologize for being late. Traffic was just…” he shakes his head and doesn’t finish his sentence. As a native New Yorker, we all know what he means without even saying a word. “I’m just glad I’m here.”

The most popular – and probably the most misunderstood brother – is finally here. Dressed in jeans and fitted shirt that does nothing to hide his muscular frame, Eli digs into lunch after a brief quiet prayer. “We were all raised Catholic,” he reveals after he’s done, “some of us are more than the others.”

“God knows my sins,” Joseph smiles, “I don’t need to be in church to explain it.”

“Hence why I just said,” Eli chuckles, “some of us are more Catholic than the others.”

Becoming one of the world’s most sought-after floral designers didn’t just happen overnight. In fact, if Eli originally had it his way, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

He went to New York University and graduated with a BFA in studio art. His dream was to work for a Fortune 500 company and travel the world after he graduated. One night, he received a fateful phone call from Joseph and Nicola, asking for his help in creating flyers and the website for Madre’s. “I told them, I’m only doing this for a few months and that’s it,” Eli chuckles, “I had no interest in flowers, in brides, in any of that. My sole interest was computers.”

Once he was done with the layout of the website, he overheard his mother speak to a bride about what she wanted. While Nicola was being thorough in her questioning, Eli wasn’t impressed. “She was asking the typical things – do you want peonies? What’s your favorite color? What are your wedding colors? How do you feel about hydrangeas?” He shook his head. “Anyone can ask that to anybody and guess what? You’re going to get a copycat wedding of somebody else’s that’s not yours.” He takes a bite of his gnocchi and wipes his mouth. “Think about your bedroom. You might’ve been in a ton of bedrooms in your life – your parents, your friends, others. I bet you anything they didn’t look like yours. Why should your wedding look like somebody else’s?”

Creating bouquets wasn’t as simple as he makes it seem. In fact, Eli actually had to study nearly every flower and plant on earth. “I’m still learning because there are new ones every year. People will combine things and see what works. Sometimes it comes out spectacular and sometimes not so much.”

“How many species of roses do you know?” I ask.

“Not all 150 but close to it,” he replies as if it’s not a big deal, “but I definitely don’t know the thousands of hybrids and such.”

With a talent in drawing, Eli often sketches a makeup floral design and presents it to the customer within minutes of getting to know them. His personal bouquets range anywhere between $30 to an extravagant $500. “That five hundred dollar price tag was by accident,” he smiles, “a bride came in one time and said, ‘I want a five hundred dollar bouquet.’ Most of our bouquets range from ten to a hundred dollars. I tried to talk her down but she was insistent. Was I really going to say no?”

Of course, it helps that Eli is one of the few – if not the only – heterosexual male floral designers. His full sleeves and light goatee have made him a fan of both genders and those in between. GLAAD honored the family show at its recent gala where all five brothers and their significant others attended.

He’s currently helping with a gay summer wedding in the Hamptons. “We don’t discriminate,” he takes a sip of water, “if you want flowers, we’ll be happy to provide. Just don’t be a dick.”

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Eli is quite the enigma. He often puts on Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, and Bessie Coleman to concentrate when doing the initial design. Kendrick Lamar, Rae Sremmurd, and Missy Elliott fills the warehouse when he puts the creation in action.

But don’t be fooled. He proudly owns a ‘NSYNC CD and is hoping for a reunion. (“C’mon now,” Eli has no shame, “every dude in Harlem was bumpin’ “Girlfriend” when it came out!”)

“I only work at my desk when I do the initial stages and sometimes adjust what the client wants. Seventy-five percent of the time, I’m in the warehouse with everyone else.”

“Twenty-five is upstairs?” I clarify.

“Fifteen percent is working. The other ten percent is sleeping.” He winks. “I need a break now and again.”

Does he ever. Eli estimates Madre’s does an average of ten weddings a month, with prime season being between April and August, where the number jumps up to a blistering twenty a month during that time. “Usually things are set in stone prior to the weddings, but brides often change their minds and well, it’s espresso and go time.”

He often works 24-hour shifts during those months and is lucky if he sleeps in his own bed at night. “My kids are very understanding that when Daddy has to work, it means he can’t be home for ice cream at night.” He lets out a deep breath. It’s clear he loves his career but he also resents it at the sacrifice of not seeing his children as much he wants to during the peak months. “I can totally understand what my mother went through with us.”

When he’s not doing the physical designs, he has a team of assistants who knows what he wants when they see the sketches. “They’re the hardest working people I know,” he nods, “sometimes they’ll have contests between each other on who can do the design the quickest.”

Eli as a boss is just as personable as the guy people see on TV. “He always inquires about us, and our families,” Eli’s longtime assistant, Maria, confirmed. She’s worked for Eli since the inception and they’re best friends. They often attend family gatherings with each other, and go on double-dates with Maria and her wife. “If we need time off, he grants it as long as there’s coverage. He does work us hard, no doubt, but he’s not mean about it.”

“Employees work better if they respect the person in charge,” Eli replies, “If they don’t respect me, why should they care? Ask any person who has a boss they hate. They’re only there to clock in and out until something better comes along.”

Eli’s charm has definitely worked. The Madre’s chain boasts of long-time employees and while some do eventually leave, it’s never because of creative clashes with the bosses. “Employees are allowed to give their input. Hell, if they have a better idea than mine, I definitely want to hear it!” Eli laughs. “And sometimes they do, I’m not going to front.”

Fluent in Italian and Spanish, Eli also speaks plenty of street when the mood arises. A recent episode showed the viewers the light banter when he and Antonio were trying to teach Nicola slang words like, ‘on fleek’ and ‘bae.’ “I like Italian,” Nicola lamented during the episode, “there’s no mistaken on what anyone means when you say, ‘go to hell.’”

“I grew up in the streets,” he answered a question that was on my mind. It’s clear looking at Eli and Antonio they have a bit more edge to them than the other brothers. “I wasn’t messing around with drugs or anything like that. But I knew what was hot. I knew what was going on. Everything originates in the Bronx and Harlem before the rest of the world sees it. Everything.” His voice is smooth as whiskey. “What was ghetto back then is now considered to be hipster now if you can believe that shit.”

“I’ve known Eli forever,” one of his best friends, Quentin Jones, says. They’ve known each other since they were in diapers. “He’s never been the type to try to be down or anything like that. He’s just him. This isn’t him acting or putting out false pretenses. Take him or leave him. He truly doesn’t give a shit either way.”

It’s Eli’s lackadaisical yet smug attitude that often brings him some unwanted attention. His IG page is full of thirsty women, eager to be Mrs. Eli D’Amato. His kindness towards others has made some people call him a simp. When he showed compassion for a recent transgender wedding, a few began to question his sexuality.

When he was photographed at a recent protest in support of Black Lives Matter, it was the first time Eli was called racist. “That still confuses me,” his eyes crinkle with curiosity and annoyance. “My children and some of their cousins are half-black. My exes are black. Most of my friends are black. I have a few black sisters-in-law. I have black employees. Am I not supposed to care about what happens to them?”


 

Part Two of Eli’s “interview” will be posted next week.

#FlashFriday: War

“You can’t keep doing to this to me, Faye!” Eli got up and paced the kitchen. “When I had the affair with Simone, I came clean about everything in therapy, okay? Every fucking thing! I told you when I had issues in our relationship. I told you how it made me feel when she gave me some attention. I told you when we had a fight, I went to her. I told you all of this! And I came clean. I didn’t want any more secrets, any more lies, I wanted a fresh start.

“So then I find out you’ve been texting the quarterback. And then I find out you’ve had lunch with him. Not from you, though. The phone bill told me. My friend at the paper told me. But we got past that, man. We worked on everything.

“I thought we had a good life, Faye! I thought we worked past everything! And now I got find out in front of the whole goddamn world that there’s a fucking sex tape starring you and him? And now I have to find out there are pictures floating around and he might have shown other people? And now, you’re telling me there’s more. And now you’re telling me it wasn’t just that weekend with Darren but there were a few times after the reconciliation.

“And there’s more, there’s more, there’s more!” He angrily pounded his fist into his palm. “And this is what you did every time I went to the shop? Every time I went out of town, you ran up the damn phone bill talking to him?

“I told you to tell me everything all at once. I told you I didn’t want to find out from anyone but you. You don’t think I’ve heard whispers? You don’t think there are people saying, ‘Yo, I heard from so and so about Faith?’ And what did I do? I ignored them because if it didn’t come from my wife, it was just bullshit. And it’s only when we have a fight, ‘Oh, by the way, I fucked Darren after we reconciled.’” He mocked her voice. “But I shouldn’t question E.J.?”

“Faye, every time I’ve worked on our marriage, you worked just as hard to destroy it. Why do you put me through all of this? Break my heart once! You gotta break my heart each time I do something that pisses you off? You gotta bring up shit from the past? This is every single time, Faye! I’m tired, okay? I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of we’ll have a good week, a good month, and then it’s like World War Three in our home because you’re still hurt over Simone.”

The silence was thick between the pair for a long while. Faith remained silent at the dining room table while Eli breathed hard as he found the strength to press on. “If you don’t want me, let me go. If you don’t want our marriage, let’s end this shit right now.” His voice was calm like a river. “But let it be no mistake, there are many women who would love to be Mrs. Eli D’Amato, would love to be in your shoes, and you’re abusing the fucking privilege.” He left.


 

Do reasons behind the divorce look a little clearer now?

War will be out this spring. Release details and pre-order will be out within the next few weeks.

#TeaserTuesday: One More Chance #romance #contemporary

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“Yo, if you want to talk about chemistry? Let’s talk about McNulty and Bunk, for a minute. One scene and they only said a variation of fuck. You cannot get more brilliant than that!” Tony exclaimed. “Do you honestly think people are still talking about a controversial scene from Breaking Bad? No. Why? Because no one cares about a white dude who has terminal cancer and wants to see the world burn. If anyone praises Breaking Bad the same way they praise The Wire, it’s a clear bias. Fuck outta here.”

Krista giggled. Tony was always so passionate about his shows. His DVR recordings were sometimes astronomical and she wondered if he had any time at all to watch through all of them. It then occurred to Krista, Tony had time for everything that interested him.

Including her.

“So, where he is tonight?” Tony finally asked between bites.

Krista lightly shrugged. “He had a business meeting to attend to so there’s that.” She loved Marc’s hustle and in turn, that made her hungry for more. She also hated how lonely she became in the process. He always made up for his absence in the forms of lavish gifts and trips.

Krista soon realized while she might have been materialistic in the past, she most certainly wasn’t in the present or future. A closet full of designer wear meant nothing if the man giving them to her was always gone. “I’ll see him when he gets back.”

“The most romantic day of the year and he’s not with his girl?” He held her hand and softly kissed it. “Shame. I would’ve never left you alone tonight.”

Tony’s declaration sent a shiver down to Krista’s spine, causing all sorts of pinpoints prickling up on her skin. “I thought you hated me, though.”

Tony slowly leaned back into his seat and licked his lips. “Once upon a time.”


 

I should note people should pay close attention to some details in this book. It reveals several storylines regarding Eli and Faith.

One More Chance is available NOW. To purchase, click here.

It’ll be on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other select sites soon. Will post when it becomes available there.

 

One More Chance is now LIVE. :)

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It’s now live here.

It’ll be available soon on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and select local libraries.

To read the first several chapters, click here.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Love

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“Gather around, gentlemen. Gather around,” Nick dealt out cards as the brothers and Art gathered for their poker game. “This is New York style poker. If you ain’t got the goods, please take your ass home and let the big boys play.”

“I got your big boy right here,” Tony added as he perused his cards, “one month of shave, mani and pedi, and cut.”

“What?” Joey sat back and the others looked at Tony, astonished. “Someone ain’t playing tonight!”

“I’m feeling myself, I’m feeling myself.” Tony replied. “What’s up? Put up or shut up.”

“Okay, I got you four tickets to any Broadway play,” Joey added. “Let’s go!”

“No waiting list to any restaurant in New York,” Eli quietly replied and the others sat back in their chairs. “Yeah, this reality show bullshit came in handy.”

“Two months of Sunday dinners,” Nick added and everyone knew he was serious. It was no secret Nick threw down in the kitchen. “Yeah, I’m not fucking around tonight.”

“I got you one month of maid service and an additional month of child care,” Kieran placed his bet. “Top that.”

“A trip to Italy for an entire week,” Art added and all of the brothers fell silent. “Daddy’s home.”

“So how is everything going, Brother Eli?” Nick began as he studied his cards. “It seems awfully quiet on your part.”

“Everything’s going great.” He smiled. “The baby’s keeping us up but that’s to be expected. But no complaints here.”

“That’s all good but I think he means the other thing,” Joey chimed in. “She Who Shall Not Be Named with a Lifelong Package That Should Not Be Discussed.”

“You can go ahead and say their names. They’re not lepers.” Eli defended.

“Any news on that?” Kieran asked. “Last time I heard anything, you wanted a DNA test.”

“I did ask for one several times.” Eli tossed out two cards. “She’s slow going on it.”

“Slow going?” Art repeated. “She doesn’t want the test?”

“I don’t know what she wants. First, she wanted just me to be involved in Elena’s life. Then, when I went to visit her in Houston, she tried to fuck me…”

“What?” Joey laughed. “She still want that old thing back?”

“I have no idea what the hell is going on,” Eli shook his head. “So I told Ma about it and she was the one that demanded the DNA test.”

“Well, Mom’s about that money.” Nick added. “She ain’t trying to give it away.”

“Damn straight!” Joey scoffed. “After all the shit I went through to make sure our great-great-great-great grandchildren will be set for life? Bullshit that bitch is getting our money!”

“Hmmph…” Tony harrumphed.

Kieran looked over to his brother. “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

“Am I the only one seeing any of this?” Tony asked.

“Seeing what?” Eli questioned. “Fool, I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.”

“Are you for real?” Tony moved his cards around. “Wow…”

“Tony, I really don’t…” Eli began.

“Simone and Faye got pregnant around the same time, bro. If I remember correctly, the time between Faye and Darren breaking up and her reconciling with you were only a matter of days.” Tony added.

Eli settled his cards down and took a long swig of beer. “You just need to hurry up and say it.”

“Say what you’re already thinking and feeling?” Tony questioned. “Say what everyone else in the room is probably wondering? You don’t want me to say it or anyone else because if we do, it means the possibility is there and let’s be real for a moment, Eli, can we? Let’s be real for just one moment – while you hope Faye can forgive the fact you might have an outside child, you and I both know…hell, everyone in this room know, that there is no way in hell you’d be able to forgive an outside child by her.”

“Dude, you don’t think I haven’t thought of that?” Eli replied. “You don’t think I look at E.J. and wonder if he’s truly mine? You honestly think I’m just going around with my head in the clouds?”

“You’ve been pretty vocal about Simone, bro,” Nick chimed in as the others agreed, “we didn’t know what to think.”

“Simone coming back is funny as all hell and anyone can see that,” Eli acknowledged, “but it doesn’t take away from the elephant in the room known as my wife and her little friendship with the quarterback.”

“You said it yourself Faye started talking to Darren again while she was pregnant with E.J. Why else would a married pregnant woman, committed to working on her marriage, would be in contact with her ex-boyfriend during that time?” Kieran asked.

“They have a point, Eli.” Nick added. “It is suspect.”

“I’m just saying…” Tony placed his bet. “…if Elena is getting a DNA test, so should E.J.”


 

Wouldn’t that be something if Eli was the father of Elena but not E.J.? *smile*

Love is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords. Soon to Kobo, and selected local libraries. Print version coming soon to Amazon.

& War…the follow-up to this will be out sometime this year. (I’m purposely not announcing the release date but it’s sooner than you think.)