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First published by BooksbyToye 2012 Cover design copyright Lenny C. Middlebrook. Copyright © 2012 Toye Lawson Brown Published by: BooksbyToye All rights reserved
SCENES TO STEAL THE HEART-FINAL ACT Chapter One
“Mom, I think the skirt is too tight around the middle; I can’t breathe,” Danielle said tugging at her waist. “Pricilla removed the yellow tape measure from around her neck to measure her daughter’s narrow waistline again. “Dani, this will be the third time I’ve had to adjust the waist; stop gaining weight before the wedding.” “I’m under a lot of stress. When I’m stressed I either eat a lot or nothing at all.” Pricilla gave her daughter a quirky smile. “You’re absolutely right because you’ve been eating like a pig. When I first measured you after Thanksgiving you had a perfect 23 inch waist, now you have expanded to 25 inches; slow down, girl.”
Danielle stepped down from the pedestal unzipping and stepping from the skirt section of the wedding dress to hand to her mother. “Carlos is crazy. There is no way we can get a wedding together in six-weeks.” “The majority of the wedding is finished. All that’s left is your dress. Honey, are you having second thoughts again?” “Mom, would it be wrong to say yes.” “It would be if it has anything to do with Matthew. Sweetheart, you agreed to marry Carlos in front of everyone on Thanksgiving. Did you only do it because we were there?” She fumbled with the large diamond weighing on her finger. “No, it doesn’t have to do with Matthew or you all being there when he proposed a second time. I do love Carlos and want to be his wife but, I wanted more time to plan the perfect wedding.” “Why don’t you just ask him to push the date to early next year; I’m sure he would understand.” “I can’t do that,” she answered lowering her head. “Dani, don’t start this marriage giving him everything he wants. You have to be one-hundred percent sure this is what you want also.” “I’m not giving into him, Mom.” “Alright, because when I said for you two to work it out, that did not mean for you to become submissive to Carlos. I know he’s used to getting his way, but make sure you have an equal voice in this marriage.”
Danielle grinned. “Carlos has heard my voice and is aware I’m not a pushover. I have other reasons on my mind for wanting to wait, but then again, maybe I should just get it over with.” “Girl, what is going on with you? You’re back and forth on every issue
concerning this wedding. Carlos has agreed to be married in a Baptist church so you don’t have to convert and now you’re back to not wanting to get married again.” “Mom, sit down for a minute.” Mrs. Tate sat down hesitantly and looked at Danielle as if she were about to lose her mind right before her. Sensing this, Danielle smiled at her mother and said, “Mom, there is no doubt about the love I have for Carlos, but it would be a little unfitting to have our baby as part of the wedding party—wouldn’t you agree?” Pricilla’s mouth hit the floor. She felt her lips moving but no words were escaping. “Danielle Tate, you’re pregnant—oh my God, girl!” “Mom, please don’t be disappointed.” Pricilla got up from the chair to embrace her daughter. “I am not disappointed, Dani. You’re my daughter and the baby you are carrying is my first grandchild; I could not be more ecstatic. If I could do a cartwheel I would.” Danielle released a deep sigh of relief. “I’m not sure yet. I’m guessing I am because I’m late.” “I will call Dr. Shaffer and make an appointment for you. No wonder the skirt won’t fit right, your body is changing quickly.” “Mom, I think I need to give it more than a week to be sure.” “These days a week is all you need to be sure. Have you told Carlos?”
” “That should work. Mother. I want to wait until after the wedding. “Honey. “Mom. “Yes. I didn’t do this on purpose. but I have kept it a secret like you’ve asked. “Birth control isn’t always full-proof.” Pricilla sat at the sewing machine threading a needle.” . dear. I’ve been under so much stress my period being late could be contributed to that. until you find out for sure. I’ll add a little elastic to the sides to give you room to breathe and expand. After he returns to the States we’re going public with our relationship.” “Good.” She didn’t have the heart to tell her mother how the unplanned pregnancy happened.“I have nothing to tell him yet. I want you to take it easy. what’s going on with that?” “He said that is over and for me not to worry about it anymore.” “That is true.” she said pulling on her jeans. that is if she was pregnant. my daughter marrying Carlos Ramos is news I am busting to tell my friends. I am surprised you weren’t more careful but it is what it is. you are an adult.” “You are marrying the baby’s father and I have to admit.” “What about the crazy person stalking you two? Dani. But. You’re going to eat right and get plenty of rest. Carlos should be done with the movie in Australia in a day or so. Do you understand?” Pricilla said pointing a demanding finger. I think I have a solution to fixing the skirt. I understand.” “Just a while longer then you can write it on billboards.
you are aging me. To tell you the truth. I have a gut feeling he is hiding information from me and this is far from being over. the PI solved the case and reported Herman Fitch was behind it.” Danielle lowered her eyebrow. I think it would be best to leave him out of it. Don’t sweat it. I’m not done fitting you for the dress! How am I supposed to finish it without you here?” “I will be back in Atlanta a week before the wedding for the bridal shower and rehearsals and to finish the planning. for now. “Girl. But. “Stop jinxing me. That child you’re carrying is more important than what your father feels about Carlos. Don’t put that baby’s life in danger trying to investigate this on your own.” Pricilla shook her head disapprovingly. .“So everything just stopped suddenly? No more pictures or threats?” “According to him. “Listen to me. we will get it done. Mom. I better get packing.” she said kissing her mother on the forehead. I will go to Dad for help but. If I get over my head.” “I’d wish you’d confide in your father. I promised Carlos I would be in Malibu when he got home.” Pricilla yelled after her daughter.” “Dani.” “Dad was not very fond of Carlos when he met him. Mom. He could do some investigating on his own.
Although he had people watching her every move. I have my sources on the case but they have not been able to locate him. He hoped Herman was not stupid enough to actually blackmail him again.Chapter Two Carlos paced as he talked on his cellphone. Putting the package on the cadenza.” “Mr. you can’t find him?” “Herman Fitch is in missing in action. “What do you mean. He could not wait to get home to Danielle. . he opened the door and heard the elevator ding. He opened the envelope to remove the content from inside. he caught it.” He heard a light knocking on the front door. don’t worry I will find him and deliver him personally to you. He has to be in Cleveland somewhere. Leaving the bedroom. “Consuela!” He said stopping the elevator doors from closing with his hands. he took in a deep breath. especially after admitting to what he’d done in Cleveland. Whoever was following them covered their tracks expertly. Ramos I will keep looking. and I want it done before my wedding takes place at Christmas. he reached the door just as an envelope slipped underneath. Rushing to the end of the hall. Zimmerman.” “He wouldn’t be in France. he felt better if he were the one watching her. it’s too early for the film festival. Carlos placed the last of his clothes in the suitcase and zipped it up. The car would be arriving to take him to the airport soon.” he said clicking off the phone. He was almost ready to dismiss Herman as a suspect.” “You do that. Closing his eyes.
I don’t know what that woman sees in you. choose your battles carefully. Walking back to his room.” He clapped his hands together. “Why did you knock if you did not have anything to say?” With cold eyes she finally said. our business is done.” “I agree our business is done. Ramos. money. downstairs. Mr. ”Wonderful! Australia. I came for your bags. and prestige over pushing luggage any day.” The bellhop began to load the bags on the luggage cart.” He stepped back to let the elevator doors close not allowing her to say another word. The man she longed to have a fling had now become her enemy. Let this be a lesson. “You are one condescending.” He flashed a malevolent smile. “I would love to be in your shoes.She would not meet his eye or speak as he stood before her. “You have what you demanded.” Her eyes narrowed and deepened. “The same thing you saw until you crossed me. the bellhop met him halfway. but I’m ready to go home to resume my life. I would kill to have the beautiful women. Consuela. Ramos. The next person you go up against might not be as nice as me. “A superstar like you gets to have a normal life?” “My friend.” The bellhop responded with a chuckle of his own. Mr. pretty soon this will all be behind me and I will be living a much needed normal life.” I have enjoyed my stay in “The limo is . arrogant bastard wrapped in a pretty package.
how brutally awful the movie turned out. Lilly had taken the kids and returned to North Dakota after being embarrassed when the family car was repossessed from the parking lot of the grocery store. “Live the good life while . The six-bedroom home was built over a low cliff that seemed to have endless stairs leading from the platform deck down to the beach. Inevitable bankruptcy loomed and the dooms day cloud hovering over him grew to enormous proportions. The bottle of Jack Daniels was almost empty. he viewed Carlos’ beachfront mansion in the distance. he ignored the call and angrily tossed the phone in the hot flames. he had to scratch the idea of offering it on DVD after viewing for himself. The cellphone rang sitting next to him on the sand. he would never get the opportunity to showcase his talent. The security gate and tall walls kept fans and entertainment reporters at bay. Palm trees and tropical flowers helped provide privacy and beauty to the elegantly crafted mansion. Looking at the caller ID. his dreams had gone to flame. Debt collectors and investors were calling for payment. Downing the last of the alcohol. Further salting his wounds. He sought to blame Carlos for not being able to set up any meetings to shop his screenplay to major studios as promised. Then to make matter worse. saying. “Fame comes with a steep price. If he allowed himself to circulate a movie with such low quality. Sometimes I think it’s simpler just to live a normal life doing normal everyday things that goes unnoticed by half the population.” ******** Herman tossed the remaining bunch of crumpled film in the fire pit. He had lost everything with this last project. Once again. The cool November air wafted across the ocean to fan the flames causing the material to burn quicker. He drew his knees to his chest to serve as a resting place for his arms to lay his head on. taking a swig. Carlos handed the young man a large tip.After the bellhop loaded the last suitcase. he swallowed hard.
panic attacks rushed over him when he thought how he’d almost lost the only woman he’d been in love with. He felt the beginnings of a smile cross his face while writing. because you will soon learn how it feels to lose everything. . he opened the fridge seeking his favorite papaya and mango juice. he reclined in the chair folding his hands behind his head.” He unzipped the black sleeping bag and crawled inside to draft the script for Carlos’ final act. have kids. Until Danielle came along. He removed a pen and a legal pad from the drawer making a few notes on what to eliminate from the yard to make room for a possible play area. attacked her character without giving her a chance to explain. Making a pot of coffee. Heading into the kitchen. The public only saw one side of him and had no idea how lonely an existence he lived. he sat at the kitchen table staring out the massive window that held a scenic view of the manicured yard. he felt for sure he would fall into the black hole of destruction that consumed most successful celebrities. The fame and glory that came with being a celebrity meant nothing without someone special to share it with. Work would need to be done to make it user-friendly for kids if he and Danielle decided not to move right away.you can cousin. The house was quiet when he entered the palace he called home. ******** Early the next morning Carlos arrived home to Malibu. He’d acted bullish and in a jealous rage. Danielle had the right to deny him forgiveness but her own love for him prevailed and lifted her anger long enough for her to realize she loved him enough to give him a second chance. While filming in Australia. When he was done writing. he could not wait to be married. and bring his home alive. the fridge was empty and cleaned of any food. The current design of the yard was sectioned to perform specific duties and there was no room left for a play area to be added.
I just got in and no.” “I’ll see you then.” .” “That is wonderful news! He’s such a grouch when he’s home. I don’t have anything on Herman yet. could not pass fast enough for him. Val and I are almost in California. the housekeeper arrived just as Danielle was getting out of the cab. “Hola. The house phone rang breaking his one-man party. finally you are home. Handing the driver a few dollars.” she called after her. The years of loneliness would finally end and a happily ever after path lay ahead. I’m so sorry to hear what happened between you and Mr. adios. which leads me to ask why you are here?” Danielle relaxed her stance. ******** Vera. adios.The long six weeks until the wedding. he plucked the phone from the base. wait. “Ms. she grabbed her luggage and rushed to meet the housekeeper at the main gate. how nice to see you again. Danielle.” “Carlos. “Ms. and with a happier tone in his voice said. Do you have any news?” “Rafael. In all my years working for him. The older woman smiled.” “I’ll be there soon. Have you been able to get any information?” “Yes.” Carlos returned the phone to the base and headed upstairs to shower off the long plane ride. Ramos. Putting the chair on all fours. I’m anxious to get this matter closed. I’ve never witnessed him so depressed or moody. Vera. “You haven’t heard—we’re back together. and I will be at your place in a day or two.” “Hurry and get here.
“I’m back to change all that for good. She heard the familiar classical music playing from behind the closed bathroom door.” Vera kidded. polished granite. She took a moment to soak in his nudeness. The walk-in shower surrounded in a wall of dark brown and beige. they spotted the designer luggage sitting neatly in the foyer. Vera turned back to the door. is there anything special you would like?” Danielle shrugged her shoulders. I kinda hope he isn’t because I haven’t done the shopping yet. Upon entering the house.” she said leaving the house. He exercised often and it showed by how his muscles bugled with every flex and bend of his body as he washed. I was hoping to arrive before him but I was delayed. “I’m going shopping before Mr. and expensive European tile of the same color. Danielle went to the master bedroom looking for Carlos. arms and legs. running. “I can’t think of anything other than a carton of double chocolate ice cream. Sunny Australia had tanned He never heard Danielle enter over the music playing or the water . His firm buttocks were a tad lighter than his torso. covered the floor. Carlos stood facing the wall under the water pulsating from the showerhead above and from the fixtures attached to the side of the shower that pulsated water to his lower body. ******** After searching the first floor rooms. The master bathroom was as elegant as the rest of the house. Do you know if he’s home yet?” “He called to say he would be home today.” “Got it. Ramos starts griping. Undressing. I don’t know if he is or not. Across from that was the sunken Jacuzzi-style bathtub they’d made good use of the first night she’d stayed at his home. she eased inside.
The impulse to jump his bones surged when he flung his head back to rinse the shampoo from his long dark hair. Hungrily. he was truly an Adonis.” he said turning around to face her. and staring at him was turning her on. “Um-hum. He looked down to see the engagement ring. His hands kept busy by roaming the . squeezing her thighs together like an animal trapping her prey. he sat down bringing Danielle onto his lap. Her initiating this lovemaking session heightened his desires. giving away the intruder’s identity. getting reacquainted after what seemed to be a long separation. Shutting off the water. “Can’t you tell?” Her eyes traveled lower then back up at him. She sucked in an approving breath. Without further ado she swung her arms around him.” she said. Danielle’s body started to react on its own since her feet would not put forth the motion to move. “Surprised to see me?” She asked as the warm water drenched her. The taste of him drove her insane. he pulled at her lips and sucked the tip of her tongue. Carlos took advantage of the ledge bordering the back of the shower. “Danielle—. trapping him between the wall and her body. it had been up to him to get the moment going. Tangling her hands in his wet hair. Their tongues danced. I can now. He wasn’t used to her taking charge of their lovemaking. After their first time together. pulling him into a deep kiss.his skin a light brown. She straddled him. “Qué diablos!” He jumped grabbing the unknown feminine hands clutching his chest. smiling leeringly while holding the fullness of him in her hand. she deepened the kiss. He felt for the first time in their relationship Danielle truly loved him. He grinned. Carlos responded positively to her seduction.
. baby. causing her head to drop back. He didn’t care about the pain only the pleasure radiating through his body. her wet hair covered his face almost suffocating him. “Why’d you stop?” “I have to get a condom. He lifted her hips to enter the velvet softness of her womanhood.” She brushed her face close to his cheek whispering.” Carlos groaned and drove his pelvis upward to fill her to capacity. he knew she was ready. her thighs quivering. she was more than ready for him. but he was able to manipulate enough room for his hand to massage the plump fleshly mound. The friction of her against his manhood blew his attempt at a slow. Her breasts. When she leaned back.softness her body. paced arousal to impossible to maintain. “Too late for that. She closed her arms around his head. the hardness from the edge of the shower cut into the back of his thighs and his back stung from slapping against the wall. She cried out when he became rough with the sucking and biting. The harder he thrust the more she pushed against him. but stopped short. His free hand went between her thighs. that triggered the signal for them to reach their pleasure together. His mouth found her breasts. cradling him tightly against her wet skin. he held off until he felt her heart racing against his chest. She bounced on his thighs. taking in a harden nipple. Carlos lips attacked her neck. Danielle let off a loud moan of her own. She rode him skillfully. pressed tightly against his chest. Danielle’s hips began a slow gyration. Make love to me. The scent of her body filled his nose. Reaching her pace. She looked down at him panting. A groan escaped her throat. Suddenly he felt Danielle’s body stiffen. engulfing. planting kisses down the length of it. The sensation to enter her was overwhelming. I’ve missed you so much. He had never experienced this side of her before and was taking it for all it was worth.
It was so quiet when I got home I couldn’t stand it. what did you mean when you said it was too late for me to get a condom?” She turned in the chair to face him. Is everything okay with your parents?” Danielle dabbed the excess mascara from the wand before applying a small amount to her lashes. he broke the silence saying. she returned the service to him.Recovery took longer than expected. Drying off they went into the bedroom to dress. The lather formed a long string of bubbles to slide down her back. “I’m not one-hundred percent sure but sure enough to say we might be pregnant. Mom is still adjusting my wedding gown. “Yes. Crossing her legs. How was your flight?” “It was long and tiring.” “Don’t worry I am free of any projects until next year. Carlos rested against the back of the shower with Danielle resting on his chest. washing every inch of his masculine body. “I’m glad you’re here. Carlos finished dressing and sat on the edge of the bed watching her. Finally. Squeezing a small amount on the sponge and began to wash Danielle’s body. she took in a deep breath.” “I wanted to be here to greet you but I got held up an extra day in Atlan ta. um. He reached over and flipped the lever to turn on the water. . so don’t start another project that could interfere with that. They’d hardly spoken any words but the silence was a good silence. We’ll have to return to Atlanta the week before the wedding to finish the preparations. Danielle. Danielle sat at the vanity brushing her damp hair into a ponytail. The soap was not far from Carlos’ reach. She closed her eyes basking from the pampering her man was giving her. When he was done bathing her. It flowed from all sides of the shower and gently over them like a warm summer rain.
I lost my head. I’ll sell everything if it means having profound happiness. let’s get married in Vegas. but. too. we can do it tonight. and now we’ll have a baby to complete the picture.” He embraced her. I want to finish our plans.” He was on his knees in front of her with his hand planted firmly against the flat of her stomach. I want memories from the wedding we planned.” She loved seeing him excited. We can start looking for a minivan and all the stuff that goes with it. I’m over a week late. factor in the str ess of planning a quick but fancy wedding and all the other stuff we’ve been through these past few weeks.” She stood up shrugging him off. smearing her freshly applied lipstick. kissing her sensitive lips. “You want to drive a minivan? What about that expensive German machine sitting in the driveway and the other classic cars in the specially built garage?” “I’ll sell it. Danielle. The moment you get confirmation is the day I end my acting career and become a full-time husband and father. she said. it could just be stress causing me to be late.” “I’m guessing pretty happy because I’m having the same feelings. and mumbled.Carlos.” He cupped her face. “I love you. you don’t know how happy I am right now. baby. not pictures from the Wedding Palace of Las Vegas with people we don’t know smiling and posing with us. “If this is true. but I can’t wait for you to be my wife. but I’m being sensible and waiting to get confirmation on the pregnancy before getting excited.” .” “OK. I’m calling my agent and have her withdraw all my commitments. His eyes gave an expression she’d never seen in a man before. Giggling. Forget the big fancy wedding. “There is no doubt in my mind you are carrying a Ramos baby. and you are pregnant. Before you get excited. Danielle. “Te quiero muchísimo.
” He raised his right hand. “Why are you crying?” She did not respond but whispered.” Her smile was wide and bright. “I swear as long as I live I will never mistrust you.” Her pulse sped raising the fine hairs on her arms. I’ll never take your love for granted for as long as I live. Love. Blinking back the tears her lips trembled as she spoke.” He gave that sexy crooked grin she loved so much.” He became confused.” “You have to face it. You gave me a second chance to make this right.” A single tear ran down her cheek. Don’t you think it’s better to do it now rather than wait and have the paparazzi crash the wedding and make a spectacle of our day?” . “God yes and I will never get tired of hearing myself say yes to you.Her emotions rose quickly. don’t you ever do anything stupid to break us apart again or I’ll beat you to a pulp. Carlos Ramos.” “It is time to make it official. “Phew. “I love you. “Danielle Tate. will you give me the honor of becoming my wife. Kneeling down he held her hand caressing the stone of the ring. I don’t know if I’m ready for that. He stroked it away with his finger. Carlos. “Ask you what?” “Ask me again. Tomorrow we’ll throw a party and invite my closest friends and associates to meet the woman that has stolen my heart. “Ask me again. Danielle.
” he said pressing his cheek against her forehead. He was used to the finer things in life while she grew up in a normal middle-class family.“I hear what you’re saying but for tonight can it be just the two of us?” She cupped his face. “Thank you. that’s what we will do. .” he answered kissing the tip of her nose. This is another part of his lifestyle she would have to learn. “I’m feeling the crack of the whip already and I love it!” She rubbed her stomach. “Well get your butt in gear. Vera short notice to prepare a party is not being a good boss. he escorted her to the dance floor. you seem a little stiff.” “Women sometimes have to stick together when we’re right. Her car was 2001 Toyota Civic and she had no shame shopping at Walmart. A restaurant with this type of elegance was only seen on television shows or in magazine ads. Vera now has another woman to side with her when I’m being difficult.” He embraced her. do a little dancing. honey. Taking hold of Carlos’ arm. “Loosen up. your baby and I are getting hungry. and let the rest of the evening fall where it may. Besides. He slipped his arm around her waist drawing her close.” “Oh I see how this is going to work. but I don’t expect you to be difficult and cause her any problems.” ******** Danielle’s eyes glowed. “Let’s have a romantic dinner. giving Ms. She doubted Carlos had ever seen the inside of a Walmart store.” “If that’s what you want.
“Carlos, I’m just realizing how different we are. When I took you on a date, we went on a boat ride and I treated you to a five dollar hamburger.” “You can’t measure what we do in terms of dollars and cents, Danielle. Actually, this is our first official date. I’m treating the love of my life the way she expects to be treated. I will shower you with riches; that doesn’t necessarily mean m oney. And, whatever I don’t have that you want, I will find a way to get for you.” Her knees wobbled. Closing her eyes, she swallowed hard. “I’m a blue-collar worker with blue-collar roots; this will be a challenge for me for sure.” He spun her slowly to the music before bringing her close again. “Don’t think of this as a challenge but a new beginning with extra benefits.” “How cute to put it that way but I don’t bring anything to the table. I have no job, no income and my retirement account is so small, I will be dead by the time it reaches maturity.” “He stopped dancing to look down at her. “Why are you bringing this up, Danielle?” She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Carlos, I have nothing to bring to our marriage but myself and maybe a child. How can you see me as anything but a burden?” His brow frowned with slight annoyance. “What about your love for me? Does that not mean anything to you—because it means everything to me? And, the baby you might be carrying is my flesh and blood and will never be a burden to me.” “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you angry. It must be my hormones making me say stupid things.”
“Tell your hormones to stop screwing up the date.” He paused before saying, “I have money, but it came with a price I’m not completely proud of.” “What do you mean?” “This is not the time to talk about our finances; we’re supposed to be having a fun night out. But I will say I’m willing to give it all up for you. So don’t ruin my chances of having a normal life because you’re all of sudden feeling too poor for me.” She smiled sliding her arm around his broad shoulders. His free hand held onto her hand clutching it close to his heart as they swayed to the music. She did right forgiving him for acting a jerk. Deep down he’d proven more than enough he loved her and she could not wait to make it official. As they settled into the pace of the dance cameras flashed around them. Danielle felt Carlos whisking her quickly from the dance floor. With a raised voice, he shouted. “Please, no pictures! I want to be left alone for once!” Carlos shielded her with his body as they made it back to their table. The manager of the restaurant quickly gathered the over-zealous fans showing them the door. “Mr. Ramos, I apologize for the rude interruption. Please, let me move you and your lady friend to the private dining area to enjoy the rest of your night.” “Gracias, Jacque; that would be perfect.” ******** “Tanner, if you want an exclusive on Carlos Ramos new love interest, return this call immediately; I know the woman he’s involved with and for a price, I will give you the low down on everything about her.” Herman clicked off the cellphone smiling inside. His plan was right on schedule and soon Carlos would feel the plight of having the rug snatched from under him.
The call immediately was returned. Herman spoke into the phone with bass in his voice. “We talk money before anything. If you can’t meet my price then forget it.” “Depends on the amount and if your story can be verified; I ain’t trying to be sued.” “Trust me, everything is true and can be verified unless Carlos is a very convincing lying.” “OK. Where do you want to meet?” “Meet me in the parking lot of Zuma Beach in an hour and come alone.” Herman removed the envelope from the duffel bag and stuffed it inside of his jacket. Opening the door of the lifeguard station, he looked around for police patrolling the area before walking across the dark stretch of sand to the parking lot. The temperatures had dropped and cool rain began to fall causing sand to pack under his shoes. He made a mental note to remember to clean his shoes before entering Carlos’ house. The last thing he wanted to do was leave any trace of evidence behind. Taking shelter under a tree, he waited for Tanner to arrive with his payoff. He was hungry and in desperate need of shower and change of clothing. ******** Time ticked well past 9:00pm when Tanner arrived. Herman got to his feet watching the car slowly enter the parking lot. He walked over to the window peeping inside when it lowered. “Tanner?” “Yeah, get in,” he responded. Herman got in swathing in the warmth from the car’s heater. The rain and cold temperatures chilled him to the bone. “What took you so long? “
“It doesn’t matter.” he said getting from the car. but I had to be sure Sergeant Cane wasn’t throwing Herman under the bus to save his own neck. Running across the street though the heavy rain.” “He doesn’t know we’re here so you have a day to come up with a way to break it to him. “I don’t know how I’ll prevent Carlos from killing Herman when I tell him about this. Danielle is very important to Carlos and if he is able to rip her away from him.” Val said filing her nails. “Rafael. it is all true. I don’t like doing business this way. he will have fulfilled his grudge. Look. “I’ll take it! Here is the money and I swear if any of this is a lie. Ramos has always been fair with me. buddy. I’m here. I think I will shop it to StarNews instead. and the pictures back it up. “Do you want what I have or not? There are other sources that would be happy to get what I have and probably pay better . his agenda was to check into the first hotel he came across for a decent meal and a good night’s sleep in a real bed. he goes after what will hurt him the most. you got me?” “Believe me.” . “Speaking of which. Why doesn’t he go after him and leave her out of it?” “My love. I don’t understand why Herman is after Dani if his beef is with Carlos.” Tanner grabbed hold of Herman’s jacket. “I hate lying to my brother. Rafael removed the binoculars from his eyes shaking his head.” Val sighed. I will hunt you down. when a man has a grudge against another man. why are you trying to trash him?” Herman raised his voice.” He started to get out the car. they won’t ask questions.
” She raised her eyebrow.” ******** The valet held the door open as Danielle slid inside the car avoiding as much of the rain as possible.” He laughed.” He hit the ignition button on to start the Nissan winking at Val. “Who said anything about murder? I simply said he would disappear—not die. Carlos jogged over to the driver’s side after tipping the valet. “I’m glad to learn this about you. if I get enough alcohol in me anything is possible. “I only have one place I want you to disappear into. I had a great time with you this evening. Hermie poo would disappear and never be heard from again. Mrs.” He caressed her cheek with his index finger.” she said admiring her polished nails. I will make sure never to cross you.” he said patting her hand. “That didn’t ruin anything. Ramos. let’s get back to the hotel so I can show you where that would be. “You know my weaknesses very well. “Awe you mean I be able to get you to shake those sexy hips for me at the wedding reception?” “Well.” Danielle squeezed his hand. “Believe me when I say. “I apologize about our night being ruined.” .“This is crazy. at least not while we are in the State of Georgia. I’m so glad I didn’t let you get away. “I could fix this whole situation with one phone call to Georgia.” Her tongue traced the tip of his finger. The food was outstanding. the dancing was different for me but fun nonetheless.” Rafael chuckled. “We are not doing a murder for hire. you do not want to see me attempt to do any of the dances done in clubs.
regardless if you were a cop or not. “Stop beating around the bush and answer my question!” “Danielle.” “I’m not saying I don’t trust you but I have the skills to help and this does involve me. is this mess over with Herman or do I need to watch my back?” “You should always be careful.” “I’m not trying to be in control but only help! This is my life and not some scene in a movie where if something doesn’t go right we can start over from the top and try it again. baby.” He concentrated on the rain-slicked road to avoid looking at her.” She read the worry on his face he tried hard to hide most of the night. “I probably did overdo it by losing my temper with those people. you have to trust me to handle Herman. I love you want to be my protector but I’m capable of protecting myself when you aren’t around. and it’s not about being approached by a few fans with cellphone cameras. I’m just asking you to be honest with me. “Carlos. I see you are worried. straining to keep his control.” She had a bad habit of grinding her teeth when fighting back her anger and this time was no different. Carlos. “What are you talking about? I’m pumped that you’re here and we’re taking about the wedding. the way you shoved me behind you is a defensive tactic—you feel I’m still in danger.” Danielle.” “That doesn’t mean you have to be in control. we need to stop pretending.” He clutched his jaw.“All I ask is you have fun.” “Don’t forget I was a cop. I’m always going to protect you .” “Honey.
Herman managed to slip by the police. Carlos? Does Cleveland Police have him in custody or has he made bail? You might as well tell me.” “I have the same suspicion and I have people looking for him. I can’t lose another man to senseless violence!” She started to cry.” She caressed his face. He is out of his league and doesn’t realize it. I ask you where is Herman?” He stopped the car on the side of the road.” “What he did can be called extortion or intimidation and it WOULD land him in front of a judge. or I’ll call a few contacts at CPD and check for myself. Herman’s pursuit to destroy me will not work. but you’re going to be a father and I want you around. Turning to face her. “OK. “It won’t be just me left behind to pull the pieces of my life together again. “He is aware of that and doesn’t care. her eyes were ablaze with anger. Again. His wife and kids are living in North Dakota and Lilly claims she doesn’t know where Herman went once they parted. not me. His hatred for you is what is making him see this to the end. she continued to nag him. Now calm down.” Ignoring his request.” .“I’m not going to let anything happen. The man is not done with you.” She relaxed her shoulders. ” “What he did does not require jail time. “Where is Herman. when you do come face to face with him. I will tell you what I know. He had to fess up before she took matters into her own hands. “Baby.” She nodded.” “I understand. “It’s obvious he is here in California. you’re going to have to treat him as fragile and not with a battle. the stress is not good for the baby. saying.” “He started this war.
I will let the police handle it.” . I will not put myself in a dangerous position.” He closed his eyes holding her tight. but you and this baby mean the world to me. “You are right. Carlos. he left the car to go to the passenger side.” Her smeared makeup stained the front of his white shirt. and it’s probably because I am still holding onto a little anger. Herman is not worth it. The rain had stopped but the air was cool. “Please don’t cry. “I know I don’t say it a lot.The layout of the BMW M6 convertible would not allow him to comfort Danielle in his arms. Unbuckling his seatbelt. He opened the door kneeling down to embrace her. I have too much to lose.
Ms.” she said taking it into the bathroom. checking the results again before lifting the lid on the trashcan and deposing of the stick. Vera was busy making breakfast. Putting on a robe after exiting the shower. “You are awake and good morning. The bell to the gate buzzed. In the kitchen. Vera. She shook her head replacing the letter on the table. she decided to brush her teeth and take a shower to stop looking at it every few seconds. Sitting on the side of the bed. that smells pretty darn good. She dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and headed downstairs to find food. she stretched noticing the white envelope sitting on the nightstand. she removed the pregnancy test. she reached for a piece of toast and poured a glass of orange . “Now would be a good time to do this. the test was finally done.” Vera said setting a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit in front of Danielle. Pushing the bowl away. Danielle sat the applicator stick on the sink and waited for the results. I’ve been instructed to make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. Locating her backpack with miscellaneous items that would not fit in her luggage. she went to the sink. “I will get that. Have a seat. It also left the code to the alarm system and sets of keys to the house and a car in the driveway if she needed to leave abruptly. She exhaled.” she said sitting at the table. you start eating. “Mmm. She opened it to read that Carlos had an early morning meeting with a sponsor and would be back before lunch.” she said sniffing in the aroma.” “I usually workout before eating breakfast but I’m flexible. Danielle’s stomach flipped from the sight and pungent smell of the oatmeal.Chapter Three The next morning. Pacing the bathroom anxious for the test to do its thing. Danielle awoke to an empty bed.
You look great. can’t you just once stop being a cop? Look where you are and what is surrounding you.” “Dang. Vera?” “Sure. Val. Dani. “You’re not pregnant?” . may I have a bowl of oatmeal. Ms. girl. “Val! What are you doing here?” “Me and Rafael were in the neighborhood and thought we’d drop by.” “I’m leaning more towards the something part of your story. enjoy it. I’m not trying to be a cop anymore. “So where is Rafael really.” Vera said leaving them alone in the kitchen. “He umm. “Okay. sweetheart. Danielle replaced the napkin in her lap. I know about Herman possibly being in Malibu. but a wife that wants her husband to be safe. so why am I rejecting everything put in fr ont of me to eat?” She wondered rubbing her stomach. Val?” “He really had to make a run. there is no baby. If you all need me.” “Where is Rafael?” Val hesitated. help yourself. I’ll be doing laundry.” Val’s eyes saddened. “Who are you talking too?” Val screeched as she entered the kitchen. probably to buy me a gift or something. I’m starving.juice.” “I would be able to do that if I didn’t have some deranged nut trying to kill me and my soon-to-be husband. Tell me what Rafael is doing. he had to make a quick run but will be back in a bit. Danielle smiled as she got up to hug her friend.
” “I hope you’re right. saying. “Tanner. Herman is lurking out there and could sneak up on me before I see him. seeing this Val grabbed Danielle into a big hug. “Oh well. but it might be for the best. Tanner rested against his car with his arms folded across his chest. “It’s not his fans I’m worried about. I have a wedding coming up and I want that nut behind bars or in another country before it takes place. I have to be careful. I did a home pregnancy test this morning.Danielle looked at her best friend. Val. but he doesn’t know it was negative.” ******** Rafael pulled into the parking lot of the abandoned industrial building. He looked up when he heard the car’s tires roll over the dusty gravel. girl!” Danielle tugged at her earring. I’m so sorry—I mean if you wanted to be pregnant. his female fans are still going to hate on you. You have taken the most wanted eligible bachelor off the market—you go.” “Rafael and Carlos will not let anything happen.” “Had you told Carlos?” “He’s been naming the baby before I could confirm the pregnancy.” “Yes I did. why’d you choose to meet here of all places?” . Rafael pulled the car to a stop short of hitting him. Val.” Val grinned. smiled and shook her head to confirm Val’s question. Herman’s days are numbered and they are closing in on him. “Dani. Carlos exited the car putting on his sunglasses.
Instead of earning money seeking that information I lost a few thousand dollars thanks to someone who has an ax to grind with you. do you really think she cannot handle a little pressure from the media? Hell. I didn’t have too.” . Only thing I could find odd was her mourning a former boyfriend for so long.” he said slapping a folder on the hood of the car.” “Oh come on.“I’m about to become your best friend. “Herman gave him everything right down to Danielle’s former badge number. I will reimburse whatever you paid for this information but I’m not ready to expose Danielle. The woman was a cop.” Carlos opened the folder examining the product inside. “So how much do you want for this?” “I want to report the news of your upcoming nuptials on my show. Tate entered your life.” “Is that so? What do you have?” “Remember when you told me to earn my paycheck and snoop for your mystery lady? Well. Rafael looked over his shoulder blowing a whistle. all we want to know is if you are exclusive with her. I could have been a real dick and reported it and not even told you.” “Tanner.” “True you could have—why didn’t you?” “You’ve always been fair up until Ms. Why are you sheltering her? She comes across very intelligent and likeable on paper. Carlos.” Carlos removed his sunglasses to stare at him.
I’ll be residing in the States. Just so you know. she is the love of my life and we’re getting married on Christmas Day. With an American wife.Carlos narrowed his brow. “You got it as long as you don’t leak anything I just said.” .” “Man. I’ll catch you later.” Carlos grinned. “You have no clue how true that is. Tanner. “Are you moving back to Spain?” “No. The ratings will hit the ceiling with fans wanting to meet the common everyday woman that captured Carlos Ramos’ heart and caused him to pull the curtain on his acting career. we have to do a sit-down with her included. “Carlos. there are weather cams situated on Zuma beach. “Fine.” “Thanks for the heads-up. I’m quitting show business and concentrating on my life with her.” Tanner held up two fingers. I will be eligible to stay in America. “Scouts honor my lips are sealed. but I have a good idea where I might find my tattle-tell friend. After the wedding. you’re actually going to trust a reporter to keep his word? His work involves being the first to break dirt on celebrities.” Carlos patted Tanner on the shoulder in a friendly manner.” Tanner sensed disappointed would come with the answer he might receive from his next question.” Rafael waited until Tanner left before addressing Carlos sanity. Are you happy now?” “Dang. you might be able to locate that guy’s whereabouts by getting a copy of those tapes. are you serious? The era will soon be over until the next best thing hits Hollywood.
” “How is it different? Look. He will be waiting to hear Tanner report the new information on his show.” “You have me confused—are you playing games. Carlos. Rafael.” Anger rose in his face as he glared at his brother.” “That is different. He will not say anything. “That was wrong and there are better ways to introduce Danielle to your lifestyle. “I set it up so Tanner would find me and Danielle at the café that day. Rafael. “I am trying to protect her! It has always been about me.” Rafael ran his hands through his hair. Why don’t you take a hint from regular men. you constantly say you want Danielle to be a part of your life yet you go behind her back and do unthinkable stuff that could easily have her running back to Cleveland.” . When I returned to Spain I promptly introduced Val to what she would be facing. I do not want that for Danielle.“Tanner is cool. be honest with her.” “I know but Herman doesn’t know Tanner and I have somewhat of a friendship.” Rafael frowned shaking his head. The women I used to date were in the spotlight themselves and didn’t have a problem letting the negative crap roll off their backs. Carlos?” Carlos shoved his hands into the pockets of his pants. I had to introduce her to what she would be facing. “Herman found him because he exposed you were dating an unknown female on his show.
” “I’m not saying that.” Rafael nodded. man. You got discovered and changed your image to become this superstar known to harbor an abundance of arrogance. He was aware he could be a hot head but had put that behind him when he quit playing soccer.” . and yet have finest. “Carlos. give her a chance to prove she can be with you and deal with the fame. saying. you spent more time on the sideline for using foul behavior than you did playing. Now it was returning and at full steam. brother! She is a grown woman and doesn’t need you shielding her all hours of the day! Let her deal with being in the spotlight in her way. and I bet she would not hesitate to sing like a bird. he won’t have a problem flushing out Consuela. Now you’re slipping to being the hot head again. she will be back to waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory. keep her informed. but we both know Herman is not a dangerous per son.” Carlos fell silent for a moment. I don’t put anything past Herman at this point. He is determined to get even and using whatever means in his reach. God. but desperate. “You don’t see the change in yourself? I mean when you played soccer . talk to me.” Rafael watched his brother’s body language. “I’ll give you that but let Danielle know what you are doing. “She is the least of my worries. “I guess I should do nothing and let her deal with Herman alone. If Herman was able to get to Tanner.” “Rafael. I don’t have to tell you when a man loses everything. how dangerous he can become.” Carlos put his shades on. What is really going on?” “What?” Carlos asked surprised. If she opens her big mouth and says one word about me.“Open your eyes.
“I’m afraid I will lose what I’ve always wanted. But. If I lose her and my child because Herman is being vindictive. it’s no telling what we might find.” “Yes. She might be pregnant. Last night at dinner our conversation made me think maybe she is second guessing her decision. she did. If I don’t fight to keep the evil away. for me.” .” “Rafael.” “Congratulations on your news. I think a run along the beach is in order. My prayers for happiness were answered when Danielle stepped foot in that hotel room. I can’t wait to give up this life and move into the regular world.” “Yeah. I will kill him. she gave up her home to be with you. stop brooding. being a celebrity has been lonely.” “Why would she do that? She forgave you for what you did to her. She loves you. Herman might not be able to get onto my property but there are plenty of places along the beach where he can hide and watch what is going on. it will find a way to take it from me. let’s go. You were doing okay until you fell in love. Rafael.” “Just something she said.” “Danielle is not going anywhere.” “Being a celebrity is hard. we are not going to let Herman have a win in this game. brother.Carlos dropped his head. I’m unhappy on the inside and pretending to be happy on the outside. I hate this and everything it stands for. Let’s get out of here.
I guess the fact that I married a wonderful man who treats me like a princess. blah. it’s beautiful and if you decorate with the Christmas theme. and why did I have to move to Spain. it would be really nice. I wouldn’t miss coming home.Chapter Four The two women sat in the garden admiring the scenery. might not be good conversation but at least you are talking to one of your parents.” “It’s beautiful. If it weren’t for you. Mom and I have a strained relationship as it is. Dani. Rafael’s parents are so nice and make me feel welcome. I want her to come to Spain and spend a week or two with me and she won’t even return m y calls. “Well. The late Fall weather was sunny and warmer than normal for Malibu and most of the flowers were still abloom. she isn’t. Val relaxed on the lounger listening to the music drifting from the portable speakers connected to her iPod. it’s been months and she still isn’t over it?” “Nope. it’s conversation.” Carlos hasn’t mentioned .” she said smacking her lips. Val.” “You think? I couldn’t change the arrangements now.” “I’m sorry. “My mother still isn’t speaking to me.” Val sat up sipping her iced tea. Val. His main complaint when he talks to me is why couldn’t I find an American. How about your dad? Has Rafael spoken to him at least?” “They have spoken but you know my dad. Mom has her heart set on a church wedding and making her friends jealous by flaunting Carlos around. still isn’t good enough for her to be happy for me. How is living in Spain? wanting to move home or visit. blah.” “Wow. “You should get married in this garden. blah. Dani.
And. I’m a young thirty-three and will still be young and fly at age sixty-three. your bachelorette party is going to be off the hook!” “You are scaring me on what to expect when that day comes. if you ever need motherly advice.” . you’ll be too old and set in your ways to be bothered with them. “You got that right and if she did. or need to talk and feel you can’t do such with me. I wonder if we are missing anything by not having siblings.” Val chuckled.” “Don’t go skipping thirty years ahead—I want to enjoy my youth. She is a good listener. by the time they reached the age to do all the stuff you want to do with them. You can tell me anything and I will keep it between us. I would have loved to have a brother or sister to share secrets with when I was a kid and have my sisters be bridesmaids in my wedding. I don’t think my mom is willing to have more kids at age fifty-three. I’m always here for you. “For real—is everything okay between you guys?” “Yes we’re good. Oh well. What’s with the sister talk? I’m your sister. Val. call my mom.” “Val.” Danielle sat up to look at her. I’m honored to serve as your maid-of-honor and you know I will not slack in that department. We will never be called auntie or be a favorite aunt for a niece to look up to.“I know I missed you.” “Hey. maybe not by blood but we have been through a lot together.” “I have done that already on many occasions since Rafael and I got married. I was homesick and needed a comforting voice. Dani. I resent that. Val. I kinda needed some advice and didn’t want to bother you with all that you were going through. Your mom helped me with that.
” She gave him an evil eye.” Carlos chimed in. “I’m glad because I need you to help me find a way to tell Rafael he’s going to be a daddy. “Just girl talk. you all just don’t want too.” .” Val spoke up. “That must mean wedding plans and party favors. “Talk to your brother about that.” Rafael pinched the nerve between his eyes. Rafael. “Oh my goodness—I can’t wait to see you in action with a newborn. Dani.” Val grinned looking at Carlos. you will be an auntie in about six months. embracing her. “Hey.” Dani said lifting her head so he could kiss her on the cheek. I do have this crazy idea involving you and Carlos.” Carlos said walking through the garden with Rafael. let her speak.” she joked. “If you have to be nosey. all the stuff men aren’t capable of handling.” “I will be in action with a newborn and a nanny at my beck and call. we were talking about the bachelorette party and how many male strippers we should hire for the night.” Dani leaped from her chair over to Val. “Excuse me? I didn’t get a party with strippers before I got married. “Men can do it.” Rafael put his hand on his hips.Val pulled her knees to her chest to rest her chin. you two are having too much fun without us. honey. “I’m scared to even ask. “I’m curious to hear this.
she mentioned calling her hoodlum friends to make Herman disappear. Val has me wondering what she is capable of doing. I feel a headache coming on and could use one of your good massages.” Danielle raised her eyebrow. send a search party. You wouldn’t be showing anything but your chest area and that alone would be enough to get the adrenalin going for the women. I was thinking you’d make an appearance as strippers to entertain the women. she knew some roughnecks back in the day. “Rafael.” “Oh.” Carlos covered his face with his hands. is your tea spiked?” She could hardly contain her laughter from the expression Rafael had on his face. “Val. Let’s go lay down. Danielle started to take apart the iPod and speakers. Heck. “She might not have been joking about that. don’t listen to her. “I’d have to say that would be weird to strip at my own fiancée’s bachelorette party. do you like my soulful music?” .” he said being dragged away by Val. she is fooling around.” “Carlos. Are you hungry? I could make you something to eat. if you don’t hear from me anymore tonight.“Hear me out before you both throw me into the pool. Danielle. “Don’t turn off the music—dance with me. He’d had odd requests before but nothing of this nature.” Val hugged her husband.” “I don’t know. “Baby. “She is so silly. I was playing with you.” He shook his head.” Danielle slapped Val on the knee. She would lose her mind if another woman was to put her hands down your pants.
baby. Come with me.” “Carlos! You’re making me dizzy.” “Nice copout. and we have plenty of time to make babies. then a name isn’t important.“It is nice. I had the pleasure of meeting him at an event. He stared down at her. but none of it matters to me. you will belong to me. “You are positive it was negative?” “I took the test this morning. what lucky woman were you there with?” “Would you be jealous if I told you who she was?” “No.” . a weak smile curled his lips. Anthony Hamilton is one of my favorites. “I love you. Danielle. but I will give you a hint. down the road we will have to try again to have a baby. In a few weeks. I’m not pregnant. you will belong to me and unfortunately. let me rephrase that. “I’m sorry. We never did anything. Wait.” “Okay. she is a musical icon and has been around the block a few times. Are you disappointed?” He picked her up swinging her around in his arms.” “Mmm-hmm.” He set her on her feet.” “Where are we going?” “Upstairs to relax. we’re only friends. I’m sorry.” she said stroking his cheek.
please?” He asked bowing. we need to devise a plan to set Herman up and have him fall into our trap. The weather is perfect for a run along the beach. Now you can work with me or against me. “No. I don’t want you anywhere near the beach!” “Why not?” He did not want to reveal Herman was possibly stalking them from a hiding place on the beach until he had proof. “Can I have my balls back. I refuse to allow that freakish. Danielle.” His face went blank. fumbling. “I’m not your wife yet. Honey.” “There are risks of me getting hurt every time I walk out the front door.“Carlos. I’m going to be a part of this rather you like it or not. It’s time to put a stop to this. please promise you will not venture onto the beach without me or Rafael with you. Herman is on the loose and you think he will find me on the beach. Danielle. Carlos. Listen. I’m not tired and I wanted to go for a run. but either way. “There is a fully equipped gym in the basement. what better way to draw him out of hiding than putting me in sight?” “I refuse to use my wife as bait. . Take that look off your face. I’m putting an end to this crap before my wedding!” He was stunned by her sternness and had no comeback.” She held a finger up.” She placed her hands on her hips relaxing her weight on one leg.” “The risks are too great. “I know what’s going on. Her mind was made up and she was taking control of the situation. filmmaker to control my destiny.
arousing it to a peak. Locking the bedroom door. get upstairs. she used her hand to entice the other nipple to come from hiding. Her lips and tongue traced the flat of his nipple. I changed my mind. She traced the length of him through his underwear. Danielle let her hand roam lightly over the bulge straining to be freed. letting her hands roam his hard bare chest. Her slender fingers curled around the dark hair centered neatly on his chest. he ditched it to the floor before reaching the bed. allowing him to spring free. ******** Carlos followed in behind Danielle’s footsteps. straight hair. Letting her tongue tease the nipple in her mouth. planting kisses along the length of him. Carlos drew in a deep breath. She motioned him to come over with her index finger.” she ordered pulling him by the center of his shirt. teasing her nipples through the cotton fabric of her shirt. Danielle loved his body. she could not find it. His gripped her head letting his fingers curl around her. thick. “When I’m done I’ll gladly give th em back. He felt her hands tugging at the waist of his jockeys. The urge to push her back on the bed and rip . she sat on the bed to unbuckle the belt of his pants. There was not a flaw on him. He stood on the carpeted platform in front of her. mister. Moving his hands from her hair. dragging them down his hips. Carlos closed his eyes. Releasing her mouth from his nipple. he watched her step up on the small platform to the bed and sashay to the side she claimed as hers. and if there was. Danielle cupped his fullness with both hands. Unbuttoning his shirt. He heard her soft moan and felt the vibrations against his skin. She began by moving her lips feathery across the bulbous head of his manhood. He grew to arousal quickly from her foreplay.A reckless mischief gleamed in her eyes. Carlos strained to stand on his feet. you have a job to perform. still manipulating her nipple with his thumb and forefinger. he cupped her breast.
continuing his travel upward to her capture her lips. Carlos’s hands clutched her shoulders when she took the length of him into her mouth.” He growled deep from his throat. Danielle lay curled next to him sleeping peacefully unaware of what he was planning in his head. “There is only way for you to find out. slipping insider the soft folds of her body. His body swayed with each stroke she applied to his thick. after we get married. saying. “Prove it. he nibbled her earlobe. “My turn. firm manhood. Mr. he pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it to the floor.her clothes off was strong. he guided her further up on the bed to get a better angle to remove her jeans. His facial expression displaying the deep concentration he’d slipped into.” She circled her arms around his neck. he pulled away. This caused him to tremble and release a low guttural moan from his throat. He’d . her tongue tasted the natural saltiness seeping from within him. Gently. make love to me. but he fought the urges and let her continue to seduce him to oblivion. She reveled in the power she held over him.” “Are you ready to attempt a try at making a baby?” “I’m always hot for your body. “I love you. Lifting her arms. he moved on top of her.” he mumbled almost incoherently. Pleasing him orally. I don’t think you will be able to keep up with me in trying to make a baby. Ramos. Finally. kissing her shoulders and neck. She observed the tension on his face and getting the exact reaction she’d hoped.” ******** Carlos lay on his back drumming his fingers across his bare chest. Once she was naked.
throwing them on quickly.” “No. He forced himself to step away from the desk and the box to go to the wet bar. Sitting down he opened the lower draw removing a sizable box. he pointed it at the door. He downed the drink setting the glass on the desk. This is not a solution to stopping Herman. Rafael and Val had long gone to bed also. “Herman wants to play with me. The key to the box was located in another drawer. but it will make him think twice. Tiptoeing from the bedroom. he closed the door. we can play. pulling back on the trigger. he slipped into the dressing room to change. he had not opened the box in years. Before loading the clip into the gun. Herman had hit the nerve to bring his dark side back to the light. . He pulled a pair of black jeans from a hanger and a black t-shirt from the drawer. Carlos placed the box in front of him not opening it right away.made promises to people he knew he would not be able to keep. Carlos. “Estás loco!” “It is not loaded and no I’m not crazy. Rafael opened the door dropping to the floor.” He said standing up and tucking the gun inside the waist of his pants. Pouring a stiff drink from the decanter. he found a dark pair of shoes and slipped those on. The house was dark and quiet.” Carlos’ evil grin was more disturbing than having the gun pointed at his head. shouting. He entered the den and went over to the large mahogany desk. “Look at you! I don’t know what to say about you. Getting out of bed quietly. He admired the crafted steel like a piece of exquisite jewelry.” he mumbled. he retrieved it and unlocked the box to reveal the sleek black gun nestled inside. he ran his hands threw his hair.
his accent became pronounced. since then. but that was a long time ago.” ******** The bright moon shining above provided enough light for the men to walk along the beach searching for Herman without using flashlights.” “Rafael. .” His eyes darkened as he spoke low.” “This time of night you are going out alone?” “I’m not alone. You have to put your brute mentality on ice in order to think rationally. Carlos. I’m going to take a walk to clear my head. I was the only one to survive or have you forgotten about that!” “I haven’t. what would you do?” Carlos asked riled. we can deal with him and on his level. “I’m coming with you.“Si. “I would be upset like you but I would not kill a man for something this trifle. Keeping you out of trouble is turning into a 24-hour job. put yourself in my shoes for a minute. Carlos. If they could sneak up on him without being sighted first. “I have but I remember it like yesterday.” he said patting the handle of the gun. mature person. You have grown to be a respectable.” He nodded. “It was my brutality that saved my life when I was confronted in Turkey. they would have the advantage of overpowering him. so you want to become an outlaw and claim self-defense when the police catch up with you? You are going loco.
she is fine with it. which she will. “I will keep my fingers crossed hoping that happens.Carlos’ temper had cooled and returned to normal and the roar of the ocean allowed them to talk normally without echoing their voices.” “That is probably a good move since you are nearing forty. what is it?” “I retired from soccer.” Carlos laughed lowly. “How does Val feel about you retiring?” “As long as she is able to continue the lifestyle she has become accustomed to living. but we are going to keep trying to have a baby. “Sweet Mother of Mercy—shallow Val is pregnant. but unlike you. the world had better watch out. but we make it work. I love Spain. yes she is. but I think our child would have better opportunities here.” he chuckled.” “What do you mean by that?” “We are moving to the United States. I was thinking maybe you and I could operate a sports . Carlos. thank God I won’t have too.” Rafael replied. but I have a bit of news myself. I’m getting older and recovering from the hits and injuries are getting harder for me. “What are you plans now that you have time to pursue other ventures?” “I don’t want to be tied to a nine-to-five job and.” he teased.” “Don’t keep me in suspense.” “My wife is not shallow—okay. I want to offer her the same that you are doing for Danielle. I will be a father soon and I want to be able to spend time with my family. “Danielle confirmed she is not pregnant.
program to teach underprivileged children how to play soccer or meet with other athletes to get them involved and offer workshops around their sports.” “That is not a bad idea, Rafael. Plus, it would be nice to have family close. You and Val are welcomed to stay with us until you find a home of your own.” “Gracias, we accept the hospitality. I do have a bid on the mansion a mile down the road from you,” he said kicking pebbles of sand. He stopped walking to kneel down. “Carlos, shine the flashlight down here.” He pointed to a mound of sand. “What is it?” Rafael pushed the lose sand away to uncover burned material. “Something was burned here recently.” Carlos joined him to dig through the sand. “People have fires on the beach all the time; it could be nothing.” “How many people burn film?” He asked locating a small strip that survived the hot flames. “Not many since pictures are taken with digital cameras or by cellphone. We are about a mile from the house, Rafael. He wouldn’t be able to see anything but the upper part of the house.” He looked around. “He would be close enough to grab Danielle if she were out on a run or walk.” “I thought this area of beach was private; how is he getting in?” They are many celebrities that live along this stretch of beach and, like me, not all of them stay here full-time. Herman could have walked from the public end and snuck in unnoticed and camped under one of the smaller piers out of sight of police patrols.”
“He is resourceful. Maybe we should get those tapes Tanner spoke about. Since he isn’t here, he must have set up camp somewhere else.” Carlos snapped his fingers. “No! Tanner paid him. He will not have to sleep outdoors until the money runs out. He is in a motel, Rafael. He’s not stupid enough to use his real name and check into a good place to stay. He pulled out his cellphone to make a call. Rafael asked. ”Who are you calling this late?” Carlos held up a finger as he spoke into the phone. “Check all the motels and extended stay places up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, our friend might be staying in one of those under an assumed name. A possible name he might be using is Leonardo—a character in his movie.” Rafael poked him on the side of the head with his finger. “See, you are using this instead of brawn—a much better choice.” “Whatever; let’s keep looking; Herman left a little clue, maybe he left an even bigger one up the road.”
Chapter Five Herman stepped from the shower stretching. The warm water managed to melt away ounces of stress. Shaking the excess water from his hair, he dried it with a towel before hitting it with the blow dryer. After drying his hair he lathered up his face with shaving cream and shaved away the facial hair and moustache. Cleaning up the mess in the bathroom, he went to the bedroom. The walk-in closet was larger than his bedroom at home. Selecting a black pair of silk pajamas from the dresser, he put them on. Carlos was larger muscle-wise, but shorter in height than him. The pants fell short to his ankles and the sleeves hit right at the wrist, but he didn’t care; for the night, he was living in luxury at his cousin’s highrise condo in Los Angeles. He laid on the oversized bed clicking on the television. The huge flat-screen was centered perfectly for viewing in bed. “This is how I should be living,” he said taking a sip of brandy. He set the sniffer on the night table and grabbed his wallet to count his money. He counted the bills stacking them according to denomination. “ Hmm, a little under ten grand—that should last me for a while. Tanner hasn’t reveal Ms. Tate, so now I’m offering a copy with a few changes, to StarNews for a bigger fee.” He mixed the money together kicking his legs. “Screw making movies, hell, I’d make a fortune being a squealer on Carlos alone.” Replacing the money in his wallet, he turned off the light and slid between the silk sheets; he had to be out of the condo by noon. He was relieved to find the older woman working in the office was a temp who believed his story about being a relative from Spain but forgot Carlos was out of the country filming. Herman was fluent in Spanish and fooled the woman into letting him inside the West Hollywood Condo overlooking the City of Angels. Her only mistake was telling him about the cleaning service arriving at noon, which would give him plenty of time to leave without being noticed.
he’s done security for celebrity functions numerous times. slowly lifted. Dani. what else do I need to do?” “Well. I swear you are killing me. you’re right. How about asking dad.” “Mom. The place would have to shut down to other customers. I don’t think they’d be willing to do that. How are you feeling. With his streak of good luck.He tucked his hands underneath his head closing his eyes. “Okay.” “Yeah. Taylor are still on opposite sides of the fence. do you think you could get her to ask her parents to book it for you?” “That’s a long shot we probably shouldn’t count on. His final act he planned to present at the wedding.” “He did suggest the country club but we aren’t members. Mom. Mrs. he hoped would leave the both of them broken and displaced just like him. the lies he’d spread around Tinseltown would have destroyed Carlos’ reputation. Taylor is being stubborn for silly reasons. The depression that consumed him.” “I understand. What he had planned for that. Carlos had people looking for him in Cleveland and by the time he actually located him. Dani. dear. Would it be tacky to have it at the Olive Garden?” “Girl. the cake hasn’t been decided or where you want to have rehearsal dinner. I’ll keep looking for a decent place where Carlos will feel comfortable. can’t you think of a place to have the dinner? You know I didn’t go to fancy restaurants. Have you seen a doctor yet?” . Val has been trying to reach out to her mom with no avail and I don’t want to put her in the position where she is begging. Val and Mrs. but Val’s parents are. remember who you are marrying. ******** Danielle paced the floor with the phone pasted to her ear. he was breathing a little easier.
” “Honey. how do you find time to do that and make the wedding dresses?” “I finished your dress. Will you do me a favor and break the news to dad? I know he was mad at me when I thought I was pregnant.” “Honey.” “Dani. He just doesn’t feel any man is good enough for you and that included Matthew. he will always see to it that you are happy. “Mom. I’m always here for you.” “Assure him I am happy. I had started making patterns for the baby.“Oh man. I wish I were there to comfort you. you’re not going to be a grandma this time around. when Carlos and I do have a baby. I will give my child a sibling or two to keep him or her company.” “Oh. now that I am retired. He isn’t really upset that you’re marrying Carlos. I actually thought I would have to ask Uncle Otis to walk me down the aisle. I am free to babysit my grandbabies whenever you and Carlos need me. you aren’t giving your father enough credit. how could I forget? The test was negative. But. I don’t know how I would get through this without you. You’re his baby girl. “Too late for that. I pray Carlos and I have a strong and loving marriage like yours. “Mom.” Her emotions surfaced and she hated when that happened. our careers got in the way of having more children but you have the option of being a stay at home mom.” Danielle hurt from hearing the excitement drain from her mother’s voice. I’ll make the final alterations when you try it on. Plus.” . she said. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Now take a deep breath before you start crying.” Wiping the tears from her eyes.” “Did you offer the same to Val? She told me she calls to talk to you. Mom.
Before I start. Along with Val.” Danielle turned up the volume to hear what was being said.” Tanner: “The mystery woman’s name is Danielle. they sat on the loveseat to hear what Carlos had to say. I want to thank you for giving me the exclusive. Her mouth fell open. Val is trying to be strong but she’s hurting from what her mother is doing. The picture posted in an embedded frame on the right side of the host’s head was of her and Carlos.” Carlos: “Thank you. entertainment business?” Is she an actress or in the .” “Yeah.” She shook her head. “Dani. I realize the deadline is approaching. Val knocked on the door before entering the bedroom. Keep in mind we only have a few weeks left. “Not in the least. Rumors have recently been hitting the industry highway about hot commodity actor Carlos Ramos and an unknown woman getting married soon.” “They are invited to the wedding as soon as you give me the green light to mail the invitations. turn on the television—never mind. Carlos. Mr.“Yes I have and I hope that doesn’t bother you. I want to apologize for doing it this way and there will be a formal gathering down the road for my close friends to meet Danielle. I’ll call you back about the invitations. “Mom.” The television playing in the bedroom caught her attention. Ramos has agreed to be interviewed exclusively by me. I’m Tanner Mitchell from TMZ reporting live from our studio. Tanner: “So. Now I will sit back and let you talk. He parents need to open the line of communication and talk to the both of them. Tanner. To put the rumors to rest.” she side clicking off the phone. I have to go. Rafael really is good to her. first off. “Hi everyone.
once it happens. That is awesome what he did. really awesome. Tanner.” Carlos: “Those that don’t believe what I am saying will. you heard it here first and if you hear a different version other than what TMZ has reported then you know it’s a lie. “Girl. folks.” Tanner: “Congratulation. Danielle Tate. at Mt. On Christmas day. Danielle is a former Cleveland Policewoman.” “Well. Carlos. he really loves you.” Staring at the credits running up the television screen. Danielle had not moved. Danielle sounds like an amazing woman. Zion Baptist Church and marry the love of my life and my soul-mate. I hope she’s watching and heard what you said. in Atlanta. thanks again Carlos. Our meeting sparked a friendship that grew into a romance that has been going strong ever since. I don’t know what the viewer’s feel. is Danielle the one and not just a fling? I me an you have been paired and rumored to wed other actresses in the past and nothing ever came of those. and we met while I was filming an independent movie in Northeast Ohio last summer. Georgia. “Yeah.Carlos: “No.” Carlos: “I know she is.” Tanner: “Wow. I think it brought a tear to my eye. We have that type of cosmic connection to know what the other is doing.” Val rubbed Danielle’s shoulder. but I’m absolutely convinced you are in love.” Tanner: “Carlos.” Carlos: “That’s because those relationships did not mean anything to me. Tanner.” . and want to wish the both of you a lifetime of happiness. but I’m finally glad it’s out in the open. I wish he would have told me first. I will stand before God and her parents.
“No—dammit no—you’re not ruining it for me again!” He hurled the . there will be plenty of security at the church in case any of Carlos’ celebrity friends attend.” She snapped from her daze.” “I’ll tell them to dress for the occasion. You want him functional for the honeymoon. he kept it from me. Dani.” “Go easy on him. his perfectly laid plans were disintegrating before his eyes.” she giggled. at my wedding. if Rafael knew what Carlos was doing. “He thinks he is slick!” “What?” Val asked jumping from Danielle’s sudden outburst. “I doubt Rafael knew until he was sitting in the green room. “Val! No! I will not have roughnecks in wife-beaters and sagging pants.” “I’ll call my boys and have them on standby. I do have a bone to pick with my future husband. But. Besides. ******** Herman shouted at the TV. girl.” she said hurrying to leave the bedroom. Anyhow.” Danielle stood up holding her forehead. “Carlos gave the name of the church! Don’t you get it. I better call Mom and let her know she can mail the invitations.“If it makes you feel better. he will know exactly where and when the wedding will take place—Carlos is setting him up.” “Don’t stress me. Val? If Herman saw that interview.
he yanked it from the wall. Sweat poured down his face as he hovered over the bathroom sink. Herman took his wallet from the bed and his backpack from the floor and exited the condo taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Smashing the frosted-glass cabinet doors one at a time. glass shattered over him and the surface of the dresser. He lifted his eyes to see the face of a deranged mental patient staring back at him. from the utensil holders. he took the knife to the expensive Italian leather sofa. destroying everything inside. ripping the stuffing from inside. ******** Carlos said a few last words to Tanner and signed autographs for fans before getting in the car with Rafael. Raising the mallet. and bathtub with towels. Grabbing hold of the edge of the wood frame. and knocking holes in the walls that were in his reach. The rampage continued until every single piece of furniture had been knifed or broken. He had to leave California by bus and give himself enough time to arrive in Georgia by Christmas. he took the heavy metal meat mallet and large chef knife. the reflection of him from the mirror sitting on the dresser was horrifying.paperweight he was holding at the television knocking the expensive electronic equipment off the wall and to the hardwood floor. He came to stand in front of the large showcase in the living room that held several awards and the Oscar that sat front and center on display. he smashed the glass. He wouldn’t board a plane or train to avoid being tracked once Carlos realized he was behind the destruction of his home. Stuffing the sink. “Well. Next. With his chest heaving. In the kitchen. banging and severely damaging the stainless steel appliances. He expanded his destruction to other rooms of Carlos’ condo. he flushed the toilet a few times and turned the water facets on full-blast closing the door behind him. toilet. think our plan worked?” .
” His cellphone rang.” “Herman is making it his mission to watch everything I do.” ******** Carlos could not speak when he entered the ransacked mess of his three-million dollar condo.” He rushed to the bedroom and inside the walk-in closet to the rack where his suits normally would hang. “Now what?” “I’m afraid to find out. Step on it. Herman hadn’t noticed the safe or thought to look for one. I’d bet a kidney he was watching. The everyday watches and cufflinks he kept on top of the island were gone or destroyed and the lock had been busted on the drawer for items he wanted kept secured. he opened the safe.Rafael started the car pulling away from the parking space. Money and other documents were still intact.” Rafael asked. He slowly surveyed every inch of his condo shaking his head. Removing a false piece of wall. he went to the center island that used to hold his accessories. The hardwood floors were soaking wet and buckling from the water damage. Rafael put his hand on Carlos back in a comforting manner. Taking a key from an envelope. . I will be there shortly. “Maxwell. what’s up?” “Carlos. “If he was watching. I’m in LA.” “Luck has it. “Don’t touch me right now. The furniture and all his personal belongings—destroyed and tossed around the room. get to the condo pronto. we’ll soon find out. Maxwell doesn’t call me unless there is a serious problem. I need to get there quick. Carlos moved away saying. Insurance would cover the damage but the personal items were gone forever.
“He was in my home in LA the whole time we were looking for him in Malibu. 7 inches tall—weighing around 275 pounds. we didn’t think to look in LA. Maxwell served as Carlos’ security when he “The gloves are off and the fight is on. deep-voiced. Maxwell!” he called leaving the bedroom.Rafael asked in a soft tone. we figured that is where he would be. “I want Herman Fitch! If you find him first. Most recently. Herman knew you were staying in Malibu with Danielle. His head was as bald and smooth as a baby’s butt and stood 6 feet. “Yeah. “What was kept there?” “I kept the expensive pieces of jewelry and pictures of our family in that drawer. how is he managing to stay a step ahead of us.” Angrily he grabbed a small travel bag stuffing the items from the safe inside. AfricanAmerican and former marine. bring him to me. He got me where it hurt. Rafael. Carlos. traveled outside of the United States.” “I thought—“ . He was a dark chocolate. “Maxwell.” Carlos narrowed his eyes to tiny slits.” Maxwell answered.” He called again entering the front room of the condo.” “No he hasn’t. I had put pictures of Danielle and me in there until I could get them framed. He got to you by taking away material items. I want to know how this could happen. Slamming it shut he turned to Rafael. The pictures may never be found but everything else can be replaced. The man was a wall of steel and trained Carlos how to protect himself.” “Honestly.
the front of the house is lined with reporters thanks to your impromptu press conference. Did you see the show?” He tried to keep his voice upbeat so Danielle would not notice the anger boiling inside of him. Carlos. “Do what you have to do to get him.” “It’s nothing to worry about. They can’t get further than the front gate.” He gave him a chin-up answering his cellphone.” “I expected that to happen. “You know I won’t. Val and I both saw it.” Maxwell grinned bearing his brighter than white teeth. where are you?” “I’m at the condo but Rafael and I will be heading back to Malibu in little while. I think I will head to Atlanta next week. “Yes. Tate. what is going on? Ms. I’m fine. she seems worried.” Maxwell held his huge fist up to bump with Carlos. So you aren’t surprised when you get here. It’s under control and I’m waiting for the insurance adjuster to come. I want Danielle to stay out of this and with her working on the wedding with Mrs.” Her long pause let him know the wheels in her head were spinning faster than the lie he was webbing. I know you won’t let me down. a water pipe broke and caused minor damage to my condo and the unit below. Do I have the OK to call in a couple of friends?” Carlos nodded. if you say so. he was handling it but obviously he is not capable of getting the job done. Also. “Hey. stay inside and you won’t be bothered. Apparently.” . are you okay?” “Yes. “Yes. “Okay. she won’t have time to focus on Herman. love.Carlos cut him off. “I’ll be in touc h. Send me a text when you’re ready to leave for Georgia and I’ll meet you there. Vera has received a few urgent messages for you. Danielle.
Val. “We’re on the way. I don’t how many times I have to tell him to stop hiding stuff from me. no. “He is lying to me. Dani. I love you. Val and I are cooking and we would like to eat with our men. “So what. Val? And.” A smile managed to appear on his face from her comment. Placing the roast in the oven. Anyway. You are starting to sound like a broken record. I was hoping you’d take me to see the condo. keep it warm.” Val stopped peeling potatoes and looked at her friend. And. the weekend we have a movie premier to attend. I don’t want to fight Herman. hurry home. but want to stay in the loop of what is going on. “I’m not letting him be a man? Is that what you think.” “Carlos.” ******** Danielle returned the phone to the base smacking her lips in disgust. she leaned against the counter. We want to go shopping or see the sights. What do you want? You want to fight Herman is that why you’re so insistent on Carlos telling you what’s going on?” Tucking her hair behind her ears. she bucked her eyes at Val.” “I love you.“Val and I are going stir crazy sitting around the house.” “The condo will need a few days to be repaired but tomorrow we have to get the rings from the jeweler and pick up my tux from the tailor. Think that will cure your need for social activity?” “I guess you took care of it.” . let him be the man and take care of business. too.
that had to be hard. Val. He’s not sticking his nose in the wedding plans and changing stuff. “I was even warned not to show him affection in public. “I’m sorry. you and Rafael are free to come and go as you please while I’m stuck behind these brick walls and iron gates. After Matthew died. I am so glad he retired. but I was not covering up from head to toe in one-hundred degree heat sweating out my hair. I loved Spain. I say let him handle the doofus and you do the wedding. Are you as happy as you look?” A smile spread across Danielle’s lips as she sliced tomatoes for the salad. “Foreign countries aren’t for everyone.“Sometimes it is better not to know what is going on.” “Easy for you to say. We have a bid on a house not far from Carlos. “I’m bursting with happiness. Val studied her friend moving about the kitchen preparing dinner. How long are you staying in the States?” “He wants to have the baby in the US. I haven’t seen you this happy in years. I didn’t think it would be possible to . nor was I ashamed to express my love for my husband.” she said rolling her eyes.” Danielle laughed.” Val flipped her hand and continued. in certain countries.” “It was the same for me when we were abroad. “Dani.” she said making air quotes with her fingers. “I would not have done well with that either.” “Geez. but it really is true—once you’ve lived in America it is hard to leave all the liberties we have behind. There were times when I’d travel with Rafael to other countries and be targeted for the way I dressed or spoke out of turn. Carlos has yet been able to teach me a complete sentence in Spanish.
” “I’m just curious. “ Danielle tossed the cut veggies into a bowl. “Val. “True. I’ve read the minds of people wondering why I was holding onto Matthew so long.” “When Matthew told you Bridget was pregnant you should have kept him at the curb instead of letting him back in your life.” Danielle cut her a sarcastic look. I loved Matthew too hard. you forgave Carlos for acting a jerk. we have men that can buy expensive gifts and provide great makeup sex. Dani” She let out a long shuddering breath. dragging out the punishment until he is making up with a little blue box from Tiffany’s wouldn’t be wrong. Girl.” she giggled raising her hand for Dani to slap in agreement. Maybe I should be harder on Carlos and not forgive him so easily when he messes up. saying.” “I do have a loving and forgiving heart when it comes to the men in my life. “Because.” “And that’s not the only time you forgave. If I was to sway Matthew away from Bridget again.love this way again.” “Those people’s opinion didn’t mean squat. Just admit you have a forgiving heart and will give the ones you love a second chance.” Danielle grimaced. But marveling back on it now. I was submissive to Matthew. I had to be willing to forgive and accept his child. Although. I’m not in the mood to discuss why I chose to ignore Bridget and Matthew’s relationship. “Okay.” “I won’t say I told you so. then don’t. I wasn’t social. Val.” “Now is not the time to get hard. and meeting guys was awkward for me. .
He didn’t want Rafael telling Val what went down at the condo before he had a chance to break the news to Danielle first. basking in the alluring sounds. Carlos entered the kitchen to the aroma of a meal prepared by his woman and the sounds of Christmas music playing.” She sauntered over to kiss him on the cheek. “Have you seen the size of this house? It would be New Years before we’d finish decorating. I’ll ask Ms. “Hey. baby—you’re home. He closed his eyes. . “Christmas is almost here and we do not have a tree or anything to mark the holiday season. Danielle entered the kitchen catching Carlos off guard.” Reaching into the fruit bowl on the counter. he was surprised the paparazzi had vacated the premises. Vera where the decorations are kept. “OK. Vera had picked from the fruit trees located in the garden.” She sighed.” “Not the whole house—we could do the living room and maybe our bedrooms to set a little ambiance on chilly nights. Opening the electronic gate to the sprawling estate.” ******** The almost hour drive back to Malibu gave Carlos and Rafael time to sync their stories. his prayers had been answered. minus the alcohol for you. I am going to make a batch of my mom’s special spiced apple cider. Danielle removed some of the plumb red apples that Ms. and while you are doing that.“I have a feeling Rafael will have an open line of credit at Tiffany’s. The silence had been replaced with a joyful noise. Why don’t we decorate the house?” Val widened her eyes.” “Not a bad idea.
” . Where is Rafael?” He frowned.” He removed the bouquet of red roses from behind his back handing them to her. The wait was over. Why don’t you tell me about your day?” He shook his head.“Yes. his tongue passed between her lips and into her warm mouth tastings a faint apple-cinnamon flavor. they’re beautiful and I accept them as a payoff for you being you. The sensation of his lips stirred her insides as she waited for him to stop tempting and kiss her. I don’t want to argue. “You taste delicious. my love. “Nothing. Enveloping her lips. ”For you.” “Excuse me. his lips travel lower to give little nips to her soft. Danielle. “Later—I’m going to shower before dinner. He moaned softly breaking the kiss. Kissing the tip of her nose. I’m not going to be able to change that bad trait of yours and will have to deal with it.” She stroked his strong jaw that strained from his teeth clinching. once again. Dinner smells wonderful. especially after the day. baby. what do you mean by that?” She filled a crystal vase arranging the flowers neatly inside. full lips.” “Carlos. I’ve had. I did ask you about coming forward and you hesitated over the idea. I just came in. “I don’t want to argue either. “Rafael is in the garden with his wife.” “What—no kiss?” He cupped the sides of her head with his hands. I’m simply saying I’ve come to expect you to do things your way. I hope these will make up for me unveiling you on television today.
Tate.“Umm-hum that would be my mom’s famous spiced apple cider I made for later. this is beautiful.” He took her hand leading her through the house. “Wow.” “I hope you feel the same way about my decorating. but there weren’t enough decorations. saying. if possible. an enormous Douglas fir stood partially finished and smelled of fresh pine. Vera took it upon herself and would throw a few colorful pillows around the house and hang a wreath on the door. He stopped to admire the decorations gracing the mantel. “I like the way you think. where did the tree come from?” “Miguel selected the tree. I can’t recall if she did a tree or not.” .” He took hold of her wrists. you never decorated your home before?” “The holidays meant nothing to me and I would disappear until they were over.” Carlos pressed his forehead firmly against her. Baby. I kinda wanted to bring a little holiday cheer to the house and you. In the foyer. he will finish it tomorrow. A bright fire danced under the red ribbon and bows framing the wood burning fireplace. how in the world can a man with your popularity be so alone?” He fingered the green and gold garland spiraling around the staircase.” “I’ve been slaving in this kitchen for hours. “When you can buy anything you want. Señorita.” “Oh honey. you come to find what you want isn’t worth paying to have if it isn’t real. if you want to shower with me. And. we should eat with our guests and save our dessert to have upstairs. “We can eat later. Go take your shower before you get something brewing in this kitchen.
Danielle rubbed the lotion on her hands and arms and combed her hair into a neat ponytail. she turned on her heels and went to set the table for dinner. “Is this the . she raised her shoulders to ask.” Her breaths were coming hard as she ran her finger nervously under the lip of the envelope. “Who is this woman?” The picture was clearly of a woman but her face was partially covered by her long hair. Danielle. Danielle squeezed a tight fist to keep from screaming. “Here. Please let me help with Herman and relieve your burden.“I’m here and I’m real. she put on her robe and got into bed waiting for Carlos to finish shaving. “What is this?” prenuptial agreement?” “I’m not asking you to sign a prenup. No matter how chilly the nights got he never wore a shirt to bed. Carlos. After dinner we need to talk. Settling into bed next to her. Deciding not to push the issue. She asked with her voice tinged with worry. she would wait until after the wedding to share that nighttime beauty secret.” he said. I miss your smile. “You’re the most important thing in my life. Danielle. She had not allowed Carlos to catch her sleeping with a scarf wrapped around her head. he reached into the drawer of the nightstand.” He squeezed her hand.” He left her standing in the foyer as he headed up the stairs. After you see what is in the envelope you might want to call the wedding off anyhow. Sliding the content from inside. ******** After her bath. Squirting on a small dab of perfume. He came from the bathroom wearing his normal silk pajama pants but shirtless.
let me explain.“Consuela Cruz. I’m basically a prisoner in . “Danielle.” Steading her voice to avoid jumping to a conclusion. “I don’t know why you do half the stuff you do lately. she paced the floor. throwing it at him. And to think you condemned me for having an innocent dinner with Vince! You have got some nerve. “I confessed my love for you on national television. please. you are showing me this why?” “Danielle. Touching her arm. Carlos Ramos!” He went to her. did you not notice the date on the picture? It is recent. You sneak around not telling me what’s going on. “Explain? Explain what? That you are having an affair with Consuela Cruz. puffed. if I wanted to be with Consuela. Her anger-filled cheeks. “And. she yanked it away. she asked. why would I do that?” Her eyes were piercing him. “Are you sure it’s not more like you haven’t yet? Is this what you wanted to talk about? You want to be with her and didn’t know how to tell me?” He own anger seeped into the discussion.” She crumpled the picture in her hands. I swear I have never slept with her. Mr. “This was in October? You were in Australia in October doing that movie with her!” “Wait.” Jumping out of bed.” She held the picture closer to her face. “I’m not having an affair with anyone! I was leaving the set of the movie when—“ “When what—your tongue fell in her mouth? I trusted you and all the while you were sleeping with her!” His voice was low and steady.
” “Why are you just telling me about this?” He dropped his head. “I’m just getting started. When he was done with the interview.” She fumbled with the string holding her robe together. but she got it and gave it to me the day I was leaving Australia.this place and now you show me crap like this! What am I supposed to expect when you show me stuff like this. Remember what your mother said about talking it out and not pointing fingers. I don’t know what she did to get it. I refused but before I could leave.” “The picture was taken after we finished filming for the day. buddy. “I can’t be sure if this is the only photo she has in her possession. I threatened Consuela with bodily harm if she did not get the photos before it hit the media. articles are bound to appear accusing me of doing anything and everything under the sun. you didn’t agree to take that photo?” “I have not looked at another woman since we’ve met.” Throwing her hands to the air she said flatly. “Fine. his photographer took a few pictures and Consuela thought it would be cute to have a picture like that on the front page—she caught me totally by surprise with the kiss. Carlos?” “Are you done with me?” Her eyebrows bent inward.” “You really should listen to me before words are said that cannot be taken back. Since I’ve gone public with our relationship.” . I was leaving my trailer to return to the hotel when Consuela asked me about going out. the floor is yours. Danielle. the reporter who was on the lot doing interviews cornered us for his ten-minute allotment of time. “You swear to God.
” “What are you talking about?” “You would have shut the door leaving me to wonder if I’d left you pregnant. You would question me about any women claiming to have been with me.” His fingers curled to form a tight ball. Danielle.” “This is where we are different. Anything else I should know?” . This is not a way to start a marriage. “Carlos. I had to repair our relationship first. “In other words. “We are not arguing but engaging in a mature conversation about a matter I should have told you about earlier. consider the rumor dispelled. As far as Vince Cane is concerned. you are right. we would not be together now. I would not have said anything about the photos or Consuela since the issue would have been closed.” “Well. Otherwise.” “Seriously. he is not a threat to our relationship. “You would have pulled the opposite of what Bridget did to Matthew on me. since you’re in show business. you’re being forced to tell me. should we postpone the wedding? We have been arguing and second-guessing what the other is doing. Danielle—you just jumped down my throat with heels on! The outcome would not have been different.Still angry she rolled her eyes. He gave a peeved laugh.” “If I had thrown Consuela on top of what I accused you of doing with Vince Cane. I would not be quick to jump to conclusions about you. I’m telling you to dispel any rumors that may arise. But. Carlos.” She had nothing to say to dispute what he’d said. you never would have said anything about this. I would expect women to throw themselves at you and even spread lies about you being intimate with them.” Danielle folded her arms together walking to the window.
he kissed the back of her neck. and most of all you were here. not the empty space it has always been for me. Everything I have is now shared with you. I’m not a celebrity that will sue for palimony because you backed out of your promise to marry me. I love you and to show just how much. “Are you crazy? Why would you do that?” . his hands caressing her arms. decorations. I took it upon myself to have my attorneys add you to the deeds to all my properties. This place. Carlos. “And.” “This is your home. He had a way with melting her anger. Baby. There was hot food on the table and not a covered dish in the microwave with heating instructions. My love. Bending his head. this place felt like a home to me. since I live here. I’m not taking claim in your property if we go our separate ways. and the vacation home in Barbados. There was music. I’m upset with all this tension.” “Carlos.” He felt her body stiffen and hurried to finish. I don’t want to lose Danielle’s heart gave way to his words. the condo in LA. She continued to concentrate on the waves playing on the ocean and his deep voice speaking to her in soft volumes. that’s not all. when I came home this evening. also. “Mi amor.” He moved behind her. You have access to my bank accounts and credit cards.” She spun in his arms. “You’re wrong Danielle. this is your home. “You have made our home real.” He stood behind her inhaling the light perfume scenting her body. belong to you.“Yes. And. and everything in it belongs to you. for the first time ever. I hope that includes me. gliding over the fine silk of her robe. I’m an invited guest looking for ways to keep busy while you hunt for Herman.
” . Carlos. but I’m tired of being alone. “The way we met would be a perfect movie to pitch to a studio. and I’m willing to share with you. Who would believe chickenpox started our love affair. I was in Cleveland alone with no one to depend on but me.” “You just do it. Just because you’re not pregnant doesn’t change anything. she kissed him lightly on the lips. do you share that same faith?” “I was told to let you be the man and stop being so overbearing. I admit I will probably get jealous of other actresses kissing you and having their hands on your body.“My faith that our love will last forever led me to do it—Danielle. “I’m not used to sharing my space. “Once we get Herman to finish the ending.” “Carlos. Matthew and I did not live together in Atlanta.” “I understand we are both independent people. I might just do that.” He agreed with her. I am done with acting unless a role too good to pass.” She tilted her head up to him. we are going to have to work hard at keeping this together.” Placing her arms around his neck. drops in my lap. so I didn’t have to share with him either.” “There is no need for jealousy. but I don’t know how to let go and just say ‘ the hell with it—you handle it’. if you let me. and all I ask is that you love me when I’m acting a jerk or settling matters without involving you. I want to leave matters in your hands.
“Did you say you have a vacation home in Barbados?” “No—I said we have a vacation home in Barbados. of course.” . anywhere in the word is fine with me. I have faith our love will last forever.” Danielle pursed her lips. Will you answer my original question?” She released a short breath. “Grandparents—“ “You said forever. I did.” “Carlos. she does not want to do a tangle with me for messing with my man. could be a different story. “Yes. may I ask if Consuela is done pursuing you?” “Romantically.” He leaned his head back with a chuckle. Barbados would make a wonderful place to honeymoon—what do you think?” “As long as we are together.Danielle gazed deeply into his eyes. trying to get even with me for bullying her. she hates my condescending guts.” “Indeed. “Girly better watch her step. “Not my fantasy. We will be great parents to our children and even better grandparents when that time comes. she saw flickers of light and it warmed her to know she was the cause of him emerging from a lonely state of existence.” He saw her chin dip to her chest and her eyes lift upward.” “A cat fight—every man’s fantasy. before we go to bed.” “Hmm. Behind the darkness.
Carlos. I am all yours. . I spoke with my mom and she mailed the invitations.” She placed a hand on her narrow hip. Luring him over to the bed by removing her silk robe slowly. we have not spent one whole day together.” “Tomorrow. Anyhow. she revealed the sexy sheer nightgown underneath.” “I can wait to get you alone on a secluded island and have my way with you.” She smiled wickedly. Since I’v e been here. No business expected from my end. “Act one. W e only have a few loose ends to finish and the wedding preparations are done until the big day. “I should be the one to say that.” he said folding his arms around her body. “Shall we rehearse what to do on our wedding night?” He jumped on the bed covering her body with his. take one.“I bet.
She welcomed the break to rest.” “I only have eyes for you. “Aren’t you running with us. I’m about to jog over to that comfortable lounger and read my magazine. some of Carlos’ neighbors were outside enjoying the morning and in passing. “No. I’m making sure you all stay hydrated. Running on the treadmill was smoother than running on the sandy beach.” Rafael tucked a towel around his neck securing the ends inside his tank shirt.” she said passing out the bottles of cold water. Rafael. . and Rafael. You all call if you catch a cramp and need medical help. “That’s okay. Throwing her leg over the railing and stretching. “Here. Danielle asked. Carlos.” he said kissing her on the forehead. looking into the beaming sun. you go. baby. stretched on the deck loosening their muscles for a morning run along the beach. Val sauntered on the deck carrying bottled water. As they ran along. do you want me to stay with you? I don’t mind working out in the gym. her legs were tiring quicker than she thought. “Val.” “I’m okay.” Val shielded her eyes. my sweet. Danielle.Chapter Six December rolled in with the same unusual warm weather for Malibu.” “Si—I got you. stopped to chat. you can’t look at them. I said they can look. Val? You know you can exercise while you’re pregnant. The run was a struggle for Danielle. Keep those eyes on the sand and nowhere else—you got me? Don’t even look at Dani’s butt in those tiny shorts. Go strut your sexy form and let the women on the beach ogle you as you jog by them.” he laughed trotting down the stairs to the beach.
“We have reason to believe Herman was in Malibu and camping on the beach. she excused herself from the conversation concerning the soap opera the actress stared on to join Rafael. does he know where Herman is? He is acting weirder than normal. Then we tracked him to LA.” she retorted wiping sweat from her face. Turning his attention back to Danielle.” he said taking a sip from the water bottle.” Rafael glanced in his brother’s direction and noticed he’s stopped his conversation and was walking and talking on his cellphone. you should discuss this Carlos. “There you go.” Carlos’ appearance on television forced Herman to change .” “Danielle.” “Could have but not likely. “Rafael.” “First. may I ask you a question?” “Sure. Rafael.” “The magic of television and the skills of a good makeup artist. I’m not asking you to betray Carlos.” she said laughing. directions. I mean the area is filled with celebrities. but I need to know what is going on with Herman. Rafael. “What gave you reason to believe he was camping on the beach? What did you find?” “We found scraps of burned film not far from the property but nothing really to tie Herman to it. “Wow. I’ve seen her on television.After giving a friendly introduction and a little chatter. “This i s starting to add up. if I can answer. anyone could have done it. he said. she looks nothing like the character she plays. we’ve since lost him.” Danielle’s cop instinct kicked in automatically.
” “I’m not the one that needs protection. He wants what Carlos has and in order to complete his revenge.” “Wait. Rafael. I’m confused. He gave Herman the upper hand by revealing where the wedding will be taking place and when. “I might as well tell you the rest.” .” “He’s only protecting you. He trashed the place. he will need to eliminate Carlos. Think about it.” Rafael dropped his head in shame. When Carlos saw the destruction. Carlos has been the target Herman is after all along.” “Exactly and to put a stop to Carlos.“Please—he treats me like a damsel in distress instead of a seasoned cop on the verge of becoming a detective. You have to forgive me but I’m a soccer player and not a sleuth.” “Carlos interpreted Herman wrong. He can’t chase Carlos around for the rest of his life. but Herman made it perfectly clear he was out for you. Herman is not after me but Carlos.” Rafael nodded slowly. “I see what you’re saying. Carlos would continue to do what he does and eventually hook up with someone else. We have reason to believe Herman was staying at the condo. If we broke up.” “Danielle. Herman would have to cripple him seriously or kill him.” “What do we do now? Carlos is determined to capture him without the help of police but with his own army of soldiers.” “We have to convince your hard-headed brother to listen to us. he put the death mark on Herman. Danielle. His pursuit of Carlos would be never ending. where are you getting your theories?” “Herman was threatening to expose our relationship but Carlos beat him to it.
” .” “It did but not on the field. He’s very determined also.” Danielle shook her head. when they were kidnapped. he probably doesn’t speak of his past-life but Carlos was an amazing soccer player by the age of eighteen.” “He won’t. He was twenty-two when he left Spain and turned his back on the sport and country he loved in order to stay alive. Modeling and acting calmed his demeanor. “He told me a water pipe broke causing minor damage. “My poor baby is suffering and shutting me out in the process.She twisted her lip. huh?” She asked closing her finger over her mouth. but it will take months for it to be repaired. His passion and aggression for the sport soured many people.” “Carlos is very stubborn. He and some teammates were out enjoying an evening in Turkey.” “He never talks about his soccer days.” “That bad. “I would say close to a million dollars in damage. Danielle. The kidnappers demanded Carlos throw a championship game—” She covered her ears. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the condo to see what it was like. “I don’t want to hear anymore. he became the most hated and the first player opponents looked to take out of the game.” “It was a lot of water damage but not from busted pipes. if not more. When he played. My parents getting him away from the sport changed him into the man you know.” “He said an injury ended his career.
“And. He was young and full of energy. well he would. but there are several stops along the way.” “Rafael. Georgia.“I’m not going to tell you anymore. He’s always done things his way and worried about the consequences later. I tracked that ticket as a one-way to Atlanta. Carlos was not having that.” ******** “Are you sure. was more of a team player.” . He wanted to be a star player. but Carlos has to follow the rules like the rest of us. Maxwell?” “The cameras at the condo don’t show much but a driver from a cab company remembers getting a customer from around the location of your condo and dropping him off at the Greyhound bus station. I think men with oversized egos. they say heart disease is the number one killer among men. If you ask me. I managed to get footage of those cameras showing a man fitting Herman’s description purchasing a ticket. is the number one killer. Carlos will reveal his past to you when he is ready. “Good luck enforcing rules on him. No one likes to be backed in a corner.” She tossed her head back slightly agitated.” Rafael drank the last of the water in his bottle. how’d you manage to play so long without suffering the same fate as Carlos?” “I was a good player but not hyper like Carlos. He wanted to win and if he had to run over his own teammates to do it.” “I’m getting a clearer picture. and knew to keep my mouth shut and just play. I had been in the game a few years. I just wanted you to get an idea of why he is behaving so bullish.
“Enjoy your freedom while you can. tsk. if you want me so bad. There won’t be a nice warm jail for you to think about what you’ve done. Hey. Maybe you aren’t as smart as you think you are. Herman.” “Actually the bus would be his only choice if he wants to stay incognito.” Carlos gave an evil laugh. I will confront you. Herman. Yes. As it stands we are in limbo until he arrives in Atlanta. Your days are numbered. only problem is if Herman gets off the bus on one of those stops. Maxwell.” .“Great work. He started walking when his phone rang. I’m not understanding your tactics. Why don’t we stop playing games and you come out of hiding and talk to me?” “How does it feel not to be in control all the time? I got you chasing me all over your town and you have yet to find me. but more of a refrigerated compartment with your name written above it. I’ll be in touch. why are you acting like a punk and destroying property instead of confronting me in person.” “What’s up. He saw Rafael and Danielle standing a short distance away from him on the beach.” “Adios.” he said feeling angered at hitting a solid wall yet again. there is no telling if he will continue by bus or rent a vehicle. “Hello. I adore chasing you. I forgot how nice your condo is in LA. The caller ID flashed unknown caller across the screen. Carlos? Are you having fun with the chase so far?” “Herman.” “When the time comes. How much did that place run ya—about a few million?” “Remind me to thank you for redecorating.” “Tsk. still making threats. how nice to hear from you and you’re calling from an unknown number.
” He paused after the line went silent. I might surprise you with a visit first.” His voice deepened as he walked to the edge of the shore. you even want to be me. Danielle will be a very rich widow spending your money on the next man in her life. I’d watch my back. If I were you. And. I was starting to think you didn’t care. Carlos. that man won’t be you—she will never be yours either. but then I had to realize it is only stuff and stuff can be replaced. Lilly left after she realized you’re a failure at being a husband.” “And.“My nerves are running a little thin waiting for you to decide when that will be. You probably hand-picked the accessories and expensive furniture to suit your style. Is that how you feel.” “Shut up! Danielle will open her eyes and see you for what you really are. I was very upset. “You’re right .” “You ain’t nothing but a lucky son-of-a-bitch that stumbled into fame. “How insensitive of me—you don’t have a home or family anymore.” . I can sympathize how it feels to have something you love destroyed. I bet you took pride in that condo. Unlike you. He was admitting to trashing his condo not aware he was being recorded. But. I can afford to replace my belongings and have another home to lay my head while that one is being repaired. Guess what —you will never amount to what I am. “What am I.” “It warms my heart to know I have you riled. Carlos?” Carlos felt Herman’s anger radiating through the phone. Your time is ticking to an end. Herman? Most people view me as successful. Hell. Save the few brain cells you have trying to ruin me and look in the mirror and repeat after me—I am not Carlos Ramos and never will be. to think someone goes in your home and smashes to pieces the hard work you put into your place without a care in the world.
join me. Carlos kept the deep stabbing going. it will be my lips touching hers. baby. Placing a smile on his face. blue. my tongue tasting. he turned in the chair. ******** Carlos sat in the den with his chair facing the window looking outside. when she screams from the pleasure I deliver—it will be my name and not yours. You will always be second to a dead man. and sliding in those tight.I’m past wanting your leftovers. juicy places on her body you only fantasize about.” Carlos refused to let the comment sting his ego. “Herman. and red hues slowly disappearing into the horizon. May I fix you a drink?” He asked going over to the wet bar. She’s only substituting you for the man she really loves anyhow.” “That is not a nice thing to say to family. that will probably be the only tonguing you get for a while.” he grinned clicking off the phone. “Please. are you there or did the cat get your tongue? If it did. Adios. “It doesn’t matter if I come first or second.” The phone went silent again. enjoy. I will make sure to tell Danielle you said hello.” “I hate the ground you walk on and can’t wait to see you withering in bloody pain. “Hey. . amigo. sucking. and one last thing. He might not been able to trace the call since the phone was disposable but he knew where Herman was headed and was ahead of him in getting a plan together to stop him. The sunset over the ocean was array with orange. may I come in or do you want to be alone?” He pushed thoughts of revenge to the back of his mind. The call from Herman was another nail tacked to the lid of his coffin when he finally came face to face with him. Danielle knocked lightly on the door before opening it. She probably imagines him when you’re screwing her. Oh.
” She nodded. “I see Miguel finished the tree.” “I hope they do because I love their son very much. She didn’t know how she was going to accommodate your celebrity friends.” “You believe I’m blocking you from my thoughts.” “I do have a lot on my mind.” “That helped my mother a lot. it is time to call in the big guns. I also know he was watching us from the beach.” He handed her the wine offering the seat next to him on the burgundy leather sofa.“White wine sounds mellow enough for me. “Carlos. “They will love you. even if he does block me from his thoughts. I started Christmas cards but I can’t promise I will be able to send them out on time.” Danielle jumped right in with her next question instead of treading lightly.” He stroked her hand. The wedding is in a few weeks and I’m not really doing much to help other than throwing money around and reserving hotels for our guests. “He did a great job. although. Hmm. “Rafael opened his big mouth!” . She nudged him. “Those you do show me and very well might I add.” he grinned. Speaking of which. Baby.” He slapped his hands on his thighs cursing his brother. you have been in your own zone since returning home from our errands. I want to send your parent’s a special Christmas card. I would’ve sworn I was showing you everything I was thinking earlier. I know about Herman destroying your condo. it’s beautiful.
” “I’m not going to do get myself in trouble.” “I realize that is his intention but he will fail. Granted. let you know that Herman isn’t after me but you. but what I’ve heard scares me. Rafael entered the sport first but was slow to rise to the occasion.” She nodded. We would move them into a nice home with plenty of money to do whatever they wanted. “My life was hard when I was younger.” “And. “Carlos. honey. I don’t know much about what went on in Spain. but I will not rehash the topic but. Herman or Consuela is not worth you falling back into your old self. remember when we first spent time together and I said you are nothing like what is portrayed about you in magazines? Well. I figured it out because that’s what I used to do. What I’m worried about is how far are you willing to be pushed before doing something stupid. My parents were poor and worked their fingers to the bone to put food on the table. but I can help you regain control. you have a darker side I did not know existed and you should tell me about it. Sweetheart.” “Danielle.” He smoothed his goatee with his thumb and forefinger. I was . I have this under control and Herman will be settled before the wedding takes place. you are so close to losing the battle. Rafael and I made a promise we would be World Cup soccer players one day.” She stood from the sofa and began to pace slowly around the den. instead. that side of me only surfaces when I am pushed against my will.“Rafael did not tell me anything. you aren’t mad at me for not telling you?” “Yes I am.” “Baby. “Herman is pushing you—I don’t deny that. I’ve worked very hard to put my past behind me and live a quiet life when I close the door at night.
My father had relatives in Italy. From there my modeling career started which took me to Hollywood and where I stand now. . “I had to fight on and off the soccer field constantly. I would do things my way even back then. Talking about his past was not easy and she did not want to dredge up bad memories for him. I refused to throw an important game in Turkey.” “Is that when the kidnapping happened?” He shot her a look with a raised brow but decided to tell her the story. he said he liked my look.drafted to play shorty after leaving high school. I started hanging with the wrong crowds and let my mouth and ego lead me places it should not. I was sent to stay with them to keep me out of trouble. I rose to star level in no time. and having fans worship you?” “I was making a lot of money.” “You’re just a big softie. I had fans who loved me and people that hated me because I was too full of myself. My mother loved tending to the garden and my father spent his days fishing on his new boat. don’t say anymore. I was helping him paint one day when a designer asked me to try on a few clothes. let me finish. “Carlos. Men were sent to remind me I was not immortal and could be dealt with one way or another. Eventually. My uncle worked for a fashion house cleaning and doing repairs.” “Carlos. the nightlife. how did you manage to stay out of trouble with the traveling.” Danielle watched his breathing change. they would lose their comfortable life and I was not allowing that to happen.” “No. I kept my promise to my parents and moved them into a beautiful casa in Málága.” she said hugging him around the waist. If I let myself fall backwards.
I have good friends that are actresses and make wonderful companions for their mates. But. I knew then I had found my soul-mate. The anger I’m showing towards Herman does display a small trace of what I used be like when I was younger.” “It’s amazing. Danielle. paired up and wanted out of the limelight. I did not like me that way. “I’m glad you’re back to wearing your hair shorter and got rid of the thick facial hair. ”I believe you and praise you for showing so much restraint. I was a good cop and working my way to being a stellar detective. either. I was nearing thirty and already tired of being photographed. I have the skills to bring Herman down without you falling back into your old ways.” “What are you conjuring in that pretty head of yours?” .” She placed two fingers to his lips to stop him from talking. But. I didn’t want a woman in the same profession as me.” “Danielle.“I would do anything for my parents. but not the full extent. by the time I reached Hollywood. “My timing was perfect when I walked into your hotel room with my dingy tote bag full of books and treated you like a no-body.” She caressed his face outlining his hairline. my search ended when you warmed up to me and let me kiss you for the first time. you were friendly. please believe me when I say.” Danielle laughed. The few women I did meet were too star-struck to get to know me and I ended contact before anything could get started. Baby. but now it is my turn to take a crack at him.” “Not true. Trust me to help you. but I did not want to be with an actress. Carlos. In Hollywood that is hard to find. During all your travels how could you not find one woman to settle down with?” “It’s actually quite simple. I am not the person I was years ago. dressed up. I wanted a woman away from the spotlight and not into materialist things.
I want to stay in Malibu. would you like to watch a movie—I’ll share my microwaved popcorn and soda with you. And.“Herman is expecting you to come after him. “You are such a cheap date but your wish is my command. lately.” she winked.” . “I love you. I have a feeling we won’t be long announcing a baby. “We are not watching anything I made. If we decide to get hot and steamy we don’t want an audience to witness it. You have been frisky.” She checked her watch.” He took her hand leading her to the media room. okay?” “Deal. I love this house.” She jumped in his arms.” “He is a freak. after we are married. what he is not expecting is for a 5 foot. You can redo the house any way you want and give me the bill when the work is done. “Baby. it’s early.” He shook his head. “We are thinking alike. All it needs is a woman’s touch to bring it to life.” Carlos teased her. “He would get off on that. “Should we ask Rafael and Val to join us?” “Nah. 110 pound woman to crawl up his neck and bring him down.” “I am anxious to have a baby with you.” “Ah. by saying. 4 inch.” He squeezed her hand.
That gave her approximately three weeks to finish cleaning. ma’am. lanky white man standing on the other side of the screen door. You wouldn’t happen to have a phone book so I could look up their address?” Pricilla’s mannerism remained unchanged as she questioned him. “May I help you?” She asked suspiciously. He had rehearsed in his head how to convince Danielle’s mother into extending a little southern hospitality to a total stranger. She knew not to open the heavy screen door breaking the barrier between herself and the stranger. She opened the door to a tall. but this woman was not the old lady he’d imagined would greet him.” Herman ran his hand throw his cropped hair.Chapter Seven Pricilla Tate worked frantically getting the house in order for the upcoming wedding festivities. I’m sorry to bother you but I think I’m lost. Do you happen to know Don and Angie Masters?” Pricilla kept her hand firmly attached on the handle of the screen door. I don’t know them. “I’m sorry. The doorbell rang taking her away from painting. Carlos helped that effort by reserving two floors of rooms at the Four Seasons and booking the rehearsal dinner at Park 75. “Good morning. painting and finalizing the hotel arrangements for out of town guests. “Shoot—that’s what I get for trying to surprise old friends without calling first. “Do you have a cellphone?” . the restaurant inside the hotel. Herman stuttered unsure what to say to the petite. attractive woman standing before him in denim overalls stained with colorful paint splatter. He had lopped off the wild curls and darkened the blonde color to a chestnut brown. Danielle and Carlos were expected to be in town later in the week and staying until leaving for Barbados on their two-week honeymoon.
I apologize if I bothered you. she notice a few of her neighbors working in their yards.” “That is a long way to travel and not know where you’re going. Good luck with finding your friends.” Herman lowered his head. Sticking her head further outside the door. Pricilla watched him get into a late model sedan. Did it occur to you to call your friends and ask for an address? You don’t have to tell them you’re in Atlanta. “You’re right. She wondered why he didn’t ask the people outside for help instead of knocking on her closed door. ******** Val sat forward in her seat tapping Danielle on the knee. In this day and age of technology. Thank you for the advice.He took the phone from his pocket. I should do that. Tate you were coming home early and bringing me and Rafael. “Ma’am. and the name of the couple he’d asked about. ma’am.” . You should have told Mrs. again. Not feeling guilty for being unfriendly to the stranger. Being married to Daniel for almost twenty-seven years caused her awareness of people to heighten and to trust her suspicions. most of them men. “Yes.” She started to close the front door when he continued to talk. I’m not from Georgia but Wisconsin and this is my first trip to Atlanta.” he said sulking as he left the porch. she wrote down the details of the car. An eerie sensation ran over her as she closed the door locking it. you know this is wrong.” “Then I suggest you call 411 and ask for directory assistance. I do. “Girl. I doubt you’ll find many households with phone books. Taking a pen and paper from the desk drawer.
Carlos. I’m not trying to disrespect your mother’s wishes. Danielle. you have to get to know my dad better. so get rid of that idea.“I want to surprise her. OK.” “Danielle. asking.” She sighed heavily. He placed his arm around Danielle.” “I tried. She wanted to do it. “I agree.” . it would be a nightmare. “What’s not going to happen?” “Val thinks my mom is going to let her stay in a hotel. once word gets around we are staying in her house. “You know what—you and Val will tell mom we’re staying in a hotel while Rafael and I keep our lips sealed. we won’t sleep there but we will stay as late as possible and take our meals with them. but I am Carlos Ramos. “You know she will not allow that and you’re pregnant. she will have uninvited guests every day. I’m not saying a word. but seriously. Mom has been working hard preparing my wedding and I’ve only been able to help by telephone or email. Rafael and I will check into a hotel.” “Sweetheart. I booked the Executive Suite at the Four Seasons for the four of us. Val.” She rolled her eyes.” “Well.” Rafael grinned.” “You should have hired a wedding planner and your mom wouldn’t be all stressed. I don’t want to put extra work on her by staying at the house. we should not impose on your parents. I want you two to get along.” Carlos and Rafael got into limo after checking to make sure the house was secured. “Yeah. I’m not trying to swell my own head.” Danielle raised an eyebrow. I agree with Val.
But.” Danielle scooted away from him scolding. “When we got back together. saying.” Val laughed aloud. after Bridget announced she was pregnant with his child. Once I put my charm on him. “Carlos.” He squeezed her gently.” Val slipped in.He nodded.” “I understand and appreciate you making the effort. Val. did your father get along Matthew?” “They got along okay in the beginning. but I can’t force him to take it. “I will extend the olive branch. Danielle. you have spoken words of true wisdom and I will remember them for my next wedding.” . You don’t have these issues if no one knows what you doing until its’ done. my dad was distant to Matthew and would only interact with him because they were both police officers.” Carlos laughed. “Your next wedding! You better be kidding. I will talk to my dad and insist he open the lines of communication a little more. that would probably work with normal dads but Detective Tate was hard on Dani’s male friends. that makes me feel a lot better knowing my charm will fail before I even try.” “Tell what happened when y’all got back together. Why do you think she only had one boyfriend before you?” “Thanks. “This is why you elope. “Stop worrying. he pretty much wrote him off. Danielle. “My brother. he’ll love me too.” Rafael spoke. Danielle rolled her eyes at her.
I get the message and agree. Daniel had arranged for officers to watch over her until she learned the ropes.” “It’s a good thing you thing you have the ability to think fast on your feet.” ******** The day passed quickly for Pricilla once she got into the groove of painting. Daniel came into the kitchen. Daniel was a twenty-five year veteran of the Atlanta police department. Once Danielle graduated from the academy and joined the force. I’m home and very tired. Her encounter with Herman had left her mind until she heard her husband pulling into the garage.“I am kidding.” He pulled her closer to him. How was your day?” . Now let’s get on the plane and not discuss hotels anymore. “Okay. Carlos. kissing his wife on the cheek as she removed a roast from the oven. How will I be able to show how sorry I am if your parents are in a room next to us?” “Dani. This will be my one and only trip down the matrimonial aisle until we’re doing our vowel renewal after twenty years of blissful marriage. you better listen to your man. so I need you guys to help me think of songs. He worked his way from patrol officer to the Homicide Unit and planned on staying there until retirement. “Baby. or you would be in big trouble. “This is why we have to stay in a hotel. I promised my mom I’d have the music selection for the DJ and I haven’t even started it yet.” Val said pointing a finger. but her move to Cleveland inhibited him from keeping an eye on her and he grew to worry how she would fare working the streets of Cleveland. Danielle held him by the heartstrings and was overjoyed when she decided to join the police academy and follow example instead. He and Pricilla had dated five years before marrying and raising their only daughter.
Daniel? And. what are you doing home? Did you come to your senses and leave that actor?” .” “Smells great whatever you made. dinner is almost ready. “I’ll get it. another thing I thought odd was he passed Clinton and Dalton working in their yards to knock on our door. He claimed he was from out of town and wanted a phone book to look up an address. Stopping at the desk. Go wash up.” “I have taught you well. “About the same.She placed the roast on the trivet. I finished painting and got a few other chores off my list. he smiled.” “Why.” He walked into the living room noticing the perfect job Pricilla had done painting. Returning to the kitchen. “Oh. but I wrote down what type of car he was in. “What is this written on this paper?” She set the plates on the table forgetting she’d even left the paper lying on the desk with the rest of the mail. he asked. he flipped through the stack of mail and before noticing the paper with the cryptic writing.” He got to the first landing of the stairs when the doorbell rang. and which direction he went in case you got a call about a home invasion or anything peculiar happening in the neighborhood. was he acting strange or trying to provoke you into letting him inside the house?” “His story sounded funny. answering. Daniel.” “Why didn’t you call me? I could have come home to check it out.” Opening the door. “Danielle? Baby. Who asks people for phone books. he didn’t seem right to me.” “He went on his way without a fuss. some man stopped by asking if I knew where those people lived. I’m going to clean up before dinner.
“Nonsense.” Pricilla came from the kitchen wiping her hands on a towel. but had to admit . Daniel shook his head stepping aside to let them in.” Danielle returned her mother’s warm welcome.” she yelped hugging them together. Lunch will be on me tomorrow. “Honey. Daniel stood next to the wall not amused to see his soon to be son-in-law.” Carlos smiled. are you hungry?” Carlos clapped his hands together. I hope you don’t mind. who was at the door—Dani. “Mr. My brother and Val are with us. “I wanted to take everyone out to dinner. We were just getting ready to sit down to dinner. “Detective Tate and wish I could say the same.” Carlos extended his hand first. Carlos.” she said hugging him. “Hi. Tate. how nice to see you again. “I wanted to surprise you. yes! Get Val in here! I know she probably isn’t feeding that baby anything trying to keep her small figure. We can do a nice lunch tomorrow. if that is okay?” Pricilla frowned. “OK. “We decided to come early to help mom. is it okay for them to join the party?” “Yes. “Why didn’t you call and let me know you were coming. Carlos stood behind her.” Pricilla said pushing through Carlos to get to Val who was standing on the porch.” “Of course I don’t mine. Daddy.Before she could answer.” Daniel corrected him grumbling. He could not come to terms with the actor becoming a part of the family. I’ve prepared more than enough food.
he said. He had to show the large man he was not easily intimidated. Carlos? Dani hasn’t said much about you other than you act for a living. He had to find something to talk about with the man. Daniel sat in the oversized Lazyboy recliner that was clearly marked his chair. that is a demanding and physical sport.” Daniel scratched his semi-balding head. you boys into sports?” He asked. Nowadays to keep in shape I play handball and exercise. His voice was deep and husky and broke the stuffy silence making both men jump to attention. “So. Speaking with confidence and not condescendingly.” Daniel laughed for the first time.his daughter seemed happy and he had to make an effort to be cordial to the man that returned the smile to her face. Rafael rubbed his hands down the front of his jeans. “Damn. I’m not too familiar with other American sports but intend to watch and learn. Daniel was left to entertain Carlos and Rafael in the living room. The television was the only conversation taking place in the room. “What about you. the women retreated to Pricilla’s shop to try on dresses and talk. Daniel cleared his throat. “I recently retired from playing professional soccer. Good thing you are in shape to keep behind Val. Have you ever a played a sport or are those muscles you have only built for showing on television.” “Yes. “I also played professional soccer for a short time in Spain.” . I understand you spend time on the golf course when you aren’t chasing criminals. it has come in handy as she keeps me running to get whatever she is craving. Rafael and Carlos sat quietly on the sofa pretending to be interested in the basketball game playing on television. Hours after dinner.” Carlos’ dark eyes locked with his.
” “I’m supposed to believe that? A Hollywood marriage is about as stable as a Palestinian/Jewish truce. but also he dumped HER to get back with my . It must be time for one of her unusual cravings. What I want to know is what do you want with my daughter?” “Excuse me.” “Cut the formality. “Detective Tate. you seem to be in excellent physical shape. how is work?” “Work is work.” “The same claim that son-of-a-bitch Matthew had. I don’t have too much of a paunch at age fifty-seven.” Rafael stood to leave after putting away his phone.” The lump in Carlos’ throat grew. Without Rafael to help carry on the conversation. sir.” Carlos nodded. What are your intentions with my daughter? Are you using her to prove you can be with normal women after bedding your female leads? What if she doesn’t live up to them. God rest his soul but he took the first opportunity to hop into bed with his ex-girlfriend no sooner than they broke up. it would be just the two of them stumbling for subjects to talk about that didn’t include Danielle. Not only did he knock up Bridget. sir. “Detective Tate—what have I done to make you dislike me? I have been nothing but loyal to Danielle and my intentions are to marry her and stay loyal to her for the rest of my life. “No. He patted his stomach.“I do but I played football back in my college days. are you gonna dump her and kick her in the sewer with your other castoffs?” Carlos narrowed his eyes. “If you’ll excuse me. I don’t want my daughter hurt again!” “I love Danielle and would not do that. Ramos. Val is texting me to come to her. I don’t fall for the celebrity bullshit.
“Danielle has told me the story about her and Matthew. I only let certain people in my life.” The wrinkles in Daniel’s face thickened when he frowned.” Carlos remained calmed.” Carlos shifted on the sofa. “Perhaps it would help if my skin were darker and my hair not so straight?” “Now you’re getting warmer. I owe them nothing.” “No—you don’t owe anyone anything but don’t mess with my daughter and think your fame or bodyguards will save your ass from me. I would be better accepted by you. I am so sorry your daughter fell in love with a man that is not black. I am nothing like Matthew. Everyone else can choose to believe whatever they want to believe about me. “I doubt it.daughter! There was no doubt in my mind he was going to hurt her again once the kid was born.” “OK. but I am a good man and will take care of her.” . Detective. The image the media portrays about me and the person I really am are worlds apart. but refused to be compared to a man he had nothing in common with. “Your image is the first thing people perceive about you. If you are nothing like your image. Maybe if I had a common job or no job at all. why do you allow it to be the first thing people learn about you?” “I’m an actor. but it is obvious you don’t want to accept it. He pinched the nerve between his eyes to relieve the pounding pressure. Detective. At least we are at the root of your disapproval of me. Detective. crossing his leg over his knee tapping the heel of his shoe.” Daniel huffed.” Carlos felt the headache banging at the back of his head. “I promised Danielle I would offer the olive branch to you.
Carlos—I could probably accept my daughter marrying a white man if he were an American. what’s wrong?” He tried to place a smile on his face but it failed to form.” He turned to Daniel before leaving the room. Please. Danielle is aware how you feel about me.” . I am going to marry Danielle on Christmas day. right. I have exhausted everything I have in getting you to meet me halfway.” “Yeah. But you are foreign and could whisk her away to Spain and I would never see my daughter again. She immediately felt the tension surrounding him. “Baby. I won’t need to elaborate my feeling about you marrying my daughter. “Jet lag has ta ken over. Carlos rose from the sofa straightening his clothing. don’t lie to save my feelings. really. I will walk my daughter down the aisle and smile for pictures never letting her know my firm objections about you. But. “I guess you taught her well at being perceptive.” Danielle came through the kitchen as Carlos entered. you’re wrong. everything is fine.” “Since you know that.“You know. what did my father say to you? Please.” “We talked sports and other topics. I’m going to the hotel and go to bed. sweetheart. Danielle has expressed her desire to live in California after the wedding. I’ll send the car back for you when you’re ready to leave. “This is pointless.” “Detective.” “Carlos. give your mother my apologies on leaving so abruptly. How would you feel if your only child left your life forever?” “That is not going to happen. I will say this and leave knowing full-well how you feel about the situation.” Daniel said with contempt in his voice.
we can all leave together.” .” “I know. do you not want me to be happy?” Daniel pulled a chair from the table and sat down. Danielle. I don’t want a beer but an explanation. So what if I don’t like him. Carlos is who I want to be with and no matter how much you hate him. Danielle decided to confront her father. Dad.” “I never said I hated him. I’m over thirty and know what I want.” she advised kissing him on the cheek. I don’t get it. “Alright—give me a minute to say goodnight to my parents and get Val and Rafael. but I’m a little worn out also. I’m not trying to be mean. I love him. “Hey its’ about time your mother released you? Want a beer?” He asked fishing two from the fridge.She stopped pressuring him. “He’s not right for you. He has done nothing to make you treat him like dirt. it is not your place to say who is or is not right for me.” “What do you need an explanation about?” “Why you’re treating Carlos so bad. and I’m marrying him.” Danielle took a seat across the table from him. and with all due respect. I’ll only be a minute. it is better you find out now before you’re tied down with a house full of kids. he isn’t marrying me.” “I’m not asking you to leave because I am going. “Dad. “No.” “You don’t have to say it—your actions show it loud and clear. Dad. Go on out to the limo. “He needs to suck it up and not be so sensitive.” He took a long swig from the beer. He met her in the kitchen. Once Carlos was safely outside.
Val. Pricilla saw the tears streaming from Danielle’s face. “Yes you are! You already treat Rafael better than you do Carlos.” Danielle raised her voice. How is he supposed to do that if you are throwing daggers at him from across the room?” “I’m not doing that. then you are not the man that I grew up thinking that you were. “Dani.” ******** Pricilla closed the door to her bedroom after making sure Val and Rafael were settled and comfortable. but they left us and I know you’re ready to go to bed. he wants to be a part of the family and be able to feel comfortable around you and mom. Val leaned her head on Rafael’s shoulder. But.” “Me too. Dad. . I won’t stand for him to be mistreated by my own family—not now. But understand this. So if you can’t allow the love you have for me to override whatever hate you have for him.” Pricilla rubbed Val’s shoulder. she peered at Daniel’s . Placing her jewelry on the dresser. “I’m so glad we didn’t have this type of drama. not ever. “Val. you’re both staying here tonight. “Ask Dad!” The long sleek car drove off with the three of them standing and wondering what’d happened. I will ask Uncle Otis to walk me down the aisle. and Rafael. Dad.“I have told him that.” She stormed from the house and outside to run into her mother. why are you crying?” Danielle kept walking until she reached the limo that was waiting at the end of the driveway. I am going to relieve you of your agony. baby. since you hate Carlos so much. you won’t even have to come to the wedding.
I’m warning you. Carlos is doing everything above and beyond his power to make sure Dani is not degraded or subjected to any bad press. “Nope. She pulled the bedspread back climbing between the bedding. Why are you being such an ass about Carlos?” “I’m calling ‘em as I see ‘em.” Pricilla’s blood pressure rose.” “Pricilla. “I’m calling you as I see you! You will not ruin Dani’s wedding. there are things going on that you have no clue about. There won’t be a third chance for this marriage. “Do you have anything to say about the way you acted tonight?” His eyes never left the magazine when he answered.reflection in the mirror. you need to ease up and give that man a chance. He lives in a place where he can marry any woman he wants but he chooses my daughter! He is taking her away from possibly marrying a good black man!” “Do you hear yourself? He wants our daughter and she wants him. he doesn’t owe you a damn thing either! I hate using profanity but I will and you know it. Your petty prejudices will not spoil the best thing that has happened to my daughter. He was stretched on the bed reading a golf magazine unfazed by Danielle’s abrupt exit. get your act together or I’m gone.” . our daughter left the house in tears. Daniel.” “Daniel. Daniel.” “I don’t have to give him a damn chance to do anything!” She nodded. “And. you may be happy with this wedding but I am not accepting that man into my arms.
Her fingers caressed his head and temples working to ease the pain from his headache. Dani’s happiness is important to me. I don’t know what I was thinking wanting a big wedding with all the trimmings.” he said turning off the light and settling in to sleep. Daniel. We are going through with the wedding as planned. “I know she loves him and Carlos is my issue to deal with. Dani doesn’t know anything about us separating in the past and we have worked on our marriage to make it strong again. ******** Wanna Be Close by Avant played softly in the background as Danielle and Carlos lay together on the bed. he was almost hypnotized by the gentle massaging of her fingers and relating closely to the lyrics of the ro mantic song.” He felt her body shaking and her voice weakening with the threat of returning tears.” He scrubbed his hand over his face. this ain’t a reason to take it that far. Honey. Carlos is in a position to give her the world and a chance to see it while she is still young. she loves him with all her heart and if you take that away from her. “I wish I knew why so many obstacles are being thrown in our path.He shot her a stern but worried look. Matthew did her wrong and she forgave him against our wishes. I won’t forgive you—I just won’t. “Baby. Not Herman or your father is going to ruin what I’ve waited my whole life to have. All I want is to get married and be happy. I’m not trying to have more than the next person. “I’d almost forgotten about Herman after dealing with my father this afternoon. we can elope if you want.” .” Carlos head rested on her lap. “Pricilla.” She rolled her eyes.” “This is a reason. “No.
” she murmured. I will love you in the afterlife as much as I love you now. to squeeze. I will honestly be able to say you are one to follow through with your promises. tugging at his pajama pants. Her breathing was unsteady and her chest rose and fell with each breath and stroke of his tongue. She relaxed her shoulders.” Danielle felt the thud of his words run through her body and shoot from her toes in a stinging bolt. warm . He continued to bathe Danielle’s stiff nipple with his tongue greedily.” “Umm-hum. sucking gently. Kissing her forehead. Danielle loved the feel of Carlos’s tongue in her mouth. Her mouth opened letting moaning sounds escape her parted lips. “Let’s make you more comfortable.Carlos moved up on the bed to comfort her. He lifted his hips to help her slide the garments down his thighs. he reassured her. Danielle slithered up his body. and off. Carlos teased it with tongue before taking it into his mouth. Her lips began to tease the tip of his penis. Drawing in a deep breath. “Our day will be perfect no matter how many toes I have to step on making sure it happens. stroke. and with his other hand took to her other breast. his mouth found a nipple. She baptized it with her tongue. she said. Once he was completely nude. Danielle’s head hung back. Releasing her breasts from the garment. Her eyes automatically closed from the seduction grasping and throwing her misery away. and when I say ‘til death do us part’ that won’t end it for me. letting Carlos slide the thin strap of her nightgown from her shoulder and trace a path down her arm with his lips. tossing them to the floor. over his calves. “Women always hear their men say what they’re going to do but never do it.” She welcomed the feel of him against her body. Their hands wandered over each other as they kissed hungrily. circling it with wet. and rub. It was rockhard and standing up at attention.
moving her mouth up and down. Exhausted they cuddled together to sleep. His grew harder under her nurtures and felt his hips begin to move as he waited for her to take him fully inside her mouth. He groaned in pleasure.” His hips starting a thrust motion of their own accord. flipping her on her back. because he picked up his pace and rode her like a man only looking to release his seed. they found their release together with Danielle stifling the scream pounding against her throat to not disturb other guests. . Thrusting inside her deeply. vowing not to let anyone come between the love they share for each other. humming deep in her throat. The feel of him inside her drove her crazy.strokes. His head dropped back as Danielle’s plump lips closed around his shaft to suckle him. He growled and pulled her on the bed. he was rougher than usual and sought to cure the heated tension and sexual sensation both invading his body simultaneously. Finally. She was merciless in her assault on him. “Oh baby. almost swallowing him whole. his fingers threaded through her hair guiding her head. His hips and her actions started to move in a sensual rhythm. Danielle met him stroke for stroke. up and down. almost made him lose control. tormenting him as if he would do her. She felt the beginning of an orgasm and he must have felt it too. The vibrations from her throat against him. Stroking him with her hands and her tongue.
” Pricilla wanted to pinch his handsome face but refrained. He wasn’t in a hurry to go inside the restaurant since Carlos was a celebrity and would not have to wait to be seated but he wanted to make sure there weren’t any others joining the trio for lunch. He smiled addressing his future mother-in-law. want to do bets on how long it will take the first woman to approach the table?” Looking slightly to her left. “I’m betting five-bucks the two bimbos to my left will be the first to come over. “Mrs. Carlos.” Danielle played with the napkin decorating the wine glass. Tate to sit and then Danielle before taking a seat for himself. compliments. Adjusting his tie. How do you do it. Tate.Chapter Eight Herman watched from his car as three people exited the limo to enter the trendy restaurant. “ “What can I say—I’m a lucky man to be in the company of two beautiful women. I bet there isn’t a man in this restaurant that wouldn’t want to change places with me. Danielle spotted two attractive women jit tering in their seats whispering and pointing. He’d noticed Carlos’ usual tag-along brother and wife were not present but could be at a distance not far behind. you look lovely as always. in the beginning you love all the adoration. “From the stares we are getting. Hey.” I must say you are always a gentleman with the . I’m to the point now where I just wish to be left alone. Carlos? How can you stand the attention all the time?” “Well. the flutters rippling through his stomach waned since Detective Tate was a no-show. I’m assuming every woman would like to push me and Dani aside to get to you.” “Thank you. Carlos held the chair for Mrs. “We know that won’t happen.
but not too many movie stars.” “I’m not holding my breath he will come. I wanted to treat the women in my life to a little luxury but if you are uncomfortable. that won’t be necessary.” “Where is my respect as his only daughter?” . don’t jump to conclusions about your father. Pricilla said. no.” Pricilla frowned at her daughter lowering her voice to a demanding tone. he is still your father and you will show respect. are you chauffeured everywhere you go?” “No. then why pretend. drivers have to work to make a living. also. Carlos.Pricilla raised a cautious brow.” Danielle spoke to her mother directly.” “Mom. I decided I’m going to ask Uncle Otis to walk me down the aisle. “Mom. your father is at work and said he would come if he could get away. I’d rather he not come to the wedding and make negative comments about Carlos to anyone who will listen. I don’t care how upset you are with him. If he cannot accept Carlos being my husband. Mom. asking. Although you didn’t ask. “This is a hot-spot and limos and fancy cars drive up to this restaurant all times of the day with music celebrities and athletes. I will dismiss the driver and rent a car.” “Honey. I drive myself when I’m home. “No.” Flipping her hand. “Dani. where is Rafael and Val?” “Val was having a bad case of morning sickness so Rafael suggested she take it easy and rest. He is going to walk you down the aisle. Dad is proving he does not want to be a part of my wedding and I’m not going to beg him. I don’t know if I want him to do it now.
Mom. it will not stop the wedding from happening. but I’m sure I’ll find something to my liking.Carlos could feel the anger brewing between the women and stepped in to stop it. we are here to have a pleasant lunch and talk about the wedding. Ramos. She spoke to him directly. Carlos caressed Pricilla’s other hand. I accepted that. she glanced at him catching his eye. If not. and I love Carlos and know he will make a wonderful husband. Dani. “Ladies. As long as you are there and happy for me—that is enough. or. As I told him. “Tell the chef thanks for the offer. I am not upset Detective Tate is not welcoming me into his family. Mrs. not to fight. and then Danielle’s.” Pricilla’s eyes lit up.” she said eyeing Carlos. He moved his chair back to give her room to place the glass and pitcher on the table since her hands were shaking. Reaching for Carlos’ glass. she recited the day’s lunch specials while filling Pricilla’s water glass. I hate he feels the way he does about me. “I promise. With a smile.” He smiled. the chef has volunteered to make whatever you want if you don’t care for anything on the menu. may I call you—Mom. but it is his right. The redden blush on her face reflected how nervous she was serving Carlos Ramos. “I would like that but only if you feel comfortable.” “I am happy for you. “I’m sorry. politely saying.” The waitress came to the table to pour fresh water and take their order. he will have to answer to me and I am much worse than your father. You’ve already won me over and don’t have to bribe me with flattery. “Mr. Carlos.” . you will never have to do that. Tate.” Danielle reached for her mother’s hand.
but what about you—are you not one of my fans?” His teasing the young woman made her fumble more.” she suggested. why don’t you help clear the table. The waitress in a panic whipped the towel from her apron to wipe down the front of his pants. Danielle noticed the girl still wiping at the crotch of Carlos pants and went over to relieve her of that duty.” she said looking around the room. Herman entered the restaurant to see the crowd of people standing in a circle near the back of the restaurant. The manager and a few other servers rushed over to help clean the mess the young.” she said excited. “I got this. It was no wonder he was popular with the eighteen to sixty-five women’s demographic.” He winked.” Danielle and Pricilla folded the tablecloth to keep the water from spreading across the table. Danielle got a kick out of watching him interact with fans treating him like an idol. but can I have your autograph for my mom? She’s a big fan of yours. The sexiness oozed from every pore of his body and he took extra care in choosing his wardrobe and grooming himself before going out. “I am a huge fan also. “Sure. “What’s going on?” “We have a big named television star visiting the restaurant today. He turned to the woman standing at the reservation stand. “I’m so sorry.” “Who is it?” . she accidently knocked it over spilling water straight into Carlos’s lap. apologizing profusely. Placing the pitcher of water on the table to dig out her order pad.“Alright. inexperienced waitress had created. “I’m not supposed to ask. I’m going to lose my job because of this. “Oh my god what did I do!” Carlos scamper from the chair knocked over the other glasses on the table when the cold water splashed in his lap.
but Mr.” Herman fussed. since you refuse to listen to me. we limit the number of tables available to walk-ins. You can make a reservation for dinner if you like.” “Lunch is by reservation only.” “Sir. “If you don’t leave.” “Don’t bother—I’m going!” Herman stormed from the restaurant as Daniel Tate entered. “Hey. I’m sorry if this is an inconvenience.” He pulled his wallet from his pocket. “You mean to tell me the whole place is shutting down because Carlos Ramos is eating here today?” The woman stepped back to put space between them.“Carlos Ramos. um. “Sir.” “What about my rights? I have to go elsewhere because some Hollywood jerk decides he doesn’t want to eat with regular people!” “Sir. We like to respect their privacy by limiting the number of tables we make available to the public. Ramos is only one of the celebrities having lunch here today.” “I see empty tables—seat me at one of those. because of the number of celebrities we serve. I’ll have to ask you to leave. I will call the police. yes you can. “Why don’t you watch where you’re walking asshole?” . I would like a table for one. I got money! How much will it cost me to get a table in this dump?” She picked up the phone repeating in a sterner voice. somewhere in the back. Can I help you with anything else?” “Wow that is exciting.
but she couldn’t wait for it to be legal. and in a few short weeks it would be.” “I’ll be sure to let him know you said that about him. would you show the man at the door to our table. If you don’t mind.” The manager stopped at the table.” ******** Danielle heard what sounded like her father’s booming voice at the front of the restaurant. angry-looking black man and moved around him after noticing he was a cop. Carlos would not want her to lose her job. I wish all the celebrities that dine here were so kind.Daniel put his hands on his hips letting his suit jacket open to reveal the badge and gun. Again. “I didn’t say anything. lunch is on the house because your husband was so gracious about this.” Herman locked eyes with the big. “The bathrooms are in the opposite direction so we know it is not Carlos. Ramos. She tapped her mother on the knee. I offer my sincere apologies and Kelly will reprimanded for ruining lunch with your husband and mother. I think Dad is here. boy. It would take some getting used to.” Danielle smiled after being addressed as Mrs. “It was an accident and she didn’t mean to spill water on my husband.” “Yes. she responded to the man. Coming down from her cloud. I wonder why he is yelling now. I heard his big mouth too. he is the big one standing there looking lost.” Danielle grinned. Ramos. “Mrs. your new table is read y. “You get one chance to rectify what you said.” “Nevertheless. “Mom. sorry.” .
I’m on my way. “Baby. its’ about to get worse. tailored DKNY suit sported lingering wet spots the hand dryer in the bathroom could not reach.” Carlos remained quiet and listened to what Daniel was saying.” Danielle reminded him. he was spotted outside a restaurant about ten minutes ago.” “Where is she? I could’ve used her to spill water on the idiot that ran into me at the door. “His tall lanky ass will think twice before he mouths off again. be nice! The waitress accidently spilled water on Carlos. what do you have?” “Herman is in Atlanta. “What the hell happened to you? Does this place have a pool?” Pricilla yanked Daniel down to a chair.” Daniel’s eyes roamed over him asking.” “Is that restaurant located about five blocks from the Four Seasons Hotel?” “Carlos. His cellphone vibrated in his pocket. Picking the menu from the table he scoffed. The description was vague but close to matching Herman. “Maxwell. “Daniel. He stood up to shake hands. stay put.” . “This is not how I expected lunch to go. “I’m glad you could make it. In fact.” he said leaving the table. Your voice carries even in loud places like this.” “Dad.” Carlos raised his head to see Daniel standing at the side of the table. I thought I heard you fussing. Detective.” he joked. Danielle mumbled under her breath.Carlos returned to the table with his pants damp but no longer drenched. The dark blue. “Excuse me.
Do I make myself clear?” Danielle sat straight in the chair. “What is going on between you two?” Pricilla fiddled with the napkin in her lap. hang back. woman—do I make myself clear?” Dropping the breadstick on the plate.” “Do you want my guy to confront Herman?” “No! Let me know where he is staying.“Maxwell. “I told you I would make an effort. You will be cordial to Carlos and engage in conversation that is enlightening and related to the subject—even the talk about the wedding. I will take care of Herman when I’m ready. “Listen. she waited to hear her father’s answer. “Dani. Your father and I have reached an agreement and hopefully we can enjoy a nice afternoon. Danielle stared at her parents. Dad. if you want to leave then go.” ******** Pricilla lowered Daniel’s menu to get his full attention. You will not insult his career or make jokes about him marrying Dani. She had never heard her mother speak to her father in such a manner. Her voice was stern and straight to the point.” . Don’t push me or I will rebel. Detective Tate is here and I don’t want him to get wind of what is going on. She hardly remembered them ever disagreeing with one another. Munching on a breadstick. “This is what you are going to do.” Her eyes shifted with worry. Keep a tail on Herman but do not come in the restaurant. I don’t want my relationship with Carlos causing a rift in your marriage. there is nothing for you to be concerned about but the wedding.
I have to get back to work and your mother has guests at the house.” Looking over the rims of her glasses. what will happen? I don’t want you guys fighting about this. “Dani.” Slipping on her reading glasses. Put smiles on your faces and act like we are a freaking happy family before I lose my religion.” “There won’t be any fighting. be quiet! Carlos is coming back to the table and he doesn’t need to hear the bickering among us. honey. “Good. “Mom.” Daniel attempted to make a joke. Carlos and I got it together last night. when you and mom get home. “We’ll talk about it later. “We have folks that like to salsa and rumba. not all of us are hip hop dancers. She whispered in his ear.” “Val is hardly a guest. she looked over the list. I had some heavy thinking to do. After what you said to me last night. I have the music list.” “OK. I’m supposed to meet with the DJ tomorrow.“Dani. you have no favorite music from Spain? incorporate your traditions for the wedding.” Nodding she took her purse from the back of the chair to dig inside. “Carlos.” “I apologize for the phone call. we’ll get through the meal. She practically lived with us—“ Pricilla interrupted meanly.” Carlos said taking the seat closest to Danielle. she peered at Carlos. “Is everything okay?” He kissed her on the cheek playing off the private exchange of words. but. we’ll be fine.” I want to .
Dani? “You’ve been without a job for some time now.” . “Carlos. if you change your mind and want to add something.” Pricilla directed her eye roll to her husband. I will provide for her every need like a husband is supposed to do. let me know. “What about work.” Danielle squeezed Carlos’s hand.” Daniel would not release the goading stare he held on Carlos. attending the wedding. why aren’t they coming to the wedding?” Carlos breathed an inaudible sigh. Detective. Actually they are elated I have found a wonderful woman who has agreed to settle down with me. taking care of my wife is not considered freeloading. if they are happy for you. they have never been to America or anyplace outside of Spain. “My parents are afraid of flying. “Detective. Do you plan on freeloading off his money instead of making your own?” Carlos spoke out of turn. I won’t have any relatives other than my brother. but unfortunately those dances aren’t associated with Spanish culture.Carlos grinned putting in his own dig. “I’m sure it would be painfully exciting to watch you do those dances.” Daniel frowned. “We’re going to Spain to spend a few weeks with them after our honeymoon in Barbados. “So. “Why aren’t your parents coming to the wedding? Are they against you marrying a black girl?” “No.” Daniel slurped his coffee.” “The songs Danielle has chosen are enough. they aren’t against me marrying anyone.
But. I have been able to live well off the interests my money has gained.” Pricilla shook her head. please rest your mind knowing I am set financially for the rest of my life. My investments are wise. I’ve been very fortunate and don’t take for granted what I have accomplished. Detective.” Not to be outdone Daniel remained staunched. I would want the best for my daughter also. Detective. how long do you think the money will last? How do you plan on paying for your lavish lifestyle if you’re not play acting anymore?” Carlos propped his elbow on the table and rubbed his forefinger under his nose. you don’t have to explain your wealth to my husband. but you Hollywood types lose it quicker than you can make it.” “I can’t argue or speak on their behalf. If I were in his shoes. “I understand you have a problem with me being an actor. My childhood was not bestowed with much. “Carlos. “You have money now. and so far. my last movie netted me twenty-million dollars—that does not include any royalties from the box office I am entitled once the movie is released. it’s okay. I have a job where I get to pretend to do your job or enact several other professions and be paid handsomely for doing such work. But. If she wants to work that is her prerogative. I can only manage my own finances.” “Mom. I want both of you to know Danielle will not want for anything.” Look at all the so-called . He is just being mean and you have to ignore him. celebrities that are broker than a joke these days.“Is that so? My wife says you’re quitting acting. just so you know how secure I am. My parents taught me and my brother how to appreciate what we had or what we might gain in the future and never take advantage of it.
you think I am interrogating him or being nasty for no reason! After what Matthew did to you. “You never said anything about that! You only mentioned the one affair they had when you two separated. you could have helped me but not like a relationship therapist would help.” “Dad.” “Yes.” “Baby. do whatever he want just so he wouldn’t leave me. but I put a deaf ear to her. You would have told me to get a backbone. I could have helped you. You’ve never been a weak person. and face my fears of possibly losing him again. I sunk low enough to overlook he’d cheated on me more than once with Bridget during our relationship.Danielle witnessed her father’s face darken and said. I was willing to do anything to keep Matthew once we got back together. I was happy the battle was finally over and I’d won. he would see I was better than Bridget was.” “Dani.” “I thought I had found my destiny with Matthew but I was losing him to the woman that was his soul-mate. why were you so insecure with Matthew. Mom. saying.” Pricilla gave a surprised look to Dani. You would have thought I was a damn fool and demanded I stop letting him run over me. I didn’t want to hear that. ” .” “How could I. When he proposed. but like a mother would help. listen to me for a minute! I was the weak link in that relationship. stand strong. I’m the one going into this marriage with nothing. “Dad. Mom? How could I come to you and tell you I was letting the one man I wanted so bad. also. all I wanted was Matthew. Val tried to tell me in round-about ways what Matthew was doing.” “Dani. will you please stop with the interrogation! It’s not as if I’m an heiress and Carlos is plotting to take the family fortune. I thought if I looked the other way and worked really hard to make him happy. I won’t stand by and let another man use you.
that he is the true love of my life. rattling the dishes. I’ve learned holding onto made up memories can be more painful than accepting what is real.” “Dad. Because you love someone. I knew Bridget was pregnant and knew she was planning to tell him before we moved to Cleveland. “How do you know you won’t do the same again? Carlos could easily decide he’s tired of you after meeting different women when he’s acting or modeling or whatever he does for a living. I do have to get back work. Dad! I want you to see that I am not perfect and Carlos is not Matthew. “Dani. “Mom. I’m accepting the blame and will tell Bridget. I’m not saying we won’t argue or hit rough patches once we get married. “No. You have to stop comparing them. Matthew was surrounded by the people he loved including Bridget. when he died.” Her mother spoke softly.Daniel raised his voice slightly. and has weakened my ability to want to do stupid things to make sure he isn’t cheating on me. doesn’t mean you have the right to play with his or her emotions. I should have done it six years ago.” Danielle slammed her hands on the table. “Where is the damn food. but at least I know Carlos truly loves me and there is no other woman he desires to be with.” . I sat in Cleveland mourning alone and concocted my own fantasy of him being madly in love with me when he didn’t even want to leave Atlanta. I have to say I am appalled by the deceit you showed to Matthew. I will say without reservation. I wanted him out of Atlanta before she was able to do that.” Danielle shook her head. I put Matthew on a pedestal after he died and. He would have left me for sure to marry Bridget and raise his family.” Daniel remained silent and checked his watch instead of looking at the pain on his daughter’s face. mostly out of guilt because he died not knowing he was going to be a father. He has made my memories of Matthew just what they are—memories. He had a right to know about his child.
“Drop me off at home. he probably did.” “Daniel. he did love you. at the time he said that to you. he pulled her close and into a deep kiss with the patrons of the restaurant watching. I will fish it out before the wedding. I’d been trying to decipher a dream I had the day I quit my job and n ow it is hitting me smack in the face—I was never supposed to be with him. Pricilla. “Yeah. he told me so himself. OK. My life was with the stranger who held and comforted me—that stranger was Carlos.” Filled with emotion.” “How many times have I said you were wrong?” “Many times. you have one foot back in the door—don’t get kicked out again. “How can you be suspicious of Carlos after Dani confessed to what she did to Matthew and Bridget?” “I’m a cop and he is hiding something behind those dark eyes. I came along and thought I could replace her in his life. “I love you and you are my soul-mate and my partner for life. Embracing her. Matthew was devastated when Bridget left him.” Pricilla tapped Daniel on the arm. he broke it.” Pricilla said feeling her daughter’s pain.” Daniel sighed getting up from the table.” “Mom. Carlos took hold of her elbow to lift her from her chair.” . You will never have to fear me leaving you for anyone else.” She frowned. Hearing the sensual sounds coming from those witnessing the kiss. this might be one time I was wrong. but I’m not placing total trust in him just yet because he’s hiding something. but I could not. saying. I have a feeling they want to be alone for the rest of the day.“Baby.
“Mom. “Dear God.” “I will tell you about it in the car. Don’t think I will forget.” Danielle blushed.“Oh I now believe he loves our daughter and she is happy.” Pricilla raised her eyes to the ceiling. “See what you’ve done.” Danielle caught her parents leaving. “Ah.” . why don’t we continue with our plans today and keep this for later tonight. Anyway. wiping smears of lipstick from Carlos’ lips. After what you said. before we head over to my mom’s.” “I’m going to check on Val.” “Um. my parents know we’re having sex. where are you going? We haven’t has lunch yet.” He chuckled. whatever you want.” “I agree but I want to know about the phone call you received. now I know why your father really hates me. please let this wedding get here and be over without me stroking out or divorcing my husband. This is about him and whatever he is trying to keep from me. You and Carlos can drop by later after you’re done doing what you need to do. you should know everything I do about Herman. will you take a ride with me?” “Sure.
no. “Momma Boyd. Boyd. Boyd sent the child inside the house to fetch his mother.” Mrs. I didn’t know that was you in that fine car. go get your momma. Mrs. Boyd sat on the front steps of the house watching her grandson ride his bike the length of the yard and back. She stood up as the black limousine pulled in front of the house calling for the child to come to her. Stuttering she turned her attention back to Mrs. Boyd carefully watched the driver get out and open the back door.” “Danielle. I’m doing errands for the wedding and wanted to stop by to see you and talk to Bridget.” Bridget appeared on the porch surprised Danielle was there.Chapter Nine Mrs. Mrs. if she is home.” Unsure who was in the car. I heard you were getting married in a few weeks. Matt said you wanted me?” . Boyd. but your invitation should be arriving soon. “I’ll introduce him in a minute. ma’am. “Matthew. and you?” “These old bones are still holding up. “Hi. Danielle walked the few paces to yard greeting the older woman. sweetpea?” “I’m doing good. who is the lucky man?” Danielle couldn’t get over how much the child resembled his father. “Matt. Why are you in that car? Did somebody die?” “Um. come on the porch with grandma. I hope it’s alright for me to stop by. How are you doing.
I had to do this before I got married. Bridget folded her arms across her chest not attempting to hide the attitude showing on her face. bucking her eyes at Danielle.” “I’m sorry I kept Matthew away from you or didn’t tell him you were pregnant. “What do you want?” “First. Plus he would have told me if he knew you were pregnant. you really were sheltered by your parents.” Her head dropped to stare at the ground. I let my bitterness towards you withhold that from him.” “Trust me. Matthew wanted to be with his baby and me. He was going to tell you he changed his mind about moving and wanted to break that little engagement. “You gotta be joking! Matthew knew I was pregnant.” she said closing the screen door behind her.” “Girl. Bridget. I told him the minute I found out because I knew he would stall trying to find a way to tell you and not hurt your feelings. Where do you think he was every other weekend? Oh wait.” “I’m listening. I’ll go inside and let you two talk. we were together. Do you think we did not plan to get back together? Matthew had a good heart and for some reason felt. Danielle. He told me everything concerning you. “You’re lying because we had not made a final decision about moving. this is hard for me because I know we don’t care for each other but.” Bridget rolled her neck. you were at least three months pregnant when you left Atlanta. he owned you something. you thought he was .” “Matthew would have told me. but he got killed before he could do it. He had a right to know he had a child on the way.“Actually Danielle asked for you. don’t leave without me meeting your friend.
wakeup. you never had Matthew and if he was alive today. “I guess the joke’s been on me the whole time. “Val tried and I wouldn’t let her. Too bad neither one of you had the guts to face me. neither one of you was brave enough to tell me what was going on —why is that Bridget?” Bridge threw her hands up defensively. it does hurt and it all could have been avoided. “Remember I was living in DeKalb. but Matthew worked on his own time and nobody rushed him to do anything. you definitely would not have him. He went to his grave knowing that!” “Yeah.” . does it? I can’t believe you thought you could replace me! I was the only woman for him. That hurt don’t feel too good when it’s turned around on you. It was funny watching you flaunt over him trying to hurt me when we split. Val knew what was going on between Matthew and me. I came to make amends only to get the full truth on how I was being played by the both of you. I took care of all his manly needs.” She chuckled.” “You could have saved yourself a lot of embarrassment if you’d asked your nosey ass friend. I told him it would be better to get it over with. she remained strong. Honey. Well he was.” Fighting her emotions. She’d threatened him that if didn’t come clean.visiting Lewis in DeKalb. but he was staying the night at my apartment. cause in the end he knew everything and kept it from you! You always were gullible when it came to Matthew.” “All that shit you did to keep him from me was useless. “Matthew wanted to tell you in his own way. she was going to tell you. For the both of you to think I was weak and fragile.” Hurt cursed through her body at record speed hearing how Matthew deceived her.
” Bridget shifted her weight to one foot. “So who are you making happy these days. “You are lying—ain’t no way in HELL you are marrying that man! How would you meet somebody like him?” Danielle moved in closer to snuggle Carlos.” Bridget nodded with her mouth hanging agape.” Bridget yelled into the house without taking her eyes off Carlos. Dani? Some clown you met in Cleveland that has enough money to rent you a limo to ride around impressing your old friends?” An evil spirit punched her on the shoulder making her grin. come outside and bring your camera!” . Snapping to the present. “Danielle. we’ve been waiting to hear who this mystery man is. please meet my fiancé. Your momma is acting like you’re marrying some big time tycoon or something—” Carlos smiled and slid his arm around Danielle’s waist as he joined her on the porch. I think you might recognize him from the big screen and/or television. She seems to be at a loss for words at the moment but let me introduce you while she picks her mouth up from the floor. He spoke before being introduced. and trust me when I say he is not some clown from Cleveland. you should have been woman enough to come to me. baby. It got me over my pain of losing Matthew and it’s where I met Carlos. If Matthew wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do. “You know. “Let’s just say my move to Cleveland paid off in the best way possible for me.” She motioned for the driver to get Carlos. “You could have told me. Bridget. I think it’s time you met who I’m marrying. Bridget.Danielle narrowed her brow. You had everything to gain by telling me you were pregnant by my man.” “Yeah I did but watching you make a fool of yourself was a lot more fun. Carlos Ramos. “Bring him on. Oh. she scathed. “Momma Boyd. is this Bridget?” “Yes. the true love of my life. it is.
It should be cooled enough to cut. I love my grandson and wouldn’t trade him for anything but Dani would have been more suitable for Matthew. If you don’t have a ride. come on inside for coffee and cake. but what are you doing on my porch? Are you filming in Atlanta and Dani is your bodyguard?” “Thank you. My Matthew didn’t give it enough effort to see how wonderful she truly is.” She turned to Danielle amazed. Boyd and chuckled. I was watching the movie True Love. I hate to say it.” Mrs.Mrs. “Dani is such a sweet. Stunned she poked a finger lightly to Carlos’ chest. Boyd. I hope you and Mr. Where are my manners. but I’m glad she was not married when I met her.” “I would not miss it for the world. loving.” Carlos took the older woman’s hand raising it to kiss the back of it. “Oh my lord. and wonderful. I know you! I mean I seen you on TV last night. “Mr.” . or I would have had to fight your son for her affections. “Señora Boyd. “Mrs. call my mom and she will arrange to get you to the church. I am flattered by your compliments. saying. Boyd’s smile warmed her face. I made a double chocolate fudge cake this morning.” Danielle caught the smug look Bridget gave to Mrs. sweet girl. Boyd will be able to make it to the wedding. a pleasure to meet you. but Danielle is not my bodyguard—she is my soon to be wife.” “Yes I agree my Danielle is sweet. you’re as handsome in person as you are on television. Boyd and little Matthew returned to the front porch. Ramos.
But save me a piece. run and get the cake.” Lowering her head Bridget turned to go inside the house.” “The whole cake. she placed the chain holding the diamond pendant in his palm. “This belonged to your father. she spoke to Bridget. you will.” . “Carlos. Taking the little boy’s hand. you can take it with you. May I have a hug before I leave?” The child’s small arms circled around her neck giving a gentle squeeze. wait. “Yes. “Yeah. Bridget. “What is it?” Danielle lifted her hair. Mom is waiting for us to finish getting the last minute details together. “Bridget.” “Nonsense. now go get it!” Danielle raised her voice stopping Bridget before she went into the house.” he said unhooking the necklace from around her neck. I have something for little Matthew. now it belongs to you.Danielle stopped her by taking hold of her arm.” Curious she stopped short of opening the door. Standing up holding onto Carlos’ arm. I’ll get it tomorrow. whatever. “We can’t. if you don’t mind him having it. I better get that cake before she yells at me again. “He really is a beautiful child—thank you for letting me hug Matthew for the last time. Danielle felt the invisible reins she held around Matthew slip away.” she questioned. I don’t mind. do you mind?” “No. but one day when you’re grown. I know you don’t understand what I’m saying.
Standing behind the screen door. Bridget said. What Matthew and I had was not to be.” “Rightfully it belongs to him. his future would have been with Bridget and his son. “Remind me to dump the cake and return the dish to Mrs. but you’re happy with Mr. posing with Danielle. May I get a picture of the two of you together? You make a beautiful couple and I bet your babies will be even prettier.” ******** Seated in the car Danielle sat the cake on the seat across from her.” Carlos escorted Danielle from the porch saying. Who knows—maybe one day our children will be playing with your grandson. Dani. That was very nice of you to give it to him. she sneezed. letting you go was his biggest. “Adiós for now. Ramos.” Releasing Danielle.” “My son made mistakes. “Mr.” Bridget overheard the conversation from the porch.” “Why do you want to dump it? It looks delicious. Shoving the cake in Danielle’s hands. “We plan on having plenty of babies. Boyd hugged Danielle close to her. Lifting the lid of the glass cake box. If he had lived. Boyd. “Like hell that will ever happen. she turned to Carlos.” she smarted quietly. “I will make sure to put that away until he is old enough to realize the meaning of it.” . please keep a smile on her pretty face at all times.” He revealed his movie star smile.Mrs. she stuck out her tongue making a silly face. Ramos and that’s all that matters now. “Enjoy your cake.
you are the perfe ct example of keeping people at a distance. “In most instances. Boyd is a fabulous baker but Bridget handled the cake and I wouldn’t doubt her to have done something to it while she was getting it from the house. “I know Bridget.” She shook her head. Everyone wants to be my friend if they feel they can benefit from me.” “You’re being paranoid.“Mrs. Carlos.” “I was raised to always help family.” “You were his foot in the door. Even though you’re not sure where the bloodline is connecting you and Herman. We have our favorites we wear a lot and we have those we keep in the corner because we forget how bad they pinch our toes. had you ever invited him to any premiers or to watch a moving being made you were starring in?” .” “Is this why some women don’t have many girlfriends? It seems women are always looking to stab each other in the back. Herman could have been a great producer if he weren’t so clingy.” “Yes. hanging onto my coattails was not a guaranteed success for him. Baby. I refuse to be in the hospital with food poisoning on my wedding day. women are like shoes. and Herman had a lot to gain from your stardom. you offered to help him nonetheless. In other words.” “I see.” Danielle nodded agreeing. We are not eating that cake.” “My situation is different.” She twisted her lip. some women are better off being acquaintances rather than friends. yes. “Carlos.
“Yes, that is how he knew where I lived. But I also gave him contacts that could help him develop his craft while he was studying film in school. Danielle, this road to stardom has not been easy for me either. I remember my first role on the big screen, I played a runway model.” “Seriously, a model playing a model,” she laughed. “I had less than a minute of face time and not one spoken word. That one minute gave me the acting bug. Herman wants to be on top with his first featured film with a named actor. If he only knew how much crap is involved to get to the top.” She gave him a cursory glance. “I read you were an overnight sensation. What shameless act did you have to do—sleep with the casting director?” He wiggled his eyebrows up and down. “I don’t kiss and tell.” “Well, that was then and this is now. As long as you aren’t exploiting your way to the top anymore, I don’t care what you did in the past.” “Those days are long gone and I never exploited myself to get anything.” She raised her eyes upward. “I’m changing the subject. If Herman is looking to get movie exposure, he would mention you were working on the project and that would surely get the studio executives fighting to get a hold of the film.” She stopped talking to suck in a breath and letting it expel through her mouth slowly. “What are you thinking?” “Investors, Carlos—how much money would you be willing to invest in a movie if you had a big named actor starring in it?” “Depends on how much of a cut I’d want on my return. Most investors in a small project would yield their original investment plus a small profit.”
“This explains Herman’s behavior. He has no money to repay his investors and is on the brink of insanity because he knows they are coming after him.” “None of that is my fault—HE created this mess. All he had to do was stay focused on the project and it would be over and on its way to Cannes.” “He doesn’t see it that way; he is desperate. Carlos, get inside his head. He has nothing left to lose; bringing you down for his failures will be his only satisfaction.” “I don’t care about his failures, Danielle! Herman has worked my last nerve. He has pushed me over the edge and I don’t like being pushed.” “Baby, listen to me; I need you to hold it together and think rationally.” Carlos’ anger grew. “NO! This cat and mouse chase is over. Herman is in Atlanta, I know where he is staying and tonight this stops for good.” Pushing the button to raise the privacy window, Danielle tore into him. “Man, listen to me! You can’t storm in with your personal army and beat the living crap out of the man! Do you want to be thrown in jail? Your status as a celebrity would only add insult to the situation when reporters go digging through your past and reveal to the public what you have worked so hard to hide! Carlos, think with your head and not your genitals for a change.” “What do you suppose I do—allow him to ruin our wedding? That is what he is planning, Danielle!” “He won’t get that far—we’re going to lure him into our trap.” “Tell me how are we going to do that?” He asked with his voice dropping an octave lower.
“Love, you are about to become bait and Herman will be the fish. I told you, I have an idea that will end this peacefully on all sides,” she said relaxing her head on the headrest and closing her eyes. Carlos waited for details, and when she did not offer any, asked. “You’re not going to tell me any more about this idea you have?” “Yes, but after we are done with my mom and errands; we’ll need all hands on deck for this. So get on the horn and have Maxwell keep a close eye on Herman.” “Danielle? I am going to ask you again, how did you know about Maxwell?” He asked almost annoyed. She playfully ran her hand up his thigh. “Carlos? I am going to tell you again, you’re not the only one with connections.” “Danielle, whatever you are thinking could backfire. Do you remember me telling you my condo was destroyed not just trashed? Herman could very well be considered extremely dangerous and I don’t want you hurt.” Opening her eyes, she peered at him. “Why is it so hard for you to believe I might know what I am doing? My specialty was dealing with these types of
individuals. Carlos, just because I’m not loud or carry a chip on my shoulder portrayed by most male cops, doesn’t mean I can’t stand my ground. I lost the desire to work in law enforcement; not my training or ability to drop a man to his knees.” He threaded his fingers through hers, softening his tone. “I’m sorry. When you drop me to my knees, I only want it to be for one reason.” She squeezed his hand hard. “Stop it!” “What did I do now?”
Taking that as an invitation to continue. Carlos could feel her body stiffing and on the verge of erupting. Carlos used his free hand. you turn the tables by making me laugh or I give into your sexual temptations. using the tip of his tongue to move along the curve of her ear. Noticing the privacy glass was still up. while his forefinger dipped further into . he pulled the thin fabric of the bra up over the soft mound and sucked the taunt nipple into his mouth. Her breaths were sharp as his hand caressed her smooth inner thighs. He moved his lips to the side of her face. She opened her eyes wide when the car jerked suddenly. let him have his way. Forcing her hand aside.” Carlos leaned over planting small kisses to her neck working his way across her chin and finally capturing her lips. panting sounds escaped Danielle’s lips. unzipped her jacket. she did as always with Carlos.“Every single time I want to be mad at you. his warm breath heating her ear as he gently sucked on the lobe. Unable to speak. parting them easily. A warm heat flooded her body when she tried to stop his hand from traveling up the length of her leg and taking hold of the hem of her skirt. The motion of the car did not stop Carlos’ tongue from invading her mouth while his fingers moved aside her underwear slipping his forefinger inside her womanhood. I’m not falling for it this time. It wasn’t long before he had her quivering. His thumb replaced rubbing of the sensitive flesh. Using his teeth. Danielle braced her back against the seat as pleasure overtook her entire body from his mouth and finger working in unison. and wiggled her sweater high enough to expose her breast closest to his mouth. She’d worn knee-high stocking with her boots instead of pantyhose leaving no barrier between her skimpy underwear and his wandering hand. his slipped underneath the material of her skirt to caress her bare thighs. his finger quickened the manipulating bringing the fleshy nub to heightened arousal.
Removing his finger. he licked the essence of her from his finger and thumb. but please feel free to punish me harshly. trapping his hand in place.her exceptionally moist core. Her orgasm traveled along the course of her body as she gripped her thighs together.” She smiled. fixing her clothes. later.” He winked. she exploded on contact. He stayed affixed inside her until her breathing calmed and her thighs relaxed.” . “I guess I won again. “I hate you. Danielle opened her eyes slowly to look at him. “I can tell.
Danielle’s nerves were on edge and she was snapping at every little thing. the three of them are playing golf today. boxes of fragile glass vases and tubes of colorful glitter. but I will be short three. were strong and she could not shake them. “I broke three of them. Maybe your dad is finally trying to be nice to his soon to be son-in-law for a change. “How many of these do we have to make?” “Seventy-five. Herman’s presence weighed heavily on her.” “Why is that?” Danielle looked up from what she was doing. Val.” “Yeah—I’m not putting too much faith in that. for some reason. This morning. Dani. what gives?” “Where should I start? I will start with my dad. His lurking in the wings attributed too much of her stress normally. get over here and help me decorate these darn vases for the reception tables. but the tingling sensations dancing on her nerves this day.” “Girl. “Very funny. “May I enter your highness?” Danielle sat seated on the floor Indian style surrounded with ribbons. These thin glass vases are breaking in my hand like onion paper. stressed.” I’m .Chapter Ten A week before the wedding. I know he is up to something. Val.” Val counted the stacks of boxes sitting on the floor. joking. Val. Val knocked on the door. He is being too nice to Carlos.” “You are coiled a little tighter than usual.
Val. “Oops. But have y’all thought about calling his wife? Maybe she can talk some sense into him. but he is breaking away from my leash.” “Rafael has talked to Lilly. I don’t have time to waste making these dainty little decorations. I have been able to hold him back so far. glittery vases!” Shaking the vase in her hand. “Not likely. what else is bothering you?” “The wedding itself.“OK.” . it broke. It won’t matter if he is on the winning or losing end. now four of ‘em are broken.” Danielle shook her head. I have to decide what hairstyle I want for the wedding and choose my wardrobe for the honeymoon and for Spain. mom is going to kill me. Herman has to have closure. “Where is a wedding planner when you need one? What is the next bothersome item on your list?” “This is the biggest of them all—Herman Fitch.” “I know this might sound stupid.” Val measured the ribbon carefully before snipping it with the scissors. Herman has been quiet and laying low. “I thought you all had a plan of action set. I’ve got a lot to do instead of making these stupid. I think that’s what has him so nervous. I have to get this man before Carlos does something stupid.” “Maybe Herman realized he is outnumbered and decided to call it a day and went home defeated. She doesn’t want anything to do with Herman and she doesn’t want the kids to know their dad has gone bonkers. it just has to be closed in order for him to move on. but Carlos is being impatient.” Val laughed.” “We do. I know it has me nervous. that is one thing.
” “I’m hoping that won’t happen. shaking her head.” Danielle changed into a t-shirt not covered in glitter. I will do it for you because you’re my friend and I’m the maid of honor. “Thank you. “Good. Val.” she said getting up from the floor.” Danielle folded her hands together bowing. I have talk to Erica about my hair. “Hey! How are you going to dump all this on a pregnant woman?” “Oh crud.” . “Every person has their redeeming qualities.” she said grinning. they will have to be told why. bring me up some chips and a glass of your mom’s cider. I was a food stylist remember.” Danielle looked at her vase and Val’s nicely decorated vase. Danielle shoved the ribbon and other materials over to Val. If by chance Herman is carted from Atlanta in a body bag. in case you get hungry?” Val rolled her eyes. “Why does yours look so much nicer than mine?” “I have a knack for this kind of stuff. this one is yours. Val. “That’s jacked up for the kids.” “Yeah. now I’m a life saver any other time I’m a pain in the ass. What can I get you to make you more comfortable? Would you like a few pillows to sit on or I could bring you some water and a few snacks. you’re a life saver. “I know this is payback for all I’ve done to you.” “Hold on! Before you skip out of here. but this is just cruel—but. she made a batch just for me.Val finished the first decorated vase and placed it on the floor next to Danielle’s vase. put that knack of styling to work and knock out the rest of these vases for me. I’m sorry.
don’t make this happy occasion a sad one by getting yourself killed. not to the golf course. I heard you on the phone this morning.” Danielle’s shoulders sagged. Please don’t tell mom where I am. Herman gave my man the slip. buddy. I’m just asking you to be careful. “How in the held did he manage to do that! How long has Herman been missing?” “He was following Herman but lost him in heavy traffic about two hours ago. Removing it from his pocket. as usual.“Anything else you need while I’m in the kitchen?” Danielle asked sarcastically. he walked away from the group to talk.” Carlos’ body stiffened.” “I promise I won’t. Carlos.” ******** The sunny day was perfect for a round of golf. Backing from the driveway she prayed she’d arrive at the golf course to find the men of her family alive and well or at least alive and bickering.” “Then hurry back with everyone in tow. that should hold until you get back from the golf course. Maxwell?” “This is not a good call. His cellphone vibrated. she made a quick stop to her father’s den then hurried to her mother’s car. Carlos leaned his weight on the golf club waiting for Rafael to take his shot. Dani. “What’s up.” . After gathering Val’s requested items. Val. the tracking device last showed the car in the area of the golf course.” “Bull! You have an appointment with Erica tomorrow. “I’m going to see Erica.” Danielle gave the thumbs up leaving the room. she doesn’t know anything and I don’t want her to worry. “No. You have a few days before you get married.
while Daniel and Rafael chatted.” “That’s gotta be rough but make sure to duck and dodge so he doesn’t hit you in the face. Herman is probably hiding somewhere in these woods surrounding the golf course waiting for the right time to confront me. I need you to get here as soon as possible.” Breathing in deep. I’m going to tell Detective Tate what’s going on. His life could be in danger and all hell will break loose when he realizes you kept this from him.” Daniel folded his arms across his wide chest.” Frustrated he threw his club to the ground. The scowl on Daniel’s face was permanently etched. was supposed to be a bonding period for the men to get to know one another and possible bury the hatchet. I want to make sure Rafael and Detective Tate aren’t hurt.” “For a man not into acting anymore. no sooner than Carlos returned to the group. When you get here. Tate. start searching for Herman instead of locating me.” “Now would be a good time to fill in Detective Tate. Carlos wondered if the man ever smiled or had fun. he decided it was time to come clean and accept the fallout.“Maxwell. the man hates my guts. Ramos?” . “He’ll probably help Herman kick my ass. The arranged round of golf by Mrs. Daniel barked meanly. Carlos. “Are those calls from your agent or are you messing around on Dani.” “Thanks for the advice. “Are you playing golf or talking on the damn phone?” “Sorry. you sure seem to get a lot of calls. For Carlos. it was turning out to be a long morning filled with silence on his part. I had to take that call.
” “Wait a minute—you are doing what! First. One you are not authorized to handle a situation like stalking and.” The one time the man tried to be funny Carlos did not find the attempt humorous. OK. I am aware of the consequences of what could happen. “Yeah. “Detective.” “Then what are you doing? I know you are up to something. only he isn’t what you’re thinking. I’m being serious!” Daniel stopped his joking after realizing Carlos was serious. This stalker is different.” Carlos paused. he is a relative. “What I’m thinking is you got a crazed gay fan hot for your body. I know the stalker and have people following him. “Alright. before we even get into all the reasons why you haven’t involved the police.“Detective. so what are the police doing about your stalker?” “They are doing nothing because I’m handling it myself. as you put it. I will give you a few reasons why you should.” . I would not get married and risk losing everything I own in a divorce. do you know the consequences of what could happen if you and this man got into an altercation and one of you got injured or killed?” “Detective.” Laughing Daniel replied. if I wanted to ‘mess around’. I will tell you. two. I have a stalker and he has followed me here to Atlanta. “I see that.” “Are you joking—you got a stalker and it’s a man?” Daniel asked in a quizzed voiced.
” Daniel’s body imitated a blowfish. and vows to make him pay. Detective. “You want me to shut up? I’m shutting up with my hand on the stopwatch. Herman and Carlos had a disagreement concerning Danielle. Herman has made all his threats towards me and Maxwell is a former marine under my employment. and didn’t encourage you to contact the police because she wants to bring him down.” “Dammit! Dani knows. “Detective Tate. when they had a disagreement concerning Danielle—” Daniel cut Rafael off mid-sentence. which caused Carlos to quit the movie. the story can be told!” Carlos hissed through his teeth. you got two minutes before I start again and I want Rafael to tell me —I have a feeling you will leave bits and pieces out. Herman Fitch is a relative by marriage. “Danielle is not in any danger. the heavy breathing pushing every muscle of his body forward to expand then to deflate.“I thought Rafael was your only relative in the States?” Rafael saw the frustration rising in his brother’s face and stepped in before Carlos blew a fuse. “What kind of danger is my daughter in and who do you have following this Herman person?” Carlos scratched his head. I am his only blood relative.” Carlos shook his head and gestured for Rafael to continue. Herman is blaming Carlos for the failure of his movie. He has been stalking Carlos for the last few months. Carlos was helping with a movie project in Cleveland. “As I was saying and I will shorten the story to save time.” . is my daughter in danger?” “If you would stop interrupting and give me a minute to exp lain. His job is to watch Herman’s every move. “Cleveland! This all started in Cleveland? Carlos.
“Give me a description of him and what type of car he is driving. I will handle him myself. “Why does this not surprise me? Music entertainers. that is not how Maxwell operates. “Just what I need. he proceeded. He will immediately start looking for Herman and escort him from the premises without causing a disruption to anyone. a former military nut with the ability to kill a man slithering in the woods.” Carlos groaned lowly. Maxwell has tracked his vehicle around this area. I won’t have any Hollywood stunts being played on my streets. His job in the Marines was working special ops missions in the Middle East.” “Bodyguard is not exactly how I would describe Maxwell. Do you recall the stranger you bumped into at the restaurant the other day?” . Tell me where the guy is. My people will be able to find him before your bodyguard. Maxwell will be here soon. sports figures. Detective Tate.“She knows everything but I am not going to allow her to face Herman . and actors—trouble follow y’all like magnets to steel.” “So what you’re basically saying is that it is possible he is on the golf course somewhere watching us now?” “That is a big possibility.” “Detective. but I believe you met Herman. I’m going to pay him a little southern hospitality. Why do you all think you’re invincible?” Taking a pad from his golf bag.” “No you won’t! If this guy is in my city.” Daniel pinched the nerve between his eyes. already. He was being tailed this morning.” Daniel threw his hands up. he belongs to me. but was lost in downtown traffic. “We don’t know where he is exactly.
” ******** .“Yeah. you all have to leave the golf course now. but Danielle suggested I wait and flush him from hiding.” “Dani. “Damn that girl is hard-headed.. “Dani.” “We have to think of a counter-attack.” “I agree and I thought he would have chosen the church or the reception. we’re going to give your stalker an early Christmas present wrapped in the form of you.” His phone rang. “That was him.” “Too late. I will find you in a few.” “Dad. I want to help however I can. He could have his next move planned and is just waiting to pounce. I have a funny feeling something bad is going to happen. slow down. You have a baby on the way and a wife. you should head to the clubhouse for safety. I wanted to confront him then.” Carlos agreed with Daniel. the one that called me a big ass—that was him?” Carlos nodded. I can’t understand you. Carlos is filling me in and we have it under control.” “O. Rafael. Carlos. I’m pulling in the parking lot. sounds like he is laying low for a reason. go home.K.” He cursed. Carlos. and that pounce could come soon. “Rafael. I have no choice but to confront him first.” “No. please just go there and wait for us to call you. go to the clubhouse. but seems he is choosing to do it now. I’m on my way there. She doesn’t understand I cannot do that since he has not made contact with me since we left Malibu.
Reaching for the high-powered rifle lying next to the duffel bag. he put down the binoculars and screwed the scope onto the gun. Although she was a former Atlanta police officer. He had decided today would be the last day Carlos Ramos would live. he could not decide on whom to shoot first. she made her way inside wondering where on the golf course Carlos. Moving from man to man. Inside the duffel bag.” he said moving the gun around to get a better view through the scope. an employee of the golf course. He had never shot a gun before in his life but there was a first time for everything. he’d also had a 9MM and a hunting knife.” she said cheerfully walking over to him. Tucking the gun snuggly inside the waist of her jeans. She smiled when she saw Mr. her father and Rafael could be.Herman viewed through binoculars the three men talking. “Mr. his pulse quickened with the urge to shatter their party. She’d taken the weapon from the gun case in her father’s den. Exiting the car. “That’s right. . Turning off the car. Mitchell. hi. she looked around for any people walking by before taking the gun from her purse. “Do I take all three of you or make you scamper like ants with warning shots first.” ******** Danielle pulled into a parking space at the golf course after spotting her father’s SUV. she would be toast. she pulled her t-shirt down trying to conceal the bulge of the handle. Mitchell. Assuming they were chatting about golf or the upcoming wedding. He wished he read lips so he knew exactly what they were taking about. enjoy the nice day because this will be your last. she was not licensed to carry a gun in the State of Georgia and if she was caught carrying it.
Are you golfing with your dad and his friends today?” “Yes. she surveyed. Danielle was surprised it was not crowded. Do you want a golf cart?” “No. The morning weather was beautiful and sunny but only a handful of golfers were taking advantage of it. Keeping her hand close to the handle of the weapon. It was nice seeing you again. a squirrel scampered across her path to run up a tree. She had not played golf with him in ages and could not remember if he played fast or took his time to concentrate on his shots. Being careful to stay away from the center of the golf course. “Dang squirrel!” Regaining her composure she continued the few yards needed to reach the edge of the woods and be back onto the green of the golf course.” “Oh. I can walk it. as she walked the area. As she cleared the third hole. how are you girl. I saw them around the fourth hole a little while ago. she continued her walk coming upon a small thicket on a hill. Granted the public golf course was not Augusta but it did have beautiful scenery and was peaceful. Finding no one behind her.“Danielle. . but I just got here and will have to find them. She heard voices as she neared. seeing nothing unusual.” she said walking away. The fourth hole was not far away and she hoped her father was still there. she came to a sudden stop and turned around. she had the eerie feeling of being followed. A sand trap stretched halfway across the middle of course causing her to walk behind tall trees and thicker grass. Picking her pace a bit. Slowing her pace. she could not distinguish the voices but assumed it was her family since there were hardly any other people around. Listening. Danielle cursed from the sudden startle the squirrel caused.
******** Herman lifted the heavy rifle to his shoulder. I’m going after Herman. get up!” He yelled bending over him. Maxwell ran over to them. Entering the wooded area. run! I got Carlos!” Rafael refused and ran over to help. Herman pulled on the trigger. He’d decided to kill only Carlos. kneeling on one knee.” Daniel said with urgency. they ran into Danielle. With Carlos clearly in view. withering in pain.” Gathering Carlos from the ground the men ran in the opposite direction of where the shots came from. “Rafael. “Come on—we gotta get him out of here!” Daniel shouted. “Rafael!” Daniel shouted again. he’s alive but we have to get out of here. “Dad. The other man with them. “Get his other arm!” Rafael hesitated from the shock of seeing his brother on the ground. Daniel reacted immediately when he saw Carlos fall to the ground. what happened to him?” “Dani. and I can’t say we are safe sitting here. releasing three quick rounds. he did not know and there was no need to cause his family grief for the holidays. . “Help me with him. Rafael had never caused him any problems and had no beef with him. “Carlos. Her heart pounded hard against her chest when she saw Carlos slumped over.” he said all in one breath. “No!” She screamed in shock. The recoil from the gun sent a painful jolt through his shoulder knocking him to the ground. I don’t know which direction the gunman went. The gun was heavier than he expected and he struggled to balance it and keep his eye on the moving targets. “I heard the shots.
she felt him stirring in her arms. the paramedics should be on the way. “Dad.” “Damn!” He exclaimed before eyeing up the ex-marine. Help me up. let’s find that son-of-a-bitch. Comforting Carlos.” Carlos mumbled. Rafael.Danielle wondered how Maxwell managed to appeared from nowhere and quickly scolded him for not doing his job.” Rafael searched Carlos body for blood.” Danielle held him in place. I think he’s in shock. “Yeah. talk to me.” “Use your belt to make a tourniquet to stop the blood flow. propping him against a tree. I’m going to make sure no one else was hurt. He took it in the calf. is Carlos okay?” Daniel sat Carlos semi-limp body on the ground.” Danielle shivered from head to toe. Frowning he motion for Maxwell to follow him. I know someone other than us heard the shots and called police by now. “Danielle. his leg is bleeding. you can’t go in pursuit of an armed suspect without a weapon. be still. “I know you are packing more than one weapon—pass me one.” Maxwell tossed him a gun.” he said ripping the material of the pants. Dani and Rafael—stay with him. “Baby. you’re losing a little blood. he gave me strict orders on what to do. Detective Tate. Rafael.” .” Danielle reminded and contemplated giving her father the weapon she’d taken from the house. “Come on. “Baby. “I’m going to kill that son-of-a-bitch. where were you hit. “Where were you when you should have been protecting Carlos? He got shot because you weren’t doing your job!” Maxwell did not become upset or raise his voice. “Danielle. “It’s bleeding but not very heavily.
“Herman messed with you. “Carlos. let Maxwell and Detective Tate handle it now. you have to call Detective Tate and warn him about Danielle.“Danielle.” Carlos’ eyes widened. but I’m not going anywhere. After a short conversation. you are going to be OK.” “Rafael. “Danielle. don’t go please.” “Thank God.” Rafael tied off the belt saying. I will be back.” “OK. He doesn’t know these grounds. I couldn’t shake the feeling he was going to make a move today. he removed the belt from around his leg and called Detective Tate. I will call from the clubhouse. I don’t want her caught in a cross-fire. ******** . I’m alright. It looks more like a flesh wound from a graze rather than the bullet piercing and penetrating his skin. “Where the hell did you get the gun!” “It belongs to my dad. I’ll be back as soon as I can. You go to the clubhouse and wait for me.” An evil scowl crossed her face as she pulled the weapon from her waistband. Carlos. but I have to help my dad. get my phone from my pocket. He will be scrambling to get out of here and I will be waiting on the other side. “I had a bad feeling Herman was up to something. he limped off in pursuit of Danielle.” Danielle said kissing Carlos on the forehead. we have to keep moving. Can you walk?” “Yeah. Carlos. I refuse to give Herman the satisfaction of thinking he crippled me. “The bleeding has stopped.” He reached for her hand. that’s an order!” Making sure Rafael did as told. what are you doing here?” Carlos winced. now I’m going to mess with him.
” “I will. she took her own path over the hill. she decided to head back to the clubhouse and check on Carlos.” she said hanging up the call. She removed the ammunition from the rifle and kicked it in the tall grass before leaving. if it isn’t pretty little Officer Tate. and leave the rifle but take the ammunition. Walking over to it. “Dad. she saw it was a rifle. An object lying on the ground caught her attention. Her cellphone rang. she prepared the firearm before searching the small dense patch of wood that became home to many lost golf balls. I’m going to keep searching.” “Police are in the area. What a treat running into you. “Well. I will stay in touch by phone. I have a rifle lying in the woods. Being quiet. Dad?” Hearing heavy breathing and footsteps behind her.” “No. that will give Herman time to get away. Not sure where they went. just wait for me or Maxwell to come to you. if I stand around waiting on you.Danielle’s search for her father and Maxwell slowed. After searching and not finding any clues to Herman. “What’cha got. well.” “Dani. she dropped her arm to her side and turned around. Plucking her cellphone from her pocket.” . He picked up on the first ring. where are you?” “I’m in the thicket less than a quarter mile away from the fourth hole.” “Dad. she hoped to get a signal to call her father. make sure you let yourself be known if approached. Herman grinned.
Carlos didn’t come after you. “Herman Fitch.” “Why would he do that? I’m nobody and would not make or break his career. “I could have made a much better lover for you but you didn’t want me. You said some pretty nasty things to me. you struck first causing him to fight back. but none of it involved Carlos. I did start it and now I’m going to finish it. I rejected you because I don’t date married men. “I wasn’t counting on this. you have it all mixed up. We’re both guilty of saying or doing something awful to each other.” “Herman.” “I guess if you look at that way.” “Don’t try to cover for him. you would like me. you didn’t hurt me? You don’t remember what you said t o me in the hospital that night do you.Danielle kept the phone turned inside the palm of her hand hoping her father would hear the conversation taking place. and I also remember you set me up to get fired. Officer Tate.” “Yeah. I wish I shared your enthusiasm on our meeting again. Carlos really wanted to help you but you flipped on him. I remember. I get to get a few things off my chest concerning you. You were no different from the other women who wanted the Spaniard with the sexy accent and confident swagger. Carlos was not out to ruin you because you came onto me. He knew if you got to know me.” . but since you are here.” “And. Danielle? Carlos will never love you like you should be loved. Do you know what a mistake you are making. don’t worry I’m over you.” She didn’t say anything but kept her eyes on the gun hanging loosely in his hand. But. Taking on Carlos’ leftovers wasn’t worth me losing sleep. He intentionally set out to make you fall for him and make me look bad.
You have kids. You’re marrying the famous Carlos Ramos and will have multiple ivory towers to dwell in and never go broke. You are willing to be killed over something as stupid as petty revenge.” “No you didn’t thank God. And. You caused those problems and it’s up t o you to figure a way to fix them.“Why does it have to come to that.” .” “You don’t seem to be broken-hearted. It’s a blessing your aim is not very good. think about them. “Neither me or Carlos can fix that. “You’re really going to make comments like that and I’m holding a gun to your head! Are you that stupid?” “Herman.” Not showing him any compassion she said. “You wanna know why? I have nothing now. and I’m up to my neck in debt! Carlos was supposed to fix that by getting me on the map with my movie! Who is going to help me now?” She shrugged her shoulders wanting to fight the sympathy she was feeling for him. why don’t you give it up? You’re not going to walk away from here a free man. my career is finished. rubbing the tip of the gun against his forehead. Herman? Why can’t you get it through your head Carlos did nothing to you?” He paced.” He pointed the gun to her head shouting. once again—your problem.” “I guess it is easy to criticize me for what I’ve done. “Herman. My wife and kids are gone. you didn’t hurt anyone else in case you’re wondering. I’m guessing I didn’t kill him since you aren’t in tears.
“Shut up about my kids! I might not have killed Carlos but I have the next best thing that is important to him.” Sweat poured from Herman’s face.” Herman turned his head to smile.” Carlos grinned. not even your family.” Daniel and Maxwell stormed up behind him “Police! Drop the gun or the birds will be feasting on your scattered brain matter!” Daniel yelled. It’s me you want. “Si. Basically. He kept his stance and did not move the gun from Danielle’s head. Herman. He can replace his condo and other property. it will be sad to know no one mourned your loss. your fans will be devastated. you’ll still be the same failure you’ve always been only loser will now be attached to the stigma. cousin. But.” His hand shook holding the gun. he will become more popular from the thousands of fans mourning his personal loss and you’ll be known as the jerk that caused him insufferable pain. “Shoot me—you know that’s what you really want to do.” . “I said drop it! I will count to three and you better hope my friend’s happy finger can hold steady on the trigger while I count that high.” She looked him dead in the eye. Positioning the gun higher he started to fire when he heard a familiar voice. His mind was going in different directions but he knew he would not live no matter what he decided to do. and once they shoot you. but he can’t replace you. “Let Danielle go. there won’t be a retake. I’m right here for you to take. Herman could feel the heat of their burning stares hitting him square in the back. I’m not even armed.” Daniel repeated.” Carlos said limping towards him. “Say good night. Officer Tate. “Once I kill you. “You’re right he can’t.
you made him pretty mad in the restaurant the other day. And. pretty boy who always gotta have his way.” “He’s lying. do not listen to him. He could easily shoot you and call it self-defense.” Herman licked his dry lips but remained steadfast and did not lower the gun from Danielle’s head. But I could be wrong. we’re following my rules!” Herman chucked at the banter going back and forth. let me handle this! Herman and I have unresolved issues we need to address. Carlos. since you’re the only two with weapons who will believe you didn’t provoke the cop first. I’m the good guy and will see to it you get the help you need. before I get really pissed!” “Detective Tate. “Can I get you two a cup of international coffee to help entertain the moment? You with the gun! Put it down and let the lady go. “Son. This is the south. you don’t call the shots. Herman.” .“Hey!” Daniel yelled. “See. He wants you on his side. Once he disarms you.” Carlos snapped.” Carlos shook his head. even the cop thinks you are a selfish. “I don’t have time for this bullshit. they run under a different set of rules and regulation. you going to jail. He’s looking to get even because you called him an ass. “He’s trying to trick you into believing that. Herman. Ramos! I want the asshole to put the gun down or I’ll shoot him!” “Detective—I’m asking you to let me handle my family!” “This ain’t Hollywood pretty boy.
I will give you the money to pay off your debts and you can work on getting your family back. lost in his own head. I’ll even pay whatever you owe your investors.” Danielle caught the look in Carlos’ eye flash quickly. I would have arrested you that day. Her foot hit a twig snapping it.” Carlos kept repeating. “He got your message. son.” Daniel kept repeating. son. “Wha t are you going to do. falling to the ground screaming in pain. The expression on his face riddled with deep confusion. what are you going to do? I bet there is a bunch of voices roaming around in your head egging you to choose. Danielle took a step back as Herman’s distraction intensified. Listen to me. The voices echoed in Herman’s head confusing him.” Carlos moved closer. she expertly threw a kick to the center of his groin. “If I wanted to get even. his attention was inward. Herman. Which voice are you going to listen to.” “Not true. you’d better listen to me. Danielle bounced on the toes of her feet from the adrenalin rushing through her veins. I won’t press charges for anything if you let Danielle go. “Dani—cut it out. Herman?” “Drop the gun.” . Herman’s height was blocking her from him.Daniel moved to his right to get a better view of Danielle.” He yelled kneeling over Herman who had balled into a fetal position on the ground. but Herman didn’t flinch. Carlos is not trying to forgive you for trashing his condo. it’s your choice now. “Herman. He said he would make you pay. When she felt confident he had lost total concentration. Herman! Get up! I got more if that wasn’t enough!” Daniel quickly kicked the gun from Herman’s reach. Herman dropped the gun. “How’d that feel. Herman. “Yeah. and come with me.
You put yourself in a bad position if you had used that gun. He didn’t give me a chance.” she said sq ueezing him tighter. he whispered in her ear. “You have a lot of explaining to do.Danielle rushed over to Carlos hugging him tight against her. I did what I had to do to save my family. but I know you didn’t come out here looking for us and not arm yourself.” “Give me the gun. didn’t you?” She looked away from him lowering her eyes. where is the gun you took from the house?” “In the waist of my pants. Herman is not a killer. I was going on gut feeling that Herman was going to strike today. But you on the other hand. He could have killed you.” “I’m just happy you’re okay.” . I would not have been able to help you! I don’t know why you didn’t come to me for help. He wrapped his arms around her slender body feeling the emotions convulsing through her. I didn’t tell you everything because I wasn’t sure my intuition was right. I never pulled it on Herman.” “Dani. “It’s over. I will never leave my manhood exposed to you when you’re mad. surprised me. Caressing her hair. You took a weapon from the house. “I knew he wouldn’t do it. “Dad. No matter who was at fault.” “Dad.” “I understand that. it’s finally over.” Daniel tapped his daughter on the shoulder.
“Dad, this was not how I originally planned this to happen. I wanted to lure Herman to a safe place to talk. If Carlos and I could talk to him alone, I thought he
would come to his senses and we could resolve this peacefully.” You thought wrong, kiddo. A deranged person is incapable of changing his mind once his agenda has been set. You should know that.” “I know it now. I just want to close the book on this chapter and move onto the wedding and my fairytale ending.” Daniel waited for police to take Herman away before answering his daughter. “You’re lucky there will be a wedding, Dani. Both of you are lucky.” “Dad, thank you for working with Carlos; you really came through.” “Don’t thank me yet. I want you both to listen. Carlos, you are not above reproach and Dani, you cannot throw your weight around like a cop anymore. When trouble arises, call somebody qualified to handle it. Do I make myself clear?” “Yes, Dad; we hear you loud and clear.” He turned his attention to Carlos. “You were right, Car los, he is suffering from a mental break. I’m glad your plan worked and didn’t backfire. He’ll definitely spend time in a psych ward before going to jail.” Danielle shifted her eyes to her father. “What? You two planned that little bickering scene?” “Yup and I’m a pretty good actor according to your boyfriend,” Daniel said blowing on his fingertips. “He’s a good teacher.”
“Detective, I hope we can start over.” Carlos stretched out his hand. “I’m Carlos Ramos.” Daniel locked hands with Carlos. “I’m Detective Tate; but you can call me Daniel.” “Awe my two favorite men in my life are finally getting along; I love happy endings!” Danielle gushed. Carlos answered his ringing phone. “Rafael, I’m find, Danielle is fine, also. Okay, we’re returning to the clubhouse now; adiós.” Carlos drew in a deep breath. “We are supposedly in hot water.” Danielle bit her lip. “Let me guess, with my mom?” He nodded. “She is livid according to Rafael.” Daniel handed the borrowed weapon back to Maxwell after thanking him. “I’ll handle Pricilla. She knows the drill. I usually call her after a crisis is over to let her know I’m alive.”
Chapter Eleven The sun shining through the window illuminated Danielle’s bedroom. Turning over in bed, she squinted at the clock; it flashed 6:30am. It was Christmas and her wedding day. She turned on her back smiling with her heart doing flip-flops from the visual of Carlos dancing in her head. At 3:00pm, she would be marrying Carlos Ramos, the man of her dreams. Val burst through the door jumping on Danielle’s bed full of energy. “Wake up sleepy head. Time to get the beauty routine started for your big day.” Hearing the words come from someone other than her rang like music in her ears. Bouncing on her knees, she gathered Val in a hug. “Val, I hardly slept a wink last night because I’m so excited. Oh God, I have to contain myself or I will need a tranquilizer to keep from busting.” “You deserve it, Dani. You have been through a lot over the years and it’s your turn for happiness. If I weren’t pregnant I would make us some Mimosa’s to celebrate.” “Did someone call for a Mimosa,” Pricilla sang coming in the bedroom carrying a tray with three flutes filled with the tasty champagne treat. “Here you go, Val, yours is just orange juice with a strawberry floating inside.” Val frowned. “This being pregnant during special occasions sucks rocks.” Pricilla patted her cheek. “Honey, there will be plenty of holidays for you to indulge in spirits.” Danielle climbed from the bed sipping the drink. “Ladies, I’d like to make a toast.” She cleared her throat. “I know I don’t say it often, but I would not be the woman I am if it weren’t for you, Mom. You have always been my role model, my rock and there whenever I needed you. For that I salute you.” She turned to Val. “Val, we have butted heads, argued, cried, and laughed together. Girl, we have done everything
we’ll leave so you can shower and get dressed. “You’re right. First. baby. and we will have many Christmases to spend together with the baby and maybe other babies.blood sisters should do. I know the baby is probably hungry. “Awe Val. this was y our first Christmas together and you spent it apart because of me.” “Don’t fret.” Pouting her lip.” Tapping the flutes together. honey.” . Mom. Val. they drank.” Danielle said before answering her cellphone ringing on the night table. and cried.” “Merry Christmas and happy wedding day.” Danielle took her robe from the end of the bed.” Val patted her stomach that was beginning to show a small bump. For that I salute you.” She raised her glass in the air. it was for a good cause. I would have fallen apart in Cleveland if you hadn’t been there. did a group hug. I cannot find the words or express the gratitude I have in my heart for both of you. Pricilla wiped the tears from her eyes. sweetheart. “Merry Christmas.” “Okay. Danielle hugged her friend. her voice cracked when she said. too. I want to call Rafael and wish him a Merry Christmas since he stayed the night with Carlos. “We have to stop crying or we’ll have puffy eyes for the wedding. I have to ge t stirring. You kept me alive. Erica is coming at 10:00 to do my hair and we have to exchange Christmas presents. “I love you both so much. I missed you last night. I need to make breakfast for your father anyhow.” “I like your outlook. Unable to stop the tears from flowing or her lips from trembling. Val. Come with me. “I am hungry.
“I missed you too. This is the first time we’ve been apart in months. Rafael is tapping his watch. If I stay on the phone with you any longer. Carlos.” “See you at three.” “There is nothing wrong with voicing what you like but I get what you are saying.” “I’m going to go and take a nice long shower to cool off.” The long pause from the other end of the phone reflected the emotions Carlos was feeling. “After today we will never sleep apart again and I will share my blanket.” She smiled feeling the warmth spread throughout her body.” she said hanging up the phone. I better get dressed before the barber arrives. I can’t wait to be your wife. we will be engaging in a little naughty phone sex and its Christmas. Did you dream of me?” “I always dream about you. your head resting on my chest when you’re sleep and you hogging the covers leaving me to shiver on cold nights. I will be waiting anxiously at the alter counting the minutes for the minister to pronounce you my wife. “Mi amor. the love of your life and everything else that comes with being in love with the person God sent just for me. I dream of your scent. you took the word straight from my mouth. .
I’m just overwhelmed.” The organ music changed when the minister came to stand before him. Inside of the Baptist church. Carlos folded his hands together nodding at Val as she took her place with the other bridesmaids. the church was full to capacity. “Don’t be nervous. appeared. “You ready to do this?” . Rafael leaned over to him.Epilogue The church bells chimed once for the spirit of the holiday and once for the union of two souls being joined in matrimony. si?” “Si. Daniel patted her hand as he placed her arm through his. he finally answered. the traditional wedding march began to play and the guests stood to their feet.” Adjusting the bow tie on his all white tuxedo. Danielle struggled to keep the tears from falling and ruining her makeup. are you okay?” He could not take his eyes away. “You look as if you’re going to pass out. Pricilla had decorated elegantly in the gold and white theme chosen by the couple. Golden fabric graced the pews attached with bouquets of small white roses. You are marrying the woman God has chosen for you.” “It is a fabulous feeling. Spotting the familiar faces of his many celebrity and non-celebrity associates and friends. Finally. The doors opened and a vision of an angel in a flowing white gown adorned with lace and small gold beads. He winked at Carlos reassuring him. Carlos fidgeted as he stared blankly at the faces staring back at him from the pews. A large white Christmas tree decorated with gold ornaments twinkled with white lights in the distance. it is. son. “I’m not going to pass out.
Holding her hands he said. you’re very kind and generous but wait. “I love you.” After the exchange of rings. Besides being handsome and sexy. I’m honored you chose me to be your wife and blessed to have you as my husband. You’re smart. Fate appeared in the form of chickenpox that quarantined us together. Reverend Brown asked the couple to say a few words from their hearts. tough and now my wife. son. “Carlos. as well. but on the inside.” Danielle gazed into his eyes saying. Dad.” “Welcome to the family. “Danielle.” Carlos swallowed to choke his emotions.” “I love you too. your persistence and your love turned me around to believe it too. I also was not looking for love but somehow you knew we were meant for each other. her. “I’m entrusting you with my only child. You came into my life when I was not looking for love. I thank God and your parents for creating you just for me. During that time. He took Danielle’s hand and placed it in Carlos’. Now marry my daughter and give me and the wife some grandkids to spoil.” Danielle hugged her father as laughter filled the church. love her and most of all be faithful.” The slow march down the aisle ended with Carlos facing Daniel. Carlos. I didn’t think it would be possible to love you more than I already do. I get to see a side of you no one else does. “I’ve been ready a long time. Carlos went first. and I’m proud of you. I’m going to throw in stubborn. sweetheart. Dad. Protect.” . You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. saying. “I promise to do that and more. I found not only were you beautiful on the outside. But like you.She nodded. Your gentleness. sexy.
kiss your lovely bride. “I can’t believe we got married! Baby. we are married. “I hope you took your vitamins. Shortly afterwards Carlos and Danielle appeared on the doorsteps of the church to run through the shower of rice raining down upon them and into the awaiting white limousine. man and wife. Mrs. Danielle gleamed. “It is with great pleasure to present to you.With complete silence in the church. his lips captured hers giving her a kiss that would set the stage for the finale of a romantic movie. She replied. and Mrs.” “Believe it. Carlos Ramos. From here on.” Ushers standing outside the church released one-hundred white and gold balloons into the air to signify to the crowd gathered outside the marriage had taken place. pero están haciendo estas personas iglesia colorete.” he said winking. it will only be the best for us. I love you and will always love you. Rafael tapped Carlos on the shoulder and spoke in Spanish. Ramos.” . “Young man. I meant what I said in the church.” Carlos lifted Danielle’s veil before taking her into his arms to kiss her as if for the first time. Mr. passionate exchange taking place inside the house of worship.” Carlos immediately released Danielle smiling wickedly. Pricilla blushed from the steamy. Lowering his head.” He turned to Carlos. “Romper. Danielle. Daniel shook his head looking away. Carlos immediately raised the privacy window so Maxwell wouldn’t witness what was going to happen. Reverend Brown pronounced Carlos and Danielle. Brushing rice from Carlos’ hair. Inside the car. “I can’t wait until the honeymoon.
“We have a few hours before the reception. “We’re supposed to be taking pictures.” Carlos popped the cork on the champagne and filled one glass for them to take a sip.“I meant what I said. I want us to have a clean slate with no streaks. “To the hotel.” she said smiling. want to go rest for a while at the hotel?” She lifted her eyebrow. I know we still have to face Herman in court eventually but for now. “Okay. celebrities have a reputation of being late for everything. Carlos. He set the glass in the holder. or do anything concerning him. and step on it.” Danielle hesitated. I’m sure the photographer will wait.” “To my beautiful husband.” “You got it.” “Dear wife. Maxwell. “To my beautiful wife. Leaning over he kissed her tenderly on the lips before hitting the intercom and saying.” . I have never been so happy in my life. we can make them wait but only for a little while. let’s not even talk of him.” He looked at his watch. dear husband.
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