Seduced by Mr. Right(4)

By: Pamela Yaye

“Man, do it,” Antwan implored. “That’s a hundred grand for an hour of your time, and they’re willing to interview you here at the house. That’s a sweet deal.”

Emilio stood his ground. “Tell Italia Sports I said thanks, but no thanks.”

“Are you attending the Exotic Car Show in Miami on Memorial Day weekend, or is that out of the question, too?”

“Maybe next year.”

Antwan nodded, said he understood, but he looked sadder than a kid who’d lost his lunch money on the playground. A terse, awkward silence ensued. To break the tension, Emilio clapped his friend on the shoulder and said, “Let me get you a drink.” He stood, dropped the remote control on the couch and strode purposely across the living room. After entering the bar, Emilio opened the fridge, grabbed two beers and unscrewed the tab from one.

“You hung up more pictures of Lucca,” Antwan said, glancing around the room.

“Yeah, I found them on my old BlackBerry device and printed them off.”

“You’ve made this place your own personal shrine to him.”

Ignoring the dig, Emilio admired the picture prominently displayed on the fireplace mantel. It had been taken the day of Lucca’s preschool graduation, and every time his gaze landed on the photograph he felt an overwhelming sense of pride...and guilt. His nephew had been on cloud nine that day, and even after all these years he could still hear Lucca’s laughter as they ran around the jungle gym playing tag.

“Are you going to the cemetery this afternoon with Francesca to release balloons?”

Emilio nodded. “Yes, I’m going to pick her up at two o’clock—”

The telephone rang, and a long-distance number flashed on the TV screen. It was his cousin Rafael calling from Washington, DC, and although they hadn’t spoken in months, Emilio didn’t answer the phone. Francesca loved family gossip and had told him just yesterday about the birth of Rafael’s first child—a baby girl named Violet—with his wife, Paris St. Clair-Morretti. The news still boggled his mind. His cousins Demetri, Nicco and Rafael had found true love and were completely devoted to their partners. And according to Francesca, Nicco and his wife, Jariah, were expecting, and Demetri was planning the wedding of the century with his fiancée, Angela Kelly. I hope my invitation gets lost in the mail, because there’s no way in hell I’m going to Demetri’s over-the-top wedding.

“The guys are meeting at Halftime Bar on Friday night to celebrate Jamieson’s promotion.” Antwan sat down on a stool, grabbed one of the beers and took a swig. “You promised you’d be there, so don’t even think about flaking on us.”

Antwan’s concerns were valid. Emilio often broke plans at the last minute, and it had earned him a reputation for being a mood killer. Going out in public made him nervous, and on the rare occasions that he met up with his golf buddies, he always regretted it. Gold diggers flocked to him in droves, and the more he spurned their advances, the more aggressive they were. “I’ll come, but I can’t stay long.”

“Why? Got a hot date with Ginger?”

“Man, please, she’s ten years my junior. And she’s my sister’s best friend.”

“I know,” Antwan said with a sly wink. “But you like curvy women, and that girl has booty for days!”

Yeah, and a thirst for wealth and stardom that could rival a reality TV star! Emilio wasn’t interested in the British nanny, and every time she dropped by his estate unannounced, he ordered his butler to send her away. Francesca was determined to hook them up, but Emilio was even more determined to keep his distance. Ginger was nipping at his heels for one reason and one reason only: to get her hands on his fortune. But Emilio wasn’t having it. He hadn’t been intimate with anyone since his nephew’s death, and he’d rather watch home videos of Lucca than hook up with his sister’s pushy roommate. “I’ll be there.”

“You better, or I’ll drive back out here and kick your ass.”

“I thought you were a lover, not a fighter?” Emilio joked.

“You know it!” Antwan popped his shirt collar. “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”

Chuckling, the men bumped fists and bottles. Emilio couldn’t remember the last time he’d laughed, and it felt good to crack a joke with Antwan. His reprieve didn’t last long, though. His mind wandered, filled up again with thoughts and images of Lucca, and his good mood fizzled. What am I doing? I shouldn’t be yukking it up. My nephew died, and it’s my fault.

The doorbell rang, and Antwan jumped to his feet as if his bar stool were on fire.

Also By Pamela Yaye

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