Prologue to Sequel to Skeletons in the Closet (still unnamed)

August 29, 2012  |  Fiction Addiction  |  No Comments

The working title is Everybody’s Got One but that’s not sticking with me so it will be something else. I’m going to let this book name itself :o )


I’m not sure what’s worse: That my first husband cheated on me, let the whole world know it and gave me an STD or that my second husband cheated on me with a man. A man that put me in the hospital and almost killed me. Not that it really matters which is worse. What matters is that I got played. Twice. But you know what matters the most? None of that shit will ever happen again. Fuck. Love.

I adored my second husband, Titus from the time I laid my eyes on him, but he just wouldn’t admit that he was a closet bisexual. He carried on a love affair with a man for seven years before I met him. I had my suspicions. I gave him several chances to be honest. I never would have left him if he would have simply told me the truth. But he didn’t and I couldn’t stay married to a man who didn’t trust me.

Divorced twice at the age of 26. I married my first husband, Wayne, before he was a celebrity. He was my second client. Now he’s a household name. I’m not saying that I deserve credit for his fame, because the man has Oscar-worthy talent. But I did make sure he met with all the right people so he could showcase his ability. And I’m as good at making people famous as he is at being famous. I knew he wanted to be a household name, and I helped him make it happen. I just wasn’t prepared for him to get famous and for everything to change between us. Wayne is handsome, smart, sweet, ambitious, and loving. But after he got his first big movie role, it was like he wasn’t my husband any more. He wouldn’t come home every night any more and then he gave me chlamydia. Then, to add insult to injury he allowed himself to be photographed hugging and kissing a jump-off! Within minutes, pictures of him and his whore were everywhere. That was my breaking point. It was one thing when we dealt with Wayne’s infidelities privately. It was totally different when the whole world knew about it. I made him pay for his indiscretions the only way I could. I took exactly half of everything he had, including his future earnings. Then I made sure the divorce details were released to the tabloids since Wayne thought it was so fly to publicly embarrass me.

I’ve co-owned Clean Closet Public Relations with one of my best friends, Quincy King, for seven years now. Our other best friend, Ana Christina Gonzalez, is an actress and one of our most famous clients. We’ve all been best friends since the third grade so it was natural for us to all work together. Representing Ana used to be fun and easy for me. She is a beautiful, talented actress that had a squeaky clean reputation. Some clients were hard to work with because they didn’t always tell the truth or give the information I needed. I always found myself putting out fires that I didn’t know had any potential to burn. And the bad thing is sometimes they would keep lying even after they become TMZ’s headline story. I was used to this with my other clients, but nothing prepared me for Ana to have secrets. At least, nothing prepared me for Ana to have secrets from Quincy and me.

In the past six months, Ana had become my most volatile and secretive client. She was losing control of her cocaine habit and her life. When I discovered her cocaine use, she downplayed it and I believed her. It is Hollywood and I had never had any reason to believe she was hooked on drugs. It wasn’t until she overdosed in a New York hotel room that I realized she had a real problem. Quincy and I made Ana promise us she would stop and we swore we’d give her whatever support she needed. We almost lost our friend that day. It was the scariest day of all of our lives.

I was always very protective over my friends and had been able to keep Ana’s cocaine usage out of the media. But there was a media shit storm when rumors of an Ana Christina Gonzalez sex tape surfaced. A guy had a video he was trying to sell the tabloids. One of my friends at TMZ tipped me off before any deals were reached. I didn’t believe it at first. “Not our girl,” Quincy and I said in unison when we heard. But when we talked to Ana we found out that it was “our girl”. My lawyers immediately issued a cease and desist order on the sale and distribution of the video.

The fiasco was really hard to spin in the media because Ana’s boyfriend at the time wasn’t the man in the video with her. Her sex tape co-star was David Cameron, the married, middle-aged director of the last movie she filmed. And to make matters worse, David Cameron’s wife was an executive at the movie studio over Ana’s next movie. The wife could have the film scrapped and had enough power to make sure Ana’s career never seen the light of another day. David’s wife said she would decide what to do with the movie once the issue with the sex tape was resolved because David insisted the tape was a fake. David was depending on the LA Superior Court to keep his lie a secret. Ana was depending on that same thing. Neither of them was ready for their skeletons to come out the closet.

Interview w/Nikki Rich ~ Nikki Rich Show 10/12/2011

November 2, 2011  |  Blog, Fiction Addiction  |  No Comments

This was my first internet radio interview. I come in at 31:30.

Listen to internet radio with Nikki Rich on Blog Talk Radio

Skeletons in the Closet Ad

October 5, 2011  |  Blog, Fiction Addiction  |  No Comments

What if you had a skeleton? Who would you tell?

Skeletons in the Closet ~ Chapter One

September 5, 2011  |  Fiction Addiction  |  9 Comments

It is only fitting that the first post under my Fiction Addiction category is from my Skeletons in the Closet.  Enjoy….but I promise it’ll leave you wanting more :o )



“It’s official. We broke his back!” Larissa whispered excitedly into Quincy’s ear as soon as the judge finished going over her divorce settlement. Larissa was overjoyed and now considered Judge Espinoza to be one of her new BFFs.

Her business partner and best friend, Quincy, was also happy for her and thrilled about what the judgment meant for their business. “Girl, yes we did!” he whispered back, while glancing around to be sure she was the only person to hear him.

“Thank you so much, Eva. You earned every cent of your outrageous fees,” Larissa said and hugged her attorney tightly. When she let go, she covered her eyes with designer sunglasses and turned to face Quincy, who looped his arm around hers. The pair strolled elbow-in-elbow out of the courtroom and headed straight for the exit.

“Mrs. Smith, how do you feel about the judge’s decision?” shouted one of the reporters standing in the small group swarmed around the exit.

Larissa had to tone down her joy for this one. “I’m no longer using my married name. You may address me as Larissa or Ms. Fontaine only, please.” She paused for a second and then began again. “I feel the judge made a fair and impartial decision based on the facts of the case and I’m very happy with the outcome today.” Larissa knew better than to tell the reporters how she really felt—that her lying, cheating, no-good ex-husband got everything he deserved. She had loved Wayne Smith deeply, but the bastard cheated on her. He gave her a STD and made her look and feel like a fool. Now, based on the divorce settlement, she was going to make him suffer, even if it was only through his pockets. She was walking away the winner and smiling all the way to the bank. At the moment, though, her only concern was using her very messy and very publicized divorce to catapult her business to enormous success. She knew how this town worked. She was a common source of information for just about every one of the reporters standing before her like vultures.

“Come on, Larissa. Don’t you think the judge could have been just a little biased because she’s a woman? Don’t you think your judgment was excessive?”

Larissa looked the reporter right in the eyes. She had been waiting for that question. “What I think is my ex-husband was excessive when he committed brazen and shameless adultery in broad daylight for the world to see. It was excessive when myhusband put his arms around that, that woman, and I use the term “woman” loosely,and smiled for your cameras,” Larissa pointed her finger at the reporters crowding around her. “That was excessive. My judgment was fair. It’s karma, baby. You play, you pay.”

“What do you intend to do now, Larissa?” a TMZ reporter asked.

She wondered if they had been reading her mind because the questions were perfect. “I intend to put all of my time and effort into growing and maintaining my business, Clean Closet Public Relations, which I co-own with super fashionista and image miracle worker, Quincy King.”

With that, she was satisfied with her performance. She had given the reporters just enough drama to earn her five seconds of fame in the news and gossip media and she had been able to work in a plug for her company. “Perfect,” she thought. They yelled additional questions, but she was done. “No further comment,” she said and walked away, her arm still linked at the elbow with Quincy.

Her driver was waiting at the curb with the limo door open.

“That was brilliant, diva. You nailed the victim role! Nailed it, bitch! And then turned around and plugged the company!” Quincy jumped in his seat and clapped his hands as soon as the limo door closed. “Encore, bitch! I need an encore!” They laughed the whole way to lunch.


“Divas!” Ana Christina’s high-pitched voice called out. Her long, out-stretched arms were all Larissa could see coming toward her as she walked inside Crustacean. The elegant Beverly Hills eatery was buzzing with activity.

“Diva!” Larissa and Quincy said in unison. They exchanged air kisses with Ana and then followed her back to the table where she had been waiting.

The trio met in the third grade and quickly became friends. During the first recess, Quincy King walked straight up to Larissa Fontaine as she played tetherball and hugged her. He asked her to be his friend because he didn’t have any sisters and Larissa looked so much like him that they could have legitimately been siblings. The only telling difference in their genealogy was that Larissa was shorter and Quincy was taller than the rest of the class, but they did have the same golden skin tone, brown eyes, and wild curls. Larissa didn’t resist, she was happy to have found a friend in her new class so quickly. Larissa’s tetherball opponent was Ana Christina Gonzalez. When she realized what was happening, she refused to be left out and declared herself their friend. The three friends had been inseparable ever since.

As an adult, Larissa was still petite at only 5’1”. Her café-au-lait complexion was an even blend between her mother’s milky white skin and her father’s espresso tone. Her waist-length, dark brown curls had natural blonde and red highlights, which shone in the sun. Sparkling brown, almond-shaped eyes; long, sultry eyelashes; and pouty lips made her face seem flirty regardless of her mood. And her full breasts, thin waist, round hips, and thick thighs made her look like a real-life Jessica Rabbit.

Quincy still allowed his curls to roam wildly, which was a perfect match to his personality. He had grown to be 6’1” with a slim but athletic build, which he achieved with frequent visits to the gym. His unique and attractive facial bone structure was the envy of every model he met, male or female. Quincy was so attractive that it was often difficult to decide whether to describe him as beautiful or handsome.

“So, tell me everything!” Ana had always been very impatient. Her impatience fed her Puerto-Rican accent, which was now thicker than usual. This often happened whenever she was angry or excited. Larissa noticed Ana’s long, dark hair was bone straight. She knew Ana hated it because it was the style her mother used to wear and Ana wanted to be nothing like her. Unfortunately, for her, she was the splitting image of her mother. She was slim with feminine curves, tall, standing at 5’10”, had skin that retained a natural glow and slight bronze year-round, and a set of bewitching hazel eyes. With Ana’s beauty and height her mother did everything she could to groom her into the Puerto Rican Tyra Banks. But Ana’s hips spread just enough during high school to squash any hope of her becoming a supermodel. But this didn’t stop her mother. She was determined to be the mother of a star. Instead, she shifted goals. She enrolled Ana in acting workshops and aggressively found her an agent. Ana began receiving offers almost immediately. She was currently filming a movie with a supporting role that appeared to be the transition she needed to escalate her career to larger roles and bigger budgets.

Quincy took over. “Our little diva got e-ver-ee-thing she asked for. Well, everything except Starr.”

“I didn’t want that bitch anyway. Never liked her since the day she snapped at me. I probably would’ve given her away, donated her to some kid who wanted a dog or something. That bitch only loved Wayne. She never liked me,” said Larissa with a scowl on her face about the pit bull she and her ex-husband shared during their marriage.

“Everybody was talking about this on the set, Rissa. Tell me what happened.” Ana needed information and she needed it quick.

“Well, I get our home in the Valley, so I don’t have to move. I keep my Benz and hisLambo.” She smiled because she knew he hated her for taking his car. “I get one-half of all of the cash in the bank, one-half of the securities purchased during the marriage, and one-half of what he makes from his next two movies. Therefore, the bastard loses and I win,” she said with a snicker.

Ana Christina’s eyes were bulging out her head. “Now see, that’s why you never sign a prenup. These fools think they can do whatever in the hell they want. Embarrass us and make us look like fools while they run around with these hos like dogs with the pink thing hanging out. Hell no. But, Rissa, just think about what you would have gotten if you woulda’ dropped a Wayne junior or a Wayne-ina. Girl, you would never have to work again with child support.”

“Girl, please. I would have had to work every day to not kill his trifling ass. This way ismuch better. I’m only twenty-five, so I have plenty of time to have babies with my nexthusband. So, anyway, what’s up with your movie?”

Ana loved to talk about herself and started rambling on about the movie she was filming. Larissa removed her sunglasses and scanned the room as Ana spoke. As she looked around, she locked eyes with a dark, sexy stranger. She held her gaze for a second longer than what would have been considered casual and then reluctantly shifted her attention to continue scanning the rest of the room. She quickly identified five potential clients she wanted to drop business cards off with before she left the restaurant. She wasn’t sure who the handsome stranger was, but she guessed by his build and stature that he had been a football player at one point in his life. She wanted to steal another peek at him but decided not to, just in case he was looking, too. Just then, the server came over, made small talk, and took their orders. Once their meals arrived, Larissa picked through her food, hardly participating in the Hollywood rumor mill conversation. Her mind was preoccupied with work and obtaining new clients. Finally giving up the game, she was playing with her garlic noodles, Larissa excused herself to the ladies’ room, stopping by a couple tables to leave business cards.

She stepped out of the restroom and before she knew what was happening, she had walked smack into the sexy stranger and fell flat on her butt.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his words coming through chuckles.

“I’m fine,” Larissa said. She was embarrassed, but she shook it off and reached for the stranger’s outstretched hand.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you coming, little lady.”

“Oh, first you knock me down and now you got short jokes?”

“It wasn’t really a short joke, but how tall are you, Miss?”

“Five-foot-one,” Larissa said her voice full of confidence.

He laughed again and she noticed how handsome his face was when he smiled. “Titus Anthony,” he said and stuck his hand out again, this time for her to shake it and she obliged him. The attraction was thick. She felt it in their handshake, and it filled the air making the interaction slightly awkward. She could barely concentrate enough to reach inside her purse for a business card.

After she handed him her card, he read aloud, “Clean Closet Public Relations. Larissa Fontaine.”

She assumed the expression on his face meant he had heard about the fiasco surrounding her divorce, including Wayne’s public display of disrespect and cheating and not-to-mention TMZ was already reporting on the terms of the settlement.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Anthony,” she said with her hand still resting in his. She almost got lost looking him in his eyes, but quickly composed herself, took her hand back, and said, “So, umm, I handle publicity and PR, and my business partner is a miracle stylist. Together, we can create or inflate any image for anyone, and anyone could include you.” Larissa combined her words with a seductive smile and tone.

“Are you trying to tell me something?” Titus asked, looking down at himself.

“No, you look great, but you could always be better. Give me a call. I can show you better than I can tell you.”

“Is that right?” he asked, licking his lips. “I’ll be giving you a call…soon.”

“I hope so. I’d definitely like to do business with you.”

He flashed another beautiful smile and held his hand out. “After you.”

She smiled back and thought, “He needs to do toothpaste commercials with that damn smile.” She sauntered back to the table, sat down, re-covered her eyes with her shades, and resumed picking at her garlic noodles as though nothing had happened.

“Okay, wait, bitch. You walked back from the bathroom right in front of that sexy Adonis?” Quincy said and pointed directly at Titus. “Please tell me you didn’t just let him pass you without exchanging information.” Quincy almost drooled, watching Titus leave the restaurant behind a tall, blonde, slender man.

A wide smile appeared across Larissa’s face. “I gave him my business card. He’s potentially a client.”

Quincy and Ana looked at each other, then back at Larissa, and then they all burst into laughter.

“Bitch, please,” Ana, blurted. “You’re so full of shit right now. You walked back over here looking like you won the lottery. Oh wait, you did win the lottery this morning!” They all laughed but Ana continued the questioning, noticing the guilty smile plastered across Larissa’s face. “What aren’t you telling us? You know you want him. Hell, Ialmost want him. He’s fine as hell.”

“He is fine as hell, but that doesn’t mean I want him. He looks like a football player and I’ll pass on athletes, even athletes who look like him. I don’t need your problems,” she said, directing her statement at Ana.

“He looks like an athlete because he is one. That’s Titus Anthony. He plays with Brandon. I can get the scoop on him for you if you want. Oh, and for your information, I haven’t had any problems with Brandon lately.”

“Yeah, do that because if he does call me to represent him, I’ll need to know what kind of image he has. I haven’t really heard much about him around L. A.,” Larissa said, acting like she wasn’t interested in Titus and ignoring the statement about Ana’s dog of a boyfriend, Brandon. Ana had caught Brandon cheating more times than Larissa cared to recall. The fact that she had not caught him recently did not mean he was not cheating. It just meant she had not caught him cheating recently.

“You want me to get the scoop so you’ll know about his image? Yeah, okay, Rissa,” Ana said sarcastically.

“He’s sexy, but all of that sexiness will not keep Larissa Fontaine paid and sane and that’s all Larissa Fontaine is worried about. All he’ll probably do is get me all caught up with a broken heart and a wet ass. No thanks. But while we’re on the subject, how isyour man?”

Ana’s face lit up. “He’s doing so good. He’s starting again this year. My movie is supposed to wrap the same week his training camp is over and I’m gonna go stay with him for the season so I’m probably not gonna take any long jobs until the season is over.”

Quincy almost spit out his lemonade and then choked on it when he tried to swallow. “You’re doing what?” he managed to ask between coughs.

“Well, he and I were talking about it last week and he said he wants to spend more time with me so we won’t have the same problems we had in the past because of the distance. If I’m there with him, then he won’t get lonely and be distracted,” Ana beamed. “So, you need to go ahead and talk to Titus so you can be in San Diego with me.”

They all knew the distractions she mentioned were other women and Brandon’s cheating problem would not be resolved by Ana putting her career on hold. During previous seasons, Ana had spent at least a few days of each week with him because he was only a two-hour drive from LA. He played for the San Diego Marauders and Ana had always had a flexible schedule with lots of down time.

“Girl, please,” she said, dismissing Ana’s comment and turned to Quincy. “Before I forget, we need to get some shopping knocked out. Ana, what are you doing for the rest of the day?” Larissa was focused on building her career, unlike Ana who always had her man on the brain.

“I’m really supposed to be on the set right now, but I’m not scheduled to be in another scene until tonight so that’s where I’ll be.”

Larissa paid for lunch and they walked to the front of the restaurant. A few paparazzi snapped pictures as Larissa and Quincy gave Ana air kisses good-bye. Larissa and Quincy did personal and business shopping for the rest of the day together. When they were done, they collapsed in their limo and both slept until the driver pulled into the driveway of her home in the San Fernando Valley.

Quincy yawned as he stepped out of the limo. “Man, it’s been a long day. Is it okay if I crash in a guest room?” He already knew it would be okay but went through the formalities anyway.

“Quincy, mi casa, and I do mean mi casa,” Larissa said with a laugh, “es su casa, mi amor.”

“I know, I was just making sure you weren’t gonna go diva on me, though.” Quincy was playing, but he knew sometimes money changed people and Larissa had her own money now and lots of it.

“Hold up, Q. I’ve known you too long for you to play me with that diva shit. We’re familia. Hell, I should marry your ass because you’re not going any damn where. Ever. Where I go, you go. At least you better, damn it. Next time, don’t ask. Just take your ass to bed. Matter of fact, this is my shit. Pick a room.” Larissa would never choose to live her life without Quincy.  “Now, good night. Hell, I’m tired.”

Minutes later Larissa lay her head comfortably on her pillow. The next thing she knew she was dreaming until she heard a sound. Half-awake, she realized it was her phone and rolled over to answer it.

“Hello?” she said drowsily, without looking at the caller ID.

“I bet your breath is hot and sticky right now,” said a strange voice, followed by a very sexy laugh. She stared blankly at the phone’s caller ID, which only indicated that the call was coming from an 818 area code.

“Excuse me?” she asked with attitude while checking the time. The clock read 7:12 A.M. Before the stranger could answer, she had another question for him, “Wait, who is this?” She was slightly annoyed already because she hated to be awakened and hated it even more when she was in the middle of a dream.

“Titus Anthony,” the stranger said without offering any other information.

Larissa quickly searched her memory bank because she was caught totally off guard by this call from a stranger who obviously expected her to know his name.

When the light bulb in her head lit up, she cleared her throat. “Mr. Anthony, I see you’re an early bird.”

“My grandfather used to say the early bird gets the worm.” His voice sounded like sex coming through the phone.

It’s too damn early for me to start thinking about how sexy this man is,” she thought. “So, how can I help you this morning?”

“You tell me. You’re the one who said you could ‘create or inflate’ my image,” Titus teased.

Larissa sat up. “Let’s meet and discuss what type of end result you’re looking to achieve, what type of person you are, etcetera. Will you hold for a second so I can check my schedule?” Larissa pulled up the calendar in her phone. “No appointments today? How’d that happen?” She usually had at least one thing scheduled. She placed the phone back to her ear and said, “How does lunch today sound?”

“It sounds like I have a lunch date. What side of town are you on?”

“Whatever side of town you’ll be on at 12:30.”

“Well, since it’s up to me, let’s meet at the same place I met you yesterday. That’s my favorite lunch spot.”

“Okay, Crustacean it is twelve-thirty. See you then.”

“Okay, see you later.”

“Bye,” Larissa said before pressing the END button. She climbed out of bed and got ready to start a new day, her first official day being divorced. Next, she sat on the chaise lounge in her bedroom, with her laptop, and checked her email and calendar. “Wide open for the next three days? What the hell is going on?” She set the laptop aside just as Quincy knocked on her door.

“Diva? You up?” Quincy called.

“Yup, come in.” She watched Quincy sashay into the room and she asked, “What are your plans for the day?”

“I have a meeting with a designer at eleven, a meeting with Kevin at one and then I’ll probably do some shopping. How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I’m good, relieved. The fight is over. The divorce is official. I got what I wanted and a little revenge, so now I can move on.” She stepped into her closet to look for something to wear. “I only have one appointment set for today with a potential new client.”

“Really? Who?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Larissa said, hoping Quincy wouldn’t ask any more questions, but she knew he would.


“Titus Anthony.”


“The Adonis from lunch yesterday,” Larissa said nonchalantly.


Quincy suddenly appeared in the doorway of the closet. Larissa acted like she didn’t see him standing there.

“When did you arrange this meeting?” Quincy asked in full interrogation mode.

“Dang, Q. This morning. Why? It’s not a big deal. He called and wanted an appointment and I don’t have anything on my schedule, even though I coulda’ sworn I did. So we have a lunch meeting today at Crustacean.”

“Ok, what are you gonna to wear?”

“I think it’s supposed to be hot today so probably this top,” she pulled out a royal blue, short-sleeved, asymmetrical top that bared her left shoulder, and fit loosely except that it hugged her hips. “These dark jeans, because they make my ass look fat and they’ll make the shirt pop with these heels,” she said and grabbed a pair of five-inch, zebra print heels that had red, blue and yellow accents. She also grabbed a white shoulder bag and then laid the entire outfit on the bed.

Quincy nodded. “I approve. Accessorize with these and you’ll be fine,” he said as he handed her a pair of sunglasses, a large pair of white gold and diamond hoop earrings, and a white gold cuff for her wrist.

“You approve?” Larissa laughed in amusement. “Well, get out, Mr. Approval, so I can get showered and outta here. I probably should stop by a few of our vendor shops just to show my face before and after this lunch meeting. I can’t let this meeting be my only business for the day.”

“No. The only business you’re allowed to do today is this meeting and that’s only because I couldn’t stop you. Did you think your calendar was clear today by coincidence? You have a spa appointment at 2:00 for a full body massage and some pampering.”

Quincy had witnessed firsthand the toll the divorce had taken on Larissa. Although she played the strong role, he knew she needed to rest and recuperate, emotionally and physically. He put his hand on his hip and gave her the look. Larissa knew the look well, so she didn’t even try to argue.

“Okay, okay. That would actually be a good thing. I’ll be there.” Larissa gave Quincy a quick hug before he turned and left her room.

Larissa arrived at Crustacean about ten minutes ahead of schedule. After she had been seated and the server brought over some water. She looked at her watch, which read 12:38. She looked at her phone. “No missed calls.” She was a stickler for punctuality. In her mind, wasted time meant wasted money and her tolerance for both was low. When she looked up from her phone, Titus was standing in front of the table. “Sorry I’m late. You know traffic can be unpredictable around here,” he said, taking a seat. Larissa watched as he reached for his napkin and placed it on his lap.

“So, other than the unpredictability of the never-ending traffic in this area, how has your day been?” Larissa used a light tone and added a friendly smile to soften her sarcasm.

“It’s been going pretty well, but I’m hoping it’s about to get better,” Titus said and leaned forward to appear attentive. “I’m glad we could have lunch on such short notice.”

Larissa smiled at his charm. “So tell me a little about yourself. Include your profession, age, where you’re from, and anything else you want me to know.” She picked up her pad and pen from the table.

“Okay, look, I want you to help me with my image, but to be honest, I asked you to lunch because I’m interested in knowing you on a personal level,” Titus said.

Larissa placed the pen on the table. She allowed the tone in her voice and the expression on her face to relay the irritation she felt.

“I’m not here for games…,” she began, but Titus cut her off mid-sentence.

“This isn’t a game. I wanna do business with you, but yesterday isn’t the first time I’ve seen you. I saw you before, with your husband, uhh, I mean ex-husband. I watched the way he moved around you and all I could think was that he didn’t deserve you. I could tell he wasn’t about you and I could tell you two weren’t happy. When I saw you again yesterday, I had to meet you. That’s the only reason I went to the bathroom.”

“I guess I’m flattered, but I don’t mix business with pleasure. Plus, my divorce was just finalized yesterday. What makes you think I want to deal with anyone on a personal level?” Larissa’s voice rose as she spoke to ensure he understood. She was interested in Titus on a personal level, but she wasn’t interested in someone playing with the time she had allotted for making money. She wanted to be taken seriously in the entertainment industry as a businesswoman and strived to be wildly successful in her own right. She did not want to be labeled, “Wayne Smith’s ex-wife”. She and Wayne married when they were both 20 years old. And although he began earning millions as an actor the year after they were married, she continued with college until she earned her degree and then started her own company so she would have her own money. Her ambition stemmed from watching her mother during her childhood. When she was seven years old, her parents divorced and her father moved away from Los Angeles, back to his hometown in Louisiana. Her mother struggled to work and attend school to become a registered nurse. Even after she finished school, they did not always have enough money for a comfortable lifestyle. They always just had “enough”. She wanted something different for herself.

Titus held up his hand to stop her. “Let’s temporarily put getting to know each other on a personal level on the shelf and only handle business. We’ll talk about what else I have in mind for us later, when you get more comfortable.”

“Good, let’s get down to business. So tell me about yourself,” Larissa said. She picked up her pen and was ready to take notes while he spoke.

“I’m a linebacker for the San Diego Marauders. I’m twenty-five years old from Birmingham, Alabama. I lived there until I was nine with my parents and then we moved here to L.A. I went to Washington University, but I didn’t graduate. I left school a year early for the draft, and didn’t get drafted as high as I should have because of my hatin’-ass coaches. My last season ended early because of a back injury. But I’m strong now. What else do you wanna know?”

“Forgive me for not doing my homework on such short notice. I would have liked to see what type of image I was working with before I met with you, but I was anxious to get started today because my schedule was open,” Larissa said and then took a sip of water as the server approached the table and took their orders. After ordering, she continued the interview. “Tell me about your family. How much are they involved in your life and career? What is it that you want to do with your career and life? What would you ideally want me to do for you?”

“My parents are still married and very involved in both my life and career. I have a younger sister and we are all very close. My goal is to become recognizable. People don’t recognize my name like I want at this point. I have three seasons under my belt. My rookie season, I got limited play because I was a rookie. My second season was great. I started the second half of the season and I finished really well. Last season I was starting again and it would have been better than my second season, but then I slipped a disc in my back during the fifth game and my season was over. I’m about to start the last year in my contract. The team decided to low-tender me after last year, so I have a lot to prove this season to make sure this next contract is everything I want it to be.” Titus paused, took a sip of water, and then continued. “My agent helps to make sure I go to charity events and autograph signings and other league events, but I need to be at more celebrity functions so that my name is more heavily circulated and creates a buzz. I did my homework on you. I see that you’ve handled some big events for some big stars and I also, see that your name is getting out there a little more because of your divorce. You have contacts around Hollywood that could help me be more well known, and that’s what I’m looking for. The more I’m talked about in a positive light by the public, the more the team will see me as an asset. When my football career is over, I want to get involved in entertainment and acting. I also have a men’s clothing line launching in the spring and I want to make sure it’s successful. My name recognition is important for the success of my future endeavors and that’s where you come in.”

“Well, I’m impressed. You’re very articulate and seem at least fairly intelligent. I can tell this was actually well thought out. Is there anything else you want me to know?”

Titus rubbed his goatee and stared as if he was in deep thought. “You are absolutely gorgeous.”

Larissa couldn’t stop herself from smiling widely. “So, I guess you’re persistent also?”

“That’s how I got this far. I never give up. I always have to win.”

Just then, the server came and placed their food in front of them. “Is there anything else I can get for you? Fresh pepper?” the server asked.

“No thanks,” Titus and Larissa said in unison. The rest of lunch was filled with light chatter about the weather and sports, anything except the fact you could cut the sexual tension between them with a knife.