The Romantic on The Romance Reviews

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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Romantic Available in Paperback!

Order your copy, today and introduce your friends and family to The Romantic, and the love of his life.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Secret of Heaven...section 5...

When Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca had met Sariel in a dream, the first light of dawn peered through the window.
“Lucifer walks among you.” The angel had warned.
The bishop’s gaze fell on the shores of a strange land. A sea of corpses lay scattered about, and the ocean’s swirling waters ran red with blood. The stench of death rose with the tropical heat, and a mysterious figure lingered among the dead.
“He gathers their souls.” Sariel whispered.
“What would you have me do?” The bishop asked, but he could not hear the sound of his own voice.
“God’s will.” Said the angel.
“What is the will of the Lord?” The bishop watched as the Seducer of Souls hovered from one corpse to the next.
“Send warriors in the service of the Lord, armed with sword and scripture, to eradicate the evil in the hearts of savages. It is the only way to save them from eternal damnation, and to locate the secret of Heaven.”
When the bishop woke, he walked over to the window of his bedchamber and gazed at the sky. Though he had organized a series of voyages to the New World, none had procured the location of the Chamber of Spirits.
With Cristoforo Colombo no longer opposing his efforts, however the bishop felt certain that their fortunes would change. After his meal, the palace sentries found him in the cathedral. They escorted a messenger to where the bishop knelt beneath a statue of the Christ above the altar.
After he concluded his prayer, he turned to the messenger and took hold of the scroll he had been sent to deliver. Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca dismissed him with a wave of his hand and read the missive with great interest. His voyagers had not managed to find the Chamber of Spirits, nor had they been able to secure the assistance of the natives to journey through the jungles.
Furthermore, they had confirmed the rumors that Cristoforo Colombo had returned to the New World in search of hidden treasure, and had befriended los Indios he had known from his previous expeditions. Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca’s eyes swirled with the poison of rage, and he stormed out of the cathedral with the fires of Hell ignited in his heart.
He needed unequivocal access to the land across the sea. It was the only way to prevent Lucifer from winning his war against God. The savages needed to be eliminated, and their evil religions needed to be eradicated from the histories of the world. Only one man possessed the fortitude to accomplish this mission.
The bishop summoned him to the palace to appear before Queen Isabella de Castile. They would promise the young man favor in the eyes of God, and an illustrious career in the service of the Crown.
“Send him in.” The queen commanded.
He entered the Golden Hall of the Catholic Monarchs. Despite being born to a family of lesser nobility, he carried himself with dignity. When he knelt before the queen, he confidently introduced himself in a loud and clear voice.
“Are you prepared to do God’s work in the service of the Crown?” Queen Isabella de Castile asked.
“Anything for the glory of the Lord.” The young man said.
After the queen dismissed him, the bishop begged the queen’s leave to speak with him in private. Isabella nodded. Her trust in Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca had been absolute.
Juan Rodriguez approached the young man and invited him to the Bishop’s Palace to discuss his mission in greater detail. The bishop warned him of the challenges he might face, including the presence of Cristoforo Colombo and his alliance with the savages.
The young man vowed to let nothing prevent him from accomplishing his mission. The bishop reminded him that there was more at stake than gold and personal ambitions.
“Indeed there is, but how likely is any man to succeed without some measure of personal incentive.”
“Fair enough.” Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca said. “Would you care to share your personal incentive?”
The young man turned to the bishop with a wicked a smile and said, “When history remembers my deeds, it will be because my name will echo through the ages.”
 Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca studied him momentarily. Though he detested vanity and pride, he felt certain that he had selected the right man to find the secret of Heaven.
He offered a silent prayer, May God have mercy on your soul, Hernán Cortés.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Secret of Heaven...section 4...

For months they journeyed across the great sea. Planning and re-planning their route, never satisfied with the direction they took.
They followed the sun and charted the stars. The ebb and flow of the ocean enchanted them by day. The black, liquid mirror haunted them at night. Soon they no longer cared about the bishop and his intrigues, for they knew that eventually those worthy of His grace would complete God’s work.
As for their immortality, they felt it would only be secured by more prodigious feats than they were prepared to accomplish, and not from a fountain that spewed some magical elixir.
None had been more certain of this than Asif al-Khidr. He studied the night sky with great interest during their voyage. As the different phases of the moon had passed, he took notes and made precise calculations of the lunar cycle. Immersing himself in his books had been the only way that Asif could distract himself from his pensiveness.
The bishop, patient and secure in Spain, had rid himself of them without much effort, and the reminder of that jarred them from their hopelessness. When, at long last, the three of them solved the conundrum of their endless travels, it was too late for they had been caught in a storm. Though they survived, much of the crew was lost and their ship sustained extensive damage. Colombo soon realized that they were stranded on an island he had visited before.
Assisted by a Spaniard and some natives, the three men found shelter before the Spaniard and the natives paddled a canoe to Hispaniola for assistance. When the governor, Nicolás de Ovando, learned of Colombo’s presence on the neighboring island, he obstructed every effort to rescue him, because he detested Cristoforo, and knew of his fall from grace in Spain.
With their financial resources exhausted, Cristoforo Colombo turned to Asif al-Khidr for assistance. “We need to convince them to provide us with provisions or we will die of thirst or starvation!”
When Asif asked how he could be of service, Amerigo suggested that the young Muslim draw upon his extensive knowledge of the sciences to impress the natives. At first, he could think of nothing, but then he remembered the moon and the stars and the secrets of Heaven.
After he explained to Cristoforo Colombo the phases of the moon, the explorer met with the leader of the tribe. Cristoforo told the Cacique that his God was not pleased with the natives for withholding food and water from Colombo and his friends. He warned the Cacique that the Christian God would cover the moon in blood as a sign of His wrath if they did not continue to provide them with food and water.
When the lunar eclipse appeared as foretold, the natives begged their forgiveness, and provided them with provisions until their departure from the island a few months later.
They continued their journey to the New World, in search of the mainland where the secret of Heaven remained hidden. With no more gold, and only enough food and water to reach the shore, the three men pursued destiny. They were followed by the shadow that had once stalked the Seducer of Souls.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Secret of Heaven...section 3...

Decades before Cristoforo Colombo had set sail from Spain, bound for the East, by sailing west, Asif al-Khidr had known of the adventures and voyages of heroes in ancient times. From the exploits of Odysseus to the Alexander Romance, tales of forbidden lands and mythical creatures had captured his imagination. As the son of an alchemist, the prospect of journeying in search of wonders had merely been a fantasy.
Then fate intervened.
When the Crown of Castile ordered Muslims in Spain to convert to Catholicism, many had sought passage out of the Iberian Peninsula. Those who could not secure safe passage, due to health or lack of financial resources were forcibly converted, and came to be known as the Moriscos. Among them was Asif’s father, Tariq al-Khidr.
In the twilight of his life, Tariq al-Khidr knew that his failing health prevented him from surviving any voyage. He preferred to die a Muslim on the land where he had been born, rather than to suffer the fate of the sea.
For his son, however he wanted a greater destiny. The chance to see this come to fruition presented itself when the Seducer of Souls came to him in a dream. He promised Tariq that Asif’s journey would be in the service of God.
“You lie!” Tariq said. He recognized the Seducer of Souls as Ilblis.
“I cannot lie.” Ilblis replied. “I am an angel. I am His servant. And everything I do is for the kingdom of Heaven, and the glory of God.”
Tariq refused to believe him until he asked why the Seducer of Souls wanted his son. It was then that Ilblis first spoke of Cristoforo Colombo and Amerigo Vespucci, and their clandestine journey to the New World. He revealed their plan to thwart the Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, who had convinced Queen Isabella de Castile to persecute the Believers.
“What role will Asif play in this endeavor?”
“Everything he has learned in your home about faith and alchemy and legend will serve to aide the explorers.”
“To what end?” Tariq al-Khidr asked.
“To protect the secret of Heaven.”
Tariq al-Khidr woke with a start at dawn. He roused Asif, and together they sought the Italians that Ilblis had mentioned in his dream. They found them at the port as they loaded their ships. Tariq offered them all the gold he possessed to secure his son’s passage.
But gold they did not need, for Amerigo Vespucci had wealth as the head of the most powerful bank in Europe. Tariq asked them to employ Asif so that he may earn his passage, as he was well versed in cartography and navigation and knew the workings of a ship. They had no use for Asif in that regard either, since they were experts in those fields as well.
Dejected, Tariq al-Khidr turned to his son and lowered his eyes. “Come, let us see what fate awaits us at the edge of a sword.”
“Wait.” Cristoforo Colombo stepped off the ship. “What is your trade?”
“Alchemy.” Asif al-Khidr replied.
Cristoforo Colombo smiled. “What do you know of the Philosopher’s Stone?”
“It is an allegory that represents the purification of the human body and soul.” Asif al-Khidr said.
“Then it does not exist?” Cristoforo asked.
“Not in the form that you think.” Asif stepped forward.
“Enlighten us.” Amerigo interjected.
“The stone itself represents the human body. The philosopher represents the soul. Immortality is achieved when a man bathes in and consumes the elixir of life.”
“And where does one find the elixir of life?” Cristoforo Colombo asked.
“It is the water that flows from the river of the underworld and sprouts from a spring in the undiscovered country.” Asif al-Khidr said.
“Do you know where that is?” Amerigo Vespucci could not resist asking.
“Aye,” Asif nodded.
Satisfied with his reply, Amerigo Vespucci and Cristoforo Colombo invited Asif al-Khidr to join them on their journey to the New World. Whereas greed and ambition had fueled the hearts of other men, dreams of immortality and adventure propelled these three on a mission from God.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Secret of Heaven...section 2...

The port was sighted at dawn. Some crewmen had emerged from the bowels of the ship and saw it materialize out of the mist. When the ship docked, the mariners clambered to perform their duties as they fought against the grogginess of sleep.
A group of soldiers climbed aboard and immediately took hold of the prisoner. Weary from the journey, his wrists and ankles bled from the shackles, but Cristoforo Colombo made every effort to remain upright. They escorted him to the Bishop’s Palace where Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca waited to interrogate him.
Before turning him over to the queen, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca questioned Cristoforo Colombo about interfering with God’s work. When the bishop had learned from the Children of Heaven that they could not locate the Chamber of Spirits, he had enlisted good Christians to assist in their endeavor. After Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca had convinced the queen to break her agreement with Cristoforo Colombo, the subsequent voyages of other captains had sailed under his orders.
But when they arrived in the New World, their actions were met with opposition. During the inquisition, Cristoforo Colombo contended that voyages to distant lands were to spread the word of God, not to kill in His name. The enraged bishop used his influence over the Spanish crown to strip Cristoforo, and his heirs, of the titles and claims they were due.
After initial victories in litigation, Cristoforo Colombo had fallen from grace. Queen Isabella had ordered that no Spanish gold be utilized to fund his expeditions, and by order of the Holy Office, he be labeled an enemy of the Church.
And so it came to pass that when Cristoforo Colombo’s legacy lingered on the edge of oblivion, an unlikely ally found him hiding in the shadows of society. He haled from the land of Colombo’s father.  He introduced himself as Amerigo, the third son of Anastasio Vespucci.
Amerigo, in the employ of the House of Medici of Florence, arrived in Spain with Donato Niccolini to investigate the suspicious dealings of the Medici Branch in the port city of Cadiz, Spain. They had discovered that the intrigues of Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca threatened to bury the secret of Heaven.
“Accompany me on an expedition to the New World, and let us reveal the bishop’s true motives.” Amerigo Vespucci whispered.
“In case you haven’t noticed, voyages cost money and require a ship. Of which I have neither.” Cristoforo Colombo replied.
Amerigo Vespucci dismissed Colombo’s concern, since the Florentine was more than a merchant and an explorer, but had also been a financier. And so it was that the two explorers prepared to embark on a journey across the ocean to a land that harbored the secret of Heaven, and where destiny waited to forge their legacies.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Secret of Heaven...intro...

Legend holds that when the Seducer of Souls arrived on the shores of the New World, he had been followed by a shadow that cursed the gods, and stained the souls of men.
In the Age of Discovery, explorers sought wealth and power for their kings. They had brought with them their languages, their customs, their diseases, and their faith. A plague that later decimated the natives In Nomine Dei, and cast a shroud of secrets and corruption over the world of men.
They could be seen from the beaches when their vessels appeared on the horizon. The shadow of a storm that crept across the ocean like an omen of death, for the natives did not understand what was coming and what lay hidden in the land of their ancestors.
The ambitious Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca had convinced the Crown of Castile to commission voyages into the New World in search of gold. But what he sought proved far more valuable to the Holy Office than the greed of men. After years of expedition it had been established that the rumors of the Treasure of Heaven were true, and the labyrinth known as The Chamber of Spirits lied waiting to be discovered.
The shadow that pursued the Seducer of Souls had assured the bishop that he was doing God’s work. He was the angel Sariel, and charged with saving the souls of the dead from the Adversary of Heaven. Now, as the slain fell to the explorers, their bodies cast into pits of fire, the Seducer gathered the souls of those who had not been deceived by the agents of the Cross.
Every day fewer souls remained and more had been convinced to accept a prophet as a god. However, as it had been previously agreed, the former turned out to be the worthy ones and the latter would envy them for eternity.
When the Seducer of Souls arrived in the New World, he found a child—too young to tell his tale—had been left as the last of his tribe. The Fallen Angel cared for him, and reared him in secret, and when he came of age he appointed him as gatekeeper of the Chamber of Spirits.
Over the years they called to him, the Children of Heaven. First Sariel, the shadow that followed the Seducer of Souls; their voices echoed in his dreams. “For God and Heaven, tell us where it is!”
The boy divulged nothing. For he understood that evil had crept into Heaven, and the Message of God had been lost again.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Romantic on Authonomy from HarperCollins

Plenty of praise and support for The Romantic, a love story on Authonomy from HarperCollins. Holding steady @ #2 on the Weekly Top Rated books!

Please feel free to stop by, offer your feedback and support as I try to make it to the editor's desk.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Writers Helping Writers

I have spent the better part of the past few weeks revising and establishing my presence on the website for writers, Authonomy by Harper Collins.

I invite you to join, share your stories and offer your feedback.

I have uploaded two of my novels, a contemporary romance, The Romantic...and a historical fantasy, Numinous Universe: The Amulet of Alamin.

Look forward to connecting with you there!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Authonomy from Harper Collins

Please join me, and other aspiring (and established) writers at Authonomy from Harper Collins.

We share our manuscripts with other writers, who offer feedback and encouragement in our efforts to realize our dreams.

You may read both of my stories and offer feedback…


…share the link with a literary agent whom you believe would be interested in offering representation!

(I believe this is the part where I type: hashtag "I'm just saying.")

The Romantic is a love story about friendship, passion, and the echo of unrequited love.

When the Angel of Death comes for Hadriel Alighieri, the journey begins. From his deathbed, he travels to the day he fell in love with Sophia Paula. He retraces the steps of his life in search of his unrequited love. But what begins as a journey to fulfill a promise turns into a discovery of the only emotion that defines our lives.

Numinous Universe: The Amulet of Alamin is a Historical Fantasy novel of 111,450 words. It is based loosely on Mesopotamian, Jewish, and Hindu mythologies that draws upon historical places, people, and events.

The veil between the heavens and the underworld has fallen.

In the Land Between the Two Rivers, greed and corruption lead to the fall of kings. A usurper condemns his soul for immortality. Supernatural forces converge in search of a mysterious amulet, and two boys embark on divergent paths with their destinies intertwined.

Aos, the Elioud, guides Inanna on a perilous quest across the Ancient World that blurs the boundaries of reality with the realm of myth. The worlds of a boy general, a missing princess, and a demigod collide.

Angels, demons, and gods are at war. Under the guise of divine right, the poor become expendable pawns to distract the world from a looming danger. The fate of existence hangs perilously in the balance as the realm between the heavens and the underworld collapses into chaos.

Thank you all for your support and input. It is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Romantic Musings: The Romantic (pt 11)

When Celeste Williams arrived at the apartment Hadriel Alighieri once shared with Uncle Mauricio Maravilla-Fuentes, there was sadness in her eyes.
Hadriel Alighieri sat beside her and listened. Destiny had pulled back the curtain to reveal the disloyalty she did not deserve. He contemplated divulging his role in maintaining that deception. Would she forgive Hadriel for his role in enabling Nathan’s behavior?
Truth was, Hadriel Alighieri knew he deserved no absolution for his part in that play, and decided he would not hope for a pardon that he had no right to ask for. No longer inhibited by some twisted sense of loyalty, he held Celeste Williams when she shared what she had witnessed.
When the moon lingered highest in the sky, Celeste arrived in Nathan Moore’s apartment, and floated through the halls like a ghost. Celeste Williams entered Nathan’s room and stood at the foot of the bed. The light from the lamp revealed her presence to Nathan when he awakened and looked at her still half asleep. He dismissed her as an apparition of his dreams and turned to a stranger named Abigail, lying beside him, her nakedness exposed to them both.
When Nathan failed to acknowledge her ubiquity—now being privy to not only what she witnessed, but also seemingly having been present during the agonizing copulation that occurred prior to her arrival—her anguished imagination provided her with the heart wrenching details.
Celeste Williams climbed onto the bed, and settled herself between them until Nathan woke with a start. The visit had been brief, and though Nathan later accused Celeste of indecently prying, searching for an answer to a question she didn't know she wanted to ask, her fears met her pain when she met Abigail in Nathan's bed.
Celeste asked Hadriel Alighieri why Nathan had cheated. She could not believe what her first love had become. Hadriel Alighieri, however possessed no insight, but rather confessed the truth of his own actions, and revealed that he too did not deserve her trust. He had decided that the guilt would no longer consume his thoughts, and despite the conflict that tore at the core of his being, he exposed his role in the consuming flames of infidelity. Should anything burn, better it be the lies, and deceit, because by then Hadriel Alighieri knew his fate would be to burn when he died.
Hadriel heard the door to the apartment slam shut with the heaviness of his heart. Celeste Williams fled into the night, taking her tears, and her heartbreak, but leaving Hadriel’s apology behind.
Celeste Williams forgave Nathan Moore, though she was not aware that he dismissed the encounter with laughter, gloating triumphantly about the conquest, and about being caught.
When Hadriel Alighieri asked Nathan how he found a way to keep Celeste Williams in his life, Nathan provided insight into the realities of relationships he had not known.
"I was her first. Plain and simple, and that will give me more leeway than anyone else will ever get. I lied that I passed out during a get-together I hosted, and didn't know Abigail was in the bed with me, because she must have come into my room to pass out drunk when I was asleep."
"And she believed you?" Hadriel asked dumbfounded.
"Of course!" Nathan said with a smirk. He explained that when women are lied to, they want to believe the lie if it appeases their concerns.
On the edge of reason, on the verge of losing the girl that endured his harshest habits, and remorseless deceptions. In the midst of his bouts with controlled chaos, and damage control, Nathan decided to propose to Celeste Williams. It was the only way he could think of to make up for his most recent betrayal.
Rather than accept losing her with humility as punishment for the gravity of his transgressions, Nathan grew determined to keep her despite her disenchantment, and her initial request for him not to propose. Celeste Williams said she had once asked them in advance not to grant his request if that day ever came. But faced with the eagerness of their daughter's first love, it was only fair to say—in their defense— that they did not want to be the bearers of bad news, and obliged his request.
Nathan raced across town hurriedly making last minute preparations. Celeste Williams received a call from her mother that she needed to return home, and be ready to go out to dinner with Nathan. Celeste Williams demanded to know what it was, despite her intuition screaming the obvious.
"Tell me you did not give him permission?" She pled, but her mother divulged nothing.
Nathan, on the other hand, didn't possess the resolve to face losing her, despite the many chances he gambled for cheap thrills, and stolen moments. He waged the blessing bestowed upon him that he should have cherished eternally. Instead of dismissing her virginity as a reason to brag, he waged forever, and her affections, love, loyalty, patience, and not only his happiness, but Celeste Williams' happiness too.
He threw it all on the table of treacherous intrigue, and shouted, "double or nothing!" and walked away having it all.
Foolishly however, he squandered it all, and mortgaged his future to recapture the past, for the sake of appearances in the present, but not out of love, because being in love permits no betrayal. No. He did that only to keep her, and maintain possession of the innocence he stole.
The engagement ring eventually proved to be the heirloom of a curse, dooming the commitment that would not last, preventing the marriage that would not be. And the taste of love Hadriel Alighieri longed for remained impossible, except for a whisper that split the seconds, and squeezed a special moment inside of a tiny break in time, a moment that remained a few months away.
Hadriel could hardly bear the intense longing he felt, even then. He needed to share with her the secrets of his soul, and be with her as lovers love, and as stars fall from the sky.
Nathan did not deserve her. Of that he felt absolutely certain. But how would she have felt about being with Hadriel Alighieri? Would she have been capable of surrendering herself to the call of his heart, or did she prefer to adhere to the unwritten rule that forbade love with the friend of an ex? Even if she did choose to disregard a notion that prevented true love from shining, had Hadriel Alighieri ever crossed her mind? Questions abounded across the landscape of love, unimpeded by the mountains of restriction. And when he least expected it, the answers arrived.
Nathan’s behavior leading up to the final break up was poignant, but on that night he proved graceless, and cruel. Hadriel arrived at a reception, fashionably late, and located the table where Celeste Williams sat, silent, alone. He approached, and sat beside her, but before she could speak of the sadness evident in her eyes, Nathan tapped him on the shoulder, and requested that he join him for a drink.
"Don't talk to her right now." Nathan said without meeting his eyes.
"What happened?" Hadriel asked.
"She's on lock-down for behaving like an idiot!" Nathan Moore glared at her.
Hadriel Alighieri watched her heartbreaking beauty. A statue. A Nubian princess shunned from the kingdom that belonged to her. He found it difficult to turn away from her. Celeste Williams was lovely in her reddish-orange dress, her soft shoulders and slender neck calling for a kiss; her hair pulled away from her face, and fell to the small of her back. He traced the contours of her face, statuesque as her gentle eyes scanned the reception hall, perhaps looking for a reason to be happy, but she didn't move an inch, until finally she ran away.
"Just don't talk to her right now. She's not permitted to speak to anyone for the rest of the night." Nathan insisted.
And she didn't.
She sat there whilst her friends stood meters away, huddled together, talking animatedly amongst themselves, but occasionally casting Celeste Williams a compassionate glance.
Hadriel Alighieri circled through the crowds, greeting people he knew, and introducing himself to those that he didn't. Occasionally, he glanced at the table where Celeste Williams remained; trapped within her body, a free spirit forbidden to live.
Within the hour he grew bored with the uninspired conversations, and decided to leave. He turned to look at Celeste Williams once again, but she had vanished. He searched the crowds within the ballroom for her, but only saw nameless faces. He raced out to the corridors; the east wing, the west wing, the north wing, and the south wing, but she remained absent. A phantom lost to an opera that never was. After an hour of searching for her, and Nathan, he relented, and made to return home.
In the cab, he noticed that he had three missed calls from Nathan. When he called him back, however there was no answer. He instructed the cab driver to take him to a different address and upon arriving at Nathan’s apartment, the door stood ajar. When he entered, his eyes fell upon a collection of trash bags filled with clothes. Celeste Williams raced out of the bedroom carrying another one, and plopped it next to the others. Her silence thundered against Nathan's obscenities that echoed through the halls from the living room.
When Hadriel Alighieri asked what happened, she shook her head, rolled her eyes, and returned to the bedroom. Hadriel raced through the kitchen, and stood in the dinning room. Nathan Moore sat on the leather sectional, channel surfing with a drink in his hand. He shouted without looking up, and Hadriel Alighieri knew that he had finally lost it.
"Hey, what's going on?"
"I've had it with this worthless bitch!" Nathan Moore declared. "I'm done dealing with her shit. Fuck her! Hey, by the way, you worthless bitch, don't forget to leave the ring on your way out, because you don't deserve it!"
Nathan’s cell phone rang and he answered it. Silence fell on the apartment, save for the soft thud of Celeste Williams' steps, and the ruffle of garbage bags near the door. Nathan talked on his phone when Hadriel Alighieri turned on his heels and headed straight for Celeste Williams.
She threw down another bag, and turned to walk back into the bedroom when Hadriel Alighieri took hold of her hand. She looked at it then met his gaze, but she didn't pull away.
"What happened?" He asked softly.
She shook her head, and looked away. He paused for a moment, but when she didn't look back, he relented his grasp. Celeste Williams disappeared into the room again. He heard Nathan's voice when he talked on the phone, but didn't listen to what was said.
She emerged from the bedroom one last time holding the clock Hadriel gave her for Christmas two years before. It carried the inscription: I’ll remember you forever. He offered to help her take the bags of clothes to her car.
"No thank you," she said. "I should really do this alone."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dear Love: Diary of a Man's Desire makes Amazon's top 50!!!

The Kindle version of Dear Love: Diary of a Man's Desire is ranked #37 on Amazon's Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Store!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Almost in the top 15,000 of Amazon's Best Seller Rank!!!

Even though these rankings fluctuate, this still fills my heart with joy!!!

Thank you to everyone who Retweets and shares the links and likes my Facebook posts for Dear Love: Diary of a Man's Desire. YTB!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Romantic Musings: The Romantic (pt 10)

They had seen each other on several occasions, Nathan Moore and the women with whom he trotted around behind a veil of secrecy that Hadriel had helped maintain. For Hadriel Alighieri played the part of wingman, as Nathan Moore was the only friend he had. He grew to understand that Nathan’s self-destructive behavior threatened to compromise his happiness, and he needed Hadriel Alighieri just the same.
Coming from money, he didn't appreciate the simpler things in life. Too often he took things for granted. It had been common knowledge that for him, enough was never enough.
His father had gifted him a car on his sixteenth birthday when the rest of the neighborhood relied on their parents or the school bus. A year later he had somehow coaxed his dad into buying him a brand new sport coupe. Over the next decade, Nathan had fallen into the habit of annually trading in his car for a newer model; compounding auto loans to maintain an image while burying himself in debt.
When he completed his studies, he made a good living as an investment banker, but too often he lived beyond his means: amassing extensive credit card debt on new clothes, and home and auto entertainment systems, because he believed, "that's what credit is for."
He epitomized the fiscal equivalent of: "I don't eat to live, I live to eat." Given his level of success, Hadriel Alighieri marveled at how expertly Nathan Moore handled his client's money in contrast to his own.
He was a man who played for high stakes, so it came as no surprise that even in matters of love he gambled with careless frivolity. With regard to Celeste Williams, the unique love that swirled within her heart could have circumnavigated Nathan’s life, and anchored him in her arms. He, however, threw that onto the tables of chance for double or nothing.
Despite the manner in which she stirred Hadriel’s heart, she was Nathan’s girl, and if her ideal life was to only know one man, then Hadriel Alighieri knew that beside her, he would never stand. Given his romantic disposition, he made it his duty to save Nathan from himself. Hadriel Alighieri had been determined to help Nathan appreciate that he had the kind of girl other men dreamed of loving.
Hadriel sought to keep them together long enough for Nathan to realize what he had before he lost her, because deep down, he knew Nathan was a decent guy. And if Nathan simply allowed himself to be his best for Celeste Williams, they would have truly been happy together.
Regardless of his budgeting ineptitude, Nathan was a good friend to those he let into his inner circle. It wasn't until months later, however, that Hadriel Alighieri learned the source of Nathan’s cynicism. The bitterness he harbored had prevented him from seeing that he could have been more than Celeste Williams’ first, but that he could have been her one, and only.
Unable to foreshadow what followed, the task would prove to be more difficult than he had ever imagined.
Quiet dinners, or group outings for drinks, and almost always, the secret rendezvous at one of their homes. To support Nathan’s deception of Celeste Williams, Hadriel Alighieri went along, and waited in the car. Nathan’s clandestine encounters went undisturbed, because as long as Celeste Williams was concerned Hadriel was with him, and whatever fib he fed her about the evening plans remained plausible.
Hadriel Alighieri hated the experience, and despised the ease with which Nathan cast a net of fabrications to indulge in such frivolous affairs, when he had a sweet and innocent love waiting for him at home. Hadriel sat in a parking lot, or a driveway, or on a darkened street for nearly an hour on several occasions.
He looked the part of suspicious subject to whomever glanced in his direction from the dark windows of their homes, or as they walked past to their apartment buildings.
Those moments of seclusion provided him with ample time to think, and to formulate new prose, but seldom did he ever have someone to converse with, and whilst Nathan enjoyed exclusive company, Hadriel Alighieri was alone.
The only company he kept for the better part of those two years had been the fantasies of his heart, and the occasional stolen moment to satisfy his loneliness. Even then he realized that moments lost to a meaningless fling only made matters worse.
He feared that if he merely hopped in, and out of bed with different women, using sex to find love, then he would become so confused in lust he’d forget what he had been looking for in the first place.
What was he looking for? Naturally, he understood that everyone had an ideal mate that starred in his or her fantasies. Humans lose themselves to that moment in the privacy of their minds, away from the mockery. They revel in it, but too often let it go before reaching for it, and sometimes live their lives regretful that they didn't wait a little bit longer for The One.
Without so much as a whisper, Hadriel Alighieri had found his one many years before in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain. She had inspired in him what he didn’t fully understand. He wrote her sentimental poetry that was merely a flicker of the passion that burned for years to come. Sophia Paula, however, never knew how often she inspired his prose.
When he shared his poems with Celeste Williams and Nathan Moore, he hadn't divulged the inspiration behind his words. He knew Nathan's dense nature with matters of the heart wouldn't recognize it, and wondered if Celeste Williams had been left with an impression she dared not ever share.
As it was, she too was the girl that belonged to someone else.
Celeste Williams was patient with Nathan, of that there remained no doubt. Whether it was out of love, or merely a byproduct of her kind-hearted nature he couldn't say, because despite Nathan’s foul temper, his overbearing despotic disposition, and unrelenting jealousy, she remained at his side. She forgave him more often than could be counted, and definitively more than he deserved.
Baffled by his fortune, Hadriel Alighieri watched with wonder at her unwavering loyalty to him, undeterred by her own sadness.
She waltzed through life elegantly, her steps as gentle as if she walked on clouds. When she sat, she never slouched, but rather held great posture that accentuated the curves of her hips. Her long hair cascaded over her shoulders, and along her back, styled like a curtain of thin braids hiding secrets in a magic shop.
Hadriel Alighieri especially loved the way her silver eyes, circles of enchanted waters, darted around a room observing everything, and divulging nothing. When she laughed, she laughed jovially, clapping her hands as she fell over before quickly raising her hand over her lips.
When Hadriel looked at her then however, he saw sadness without knowing her thoughts. Something was missing, but she never said. She seldom spoke-up for herself, in fact, she hardly said anything at all in those days. When she did speak, her voice lingered like a whisper.
Perhaps that silence emboldened Nathan to take precipitous chances with other women, and Hadriel Alighieri believed that such carelessness would one day cost Nathan his happiness.
The first time Hadriel recognized that potential reality came when he paid Nathan Moore a visit at work. They discussed plans for later that evening when an unexpected visit revealed that his fortunes were subject to change.
DRK_N_LVLY_81 walked into the office, accompanied by an older woman. One would have thought they were sisters if they hadn’t known them, with their petite frames and short-cropped dark brown hair. Dark brown eyes accentuated their lovely smiles and round lips. Long charcoal colored wool coats hugged their womanly curves. Hadriel Alighieri could see what had led Nathan Moore to succumb to temptation.
"Now look what you've done," Hadriel muttered.
"I know, right?" Nathan whispered back. "Shush." He stepped forward to greet them.
Hadriel Alighieri shook his head, and left, but before he exited the office, he heard the girl introduce Nathan to her mother.
When Hadriel turned a corner, he heard her mother say, "I'm sorry we're barging in on you like this, but Brianna kept insisting I meet you. She says you're making her very happy."
"Yeah, well, I try." Nathan replied.
Hadriel Alighieri raced home, and poured himself a drink, hoping the Rum would numb his heart before it dulled his senses. He wanted to forget what he knew of Nathan’s behavior, and his role in perpetuating it. He wanted to forget that Nathan neglected the girl that loved him. He wanted to forget that he was alone. But he couldn't absolve himself of the guilt; he hadn't earned that right.
The more he assisted Nathan in his endeavors, the more he continued to drown his self-pity in countless glasses of Rum. Hadriel Alighieri searched for forgiveness at the bottom of a bottle, because their actions went against everything he believed in.
Rather than stand his ground like a man, he cowardly stood by, and enabled Nathan’s conduct. Guided by some twisted sense of loyalty that compromised his integrity, Hadriel Alighieri protected Nathan. He, who didn't need protection; he, who needed to appreciate the treasure that loved him in a manner Hadriel Alighieri could have only ever dream of.
Oh, and she loved him, despite what she may have said in the years of reflection. Only love offered forgiveness at the depths that his unfaithfulness ran when she learned of his infidelities, and remained by his side. It had a detrimental effect on them both that they wouldn’t realize for years to come.
Evidence of that destructive dance to love came one summer night when Nathan made plans with Cassandra Jones for the evening. He invited Hadriel Alighieri to his apartment that night, for he was in danger of being caught in a lie. After he left Hadriel Alighieri and Cassandra Jones alone in the living room, she noted that his phone had been ranging frequently and he continuously stepped into the bathroom to talk privately with the unknown caller.
Hadriel Alighieri knew the unknown caller, but did not divulge her name to Cassandra Jones, for he felt that it wasn’t his place. He caught a glimpse of Nathan down the hall. Nathan motioned for Hadriel to act as if he hadn't seen him, and to convene with him privately. Hadriel excused himself, followed Nathan into his bedroom, and closed the door behind them.
"I need your help." He said in a hushed, and panicked tone.
"Yeah, I gathered that much. What happened?"
Nathan explained that Celeste Williams saw Cassandra in his car. He had concocted a story about picking up Cassandra as a favor to Hadriel Alighieri. Nathan then told Cassandra that the calls were from Hadriel’s ex-girlfriend who had been calling him to find Hadriel Alighieri. He had added that she was stalking Hadriel, because she was crazy.
Hadriel shook his head. Despite his dissatisfaction with being used to evade culpability, Hadriel Alighieri went along with Nathan’s plan because he didn't want Celeste Williams to be hurt by the truth.
Nathan arranged for Hadriel Alighieri to take Cassandra home, and she agreed because she knew the truth, and didn’t want to deal with Nathan’s dishonesty at the moment. Given that Hadriel Alighieri didn’t have a car, Nathan handed him the keys to his luxury sedan and told him to let himself in when he returned.
During the thirty-minute drive, she asked him about his songwriting. He relayed that it had primarily been an emotional process. "Imagine being in love with someone you can't have. I suppose longing is the fuel that feeds many passions, and inspires many songs."
"I know that's right!" She said cheerfully.
"You're a good friend, Hadriel, to Nathan; and I can tell that you're a really great guy."
"I suppose." He said indifferently.
"What I mean to say is that I can tell you don't like covering for him like this, because it isn't you."
Hadriel listened without revealing anything.
"He thinks I don't know what's going on, but I do; and it's kind of bogus that he would use you to manipulate girls like this. I understand that you're just doing your part as his friend, because if it were one of my girls, I'd be covering for her too, so I'm not mad at you for this. I'll have that conversation with him when he isn't busy with whomever else he's messing around. I appreciate that you're driving me home instead of making me take a cab."
When they arrived at her house Hadriel waited until she went inside. He returned to Nathan Moore’s high-rise apartment half an hour later. When he stepped into the living room, he concluded that Nathan and Celeste Williams were alone in his room. The sounds that echoed through the walls revealed that Nathan had gotten what he wanted.
Hadriel Alighieri left the keys on the coffee table and let himself out. During his walk home he felt the cynicism stir in his soul. When he passed a convenient store, the door opened and Professor Abdul-Karim Aziz bumped into Hadriel Alighieri.
The professor greeted his former pupil and noted the sadness in his eyes when it began to rain.
“What is wrong, my boy?” The professor put his arm around his shoulder.
“There is no place in the world for a romantic.” Hadriel Alighieri replied.
“Nonsense.” Professor Aziz dismissed Hadriel’s statement. He led him back into the shop and introduced Hadriel to his cousin, Syed Ebrahim Ansari. “The boy has lost all hope in love!”
“Only those who have truly loved understand the loss.” Syed Ebrahim Ansari said from behind the counter. He was dressed in western garb, but his thick black beard fell to his chest. His dark brown eyes glistened, like onyx orbs.
Professor Aziz studied Hadriel Alighieri momentarily. The look in his eyes was different. The reflection of the goddess had vanished and was replaced by confusion. The professor and his cousin listened carefully and nodded when Hadriel Alighieri explained his dilemma.
“Khalil Gibran once wrote on the subject of reason and passion: Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.” Syed Ebrahim Ansari remarked.
Hadriel Alighieri felt the shift within his heart. He was not the boy he once was, nor did he recognize the man he had become. He convinced himself that love was an illusion. A ghost that haunted the gullible, and deceived them into believing in numinous notions to comfort their lonely souls, while the wicked indulged in the sweet nectar of innocent hearts.
Hadriel Alighieri finally shed the robe of deception after he covered for Nathan Moore when he ran into Amanda in the lobby of his high-rise. When Amanda threatened to take Nathan to court over money he owed her, Hadriel Alighieri offered to pay her the money in his stead.
She refused his offer, because she sought to expose him for what he was after he had continuously avoided her calls. Hadriel Alighieri however, wanted to protect Celeste Williams from discovering the truth. Amanda eventually agreed, for she knew Celeste and conceded that it wouldn’t be fair to her, either.
"You don't have to do this Hadriel."
"I know, but I want to.” Hadriel felt it was the least he could do for his role in the deception.
"He doesn't deserve you as a friend."
Hadriel’s eyes fell to the floor. He refused the compliment.
Over the course of six weeks, Amanda met Hadriel Alighieri at the university to receive her payments until the entire debt had been repaid. After the final payment, they had never seen each other again. He had helped Nathan avert disaster without telling him, but his attempt to keep the secret failed when Amanda left a message on Nathan’s voicemail upon receiving the final payment from Hadriel.
When Nathan asked him about it, Hadriel Alighieri explained that he did it to protect him, but Nathan’s cold reply cut at the link that bonded their friendship.
"She played you man. You dropped three grand like a fool, because I didn't owe that bitch any money." His mockery bothered Hadriel Alighieri, especially in the presence of others. At that moment Hadriel Alighieri knew that things between them would never be the same.