Authors: Toye Lawson Brown


Taylor crossed her legs listening closely. “Okay, so far so

“It only gets better,” he said sitting on the sofa.  “I took
her on as a client for two reasons.  One, I was infatuated with her; second, I
believed her brother had been racially profiled.  He’d been charged for a crime
he did not commit after I’d gathered the facts.  We know court-appointed
attorneys are piled with cases and inadvertently overlook pertinent facts.”

“I agree.  I did a short run as a public defender. The heavy
loads court-appointed attorneys carry is ridiculous.  And though there are good
public defenders, some lack experience,” she said throwing him off the subject.

He nodded shifting his eyebrows.  “Anyhow, we spent a lot of
time together, and the attraction grew to love, so I believed. I fought extra
hard to get her brother’s case reopened and investigated properly.  I wanted to
clear his name for her sake.”

“You were able to get him a new trial?”

“Si, I did, and I won my case.”

“What happened after his release?”

“I had bought her an engagement ring.  The best my money
could buy.  I was going to propose to her during the celebration dinner for her
brother’s release.”  He exhaled a large breath.  The pain from recalling the
story tunneled from the depths of hell to burn fire through his veins.  “The
joke was on me.  Her brother turned out to be her husband.  She came to me
because she’d heard I was the best criminal attorney in Miami but did not have
the money to hire me. Her husband ordered her to do whatever possible to get
me.  In her mind, what she did was appropriate.  By seducing me, she got what
she needed for her husband.”

Taylor covered her mouth. “Oh, my God, Mario, that is

“It was a horrible experience.  I was on bended knee ready
to propose to this woman when she finally told me the truth.  I wanted to kill
them both, but I didn’t.  I respected my life and wasn’t willing to give it up
for taking theirs.”

“How could she do that?  She had to feel something for you.”

“She said she did have love for me, but she loved her
husband more.  Hell, I was young, she was older and I knew I would get over her
eventually, but my distrust for women never fully faded.”

“Mario, how are you ever going to trust me?”

“My heart healing process is over, Taylor.  I’m being honest
because the process of trusting is taking me a little longer to do.  I have to
learn to separate suspicion from truth.”

“You need to explain that,” she said confused.

“Taylor, it is no different from what we do as attorneys. 
If I suspect something is not right, I have to investigate the truth before
presenting my facts.  Had I done that with Savannah, she would not have duped
me.  I would not have lost the confidence in pursuing a woman for a long-term
relationship or believed any woman would want to hurt me unless I wronged

Taylor stood up. “I don’t know how anything will work
between us, Mario.  Will I have to check in a million times a day with you to
prove I’m being faithful to you?”

He shook his head. “You won’t have to do that, Taylor.”

“Why not?  I’m a woman; you don’t know my background.”

He held his hands up to calm her down. “Please let me
continue.  There has been no woman I’ve wanted to pursue a serious relationship
with until I met you.”

She rolled her eyes upward. “Please.  You don’t expect me to
believe you have been celibate all these years then I come along and cure you
of your trust issues?”

“That is not what I’m saying.  I’ve dated and kept a sexual
presence, but never did I get attached to any woman during those trysts.”

Taylor looked him in the eye.  “How will I know you will not
change and begin to suspect I am doing you wrong?  I work in an office full of
males.  I have male friends, and I’m refusing to sleep with you.”

“Your actions prove to me, you are being protective.  I’m
putting me on a limb telling you this, so I must trust you and I want you to
trust me.”

“Mario, I don’t know if I can be in a relationship with so
much doubt in the air.”

“I know, but because I have the same affections for you that
Dillon has; I’m asking you to work with me.”

“Great!  You only want a friendship because that is all
Dillon and I have.”

“It is not all he wants.  However, that is not my business
to discuss.  I can only speak for what I want.  For the first time in years, I
want more than just sex with a woman.  I want you in my life, Taylor James.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t know what to
say, Mario.  I did want more before your confession.  Honey, your scars have
been rooted for years.  How can I be sure you aren’t only lusting after me?”

He walked around her inhaling the soft scent radiating from
her body. He was falling in love with her, and he couldn’t stop it.  Like a coward,
he’d tucked his tail between his legs and left his family and friends due to
the embarrassment of one woman.  Now that he’d met Taylor, he had to endure the
pain of reopening old wounds.  He had to do that in order to love her fully.

“Please, Taylor. Do not dispute what we have together so
far.  If sex with you was my only goal, I would not have revealed my secret
because you would not need to know. I don’t take pride in the fact I was made a
fool of myself and had to leave my life in Miami.”

She nodded. “This is the real reason you’re in Cleveland. 
Mario, people eventually forget dumb mistakes we make when we’re young.”

“They weren’t forgetting fast enough for me.  I based my
practice for my people.  Word spread like wildfire in the Hispanic community. 
I could not stand the pity or the snickering.  Plus she lived in the vicinity
and I would see them on the street or in restaurants.  The humiliation she put
me through was painful but I still loved her.  I had no choice but to leave to
get over her and move on with my life.”

 She held her arms open for him. “Who am I kidding; I would
have run the first opportunity I got.”

He embraced her. “We can help each other, Taylor.  You teach
me to trust, and I will help you with your inability to maintain a healthy,
long-lasting relationship.”

She nestled her head on his shoulder. “We sound really
messed up to be so put together career-wise.”

“That seems to be the trend with successful people.  Oh, and
so you know, if I had really turned on the charm, I would have had you in bed
by now.”

She pulled away from him bending her unflawed eyebrows.
“Don’t be so sure, Mr. Infante; I know when a man is only after sex.”

“I disagree. You would’ve fell into my lure without a peep,
but that is not what I want.  I want this ride to happiness to be the best
adventure you’ve ever had.”

Taylor hugged him again. “This is going to be one wild

He didn’t want to mess her hair by running his fingers
through it.  But he loved the texture and the way it flowed across her shoulder
blades.  “I want this more than anything, Taylor.”

“I do also, Mario.”  She kissed him on the lips. “We better
get to lunch.”

He let her wipe the smudges of lipstick from around his
mouth before releasing her. “I have a surprise for you tonight.”

“I like surprises,” she cooed adjusting the long strap of
her purse on her shoulder.

“Meet me at the Pub say around 6:00pm?  I will be done with
my meeting and we’ll have drinks before your surprise.”

She tilted her head to the side. “I’ll be there.  Promise to
call me if the meeting is longer than expected; I hate sitting at the bar
alone.  I don’t how I do it, but I manage to attract all the gold-tooth

He laughed. “I promise I will be there at 6:00pm to protect
you from the gold-toothed womanizers.”


Mario checked his watch—it was 6:05pm.  He entered the bar
searching the crowd spotting Taylor immediately.  As she had predicted, she was
the only female sitting at the bar alone.  A man sauntered over to her before
Mario got there.  He stopped walking and watched to see how she reacted to the
stranger.  If he wanted to be with Taylor, he had to know if she truly held his
heart and soul close to her.

His suspicions of Dillon were not at ease in his mind. 
However, their relationship had bonded long before he came into Taylor’s life,
and he would not interfere or drive him away because of his jealousy.

He watched Taylor smile pleasantly to the man as he took the
stool next to her.  Taylor’s shapely legs uncrossed and her body curved away from
the man as he leaned in to talk to her.  Her actions towards the man proved to
him, she was not interested in him and was being polite.

The man would not give up the effort to gain her attention.
As he leaned closer, she moved to the empty stool next to her balancing her
cell phone in her hand.  She lifted her head high to scan over the heads in the
bar. She then lowered it to pay attention to her phone.

Mario jumped as his phone buzzed in the breast pocket of his
suit jacket.  He dug it out looking at the text message.

Where are you?  A smooth-talker without a
gold tooth is throwing me play. I need you to rescue me.  Text back if you are

He sent a quick reply tucking the phone in his pocket.  He
left the table when he saw Taylor reading her phone.

He appeared on the opposite side of her kissing her cheek.
“Sorry, to keep you waiting, amour,” he said noticing the puzzled expression on
the man’s face.

Taylor tilted her head receiving the peck on the cheek. “No
problem, baby.  This nice gentleman kept me company even though I told him I
was content waiting for you alone.”

The man said releasing beer remnants on his breath, “It was
the least I could do.  A beautiful woman sitting alone, at a bar, could easily
attract scuzzy men to hit on her.”

Mario extended his hand to the stranger. “Thank you for
taking care of my lady.  Please, let me buy you a drink for your trouble.”

The stranger slid off the barstool. “I didn’t know the lady
was taken when I approached her, but she was quick to tell me she was.  Anyhow,
you two enjoy your night.  I’m off to find my wife,” he said.

Mario pulled a business card from his pocket dangling it
between his fingers. “You’re married and in a bar with your wife picking up
women.—hmm, I’m a lawyer.  I wonder if your wife would be interested in talking
with me.”

“Man, I’m just out having fun and not causing any problems,”
he said leaving without taking Mario’s card or offer for a free drink.

Mario sat on the empty barstool. “I guess he didn’t want me
to buy him a drink.”

Taylor fingered her hair away from her face. “I’m sure
disclosing you were a lawyer had nothing to do with that. He was done with me
anyhow.  My one word answers weren’t exactly conversation holders.”

“I’m glad he kept it moving; I’d hate to make a scene in a
public place.  Are you drinking your usual Jack and Cola?”

She nodded an affirmative. “Mario, you don’t have to spy to
observe how I interact with other men.”

He placed the order for a shot of tequila and a refill for
Taylor with the barmaid. Returning his attention to her, he asked. “What are
you talking about?”

She lifted her head to him. “You’ve been in the bar for over
ten minutes.  Why’d you feel the need to watch me?  Have you lost trust in me

Stunned she knew he’d been observing her, he tried to repair
the damage. “Of course, I haven’t—I don’t trust other men around you. Taylor,
you are a beautiful woman and men will sniff after you like a hound-dog on a
hot trail.”

“I see.  So, you think I am too weak-minded to inform such
hound dogs that I’m involved with someone?”

He was at a loss for words and choked on his tongue. “No,

She put her hand up to stop him from talking. “Don’t
sugarcoat the obvious, Mario.  We promised we’d work on our destructive
tendencies. I plan on keeping my end of the bargain.”

He reached for her hand, but she removed it placing it in
her lap.  He caressed her back instead feeling her take a breath and draw her
body inward.  His accent deepened as he apologized. “I’m deeply sorry.  Now
that you know why I am this way, I will need tolerance from you to work through
my issues.”

Taylor sipped her drink, crossing her legs again.  Her red
summer miniskirt crawled higher up her thigh with the motion.  His eyes
immediately, followed by his hand, touched her skin.  The silkiness of her skin
sent shooting sensations through his loins making his penis twitch against the
fly of his pants.

Taylor saw and ignored his twitch. She used the cocktail
napkin to wipe the water ring left on the mahogany bar by her glass.  “I know.
I still don’t appreciate being spied on and will not tolerate it.”

“Si, senorita, you are right.” Her striking brown eyes
darkened as she glared at him. The long lustrous lashes fluttered as she
smiled, lifting her mouth to curve those sexy lips.  “Am I forgiven?”

“This time you are, but don’t let it happen again.”

“Gracias, it won’t.”  He changed the subject.  “So, shall we
finish our drinks and go to your surprise?” He asked dangling tickets in front
of her face.

Her eyes widened.  “You were able to get tickets for the
Prince concert tonight?  The show has been sold out for weeks.”

“For you, I will get anything your heart desires.”

“I love already how you spoil me.”

“That is what a man does for the woman he adores.  Dillon
could learn a thing or two from me when it comes to romance.”

Her facial expression evened as she shook her head. “Let’s
not talk about them, okay?”

Mario drank the shot of tequila in one gulp.  He rubbed her
cheek, lowering his head to kiss her neck exposed above the collar of her blouse
moving to nibble on her earlobe.  In Spanish, he whispered, “Vamonos de aqui.
Tengo un problema que necesito resolvel y hay muchas personas alrededor de
nosotros para haserlo aqui.”

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