Friday, March 28, 2014


Two weeks after the birth of their second child, Dennis Paul married his baby mama. His OTHER baby mama. Alicia had heard the rumors about Dennis and Paula but Dennis always had a good excuse for the whispered tales of her and him together. After all, Paula was the mother of his first two kids and the third little girl who’d come just weeks after the birth of his and Alicia’s little girl together. Even that little faux pas wasn’t enough to convince Alicia that Dennis wasn’t quite the guy she kept telling herself he was. In fact none of the abuse she suffered at Dennis’ hands was enough to convince her that Dennis really wasn’t much of a catch at all.
To hear Alicia tell it, Dennis was just misunderstood. He really did love her and their family and wanted them all to be together. So much so it had taken very little to convince her to cross state lines and follow behind him. Upending her life and sacrificing her dreams was well worth all that love Dennis was known to lavish on her when he came to visit those two, maybe three days per week.
But then he got married. The news came via Twitter. It was a quick shout out to the happy couple with pictures of the decorated church and the wedding program posted on Instagram. It came from a mutual friend who either assumed Alicia already knew or who purposely wanted to break the news to her.
With less than thirty minutes to make it to the chapel, Alicia was grateful that she and her children had all had their baths. So Alicia put on a new dress purchased for the next date night she and Dennis had planned, put bows in the little girl’s hair and a new outfit on the new baby. When her own hair and makeup were perfection she packed her small family into her car and pointed it in the direction of the church.
The bride had already made her way down the aisle by the time Alicia found her way inside. She sat on the edge of the back pew and watched as Dennis said his I do’s. Dennis and Paula stood with loving looks on their faces, family and friends wishing them well. When the pastor asked if anyone had any objections, Alicia’s baby boy let out a loud wail, moving everyone to turn and stare in their direction. Standing, Alicia didn’t say anything at all, only turning an about face as she headed out the door. Returning to her apartment Alicia packed all of her belongings, called her parents and asked if she could come back home.
Dennis wasn’t fazed by the unexpected intrusion. Alicia knew better than to make a scene in front of his mother. Dennis figured by the time the honeymoon was over Alicia’s hurt feelings would be a faint memory. Her missing him would be enough to overlook the fact he now had a wife. Dennis had been playing both women for so long that he figured he’d be able to do so even after legalizing his relationship with Paula.
But Dennis didn’t expect to find his second home abandoned when he finally made his way back. Being unable to reach Alicia, her cell phone number changed, gave him reason to pause. He also didn’t like that he’d been unfriended and blocked on Facebook as well. And the restraining order and court summons demanding child support came as a complete surprise.
Alicia isn’t the first woman to have this happen to her. But she is the first who read a similar tale on my blog a few years ago and was determined that her story would have a very different ending.
“I hope that my heartbreak will be a lesson for any woman who isn’t being treated the way she deserves,” Alicia wrote. “I thought having this last baby would make him love me more. I realized I needed to love myself instead. And my children needed to see me do better.”

Friday, March 21, 2014


What a day, what a day, what a mighty fine day!
It started early. Too early. I haven’t been up and out of the house before nine in the morning in I don’t know how long. But I’m a writer. Some of us keep vampire hours. Today I had an early morning dentist appointment to get my six-month cleaning and polishing and my preferred practitioner is a two-hour ride away. I will eventually need to get a dentist closer to where I live but for the time being old Dr. Alex is my go-to guy. So riding on less than two hours of sleep we headed out of town and then it began.
The dentist appointment went without mishap. Got my kudos for my oral hygiene and a new purple toothbrush. Then I ran into the old people. Old people amuse me. Nothing is sacred with them. They tell all your business and what might fall out of their mouths can awe and appall. I wasn’t sure of the relationship dynamics but they had a lengthy history and there wasn’t a full set of teeth between the three of them. Our conversation went something like this:
“Baby, baby, I know you. Ain’t your related to ‘dem Pritchards?”
“No, ma’am. I’m a Fletcher.”
“Look just like your daddy. Hey, Jim, this here is one of Pritchard’s girls. Looks just like her daddy!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Looks just like him.”
“No. I’m sorry but Mr. Pritchard’s not my father.”
“Pritchard was a rollin’ stone. It’s alright.” (As she’s patting my hand.) "But he wouldn’t work. Never could hold down ajob. And he was triflin’. Just no damn good. But we can’t pick our daddy. Just got to keep the one we get.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Then there was the search for the perfect hotdog. Three hotdogs, an order of fries and a gallon of tea later and I still wasn’t satisfied. But I was full. And my stomach hurt. So we went looking for the castle because I knew that would make me feel better.

We’d heard the whispered stories. The fantastical love shack built for a woman who had the builder’s heart. Then she died. And with her passing, their castle was abandoned, the memories too painful for a man to endure. Others say it was a divorce, the wealth of it bitter and ugly, his hopes lost on broken promises. But I know about stories and how they can be twisted to suit the teller. So I wanted to see this place for myself; this fantasy built on love that was lost.
We found the castle and I am now obsessed. The property, crowned Mont Rouge, was the creation of renowned sculptor Robert Mihaly. The sculptor built the marble and cinder block structure to serve as his part-time studio and home. “It is constructed in a mash-up of styles ranging from European-styled towers to fantastical Middle-East-inspired minarets and cupolas which are covered in copper.” Unfortunately, while most of the exterior was completed, the interior was left unfinished after the death of Mihaly's beloved wife. Mont Rouge sits atop a long and winding mountainous road. At one point it is so narrow and so steep that ascending it is a tad bit scary. It sits on a precarious slope and the acreage of hardwoods surrounding it is home to a double-wide trailer here, and an obscure farmhouse there. The views below it are spectacular!
Since being abandoned, this extraordinary property has been vandalized by teens who had no sense of appreciation for what was not theirs. They’ve trashed and graffitied the interior, the windows have been broken, weather has rotted the wood, and it is now just a semblance of what it was meant to be. But there is still something about the place that drew me in and captured my soul. As I stood at the edge of the property, taking it all in, a small red bird flitted past and came to rest on a branch in front of me. It chirped excitedly as if it were happy to see me there but as I aimed my camera to take its picture, it disappeared and the air became eerily still.
In that moment, as I stood in awe of the castle, its failing infrastructure aside, I had the sense that Mr. Mihaly’s story was even bigger than the whispered tales that had led me to his dream home. In that moment I could feel the love that had been clawed in all that stone and mortar and now I am obsessed.
It was a very fine day indeed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Love is the best treat of all...
When the owner of Memphis' most mouthwatering bakery, Just Desserts, suddenly dies, pastry chef Quentin Elliott and his brother, office manager Troy Elliott, are distraught. Everett "Pop" Donovan was more than their boss, he was a beloved mentor. So they're shocked to learn that Pop left the business to his beautiful, estranged daughter--a woman they know nothing about--and who knows nothing about running a bakery...
Harper Donovan intends to sell off Just Desserts as quickly as possible. She has no interest in Memphis, much less sweets. However, handsome Quentin has definitely sparked her appetite--and business aside, the feeling is irresistibly mutual. But soon a powerful, smooth-talking rival appears, vying for Harper's heart and her bakery. Harper might have a taste for Memphis after all--and Quentin might have to prove he's exactly what she craves...
Praise for
The Sweetest Thing
"Mello (Hearts Afire) delivers a delectable romance that explores family values while ladling on the hotness. A wealth of multifaceted characters adds to this scrumptious and satisfying treat." -- Publishers Weekly
"In the first outing in the Just Desserts series, one romance develops organically as another relationship is best described as abusive and possibly dangerous. In the background of Quentin and Harper’s central romance is the relationship between his rival, Dwayne, and the woman who cheated on him with Dwayne. The contrast of these couples is a bit distracting, but Mello ties them together well. Dwayne is more nuanced than he appears and the author manages to explain his emotional issues and bring both couples to a point of contentment. 4-Stars" - RT Book Reviews