Today I thought I'd share a little bit of Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, Book Three in my Stafford Brothers series. If you've already read the first two books, you know that the twins, Marc and Charles, are good men, the stuff Prince Charming is made of.
Their older brother, Greg, is also a good man, but he has a bad problem. Here's a peek into Greg's life in the opening chapter...
How do you like that cover? It make you wonder what the handsome, television host has going on in his life, doesn't it?
Greg Stafford slammed the door to his upper east side Manhattan apartment, engaged both locks then dropped his head to the door and banged it several times—hoping the pain might snap him out of his nightmare. No such luck. He dragged his body to the sofa, slumped down and tried to concentrate on the tinkling sound of the ceiling-to-floor Asian fountain in the foyer. Even that did nothing to calm him. He’d just spent the past four hours at the local police precinct, waiting for his attorney to get him released. His arrest would surely be headline news. He wasn’t a major star, but he had become a fixture on New York television and in the markets where the show was syndicated.At a complete loss for what to do next, he picked up the remote for the TV and turned the channel to the network to which he’d been contracted for the past two years. Would they report it? Or would they ignore it? That was just wishful thinking. They couldn’t ignore breaking news that involved one of their own. Could they?
His co-host, Arianna Wolfe, with whom Greg shared the desk every day, said, "A member of The Scoop family is off the air tonight, as authorities investigate indecency charges. He will not be at the desk until the investigation is complete. We will bring you up to date when new information becomes available.”
Thankful that they avoided the details, Greg changed the channel. Sadly, he knew the other stations wouldn’t be as kind.
“In breaking news, the wife of New York Senator Carl Price was arrested this weekend for having engaged in sexual relations in broad daylight in an alley not far from Bloomingdale’s. The man has now been identified as Gregory Stafford, the host of the top-rated magazine show, The Scoop. Both were charged with indecent exposure and public lewdness and released on their own recognizance.
We contacted Senator Price’s office, but received no response. Stafford has been unavailable for comment. Legal issues aside, these arrests raise questions about the stability of the popular senator’s marriage, which has been under scrutiny for some time. Mrs. Price, who is twenty-five years younger than the Senator, has been seen frequently on the New York club circuit alone. Stafford is single and is a well-known regular on the club scene.”
The report hadn’t ended more than two minutes before his phone started ringing. His boss. Then it rang in succession ten more times. He stared at the screen--his publicist. The station manager. His co-anchor. His father. His mother. Charles. Marc. Vic. Jesse. Nick. Coming from a big family could be a blessing, but it could also be a major curse. The Scoop was syndicated in most major markets, and inevitably, members of the family watched the show every night. Right now, he didn’t want to speak to any of them. What could he say to explain the situation he’d put himself in? If he wanted to hang onto to his job though, it was necessary that he respond to his boss and station manager. He pressed his head between his hands as though he could squeeze the condemning voices out, then got up and walked into the kitchen. Vodka. Yes, vodka was appropriate now. Even though he wasn’t a big drinker, he kept a bottle around for when he had guests. The freezer always held a bottle or two of Stoli, his favorite. After he poured enough for three people into a water glass, he swallowed three times and picked up the phone. No, not yet. He had to think for a while before he spoke to anyone.
From puberty on, his sexual appetite had been what most people considered normal. But in the past few years, he’d graduated from a serious relationship, to casual dating, to serial dating, to strictly sexual relationships, to one-night stands, then to online porn when he couldn’t find a hook-up. He avoided thinking about the reasons why he’d gotten to this point. Normally he didn’t allow his mind to venture into that kind of introspection. His outlook was more on the don’t cry over spilt milk side. But recently he’d begun to question his escalating sexual appetite, which started after his breakup with Evelyn.
Why couldn’t he be more like his brothers? All five of them were committed to just one woman, and they all seemed happy. Not just happy, but satisfied. Marc and Gianne were always thirty seconds from jumping each other, but they were newlyweds. Cydney’s perpetual pregnancies proved that doing the wild thing topped her and Jesse’s list of favorite pastimes. Vic and Mona had been married for ten years; yet sometimes, the strong sex vibe between them could be sensed by anyone within ten feet. Even his single baby brother, Nick, boasted about his upcoming second anniversary with his girlfriend, Cherilyn.
What was wrong with him? No woman held his interest for more than a weekend or two. Weren’t they all raised in the same home with the same lofty moral values? And why hadn’t he always been like this? The third oldest of the six, Greg had managed to keep his problem a secret from his family; although when Charles came to New York to stay with him not long ago, he’d taken his brother to a couple of his favorite clubs. When he invited two of the women they’d met back to his apartment for the night, Charles begged off. He didn’t come right out and say anything, but his facial expressions, tone of voice, and early departure made it clear that he obviously disagreed with Greg’s lifestyle. Hopefully, he hadn’t discussed his suppositions with the rest of the family. Not that it mattered now. Everyone would know within a matter of hours.
He gulped down the rest of his drink in an effort to fortify himself before he listened to the voicemail messages. Might as well go in order.
“This is Ken. I supposed you’ve already heard that the Scoop had to put you on administrative leave for the immediate future. You, me and the people from legal need to sit down and figure out where we go from here. Get back to me as soon as you get this message.”
He forwarded to the next message. “Please pick up, Greg,” his publicist, Jordyn, pleaded. You know why I’m calling. I have to speak with you before I can figure out what kind of spin to put on this…event. Call me ASAP.”
“Greg, it’s John Hanke. It’s imperative we talk as soon as possible. Your attorney informed us of the situation. Your arrest has brought up some legal concerns, not for the station, but for you personally. I want to discuss them with you immediately. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
“Hi, Greg. It’s Arianna. We tried to gloss over the details as best we could. Let me know how you’re doing. I’m worried about my co-host. Please call me back.”
“This is your father. What the hell is going on up there? Your mother is frantic. She’s been crying since we heard the report. Couldn’t you at least have warned us? Why did we have to find out from the television? An explanation is in order, son. I expect a call tonight.”
The tremor in his mother’s voice when he forwarded to her message told him she was still crying. “Sweetheart, I know Daddy called, but I wanted to talk to you myself. Are you all right? I hope your absence from the show isn’t permanent. Let me know that you're okay, please.”
He couldn’t face his father’s reproach. Calling his mother would be less painful.
The calls from his brothers, except for Charles, were of the WTF variety. Charles merely said, “You’re out of control, man. It’s time you thought about getting some help. If you want to talk, I’m here.”
The cold empty glass in his hand mocked him. Icy and vacant. Like his life at the moment. He didn’t understand whether the empathy he felt was for the glass or for himself. Nevertheless, he wandered back into the kitchen and refilled the depleted vessel with chilled liquid. Why couldn’t he be filled? What was it that had him feeling so void?
What was I thinking? I knew who she was, but I wanted her so badly that l I didn’t care what the repercussions might be if we got caught. Why can’t I control myself? He threw the glass across the room, and it shattered on the red wall over the black Chinese symbols for peace.
He had been on his way into the studio and stopped at Barney’s to buy a new cologne at the men’s fragrance counter when she appeared next to him and inclined her head exposing her long, creamy neck.
“What do you think of this fragrance?”
He leaned closer and inhaled. “Intoxicating.”
She studied his eyes for a long moment, then breezed away leaving an enticing trail of expensive fragrance behind. He followed it like a cartoon character drifting on a visible ribbon of scent that wrapped itself around his head. Her gaze locked with his as the elevator door opened and she stepped inside. Greg quickened his steps so he might enter the cab before the doors closed. They rode in silence for one floor.
“I know you,” she said, giving him a blatant head-to-toe scan. “You host that TV show…The Story…The Chat…”
“The Scoop,” Greg corrected her with a smile. “And you’re Mrs. Carl Price.”
“Melinda. You are a very good-looking man.”
Greg couldn’t believe what happened next. She pressed the stop button. The elevator halted its descent, and she took two steps toward him so there wasn’t even an inch of daylight between them. When she put her palm against his chest and raised her chin so he felt her breath on his face, he curved his right arm around her back and pulled her body against his. “And you’re an extremely beautiful woman.”
“Are you on your way to an appointment?” she asked, her lips brushing his.
“I am now.” With his free hand, Greg cupped her booty and pressed her hips against him. He backed her against the wall of the elevator and raised her dress up around her hips.
“Not here,” she said between raspy breaths and yanked the dress back down. The wife of the state’s wildly popular junior senator pushed the button to restart the elevator. “Let’s leave.” When the door opened on the first floor, she strode out and headed for the main store entrance. Greg followed her like a starving dog panting after a rare steak.
Out in the sunshine on bustling Madison Avenue, she slipped her sunglasses down from the top of her head and picked up her pace until she shifted into a jog. Greg’s heart thundered as she turned onto E. 61st Street and glanced over her shoulder to see if he still followed her. The suspense of where she might be going threatened to kill him. She turned the corner again and disappeared into an alley.
When he caught up with her, she had dropped her shopping bags to the ground and was standing with her hands on her hips as though proposing a dare. Unable to slow his pace, he slammed her against the brick wall of the building. The way his head spun from the chase and the headiness of the challenge, he had to press his hands against the wall on either side of her head to get his balance.
“Hurry! We can’t stay here long before someone sees us.” She wriggled her dress up and stepped her feet apart. “Hurry!”