“Did you not hear me?”

Welcome to Sunday Sips.

I hope you enjoy this sample of Caliente Nights.

Alonzo grunted before tearing the napkin in shreds purposely leaving them on the tabletop. He was sure that by tomorrow morning some exaggerated story would be floating across social media about him barking at the woman and sending her off in hysterics.

His agent Bret Carlson, chuckled. “After all these years you’re not used to beautiful women coming on to you?”

“It gets old.” Alonzo answered, taking a sip of his drink. Why couldn’t he meet a sweet girl who wasn’t interested in his professional status? Someone who didn’t care about the fame and the money.

Alonzo changed the subject. “So, what’s up? You said you wanted to talk.”

He tried to keep the irritation out of his voice. Bret was a top-notch agent and they’d been together from the beginning. The man had never deliberately steered him wrong. His most annoying habit, however, was making everything seem like the house was on fire and burning to the ground.

Bret fidgeted in his seat. After Alonzo’s team didn’t make it to the playoffs, Alonzo mentioned retiring from the game. According to Bret, Alonzo was too good of an athlete and on top of his game to hang it up now. Alonzo was one of his star athletes, making him one of the top paid agents. Bret hoped what he had to say would cause Alonzo to reconsider. If he did, Bret’s commission would be hefty. Enough to get him out of the trouble he had wiggled himself into with the wrong people.

Bret scratched the back of his neck. Something he did whenever he was nervous or bringing Alonzo bad news. He cleared his throat, shifting his eyes away from Alonzo’s dark, piercing gaze.

“Nike is interested in an endorsement for a new sneaker—”

“No,” Alonzo interrupted.

Bret threw his hands up in the air. “Alonzo, buddy, you didn’t even let me finish.”

Alonzo cut into the Chicken Marsala on the white plate. He speared a piece, and before putting it in his mouth he reiterated, “Not interested. I told you I’m not renewing my contract. My family needs me.”

“This deal could make us … I mean you, millions.”

“Did you not hear me?”

Alonzo didn’t care about the money. He had enough to last him three lifetimes if he continued to live sensibly.

Bret’s face turned crimson. He didn’t understand why Alonzo had to retire to help his brother Julio open and run a chain of restaurants. Bret took a sip from his drink to quench his rising anger. Hadn’t he already assisted his father in getting his auto shop up and running? And wasn’t it enough Alonzo had footed the bill for his sister Teresa to attend the most expensive fashion design school in New York? The only one in his family who hadn’t been a pain in his ass was Alonzo’s mother. Marta was happy running the household at the family’s four-thousand-square-foot home on the Main Line.

“Alonzo, Julio is a big boy. Don’t you think he can handle the ins and outs of his restaurants. I mean, come on, you’re putting up the capital. That should be enough.”

The edge in Bret’s voice was a little more forceful than he intended. He realized his mistake when Alonzo shot him a deadly glare.

Alonzo wiped the corner of his mouth with the napkin after he finished chewing and swallowing the chicken. Over the past three years, he noticed that Bret was getting greedier and greedier. Lately, he was constantly coming at him with this deal or that investment. From the beginning of his career, Alonzo’s parents drilled into his head to read over contracts and have them reviewed by a lawyer. His parent’s advice came in handy when a time or two, Alonzo would have made an unsound financial decision if he hadn’t heeded their instruction. He no longer trusted the man who once looked out for his best interest professionally.

He dropped the napkin in the center of the plate before draining the contents of his glass. Once Alonzo said what was on his mind, he was out of there.

“Bret, you more than anyone should know my family comes first. I don’t give a damn about Nike or any other company’s endorsement. I made my brother a promise and I’m sticking to it.”

Alonzo stood, peeling off enough bills to cover their meals and a generous tip. “What I give my brother is none of your damn business.”

“Man, I didn’t mean anything,” Bret backpedaled.

“Of course, you didn’t,” Alonzo snarled. Before he could make it out of the glass revolving doors a crowd of customers waiting for tables gathered around him requesting his autograph. Although in a sour mood, Alonzo plastered on his trademark smile and graciously obliged his fans.

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