A few years ago, I met Tmonique via Savvy Authors. We were in a critique group together, and I'm thrilled to host her.
Interview with Roman Nicolis
After weeks of begging for an interview, Roman Nicolis agreed to meet at a restaurant one block away from his Park Avenue townhouse. I was calm, cool and collected until Roman walked in. 6’7” and muscular with wavy dark hair and intense blue eyes, I swallowed the drool forming and nearly fanned myself. I had to stay focused. I wasn’t here to drool over the man. I had questions that needed to be answered.
His hand swallowed mine when he shook it. He sat opposite me and ordered a scotch neat.
“Would you like something Ms. Stephens?” he asked while the waitress waited.
Yes, but a fruity drink wouldn’t steady my nerves. “Water, please.” As the waitress walked away Roman’s full attention landed on me. “I don’t have much time so let’s get this over with.”
Thanks for the prodding. I whipped the tape recorder from my purse. We already agreed I could record the interview so I didn’t expect him to balk. He scowled, but said nothing. I pressed record and began.
“Hi this is Tmonique Stephens, I’m here interviewing Roman Nicolis, CEO of Nicolis Security. Formerly, one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City who has finally agreed to sit down and talk to me.
“Sir, you’ve been missing from your company and the city for two months. Why the disappearing act?”
Roman Nicolis. “I’ve been on an extended vacation.”
TMS: “To where. There’s no record of you leaving the country.”
RN: “Are you stalking me, Ms. Stephens?” (a smile tweaked the corner of his mouth)
TMS: “Yes, I am. Mr. Nicolis, there has been some speculation on how you’ve made most of your personal fortune. Some say your company is just a cover for illegal activity overseas. Care to comment?”
Roman Nicolis: “I don’t comment on speculation.”
TMS: “So you’re not issuing a denial?”
RN: “There’s nothing to deny or confirm.”
TMS: “O.K.” (shuffles through some papers) “How’s the wedding preparations coming along with your lovely fiancée, Bianca Maylor?”
RN: (his face becomes shuttered) “I’m no longer engaged.”
TMS: “Really, the wedding was three months away. Is it because of houseguest, Miss Stella Walker that you’re no longer engaged?”
RN: “My personal life isn’t up for discussion.”
(The waitress returns with his scotch and my water. He downs his in a single gulp while I try not to choke on mine. His lips are compressed into a thin angry line)
TMS: “Okay, next question. You have a very interesting family. Can you tell us more about them?
RN: “There is not much to tell. I have 6 brothers. Thane, E.J., Avery, Tyrone, Brayden and Quin. Oh, and Hector, my butler.”
TMS: “Yes, but they’re not really your brothers. Not biologically.”
RN: “Blood couldn’t make us any closer. Many are descendants of my sister Aria. They were orphaned and adopted by me.”
TMS: “Wait, descendants of you sister? Just how old are you?”
RN: (His smile turned and wasn’t warm or welcoming)
TMS: “You look surprisingly youthful for someone who adopted several young boys who are now adult men. What’s your secret?”
RN: “Plenty of water and eight hours of sleep”
TMS: “Who lets a single man adopt young boys?”
RN: “Are you saying I did something illegal?”
TMS: “Did you?”
RN: (He gives a cool chuckle) “No. Next question?”
TMS: “Alright. Is it true there has been a Nicolis in every war since The Revolution?”
RN: “. . . Possibly.”
TMS: “More than possibly. I’ve done some research and dating back to the 1777 there’s documentation of one a Roman Marius Nicolis. And in each subsequent war I’ve found variations of that name until The Vietnam war. You come from a long line of military men.”
RN: “Is that an insult or a compliment, Mrs. Stephens?”
TMS: “Definitely a compliment. I also discovered some pictures of those men. They all have a striking resemblance to you. Any comment.”
RN: “Strong genes.”
TMS: “Speaking of genes, is there anything you’d like to say about your twin?”
RN: “My twin is dead. There’s nothing more to say. Next question.”
His anger surprised me. Flustered, I shuffled my papers trying to get the interview on track.
TMS: “Now that you’re single again the ladies will hang me if I don’t ask you some questions, so here goes. Blonde, brunette or red head?”
TMS: “Miss Maylor is blonde while Miss Walker is brunette. Interesting. Petite or statuesque?”
TMS: “Athletic or curvaceous?”
RN: (sighs) “This is ridiculous.”
TMS: “I must placate my female reader, please.”
RN: (leans closer) “You want to know what type of woman I’m attracted to? I’ll tell you without the silly questions. I want a woman with a mind of her own. One who knows what she wants and won’t stop until she gets it. One who isn’t afraid of life and living. A woman who will love me as much as I love her.”
Whoa! I can’t take my eyes off him. His intensity is intoxicating. A drug I would gladly get addicted too. I grab my water and slowly drain the glass. After a deep breath I was ready to continue.
TMS: “Have you already met the next Mrs. Roman Nicolis?”
A wry smile flashed across his face, but his eyes were forlorn.
RN: “I have time for a final question, Ms. Stephens.”
TMS: “What is your biggest regret, Mr. Nicolis?”
RN: “This interview.”
TMS: “Come on. Give me one.”
RN: “… I have many regrets. None I care to share with your rapacious readers.”
TMS: “Why did you agree?”
RN: “Lack of good judgment.” (He stood) “Your time is up Ms. Stephens.”
TMS: “One last question. If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?”
RN: (He pauses. For a brief moment his gaze becomes distant, almost wistful. Then his features became guarded) “I’d change nothing. I would live my life as I have, on my own terms with no regrets.” (He leaves)
“Don’t ever run from me again,” he ordered inches from her lips. And though she nodded, her mind thought of inventive ways to make him kiss her like that again.
“Why did you run?” he asked when they were walking again.
“I didn’t run. I left. I needed some fresh air and what better place than the park?”
“I can’t say I understand what’s going on, Stella. In many ways, I’m as confused as you are to the how’s and why’s, and that is not something I’m in the least bit happy with. In a short span of time, much has happened to you. You’ve handled it as best as you could. Another woman would’ve cracked. Not you. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you.”
Her chest swelled and her spine straightened a little more. When was the last time someone said that to her. Someone that mattered. And when did Roman, his opinion and approval, matter? And would he still feel the same way if he knew the truth. The truth that wasn’t included in the file he had on her?
She stopped at the edge of the Great Lawn. People still lingered as twilight gathered, but none close by. She sat beneath her tree.
“That was my favorite spot.” She pointed to a nearby hedge. “I spent a few weeks here after I ran away from my last foster home.” A summer spent in the park, hiding herself and the few possessions she managed to gather. A shudder raced through her and she chewed her bottom lip. Memories of cold, hungry nights choked her. Out of everything she could’ve shared, why did she pick one of the most painful?
She cast a fleeting look at him. Thunder engulfed his features turning him into a hulking menace.
“What happened in foster care?” His voice dropped so low she barely heard him.
“N-nothing,” she looked away. Firm fingers clasped her chin and returned her attention to him. He searched her face, looking for a way to force her to tell him.
Would he hurt me?
With night gathering and no one nearby, he could kill her and dump her body in her old hiding place. No one would find her until she stank. She had to get away.
The fingers gripping her chin stroked her jaw and glided down the column of her throat, stalling her instinct to flee, making her long for something she never had. She closed her eyes against that traitorous emotion and tilted her face into the moonlight.
The wind bathed her in a cool breeze, lifting her bang off her face and revealing her scar. Let him look. Let him see exactly how horrible it is. Maybe then he could deal with the scars on the inside, the ones keeping her from moving forward and claiming whatever joy this life had to offer.
Brave thoughts didn’t give her strength to open her eyes. Pity and disgust wasn’t something she wanted to see on his face.
The calloused pad of his thumb stroked her scar and left an aching trail of awareness spreading across nerve endings that—until recently—slumbered blissfully ignorant of passion. Now they roared to life, demanding attention. Fear sliced through her. What if she looked and all she saw was revulsion?
Then you’d know. Her eyes opened.
Love stared back.
Unshed tears blurred her vision.
Roman’s hand dropped to his side. “Don’t cry. I—I won't—”
She leaped into his arms. He caught her, tumbling back onto the grass. She landed on top of his body.
Tears pelted his face. Another man would have flinched from her ghastly display and pushed her away or at the least, shield himself. Roman waited, one hand on the small of her back, the other pushing her tousled hair behind her ears and wiping away the river cascading from her eyes.
“Sweetheart, please, tell me what’s wrong?”
She couldn’t, at least not at this moment. Not when her heart was raw and wide open. With almost no effort, every wall she erected, Roman destroyed. Now the rubble lay at her feet. Instinct told her to rebuild—quickly—before it was too late.
As she looked down into his face, she realized late had passed days ago. Maybe it was the meals he fed her, or how he didn’t balk when she wanted to learn how to defend herself. Maybe it was the nights spent safely sheltered in his arms and the way his gaze caressed her? There was something about him she craved . . . even loved?
Oh God, anything but that!
In high school, Tmonique Stephens wrote her first novel about a reporter and a hockey player after the U.S. hockey team won gold in the 1980 Olympics. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from City College of New York where she won an English Department Award for her play Tea with Salt in 1987. She took a break to graduate from college, get married, have a daughter, but she never gave up on her dream.
She loves paranormal and fantasy romances and will read anything about fairies, demons, or angels. She also enjoys Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The first romance she remembers reading was a Harlequin about a sheikh and his forbidden love for an American woman way back in middle school. That’s before loves scene were included. Tmonique loves writing flawed characters who reflect the emotional baggage we all carry. She writes complicated stories for complicated people. Hopefully, you will enjoy her efforts.
Tmonique Stephens was born in St. Thomas USVI, but she grew up in The Bronx, New York one mile from Yankee Stadium. She loves the SyFy and History channels, and Asian cuisine. But her heart and stomach longs for anything from the Caribbean. Have any Caribbean recipes out there? Please share! Her mother died before she had a chance to teach Caribbean cooking secrets.
Currently, Tmonique is working on an Egyptian God series. Why the Egyptian Gods, you ask? She challenges that with, “Why not?” All the other gods have been extensively covered, except the Egyptians. Undiscovered territory has always appealed to her.
Expect her first book, Eternity, out this August from Soulmate publishing. You can find her on her fan page Author Tmonique Stephens and Like her.
Also stop by http://www.tmoniquestephens.com for more information on future projects.
Eternity Book trailer on YouTube.