During my journey to be a full-time storyteller, I made several stops along the way to be a waitress, bartender, bill-collector, bank teller, clerk at Blockbuster Video, dishwasher, prep-cook, a wanna be crypto-zoologist, and finally settling in as a pediatric and adult trauma/critical care nurse for 10 years before starting my career as a writer.
Now, I spend my time in front of a keyboard, coming up with (hopefully) fantastic and entertaining stories to pay for my buying too many books habit and the endless cups of coffee I drink on a daily basis.
Jacob Dante had given up on women and planned to focus only on building a fat financial portfolio and living life as a single guy, until a mulitilingual bookworm bride ran into the men’s bathroom and sent his mind into overdrive.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background? How you got to where you are today?
My family is Italian. My grandparents’ grandparents immigrated in the mid- 1800’s and they settled in New York for many years, but when he was offered to work a new railroad job he took it. That ended up being the Macaroni Line so got to move his family to a place where he could have land, Texas. My family had property outside of Dallas for years, but about twenty years ago, my parents moved into the city, but kept the property outside of town as a place to get away from it all.
Even though we’ve been here in Dallas for years, we always kept speaking Italian, so I’m fluent. In my family, it’s important that we know at least two languages by the time we graduate high school and all my sisters, I’ve got three ( Carmen, Mia, and Anna), know three: Italian, English, and Spanish.
Our family is very close and my parents have been together since they were teenagers. They are amazing parents and I aspire to be like them in everyway.
Before I met Megan, I was an engineer, working a job I hated because the office where I worked didn’t have many windows and the work wasn’t challenging. I wanted something more active and it really bothered me that so many of my co-workers were unhealthy.
After griping about it to my friend Porter, he told me I should get my personal training certification and he’d pay for me to go back to school for my MBA if I’d run a health club he planned to open in two years. Porter’s a self-made millionaire and he and I have known each other since high school. He tutored me in my classes after I hurt my hand and was unable to play baseball anymore.
In return, I helped Porter lose about 100 pounds when we were in high school. It took him three years, but he did it and he’s always been grateful.
After Porter offered to pay for me to go back to school, the next week, I gave my notice and started classes to become a personal trainer. Now I run the club and we’re opening more, some specializing in helping families and focusing on childhood obesity.
2. How did you and Megan meet? In a carwash bathroom. I was in there and she walked in. At first, I thought it was a guy in drag. It is Dallas after all, but after she started talking to me, I knew it was a woman. A smart woman who I kept talking to because I wanted to meet her.
3. What attracted you about her first? Damn, if she wasn’t the cutest disaster I’d ever seen. When she walked out of that stall, her make-up running down her face and that obnoxious wedding dress she was a mess. Then she smiled at me and I couldn’t get my feet to move. Something in my gut told me to stay because if I left, I’d lose a once in a lifetime chance.
4. Megan’s always been battling a weight problem. Did that turn you off when you met her? Megan didn’t have a weight problem. She had a problem with how she saw her weight. She hid behind it for a long time, but after I talked to her that first time, I saw the hint of a woman who wanted more from life. I’ve done enough personal training to know what people are willing to put in the work and who’s going to complain and do nothing. Who’s using weight as an excuse and who’s excusing their weight.
Megan had a fire about her, a passion that made me know she could succeed in her goals. All she needed was to be pointed in the right direction. I’m glad my sister, Carmen helped her with all that because I think it turned out better that she helped Megan instead of me. I got to sit in the background and be there from time to time, but it killed me not to be near her as much as I could at first.
5. What do you look for in a woman? I want a woman who’s confident, who can stand on her own two feet, but allows me to sweep her off hers. Someone who’s rationale, but doesn’t take herself seriously. A woman who stands up for herself when she needs to, but listens and knows, is aware of the world around her.
Speaking Italian is a big plus and being around my family, it’s necessary.
What’s special about Megan that made you pursue her? I’d dated a lot of different women, had a few relationships, but Meggie, well, there’s no one to compare to Cara Mia.
She’s the smartest, sexiest woman I’ve ever met. She speaks seven languages and can flow between them without thinking. Damn, she’s sexy when she does that, but when she speaks Italian (glazes over then notices us)…oh right. You were asking what made me pursue her.
The way she turned her life around, discovered her strengths and how incredible she was made me want her in my life even more. Each day, I’d see her light up when she’d accomplished something she’d put on her goals’ list and it was so damned sexy.
She’s tough, driven, and I know if anything happened to me, she’d be able to handle it, but I plan to be around a long time.
6. Didn’t you think it odd to find a woman in the men’s room in her wedding dress? Did that make you think she was nuts? Most men would run in the opposite direction. Look, I live in Dallas so if I ran the opposite direction every time I saw something “weird”, that’s all I’d do, but you’re right, I wondered if I should stay and talk to her when I realized it was a woman and not a guy in drag. Then she started quoting movie lines and called me a priest. She had a wicked sense of humor, it made me curious to learn more about her because what I expected was a spoiled bride on the run and she was anything but spoiled. She was the most rationale person I’d met and that says something because she had just created an irrational situation.
7. When did you realize you were in love with Megan? When she spoke Italian for the first time, it made my gut clench. Something about how she said she had to do laundry made me realize this was a woman who was honest, good-natured, and she had the most amazing eyes. Then she came in and her first workout, the initial work-up to see where you are on the fitness levels and I don’t remember how she ranked in each category, but she kept going. She never complained or stopped or made excuses. She just kept going and looking back, that’s when I fell in love with her.
8. How did you convince her? That was the hardest part of all this. She’d just run away from her wedding and my sister, Carmen, said not to pursue Megan then because if I did, I could end up the rebound guy. I sure as hell didn’t want that.
As the months went by, I had trouble staying away, but my sister always kept me informed of Megan’s progress. It killed me not to be near her because anything I heard about her made me want her more, but I’d see her at the gym a few times a week and I had coffee with her a few times. The farther out from her wedding day she got, the more comfortable she seemed to be with me, so I asked her to lunch and we had a good time.
Then she stood up for herself against a psycho ex-girlfriend of mine and I couldn’t wait any longer. I went to her apartment and kissed her as soon as she closed the door. Everyday since then, I’ve done a whole lot of (coughs) convincing to keep her very happy.
9. What’s the most romantic thing you did to let Megan know you feel about her? I speak Italian to her first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I call her bellissima which means beauty. I also took her to meet my parents and I hadn’t taken a girl home since high school. It meant a lot to me for them to meet her.
Then there’s other things I do, but I don’t want to get into detail here. Just know when she’s smiling in the mornings, I had a whole lot to do with that.
A And here’s a great excerpt:
Tears began to pool, again, as a few ran down my face.
“Ever wanted a do-over day?” I dried my face, only to pull away a makeup-covered wad of paper. Ugh.
“We all do.” Pause. “I guess this is one of those days?”
An escaped giggle filled the room. “Man, you’re good.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“Show off.” My phone vibrated, again. I ignored it.
“Yeah, but I’m sure his is worse.”
I took a slow, deep breath. “Why? He’s a nice guy and I left him at the altar. He’s still there, dealing with everyone, while I’m in a car wash bathroom confessional.”
“Hard to say. Neither of you had good luck today.”
Shaking my head, I almost broke the beading off my gown, as I wrapped the lace accents around my fingers. “It’s not his fault, really. It’s mine.”
I stomped my foot. “Why? Why?That’s the sixty–four thousand dollar question, isn’t it?”
“But you didn’t answer myquestion.”
“You sure you’re not a priest?”
“That’s not my question.”
“I know that, but you play the guilt card so well.”
“Believe me, I’m far from being a priest.”
My stomach knotted as the image of a very hurt Travis flashed through my mind. More tears. “When the preacher asked if ‘I do’, all I could think of was ‘I don’t’ and ‘I can’t.’” I sniffed and dabbed my wet face, again. “Please don’t ask me why. I truly don’t know.”
Enough time passed that I figured he thought I was some histrionic or spoiled bride–to–be and not worth the effort of an answer.
“You said he was a nice guy.”
I rested my head against the stall door. “He was.” I hiccupped. “I mean, he is.”
“But you said no. Maybe he’s a nice guy, just not the right guy.”
My heart slammed in my chest as I heard the words out loud. This guy couldn’t be more on the money. All this time I kept telling myself Travis was such a nice guy, but I never asked if he was the right one. “You sound like a chick flick movie.”
“I’ve got three sisters. I’ve been forced to watch my share of them. And Oprah.”
I liked the way his subtle, southern drawl lengthened his ‘I’s’. “I’ve got three brothers, so I’ve seen everything to do with aliens, losing your virginity in high school, the military, and superheroes.”
He chuckled. “Coming out of there anytime soon?”
“I probably should.” My tears finally slowed. After wiping my face again, and knowing I’d ruined the two–hundred dollar makeup session I had not three hours ago, I needed to look in the mirror. “All right, I’m coming out.”
“Wow. You’re coming out already? I am good.”
I could feel the corners of my mouth lift. “No. My vanity has taken over.”
“I need to look in the mirror, because I think I might resemble a drunken circus clown after smearing all this makeup.”
“That sounds … interesting.”
“Okay, I’m coming out.” I tried to straighten my overly beaded and ridiculously poufy dress. At least I’d opted not to wear the stupid petticoat before the service, much to my mother’s dismay. If not, I’d never have fit through the bathroom stall opening without getting snagged.
“Do you want me to leave?”
“Only if you don’t want to see a spazzed–out bride who probably looks like a circus freak.”
Taking a deep breath, I inhaled the lemon scented cleaner, stood up straight, and unlocked the door.
When I looked out, I saw him standing against the opposite wall with his hands stuffed in his pockets.
“You’re actually sticking around?” My hands fiddled with my phone. “Really?”
I paused as I caught a quick glimpse of him. He stood at least six–feet, brown hair, nice frame. Before I could get a better look, a glob of mascara and fake eyelashes clouded my vision. I pressed the wadded–up paper against my eye in an attempt to keep the makeup at bay. “Isn’t that a big no–no for confession? You’re not supposed to know what the confessor looks like. That’s part of the decompression process.”
He shrugged. “It’s not a secret. The priest knows who’s in the box, right?”
“You knew it was me in there, huh? Seems a bit unethical.” I dabbed at my eyes with a ball of toilet paper, clearing my line of sight for a second.
“You forget. I’m not a priest.”
Where can you find Jacob?