The MPire: In Search of the Lost an enchanted journey into Mallory Haulm’s world, as he faces the ultimate reign of power of biblical proportions filled with family drama and corporate greed.
The trilogy of The MPire starts with, In Search of the Lost, which is the story Mallory Towneson Haulm, a sexy financial powerhouse, who lives in a quasi paradise in Austin, Texas. His opulent world is decorated with expensive toys and women more exquisite than an exotic candy shop.
After fourteen years of separation from his family, Mallory is summoned to return home to join The Family Business. Poised for success, Mallory is focused on turning around the ailing business, not realizing that taking his assigned reigns will put him in a position of unrelenting power which he is unaware he even has. His world crashes as he reunites with his brothers and becomes Death, the forth horseman of the Apocalypse.
With every complication popping up in his life, the biggest one by far is in the form of an old love from the past coming back to reclaim the spot in Mallory’s heart.
The MPire: In Search of the Lost
Author: TL James
Price: $18.95 US
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Page Count: 366
Binding: Trade Paperback
Publisher: PHE Ink
Read an excerpt!
“What are two queer eyes chatting about?” Marek rushed behind them flinging his arms on their shoulders and forcing them to break physical contact. Mallory and Matthew rolled their eyes and didn’t respond. “Hey that’s a strange painting.”
“Yeah it is,” Matthew grimaced.
Mallory approached the painting slowly, “Abstract of Brownstone … that’s a Jacob Lawrence piece. Someone re-created this painting. This is a good rendition.”
“Who’s Jacob Lawrence?” Marek questioned.
“A prominent black artist from Harlem who died a couple of years ago. I have couple of his paintings in my house,” Mallory answered.
“You know, one of them is over the fireplace.”
“That nasty one?”
“It’s not nasty, dumb ass, its art.”
The artist of the painting, who was the cashier from the music store, emerged.
“So what does the painting say to you?” Marek joked with her not knowing that she was the artist but she looked through him as if he wasn’t there
Elektra stood tall and slender. Her black cutaway dress displayed her perfectly Brazilian tanned skin and hugged her beautiful hourglass shape. When Mallory last saw her, she wore her hair in a bun, but tonight her hair was wildly curly and teased. Her smoked makeup defined her full-size almond shaped hazel brown eyes.
“She’s an ice bitch.” Marek grimaced and walked away.
Mallory studied the painting. “Abstract of Brownstone … man this moves me … the yellow is off,” he said in a trance.
“Excuse me.” She floated passed Marek toward Mallory. “Can I help you?”
Mallory made no eye contact with her and continued to study the painting.
“I’m speaking to you. You said that the yellow is off,” she said placing her body between him and the artwork.
“It is.” He frowned and pointed out the yellow throughout the painting.
“It’s an abstract of what the artist sees.”
“I see that the yellow is off.” Mallory stepped back a bit and fixed his eyes on the painting.
“Fine. I guess I should accept your opinion as an opinion.” She stepped in closer to him, forcing him to focus on her.
“Why are you uptight?” He noticed a tiny freckle on her upper check just below her hazel brown eye. “Elektra?” He stepped back. She confirmed nonverbally. “I like it! It moves me. I have several of Lawrence’s original pieces. Don’t mind me; I’m just a buyer not an artist.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “Buyer?”
“How much does this shit cost?” Marek rudely interjected.
“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” she said keeping her eyes fixed on Mallory.
Mallory gave a sly grin and then whispered, “Seriously how much?”
“Dollars or cents?” Marek shouted.
She frowned at Mallory with disgust and he responded with embarrassment. “Why do you need to know?”
Mallory locked his eyes on hers getting really close to her, gently licking her lips and whispered, “So I know how much should I write the check for.”
She gently smiled exposing her tongue and the tip of his tongue touched hers. He took a few steps back then said, “I can make it for sixteen if you’ll have dinner with me.” He turned and walked away not waiting for an answer.
Marek was stunned as he watched Mallory in action. “Damn he’s good,” he mumbled to himself as he watched her watch Mallory walk away. He looked back at Elektra and asked to himself, Why does she look so familiar? He shrugged his shoulders and caught up with Mallory. “What are we doing next?” Marek asked.
“Dinner?” Matthew interjected.
“That’s cool.” Mallory agreed as he walked toward the exit.
“Molina’s,” Marek suggested.
“No Molina’s.” Mallory sharply answered as he pulled out his checkbook and walked up to the desk.
“Why not?” The brothers followed him to the desk.
“Monsieur Towneson.” The lady at the information desk smiled when she saw him.
“Mademoiselle Leslie, combien pour la peinture, s’il vous plait?”
“What?” Marek butted in.
“How much for the painting, please?” Mallory translated as he pulled out a pen.
Marek was astonished. “Oh shit, Mallory can speak French.”
“Veuillez excuser mon frère.” Mallory shook his head and frowned.
“I’m apologizing for your dumb ass.”
“Aucun problème, il est quatorze mille,” Leslie answered.
“Je payerai seize mille,” Mallory said.
“Grande, elle sera heureuse,”
“Je l’espère. J’ai vraiment comme elle. Je reprendrai la peinture à 6 h le dimanche soir.” He smiled and handed her the check.
“What did you just say then?”
Mallory shot him a look that told him that he was getting tired of him. “Do I have to translate my entire conversation?”
“Nawh muthafucka! Just speak English. This is America.” Marek held up his arms.
“Pardon, mon frere,” he retrieved an appointment slip for his purchase. “Merci. Bonne nuit.”
“Merci.” She finished.
“Ignorant ass motherfuckers!” Mallory murmured. “What are you bitching about?” Mallory scowled.
“What did you say?” Marek questioned.
He huffed. “The price for the painting is fourteen, I paid sixteen. I’m picking it up on Sunday.”
“You said more shit than that.”
“It just sounded like I did. Now, what about dinner?”
“Monsieur Towneson …” Elektra floated up behind Mallory with his check in her slender hand.
“Oui?” He turned around.
“How will I know that this check will clear?”
“Consult Mademoiselle Leslie, bonne nuit.” Mallory walked out of the gallery. “No Molina’s.” Mallory motioned the valet to get his convertible BMW.
“Why not?” Marek questioned.
“I just lost one fuck partner, and I can’t afford to lose another.”
“Lost one? How many do you have?” Marek continued.
“One less than I had last week.” Mallory got in the car while staring at Marc.
“Marc!” Marek screamed, “You fuck that bitch! You know better than that shit! You need your ass beat,” Marek fussed.
“Hey I apologized to Mallory,” Marc quickly turned to Mallory, “I apologized to you.” Marc motioned surrender to this continuing argument.
“I know that and we’re cool. First time shame on me … the second time I fuck you. I don’t think that you want Claire to leave your ass over my dick.”
“Mallory!” Marc towered over the car.
“She has already seen it.” Mallory pushed him off so he wouldn’t mess up the shine.
“I knew it! Remember he was mad the whole night. This muthafucka almost flipped that damn truck over.” Marek walked up to Marc and pushed him off the car. “Marc, you’re scandalous.”
“Mallory, I’m sorry. Let it go.” Marc fought off Marek’s attack and leaned back onto the car.
“Fine! Just no Molina’s. We can go to Duke’s or PF Chang’s or anywhere else,” Mallory forced the car in gear and revved the engine.
“Let’s go to Chang’s, baby. Duke’s is nasty,” Matthew interjected before jumping in his Audi.
“I agree,” Marlon said. “I also agree that you’re scandalous. You wanna get another ass whooping by a different brother?”
“Shut up Marlon!” Marc snapped. “We’re going to Chang’s?”
“Yes, Chang’s,” Matthew said before he almost ran over Marc.
“Wait up, MT, I’m riding with you.” Marek ran over the passenger side of the BMW and waited for Mallory to unlock the door. He jumped in seconds before Mallory drove off. Matthew sped off in close pursuit of Mallory’s car. Marc and Marlon jogged to their car in attempt to catch up with the others.
“Mallory, why didn’t you say something?” Marek fussed.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Marek looked at Mallory closely and saw pain written on his face. He didn’t want to push Mallory too far, so he decided to postpone that conversation. “Okay, tell me this?”
Mallory sighed and answered, “What?”
“You paid sixteen hundred or grand?”
“Price of admission.”
“Who? The ice bitch?”
“Elektra.” Mallory corrected him. Marek noticed Mallory’s expression changed from angry to a beaming smile. He liked her. “I have been watching her for months. I always get my music every other Tuesday when she works.”
“You like her that much?”
“Oh yes, I decided to make my move tonight.”
“You know I studied my paintings days before tonight. I wanted to find something in my painting that wasn’t in hers. I couldn’t find anything.”
“That yellow shit.”
“I made that up. I couldn’t find anything.”
“Damn, you’re good.”
“Do you think she’s going to bite?”
“I hope so.”
“My plans don’t come out perfect all the time.”
“It sure looks like it.”
“I didn’t plan on losing Amanda.”
“Can I ask you another question?” Marek asked, frowning at Mallory. “Do you pay for all your pussy?”
Mallory laughed, “Bloody hell no!”
Marek continued. “I’m serious. I mean, you pay two grand a month at a restaurant to fuck one woman, you bought paint-by-numbers picture from one woman, and you bought a hotel for that Amanda bitch.”
“I co-own a hotel.”
“Yeah, co-own… okay.” Marek motioned his fingers as quotation marks then he waited for Mallory to spill the truth about the hotel.
“Bloody fine! I bought her the hotel for an annulment.”
“You were really married to her?”
“Not really… yes.”
“Mallory? That bitch is your wife?”
“No not really… I mean it was a Vegas wedding… with an Elvis guy and flowers… and a three carat ring.”
“That smells like marriage to me. Shit everything could be jeopardized. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! But you asked for an annulment, I don’t know how that plays out. She wasn’t a virgin when you fucked her, right?” Mallory reluctantly shook his head yes. “Shit!”
“What do you mean jeopardize?”
“Mallory, Haulm men don’t get annulments or divorces. We replace them when they die.” Marek screamed.
“That’s fine. She didn’t marry a Haulm… she married a Towneson… almost,” Mallory explained. “I never signed the marriage license. I couldn’t. That’s why I bought her the hotel.”
“Oh … okay. So what’s up with the co-own bullshit.”
“I don’t want people thinking I pay for pussy.”
“But you do! And hefty amounts. Shit I wish I had a pussy.” He quickly corrected and grabbed his manhood. “NO I DON’T … I didn’t mean it. I love my dick. I didn’t mean that shit!”
Mallory laughed at him.
Marek was pleased that he broken that hurt spirit in Mallory. “Did you love her?”
“Yes, I love all of them. But she was special.” Mallory frowned then asked, “What happened to Elysse?”
Marek shrugged his shoulders avoiding any eye contact.
“It doesn’t matter. Elysse is gone… Amanda is gone … I’m losing everything. I’m going to miss her …” Hurt spread across his face.
“Amanda?” Mallory shook his head. “You’re really touched about that.”
“Hell I am, Amanda knew better.”
“Amanda? Marc knew better!”
“I knew that Marc would do some shit like that if given the opportunity. I had a feeling. I can’t explain it. I just feel it. He hates me.”
Marek looked at him strangely “Marc? He’s your brother. He can’t hate you and love you at the same time.”
“There are many levels of hate, Marek.”
“I don’t think that’s it. I just think he wants you to be a mini Marc version. You know that Marlon and me don’t fit. And Matthew is a very different animal. You were his last hope. And now you won’t fit.”
“I mean, Mallory, before you showed up a couple of years ago, he thought that he hung the moon.”
“That’s fine! He can be the bloody moon hanger. He can hold the perfect status. I don’t want to be perfect, just me.”
“That’s just it. You’re perfect. You got the cars, house, freedom, and lots of beautiful women that would probably fuck you for free but you pay for pussy.”
“Believe me it’s a lonely life.”
“Shit! Make me lonely like that … not the paying for pussy. I ain’t doing that.”
Mallory laughed. “Nevertheless, it’s lonely. He has a wonderful life. He has four beautiful children and —”
“Five,” Marek sharply corrected him.
“One on the way. It seems that every time she looks at him she ends up pregnant.”
“He just had a baby not even a year ago.”
“I guess he’s trying to populate the world. Since he can’t make us mini Marcs, he’s going to make his own clan.”
“Oh shit! I was joking about her seeing me. IT AIN’T MINE!” They laughed. “We laugh but I’m serious.”
“Stop wigging out. She ain’t even your type.” Marek answered as Mallory gave a fake sigh of relief. “He just so uptight but he don’t have a way of releasing that shit.”
“He released alright. Right in Amanda’s ass.” The pained expression returned. Marek wanted him to cheer up. “I hope it works out for you and the electric woman.”
“The ice bitch. And stop paying for pussy!”