Prior to Sessions, we wrote independently. The stories began to merge characters and plot lines after about a year.
The story of Cooper Stanfield, front man and lead guitar for the band Mercury Rising, and Rafael Taylor, the adopted son of a prominent policitian and his socialite wife. Mutually 'blessed' with charm, talent, arrogance and self indulgence, these two charismatic men lead difficult and broken lives that eventually bring them to confront one another. Choices have long consequences: cause great havoc, return great good, and continue to knot and tangle their children, friends and relatives together.
Cooper Stanfield: Lead singer and frontman for the rock band Mercury Rising.
(Mercury Rising: Cooper Stanfield, Heydon Mitchell, vocals and guitar; Daniel Whitney, drums; Aidan O'Malley, bass guitar)
Cooper married Julia Wilson when they were both very young, right out of high school, after knowing each other only one week.
It didn't turn out the be what either of them expected. Julia couldn't deal with Cooper's fans. Cooper was restless. Julia wanted a baby but couldn't get pregnant. Once she finally did, Julia became the target of a psychotic fan who kidnapped her and held her and her infant son, Wyatt Stanfield, captive.
Cooper believed Julia was dead and was driven almost insane when he believed he was being haunted by her. Eventually both Julia and Wyatt were rescued by Cooper and his best friend and business partner Slim Savage. Cooper was seriously injured, shot and caught in a burning house, and, although he escaped with his life, he lost his memory.
He lived with Stevie Willows, a drummer for a local band, for some time as her lover until his memory returned. Stevie basically saved his life, scraped him up off the sidewalk when she didn't know who he was, and took a chance with him. Cooper will always have a special place in his heart for her. Great sex too, so apart from the special place in his heart, he's got another special place for Stevie.
When he returned home, both he and his wife had changed; she was unable to provide the kind of emotional and mental support he needed, and he had drifted away from her, and the marriage failed. Julia never got over the loss of her husband. Their son Wyatt grew up resenting his father for making his mother miserable, a bad situation made worse when Julia was murdered on Christmas Eve when he was a teenager, and Wyatt, only a young teen, discovered her body.
Shortly after splitting with Julia, Cooper met Elizabeth Johnson, who was in the process of breaking up with her long-time lover, Tony Lombardo. She was reluctant to get involved with Cooper, seeing the situation with Julia as too similar to the problems Tony had with his ex, but Coop persevered and eventually married her.
The relationship was solid until Cooper decided to hire Ryan McDermott as a bodyguard for his wife, and then proceeded to spend most of his time on tour with the band.
A natural and enthusiastic flirt, Cooper was constantly in the tabloid and entertainment news photographed with other women.
The bodyguard and Cooper’s wife became extremely close, the attraction both physical and emotional, culminating in an affair.
Cooper’s oldest child. Raised by his mother, Wyatt is romantic, sometimes to a fault, and emotionally fragile. He never got over discovering his murdered mother’s body, and he has always wondered why his father left his mother.
During his first year at university, he became involved with his music professor, Bailey, a torrid affair that eventually came to the attention of his stepmother’s bodyguard when Wyatt took the woman to his father’s resort beach house for a weekend. Wyatt suspected that his stepmother and the bodyguard were more than employer and employee, so he resented being called on the carpet by the man. Cooper eventually discovered his son and the professor together and forced the woman to choose between Wyatt and her career, partly by bringing up the fact that they’d met before and challenging her to admit that she was fantasizing about him when she was making love to his son, a confrontation that occurred in front of his son. She chose her career, breaking Wyatt’s heart.
Wyatt has become very close to Cadence Mitchell, the daughter of Heydon Mitchell, one of the members of the band. Both of them believe they are in love (they had sex when she was still in high school) but Wyatt is concerned about repeating his father’s pattern.
Cooper’s daughter and Wyatt’s younger half-sister. Rayne grew up with her mother and her mother’s bodyguard, Ryan McDermott, since her father was touring more often than he was at home. A childhood encounter with Gabe Lombardo, a man she remembers only as ‘the prince’ who rescued her, changed her life.
She has been haunted by dreams and frustrated by her inability to find anyone who matches the standard set by a very hazy memory of someone whom, in reality, is definitely no prince.
The search for that man prompted her to seduce Ryan at a time when he was very drunk and vulnerable, immediately after he had just been publically kicked to the curb by her mother. Regretting her action, Rayne eventually confessed to Ryan that it was not her mother who came to him, a confession that destroyed his last hope.
She continues to run through men (most recently Cruz Delgato) in search of her the man she remembers distantly but is not certain was ever real. Cruz is his son, although no one but his adoptive parents know that.
Ex Navy SEAL and celebrity bodyguard. Employed for years as the personal bodyguard for Cooper’s second wife, they grew very close, living together in what was virtually a family unit while her husband toured. Ryan’s relationship with his girlfriend Landry collapsed when it became apparent to both of them that he was in love with Beth Stanfield. Shortly after they split, Landry died giving birth to their son, Riley.
A single intense sexual encounter between Ryan and Beth was photographed in graphic detail, and eventually published. Ryan made a last ditch effort to get Beth to leave Cooper, a man he is convinced considers her just one of many toys and conquests. It was dramatically unsuccessful. Emotionally gutted and unemployed, Ryan has recently accepted a dangerous job offer from Melinda Owen. (See The Chameleon)
Journalist for Rolling Stone.
The short version: Young man with issues proceeds to take down women and toss them aside. He runs afoul of his cousin Gabe, who, far from being a voice of morality, is actually driven by envy. They clash. Fight over a girl. The girl chooses Rafe, and then dumps him for his charming and sociopathic cousin. Rafe moves on, falls in love with an older woman whose grown sons don't approve. Charming cousin finds a way to take him down. Rafe ends up being used by a series of cougars. Hates it, ends up overdosing. The woman he's in love with rescues him, and then seeks revenge on his behalf. She can't manage it without retaining an attorney who is a sexual predator. He says he'll take down the primary cougar if Rafe's woman goes to bed with him. Rafe doesn't know what's going on but catches them together. Dumps girl. Dives back into depression. Charming cousin Gabe, who put Rafe in that situation to begin with, ends up owing Rafe's girl a favor, and, because he has his own strange code, tells Rafe what really happened. Laughs and walks off. And no, they do not end up good friends.
Rafe is the son of Tony Lombardo and Eden Westover Lombardo Taylor. His father was involved in a long and intense relationship with Beth Johnson Stanfield before she met Cooper. The relationship ended badly when Tony refused to commit, and caused a long and heated family feud between the two families, primarily carried on by Tony’s younger sister Camilla. Rafe has a very close and mutually protective friendship with Beth Stanfield whom he never blamed for the breakup with his father. Rafe is married to Beth Stanfield’s best friend Gayl. Rafe is a dark horse – moody, sometimes volatile, and occasionally dangerous. He killed his half brother and engineered his own mother’s death. Rafe and Cooper have a longstanding and acrimonious relationship – Rafe shares Ryan McDermott’s opinion of Cooper.
Gabriel Lombardo (Gabe):
Gabe lived on the edge from the time he was old enough to realize what he could do with his looks, charm and intelligence. Very close to his cousin Camilla Lombardo, about the only person who could be called a friend. He clashed early with his cousin Rafe, whom he envied since Rafe consistently outshone him, briefly taking the girl he wanted (Amanda Alcaide, the woman who would eventually bear Gabe’s son Cruz and who never stopped loving him although he cheated on her constantly and finally ditched her and disappeared) and the attention he wanted from Rafe’s father Tony, whom he looked up to as a father figure.
As adults, Rafe and Gabe had a poisonous relationship. However, Gabe has his own code of ethics and did Rafe more than one favor, including bringing Rafe back to his lover.
When he was faced with a debt he could not repay, and knew for certain he’d overreached and would probably not survive, as his last gesture Gabe provided Rafe with intel Rafe needed to bring down Rafe’s mother Eden Westover, an abusive sociopath Rafe hated and Gabe considered the ultimate challenge.
Shortly before the end, Gabe stumbled onto a runaway child and rescued her without knowing who she was, an act totally out of character for Gabe who never did anything without the prospect of personal gain. The emotional connection was instant and mutual. The child was Rayne Stanfield.
Character Backstory Prior to the Older Work (there was some...)
Rafe Taylor: son of Eden Westover Lombardo Taylor and Anthony Lombardo. He grew up with his mother and her third husband, unaware of his biological father. He was a lonely and abused child. When he was a teenager, his cousin Gabe and Gabe's girlfriend Amanda ran into him, saw the striking family resemblance, and Gabe began to investigate (motivated by curiosity and hatred of his Aunt). Rafe met his biological father and moved in with him.
Confused and emotionally whiplashed, Rafe took out his anger and resentment of women in general when he was in college, deliberately seducing and abandoning them. He had constant conflicts with his cousin Gabe, who was jealous of the attention Rafe received not only from women but from his uncle Tony who had been a father figure to him. Both young men behaved badly. When Gabe set up a sting, got a video of Rafe having sex and posted it on the internet, Rafe's mother disowned him, leaving him with no money and few skills. His father was unable to make up the difference.
Rafe took a job as a personal trainer and met an older woman who took advantage of his precarious financial situation and forced him into a sexual relationship, which she then escalated, basically pimping him out. At the same time, he took a side job as a tutor for the son of a young widow. Rafe fell deeply in love with her. Already emotionally fragile, afraid he was going to lose the woman he loved, pressured into behavior he found increasingly repugnant, he began to collapse and eventually overdosed. He quit college, moved in with Gayl, and tried to pick up a broken life.
Rafe's father Tony was involved with a woman (Elizabeth Johnson) who befriended Rafe even as her relationship with his father was unraveling. She was his lover's (now his wife) best friend as well. The relationship, never romantic or sexual, grew over time into a close and mutually protective friendship. Beth risked her new relationship with Cooper Stanfield to help Rafe. Rafe never forgot it. (Neither did Cooper.) Rafe does not think Cooper treats his friend right, and his relationship with Cooper has, as a result, always been antagonistic.
Gabe and Rafe continued to spar, sometimes in open confrontation with mutual physical threats. However, when Gabe discovered serious criminal activity conducted by Rafe's mother, he turned over the information in what Gabe believed to be one of his last acts before his own criminal problems resulted in his death. Rafe, after consulting with his Aunt Camilla (his father's somewhat eccentric sister), acted on the information. It resulted in his mother's death. He grieved Gabe's presumed death more than his mother's, finally understanding Gabe's own emotional confusion and envy and acknowledging that Gabe had been willing to risk his life for him.
Gabe is the son of Don Lombardo and Ellen Boyd. His mother died in childbirth. His father was kind but absent and preoccupied with his own life. Gabe turned to his uncle Tony for support and became very attached to him. To Gabe, Tony was his father.
Gabe was a bright, restless, and charismatic teenager. He inherited his mother's pale complexion, blue eyes and slender build, something that bothered him since he compared himself to his uncle Tony's much larger and more muscular frame. It didn't slow him down much, though. He went through several girlfriends before forming what would be a lasting relationship with Amanda Alcaide, the beautiful, spoiled, equally bright and charismatic daughter of a nightclub owner.
Gabe went after his uncle Tony's first wife, Eden Westover Lombardo Taylor, partly because he hated her and partly because that's what he did. He was instrumental in discovering that her son, supposedly with her second husband, was actually his uncle's child. He received the gratitude he craved from Tony, but the gesture backfired on him. The boy, Rafe, was physically everything Gabe was not, and Tony's attention turned from Gabe to his son.
Gabe attended the same college as Rafe. Already envious, his anger spiraled when his Amanda got involved with Rafe. Gabe turned his now considerable expertise at hunting down and destroying people on Rafe. He began a deliberate campaign to both take down Rafe and to imitate him, putting on muscle, tanning, all the while going deeper into semi criminal enterprises. He enjoyed the challenge. He was very very good at it. Amanda went back and forth between the two cousins although her real love was undoubtedly always Gabe who never admitted he loved her, and actually never did care for her as much as she cared for him.
Gabe's life after college became increasingly chaotic. He had a formidable reputation. He had a formidable physique. He could neither settle on anything nor decide where to go and got deeper and deeper into trouble as gambling debts mounted up and friends and family turned away from him. Briefly employed by Cooper, Gabe attempted to steal company funds to cover some of his debt. Cooper, who was definitely not intimidated by him, discovered it, confronted him, and . His Aunt Camilla, Tony's much younger sister, was his only real friend, and her sympathy was limited. He finally married a woman he didn't like to pay off a debt, then kept the cash and ran.
On the run, Gabe had a brief encounter with a little girl he met on a dark beach in the middle of winter. Although he rarely did anything that didn't serve his own purposes, he rescued her and made an attempt to find out who she was and return her. She was Rayne Stanfield, Cooper's daughter. The incident had a lifelong impact on Rayne; Gabe, although he remembered her fondly, not so much.
Cornered and facing reality, Gabe said goodbye to Camilla, packed up what he had on Rafe's mother (which he believed would end in her death) and sent it to Rafe, walked into a dark alley and met the enforcer he had been expecting. He left behind a pregnant Amanda, a little girl who believed he was a prince, a cousin he had hounded relentlessly, and a larger than life mystique. He became a legend.