Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MAN OF VISION: Excerpt

My first print book is out!! It's an anthology called Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction, Volume III. My story, A Man of Vision, appears in it along with stories from six other very talented authors. So, this week is dedicated to my newest release. Here is an excerpt. I hope you enjoy!

“If I may be frank,” Alessandro Rossi said after lighting his cigarette. “Signore Valtieri requires sexual release. Often.”

American expatriate Delphine Alexander sipped her wine. “If you’re trying to shock me,” she said, “it’s not working.”

The two of them sat at a café on the Rue de Vaugirard, pleasantly removed from the busy Champs Elysées. The late afternoon sun graced the street with golden light. Delphine had just finished a six-month stint with a Parisian stockbroker who decided that he could no longer keep a mistress now that he was getting married.

How ridiculously un-French of him.

As a result, she discreetly put out the word that she was without a patron. The very next day, Rossi had called with a lucrative proposition from the world-renowned sculptor, Cristoforo Valtieri of Florence, and she immediately scheduled a meeting. She adored Florence. Nestled in Tuscany with its russet rooftops and historic soul, the city called to her like a lover. She could learn a new language, add some Italian pieces to her couture wardrobe and earn a hefty fee if what Rossi said on the phone was to be believed.

“You are a true professional, Signorina Alexander,” Rossi said, exhaling smoke. “I expected nothing less.”

“Then let’s talk terms, Mr. Rossi. You mentioned that Valtieri iswilling to offer money above my usual fee. How much more, and why? Did you send him a copy of my standard contract?”

“Yes, Signore Valtieri agrees to your terms. He was actually shocked at some of the items on your taboo list. He wants only the basic services and has already undergone the tests you require.” Rossi pulled out papers that guaranteed Valtieri was free from sexually transmitted disease and laid them on the table. “The reason he offers so much extra is that he wants you on call twenty-four hours a day.”

“What?” Looking up sharply from the medical forms, she couldn’t mask her surprise. “That’s unheard of.”

“He was adamant. He requires you to live in the villa. You’ll have your own rooms, but he needs you to be available at a moment’s notice. As I said before, his needs are great.”

Delphine reached for her wine and took a controlled sip, even though she wanted a gulp. “That’s impossible. That’s slavery. I need time to myself.”

“He understands that, of course, but he works extremely odd hours and wishes for you to accommodate that. You would start with three months. Then, if both of you desire it, he is willing to extend the contract.”

“And the compensation?”

“Thirty thousand a month.”

Delphine only just stopped her jaw from dropping open. She’d spent countless hours in the bars of upscale restaurants studying the wealthy patrons and observing how they interacted with one another. She’d scrutinized femmes fatale in old movies with an attention to detail that had so far stood her in good stead. As a result, she now had a sizable nest egg in the bank, and because of the advice of a top-notchfinancial advisor, planned to retire before she was forty—still young enough to pursue whatever caught her fancy, whether it be life on a yacht in Cannes or in a quiet house in Nantucket. How many women could boast such an array of choices? Not many.

“Euros or dollars?” she asked Rossi.

“Euros.”

To cover the fact that her hand was shaking, she swirled the wine in her glass. Thirty thousand a month would buy a lot of Versace.

“Twenty-four/seven availability is an outrageous demand. I’ve never committed to anything that even comes near that.”

Rossi inclined his head in agreement. “Si, but thirty thousand Euros is more than fair, signorina.”

Delphine took a deep breath. “I need a day of rest every week. One complete day with no demands.”

“I will have to speak to him about that.”

“I also want the first month’s pay in advance. And the trial period is to be reduced. Three months is too long. I’ll try it for one.”

“This I will also confirm with him, but I believe he will be amenable.”

“One more thing then, and we have a deal.”

Though her heart pounded with anxiety over what she was about to do, Delphine flipped her customary braid over her shoulder and regarded Rossi with a cool expression.

“Tell Signore Valtieri that I won’t accept a penny less than thirty-five a month.”

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