Five people are after the same objective - only one can get it!
Barnes & Noble.com
A husband has left his wife for a bimbo.
His wife is fighting to get him back.
The bimbo is hanging on to her catch.
A philanderer has taken the husband's place.
The son is hell bent on revenge.
They cannot all win!
A fast paced drama with a surprise ending.
His yelp destroys our conversation. We are both soaked and round on our assailant.My wine, now dripping from our sodden sleeves impales three horrified gazes.
Clutching his glass, my interlocutor rushes to the washroom, leaving me hissing in air and growing two furious inches. Trembling, my now empty glass foretells trouble.
It is impossible; I cannot look or be more annoyed and, the assailant’s pathetic crouch into his jacket will not avert my onslaught.
But there are eyes around us, my colleagues are watching from the drinking mass. I am the finance director. Important, level headed, placid under panic and, my persona dictates, the core of the company. So the idiot must remain undamaged - physically.
White tissues of surrender are waved in a hand that snakes between us, smothering my humidity with absorbing presses and dabs.
“Someone bumped me,” his pitiful excuse bounces off my glare.
He is about twenty three and squirming. Ruining a director’s suit is not in his job description.
But it is Friday the thirteenth and the day of bad luck is not yet finished with me. Whilst I am furious and damp, I am incorrect; his face does not register, I am not his director. He does not work for our company so I cannot descend upon him; he is a guest, as is his girlfriend behind me, from whom the tissues fluttered.
Please remember, she is out of my sight; a surprise waiting to happen – like a jack in the box, a volcano about to erupt, or a win on the national lottery.
Innocent of the life changing drama to my rear, I continue loading my verbal harpoon and with an acetylene glare, take aim at the quivering target before me.
The scream, from behind, barely penetrated.
Vaguely, I did feel a little toe flatten beneath my heel, as my sudden step backward was a surprise to us all.
Apologies I am not short of, and usually they would have bubbled profusely - but I have gone. A wall of astonishment has collapsed upon me as in a daze I stare from the rubble of normality.
Hijacked from my control and captured in a painful stare, my eyes are cracking - but a blink would be sacrilegious; a blink would miss a microsecond of the shimmering, delightful, joy before me.
The room, the company, and the cocktail party whirl out, blurring behind the beguiling smile of this superb, breathtaking, goddess.
Attractive, slim, blonde, vivacious, fresh, and she has incited - it could not be stopped - a gulp.
A gulp that shared surprised and recognition. Her smile pulls me closer, we exchange memories with looks only we can interpret, her warmth obliterating my soulless networking of the company cocktail party
A head will not turn if the eyes refuse to follow, and a glance too long at the beautiful Arielle is just a blink from a lascivious gawp, therefore the ration is the briefest of peeks.
So I struggled valiantly, ripping my gaze away, before the red flush of excitement singles me out from the boardroom pallor’s that surround me.
“Please send me the bill for the cleaning,” nervously her boy friend fidgets the tissues into a sodden mass, obsequiously dabbing at my stain to absolutely no effect.
My silence, that hopefully menaced or at least threatened, is broken by my forward thrust of the glass that he emptied across me.
“I’d rather have more wine.”
Possibly his face reflected relief that he was still upright, but his turn away was rapid, grateful for movement, especially away from me.
That remark was cool; I have squashed pettiness, I’m big enough to take a stain and not make a clock about it.
Her body language is telegraphing – she’s going to introduce herself – it is for propriety, for the watching eyes, for my respectability.
“De Guise,” smiling broadly, she offers her hand. “Arielle de Guise.”
“Ransom,” smiling even wider, I take it. “Julian Ransom.”
Again we have bonded, James Bonded, but my smile is a quick flash. I feel the eyes that watch and wait, eager to glitter with implication.
Her smile is returned not only with her mouth, but also her eyes, she gestures with an inborn elegance, and sells her words with her body. She is the same unique and adorable creature.
“I am so pleased to meet you,” her words teased the truth with provocative emphasis, and my eyes were captured in a look that was shudderingly sexual. Yet the fire running down my spine was ignited by something special, extra special; the squeeze from her hand was electrifying.
And her caress of the gap between my fingers was blatant. A statement of sexual interest. I was back in that evening last summer, in that car park, in her car. I move the necessary distance closer as our hands still touch and it will become obvious.
What is she doing here?
Age questions everything. As youth wasted away, wariness moved in, and with middle age, suspicion embeds every thought. Is this an accident, or have I been found?
Our smiles waltz together, blending with happiness, our bubble has reformed and we are moving back in, I relax against her nearness - and it is fatal.
“You’re so beautiful!” Wild but honest, my blurt was unstoppable. But my panic is not, ballooning at my recklessness.
I wait for the knowing grins and nudges around us but the tongues do not falter, nothing interrupts the wine loaded chatter of the cocktail party.
“But you know I love you!” She whispers.
One, two, three, four times she hurtles in and out of close up in a crazy mad zoom and somewhere fireworks are exploding.
As my face is reassuringly astonished, she smiles. I have just been hit by a bus, it is incidental, I am otherwise occupied, magnetised, engulfed, and totally captivated. The party and the room vanish again, only she is before me, outlined with love and pressing her tremble into my hand.
“We must talk,” her whispered apprehension is justified; the boyfriend is wobbling inbound behind my shaking glass.
I take a deep breath but I need three. Her fingers that tickled gently inside my palm now grip, pressing and holding my hand against her thigh. Desperately I concentrate on her shoulders - two delicate pieces of carved ivory – wrestling my temperatures and pressures down to safer levels.
“Please!” My hand falls, released unwillingly on her last entreaty as her twitchy companion bumbles between us.
The wine is pushed under my nose. I hate it. I hate anything that comes between us. It requires I force my eyes away from the deep green pools shadowed with promise and a mouth that drove me insane.
“I’m William,” I don’t give a damn he is an intrusion, and his hand, guaranteed to be limp and sweaty is daubed forward.
“Ransom, Julian Ransom.”
William giggles, “James Bond says that.”
“Yes,” I reply. “He copied it from me,” and that was also cool. This girl inspires me.
She slips an amused grin as William ponders. I am doing well here, but I have to do better. I need her telephone number, I need to stay near her, and William is back and in the way.
Her boyfriend is frozen out. Our relationship, personal, invisible and impenetrable, is reborn. There is no room for William; there is no room for the world. Revelling in her gaze I return her smile when it is safe.
A waiter intrudes and I refuse the proffered glass for the first time since I can remember. Alcohol must not smudge my memory of this meeting.
William is blabbing, I neither hear nor listen, but I should. Caressing his girl friend with my eyes is not good PR and her edging back closer must surely light his wick.
“Are you all right?” It has, the expression on her face provoked his alarm.
“No,” her head shakes. “I am not.”
Her look has not hesitated; the beautiful green gaze is reminding, inviting, and promising.
William’s truth has clicked. The sparks crackling between us shock his sense of possession, and his glass exhibits a vibration that makes waves in his wine.
“We have to go.”
That line keeps his day civilised, leading Arielle away has averted embarrassment, kidnap, and possible consenting rape.
But we are still connected. Between heads and over shoulders we sway secretly, keeping contact, refusing interruption of the glittering shaft of desire between us.
Concentration on the function is now impossible, but a queue of questioning shareholders is my fate, and unwillingly I wrestle with my attention, forcing it back into the meeting, but my commitment is not total so I do not win.
My need to get near her is paramount; my stalk is slow but steadfast as I divide the conversations towards her.
William, with worried glances has conceded the threat and is manoeuvring a quickening retreat.
But he has made a mistake, elbowing her towards an entrance made for the perfect ambush, the door marked toilets!
I excuse myself from a shareholder, and ease, with building joy, through the pack towards her. She waits invitingly so I move slowly, my excitement building and intensify into extreme pleasure as I near the eyes that shine.
William is evident by his back, so I communicate; flourishing an air pen on the palm of my hand brings an imperceptible shake of her head and those delicate shoulders shrug helplessly as I pass behind her.
Her next move was subtle, concealed, and outrageous.
It could only work in the rush hour on the underground, on the packed terraces of a football match, or in the crush of my company’s cocktail party.
With exquisite timing, a delightful little bottom has been offered to my hand!
I pause, remembering her warmth and firmness as my emotions declare war on each other. I cannot stop, I have to move. Eyes are waiting to watch so disappointment judders me forward.
The queue for the toilet is long but I am unfazed, deliriously anticipating my return to the salon fires my coals to white hot excitement.
My lungs hum full, expanding my chest with pleasure but my lips are pressed by doubt - I still do not have her telephone number.
I feel it before I enter. Thinness has infiltrated the room. Fewer voices stretch above others. Bodies have gone, leaving holes in the atmosphere to dull us.
Anxiety hurries me in. Peering between bodies and over heads reveals only the gaps of disappointment. Sweating William has won.
The waiter pauses as I snatch two glasses from his tray, throw one down in a gulp and glare furiously at the other, my focus has gone, this meeting can now blur to oblivion.
Groups still talk animatedly, swilling the companies wine and competing, so politely, for the last of canapés off the passing trays. Why, is beyond me. The year has been record breaking, there is little to discuss with success, unless of course one cannot contain the urge to smooth more cream on already oiled backs.
Which of those backs invited William and Arielle? And how does one pump out the information? A respectable member of the board and even more respectably married man does not tempt his colleague’s imagination with questions that tantalise.
The politics of a large company are wide and varied and they have an especially big pigeonhole marked ‘scandal’.
The telephone directory is possible, but telephone directories are family tombs, registered in the name of the parents or the husband.
Swirling my wine faster and glaring as it brims the glass does not diminish the reflection. My imagination balks at a husband - I do not want one in my fantasy.
William did not give his surname and a nightmare is born, was it De Guise - like in spouse?
Beautiful Arielle married to a sweaty William with a grip of a Billingsgate fish slicer?
My wine gurgles down in another annoyed gulp, yet the zonk as the alcohol hits mellows my reasoning. Supposing the wet hand belonged to her ugly brother?
That’s a relationship I can live with. I cannot have complications between me and the planet’s most ravishing creature.
Her devastating beauty, her elegant gestures, and her bewitching glances were an avalanche of gifts from God. The memory of her smiling across the room shudders down my body - and I thought life had run out of surprises - pleasant ones at least.
She must be found, and to hell with the consequences.
Respectability has fourteen letters and harness has seven, the dictionary offers each different a different meaning and even a Thesaurus will not connect them. But they are partners, take my word, do not be fooled.
One wife, one son, one house, one job, two cars, no debts, and only very private vices project decency, reliability, honesty, regard and Julian Ransom. I am so spotless I could play a male version of Snow White.
Anything that might stain my purity has to horrify. My years have passed with one foot pinned to the floor by the spear of decency, turning me in a circle of repute. I recall no other life but, when the most gorgeous thing in the room shrivels you to pecky bits and lights your blue touch paper, you know exactly which way your rocket’s going.
I saw her inviting closeness, felt her eyes warm with love, and tasted the lingering trace of her perfume.
I want her; I want her more than anything else in the world.
To hell with the accounts, she has to be found.
From behind comes the hiss, snaking out that feeling that only my CEO can induce to abseil from its lair in the dark part of my brain.
His pleasant expression, worn only near shareholders, does not fool me. Overtime, unpaid and a meeting loom.
I try to hurry it, but we drab our way through, and it is nearly seven before I escape to my office.
The name De Guise brought headshakes from my colleagues, and after a brief and unenthusiastic call to directory enquires (there are two De Guises’, neither prefaced by A) my body resembles a question mark, slumped forlornly in my chair.
The linked swine’s of disappointment and frustration have blunted my thrust, the pause nudging in reality.
Julian, what are you doing?
Think of Jennifer, think of James. Think of what people will say (baby snatcher?) if you are caught doing what you are thinking of doing with Arielle.
I don’t care.
This moment is special and to be seized with what remains of my libido. Delight, passion, and desire are parcels that do not arrive often. Even the danger of blotting my copybook gives the stab of added thrill.
Entering a room exhausted from worry and work and feeling like minus a million dollars, walking out elated, moving twenty years younger and floating on love would convince even a hypochondriac there is more to life than just pills.
Arielle and I are going to scorch the universe – when she is found.
Two half spins in my chair and logic begins its flicker, the meeting was the AGM and only shareholders were invited! Tapping impatiently on the keyboard does not make my computer click faster, we have only two thousand shareholders, why the lip gnawing wait?
The list peels itself down the screen alphabetically but the D’s exasperate, ignoring De Guise. The computer screen steadies, the rattles from the processor die and we both wait for my next brilliant idea.
It is in moments of stress that I Google. Typing the name in search almost blisters the screen. Over a hundred and forty thousand results! I don’t have enough lifetimes for them all. I narrow my search, typing in A De Guise.
The reply is prompt; ‘did you mean a disguise’?
OK, sometimes even the mighty fail.
The computer ticks off as I go to my washroom for a glass of water to rinse my taste buds from the acids of the cheap wine we serve our shareholders.
‘Please find me’ she pleaded - her voice, reflecting in the mirror above the washbasin, accelerates the thump in my chest. Fresh blood pumps fresh thoughts! A triumphant slap on the porcelain echoes even into my office.
Security! She must be signed in!
My hands are a blur in the towel. My feet are a blur on the staircase, no hopping up and down waiting for the lift. The door to reception, punched violently open, closes with a furious hiss behind the red faced maniac who just streaked through.
Feverishly I spin the book around before the porter can open it.
But the visitors list has joined the conspiracy against me. Arielle De Guise is becoming a deepening mystery.
The how, why, and what of her appearance in the meeting is secondary.
I suspected, and am now convinced, anyone can walk into our premises - our porters work for Bin Laden.
My loss builds as I plod to my office for my briefcase and to lock my desk. Tonight I shall fall asleep with Arielle, with her beauty and youth that already eats into my life weary coating of years.
My grunt of good evening to the porter provokes more than a jerk of his head.
“Mr Ransom!” His voice is thick and his eyes blink away slumber. “I forgot.”
I struggle to read the note he waved as the door extracts revenge by pressing me thinner.
Outside the evening July sun is blazing, obliterating the effects of our expensive air conditioning that I voted against.
The white paper dazzles, but the message insists through the glare.
It is brief.
It is joy!