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Chapter 7. FOOT LONG

Novel number three was complete and sold when I met Richard Grand. I had tamed my shoulder length blond locks, slipped into a classic little black dress and met a girlfriend at an uptown bistro. Two guys at the bar bought us drinks to celebrate the sale of my book, and I flirted shamelessly with…hmm, name escapes me…the other guy.

Dick stood by watching. I later learned observing is one of his favorite pass times. I felt naked under his gaze. He’s stripping me with his eyes! I realized in shock. Unconsciously, I drew back my shoulders to tip up my now hardened nipples. How… the first word that popped into my head was, rude! But the thought quickly melted into OH! as I felt warmth between my thighs. He smiled.

“You look lovely tonight.” He spoke with an amused expression flashing from deep brown eyes. He was almost six feet tall, slightly balding with silvery hair brushed back neatly. He was slim and trim and dressed immaculately, which as I would later discover, belied his sexual appetite. I wondered if the impeccable exterior deceived, as I cast a surreptitious glimpse at the zipper of his Armani pants. My glance revealed the shadow of a big beefy foot long hidden in the crease, and the tilt of his shoulders convinced me he knew how to use it. He looked older. I was clinging to 39, and he struck me as at least forty-six, maybe forty-seven. As the urge to wriggle on the bar stool eased, I had the distinct impression I was being played. I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I turned in the seat and kept my attention on…the other guy.

“Lori,” my girlfriend exclaimed, “Bob’s got a Truth or Dare question.”

We all turned to Bob, and I made a mental note of his name. “If you could only eat one food, what would it be?”

“One food?” my girlfriend said flirtatiously. “Mmmmm, pizza, yum. Wait, is that a food?”

“I vote yes,” I answered.

“And how about you Dick?” she asked, lightly running her finger across the back of his hand as he placed his martini on the bar.

Without reaction to her touch, he looked at me with certainty and said, “Oh, I’m partial to Italian, but Lori doesn’t like pizza.”

“First,” I said with more annoyance than I felt, “Italian isn’t one food. And next, you don’t know what I like.”

“Oh, but I do.”

“You lie, Mr. Grand,” I insisted. “I never met you before tonight.”

“Don’t ever call me a liar. And yes, I know.”

I felt heat prickle my cheeks in reaction to his directive, and took the bait to hide my confusion, “Prove it. What one food would I eat?”

He reached for a bar napkin, and pulled a pen from the inside pocket of his jacket, quickly scribbling something I could not see. He placed his hand over the napkin. It was the hand my girlfriend had touched. I saw the tanned knuckles and dark hair reaching out from under the cuff of his starched white shirt, and suddenly I wanted to touch it too. “What one food would you eat?”

“Lobster.” I purred, unable to look away from his hand on the bar. His long fingers nipped the corner of the flimsy napkin and flipped it over. Lobster was written with a capital L and a line of loops ending in a distinct r.

“Lobster,” he repeated making eye contact.

“Oh, Lori! He did it! That is amazing, Dick, how did you do that?” My girlfriend gushed, bringing me back to my senses.

“Didn’t I tell you?” Bob interjected. “Dick here is a mind reader.”

As we left the bar, although I had spent most of the evening obstinately batting eyelashes at his friend, Dick asked for my phone number. I said it out loud, hoping Bob would hear it too. Dick listened, then hailed a passing taxi, opened the door and helped me and my girlfriend in.

Leaning through the front window, he handed the cab driver a greenback, looked at me over the seat back and said, “Tell him your address.” I did without hesitation. Dick told the cabbie, “Keep the change.” He leaned away from the window and stood curbside with a casual confidence as the taxi pulled away. I hoped the other guy would call.

Two weeks later no one had called. I was shocked because I knew the pheromones were wafting that night, and felt sure I had caught a big one. Through the grapevine I found out the other guy was none other than Bobby Dangler, of Dangler Outlets fame. That family owned more real estate on the continental USA than China, as well as the Dangler Bus Company that headed to one destination, Dangler Shopping Outlets. RD Company. You must have seen those capital letters on the side of giant busses making time north of the city to the GW bridge and shopper’s heaven in Paramus Park? The question buzzing through my brain was why RD himself had not yet called me.

In the year since Mr. Handleman had taken his handle and moved back to England, I used the advance from book number three, Deceitful Love, to move into my own apartment in a doorman building on the lower east side. I didn’t have much money left over to furnish the place, so I was stuck with standard beige apartment wall-to-wall carpet, and industrial style mini-blinds on the expansive windows. At least it was something to cover the sun’s incandescence in the early hours of the morning when the city lights faded and I needed to get some sleep after a night of play. The previous tenant had left a platform bed that was too big for my mattress but had great storage underneath, and plenty of shelves in the walk-in closet. I tossed oversized purple paisley pillows on the living room floor for seating. A small oval marble-topped table I inherited from my grandmother occupied the dining room area and served as a desk and writing station when the creative juices were flowing.

I was striding through the lobby of my apartment building when Jimmy, the front desk clerk, interrupted my thoughts, “Excuse, me, Miss Fox?”

Still heading for the elevators, I glanced over, thinking I could pick up my dry cleaning later, when he waved an envelope in my direction. That stopped my stilettos dead in their tracks, and I made a quick pivot straight for him.

“A messenger dropped this off for you, just maybe an hour ago.” I took the envelope, letting my newly manicured nails rake over it softly. It was not your average #10 white business envelope.

Shedding the heels as I walked in the door of my apartment, I dug my toes into the plush carpet, a mini massage with each step, and plopped onto a big pillow. The envelope tingled in my fingers. I closed my eyes to let the energy flow, hoping to sense whose handwriting would be tucked inside. Bobby Dangler’s? Carefully grasping my Grandma’s ornate mother of pearl letter opener, I held my breath and slid the tip under the flap. Slipped inside was an ever so slightly tinted grey card. Hard cut edges, beveled. I pinched the card between two Lotus Red painted nails and tugged. One line appeared, hand written in dark blue ink. A manly script strode across the paper: Dinner? 7pm Rossini’s. Dick.

Dick? I flipped the card to find gold embossed initials: RJG. Richard Grand. The first question I would have to ask is, “What’s your middle name?” Suddenly I realized not only did I intend to go to Rossini’s but I had no idea what time it was? My head jerked to the gold Louis XVI mantel clock perched on the window sill, yet another glitzy item inherited from Grandma. 6:15. Holy Shit! I couldn’t wear the LBD. He had seen that number at the bar the night we met. I had barely twenty minutes to glam up. Thank God I had just had a manicure!

At 7:04 the taxi pulled up in front of Rossini’s on 38th Street. Luckily it was only nine blocks from my apartment, but I suspected Dick, I was calling him Dick in my head now, had planned that well. Before entering, I paused on the sidewalk and took a deep breath, inhaling the excitement of the evening and the city around me. I straightened my shoulders and stepped forward.

As I approached the reservation desk, a young woman greeted me, “Ms. Fox?”

I grinned. “Yes.”

“Mr. Grand is expecting you. He said you would be beautiful and he was right. Would you like to use the powder room, or shall I have Anton escort you to his table?”

“Oh,” I blurted, my happiness meter rising sky high. “I’m fine. Yes, please, to his table. Thank you.”

A formally dressed maître d’, Anton I assumed, guided me past the bar and through the main seating area. He opened wide carved doors to reveal a private dining room. Dick sat on the semi-circular upholstered bench of a high-backed carrell. The unusual design of the structure created a sheltered dining space in the large ornate room. On the table in front of him was what looked like a three-olive martini, neat, in a high ball glass. I was impressed by what I saw.

“Here you are Ms. Fox.” Anton spoke as if to assure me I was in the right place.

“Lorelei,” Dick said, standing and stepping towards me. Sliding his hand around my waist, he guided me to the seat. “How are you tonight?”

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