Genre: Contemporary Multicultural Romance
Format: eStory, 51 pages
Available in eBook
Angela is a newly published author at a book party celebrating the launch of her premiere book. She has been in bad relationships before and is skeptical about entering another. Paul is the publicist for her publishing company. His marriage is on the rocks, but he is a faithful man, continuing to respect the institution despite his wife’s infidelities. The attraction is apparent between the two, but before the night is over both will learn a little bit more about race, the boundaries of love and human nature.
Angela held on to her glass of wine as her eyes wandered around the full banquet hall. Although this had been her latest book tour, despite being in her own city, she couldn’t deny the familiarity of it all as she surveyed the groups of people that stood around with drinks in hand as they schmoozed. Jazz played in the hall, but she couldn’t hear what song was playing. She missed the closeness of the London flat where she had previous tour. Something about the way it felt like home to her.
‘Or maybe it was just the comfort of feeling Paul near.’
She dismissed the little voice in her head as she took another glass of wine. The evening she wore a black evening gown that hugged everyone of her womanly curves. Why couldn’t she get the handsome Englishman out of her head?
It was then it began. The familiar tune of Stan Getz’s Soul Eyes.
That last moment she saw him flashed in her mind as he reached down to her, held her cheek in his hand. ‘Goodnight, Soul Eyes.’
She wanted to hear that voice in her head again. Before she knew it, she was walking over to her director of advertiser of her publishing company and taking him aside.
“Sorry for the intrusion,” she said quickly.
“Not at all,” the older gentleman said with a smile. “I always have time for our number one seller.”
Angela smiled politely. After all this time, it still hadn’t sunk in that her publisher gained a quick jump in the game with her books and new readers she brought in. In her mind, she was still a struggling writer trying to get all the stories out of her head and onto the page. “I was just wondering if our international division will be here.”
He shook his head. “Not that I count on. They really have no reason to be.”
Feeling the deep drop of disappointment within the pit of her stomach she nodded, placing a kind smile on her face and apologized again for interrupting him. ‘Of course not,’ she thought as the song came to a close. ‘Why would he be all the way here. She offered friendship and nothing more. Men don’t go for that sort of thing these days. He probably found someone close to him anyway.’
She took the last sip of her drink and pondered going home. She scolded herself for bringing herself all the way out here for that reason alone. As she turned, she bumped into a tall man who nearly dodged her as his wine glass collided with her arm.
“I’m terribly sorry!”
She looked up at him and smiled. “My fault,” she said softly. “I should have taken a look before I turned.”
The man’s green eyes focused on her. “Angela Daniels?”
Angela’s eyes scoured every inch of her dress as she smoothed it out to check for any stains. She arched her head up to look at him as he said her name. “Yes, do I know you?”
“No, but I’m a big fan of your books.”
“Strange. I usually write relationship focused stories.”
“Romance, I know. But I have to say your stories appeal to me. They have a sense of realism and general human interest in them. I was hoping….” He moved the book in his other hand down so she could see the cover of her recent novel. “Do you mind?”
As he smiled, Angela noticed his face shined with a strong sense of attraction between them. His hair looked silky from here and fell down in soft curls around his neck.
“Sure.” Even still, as she wrote her usual “Thanks for reading” messages to her readers, she wished he was someone else. “There you go.”
He took it with a smile. “I might say, your picture doesn’t do you any justice.”
“Thank you,” Angela said sheepishly. As attractive as this man was, she couldn’t help but wish she was anywhere but here.
“Would you perhaps like to accompany me to dinner? At my place, perhaps after this party ends?”
A man who sounded eerily like Sting began the beginning chords of ‘Angel Eyes’ nearby. Angela opened her mouth to speak as her mind ran a million miles a second. She needed an excuse. Darn that David for not accompanying her and serving as her out when she needed to get away.
She barely heard the voice behind her when she turned and was meant with a beautiful book cover of a couple amidst the backdrop of London. It looked like an old movie with a soft focus on the embracing couple amidst the titles “One Evening in London” by Paul Sumner. She looked up into those deep eyes of blue once again and had to blink a few times before she realized that the man standing in front of her was the same that had inhabited her mind for the past year.
“Would you mind if I gave you a copy of my book?”
Angela couldn’t help but smile. She couldn’t speak for a moment until she laughed a little. “Sure. I’d love it.”
The man who had presented the question of going out to dinner to her noticed the two as they gazed at each other with longing. He turned on his heels and left, but neither one noticed his absence.
“It’s been a while,” he said.
Angela nodded. “It sure has. I wasn’t sure…I mean I didn’t think you’d show. Isn’t this out of your jurisdiction or something?”
Paul chuckled heartily as he slipped his hands in his suit pockets. “A little, but I had to come out.”
His eyes sparkled as he looked upon her. “For you.”
Angela’s eyes fell to the ground as she grew speechless.
“Don’t tell me things have changed so much in the past year that you’ve become at a lost for words now,” he joked.
She shook her head. “No, I just…this is all rather surreal for me.”
“Well, while you are gathering your thoughts I would like it if you can check out the dedication page.”
She flipped open the hardcover book to the front. “To my dear Angela,” she read aloud. “The women who taught me to never give up, always keep hoping…” she swallowed, pushing down the tears that were welling up in her throat, “and sometimes second chances are worth fighting for. Especially when they’re forever.”
She closed the book and held it like a delicate jewel in her hand. “Forever, huh? Are we that confident?”
He smiled and she studied his expression. She couldn’t dismiss the thought nor the urge to slip her hand behind his neck and kiss those inviting pink lips of his. From here, his cologne grabbed her by the nostrils and wouldn’t let go. Stan Getz’ Moonlight in Vermont filled the room and her head at the same time.
“Always have been. Probably always will be.”
“I know you probably think this is weird of me,” he began as he closed the distance between them. “But I haven’t stopped thinking of you this past year. After you left, I had a lot of thinking to do. I got a divorce, moved out of our apartment and into my own place. Threw myself into work and publicity. And I saw your book in the company list. You’ve done quite an amazing job with your sales and reviews. I bought a dozen copies to hand out.”
“Oh, yes. I couldn’t let my friends and family miss out on a great book.”
“So much you had to write one yourself hmm?”
Paul shook his head. “No, this was entirely vanity. Like I said, you were in my head. I had to find an outlet for you…for us.”
As he said that small little word…us…she felt chills run up and down her spine. “Us?” she found herself saying.
“Oh yes. You once told me to get things straightened out in my life. And I did. Nearly everything that happened to me during and since then, I recorded. Names changed to protect the hurt parties and all that jazz.”
Angela chuckled as his eyes rolled. “The ending is all there. But I want you to promise me something.”
She held the book close to her as her arms folded in front of her. “What’s that?”
“Don’t read it until 2 days from now.”
“Any reason why?”
Paul’s blue eyes seemed to smile in that moment. “I want you to see for yourself.”
Angela gazed down at the book and found herself running over the beautiful front cover. “Alright. It’s a deal.”
“And another thing.”
Her dark eyebrows raised. “My, aren’t we asking a lot tonight?”
“I want you to come to my hotel tomorrow. I want to paint you.”
“Like I said, your visage has been in my mind for the past year. And if I am to return home, I want something to take with me of you.”
The thought of him leaving stung her a little, but she placed a smile on her face to deter him from noticing. “Why not just take a picture?”
He shrugged. “I’ve been painting a lot lately and I think I’m pretty good. I did that cover after all.”
She looked down at the cover again that she had thought was a photograph from the get go. “No!”
“Oh yes. I just imagined how it would be like if we embraced and were to never see each other again.
“And I took that and gave it a cinematic feel. You like?”
I love it! She wanted to scream. Instead she nodded and smiled. “I do.”
“Besides, I like to paint subjects that inspire me.” At that moment he reached out and she felt his soft fingertips caress the side of her face. “It gives me a chance to study them, stroke by stroke. Recording and observing every curve of every inch and bringing it to life on my canvas for the world to see.”
Angela wanted so much in that moment for him to place his soft yet masculine hands on her face and bring her to him in a kiss. But this wasn’t the place and certainly not the time for such affection. Her heart nearly jumped at the chance to be painted by him.
“That sounds lovely.” Her hand slipped onto his over her cheek and he smiled in that moment. “What time shall I be there tomorrow?”
“2 p.m would be wonderful. My friend here has a studio he’s letting me borrow for the day. After you drop by, I can drive you over there and we’ll do the painting there.”
She nodded. “Alright.” She wasn’t sure what time it was, but she knew it had gotten away from her in these past few moments as they always do when one wants time to stand still. “I should be getting home.”
“Can I offer you a ride?”
“No, I actually drove here myself. I can see my way home.”
He held up his hand in an okay signal. “Gotcha.”
She knew she didn’t want to leave at that moment. The time was too soon to say goodbye to him, but she reminded herself tomorrow was another, and perhaps more better day for them. She took one last look at Paul as he ran his hand through his sandy blonde hair, lowered his head and peered up at her sheepishly like a schoolboy. She couldn’t help but chuckle to herself.
“See you tomorrow at 2 then.”
“On the dot.”
That night Angela found herself tossing and turning in the darkness of her bedroom. She knew tomorrow would be just an easy going day of having her portrait painted from a friend. ‘A friend,’ she repeated in her head. ‘Was this man really just a friend?