In a small, French village, a grand dame of envied collectibles has been murdered in the night, as a trail of treasure and tears leads onto the doorstep of an unsuspecting Vancouver auction house. Recaptured bobbles of devotion from two fated lovers of long days gone by, bring together varied egos into the life of an antiques dealer.
Beauty came to Vancouver, as if it were a smiling wind from across the ocean. For this harried male, a pair of bodacious Italian belles and woman of gentle grace from China proved to be something extra for him. Man and woman, who were once strangers and adversaries, became bound in each others arms and hearts. A liquidator in fine fabric has woven itself amongst the sublime class of international buyers and sellers of collectible curios.
Seduction's game is about to break. Question is; can a man fight temptation or join in? Only one move is left to make.
Prologue & Chapter One
Romance is beyond the bounds of time.
Three years after Giacomo Casanova's release from Paris' Fort-l’Eveque in 1758, a nonchalant conversation between the prison's warden and a guard was overheard.
A 16-year-old jail cleaner, Pepon Larionne, was in the process of collecting garbage in the hallway outside of Lieutenant Hugo Arrieyenne's office, while the warden and longtime prison guard, Edgar DeSaviage continued speaking to each other inside.
Pepon was one of three men who had the task of cleaning the warden's office, guard tower, and guard barracks. This night, it was Larionne's job to handle the outer hallway, which led to Lieutenant Arrieyenne's office. The other two jail cleaners had already started going towards the barracks. This young man, who seemed an unlikely vessel of history, became Cupid's messenger.
It was at this moment in 1761, when Pepon's fate changed for the better. Lieutenant Arrieyenne spoke to Edgar DeSaviage about Casanova's imprisonment and release in 1758. Manon Balletti, one of Giacomo Casanova's great loves, procured his freedom with a pair of diamond earrings in 1758.
The fabled lover had received mercy from a long prison sentence at the bequest of a beautiful woman. And, this is the story which followed through the years.
Preparing his office for the cleaners, Lieutenant Hugo Arrieyenne and guard Edgar DeSaviage emptied out desk drawers onto the floor, revealing several varied sized items, including a small canvas satchel.
As Pepon entered the warden's office, he kept his head low and mouth shut in their presence. The lowly jail cleaner scooped up bits of food, papers, and that canvas satchel with his hands.
The warden and guard stood chuckling at the dirty work which Pepon had to accomplish as they turned their backs on him and went back to speaking about Casanova and the diamond earrings.
Finishing up the cleaning of Arrieyenne's office, Pepon excused himself and grasped a large canvas sack full of garbage. In the hallway outside of the office, another large sack of trash was gathered by Larionne. Pulling the sacks behind him, Pepon left through the lantern lit prison entrance.
Larionne joined up with his fellow jail cleaners in the courtyard near the guard barracks. He never told the others about the tale of Casanova and Manon Balletti's connection to Fort-l’Eveque. Yet, it remained in the back of his mind, while taking his share of the sacks of garbage down towards an incline to be dumped.
Something that the warden and guard didn't realize when tossing out the desk contents onto the floor was the small satchel that contained those precious items of devotion from Manon to the previous prison warden.
What had been tossed out amongst spoiled food, soiled sheets and vomit, were the pair of diamond earrings. Pepon was also unaware of the situation, until shaking the canvas sack empty. A final item remained in the bottom of the sack. As the satchel revealed its contents, Larionne’s eyes were affixed on a pair of earrings, a pen, and a slip of fabric as the satchel revealed its contents.
The simple man of bare means retrieved the trio of items and silently finished his duties for the night. His fellow cleaners were none the wiser for Pepon Larionne's fantastic find.
A conversation which he'd overheard from Arrieyenne and DeSaviage was not just a myth. But a reality, which was now wrapped in a dingy cloth with spots of mucus against Pepon Larionne’s body.
The items weren't contained in a satin lined mahogany box to be delivered to a royal consort. But, they were transported within a filthy, loosened blouse of a lowly peasant.
Returning to his small cottage Pepon placed small sack into maple table. Alongside those earrings of Manon, a quill pen and square of lace were laid out by Pepon. The peacock feathers gave Pepon visions of Manon and Casanova's tandem pen craft. Just to imagine what each would place to paper remained more than enough for this the young man's imagination. The slight scent of lavender remained upon that lace.
Night turned to morn as he left the cottage for a short journey.
Pepon Larionne's only thoughts were to give this newly found gift to his beloved Vivienne Coupette. The sixteen-year old woman with a gentle smile was the core of Pepon's undying devotion. Maybe some of the herald grace of Manon and Casanova's love would rub off on Pepon Larionne.
The prison jail cleaner would never be King of France. But as he presented the diamond earrings, quill pen, and sliver of lace to the lady he loved, Pepon Larionne would be forever the prince of Vivienne's heart.
Vivienne became his wife later that month. Their son Laurenz married Orlean Capelli at age 33. Grandson Charles Larionne took Charlotte Pantille as a bride in 1820. Charles' child Phillippe and his wife Ilese van Sharpone had Arielle in 1850. During childbirth, Phillippe Larionne became a widower and single father. Raising Arielle alone for many years he married a childhood friend of Ilese van Sharpone Marcellon Borneau.
1875 became a year of retelling this tale of overwhelming devotion. As 25-year-old Arielle came upon a small music box with those items stuffed into a false bottom, Phillippe retold that tale of his ancestor Pepon Larionne's unimaginable luck and Casanova's exciting entanglements.
33-year-old Arielle married Henri Rausch in 1883.Those next decades of division and destruction in Europe led Bertrand Rausch to move with his wife Sophie Devayne in 1943. Relocating to a town near French wine country Quimper was a good place to begin their lives together. Northwest of Bordeaux they opened a small bistro called Arielle's. Three years later Thomas was born in 1946.
For Thomas Rausch, life in Quimper seemed smaller than the large vista he saw himself in. At age 36, Thomas was in charge of Arielle's. With debt collectors hounding and bills mounting, Henri Rausch's grandson began slipping off a tightrope of gourmet platters and financial reality.
Still single in 1981, he existed as a man with little to show for his life. Alas, memories of grandmother Arielle's cherished belongings of beatitude brought an idea forth.
Passing by an artist studio in Colmar, he saw a man cobbling figurines. Fiddling with those items in his jacket pocket, a possible solution washed over Thomas Rausch.
For a thick handful of francs, Eduard Niemann became owner of those three bells of beauty. Rausch was able to stave off collectors for a while longer as a tiny bistro became viable once again. For As for the artisan Niemann, he acquired an elevated essence for selling the earrings pen and slice of fabric. Ironic that it would be his idolized spouse that would come to a gloomy expiration in future years in handling history's heartache.
Beneath a bitter boot of German annexation, Metz was a most turbulent location for a young Jaqueline to bud into womanhood. Jaqueline Hurlot survived Europe's cloud of blackness during years from adolescence to early twenties. In post war years she married Eduard Niemann, a Colmar native.
Years after Eduard's death of cancer Jaqueline flourished in varied forms of sales. From private collectors to storefront visitors she made her own name in this errand of exclusivity.
During a six-month period before coming to an agreement with Cross Collectibles in Vancouver, she’d negotiated sale of those items for auction with five other entities. From Europe came three persons, and one each from Africa and China.
Calling The Little Bell in Austria, Freiderich Rothsberger passed on these gems. Although, he suggested the possibility of markets that were opening in Asia the name Flower Moon was given to her.
Taking an old friend's advice talks had begun with Flower Moon. But at that point in her career, Jaqueline was unsure about Asia's stability as always a market for this particular product.
Secondly, The Red Chair in Lucca, Italy was contacted. The Italian office located near Pisa didn’t seem up to its prior reputation. Blue Coastal International in Africa would have seemed a good choice for Niemann's proposal. Yet problems in negotiations caused retreat on both ends. The White Tower might have been a pleasing choice for both she and its owner in Bilbao. Spain. Pity the timing was ill-fitted.
Oddly enough, it was Vancouver based Arlington Cross that placed a perfect bidding price and commission for Niemann. Cross Collectibles had a three and a half year worth of dealings in the past.
Jaqueline Hurlot Niemann's bank in Paris was wired a plush price for sale of a trio and fat finder's fee for herself. Items were shipped via freighter from Marseilles. The arrival date would be within 21 days.
Arlington Cross would be an opportune oracle of Manon’s magical jewels, which were a golden key of amorous amends.
Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park was sparsely occupied by a pair of dog-walkers and small smattering of joggers that July day. These early morning risers included the proprietor of an antiques establishment, known as Cross Collectibles.
Every pounding of footstep against pavement, revealed his declining stamina.
The morning breeze blew Arlington's mixed brown and gray hair away from his bobbing face as he thought of what the day would hold forward. Yet, he couldn't resist thinking about his humble beginnings. Raised not far from the New Mexico border, he was an Andrews, Texas native. At age 3, he'd moved with his family to Orange Grove for a newly minted business in Corpus Christi.
His father, Thomas Keith Oliver Cross, or TKO as friends called him, was a man with big dreams of rubbing lanterns of fantasized luxury. Cross-Banks began with high hopes, for both TKO and partner Lincoln Banks. Oil exploration came to be the blissful bread and butter for the two families.
Meanwhile, Arlington and his younger brother Maxwell were steered on the right path, under the maternal wings of Bonnie Weatherly Cross. Thomas taught them to fish, hunt, and interact with many a ball of boyhood. Bonnie, on the other hand, taught them fairness, courtesy, pride, and mental acceleration. Both parents gave them lessons in life, which they retained to this date.
Moments of joy, youth, laughter, and familial bonding filled the Cross’s three-bedroom home on 327 Carlyle Way. Alas, it all came to a stunted end with the caustic touch of cancer.
Bonnie Weatherly Cross had lost her battle with cancer when Arlington was 15 and Maxwell was 12.
Having moved to Vancouver at age 17, he and his brother were on a whirlwind adventure with their widowed father. Thomas, Arlington, and Maxwell got Cross Collectibles off the ground quite quickly. Within two years, Cross Collectibles became a moderately successful import and export antique company. The primary reason for this choice of vocation came with some local tax incentives and low overhead costs.
Thomas' sale of his half of the company to Lincoln Banks of Kimball, Nebraska, gave him enough seed money to travel north of the border. Ironically, that cash infusion for business opportunities in Vancouver remained a strike of financial genius by the elder Cross.
TKO finally decided to retire and let one of his sons run the family business. The younger brother had dreams of a life not in antiques. So, he was off the hook of export responsibility. But, Arlington Cross was filled with pride for his father handing him the reins at Collectibles.
With two sons to be proud of, TKO bought a home in Portland, Oregon. He lived quietly and happily, knowing Cross Collectibles was in good hands. Lawyer Maxwell Cross returned to Texas to take a position at one of Dallas's prestigious firms of legal thunder.
The gaze of Cross’s brown eyes reminded many of sable buttons floating in the deep, warm waters of Galveston Bay. Wearing a pair of washed out gray sweats and a Texas A&M hooded sweatshirt, an attached Walkman gently bounced from a constantly moving motioning hip. Anyone looking at this man, would mistake him for an overly-ripened fraternity brother and not a respectable business owner on this July 17th.
As the final notes of the Allman Brothers', ‘Jessica’, wound down, KVON's morning radio jock, Hugo Felipe announced the time of 7:14 over Arlington's music player. Clicking it off, Cross rummaged through his pockets to find the door key. The silver object slipped through his fingers and gently bounced off his scuffed, white Converse sneakers. Arlington bent down to retrieve the key.
"You're going to kill yourself with that running, young man," a mature female voice flowed from above him.
"Chayline?” He stood upright and took a deep breath. His lips formed a genial grin, "What doesn't kill me will make me stronger.”
Fading red hair twisted beneath a gold and emerald hairpin. Chayline Vincent laughed, "But, boss, I don't want me to outlive you." She pressed an index finger against his heaving palpitating chest and pulled her purse over her left shoulder. "Besides, what would this place be without a Cross?"
Arlington unlocked the door, "Oh, it's all with a wing and a prayer. I hope it can be a bit better than Teak House.” His foot pushed aside a small pile of mail, knowing its majority were always billing statements from varied vendors.
"Better than Bleak," 56-year-old Chayline remarked to him with a pun she often used in describing this building's color as in similarity to a Dickensian tome. But despite joking about that shade of brown with a hint of maroon mixed in, both knew that the financial state of Cross Collectibles was verging toward a miniature level of San Andreas. She followed him inside Cross Collectibles.
The previous trio of months had a decline in sales and customers for Cross Collectibles weekly auctions. Although there were specialty items that sold to heightened financial plateaus, the majority of those goods were like lukewarm beer. Things may be wanted as an afterthought by the public, but not needed. Gifts for grandmothers or that forgotten anniversary were the fare of Cross Collectibles.
"What time is Barris due in today, Chay?” he asked, scooping objects with both hands and tossing them onto the large reception desk. Pulling his sweatshirt off, he stood wearing a blue cotton tee and wrapped the hooded item around his waist.
"He should be here around…" She gazed at her oval wristwatch and quickly responded, "Around 9:45.”
Opening windows in the rear of the building, Cross slightly grimaced at her, "That late?"
"Remember? His sister is coming in from the University of Ottawa for a visit?"
"Yeah, I guess I forgot.”
"Well, are you going to change?” She walked toward him, a headmistress attitude taking over. "Or is this the odor of the day?"
Ignoring what she was speaking about, his head cocked to face her, "Um, what did you say?"
"Come on, Mr. Forgetful,” she chided. Placing firm hands on his shoulders and turning him to face the bathroom down the hall, she reminded him, "We've got a busy day. And, the early bird gets the worm."
"And not smell like one, right?” Rolling blue fabric from his flesh and grabbing a clean white shirt from a closet, Cross entered the bathroom.
"What color?" she asked.
Twisting the knob, his head popped from the cracked door. He said, "Dark brown, please.”
"Good choice.” Chayline pulled a pair of brown pants from a silver hanger inside the closet.
His hand darted around and pulled the pants inside. "Thanks."
"You're always welcome, Arlington."
"That's why you're the best, Chayline.” Dressed in starched white shirt and dark brown pants, Arlington Cross was a man ready for the hectic workday. Cross pecked Vincent his assistant on right cheek, "Thanks again."
She playfully waved him away from her. "Now, let's get down to business, sir.”
Trotting into a small kitchen area, he began to make them some coffee. "Don't I know it?” After microwaving some water and tossing a packet into a cup, Cross approached her desk. "Hazelnut, ma'am. Your wish is my command.”
"Darling, you make an old lady giddy." She smiled and shoved her purse into bottom right drawer of the desk. "When Barris gets here, do you want him to start on the inventory?"
"Sure. And, after he finishes, have him come up to my office.” Dragging a brown box of books towards an elevator, he made sure the mail was set on top.
Sipping coffee, Chayline Vincent stood and began to prepare the first floor for business. "See you later.”
As it ascended to the fourth floor of the building, the gated elevator shook slightly. The bright capsule opened and Arlington stepped onto a dark plateau. The tip of his sneaker pressed the box across from that opening. Fifteen steps to his left, he flipped a light switch on. Opening rolling doors to his office open, Cross unlocked a small cabinet in the corner. He removed a white box from that top drawer and another pair of shoes. Resting himself into a swivel chair, Arlington quickly changed from white canvas sneakers into black suede loafers.
9:15 ticked away on a black and white wall clock in Cross’s office. The clanging of the elevator opening broke the silence of surveying statements and stock. "Barris, I didn't think you'd be in until almost 10.”
"Yeah, I did too.” Youthfully bounding over to him, he placed a large hand outward for a shake. "Good morning. And, thanks again for the time.”
Eyes of dark brown and square jaw of kindness, with a frame of over six feet, there stood Barris Hart. All this 29 year old needed was a blue ox.
As he Cross began to pull papers from a cabinet, he said, "I want you to check the stocks for these items,” handing Hart those items.
"Done,” Organizing white and pink papers, Barris tapped them onto a desk. "Is there anything else you need right now, boss?"
Cross became playful with Hart. "If you can make some new customers appear, then I'll take you up on that offer.”
"That's a good one.” As he walked to the elevator, a deep chuckle came from Barris Hart's lips. "See you in a bit, Arlington.”
Two hours and fifteen minutes of peace were cracked with the sound of a braking delivery truck on Heather Street. Chayline Vincent gazed above a pair of tortoise rimmed reading glasses. The white vehicle, with ten-inch black-block-lettering, read Carrington Courier Company. It listed headquarters in Toronto, with branches located in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and St. John.
Adorned in a tomato-red jacket, with a dangling nametag on the right chest pocket and navy pants, a bearded driver with a trim build began to open the van's side door. Packages and boxes were placed onto a dolly for easy transport into Cross Collectibles.
"Let me get that for you.” Gently putting her glasses onto pile of invoices, she began pulling the glass doors open. Chayline waved the man inside. "Are those all for Cross?"
"Yes, ma'am.” He checked a clipboard with listings of all the packages he had to deliver in Vancouver that day. "Could you sign right here?” he asked, and put the clipboard atop the dolly.
"Sure,” she nodded, quickly scribbling her name on a dozen corresponding bold lines. "Can you put them over there, please?"
Reacting with a smile, he ensured her request was fulfilled in no time at all, "You have a good day, ma'am.” Placing the clipboard under his right arm, he gave a friendly salute and walked towards the opened entrance.
"I will,” she said as she slowly closing the glass doors behind him, Chayline played slightly with a strand of pearls. "You have the same, buddy."
The elevator opened and Arlington approached the reception area, “How many today?” "Chay,- ah,
Soft hands placed a finger on each item, "Looks like one huge one, three large ones, five medium, and two small,” She almost overlooked a singular item which had been laid aside the tower by the delivery man. "And then, there's this one,” she said, giving a slight shake at a six by six sized box. From the looks of it, this small one is postmarked from France.
"Who's it from?” Banging a hand onto the largest box, Cross bent down and took an opener from his pants pocket.
"I'll give Jaqueline a call later.” He ripped the masking tape down the middle and quipped, "I'm surprised it got here so quick.”
"She said that it was being shipped from over there, from when I talked to her last week.” He lifted a large vase from that box. "Oh, this is beautiful.” Cradling the pricey porcelain, he walked down a long hallway.
"So, what do you want to do first?"
"This vase goes first,” he said, nesting the item onto a large black table in the back room, "Grab your pad, my friend.”
"I'll put this one upstairs later, okay?"
Tagging this item of treasure, Arlington Cross and Chayline Vincent came to a padded sales price. "When we put it in the right light… ”
"It'll glow green,” she interrupted.
"You are precisely on point, Mrs. Vincent."
Barris Hart exited the descended elevator. "Do you need me for anything else, Arlington?"
"What's up, Barris?"
"Can I take lunch?"
"Before you do…” He pointed at the remaining items in the corner, "Can you take those up to the storage room?"
"No problem.” Cheerfully getting a rolling cart from the room down the hall, Hart began stacking packages and ascending back upstairs.
"Chayline, you can take lunch too.” Working his fingers through his hair, Cross wrote a few words onto a yellow legal pad. "Business is as light as a feather.”
"Thanks.” Taking her purse from a drawer, Chayline made a suggestion, "Do you want me to bring you back something?"
"A sub will do fine.”
"And, do you want pickles, too?"
"Oh, Chayline, you do know me well.” He beat his pen against the table. "I'll hold down the fort of silence.”
Vincent grasped the door and gently spoke to him. "See you in a bit, Cross."
"Thanks.” Continuing to write, Arlington closed the door and sat at Chayline's cluttered desk.
Alone, this owner of a thriving Vancouver establishment sat yawning. Arlington Cross waited for a blitz of customers and clients, to keep his lifestyle as a King Edward Avenue apartment resident, on that glittery social scene near Vandusen Botanical
His father, Thomas, had retired to a cozy cabin in Oregon. Younger brother Maxwell returned to life in Dallas. Arlington's sibling carved out quite a fulfilling life in the legal arena of Texas.
Being a bachelor could be many things to a man. As for sex, that remained a puzzle, in and of itself. Arlington remained a bachelor who had freedom to explore feminine companionship. And, he did so without abandon.
Nylons in nightclubs, bikinis on bronzed flesh, and diamond adorned bodies in his bed kept satisfaction on the smiling face of Arlington Cross.
Peach painted nails on a manicured hand approached Arlington with a coral colored envelope "Mr. Cross?"
Tanned, lean limbs, exposed from the mid-thigh of a green skirt, moved motioned closer. "I hear that you're having an auction in two weeks. I think there are a few items which might peak my interest to purchase.”
"Really?" Rising from behind Chayline's desk, his hand reached out to hers. Cross looked at a crinkled flyer of a few months prior, up and down. "And, what kind of items are you looking for?"
"My husband and I,” She returned his handshake and with moist lips added, "are in the market for exotic figurines.”
Hearing of a spouse was like garlic to a penetrating vampire. "Oh,” Cross changed his tone as a distinctive silver band glimmered on her wedding finger. "Well, we're putting something together soon." Arlington's inquisitive nature consumed the moment with this woman. "How did you get that notice, ma'am?"
"Mr. Cross. I do have my ways" She remarked, as her emerald eyes were fanned with soft eyelashes. Her raspberry lips parted, as did a rayon jacket to reveal ample assets to him. "Could you give me a description of what the upcoming items for auction are?"
"Ma'am, this flyer is from an old auction we had a while back,” he said, putting it on the desk. Arlington began to turn a beam of investigation onto this mysterious marigold, "We've just had a shipment of Hummel. Would you like to view them?"
"Mr. Cross, I'd like you to suggest something that might suit me.” She shifted soft flesh on the seat; her slight French accent washed over him. "My husband's been on a long business trip.” An aura of arousal wafted around this obviously bored wife of privilege. "I wanted to give him a surprise when he returns home in a few days.”
"Something different is what you're looking for, correct?"
The tip of her tongue moved against her bare teeth, as she slowly twirled a few strands of long, golden hair. "I think you're the type of man that could give a woman exactly what she needs.”
"I have something that will put a smile on that lovely face, ma'am.” Word play was like foreplay to Cross, as though a lump of hesitation lodged in his throat. He skimmed the thick blue catalog. "I mean, Cross has a wide selection of pieces of the obscure and erotic.” Flipping past pages of statues and wall art, he found something his potential customer would enjoy. "Also, there are some masks from Morocco that we got in last week,” he said, showing a picture of an object of fertility. Her body language of arousal diminished. "But, they might not be what you and your husband need.”
"Why is that, Mr. Cross?" A miniscule pout formed on those berry colored lips of hers.
"They are traditional fertility masks.”
Girlish giggles erupted from her. "You are quite right.” Gently taking the catalog from him, she stood and placed it onto that desk. "I don't want a mask or anything from that catalog.”
"How do you know? That's old.” She gingerly placed her left hand on the catalog.
Cross became puzzled at her remark. "You haven't been in here before.” Those brown eyes looked more intently at him. "Have you?"
"I - I didn't mean the catalog was old.” Pangs of embarrassment came to her reddening cheeks as she continued to speak. "I mean to say that is outdated for what I'm in the market for.”
Cross closed the catalog. "Oh, I think I can see." Arlington tried to attain further information from her. "Well, if you would tell me what kind of man your husband is, maybe I can assist you in finding something appropriate."
"He is a man who doesn't spend enough time with his wife." The seductive siren gave more intimate details to the man. "He's a man who leaves his wife alone." Pretending a flickering of bashfulness, she added, "Many a lonely and cold night, he has done this."
Arlington Cross was about to respond to this emerald ember, which sat lusciously before him as a stream of car horns began beeping on the street outside. "Some men just don't know how lucky they actually are."
“Well, I guess it's especially lucky when a royal flush is in their grasp." Her present for an absent spouse became the last item that was on her mind at that moment in time. "Lady Luck can give a winning roll of the dice." Her feminine charms came to the forefront once more as she gazed down at Arlington's affected lower half.
"Or snake eyes." Cross’s erection had to be placed on a back burner. He knew the complications of mixing Cross Collectibles' business with captivating trysts and their unforeseen consequences.
Arlington Cross had a modern day vision of those magnificent Three Graces within arm's length. Yet, his lust would have to remain hidden beneath the dark brown cloth of his pants.
Mischievously, she turned up the heat. "Oh, and that's an image to ponder too."
Feeling like a marlin that had just been hooked off the Florida coast, Cross began realizing this pretty package in his business was a bit too eager to obtain that caviar ticket to a Cross Collectibles' private auction. "I don't think you and your husband will find what you're looking for at my business.”
"Just because I'm married, Arlington" She brushed against his left shoulder, an offer and admission of passion was laid at Cross's feet. “It does not mean that I am a tulip with only a single petal.”
Her intentions towards this stranger would seem obvious to him. She knew how to talk to any man and get his attention. At this moment in time, her sights were set on Cross.
He was flattered and horny. But Arlington's radar doubted her motives for the strong come on to him. Cross was being offered entree into an erotic encounter with a woman who appeared to be too good to be true.
And, from a cautious dealer of antiques, sometimes it was best not to make the sale, no matter what the underlying cost would turn out to be.
"What a description.”
Taking a slip of paper from her purse, she scribbled. "Call me, if you have a change of schedule.” She handed him the note and her luscious body slinked towards the door. She turned to him and continued, "Call me, if you've got the inkling he's not around.”
"By the way," Whizzing past her, Cross asked, "What's your name?"
Her sandal-clad feet quickly stepped onto the crowded sidewalk of Heather Street as she licked her glossed lips. "Clover.”
It turned out to be a first for him. Arlington Cross had just been pumped. Not for lust, but for information. He crossed is arms and stood by the door waiting for Vincent's return.
Barris Hart arrived before Chayline. "Are there any new customers today, Arlington?"
"Nobody at all," Thinking of the fleeting flower of fever that had just left, his words flowed with dejection.
Then Chayline Vincent walked in. "I'm back,” she said, handing Cross a brown bag lunch. "The pickle is in the bottom.”
"I'll be up in the office, opening that package.” Slumped against the far wall of the elevator, Cross pushed button number four.
Walking back into his office, he grabbed an opener from the file cabinet and sliced into a box. Pleased at the sight before his eyes, he smiled. Cross unrolled the thick wrapping of newspaper pages and revealed a forest green box at the box's core. Taking the top off the box, he took a piece of blue note paper, which lay atop three small piles of white linen, and began reading it.
Here are the items we spoke about, as promised. The fees and arrangements are the same as before. You can call me any time. Good to do business with you, as always.
Diamond earrings, a quill pen with peacock feathers, a square of lace fabric. They were nice items for the naked eye. Yet, the history of those diamond earrings went to the heart of their priceless nature. One of Casanova's chief loves, Manon Balletti, used those earrings to obtain his freedom from prison. Now, that's adoration beyond flesh.
Several sensuous letters that were written to a man of fabulous fame with that quill pen, held fantasy in each plume.
T The third item in the box was a square of lace. Precision needlework on this slight bit of fabric was a perfumed token of faded passion. On that fourth floor desk laid three items of distinction, this had been long sought after by collectors of the erotic.
Cross Collectibles had prior auctions for buyers in the sphere of titillation. Youth could never compensate for maturity. Flesh may have been interlocked with pleasure, but it was financial security that kept the wolves of poverty at bay.
Arlington Cross needed to thank the person who'd sent this package to him. His fingers flipped through a Rolodex, as he began tapping a phone number out. An overseas operator in France relayed his call forward.
Ringing Jaqueline Hurlot Niemann's home in Colmar, France, Arlington was a bit taken aback at the voice on the other end of the line.
A woman's voice answered, "Qui?"
"Hello, Jaqueline,“ Arlington responded
Hearing her mother's name being called, Carole Davide stammered, "No - no, I'm her daughter, Carole.”
"Hello Carole. This is Arlington Cross from Vancouver. Cross Collectibles,” he said, remembering speaking with Jaqueline about her daughter several times. "She's talked about you during conversations in the past. Can I speak to your mother, please?"
"Mr. Cross,” her voice faltered, as she took a deep breath for revival. "May I help you with something?"
"Is your mother around? May I speak with her?"
"Rack Em" is published by Eirelander Publshing - http://www.eirelander-publishing.com/Default.aspx
Also available from Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Rack-Em-ebook/dp/B004VNMF8W
Barnes & Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rack-em-ah-scott/1030766415