Chapter One – Dmitry’s Closet

Dmitry

Chapter One

Graduation was less than a week away, and Royal had no idea what she was going to do about living arrangements.  The job that she had secured fell through two days before, and she was about to be in a hotel living off of her small and meaningless savings until she was homeless unless she found a job

            Determined, Royal was now walking the hot pavement of downtown Memphis in a pair of worn black stilettos and an awkward borrowed dress suit going from interview to interview trying to close a deal that would promise her the ability to sign a lease to a one-bedroom apartment by month’s end. 

            The economy was a mess.  Over 3 million people had lost their jobs in the last few months; the unemployment lines were unbearable; banks were being bailed out by the bus loads.  And still, she was out trying to find gainful employment.

The sun had baked completely through Royal’s rayon getup.  She was sweating from the outside in and holding back a heat stroke with a bottle of tap water.  She adjusted her black leather satchel on her aching arm and stopped for a moment at an inviting, old wooden bench under the cool shade of a lonely tree.  

She sat down, slumped over and took off her heels.  Wow, did her feet hurt!  They were red from irritation and a bruise had started to form on her baby toe.   The frustration of it all nearly erupted in a scream as she slipped back on her shoes.  And a small tear crept from behind her pride and tried to fall down her burning face, but she wiped it quickly.  Like a stretching seam, she could feel her strength giving away under the stress, but she had to push on until she met her objective.

The heat was ridiculously relentless.  With not one cloud in the sky, the rays beamed down on the concrete and cooked the aching bones of her body like meat in a steamer.  Salty sweat poured down her face and neck into the collar of her shirt, making her feel sticky and leaving an unattractive and unmistakable stain.  And outside of a small bowl of microwave oatmeal at five that morning, Royal had not eaten a thing.  She was starving, dizzy and exhausted but mostly defeated. 

 “Screw it,” Royal huffed, taking off her jacket. 

She could feel the hot winds wrap around her skin as she unbuttoned the top notches of her shirt and curled up the sleeves to her elbows.  Desperate for a meal, she pulled a ten-dollar bill from her purse and wondered down Main Street looking for something to eat.  She would resume her job hunt after she had fed her growling stomach.  Maybe she would be able to think straight then.

It was mid-afternoon and all the lunch dwellers had rushed back up into their high-rise buildings.  Now only shopkeepers, vagabonds and tourists walked the streets, monitored by police officers on bikes and beaten up patrol cars.  Royal slowly inched down the cobblestone lane along the trolley line clutching her money and trying not to further agitate her toe.  A hot wind blew down the street and brushed through her long, damp hair.  She moved wild strands from her face and yawned. 

Feet swollen and stomach growling, she followed the beautiful smell of cooked apples and mangos to a small shop covered with large crimson awnings and smoke-tinted bay windows.  Grasping the elaborate gold handles, she pulled opened the large black, embroidered wooden doors with carved cherubs and walked into the dark restaurant. 

From the outside, the restaurant appeared very small, but to her surprise the beautiful two-story building was decorated in decadent colors, gold textures and brilliant hues of crimson.  The restaurant reminded her of a setting that she had seen on an old movie.  She looked around curiously. 

The winter breeze coming from the air conditioner cooled her cheeks. She instantly sighed, thankful for some relief.  She clutched tighter to her money, knowing that such a nice place would be too expensive for her ten dollars.  However, she did hope that she could at least afford an appetizer and maybe a cool glass of water.

Remarkably, the place was empty.  No waiters or waitresses came out to help her.  She cleared her voice. 

“Hello?” 

There was no answer.

She walked on.

There was an intoxicating aroma coming from the kitchen, indicating the place was still open.  But where were all the people?  Where was one person?  Anyone would do.  All she heard was music playing from the back of the room. 

Instinctively, she followed the sound of a lonely violin weeping its melody from small stage near the bar in the back of the restaurant.  She walked slowly on the wooden floors, feet still aching, to the edge of a staircase, where below a single man sat playing the instrument. 

He was perched perfectly on a stool.  His long limbs were spread apart covered in black suit.  Royal stood entranced by the beauty of the music that came from his little instrument, by the smell of the food, the beautiful translucent glow of the foreign restaurant and the crisp air.  Alas, she had found a small heaven in the eye of Memphis’ hell storm of heat.  She listened on gratefully as he played, trying not to interrupt his obvious concentration.

Oblivious to his audience, the man played passionately with his eyes closed for a while, until he felt her presence.  When the slits of his ice cold blue eyes opened, the grip on his bow loosened and his perfect chin dropped.  He stopped, looked curiously at her for a moment and then set his violin down on the black baby grand piano. 

Royal’s breath was shallow.  She didn’t mean to spy on the man.  She didn’t mean to disturb him, but she could not help it.  Without saying a word, he had imprisoned her with his music. 

There was a moment of utter silence.  The two locked eyes and captured each other in a blank space in time.  Royal looked on not knowing what to say.  She swallowed hard and blinked. 

Finally breaking away from the moment, the man stood up, exposing the full height of his monstrous enormity and began to walk towards her.  His Italian dress shoes clicked on the floor as moved.  Royal’s eyes widened.  He had to be nearly seven feet tall.  His curly blonde hair caught the sun in the reflection from the mirrors behind him and made his face glow.  He was absolutely mesmerizing.

Royal was stuck.  Maybe it was his sheer height or his liquid blue eyes or his chiseled, high cheek bones, or maybe it was just someone to serve her a meal, but Royal felt an indescribable urgency. Unable to move, her posture horrible, she was planted at the steps as he approached her. 

In long, leisurely strides that equally matched his very graceful body, he moved down the aisle to her.  She barely blinked as he stood at the bottom of the short steps at eye level with her.  He looked her dead in her eyes. 

            She still did not speak.  Her mouth would not move.  She only hoped that her eyes would speak for her. 

            Her nervousness made the stranger smile.  Perfect, white pearly teeth were revealed under his shapely pink lips.   His cologne floated up to her nostrils, and she took in the scent of extremely expensive cologne.

“Is someone helping you?” he asked with a thick accent.

“No,” she said, voice pitched high.  She cleared her voice.

There was something about the mysterious man that scared her.  She opened her hand and showed him the money, trying to validate her reason for intruding on him.

He looked down at the money as he made his way up the polished wooden steps past her.  She looked up at him as he did so, still in awe of his giant build.

“Do you want to pay me for music or for food cooking in kitchen?”

“Just the food,” Royal swallowed again.   

He chuckled a little.  “This is polite way to tell me not to quit day job, dah?”

Royal smiled.  “I enjoyed it, actually.”

“You did?  Well, good.  Now, come with me,” he said, demanding her presence at the front of the shop. 

She followed him obediently to the front of the restaurant, where his deep voice carried as he pulled a single seat from a table near the bay windows. 

“Anatoly, bring me plate of duck you are cooking.”  He looked back over at Royal and motioned towards the seat.  “Please, sit down.  I have made you wait long enough.”

“Thank you,” she said, as she said down.

“You’re welcome,” he said, pushing her up to the table.  He bent down to her ear.  “Do you like duck?” he asked, tickling her nose with his minty perfumed breath.

“I…I’ve never had it,” she said, feeling slightly embarrassed and completely controlled by the situation.

“Never?” the strange man asked, amused. 

She nodded no.

“Well, you will try my duck today.  It is best in all of Memphis straight from Russia.”  He stood up.

She nodded yes.  Struggling she tried to make herself spit out her words and stop acting like a school girl.  “Thank you,” she said again.  “I’d like that very much.”

“It is my pleasure,” he said, bowing out like a trained waiter.

“One question?” she asked, before he could get away.

“Yes?”  He stopped.

            “I only have ten dollars.  How much does the duck cost?”  Her eyes were

wide.  Maybe the man had mistaken her second-hand business suit for something valuable.  She was in no position to pay for an expensive dinner.

            “It will cost you conversation with me.”  He looked at her sweat stained white oxford, run over pumps and exhausted state and felt instantly responsible for feeding the woman.  It was the least that he could do.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me for just a minute.” 

            “Okay,” Royal said, watching his long, muscular body disappear into the restaurant. 

Russia?  She looked around the restaurant again.  Yes, unmistakably Russian.  So unmistakable, she found the whole setting to be slightly stereotypical, all that was missing was a framed photo of Putin and the national flag.  She looked over in the far corner and saw both and giggled to herself.

            The day had most certainly turned around.  She was about to have free duck in a plush restaurant with a hot man out of the hot sun.  That was completely fine by her.   She needed a break.  She’s been job hunting all day.  And if she heard, we’ll be contacting you, one more time, she would lose her mind.  What they really meant was that the economy was in a complete downward spiral, and she had a degree in business and no real experience outside of working her butt off doing odd jobs to pay for school, so she would never hear from them again.  

            However, she wouldn’t focus on all of that now.  This man had given her a millisecond break. She would just take it and forget for a while that her life truly sucked.  Happily, she slipped her feet halfway out of her shoes, wiggled her toes and sighed.  Ahh. Freedom at last.

            Minutes later, the man whom Royal guessed was Anatoly came walking towards her lonely table with a two plates.  The young dirty blonde moved quickly.  His short stocky frame was covered in tattoos, and he wore dark blue jeans and a black t-shirt covered by a white apron.  His hooded eyes never looked up from the ground.  He sat the food down and walked away without any words.  Then an even shorter redhead woman came out with two shot glasses and bottle of vodka, two red crystal glasses and a bottle of wine and set it on the table in the same manner.  She also never spoke a word. 

            “I was hoping that you’d still be here,” the man said returning. 

            He pulled his seat away from the table and sat directly across from her.  She watched him carefully while he inspected the presentation of his meal.  His long, muscular arms rested beside him, reaching nearly the length of the table. 

            “Shall we toast?” he asked, picking up his glass once he was satisfied. 

            “Sure.  What to?”

            He thought for a minute then smiled.  “To prosperous futures.” 

            “I like that.”

            She toasted his glass and drank the potent contents.  The burn rushed down her throat to her empty belly and caused a shiver through her body.  Maybe it would do exactly what she wanted it to do, numb the awkward exhilaration of being across the table from the man.  If she could just relax, maybe she could breathe like a normal person. 

            “You took good drink,” he said, sipping from his glass, “But it’s vodka that I would recommend taking straight to the head, not the wine.” 

            “Well that depends on what kind of day, you’ve had,” Royal said, coyly.  “If you’ve had a day like mine, then you take everything to the head.” 

            Smirking, she poured herself a shot of the vodka.  Boldly, she took the shot and set the glass softly on the table.  However, she could instantly feel the magic burn rush through her body.  She wanted to cough, but she held it in.  Her watery eyes told on her as she tried not to gag.

            The stranger looked at the empty shot glass and laughed.  “You look like flower and drink like weed.”  He poured himself a shot and followed her direction.  The contents went down smooth and with no tingle.  His Adam’s apple barely moved.  Then he set his shot glass beside hers and smiled back.  “I like your attitude,” he said leaning over.  “Tell me, what is your name?”   His eyes sparkled like diamonds.

            “It’s Royal.”

            “Excuse me?”

            “My name is Royal Stone.”  She looked up at him under her long dark eyelashes. 

            “Where did you get a name like that?”

            “I don’t know.”  Royal poured another shot of vodka.  She started to feel a little more relaxed and maybe even a little buzz.  “Don’t know my parents.  I lived with a foster family until I was 18, and then I went to college.   I graduate next week, and the company that I had landed a job with went under this week. “

            “So, you’re out job hunting?”

            “Exactly,” she said, taking another shot.

            “Try the duck.  I think you’ll like it even more than the vodka.”

            “Oh, sorry.”  Royal smiled with more ease.  The alcohol gave her the edge that she needed. 

            “So, you’re looking for a job doing what?”  he continued.

            “Is this an interview?”

            He shrugged his large shoulders.  “It could be.”  He sat back in his chair relaxed.

            “Shouldn’t I at least know your name then?”  She was mildly sarcastic.

            “Wait.  You don’t know my name?”  The stranger winked his eye at her.  “Everyone knows who I am.”  His voice was now a low whisper as if he were telling her a huge secret.

            “I don’t know who you are,” she replied, whispering as well.  She tasted the duck.  Absolutely delicious.

            “It caught you by surprise, did it not?”  He looked at her plate, forgetting their conversation for a minute.  “I told you.  The best duck in Mid-South.  This dish was featured in…Memphis Magazine one month ago.”  He slapped his large hand on his equally large thigh in satisfaction.  He was always pleased with a happy customer, even if she was not paying.   

            Royal raised her eyebrow in satisfaction and at his enthusiasm over his food.      “Yes, it is very good,” she confirmed.  “The best duck I’ve ever had.”

            “Yes, after this, everything else will be all downhill.”  He looked at her for a moment, then shifted back to their conversation with a large smile on his angelic face. 

            “My name is Dmitry Medlov.”  He stuck his hand out across the table and offered it to Royal.  She wiped her hands on her crimson colored napkin and shook it.

            “Nice to meet you.”  After a few drinks, she was starting to feel a little better.

            “Nice to meet you too, Royal.”  His eyes locked on hers.   “Tell me what subject are you getting your baccalaureate degree in?”

            “Business.  Would you like to see my resume?”

            “You have it with you?”
            Royal pulled her resume from her satchel and passed it to him.  He pulled his glasses from his jacket and placed them on.  She was surprised for a minute.  He didn’t look like the type that would wear glasses.  Although, they did make him look even more distinguished.  The silver wire rimmed frames sat perfectly on his chiseled narrow nose, across his suntanned face and his over his dreamlike eyes. 

            “Is this your restaurant?”  she asked interrupting his attention again.

            “Dah.”  He did not look up from the paper.
            “Does that word mean yes?” 

            He looked up at her, “Dah.”  His voice was silky smooth.  He looked at her with a strange gaze then looked back down her resume.  Royal was finally quiet, giving him a moment to digest her unworthiness.

            Dmitry read her resume carefully with no expression on his face.  She could not tell if he was impressed or like many of her other interviewers, unmoved, indifferent and ready to see her out the door.

            “And you graduate in one week?”  he asked, placing the resume beside him on the table and taking off his glasses.

            “Yes.  I graduate next Tuesday.”  She sat up a little straighter.

            “Tell me, Royal.  Are you particular about what job you would like?” He put his glasses back inside of his coat jacket and focused in on her.

            “I’d like a job with the potential to move up in the organization, but I’m willing to start anywhere.”

            Dmitry smiled.  “That is sign of hard worker,” he said pointing at her.  “You’ve never been given anything.  And so, you know how to work hard to get it or take it.” 

            “If I need to, dah.”

            Dmitry raised his thick dirty blonde eyebrow at her.  She was quick and spunky, and he was completely paralyzed by her natural beauty.  He had been struck since the moment he opened his eyes, and she was standing in front of him.  She had appeared like a dream, standing there like she had just fallen out of the sky.  He had to blink when he saw her.  He blinked hard to make sure that she was real and not some figment of his imagination, some illusion due to his aching loneliness.  He knew that she was real when he saw the sweat glistening from her body.  Her long, shapely figure was concealed under her baggy clothes.  She was refreshingly innocent.  Her bright eyes told her entire story.  She was what he was playing for and praying for…a sign.

            “So what do you think?” she asked, finally. 

            “You’ve done good work,” he said, realizing that he had zoned out far too long.  “I’d like to make you a proposal.”  He smirked at how fluid that statement was for him.

            “Okay,” Royal said, putting down her knife and fork.  She listened on attentively.

            “I’m opening  new business not far from here.  Really just couple blocks over.  I need someone who is willing to give it their all.  It’s a new clothing store.  I call it, Dmitry’s Closet.  It’s full of nicest clothes for women.  However, I need young shop keeper for this one.  Do you have kids, husband, something like this?”

            “No,” Royal said, clearly seeing that this guy knew nothing about HR.  One was never supposed to ask those types of personal questions on an interview, but she didn’t care, as long as he gave her the job.

            “Good.  This is just what I want to hear,” he said, slyly.  “The person that run’s my shop will have nice apartment just above the store.  You see, I own entire building.  You have the degree, the professionalism, the drive I need to make Dmitry’s Closet into Memphis’ next big boutique.”

            “So, you want me to manage your store and in exchange you’ll give me an apartment?”  She was suddenly unimpressed.  It was only half of what she needed.

            “No…I want to offer you much more,” Dmitry said, excited about her ability to bargain.

            “How much more?”  Royal asked, leaning into him in anticipation.

            “As long you work for me, you have this and to start off forty grand.  You have to hire part-time staff, do inventory, keep books.  But I see from your resume that you have experience with this.”  He knew in this economy, he was offering her a lot more than he had to, but he wanted to keep her, even though her experience was actually very limited. 

            “$40,000?”  Royal sucked in her own breath. 

            “Are you starting to be interested now?”

            “Of course.  Since, it is close; can we go there and see it?”

            Dmitry smiled a little smile of success.  She took the bait.  He would have paid her $80,000 to take the job.  To him, he was simply saving forty grand. 

            “Yes.  After you finish your meal, I’ll take you over.” 

            Dmitry smiled at her.  He could see the passion in her eyes.  She was a young businesswoman.  Her ambition would drive his newest investment, and if she wasn’t careful much more. 

            “Anatoly, get my car to the front.  I want to take Ms. Stone to my new shop,” he said, absently.  His eyes were still fixed on hers.

           

∞♥∞

 

When Royal had finished her late lunch with Dmitry, he escorted her back out to the front of the restaurant, where his silver SRL McLaren Mercedes-Benz was parked waiting for them as he had instructed Anatoly to do.  He opened the door for her and waited as she hesitantly loaded herself and her little bag inside.  He slid on his shades as he closed the door behind her and made his way to the driver’s seat. 

            Royal watched him carefully.  She was young, barely 23, but she knew money when she saw it.  And Dmitry had plenty of it, if his car was any indication,.

            Dmitry drove calmly through the streets.  He did not care for theatrics.  He did not have to prove himself.  He was confident, probably because he was driving a four-hundred thousand dollar car and wearing a suit that cost more than her tuition.  His long body fit perfectly into the gray leather chairs.  His curly blonde hair shined like spun gold in the sunshine. 

            He looks perfect, Royal thought to herself as she glimpsed over at him. 

            As quickly as they had pulled onto the streets of downtown Memphis, they were pulling off into the back alley of a renovated building.  Dmitry parked and helped Royal out of the car. 

            “I want you to get full effect,” he said, taking her hand.  “So, we must go around to front.” 

             The building sat across from the fire department and the National Civil Rights Museum only entries away from the popular boutique Muse.  It was swank and modern.  The designer had paid extra close attention to the detail of the brick masonry and custom limestone design.  The boutique screamed money, even before she saw the inside.    

            “You believe in facing the competition head on,” Royal said, looking at the customers pile into the neighboring store. 

            “This is healthy, yes?  The customers now have true variety.”  He took the keys and opened the huge wooden double doors that mildly reminded her of his restaurant. 

            “These doors are beautiful,” she noted.

            “I had them flown in from Moscow,” he said proudly.  “Well, here it is.” 

            As the doors opened, the light shined in on the dark boutique.  It was clean and empty, awaiting clothes to fill its hollow shell.  The floors were a shiny alabaster wood.   The mirrors were over exaggerated and designed with beautiful gold frames.  Crystal chandeliers hung from the tall ceilings illuminating the room with sparkling light as the sun hit shined in from the front door.  The large windows were covered in beautiful stain glass and the walls were painted in Dmitry’s signature crimson.

            “It’s so beautiful,” Royal said, touching the mirrors.  “This whole place is like a dream.”

            “This is what I want.  When women come in to buy best in clothing, I want them to feel as though they are in best that Memphis has to offer.”
            “Like the restaurant,” Royal chimed in delighted.

            “This is what you business majors call buying in to vision. Yes?” 

            “Exactly,” she giggled.

            Dmitry looked down at her and bit his lip, capturing a glimpse of the beauty mole on her neck – ever so feminine, ever so inviting.  Her bright brown eyes gazed up at him in awe.  He wanted to reach down and kiss her satin pink lips, but he could see she would resist him.  He stepped away, removing himself from the close proximity of her body and the heat that she naturally radiated. 

            “I think that I’ve definitely bought in, and I haven’t even seen the apartment.”

            “It’s upstairs,” Dmitry said quietly.  “And there is surprise for you.  Well, not you specifically, but for whomever, I choose for job.”

            Royal followed him out the shop into a beautiful back office with a dark cherry wood credenza, continued Russian elegance and expensive furniture. 

            “This is where you will keep inventory,” he said, barely stopping so that she could see the office.  

            She followed carefully, felling a little weary of where she was going.  What if Dmitry had only one intention – to get her upstairs and rape her?  Her heart fluttered at the thought.  No one knew where she was or what she was doing.  As quickly as all of this had happened, it could end.  She stopped on the first step and looked up.

            “What is the matter?” he asked sensing her sudden mood change.
            Royal did not speak.

            “Strange man, strange place?” 
            “Something like that,” she answered, sighing in relief that he understood.

            “Do you have cell phone?”

            “No.”
            “Here, use mine.”  He pulled his cell phone from his coat jacket and offered it to her.  “Call someone. Anyone.  Tell them where you are.  And that way, you have peace of mind.” 

            Royal took the phone and looked at it.  She really didn’t have anyone to call.  The thought mildly angered her.  No best friends.  No sisters or brothers.  Her former foster parents would not be at their apartment this early in the afternoon.  She shook off her pain and looked back up.

            “Just show it to me,” she said, walking past him on the stairs.

            “This is what I’m trying to do.”  He put the phone away.

            There was only one door on the second level of the entire building.  It was a sprawling creation with the same wooden cherubs that were on the front of the restaurant doors.  He took the key and opened the large oak double doors to a romantic loft.  He walked in first and Royal soon followed.   Her mind was still wrapped around her lonely existence until she saw the luxurious space. 

            She walked in expecting to see white walls and simple fixtures, instead she was greeted with elegant luxury that rivaled anything she had ever witnessed firsthand, and she worked in four-star hotel.  In amazement, she wondered around the airy place entranced by its exquisiteness and imagining what it would be like to live there.

            “Do you see my surprise? It’s fully furnished.” He hit the lights and the large living room lit up.  Leisurely, he sat down on the plush leather couch and checked his cell phone.   

            “Dmitry, this is gorgeous.  I can’t believe it.”  She paused for a moment.  “Oh my God,” she exclaimed, standing beside the king size canopy bed, draped in fine fabrics under the wooden vaulted ceiling and dimming lights of her future bedroom. 

            Dmitry finished sending his text messages and wondered from the living room to the bedroom, where he found her sitting on the side of the bed rubbing the comforter.  He leaned against the door but refused to cross the doorway. 

            “My thought was that if woman who runs my shop feels what it’s like to live in luxury, she might better understand what quality of Dmitry’s Closet must be.”  He smiled, his wide pink mouth showing signs of age.  “You are very impressed, yes?”

            “Very,” she said, getting off of the bed. 

            She stood in the room tapping her foot with her arms crossed and smiling.  An overwhelming sensation of accomplishment consumed her.

            “So, you want me to run the shop and live here?” she tried to focus in.

            “No, I want much more from you than that.  I want you to transform my vision of Dmitry’s Closet from fantasy to reality.  I have clothes being flown in from every stretch of the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and mother Russia. I want this to be international house of style for southern belles of Memphis, and I want you to make them feel as though they cannot get this experience anywhere else in city.”

            Royal felt a little tipsy from the wine and vodka that she had earlier, so she sat back on the bed as she listened.  Dmitry went on like a professor in a lecture series about his marvelous ideas for the store and what he expected from her.  He barely looked at her or took a breath, rather he looked towards the ceiling and around the room, as though he was envisioning the tasks that he laid before her come to fruition before his very eyes.  When he finished, he zoned back in and realized that Royal was still sitting there.

            “Did you get all of that?” he asked, with a half-smirk on this face. 

            “It’s a grand plan, Dmitry.  But as much as I want it, why would you pick me?  I don’t know anything about rich people, rich women, and designer clothes.  I’m poor.” 

            “But you are beautiful, and you are mysterious and what you do not have, you must learn to fake, until you obtain it.  Trust me.  I know little something about this.”      Dmitry was mildly entertained by the humble creature.  She was so beautiful, it was hard to look at her, yet one did so with ease because of her constant humility.  She was a marvelous spectacle to him, only she did not know that she was a spectacle at all.

            “I don’t want to let you down,” Royal said, feeling a little overwhelmed.  “This is a lot to offer any one person.  It’s a great opportunity.”  She sighed.

            “May I come in?” Dmitry asked, still behind the threshold of her bedroom.  He looked down at the threshold menacingly but never let his large leather shoe cross it.

            “I’ll come out,” she said, very happy to keep the barriers intact.  Quickly, she walked out of the bedroom and followed him into the dining room where they both sat at the elegant wooden dinner table.

            Dmitry sat down across from her with ease.  His long body sprawled out in the plush velvet bottom seats as he crossed his legs.  His swagger was almost too much for Royal.  Did he intentionally try to seduce her? 

            His ice cold blue eyes were fixed on her as he began to talk.  His baritone treble shook the Adam’s apple below his chin in his long tan neck and his words continued to twist around his accent.  Yet, he talked with ease and his voice felt like soft satin to her ears. 

            “When I first came to this country, I was just little older than you.  I was not poor, but I was not rich like I dreamed of becoming.  So, I faked it until I got where I wanted to be.  It’s not easy, you understand, but it is not hard if you think of other option.”

            “What is the other option?” Royal asked, sitting across from him with her hand on her face listening carefully.

            “The other option is to fail – to go back to family with your tail tucked between your legs and pray that someone has mercy on you.”  He leaned forward further pulling her into the conversation. 

            “I don’t have a family that will take me back.  And I don’t have a tail to tuck.”    Royal’s game face emerged.   While she did not always master a thing, she did not believe in quitting.  And to assume or presume that she would, hit a nerve that created a faint sense of offense in her tone. 

            Dmitry instantly picked on it and enjoyed the frustration and desire that boiled in her stomach.  She breathed heavily as she listened, her cat-like eyes burned through him and the veins in her neck pulsed.  He watched her – nostrils flared – make her case.  Royal was a fighter.  He could tell. 

            “Go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind, Royal. It’s practically written on your forehead,” he said slyly.

            “I may not have the best grades, but I don’t have the worst.  I may not have two dimes to rub together, but I have pride.  If you want me to do this job, and you trust me to give it my all, I will.  But I’m no coward.  If I do it, I’ll do it right and face every challenge head on.  I just want you to know up front that I’m no glamour queen.  I’m not part of the in crowd, and I don’t come from money.”

            “Well, good.  Because neither do I.  We’re just a couple of people chasing American dream.”  Dmitry smiled. 

            She was incensed that he had insinuated that she could not perform.  He liked that.  He liked her.
            Royal smiled.  “Okay then, I’ll do it.  I’ll run your shop.”

            “I have great confidence that you will,” Dmitry said.

            He reached in his pocket and pulled out a key. 
            “Has man ever given you apartment on first date?” he asked playfully as he slid her the key.

            “No,” Royal said, taking the key and putting in on her key ring.

            “Well,” he hunched his shoulders. “There is first time for everything.”

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10 Comments

  1. Ms. Nelson,

    I’m so glad that you are finally writing another book. My book club “the leading ladies” are so excited about it. This one sounds completely different from what we were expecting. I hope that you finish it soon and put us down for 15 copies.

    Happy that you made good on your promise to your readers.

    Faithfully,

    Christa

  2. Is the book coming out on Christmas Day, or sometime around Christmas?

    P.S. I loved Ivy’s Twisted Vine and am super excited about Ivy and Nicola’s next story!

  3. I saw this on the TST message board and thought i would take a look and boy do i wanna take a look at this book, i wanna buy it

    alex

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks so much for checking up on us. I’d love to have you purchase the book and tell me your thoughts on it, once you’ve read it.

      Latrivia

    • So Alex,

      What are your thoughts so far?

      Latrivia

  4. Do you plan on offering this book in more ebook formats other then Kindle?

    • Hi Jaime,

      We currently do offer this book in several other e-book formats. I believe that Lybrary.com is selling it and we’re working to get it on Nook and some other programs. Which format are you looking to see it in? By knowing that, I can provide you with a better answer.

      Thanks for reaching out,
      Latrivia

  5. Hi, I’d like to know how can I buy your book..I’m from Brazil and I’m completely fascinated by it. It hasn’t been tranlated yet, has it?

    Anyway, Thank you.
    You are an amazing writer!


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