Tuesday, March 22, 2016




“We’ve watched the footage four times. Didn’t you even get a glimpse of her in it, sir?” Dre asks.

“I have carefully checked everything on the footage. Nothing. As if she disappeared into thin air like will of the wisp.”

“Did you thoroughly check the dock, the yacht? Were you able to get a passenger list?” I bombard Dre with questions.

“We ran out to the deck together, sir. After you gave her description to the German security officer, no one seemed to have seen or recognized her description. I have checked everywhere including the ladies bathroom,” he says somberly. She just disappeared.

“I’m having the French security team check it discreetly to see if any other security footage turns up from another building in the vicinity, or if pictures were taken and posted online, but so far, there’s nothing. It is not unexpected of course. There were a lot of partygoers and revelry happening during the evening, and many more people arrived for the after party at the yacht causing an overflow of people on the dock.

“I want you to leave no stone unturned. Anything discovered, however insignificant, I need to know.”

“Always, sir. I’m trying to persuade the German security detail to provide the plus one information of all the guests. They’re on the discreet list.” That of course is an impossible manner to garner information from that list because men like me are on it. But, I can already have him eliminate the men. I just need to find out about the women fitting Aphrodite’s description.

“Keep me abreast of any news,” I say before dismissing Dre out of my cabin. He’s the only one who knows about her, a need to know basis only.

I take out the lone earring from a small box I placed it in, examining it carefully, trying to find a marking, some sort of symbol that would direct me towards a name, a person. Her. I can’t find it. I put it back in its safe place.

‘Who are you Aphrodite? Where did you go?’ I ask to no one in particular in my now empty cabin in the dark before sinking into my pillow, and fall into a sleep listening to the soft hum of the jet engine.

I’m on the deck of the ship sipping champagne. I feel her gaze on me before I see her. I slowly turn my head to lock eyes with hers. I can’t distinguish the color of them, but she is Aphrodite. My breath hitches with the sight of her. No woman has ever managed to have that effect on me before. She is absolutely breathtaking. Her backless white dress gives the illusion that she’s wearing the sea’s foam, poured on her, stopping right above her knees. Her high heeled Louboutins are only accentuating her mile long legs. The breeze lifts her hair up, showcasing and caressing her beautiful long neck. The natural beauty of her face is both innocent and that of a seductress, a source of both pleasure and danger. I’m helplessly under her spell. My subconscious reminds me to breathe. I find my feet walking towards her as if I have no other choice. I stop before her and proffer my hand; without a word, she takes it. Both of our breathing is shallow, in sync.

“I’ve been looking for you,” I whisper, unable to recognize my own voice or the complexity of the feelings conveyed. She speaks, but the noises surrounding us drowns out her voice. She turns her face somber, her hands start shaking like leaves.

“Is something the matter?” I ask with concern. “You’re shaking… Aphrodite,” I say without knowing her name; all the while my eyes are examining her, trying to decipher her expression. She doesn’t respond or correct me.

“Come,” I try to take her hand, “let’s sit.” She shakes her head ‘no’ as her eyes are fixed on the door waiting for him to come out.

“Is he your lover?” I ask. No response. When we hear a set of footsteps, she starts walking away briskly.

“Wait! Please! Don’t go! I can protect you! Who are you? Tell me. Please!” I find myself pleading with this young woman running away from whatever frightened her. I can’t let her go! I don’t even know her name! I won’t! What the hell is wrong with me?

“Let me at least walk you to your car.” I plead again. She walks faster, shaking her head no. “Can I call a taxi for you? Let me do something! Please.” Then, he’s there, in the dark waiting for her to get there. He grabs her, kisses her against her struggles. She is seemingly receptive of his amorous attack, then she pushes him away. He attacks her for her rejection and I jump at him. She runs.

“Let go of me, you fucker! She’s my woman!” he shouts. I punch the dick and run after her, worried, exasperated and upset.

“Fuck you, asshole! She is mine!” he shouts after me. “I know how to find her and you don’t!”

“Fuuuuck!” She’s gone. Disappeared into the night.

 My own voice wakes me up, left me breathing heavily. Shit! I need to find her.

The Elysium Club. If you let the name trick you into believing that you’re entering into some heavenly club where all your wishes come true, you’re fucked. You’re actually entering into the devil’s playpen in the heart of Los Angeles where you will be flirting under the influence of The Elite. Extreme power controlled by each member is soaked in prestige, exclusivity, royalty, dominion and the deepest pockets in the world. The members who are not of royal blood like me have other fortuitous qualifications.

When Dre drives into the underground garage, the S-Guard’s interior barely illuminates the change with the dimming of the bright California sun through its heavily tinted windows. Dre, head of my close security detail brings the vehicle to a full stop for the club’s high tech security system to scan the vehicle. My car’s details are already registered here, but it also receives Dre’s biometrics from the windshield.

“Metrics complete for Andre Aragon Bennett the Second. Welcome to the Elysium Club,” greets a pleasant female voice. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have mistaken the computer for a real human. Dre’s face slightly flinches, hearing his full name like a prince in succession to the throne. The corner of my mouth flinches in a suppressed smile at his reaction.

“Metrics complete for Ronan David Gibson. Welcome to the Elysium Club.” The double doors slide open as in an elevator to give a glimpse of an enclosed space several feet before us.

“Mr. Bennett, please proceed forward. When the flashing sign instructs you in exactly thirty-eight feet, put your vehicle into park,” she pleasantly directs. When Dre proceeds forward, my five-thousand pound armored Benz gets secured automatically, lifted and moved on the platform first vertically then horizontally, finally coming to a full stop to deposit the vehicle into my permanent space within a few minutes. Not having the control of movement makes him nervous and extra cautious. Dre opens his door and exits the vehicle then gives a full cursory glance around even though this is practically the most secure building in the entire city. He then quickly buttons his suit jacket and opens my door; his vigilant eyes never stop scanning. He’s nervous because he didn’t get to do a sweep first and that is just impossible to do at the Elysium Club. That’s why he insisted on taking the S Guard for the drive here.

We proceed towards the common room receiving greetings from many of the patrons smoking their cigars and sipping their brandy, discussing the brass tacks of the world economics. We are greeted by one of the butlers who services me when I’m here.

“Mr. Gibson. It’s an honor to see you here again sir. Your guests are already waiting in a meeting room. Please follow me,” he says.

I have a particular room I prefer to use at the Elysium Club. But this room belongs to my best friend and right hand man Stephane Winthrop. He inherited the Elysium Club from his grandfather which had been in their family for a number of generations.

When the butler opens the door, I momentarily assess the room. The room is quite large, reminding me of the old cigar rooms with dark mahogany and cream colors predominant on the walls and the decor. But the art works on the walls are exquisite paintings of various historical figures Stephane admires from Alexander the Great to Alexander Hamilton, all posed in positions of power. Yet the seating is arranged in such a way that no one person situated in the room would be in a power position. The walls are high and ornate. You would only have to turn around to see the classic look flow into modernity with floor to ceiling glass walls overlooking the city of Los Angeles. You finally get a sense of how high above the ground you really are.

When I enter in to the room, Stephane’s eyes glint at me, reflecting the content mood. He’s assessed our opposition. We have learned quite a lot about him during our trip to Cannes. The German investor has quite the reputation of being a tough, picky and at times downright cantankerous ogre. I need to know if this is a man I can do business with in the future and invest a large sum of money for this movie project right now. The rest of the meeting participants situated on the leather armed chairs around the coffee table follow his gaze to look up at me. Good. Arriving only one minute after everyone else and subconsciously I have established dominance. I assume my public persona: confident, arrogant, powerful, commanding: the alpha among alphas. Some people attempt to wear this as a second skin, a mimicked persona. I, however become an entirely different entity, not donning a secondary skin you wear like a suit. That’s the face I show to the whole world where I keep most everyone distant, in their place. My gaze is scorching as I take in the occupants of the room.

Stephane stands up. Even though he’s my best friend, at this place, in this particular setting, he is in his assumed business persona I expect him to utilize when he is representing me and my company. One can easily recognize him to be a powerful man, especially if you are an alpha male. But, in my presence, he’s my beta; not a rival, but an ally and a rare friend. Two of the men in the room appear to be in their late thirties. In fact they couldn’t be older than forty. A third young man looks more like my age of 31.

As I walk towards the sitting group, Stephane takes decisive steps over to greet me.

“Welcome Mr. Gibson,” shaking my hand, then leads me towards the assembled group. “May I introduce you to Mr. Friedrich Reinhardt of Reinhardt Global Industries,” he says in a clear tone.

The older gentleman by the well chiseled lines of his face and his impeccably groomed silver hair looks to be around sixty years old. When I get near him, I notice that he’s about my height of six feet three inches. He’s got high cheekbones and the clearest sharp blue eyes I’ve seen in a while with a gaze that has only known power and affluence; he boldly assesses me as one would a rival. Nothing he is wearing is off the rack but custom made by only the best tailors with not a stitch out of place, showcasing his muscular stature unexpected of a man with his years. He extends his hand and I take it, shaking it twice and firmly. He reciprocates with equal strength. With a thick German accent, “I finally meet the man who runs a big portion of the American economic world,” he states in French. He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak German but he’s well informed with the knowledge that I speak French. His discerning eyes tell me that he has done his homework well, down to the part where he knows the languages I speak, and he is prepared to match wits with me to let me know that he can be an ally or a rival. At the moment, he doesn’t care which.

“Over exaggeration Herr Reinhardt,” I smile. I never show all my hands.

“On the contrary, I disagree,” he says in a thick baritone voice. “It’s a disgraceful understatement. Frankly, I was curious to see just what kind of man amasses such a fortune on his own at such a young age.”

Aha! He doesn’t sugar coat anything. Somehow I like him. He’s a straight shooter. I admire that in a businessman. There is a carefully hidden curiosity in his seemingly self-possessed demeanor. At first glance, we both exude almost the same magnitude of tangible, incessant, electrifying power which takes command of any given group of people. But only one can be the alpha. I never leave that spot to someone else. Then I see the chink in the armor. The senior is an aging lion; he’s going to hand over the castle keys to the next generation for some reason and one look at the junior who hasn’t moved from his seat since I walked in tells me that he’s worthless. From my peripheral vision, I can see that Stephane agrees with that assessment.

“Alarick,” Reinhardt calls the thirtyish man who is still sitting with his right leg crossed on his left knee. The old patriarch’s voice resonates making the seemingly aloof Alarick jump from his seat. He takes the path towards us with short strides.

“Alarick Reinhardt, the sixth,” he says emphasizing his thoroughbred tree with undisguised disdain directed towards the lack of mine. The bastard thinks he’s actually better than I am!
A smirk lifts up the corner of my lips.

“Ronan David Gibson… The first.” With a forbidden glance received from his father, he reluctantly extends his hand.

“I was under the assumption that pedigree was a prerequisite to this,” he sneers as he pulls his hand to indicate around the room, “what is supposed to be the most exclusive club in the world. I believe they lost their touch when they started admitting the new money, new colors to give way to this trend of American style diversity without a single question about their pedigree as these clubs were initially intended,” he says with a smile on his lips in English. But the meaning behind the intonation isn’t lost to the senior who doesn’t speak English.

« Français, s'il vous plait, Alaric ! » He orders. I look this asshole straight in the eye and I never blink first. Watch his stance, that’s it just like The Incredible Shrinking Man. Back down, motherfucker, I control this room.

Stephane states, “May I remind you Mr. Reinhardt, Junior,” he says looking straight into the reddening Alarick’s face, “that you are a guest of Mr. Gibson here and as far as the hospitality rules of this club are concerned, we are going to accommodate you as long as Mr. Gibson permits your presence in order to attend this meeting. But the Elysium Club will not tolerate your behavior towards a generational member. This club’s past goes so far back in history that your sixth generation non-reigning nobility title doesn’t even compare to a single line of her distinguished background. The Elysium’s membership is only by invitation and only those deemed worthy are candidates who have proven their merits, then they are invited to be considered by the other generational members. You sir, have neither merit nor accomplishment. Your present glory belongs to your father, and only by that extension, are you even allowed to be present in this meeting. Now, if you are quite through, can we get back to business here please?” he says in perfect fluent French.

The two producers look dumbstruck and worried with the tone of the flaming conversation they’re not a part of and cannot understand.

“I apologize for my son’s crude behavior. It was unconsciously done. The Elysium Club does not need to remove him from the premises. If he repeats his demeanor, I will dismiss him myself,” the father says with burning eyes.

“Your word is sufficient for me,” I nod once.

“However, could we hold for a few minutes more…” Reinhardt Sr. says in his German laced French looking at his watch. “My assistant and my translator are not here.” I acquiesce.

“Mr. Gibson, I’m Andrew Whitman and this is George Brewer. It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir,” says one of the producers, buttoning his jacket. He extends his hand. I take it, and then shake George’s eager out stretched hand.

There’s an anxious knock at the door. The sigh of relief on Reinhardt’s face turns to annoyance and anger. He looks both exasperated and offended by the inexcusable tardiness.
The butler opens the door.

Quick clicking heels disclose the latecomer’s gender.

“Miss Kayla Brigitte Adlersflügel.” Only one person’s name is announced.

I’m a big supporter of gender equality in the workplace, but a total lack of punctuality from an assistant without proper notification in advance to a very important meeting where millions are at stake would be the cause of his or her dismissal. From Reinhardt’s look, she did not provide an excuse at all; just showed up late. As I get ready to strongly express my displeased opinion to the tardy participant who can wait out the meeting in the hallway, the heel clicks slow to a controlled, fashionable pace and in they carry a young woman with long wavy strawberry blonde hair cascading and curving down towards her ample breasts hidden underneath her burgundy silk blouse, touching atop her navy blue pencil skirt. Her neck is lined with strands of a dull silver color chain. The V-neck of the shirt stops right atop her cleavage. The shirt’s sleeves are long, and cuffed at her wrists further stating the elegance of her arms. Fuck me! Is that the goddess that vanished from the yacht the other night in Cannes?

She walks forward towards our group. As she approaches, I see her swallow nervously and compose herself, lifting her head up for courage. Her strides toward our group showing a semblance of confidence.

“Fräulein Adlersflügel,” starts the elder Reinhardt. From the reproachful tone of his voice and his towering demeanor over this young woman whom I guessed to be five foot seven, he’s demanding her to explain herself. You have to give her credit. Even another powerful man would wither under that stare and admonishment. She listens to him and when given a chance to speak, she rapid fires her answers with some dignity. Somewhere in there I catch the words 405 freeway and Mount Sinai Hospital. He is utterly displeased. This is a man who likes to be in control of events, circumstances and people around him. The micro expressions exuding from his face tells me that he’s giving her a warning. Her eyes widen, her pupils dilate and her cheeks flame up to a rosy hue as she attempts to gain control. Reinhardt not only intimidated her but also took his anger out on her for the errors of his son and the misstep taken earlier. He wanted to impress the group and establish his dominance. Yet, his companions have miserably failed him. She nods once acknowledging his fury wordlessly. Then the tardy blonde beauty turns towards the group and is faced with men looking at her as if she’s something delectable to eat. I feel like going around and closing every gaping maw.

“Please forgive me and accept my apologies for delaying the meeting. I am fully aware that your time is extremely valuable Mr. Winthrop, Mr.…” she’s about to turn to me but Stephane’s interruption catches her off guard as she is trying to express her apologies in perfect English for committing the unforgivable sin of being late and holding up the meeting.

“Miss Adlersflügel?” Stephane asks.

“Yes, sir, or,” she clears her throat to correct him, “Kayla Adler for short,” she adds anxiously. Stephane holds up a finger to indicate for her to stop a moment. He then turns to Reinhardt with raised eyebrows in questioning. At this establishment, Stephane plays the host, yet that seemingly assumed position is only granted under my authority in order to make others feel a semblance of control because he is a lot less intimidating than I am. That’s the best way of taking full charge in specific situations, especially for new acquisitions or certain prospective business partnerships; I never show my hand and always keep them guessing.

“Forgive me for asking Herr Reinhardt, but we are very particular about our meetings and the last minute changes raises concern, not only per the security requirements of the Elysium Club but also as the Chief Financial Officer of GTI and a full participant of this meeting. Your meeting companions were listed as your assistant Mr. Klaus Diedrich, and your translator Conrad Heiden,” he asks quizzically. I notice that Dre is closer to me and on alert. Even his military cut hair is standing on attention with the knowledge of unexpected company. Reinhardt isn’t used to scrutiny and he makes that known as he takes a step towards Stephane invading his personal space. To Stephane’s credit, he doesn’t move and looks straight into Reinhardt’s eyes.

“Are you accusing me of something?” Reinhardt’s voice is acrid, furious even. You don’t irritate an alpha male and not get bit by the snarling teeth. I take two steps lifting my hands up as in a peace offering, indicating for Stephane to back down and also to calm the older Reinhardt. The producers are confused with the showdown going before them. This is not going how they wished it would.

“Neither of us believes that it’s Mr. Winthrop’s intent, Herr Reinhardt,” I placate in a calm, soothing yet fully commanding resonance.

“I’m certain that only a man of your status can understand the safety measures we place to judiciously guard our privacies as well as our business interests. We both know that attractive young women have been used to further ulterior goals and even undermine one’s footing in our exclusive world in the past and they will be used in the future again,” I say as I catch first an appalled, then furious glare from Miss Adler. Her eyes are blue blazes reflecting the inferno within her caused by the shock of my statement and maybe she remembers me from the ship as well. If looks could kill, I’d be dead on the floor. I pleasantly make a mental note that, Miss Adler has fire in her; she is feisty.

How hot would it be to tame that wildfire, channel it for pure unadulterated pleasure! I shake my head mentally. I don’t know where that stray thought came from, but it somehow gives me satisfaction. I hide a smile and continue, “I would expect nothing less if the tables were turned, and would fully understand your position. This is why you have your security, do you not?” I indicate with a glance and a slight nod of my head in the direction of the two bodyguards standing near Dre.

“Fräulein Adlersflügel,” he says nodding his head giving her permission to offer her explanation. She gives me another glare with absolute fury, and then looks at each participant in the eye standing by their chairs which they vacated earlier, yet avoiding the junior Reinhardt who reminds me of a sneering hyena as his eyes follow her every move, managing to earn my revulsion even more. Miss Kayla Adler starts explaining herself.

“Both Mr. Diedrich and Heiden are now lying in the emergency room of the Mount Sinai Hospital, having been struck by a drunk driver en route along the 405 Freeway. This information has been faxed from the hospital to the Elysium Club. I would have been here on time, sir,” she says addressing Stephane’s line of questioning with gritted teeth, then continues, “but as you said the stringent security of the Elysium Club had to verify that I was in fact on the backup list as the translator. I just finished my internship at Herr Reinhardt’s company under the tutelage of his assistant Mr. Diedrich. I assure you that I am quite capable of interpreting such a business meeting since I’m fluent in English, German and French and have less than a semester to earn and obtain my MBA at UCLA,” she responds in French which is as impeccable as her English. Stephane looks at the butler and he nods in agreement.

Her identity is now fully confirmed, she quickly glances at my direction to assess what I might be thinking, but I don my taciturn expression to keep her guessing. Dre takes a few steps back to the corner of the room to better observe everyone and all is seemingly normal once again.

“Mr. Gibson…” she says taking a breath and turning to me to continue her introductions but her words are cutoff when her gaze meets with mine with full force. Though she had just showered me with her angry glances, there is also the presence of a silent acquiescence as well. There’s recognition in her eyes, confusion too. She’s trying to place me in her memory. The meeting of our eyes shocks us both as if we just noticed each other’s existence in the room. Instantly, my focus sharpens and everyone in the room seizes to exist for the moment. Her face is flushed with her pearlesque skin changing color all the way into her hairline. She immediately notices the affect I have on her. Closing her eyes to gain her composure, she’s displeased that I affected her so profusely and so suddenly. She slightly clears her throat.

“Mr. Gibson, I’m…” her voice stutters briefly despite her efforts. She extends her hand as she blushes a darker shade of crimson nearly matching her burgundy shirt. Her slender fingers touch my palm and the crackling energy between us shocks us both. What the fuck was that? How could a woman I briefly met across an ocean have this effect on me? Her heavy lashes lifted, pupils dilated, a wordless, silent ‘Wow!’ then ‘Oh crap!’ uttered. The tip of her tongue grazes her full lips as if she’s parched and it’s the only way to get some moisture to them. I finish her sentence.

“Miss Adler,” I murmur. But instead a low possessive growl I don’t recognize escapes my throat as my hand fully receives hers, holding it firmly in mine. While steadying her elbow with my left hand, I manage to save her from the embarrassment of sprawling on the floor as her step falters. The loquacious Miss Adler who silenced my aggressive CFO into an agreeable individual for the moment is all of a sudden rendered speechless. The only sound that comes out of her in response is a sharp involuntary intake of breath as if she’s been struck by a jolt of lightning. Her hand trembles inside mine. Her irises are rimmed with midnight blue circles and they gradually get more vivid as the azure blue shade of it shrinks to meet her now growing pupils. But it’s not just the color of those hauntingly damning eyes that strikes me about her. This woman whom I have laid eyes on again for the second time, looks past the entire entity that I present to the public and on occasion even to my best friend, manages to probe into my hell’s-pit dark soul and cast light into it as if in recognition of my core being. She beguiles me.

The sensory overload is astounding. Before I can stop myself, an onslaught of fantasies rushes through my mind, all involving this rebellious creature: a dozen different ways to fuck her in sheet clawing, screaming, primal ecstasy. I have an inexorable urge to get her beneath me, on top of me, against the wall, on a swing and the pull up bars just to begin with. I alter my gaze to shut her out, yet we continue to suck each other into an unknown vortex; a powerful undercurrent. The intensity of the crackling energy between us is inescapable. With a herculean effort, she forces herself to lower her lashes and close her eyes to turn off the pull. She slightly opens her lips through a precarious, controlled intake of breath and tries to cleanse her mind of the effect I have on her. I am also excessively displeased with myself to be intoxicated by her presence. I don’t like to lose control, and this strawberry blonde siren is doing just that to me without even fucking trying! She has awakened a primal, animalistic, edgy side of me that I carefully keep under wraps since I first laid eyes on her.

The soft ridges of her lush lips get more pronounced as she slowly tries to exhale a breath making them into a small o. Yet the breath she tries to exhale quickly turns into a shuddered inhale, raising her chest. Her long locks first shift over her breasts then come to rest as they go down with the synchronized movements of her breasts peaking under her silk shirt. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Who the hell is she really?

Stephane clears his throat and breaks our trance. He gives me a confused, ‘what-the-fuck-did-I-just-witness?’ look. She quickly pulls her hand away from mine as if she’s just been poked and prodded with a cattle iron.

“Please to meet you all gentlemen,” she says lowering her eyes in embarrassment. Junior’s eyes lock on her in curiosity, jealously in fact when he sees how she reacts towards me. He clearly lusts after her, but she avoids looking at him. Is she his lover? When his eyes rest on me again, I only see undiluted rage towards me. Is he the prick from the yacht? Did I interrupt a lover’s quarrel the other night?

 “Mr. Reinhardt prefers to do all business meetings in German only for ease of understanding for both parties.” Miss Adler’s voice breaks my reveries. Elder Reinhardt still reeling in from his near argument with Stephane and the producers are too anxious with their own concerns over their presentation to take notice of what transpired and passed between us.

“That way neither party can state that there was any misunderstanding. I will interpret for Mr. Reinhardt between English and German as you discuss today’s topic to reach an agreement,” she says in English then translates her statement into German with the guise of a serene face until her gaze reaches back to mine. She tries but fails to look away. Her dilated pupils, occasional rise in her pitch and her rapidly rising chest though controlled, shallow breaths tell me that she’s nervous, but hiding it well.

Reinhardt takes his chair that he had vacated earlier and Miss Adler stands behind the circle of leather chairs to have a clear view of all the participants so she can hear and address everyone as needed. When the lights are dimmed for the presentation, her eyes are locked on the waves of my dark overlong hair and contours of my face. She remains standing behind the Senior Reinhardt and everyone moves to take their seats in the comfortable semi-circle of the hand crafted leather chairs. Stephane walks towards the chair he previously occupied, but one forbidding look from me, makes him change his pace. I can feel her eyes following my bold, dominating, confident strides. When I reach the seat, I unbutton my jacket and turn to my company.

“If you gentlemen don’t mind,” I say and remove my Brioni navy suit’s jacket with track stripes and hand it to Dre. When I turn to sit in the chair, I am in her line of sight. As I lower myself into my seat, the leather of the chair protests under the bulk of my muscles and submits to adjust to the shape of my body. The bespoke white shirt contours my torso and emphasizes my pectoral muscles. Her eyes glide over my torso, then the length of my crossed legs at the knee.

As the producers begin their presentation, Miss Adler interprets for Reinhardt in a low voice but high enough for him to hear her and speaks up when he asks a question.

The producers lay out their plan with presentations and financial charts showing the cost and profit forecast projections in a low and high market for their upcoming movie. They already have a strong cast with star presence; the script writer and the director secured under contract have drawn millions of people to the movie theaters in the past with proven track records. The cost of the project is capped at one-hundred and forty million dollars. They have secured eighty million dollars from their own funds. They need sixty million dollars more. If comic books turned into movies are an indication from recent years, this venture could yield and top over seven-hundred million dollars, well surpassing their projected, conservative higher end of four-hundred million dollars target they have in mind. The twelve minutes of test shot scenes show the beginning of the story, cast and crew in a very sellable positive light. If I have learned one thing from my absentee parents who spent most of their lives on movie sets acting and directing, this project is a winner and even the producers aren’t aware how great a winner it will be. But I don’t want to appear overly enthusiastic. I have further goals than just investing in this movie. I want to establish a firm business relationship with Herr Friedrich Reinhardt.

When the presentation is concluded, the lights are back on at a comfortable level.

“Gentlemen, do you have any questions, concerns?”

“Assuming you have secured funding, when do you intend to start shooting and when do you wrap up?” I ask.

Whitman answers that they start shooting within 30 days and they intend to wrap up within three months of starting.

“We would really like you to give your most serious consideration to our proposal, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Reinhardt,” he concludes. I know they come to us first because either of us can easily invest the entire amount, but two people investing can be less of a risk and create an opportunity for a faster financial commitment. Of course it is much easier to please two investors than five others or more.

“We would like to invite you to the Sayers Manor tonight to hear your thoughts and hopefully your decision,” says Brewer. Sayers Manor is a very exclusive night club for the Hollywood elite. It’s extremely sophisticated, has a classy Hollywood lounge with great live music with a décor walking a fine line between old world charm and seductive yet masculine textures throughout. It’s the crown jewel of any Hollywood business celebration.
The meeting is set for 10 p.m. tonight. As we are ready to leave, I hear Whitman, the younger and the better looking producer corner Miss Adler.

“You speak English so eloquently, even better than some of our Queen’s English trained actors. Where did you learn English?” he asks.

She shrugs. “Santa Barbara. We speak English there.”

“My apologies. I thought you were German.”

“Only one quarter German.”

“Would you like to join us at the Manor?”

She shakes her head. “I’m afraid not. Mr. Reinhardt’s assistant and translator will be released this afternoon. They assured me that they will accompany him for any further meetings he may have.”

“I meant… as my guest.”

“I’m sorry, no.”

“Are you busy?”

“No,” she shakes her head. “I can’t even afford the cover charge, let alone the service,” she responds as she packs her papers into her small purse. Sayers Manor charges one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars in annual membership fees and those who come in the arms of the patrons usually go back to those patrons’ beds most willingly with hopes of receiving parts in their movies or to be introduced to another valuable contact. Business as well as a lot of social climbing is done there on a nightly basis. A willing producer with such a project could give a beauty like her a lot of opportunities. Yet, she refuses. Is she extremely stupid or uncommonly principled? What are you after Miss Adler?

“I couldn’t even think of a lady paying her own way. You would be my guest. An honored guest,” he croons further with hopes of enticing her.

“Thank you Mr. Whitman. I prefer to pay my own way, and if I can’t afford it, I generally don’t go.” She smiles. Her eyes brighten and her face lights up with that small smile. Fuck! I really need to know who she is.


“Just principle, sir… I hope you reach an agreement tonight.” She leaves Whitman standing dumbfounded at her clear dismissal of his request for a date who must have taken a lot of women to his bed with just a crook of his finger; he can hardly believe he’s been rejected. I don’t know why that makes me pleased. Miss Adler speaks to Reinhardt Senior, then apologizes again for being late then turns to leave. When she thinks I’m not looking, she gives a quick glance in my direction.

Yep! I want her.

I put my jacket back on, button it, and bid goodbye to my company. Dre opens the door for me. As we make our way to the parking structure, I turn to him.

“I want to know who she is and with every background detail going all the way from who her kindergarten teacher was to who she slept with last night. Leave nothing out.

“Yes, sir.”

Miss Adler. We’ll meet again. I’ll make sure of it.

Jace Everett - Bad Things

Masque - Chapter I

Please enjoy the 1st Chapter from my upcoming series, “MASQUE”. This is what I have been working on past several months. I have already published the “PROLOGUE” on the blog. This is just the draft; it may be different when it's published. The book is going to be similar to 50 Shades, but different in its own right. Just like I’ve been writing on the blog, it’ll be from the male POV. You will love Ronan David Gibson! And, yes, there will be a second book in the Pella Series. The blog will also continue with Christian’s POV for the duration of Book V. But, more will be coming up and I don’t want to give that away just yet (Para Neusa e 50 tons de amizade. Amigas para sempre. 💖)

La Vita Nuova

In that book which is
My memory . . .
On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words . . .
Here begins a new life
-- Dante Alighieri


Thump! The quiet hum of the jet engine is broken first by a magazine tossed onto the custom made coffee table, then followed by Stephane’s joking, cheerful voice. I swivel my chair around to see his towering height. He drops himself into the plush leather chair and puts his feet on the coffee table. My inner circle and I are 35,000 feet in the air en route to France for the Cannes Film Festival on my private jet.

“Cheer up Ronan! The world is praising your desirable ass,” he nods at the magazine he tossed onto the mahogany surface of the coffee table.

“I’ll pass. Still going through our plans for when we meet this German based firm. I need to know who the fuck this tycoon really is. The man is a wild card and I will have over one hundred million dollars at stake.” He ignores my comment completely.

“Your mood over the past couple of weeks has been as dark as that night sky hovering over the Atlantic Ocean, man. Frankly, your staff is jumping like cats on a hot tin roof.” He says half joking, but laced with a note of concern. The sky outside is pitch black. Unpalatable. Not unlike my mood. Lately, no amount of challenging work, grueling workout or hard fucking seems to tame, let alone eradicate my disposition. I feel like a live-wire, completely untamable. Whatever I accomplish, no matter how big, no matter who I fuck regardless of her talent in the sack, I feel unquenchable. I have everything I ever desired, set out to accomplish, acquire and conquer. Yet, everything is not quite enough.

“How’s that my concern?” I answer Stephane like a petulant child.

“You’ve been a slave driver and to top that off, you’re working harder than all of us, bro. You know what they say about all work and no play.” I raise my eyebrows at him. I work hard, true. But I play much harder. He knows that. As if to respond to my unspoken thought he responds.

“Not lately! Fuck man, you know women are throwing themselves at you everywhere you go and just a glance in their direction makes them drop their panties. Get some pussy from a starlet or three and let them bring the sun out again! For all our sakes.”

He nods with his head to the magazine again. “You should take a look at that article. If I didn’t know you any better, I’d have thought you created Mount Everest. At least Forbes thinks so.”

“Maybe later,” I dismiss him again. He’s not giving up. Officially, Stephane Winthrop is my CFO and the Acquisition Director. In short, he’s my excessively capable, very bright right hand man for my company, the Gibson Technology Integrators Incorporated. Unofficially, he is my best friend but acts more like my fucking shrink.

Shaking his head, he grabs the magazine from the coffee table, clears his throat then with a wide, wicked grin, he summons my inner circle.

“Gather round children, time to worship our boss.” He’s addressing my assistants Jude and Eliza as well as my personal protection detail Dre. I think Dre rolls his eyes but sits across from me still clutching his laptop and Jude with his iPad sits on the adjacent seat. I think Eliza has fallen asleep with her notes in her hand.

“Is it that time of the day already?” I mock him. Putting my tablet on a side table, and in its place, I take the tumbler with the dark scotch in it. I contemplate swallowing it down in one big gulp.

Donning his best imitation of Gregory Peck, Stephane reads the cover title splashed across the page in bold letters: “At the tender age of 31, Ronan David Gibson runs a considerable portion of the economic world in the United States.” I hate that sort of publicity. I alone know the true extent of my powers, and the depth of my secrets. I alone control them. Even my inner circle is only privy to compartmentalized information, on a need to know basis.

“A bit of an understatement, don’t you think? Mr. Gibson runs a good portion of the global economy.” Jude feels offended on my behalf and points at the Stock tickers scrolling on three different monitors displaying stock market information from Wall Street to China. “Mr. Gibson is a volcano, a tornado, and a hurricane all combined in one. Destroyer and recreator of the financial world should he wish.”

“Care to top that Dre?” Stephane asks.

“Fuck off, Stephane,” Dre says without taking his eyes off his project on the laptop with a slight smirk on his lips, “I’m betting Mr. Gibson is pissed at the magazine about that article.” Dre doesn’t need to explain more. He knows that I don’t like the press taking liberties to dig into my affairs, whether it’s business or personal. It’s all the same. They all would like to know how big a billionaire I am or who I am fucking.

“Ding ding ding! We have a winner!”

Their banter shifts gears when Marissa, our flight attendant steps towards the group. She fluffs her blonde locks and asks if there’s anything we need at the moment. Her approved flight uniform skirt seems to hug her hips firmly accentuating her long legs and round buttocks. The uniform shirt buttons seem to amplify her bosoms and she leans in a little too far, giving an eyeful of her cleavage to all the male occupants in the cabin. When everyone declines, she stands up turning her back and with the strut of a runway model, she walks away beyond the door. Dre’s eyes follow the sway and movement of her hips stealthily. When she leaves the room, he reverts his gaze back to his project he has on his laptop.

“Why is Marissa prancing around the cabin?” Jude asks.

Stephane smirks, “Because…” he says pointing his head in the direction of Dre who has his head in some layouts for security measures before arrival.

Jude blurts out in surprise, “You hit that?” then turning to me he adds, “Excuse me Mr. Gibson.”

Dre lifts his head up, “do you mind? Do we have to talk about who I got to fuck last?”

“Man! You’re breaking the cardinal rule, I told you not to shit where you eat. But no, Captain Long Dong Silver here had to do Princess Seka,” teases Stephane.

“Are we going to have a problem here?” I ask in a serious tone though teasing my 6’4” fearless, seen many wars and very seasoned Black Ops trained personal security captain.

“No, sir! As for the rest of you, go fuck yourselves.” He says giving them a finger while he’s still going over his work on his laptop. Then he lifts his eyes, narrows them and scans us.

“The relationship just ended. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It just took its natural course until death we parted,” he shrugs. “She fell into someone else’s bed, and if time permits, I shall into a French chick’s.”

“Who said romance was dead?” I say shaking my head.

“I’m sure she’s trying to gain his attention, since Dre is such a romantic. Now, could we just go over the spreadsheets for the profit projections for the film and our plans in Cannes?” Jude asks.


In a few days, we will meet the two movie producers back in Los Angeles to see whether I’d like to invest in their up and coming film project. I have a good knack at picking a blockbuster having grown up on the movie sets my father directed. But, I like to invest as a venture capitalist. My main goal is to establish a business relationship with a German tycoon who is also invited to have the first consideration for investment. After the financial projections for the film, we go over our schedule.

“Tomorrow evening, we’re going to the soiree thrown by the German Embassy based in Paris with some German and French film distributors who want to become a part of the deal. Keeping a low profile will be quite difficult, but Dre will explain the measures he and his team have put in place.”

My face is on every other serious magazine and every gossip magazine. This is the perfect time to be in Cannes because all the people I need to see in this environment will be here. But that also means that the amount of paparazzi will be overwhelming: staking out all the hotels, every single event and restaurants. We’d be lucky if we can keep our anonymity for a day; until then, the element of surprise will be on our side.

“Good morning! This is your captain speaking! We have been given the green light to land at the Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu. It is May 12th, Tuesday and the local time in Cannes is 8:47 a.m. The temperature is currently 67ᵒ with clear skies. It is expected to reach...” My pilot’s voice echoes around the bedroom signaling our arrival to our destination.

Jetlagged and exhausted we finally get into the black SUV chauffeured by one of the French security officers hired for the duration of our stay here. Another black Mercedes SUV follows us to Hotel Martinez. The Penthouse Suite was already occupied by a Hollywood executive before I made a last minute decision to fly to Cannes. But I never settle for second best. The hotel knows my ‘never say no to anything Ronan Gibson asks’ expectation well and they don’t even try to offer me another suite; they simply moved the executive to another room to accommodate my arrival. Seasonably warm sun greets us when we exit the vehicles. I scan around from behind my shades. A light breeze brings in the ocean’s salty scent invitingly like a seductress. I’m in fashionably aged and ripped at the knees low hanging jeans. My crisp white shirt tucked in, with the sleeves rolled up. A few sprinkles of chest hair barely showing from the two unbuttoned top. With my leather boots completing the ensemble, my presence is turning several buffed and polished female and some male gawkers in my direction who seem to have been made up by squads of beauty virtuosos. Maybe they’re trying to place me as an actor. Thankfully the Concierge and the personal butler whisk us into the VIP area before they finally gather the mindset to bring up their phones and start snapping photos.

Without even taking a good look into the grand suite I know well since I occupy it almost every time I come, the last thing I remember telling the butler is not to disturb me until I wake up on my own. With my grueling schedule of the last two months coupled with the long flight, sleep takes me under and I fall into a dreamless state.

I’m showered and dressed in my black tuxedo. It’s 8:30 p.m. I stand before the mirror and tie the bow-tie into a perfect knot. I’m in my element. Maybe I will take Stephane’s advice and find a stunning French woman or two who don’t know who or what I do tonight and fuck them senseless, in order to release this pent up energy. That’s what I will do.

When we finally arrive at the chartered mega yacht for the soiree, the frenetic energy hits us faster than the breeze coming from the ocean. Almost as soon as we exit the limo, the music is blasting, assaulting the senses with pulses of music reverberating through the air, almost orchestrated against the constant blended sound of human noise and bright lights. The hustling bodyguards and uniformed chauffeurs are opening the doors of some of the most expensive vehicles on the planet, letting out the wealthiest, most talented as well as aspiring young men and women who have been sculpted to near perfection in the gym and on the table of a plastic surgeon either in the company of arm candies or alone and on the prowl. This is their chance to land a part in a movie, a business partnership, and in between meet and greet, deals have been made, and future rendezvouses are arranged within a few minutes as these meetings go in these settings. The excessive money, prestige, exclusivity and power holders are already causing the scantily dressed starlets to begin competing against one another to land into one of their beds for better acquaintance and hopefully a part in a movie. They are indeed behaving like baby sharks who are going after their first prey not realizing these are the masters of the ocean, the planet and the universe. Many of them won’t even remember their names as soon as these beauties are done riding their cocks. A few lucky ones may get another meeting, or a chance for an audition or on the fuckable roster of one of the old goats.

Our invitations and identities discreetly verified before we are escorted aboard. This is truly a billionaire’s playground. Most attendees are the wealthiest people in Europe and the U.S. The identities are kept strictly confidential for those who requested it, and for others, it’s an opportunity for publicity. Let the games begin. Waiters constantly refreshing the visitor’s champagne flutes and various drinks of choice, a live band is playing music, and deals are already being made. I observe it all.

An elegant, confident woman parts the crowd with her gaze fixed on me. Dre is standing as close to me as possible, looking impassive. She has long dark hair to her back and pale blue eyes. She tucks a strand of unseen dark hair behind her ear, lifts her chin in an elegant fashion indicating her class and breeding and extends her hand to me as she comes face to face with me.

“Mr. Gibson, how nice to see you in Cannes again,” she says in a very cultured Londoner accent. I don’t recognize her, but she recognizes me.

“To what do we owe this rare visit to Cannes?”

“Business as you can see…” I indicate with my hand.

“Ah, but I wouldn’t know. My father drags me to these events often. I only seek pleasure,” she says with meaning. I let go of her hand, but she holds onto mine. I pull it back, making and releasing a fist.

She is indeed stunning but I don’t like to be hunted. I choose. I am the hunter.

“I beg your pardon, Mrs.” I don’t know who the hell she is, and right now I don’t seem to care.

“Miss Elisabeth Holloway. It’s Miss,” she reiterates. “I’ve recently read that you were chosen as the “Sexiest Man Alive” and apparently topped the chart on ‘the most fuckable’ list. Rich, too. But then again, so am I. These accoutrements make you the most desirable man on this ship, and I call dibs. You. Won’t. Regret. It.” She says slowly.

“I can even give you a preview of what I’m offering.” She's laying all her cards out to tempt me.

“When I do make mergers and acquisitions deals, Miss Holloway, it’s because I chose it, have assessed it, and simply close the deal. When there are other offers to be had, I don’t think I want to settle for the first one just because it’s been presented with an offer of free sampling.”

“I apologize Mr. Gibson. When you find out you’re not satisfied with the other merchandise on this ship, here’s my card… Call me,” she says as she smiles with a knowing glint in her eyes and shoves her business card into my palm, then walks away.

The chartered mega yacht leaves the Port de Cannes with the blow of her horn.

Jennifer Lopez ft Pitbull - On the Floor

Guests are occupied in all three levels with various activities. Thumping music is coming from the first tier of the yacht packed with starlets, A-listers, old and new money, all on the chase. Bodies dancing in a drunken orgy-esque fashion. I head out away from the noise making my way towards the deck within the crowd. Dre follows me.

Nearly three hours into the night, I have assessed all of the investors, production companies I would care to know as well a few starlets I could possibly show a good time tonight. Maybe by sunrise tomorrow morning, my mood will have shifted. I need some air first. But when my attempted exit from the room is spotted by a flamboyant gay designer who has been eye-fucking me all evening, he quickly makes a bee line towards me. He comes about four feet away from me, puts his left hand folded on his wrist right over his waist, and waves the other one in a grand gesture.

Ohmigod! I thought you were him!” he says and places his hand over his heart. “You my dear, are just a sweet piece of eye-candy! Pleased to meet you Mr. Gibson! I’m Michael Kraus, but you probably already know that…”

“I didn’t,” I reply with little patience left in me. “But, nice to meet you. This is Andre Bennett. Weren’t you and Stephane talking about how superb his design lines were? Meet Mr. Kraus himself. I am going to the deck to smoke this cigar and drink my champagne. I’m sure Stephane would love to meet him,” I say lifting the Cuban cigar up. “You two have fun!” I fix my bodyguard Dre in his place staring at me with a priceless look on his face, feeling this immeasurable need for some fresh air and to be left alone for a few minutes before we dock.

The second I close the door behind me, the starry night covers me like a blanket, blowing away the haze from my head with the breeze. I walk to the edge of the railing on the second tier deck watching the sea, shutting out the buzzing noises, the fake breasts, and silicon filled lips and meticulously made up faces stuffed in designer clothes and listen to the sounds of the night.

As the yacht glides over the waters of Mediterranean, shearing the waves with its sleek stern on her return journey back to the port, deals have already been reached, phone numbers exchanged, some contracts signed and e-mailed to their respective high priced attorneys and the real fun, the after party has already begun.

The moon glistens above the Mediterranean Sea, chasing the shadows from the dimly lit decks. The breeze brings the scents of the night, the salty air assaults my nostrils, hitting me all around like the rush of adrenaline, cleansing my mind. I don’t see anyone on the decks, because the real action is inside. Near acts of sex on the first, second and third level decks are for the real wolves. I stare at the growing, glimmering city lights quickly approaching, sinfully inviting you to come and join her. I stuff the cigar back into my jacket pocket and just take a sip of my champagne.

The beat of the music gets louder momentarily as someone exists the first floor activities on the lower deck. Fast paced clicks of heels carry a young woman to the bow of the ship. I thought I’d seen everyone on the ship, but I don’t remember seeing her. Her long locks falling onto her back, covering what her flowing white dress left open, moving about giving glimpses of her milky skin. When the breeze coupled with the speed of the yacht hits her face, her hair lifts into the air forcing her to move into a slightly sheltered position. I can see her profile clearly now. She doesn’t look drunk though almost all of the passengers are so inebriated to varying degrees. In fact, her face looks sober, melancholy. She looks back in the direction of the door again then turns back into the distance, her face and hair caught in the glimmer of the moon. The wind stirs her hair again, then rustles her dress, playing with her, caressing her body. She absently rubs her arms without taking her eyes away from the ever growing city lights, but almost not seeing, she’s absently staring in the direction of the skyline.

Tal Bachman - She's So High

I can have any woman on this ship or beyond, yet, at this moment, I don’t want any of them, except... I shake my head to clear the thoughts. I should look away. Yet, I feel like a voyeur, unable to take my eyes away from her. Her elongated silhouette is very sensual, almost other worldly as if carved by an old master sculptor who was seeking to create the divine beauty. The yacht speeds up and dips into a comber spraying foamy waves. To avoid getting wet she turns quickly. Fuck! I see her completely now! She’s Aphrodite personified, born out of the foam of the sea! She sees me gazing at her. Her eyes meet and lock on mine. But something she hears makes her turn her head in the direction of the door. A young man prowls towards her, his eyes solely locked on her. Is she here with him? Her body stiffens, she takes a half step back, holding the railing. As he’s closer, she lifts her head proudly, like a little kitten pretending to be a lion.

He definitely knows her. I can’t hear what he’s saying to her, but her response to him is monosyllabic. His hands reach out to her shoulders, runs them down the length of her arms. She remains motionless while she says something to him. He’s holding her arms firmly, possessively. The unexpected twinge of jealousy makes me want to peel his barnacle hands off her. She finally shakes her head refusing him clearly and puts her hands onto his chest pushing him away. But that only excites him. He pulls her closer to him, grabbing her waist and starts kissing her lips and neck.

“Hey! Let her go!” I shout. Clearly she’s refusing him. Either the noise of the music is closer to them, or he doesn’t care. She tries to shove him away again, and struggles to escape his grasp. When he corners her to the railing, I rush down the stairs to the first tier deck.

“Leave her the fuck alone!” I shout but my voice is drowned out by the yacht’s horn alerting our impending approach to the dock. As I run towards them cornering the deck to their location, he slaps her across the mouth even I can hear the sound of the contact to her face. The bastard has already walked away by the time I get to her side. She stands there stunned, shaking, one of the shoulder straps of her dress is off and over her arm, and her lip is bleeding. The crimson colored hand print is still visible on her left cheek, but she isn’t crying.

“Are you okay?” I manage to murmur. She nods wordlessly, breathing hard.

I take out my monogrammed handkerchief from the tuxedo’s pocket and lift it up to show it to her so she isn’t startled.

“You’re bleeding.” To my absolute surprise, my voice is gentle and protective. I gently dab the corner of her mouth. The bastard not only smacked her, but bit her lip! She lifts her shaky hand up and presses the handkerchief over her lip. I reluctantly withdraw my hand, feeling bereft. Noises grow around as the yacht docks. Drunken laughter followed by shattering glass and a falling tray by a waiter tripped by intoxicated passengers break my attention on her for just a moment.

“Look, I’ll help you file a complaint…” I say turning towards her, but she’s gone. Gone in the blink of an eye!

What the hell just happened? Did I just imagine this whole fucking thing? Did I have too much to drink?

“Are you ready to leave Mr. Gibson?” I hear Dre’s voice.

“Yes, in a minute,” I say trying to hide the disappointment in my voice. As I ready to take a step forward, I see the tiny glints of light reflecting off the floor. I lean down to take a closer look and pick up the small item. It looks like a ruby and diamond earring. I wasn’t dreaming of Aphrodite! She was here!

“Come on! We need to find a girl!”

“They’re on the ship…” Dre responds confused.

“Not those girls.”

“What does she look like?” he asks.

“She looks like fucking Aphrodite.”

As we run to look for her, concern for her well-being rises in me, but I also realize that the dark clouds once occupying my head have vanished.