Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day
THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
The rain was falling in sheets from the sky with a velocity that was even unusual for rain-soaked Seattle. I had RSVPs from one hundred people, and I was expecting more; but the storm was relentless. I feared low attendance.
The event was Cocktails à Vingt Heure: Retro Soirée and Art Exhibition, a retrospective of my art, and a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief for the New Orleans’s YWCA. The entire nation was still shocked by the devastation, and artists everywhere were sending aid through creative endeavors. Through my art business, Forever Forty-Four, I had produced one-night gallery shows several times, but this was the largest ever. It was a black-tie affair, and the venue was an old warehouse in SoDo, transformed into a spectacular living and working studio by the sculptor Stewart Bowen. I was bringing in other talent to create a one-of-a-kind cultural event. The headliner’s were The Fire Artists from Jason Sinclair’s party, scheduled to perform a pyrotechnic piece in the alley outside the studio’s loading dock—only that would be impossible in the rain. Dion had arranged for live music to nail the vintage lounge sound I was after; he had pieced together some talented musicians to form a four-piece ensemble of bass, drum, horn, and vocals for the event.
Stewart’s place was remarkable, two thousand square feet that begged for a party, and was made to display art. The foyer was twenty feet long and six feet wide; a gallery all by itself. I hung my earlier works there, salon-style, forty-four in total, four-deep from top to bottom. Individually, the petite images were little jewels of color and light, more painterly than photographic. As a whole, the frames created a spectacular grid pattern, and a bold entrance to the event.
At the end of the foyer, twenty-foot ceilings towered over the right and left arms of the space: one side for making art, the other side for living. The living area was voluminous, with three full-size, tea-colored leather couches that formed a U-shaped conversation pit in the center of the room. Rustic drums posed as corner tables, holding lamps and curios collected through world travel. Museum scale walls surrounded the sofas where I hung my new, large-scale pieces: three to a wall, measuring twelve feet across and lit spectacularly by the suspended track lights.
Stewart and I had met online, shared a riveting bachelor episode, than slid easily into a warm friendship. I had been the one who had called off the sex; it would not have been his choice. Even though he had professed love for me, Stewart never expressed a hint of bitterness about the breakup. Sixty years old, and polyamorous for decades, he transitioned seamlessly, and even encouraged me to fill him in on whom I was seeing. Far from being possessive, the man got vicarious thrills from my diverse escapades with black men and younger partners. Stewart and I were planning my exhibition at his place when I told him about Shaun Madison.
“Fantastic! I’m so happy for you, honey! I’ll clear out for that night. The studio will be yours. Invite him to stay.”
Despite my worst fears, the gala night was a hit. The people of Seattle braved the storm in big numbers, and arrived at the warehouse in their finest tuxedos and high fashion. The band was exquisite, the industrial acoustics softened by the body count. Even the rain cooperated for twelve short minutes, and allowed an abbreviated fire performance that gave the crowd something to remember. Martinis were stirred and cash was donated; I underwrote the event, so every dollar benefited the New Orleans YWCA.
My neighbor, Steve, was working the bar, and I asked him to make me a drink after the crowd started to thin. “He’s not here,” I complained, and he knew my mind was on Shaun Madison.
“He’ll be here. No worries. He’s not going to miss this!”
I had my doubts. This was an exhibition event, not an all-night rave. The end-time had passed, and a small group lingered for one last drink. Gratefully, at that moment, David Ryan rolled in, his girl on his arm.
“Vicki Marie! Sorry, we’re late! There was a live band at the Century, we couldn’t stop dancing!” David and I had cut our sex out early, but our dancing had only gotten better. His new girl had also been lifted from the dance floor of the ballroom, but she had been elevated to his number one partner off the floor; they’d been a couple for more than a year.
“Hi, Paula. Good to see you again.” I gave her a hug first, and then got a warm one from David. “How’d it go, tonight? Can I get the next dance?”
We had been spinning lounge music all night, and I was ripe for the change. I cued the music, and David took me to the center of the room, his bright smile broadcasting fun. “Be good to me,” I said, like I always did, in honor of our first dance. When the music broke, salsa sound filled the room, and we sparked our own pyrotechnics with mambo rhythm and sexy styling. David killed with his lead, laying down dips and flamboyant spins, raising my heart rate and my spirits. All trace of my pout evaporated in the heat, and our blaze crushed all conversations as the audience cheered us on. After two dances, I stood by the bar, damp and satisfied, while David took Paula into the spotlight. I had a clear view of the foyer, and saw him the moment he entered.
Shaun Madison looked sensationally elegant, cocooned in a camel-colored coat, the hem riding to his ankles. I have a short list of visual triggers that guarantee my pleasure, and the bright smile of a handsome black face will always flick my switch. When he caught my eye, his GQ poise gave way to that brilliant white smile. I was electrified.
Steve flashed his own I-told-you-so smile, then got busy and mixed a drink for my final guest. Shaun begged forgiveness for being late, blaming sleep deprivation after a late shift, followed by a full day of home renovation.
“I’m so-o-o glad you made it, baby!”
“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it!” He took the drink off the bar, and then toasted with a question, “To you, beautiful woman. Now when do all these people leave?”
TOMORROW: Chapter 40
Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.