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   Chapter 9 Roses for Juliet

Roses for Juliet By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 9846

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:05


Chapter 9

"Steve, " someone called as he pushed opened the doors to Forgias. Steve looked up and grinned as Amelia waved him over to their standing group. They had obviously just arrived and the wait staff was still preparing their table. Amelia was a fifth generation heiress who skimmed the edges of fame merely by existing and liked him for his association with the glittering throng.

She had a dry wit and an ingratiating manner that cut straight through the fluffy and brainless act she often wore in public. And any dinner with her in attendance would be guaranteed to distract him from his current thoughts. Steve walked over to Amelia's crowd.

"Amelia, what a pleasant surprise, " Steve said squeezing her extended hand lightly and administering the obligatory hello kiss. She smiled and looked pointedly at the empty space around Steve.

"Don't tell me you were planning on dining alone?" She said with as slight gasp and a dramatic shutter. One drunken evening, Amelia confessed that her deepest fear was to be completely alone in the world. She had been shocked to find that he often preferred solitude. She had handed him her psychiatrist's business card and told him she could help.

"I'm afraid so. I was in the area catching up on work and realized I was hungry."

"Oh Steve, that simply won't do. You must join us. I won't take no for an answer."

"I wouldn't want to intrude, " Steve said looking around at her entourage. She swept her gaze over them and knowing well their places in her world, they quickly murmured assents and welcomes.

"See, " she said a look of triumph on her face. Steve smiled.

"Then I would be delighted." The party was escorted to their table. Steve gave the restaurant staff credit for their choice of seating arrangements. It was the perfect location for Amelia. It was not in the center of the place, yet afforded a good view to see and be seen by everyone who mattered. It offered a lovely view of the night lit city and street activities but did not seat them terribly close to the windows, a fact Amelia's vigilant bodyguard no doubt appreciated. While no one currently threatened Amelia, the family kept the lessons of the Hearst family close to heart.

Talk flowed around the table in mellow waves as food and drink orders were recorded by attentive waiters and whisked off to the kitchen. Steve swam in the current of the conversation with barely a ripple of thought.

"Have you seen Michael's latest work?" The woman to his left asked.

"No, " he replied. "I haven't, is it any good?"

"Simply ghastly, " she replied. Since he was unsure if ghastly was a complement or a complaint he let it go. He worked with actors but rarely bothered to see any movies.

One of the men across the table brought up one of the celebrity scandals currently sweeping the nation.

"No one is really talking though. All the details are so hush-hush." As if realizing S

ool. I recently found out that he was living close by."

"I see, " Amelia said, brightening visibly at the information. Steve looked around as the conversation steered itself into more predictable lines. As the drinks began to take effect the comments became more sharp-edged than those at dinner and they spread to include a broader base.

The bar was attached to a hotel and many criticisms of the hotel's patrons were added into the mix. Clothing choice, luggage, hairstyles, nothing was safe from this voracious group. Steve thought about the man with no name, and the shadows of nightmares and decided he didn't want to go home at the end of the night.

He sipped his drink thoughtfully. They were making them strong tonight. A few more like glasses would leave him tipsy and he could use the desire not to drink and drive as an excuse to get a room. Steve thought the idea had merit.

Knowing Steve's fondness for art, Amelia steered the conversation in that direction and he commented on galleries and various exhibits, the alcohol loosening him up enough to feel comfortable. A few comments were tossed in by the rest of the group here and there although they didn't amount to much of a total.

"I must confess I've always found Rembrandt to be too dark for my tastes, " Amelia said with a flirtatious toss of her hair.

"Really, " Steve said. "I've always liked him for his darkness."

"Oh?"

"I like the way his people are always half in light and half in shadow. The way real people are."

"Real people?" Amelia asked, a smile tilting up the end of the question.

"Everyone has a side they turn to the light and a side they hide in the dark, " Steve answered. He blinked at his own words and realized there was a reason he normally limited his drink in public. It brought too much of himself to the light. Amelia looked at him thoughtfully, but allowed the conversation to steer back into shallower waters without a protest.

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