Authors: Elizabeth Lennox
The Italian’s Bedroom Deal
“He has to be here tonight,” she whispered to her image in the mirror, shivering slightly when the cold air from the open window touched her bare skin. “He just
to be here.” Clarissa Montgomery smoothed her soft, brown curls and checked her pink lipstick one more time.
Clarissa stared at the cleavage revealed by the low cut dress and push up bra as goose bumps formed on her arms and chest. It was more revealing than anything she’d ever worn before and she couldn’t help being painfully self-conscious in the dress.
She fidgeted and tried to adjust the dress so it was more comfortable, but to no avail. How did women wear these things, she wondered? She pulled the neckline up a bit, then sighed and pulled it back down, reminding herself of her mission. A conservative dress hadn’t gotten her any results so far. She needed to be daring. In order to catch a fish, she thought to herself, she needed the right bait.
Turning away from the mirror, she almost tripped over the chair to her desk since she wasn’t used to the new shoes she’d purchased for the dress. As she held onto the back of the chair, her violet eyes once again saw the screen and she cringed. The computer at her desk mocked her. She re-read the e-mail from her best friend, sighing as Jennifer talked about the latest pregnancy details. Her friends from college, the ones that she’d done everything with, gone everywhere, were all married although not all happily, with her best friend more than twenty weeks along in her pregnancy. Yet, here she was, the last remaining virgin on the planet. She felt like she was a freak from another era.
Tonight, she was going to change that though. Her status as a pathetic, twenty five year old virgin was definitely going to change. And she had just the man in mind to help her with that goal. That meant it was imperative that the man actually show up so she could work whatever wiles she could dream up and get him to change her status, and she was back to her original dilemma.
“It’s now or never,” she told her reflection. “I can just stand here and worry about what might happen, or I can get out there and make it happen.” Her lips firmed in determination and she took a deep breath. “Time to face the music.”
Grabbing her small beaded purse from the dresser, she left the cozy, one bedroom cottage, slamming the door behind her to make sure it closed properly since it refused at times. She negotiated the stepping stones carefully with her higher than normal heels and then made her way to the main house. It was a short walk since she lived on her father’s massive estate in what used to be the old gate keeper’s residence. She’d convinced her father to let her rent it and had happily restored the old style house to its former glory. It had been painstaking since she refused all of her father’s monetary help, wanting to do it on her own like any other normal career woman starting out in the world.
She’d wanted normal all her life but being the only daughter to a billionaire limited that fantasy to a large degree. That was one of the reasons she was still a virgin, and one of the reasons tonight was so important. She had to break out of this phase in her life.
Because of her father’s wealth, she couldn’t live outside the gates of the estate for safety reasons, she knew but at least she could pride herself that she was independent, in an off center kind of way. Being the daughter to such a wealthy man meant there was always the threat of kidnapping to worry about. She’d argued with her father to let her have her own career and apartment but he was unrelenting. Instead of giving in to a wave of self-pity because she had no control over her life, with her vivid imagination, she’d turned his refusal to allow her to live on her own into a show of love from him. In her own mind where she could create whatever ideas she wanted and suited her needs, she credited him with not wanting to risk her life or make him worry about her security. The unfortunate reality was, he simply didn’t want to lose millions by having to pay to a kidnapper if anything had actually happened to her.
That’s okay, she reminded herself as she ducked beneath the willow tree and surveyed the large, elegantly dressed crowd that had already formed in her father’s backyard. There were perks to her current situation and tonight, she was going to take advantage of one. The party wasn’t difficult to view since the whole area was lit up with twinkle lights woven into the trees, candles on every table, torches lining the multi-layered patios while flood lights strategically lit up the fabulous looking pool and meticulously manicured gardens. There was a well known singer on stage already belting out her latest number one hit and guests in a rainbow of elegant, designer clothes mingled, laughed and celebrated her father’s sixtieth birthday together while drinking champagne that cost more per bottle than some people’s entire monthly salary.
Clarissa might have been born into this world, but she didn’t have to agree with it. She worked hard to buy her own clothes and her own food and she even paid her father a monthly rent equivalent to what another apartment would cost her in town, even if he never bothered to cash the checks. She made her own money, even if her father disagreed that translating manuscripts and documents was not really a career.
And that part hurt. She argued against her father’s opinion of her career choice, albeit to herself. Everyone had a career ladder to climb. Hers was just a little more ambiguous. For instance, she had translated several difficult technical documents over the past several years which had grown her reputation and her hard work had built up a very good clientele. But she could do better, she knew. She wanted to start her own company and expand into other areas of translation. And why shouldn’t she build something more? She had a great standing in many companies and the know-how to start a business after years of listening to her father and his cronies discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various companies they were taking over or creating. She’d absorbed every detail over the years and soon she would put all that inside information to good use.
Tonight, however, was only about her personal goals she told herself as she pushed her father’s dislike of her chosen career out of her mind. Who cared if he scoffed at her work? She found it satisfying and intellectually stimulating so she refused to care what he thought.
This night, this party and her wearing this particular dress had nothing to do with her career or making new connections professionally. She had a private goal in mind and only one man who could fulfill that ambition. Tonight, she was going to go through with her proposition to him no matter how terrified she was.
Her father had been thrilled when she’d asked if one particular name had been on the guest list. He would bend over backwards if Clarissa desired a marriage to this particular man. But Clarissa was having nothing to do with marriage. Oh, she loved romance novels and happy ever after movies with sweet, sappy endings that made a person weep and sigh at the same time. They were wonderful and she gorged on them in her spare time. Marriage, however, was not in her future.
“Clarissa!” a female voice said from a few feet away.
Clarissa looked to her right and smothered a cringe. Vanessa Brightridge was bearing down on her with a determined look, pulling her husband along in her wake. “Good evening, Vanessa. How are you?” she asked, accepting the air kisses the pretentious woman doled out as a way to mimic a closer friendship than was real.
“I’m doing great!” she exclaimed with a soft, husky laugh. “Your father definitely knows how to throw a party, doesn’t he?” Her eyes were bright with excitement and anticipation as she considered all the possibilities, in the form of men probably.
Clarissa ignored the poor grammar and looked around at the guests casually strolling around the patio and pool area of her father’s backyard and wondered how many were genuinely enjoying themselves. Suppressing that cynical reaction to people she didn’t know and, therefore, shouldn’t judge, she smiled and ignored the pretentiousness surrounding her. “Yes, he definitely has a way with entertainment,” she replied, knowing that her father simply called up a party organizing firm and they did most of the work. All her father did was ask his secretary to provide the firm a list of guests. He probably hadn’t even reviewed the list, delegating even that task to the woman who ran his office with an iron hand.
Clarissa pretended to listen to the woman’s inane chatter while considering the ironic fact that Vanessa probably knew exactly who had organized this event, most likely had used the same firm in previous entertaining efforts, but insisted that her father receive all the credit for the event. Clarissa detested the hypocrisy of it all.
She looked around the patio, apparently giving Vanessa the appropriate responses since she continued to talk, almost without taking a breath. Clarissa saw one of her father’s friends flirting daringly with another woman, one who was not his wife. Or at least, it wasn’t his current wife. Clarissa wasn’t exactly sure what his previous wives looked like but she assumed they were all similar; blond, painfully thin and perfectly made up.
Sighing, she wondered why life wasn’t more like some of her favorite romance novels. Man meets woman, both fall in love and live happily ever after, both dedicating their lives to each other.
That wasn’t reality, she knew, accepting more accolades on behalf of her father as other guests came over to talk with Vanessa, including Clarissa in their group simply out of proximity.
Clarissa didn’t argue the double standards of her marriage beliefs though she’d never tell anyone about her horror of the married state. She wanted nothing to do with a wedding and the types of marriages her peers were experiencing. Marriage for wealthy people was not a real relationship but simply a means to an end, either commercial or political, and she would not subject herself to that kind of degradation. She wanted more than a business transaction for her personal relationship.
She kept her opinions of marriage to herself though. Her dislike of the married state had sent her father into an apoplectic fury a couple of years ago. The one time she’d expressed that thought to her father, she’d regretted it. He’d blown up at the idea of his only daughter not marrying and producing the requisite heir. To him, life was all about continuing on the legacy and the only way to do that was to marry well and stay inside one’s circle of acquaintances.
Although she now kept her ideas to herself and smiled at all the lovely weddings of each of her friends, deep down, Clarissa knew she’d never marry. She’d seen the kinds of marriages that existed in high society and she wanted nothing to do with it. Oh, she hoped and believed in love. Completely. She desperately hoped she’d one day fall in love, but not to marry. No, her relationship would have to remain outside the bounds of matrimony. Why ruin a perfectly good relationship by marrying? Her father had done it four times. What a waste of good energy.
Scanning the crowds, she was slightly taken aback when she realized that the man she’d been hoping desperately to see hadn’t arrived yet. This was horrible, she thought to herself. She touched the slender strap of her dress nervously, feeling awkward as more of the other guests started to notice her off to the side. She’d been counting on finding him immediately. In her dream world, she arrived, saw him immediately, he’d take one look at her in the dress and walk over to where she was standing. His eyes would fire with desire and he would gently take her into his arms and whisper in her ear how much he wanted to make love to her.
Another guest came over and greeted her, another air kiss and more inane chatter. All the time, Clarissa was going through the various fantasies of how she’d wished this evening would have progressed. Okay, she thought to herself as she only partially listened to the people around her and the music, some of the details seem a little cheesy and unrealistic. She knew that it wouldn’t be that easy and she’d rehearsed a speech just in case she had to lay out to him in a more obvious way what she was hoping to happen between the two of them. But all of her speeches ended in the same way, with him picking her up in his arms, overcome with passion and he would carry her off to his bed and….she cleared her mind and re-focused on the party, hating the way some of the men looked her up and down, smilingly lasciviously in her direction.
He just had to come to the party, she told herself for the millionth time.
She stood under the willow tree, separated by the shadows from the party hoping to get a glance at the man she was searching for but, no matter how much she hoped and prayed, he still didn’t appear. Glancing at her watch, she felt a deep sense of disappointment as she acknowledged that he probably wasn’t going to show if he wasn’t here already. Her disappointment intensified as she accepted that it was time for her to greet her father and a few others and become a member of the party once again, leaving the sanctuary of willow tree. But once the social necessities were finished, she could head back to her cottage and take off this silly dress and relax, regroup and figure out her next move.