My new book 'IMAGE or LIKENESS' is on and people have asked me a sneak peek. On Amazon you can read more than this, but I decided to post the first two chapters here.
Here it goes, chapter 1. Enjoy!
“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
‘Hello, my Queen!’ Sam said cheerily.
Lana twisted her nose petulantly looking at him over her shoulder.
She was comfortably installed on the big couch on their four bedroom apartment’s TV room, watching ‘Fight club’ once again.
‘Queen, queen, queen, queen!’ He chanted and bended by the waist to kiss her lips.
‘I still hate this pet name! So corny!’ Lana complained and Sam smiled wickedly.
‘Why do you always smell so good?’ He asked with his nose deep in her neck. Samuel Vaughn knew his wife hated the pet name but he used it anyway. He was damn crazy about Lana Zaraki-Vaughn since he first met her by chance at a coffee house eight years before. She was a stunning brunette of twenty five then, good natured, good humored and proud of her freedom; he fell for her as soon as she gave him the cold shoulder.
Rich, young and successful, Samuel wasn’t used to being snubbed by women. Tall, dark, athletic and handsome; enthusiast of triathlon competitions, he was always surrounded by nice specimen of the fairer sex and was known by his appetite towards them. Feminine snubbing was rare and usually superficial; it required feeble determination from him to get whatever he wanted from them. But Lana had given him a run for his money.
It took him a while to understand that she wasn’t playing coy, she really wasn’t free for him like he wanted her to be. In love with someone else, she made him squirm to get her phone number and sweat to take her out on an actual date. It took Sam a while longer to prove that he could give Lana the monogamy she demanded from a partner, an underlying demand to reach her heart.
Inadvertently, her resistance rendered him completely enslaved to this beautiful half Greek and half Brazilian woman; enchanted with her sweetness when she let him taste it; enticed by her sharp witty tongue; seduced by her curvaceous tanned body, long hair and green eyes. She was irresistible to him.
‘Here, Lalie. Doorman handed me our mail when I arrived.’ Sam sorted their correspondence distractedly balancing letters between his hands. He walked around the couch to let her bundle fall into her outstretched hands and dropped his on the side chair before shrugging off his jacket and tie. ‘I hate when I have to wear a suit. It makes me feel old.’ He complained.
‘What you need is to spend a few hours letting your body challenge its limits!’ She smiled at him and he relaxed. Her intimate smile had such power over his bad mood. ‘When is the next triathlon competition?’
‘In three weeks there’ll be one in Brazil. Florianópolis.’ He sighed and she raised her brows. ‘I’m not fit to it though.’
She chuckled. ‘You’re not fit to win because your work load have been stealing your training time. But you are more than fit to compete.’ She said and gave him an appreciative once-over.
He smiled and blushed discretely. ‘I’m not fit.’ He said flopping down on the arm chair. ‘Eddie?’
‘Asleep already… Sorry, my love.’ She answered his question about Eduarda, their three years old daughter.
‘I guessed. The house is too quiet and you are here lazily watching this amazing movie again.’ Sam mocked his wife’s fixation.
‘Shhh… Now, just… now! Look!’ She said smiling entranced by the violent sequence that was about to start.
Sam squinted at the big TV and felt that, instead of the actor’s, his own hand was burning. The first time they watched the movie together he was amused how much the sexy woman he was trying to seduce liked the guy flick but dismissed her interest as simply appreciation for Brad Pitt’s presence. But she really liked it though, the underlying tension, the double personality character. She must relate to it somehow, he thought. After all, she had read the book, talked about it, watched it every chance she got and laughed at the most absurd moments.
‘Oh, I just love this part.’ She sighed. ‘Eddie was impossible today. Her teacher sent us a note again.’ And as Lana recounted him their tom boy sweet girl’s adventures in school that day, Sam perused his mail arranging it in two piles - important stuff and garbage. He didn’t have much patience for junk mail and never wasted time on it.
He laughed as she told him how Eduarda had talked three of her kindergarten friends into hiding in the janitor’s closet while she raised the alarm, convincing the teacher they were missing. The whole school spent half the afternoon searching for the kids and their prank was only discovered when Eddie burst into helpless giggles.
‘And was she grounded?’ He asked grinning, but got no answer whatsoever. ‘Lalie? Was Eduarda grounded? Will we have to send her to Barbie’s jail house?’
Lana still didn’t answer so he looked up from his mail at her. She had a small smile and a neat small manila envelope in her hands.
She looked up at him changing her expressions to a sexy irresistible smile and he felt his loins tingle. He raised his brows in question when she flipped the envelope on her hands.
‘I bet the mailman didn’t bring this nice envelope.’ Lana said languidly.
‘No?’ He asked.
‘Nope.’ She said smiling sexily. ‘I bet this came by courier…’
‘And I bet…’ She said and started opening the envelope. ‘Ah!... I knew it smelled good!’ She stole a glance at him.
He stared stupidly at her and she chuckled low in her throat.
Samuel had had a very tiring day facing difficult clients at his advertising agency and while driving home in one hell of a traffic jam he dreamt of finding exactly what he did when he arrived: his sexy tanned woman alone waiting for him, their daughter asleep, maids retired for the day, the house all for themselves. Guilt of arriving too late to enjoy his baby’s company nagged him but the prospect of having sex with his love to sooth his broken spirit won that day.
Lana ripped open the heavyweight envelope and extracted another one, only pink. As she waved it with a flourish he finally understood her sexy teasing. His insides churned.
‘Fuck.’ He muttered under his breath when the sickly sweet fragrance reached his nostrils.
‘Yes, yes my love: hyacinth and orange blossom!’ She passed the pink envelope in front of her nose pretending to inhale the fragrance. ‘Anais…’ She sighed dramatically ‘…Anais!’
He knew it was a tease. One of the things he remembered most of her trembling voice that night on their darkened bed was: ‘She wore so much perfume; it’s still stuck in my nose. Can you smell orange blossom and hyacinth? I do… I hate that sweet perfume. It’s like she forced herself on me through her scent.’
‘Fuck, why wasn’t I more attentive?’ Vaughn grumbled.
Lana laughed. ‘It’s my mail, what could you do?’
‘Throw it away, burn it, send it back.’ He said aggravated.
‘No sender.’ She said inspecting the bigger envelope.
‘Like last time. Garbage then.’ He muttered before thinking.
‘Last time?’ Lana asked.
Vaughn blushed discretely.
‘Samuel?’ She urged him.
‘Oh, the fuck with it. I did throw one of these away last spring.’ He admitted and she gasped. ‘It was just after Eddie came back from the hospital with pneumonia. You didn’t need that.’
‘Sam! That’s such disrespect!’ Lana complained.
‘No. It was care. I care for you.’ He answered angrily. ‘I can’t believe you’ll fight me over this filth!’
She opened her mouth to argue but had to close it. He knew she had nothing to say against his actions. Of course he considered how intruding it would be but at the time she had been destroyed by worry, both their hearts had been broken by seeing their love child sick. He had scanned everything he could to make sure no other harm would reach them. When he perused the correspondence he only thought about cleaning out junk mail, he couldn’t have never ever predicted that hateful immoral woman would dare to reach his wife.
‘What did it say?’ She asked blushing. ‘The letter you threw away?’ Her beguiling green eyes expectantly regarding his face.
He shrugged. ‘Have no idea. I ripped it without opening. Didn’t have to read, this scent is too strong to mean anything nice.’
She looked at him for a few moments and then at the envelope burning her hands.
‘Give it to me, my Queen.’ He extended his hand to her. ‘Let me get rid of this one too.’ He said condescendingly.
She looked at him again and shook her head ‘no’.
‘Last Spring, you say?’ She asked with a pained expression.
Samuel thought her voice was a little weaker now that he had justified his crime.
‘Yes.’ He frowned. ‘You don’t sound as cocky as you did when you found this shit.’
‘Six… seven months ago?’ She asked.
‘Yes.’ He barked running a hand over his face tiredly. And then heard paper ripping.
Lana was opening the envelope gingerly. He sighed aggravated. “Damn this woman for being so curious.’ He could see her shoulders stiff and her beautiful green eyes slightly widened. She took a small pink note from inside and read it, her eyes moving quickly and then… she smiled. She poised the note on her lap and reached inside the envelope for two tickets.
‘George Michael!’ She chuckled.
Sam frowned and she passed him the note.
“My sweet Lalie,
I hope this finds you and your lovely family well.
It came to my notice that one of your favorite artists will perform a single exclusive concert next week in New York, so I thought it would put a smile on your face.
Will you accept this gift from a dear friend?
‘Fuck this woman. I swear I’ll have her arrested for this.’ Vaughn growled angrily, bowled the note in his hand and reached for his jacket to find his phone. ‘I’ll call our lawyer and he’ll know what to-‘
‘No, love.’ Lana said leaning forward to poise her delicate hand on his arm.
‘Lalie, this is insane! This woman is harassing you!’ He barked.
She shook her head. ‘No, she’s not.’ She said in a weak voice, a tad louder than a whisper. ‘You said the last time she tried to contact me was more than six months ago. It was a long time.’
‘Long time, Lalie? Twice in a year!’ Vaughn yelled.
‘Calm down, love. It’s just a gift.’ Lana said placidly in a tone of voice he knew she knew would dampen his fire.
‘Damn it.’ He said and slapped his knee. ‘You’ll accept it!’
‘Well… it’s George Michael…’ She said unable to restrain a smile.
Incredulously Samuel noticed that she had found her voice again, it was as if the faint sexy smile on her luscious lips had given her courage.
‘Are you crazy?’ He asked aggravated and shook his head. ‘You are out of your mind.’
Lana rested back on the couch and fingered the tickets.
He took a good look at her, analyzing her languid stare at the note and how the damned sexy smile illuminated her face. Uncertain if he was madder at her for considering the immoral woman’s gift or at himself for being aroused by her reaction, he stood up to leave.
‘I’m going for a bath. Don’t come after me.’ He said by the door. She didn’t raise her head to look at him over her shoulders but he knew she understood his message. ‘Just remember your family - me and your daughter - before playing with fire, Lana.’ He spit the words and strode away.
Samuel Vaughn climbed the steps two at a time seething. He felt a hollow in chest he was unable to deal with. He was bounded, muffled, restrained. He had hated this situation from moment zero, he feared the day this woman would want a piece of his Queen again.
Lana was attracted to this filth like a fly to a spider’s web. She couldn’t fight it, and he suspected she didn’t want to.
By the second floor landing of their penthouse he stopped to calm his breath for a while and entered their baby girl’s room. She was heavily snoring, sweetly asleep, spread eagled on her light pink canopy bed. Her bedroom was the ultimate modern princess retreat: walls striped in pastel turquoise and green, light pink furniture, an assortment of spunky princesses dolls, a Venetian mirror, Breakfast at Tiffany’s portraits.
When a very pregnant Lana showed him her sketches for their princess’ room, he was doubtful of what would come of that but her absurdly happy smile and enthusiastic explanations about the décor made him approve it all. He never doubted her professional skill; she had already shown him countless times how good an interior designer she was. For their first daughter she wanted a room that would host a modern woman, independent and spirited. He had smiled at that because it was exactly what Vaughn wanted: a mini Lana.
‘Dad’s home, Princess.’ Samuel whispered in Eduarda’s ear and smiled at her sleepily grumble of approval.
After that he kissed her mop of brown hair and tucked her in. When he was assured she was in deep sleep again he left her room and braced himself for what he had to do.
“Twenty nine minutes and counting…” Vaughn thought smiling at the clock on their double vanity suite bathroom and entered the shower.
Not one minute later he heard footsteps on the marble floor and didn’t have to open his eyes under the water spray to know his wife was there.
‘Hi…’ Lana said tentatively.
He smiled to himself but kept the angry façade. He knew she would come to make amends before long, and he hoped she would try to seduce him in the shower. Of course he would put on a show to persuade her he was right in this but he would give in to her.
She was too compelling to him.
As she was for that filthy woman.
He had called their lawyer as soon as he had gotten to their bedroom and made arrangements to ensure their security. It had been a long time since he hadn’t mentioned any of those measures and his lawyer was curious as to why he needed to discuss this matter out of the blue, in the middle of a week night. He explained the note and they decided on a course of action. After that he used the bathroom and hopped into the shower.
‘Can I join you?’ She asked in a soft voice.
Vaughn willed his dick not to answer for him. ‘It depends. Alone or would you bring someone else with you?’
‘Oh Love… Please.’ She sighed. ‘I don’t want to fight you.’
‘Then throw that stupid note and tickets in the toilet.’ He said opening his eyes under the streaming water to look at her beguiling green gems.
‘It’s just a concert.’ She begged.
‘You are not that naïve.’ He said and reached for the soap.
She bit her lower lip and took off her shirt dress. Only in her beige panties, standing on the shower door she looked at the vanity. Sam still marveled at having vanity space for him since Lizzy decided to store her perfume tray somewhere inside her closet, some two years ago. He saw her notice the phone he had left there but didn’t comment.
‘I think she would be watching us.’ Finally she said.
He snorted. ‘I’m sure she would be watching you.’ He answered.
Lana bended on her midriff to take off her panties and Vaughn had to turn his back to her. “Damn it.” He had never heard of a man having sexual desire for a C-section scar, he knew it was foolish to feel this drive for the telltale of their history. But it was so neatly hidden under the tan line of her smallish Brazilian bikinis, on a white area on the apex of her delicious brown thighs. Only he could see and touch it.
She stepped into the double shower box and although it was big enough for them to bathe independently, she hugged him from behind and didn’t turn her shower head on.
‘I want to go.’ She said, actually asking his permission to do it.
‘I don’t want you to want to go.’ He answered washing himself.
‘Nothing will happen. You’ll protect me.’ She moved her hands from his waist to his chest and glued her cheek to his shoulder blades.
‘Thank you for putting me in such a cozy position, my Queen.’ He spat.
‘Love… please?’ She whined and kissed his back.
‘Lalie, if I thought for one minute you wanted to watch this concert, I would say yes. You know I would. We have visited Brazil just because you wanted to attend Rock in Rio. But we both know what you really want.’ He said and turned to her.
She blinked at him and smiled wickedly, sexily, lazily.
‘I like this voyeur thing…’ She said wasting her French accent on him.
It wakened in Vaughn so many bittersweet memories that he had to swallow the bile in his throat and calm the arousal on his loins.
‘You know what my problem is, Lana?’ He asked in an even voice to let her know she had won this battle. ‘I love you too much.’
‘Sam…’ She let go of him and hugged her chest pushing up her full breasts. ‘Don’t make a fuss. It’s not like I’d be kidnapped or something!’
‘Make a fuss!’ He snorted. ‘Listen to you!’
‘Yes. If she wanted something from me she would have made contact sooner.’ She said while he shook his head. ‘And not by courier. Obviously she knows where we live! And that we are not living in Chicago anymore but in New York now and will be here by the time of the concert!...’
Her reasoning gave him goose bumps.
‘How can you not fear for our daughter?’ He accused her.
‘Oh please!’ Lana threw up her hands. ‘She’s not the Wicked Witch of the East, you know?’
‘West.’ He smiled. She was as adorable as sexy.
‘What?’ She frowned and squinted due to the drops of water ricocheting from his head to her eyes as she looked up at him.
‘Wicked Witch of the West.’ He said.
‘Whatever, Samuel.’ She crossed her arms again. ‘I want to go.’ She pouted and averted her eyes.
He shook his head ‘no’.
‘You would profit from this experience, you know.’ She said and sexily raised her eyes to him, long lashes framing green gems.
He raised his brows surprised that she hadn’t noticed she had already won this argument. She was still giving him the option to refuse.
‘You know how horny I get when…’ She smiled sideways and uncrossing her arms fingered one nipple. ‘Well… the thrill of a new setting…’
He swallowed hard.
‘Remember last time we were in Rio and we tried that rent-by-the-hour motel?’ She said giving him her best teasing look while a hand traveled down her stomach.
He groaned and in one swift motion got a good hold of her waist to twist them so she was facing the tiled wall. Gluing his erection to her butt, he said. ‘I know exactly what you are trying to do to me, and I’ll let you have it.’ He grinded himself into her and she moaned. ‘But know this.’ He opened her cheeks with a hand so he could touch her sex. ‘If that harpy gets into our eyesight I’ll have her arrested. Tomorrow morning our lawyer will start working on it.’ He caressed her and she melted on his fingertips. ‘I’ll take you to this concert and you, my sweet Queen, will be the bait to catch this barracuda.’
She tried to turn and argue but he pressed her to the wall and entered her.
From then on, it was a dance they had already mastered, way before she agreed to be his officially.
‘Can you really have her arrested?’ She asked afterwards when they were lying naked in the plush semi darkness of their bedroom.
He shrugged. ‘I can if she comes close to you.’ He blinked and turned to her. ‘Why? Will you try to defend her?’
‘No.’ She said and crossed her arms under her head. ‘But I can’t help it. I fell aroused by this.’
Lana kept silent for a while. Samuel respected, waiting his wife find words to express herself.
‘Do you think I’m crazy?’ She whispered. ‘Do you hate me for this?’
He considered her questions. He had lost his best friend because of the mess she had let happen, she had waned the friendship with said friend’s wife as an aftermath, he had lost contact with a guy he never liked in the first place but was an important business acquaintance because of her and he had been dragged into the filthiness of the world.
He had felt desperate.
Avid for revenge.
But he didn’t hate his Queen.
He never felt hatred for the woman who ruled his life. He always saw her as a victim.
Sweet, naïve, curious as a cat, unaware of her power, a perfect victim.
‘No.’ He answered simply and let it hang.