Deleted Scenes from Love Chloe:
Please note: All of these scenes are original episodes, so they are in a different style and tense than the novel. The Cosmo content was written in more of a diary-style, so they will read a little differently to you. Enjoy!
Vegas Time: Nicole, Chloe, Clarke and 10 Models
Originally, in the Cosmo Bedroom Blog, Nicole brought Chloe with her to Vegas. I took out those scenes in the novel because it was a long story that didn’t have anything to do with the final story. But it’s a fun couple of scenes, so enjoy!
Benta was right. The Adult Entertainment Expo is a porn convention. And now I, as Nicole’s Personal Assistant, am becoming expert in the field. Just this morning, I took notes at a business meeting. Just me, Nicole, my notepad, and a hundred male models. Shirtless.
I used to think I wanted to be reincarnated as Kate Middleton. Or Taylor Swift. Or, in a moment of adolescent weakness, Paris Hilton (Give me a break, I was twelve). But all those names have now been swept off the table and replaced with one: Nicole Brantley.
What was I talking about? Oh, right. The lineup of delicious eye candy that stretched before us this morning. A modeling agency handled the go-see, promising Nicole a healthy assortment of choices. The boys would staff the booth, in addition to passing out condoms in the lobby, elevators, and convention spaces. I wondered, while I watched the ab buffet, why we weren’t doing this IN Vegas. Why bring New York boys all the way over there? But I wasn’t being paid to provide intelligent opinions, just to sort the models’ comp cards into one of three piles: YES, NO, and MAYBE. I ripped off some fresh Post-Its and made a label for each pile, and… that was pretty much my only contribution to the morning’s meeting. Once, Nicole pushed her empty coffee cup my direction. I reached for it only to be bested by the modeling agency’s rep, a perky redhead whose hand swiped Nicole’s cup like it was some kind of race. I let her get it. She could wipe Chanel’s butt too if she wanted. I don’t mind. Really. I looked down at Chanel, who sat beside me on a pillow, and she sneezed in approval.
It took two hours, lots of flexing and eye contact, but Nicole finally pared it down to five men, all closer to my age of twenty-two then Nicole’s mid-thirties. And when we returned to the agency’s lobby, there sat the man I’ve tried to avoid for the last two weeks. Clarke Brantley. He stood when we entered, Nicole zooming by him to drop off the comp cards with the receptionist, and I studied the top of my boots.
“How was the selection process?” There was a smile in his voice and I memorized every scuff mark on the leather of my boot’s toes. There were a lot of them. I frowned and – while waiting for Nicole’s response – counted. Five. Hhmph.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him step in my direction and I forgot how to breathe. His dress shoes were facing towards me. Not Nicole. I tuned an ear to her, the nonstop yap of syllables that indicates a lengthy session of instructions, and dared a look up.
“How was the selection process?” He repeated the question and smiled. He had a smile like Vic’s, one that was dark and delicious yet playful and seductive, all at the same time. A magic smile that – like Vic’s – I need to run the hell away from.
“Fine.” I squeaked the response, wondering why he was there.
Nicole barged into the moment that (I swear) was not a moment. “Babe, did you give them your top five girls?”
He nodded, his eyes still on me. I looked back down at my super interesting boots and re-distracted myself with the scuffs. Note: there were six.
“Great.” Nicole moved past in a whirl of colors and perfume and I ducked my head and followed like a good little assistant. “That’ll make ten. Plus you, Chanel, and Chloe and there’ll still be plenty of room on the plane.”
I stepped into the elevator a sentence behind her, my mind trying (and failing) to play catch-up. “Aren’t you coming to Vegas?”
“Yes, but I’m going a few days ahead. That reminds me, call the Bellagio. I want a day of in-room spa services. Ask for Floyd, he knows which villa to put us in and what I like. Also, make sure to book rooms for the models and yourself. Two rooms for the girls, two for the boys should be fine. You and Chanel can bunk with the girls. Won’t that be fun!”
In case you missed that point, I’ll be staying in a room with two or three female models. And a dog. Any visions of a hot Vegas hookup… *poof* gone.
I scrambled for my pen, the elevator coming to a stop, the two of them stepping off while I fumbled with my notebook, my jacket still over my arm when Clarke Brantley opened up the door and frowned at me, a gust of New York wind bursting through.
I made it, unprotected, through the ten steps to the car, sliding into the far back and uncapping my pen, writing ‘Floyd Bellagio rooms spa’ on the first open page. Then I shut the binder and processed the new information.
So… it’ll be just Clarke, Chanel and me.
With ten buff and beautiful models.
On Nicole’s jet.
Flying to Vegas.
For a porn convention.
If there is a recipe for disaster, I’m pretty sure that covers all of the ingredients.
It’s nice to be back in a private jet. My entire life, up until a few months ago, my parents had a plane, an eight-seater. Nothing of the Brantley’s caliber, but it got me from Miami to New York, from New York to Cali, from anywhere to everywhere with a snap of my manicured fingers. Just another feather in my spoiled cap that I didn’t appreciate until it was gone.
The breakdown of my former life began about a year ago, when Dad’s license was suspended and the full weight of the SEC came down on my family, with financial records seized, employees deposed, and all the while, reassurance poured up the phone lines to me at NYU.
Everything is fine, sweetie.
This is all a misunderstanding.
Did you get the new Vuitton luggage we sent?
Of course it’s all okay! Can’t talk, we’re heading to Aspen for the weekend.
They didn’t even tell me when the bottom dropped. That call came from my bank, when my credit cards were suddenly declined. Another call from NYU’s tuition office. Another from my landlord. Everything, in the course of three weeks, gone. Weeks where my parents wouldn’t answer my calls. Weeks where I was suddenly marooned and Benta and Cammie were my lifelines.
Oh—speaking of Cammie, she updated me about Saturday night’s attempt at anal. The story took a good thirty minutes, given her unfortunate propensity for detail. And, I’m disappointed to announce that I am now the only non-enthusiastic member of the Anal Club. I’d like to say I did the mature thing and murmured words of encouragement, but for the most part, I just slumped in my seat and picked at my nails.
But ever since then, I’ve been thinking. It’s possible Vic didn’t know what he was doing. Or maybe I wasn’t as into it—muscle relaxers aside—because I didn’t really trust him. Maybe I was doing it out of insecurity, instead of out of love or a spirit of adventure. Maybe I should rethink my lifetime ban on the activity. Maybe.
I’ll file that away for later. At the moment, I have a job to do, and that entails getting on the Brantley’s private plane where I can pretend, for the next few hours, that I’m back in my old life of luxury.
Of course, nothing has gone smoothly. I had told the models to arrive by 8:30am, yet at 9:15, we were still missing four of the ten. Mr. Brantley had shot me a frustrated look as he had checked his watch for the umpteenth time before striding to one of the airport’s private lounges. Suddenly I wanted the overanxious model agency rep from the audition to help me. She could fret beside me, power-calling these beauties, so I didn’t have to be the bitch. I mean, I still had to share a hotel room with two of these girls, and I didn’t want to start the trip with them hating my guts.
Finally, shortly before ten, I located everyone, got Mr. Brantley on board and spoke with the flight attendant. I checked the car and lounge, verified that nothing was left behind – oops, almost forgot Chanel -- and climbed the jet’s stairs, taking a deep breath before ducking with her into the plane.
All of the models were in the back, the glow of ten phones illuminating the dim cabin like lighters at a 90’s concert. Which left the front two seats, the ones that faced each other, built for Mr. and Mrs. Brantley and whatever cutesy conversation they might want to have during a three-hour flight, empty.
Mr. Brantley was already seated, his glance tilting up and catching me as I stood, terrified, in the aisle, looking desperately for another seat that didn’t exist. I smiled at him, he checked his watch again, and I sank into the opposite seat, my knee bumping against his.
I sighed and suddenly wished I were flying commercial.
I love love love Vegas. Everything about it. The energy, the sexuality, the fact that the rule book seems to be completely thrown out the window in the name of fun.
I also love Austin. He’s 6’2, ridiculously ripped, with sandy blonde hair and eyes thatGLOW bright blue. He also just posted a pic to IG with model Amber, his hands squeezing her boobs like he’s doing a breast exam. So, maybe our love is unrequited. No matter, I have four other gorgeous options to choose from. And twenty more hours until we all head back to NYC.
Thank God that Nicole’s flying back with us. The flight here went too well. There was some initial tension where Clarke typed a thousand words a minute into his laptop and I tried desperately to fade into the background. I don’t know if he felt the tension, but I doubt it. He seemed entirely focused on his work and – once done – he closed his laptop, put it in his briefcase, and patted his lap. I almost stood up, ready to plop down and wrap my arms around his gorgeous neck, before I realized that he was asking for Chanel, her fluffy body bounding over a second before I made a complete fool of myself. That would have been awkward.
His hands were strong and capable, unclipping the sparkly pink harness and matching fur-lined hood as soon as Chanel sat on his lap. “Here.” He tossed the items my way. “I don’t know why Nicole makes her wear this crap. She’s a dog, not a fourteen-year-old Claire’s addict.”
I don’t know what I found funnier, the comment, or the fact that he knew what Claire’s was. I bit my lip and managed not to cackle like a hyena.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “The Bellagio has doggie daycare. You’ll be able to enjoy yourself outside of the events.”
I shrugged as if I didn’t mind Chanel, but inside I was happy to hear that I wouldn’t be carrying her around to all the events. Her furry body makes taking notes infinitely more difficult which is why half of my lists look like they were written by a third grader.
“What am I required to attend this week?” He leaned back the seat slightly and Chanel put both front paws on his chest, happily pawing at and burrowing into his dress shirt.
“Just the AVN award show. Everything else, the models are taking care of. “
“Good.” He smiled. “Then I’ll have plenty of time to hit the tables. You gamble?”
And that sentence started two and a half hours of conversation, a nonstop volley of back and forth. He didn’t seem a decade older than me, he didn’t seem intimidating and untouchable. He seemed interested in what I was saying. Intelligent. Caring. Funny. I laughed as much as I spoke. He was like an older, more mature Vic, one who wouldn’t bang the maid or visit strip clubs.
And he was unattainable. Was that the main reason I was attracted to him? Because he was forbidden fruit?
Whatever the reason for my draw to Clarke Brantley, Nicole would be next to him on the return home and I’d be finding a seat in the back of the plane. I’ve already told my hotelmates to save me a seat.
Oh, and I just got a call from Nicole. She has two extra tickets to the award show tonight, for me and a date. So… hmm… who to take? Austin and Amber are both out. The other girl in my room, Lexi, is constantly on the phone with her boyfriend. No fun. I think I’ll ask Tiffany, the blonde who spits out Family Guy quotes every other breath. Considering it’ll be a two-hour event honoring porn stars with such awards as ‘Best Blowjob and ‘Best Use of a Sex Toy,’ I can’t really see sitting through that with a male date. And she will def keep me laughing.
I wonder who else will be at our table. If it will be other sponsor tickets or actual *ahem* talent. At the very least, it should be interesting.
And now I just need to find something to wear….
So I have finally met my first porn star. Saw his penis. Got invited to an orgy.
It all happened at the AVN awards on Friday night. Which, let me stop and tell you, was an incredibly difficult event to dress for. It’s their equivalent of the Oscars, so I wasn’t sure if an evening gown or mesh stocking would be more appropriate. I settled on a cocktail dress, the sexiest one I had, but it still hit the top of my knee. I looked like a prude next to Tiffany, who wandered out in a low-cut mini that clearly displayed her lack of undergarments.
Our tickets put us at a round table with eight other guests, five men, three women, all sponsors with the exception of Ram Thorton, who, luckily or unluckily enough, was seated to my right. When I reached for the bread, our elbows touched. When I had a coughing fit, he offered me water. When I asked his name, he told me it, then added that he had won ‘Oral Performer of 2013’ with a sly smile, pointing to a pin on his jacket, as if I needed proof.
“Oh.” My coughing fit worsened as I desperately tried to think of an appropriate response. “Congratulations. Are you nominated for anything this year?”
I cringed as soon as I asked the question. We were right by the kitchen’s entrance, it wasn’t exactly the place they’d seat a superstar. But then he started rattling off his nominations, and I let out a relieved sigh. One faux pas averted.
I don’t know what exactly I expected from a man who has sex on camera, but Ram was actually really nice and well spoken. His hair was short and neat, not long or stringy. He didn’t have tattoos or wear a gold chain, or guzzle alcohol or belch. He was polite, had impeccable table manners, and stood whenever any of the women at our table began to stand. Plus, there was that pin on his suit. Oral Performer of the Year. I couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. At the delicate movement of his tongue when some butter smeared on his lips.
We were halfway through the ceremony when I felt his knee brush against mine. It was accidental but firm; he apologized as soon as it happened with a shy smile. I looked away with a casual toss of my hand, my attention diverted to the front, where Nicole had taken the stage to give an award. I glanced at the program, seeing her name next to the Scene of the Year award. A soft touch landed on my forearm and I looked over, Ram’s fingers lightly pulling away. “Wish me luck,” he whispered before leaning back.
I crossed my legs tightly and fought the urge to squirm in my seat, my eyes moving forward to the stage, away from Ram. Ram. Let’s focus for a moment on the most porn-starry name ever.
Well, if looking at him had been a mistake, looking to the stage was even worse, as they showed a short clip of each nominee’s work. And the only thing short about the clips was their duration. I shouldn’t have been surprised, there’d been uncensored content playing all evening, but there’s something intimately more sexual when you’ve met the person. When Ram’s image flashed on the screen, stalking toward a bed fully nude, I felt my jaw drop. Couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. And when I did? When I glanced over? He was studying me, a slow grin sweeping over his mouth as our eyes met.
Then he did something I didn’t expect.
You’ll never believe what happened at the AVN awards.
The disaster started with my seat placement: right next to Ram Thorton, Oral Performer of 2013. Then when they called out the nominations, I saw his video. 30 seconds of high-def action showcasing everything he had packed in that tuxedo. Then – right before the winners were announced – Ram made eye contact, stood from his seat, and leaned over the table. I barely had a chance to catch my breath, barely understood what was happening, before he leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine. Kissed me!
Is that a porn star thing? Kissing someone after twenty minutes of polite dinner conversation? I don’t know if it was the wine at dinner, or the fresh-in-my-mind shot of his naked body, but I didn't fight the kiss, didn’t push on his chest or stamp on his foot, or scream in his face. I didn’t do anything but take the surprisingly gentle press of his lips.
Yep. Kissed by a porn star. I’m still not sure whether I should have cheered or vomited. I did neither. Instead I just sat there, my hands tightening on my napkin, as his name was called and the bright glare of the spotlight captured our ‘moment’ for the entire room. He pulled back and made his way towards the microphone, where Nicole stood, a strange look on her face as she stared at me and I looked away in embarrassment. Figures that I kiss one porn star and the entire room sees it, including my boss. I looked intently at my plate and listened to Ram’s acceptance speech, his deep voice accompanied by a feminine squeak that must have been his co-star.
“You know he’s my ex.” The drawl came from a brunette who sat across the table, an evil smile curving across her mouth as she crossed her arms and leaned over, an action that put her impressive breasts on full display.
“I’m not in-in-interested in him.” From out of nowhere, I was suddenly stuttering. It was like some porn-star hell I couldn’t get out of. Then, it got worse.
“Who would be interested?” It was model Tiffany, from my left, lifting her head from a martini for the first time all evening. I wasn’t aware that she was listening. Or coherent. She’d started ordering drinks the minute she’d realized it was an open bar. I’d been counting her refills and was pretty sure she was up to five. To say I’d chosen the wrong date was an understatement. “He’s a prostitute,” Tiffany slurred, dragging her head in the general direction of the ex-girlfriend. She punctuated the snub with a grimace that would have offended half the people in the room. I tried to kick her under the table and managed to hit the table leg instead, my toe stubbing hard enough that I yelped.
Ram returned at the precise moment that his ex stood from the table and threw her drink right into Tiffany’s face. I didn’t really blame her. Had my left foot not been throbbing in pain, I would have already kicked the model off her chair. Tiffany sputtered, I stood, and grabbed Tiffany’s arm, all but dragging her towards the entrance, a team of tuxedoed security guards already headed our way.
As we tumbled through the doors, Ram with us, his arms wrapped around Tiffany’s waist, I twisted around for one last glimpse inside. My eyes met Nicole’s from across the room and she looked pissed.
My stomach dropped around the same time that I heard the sound of Tiffany vomiting.
I never expected an orgy invitation to come while I was covered in vomit.
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t covered in vomit. Maybe I just had specks of it on my shoes. But still. When Ram issued the invite, I started laughing. Hysterically. I couldn’t help myself.
“The party’s just called Orgy,” he quickly interjected, somewhere in the middle of my laughter. “There isn’t actually… well, it should be pretty calm for the first hour or so.”
“And then?” I accepted the paper towels he held out and did the best job I could wiping down what had once been my favorite pair of stilettos. Hotel security had taken Tiffany to the room, and a housekeeping crew was already attending to her pool of vomit.
“I’ll get you out of there before it gets crazy,” he promised.
And, for about thirty seconds, just long enough to carry the dirty paper towels to the nearest trash can, I thought about it. It was my first trip to Vegas, the only time I’d ever attend a porn star party, but… no. This trip had been crazy enough. I was ready to be back in Manhattan. At that moment, I didn’t even know if I still had a job. Nicole had looked furious, and I couldn’t blame her. How trashy had our table looked? I was kissing strangers, Tiffany was yelling and stumbling and vomiting, and a catfight had broken out, all in the midst of Nicole’s award presentation.
“I appreciate the invite, but I’ll have to pass.” I didn’t sit back down next to him. Instead, I stuck out my hand. “It was nice to meet you, Ram.”
He stood, towering above me, so handsome and clean cut in his tuxedothat I almost – for one minute – forgot that he was a man-whore. “It’s Jason,” he said quietly. “Not Ram.”
Jason. Much better. I smiled. “Jason.”
“I’m sorry about Casey.” He tilted his head in the general direction of the ballroom. “She’s a little possessive.”
I laughed. “It’s fine. If you see her, please apologize for Tiffany. I just met her yesterday. I didn’t realize she was…would…be like that. And I owe you an apology too. It was your moment—“
“Seriously, shut up. It’s fine. I got the trophy, I’m happy.” He looked down for a moment and hesitated, like he was searching for words. “ I’m sorry about the kiss.” He smiled shyly. “A rumor’s been going around that I’m gay. I just… with the cameras on me I was hoping to put that to rest. You were the unlucky bystander.”
I really couldn’t find a proper response. I tried, my mind shifting through five different emotions before I finally sputtered out a reply. “But… your ex! And your … videos.”
He laughed. “I make guy-on-guy videos too. And my ex… she’s probably the one who started the rumor.” His smile fell. “But I should have asked you, not just leaned over and mauled you in front of everyone.”
I shrugged. “It wasn’t really mauling. And I haven’t kissed anyone in -- god, months-- so trust me, it was nice to feel desired. Even if it wasn’t entirely true.”
He reached out an arm and pulled me in for a quick and friendly hug. “Look, if you change your mind about the party…” he fished out a business card and passed it over. “Call me.”
I looked down at the red (of course it was red) card that had his name, accolades, and contact info—oh look, he’s on twitter—in silver font.
I stuck the card in my purse. “Thanks but I think an orgy’s a little too crazy for me. For this trip at least.” I smiled.
“It’s just the name!” he reminded me. “You know party planners and their names.”
I stepped back, and gave him a final wave. “It was nice to meet you Jason. Goodnight.”
And that was the end of Friday. I went up to Pet Hotel and collected Chanel. Changed quietly into pajamas and crawled into bed, Chanel happily diving under the covers next to me. From the other side of the room, Tiffany snored.
The last thing I remember, before falling asleep, was checking my phone for a text from Nicole and seeing none. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad one.
The Job Hunt & A Blind Date:
Originally, in the Cosmo Bedroom Blog, Chloe’s Vegas events put her in the hot seat with Nicole. The following scenes were written while she was stressed about trying to find a job – and still on the hunt for love. I took out the blind date because it distracted the reader from her eventual love match (Carter) and because I think her judgment of Alec was a bit harsh. But I love how these scenes really show her life as a single in the city!
Operation Don’t Get Fired is going horribly. It’s really difficult to be noticed as a superstar if no one will talk to you. I’m at the point of bragging about my accomplishments to the housekeepers, all of whom look at me like I’m crazy.
I opened a profile on LinkdIn last night. Put my one lonely job in the Resume section. My job that I’ve been at for two months. It’s embarrassing. At least I have a kickass profile pic. It’s from a year ago, when money was everywhere and I loved to spend it. Cammie, Benta and I had hired a photographer and gotten professional headshots. Their pics are collecting dust in an expensive closet somewhere. Mine is decorating the top of a pathetic resume. Figures. I’ve toyed with adding my degree but don’t know the legality in listing a diploma you haven’t actually received. Benta says go for it. Cammie says don’t. They both have been full of advice which, while appreciated, hasn’t been entirely helpful.
“I can probably get you a job at that Starbucks by my work.. I dated the manager…though…never mind.” (Cammie, who had cheated on said manager)
“I talked to my Dad. He said he’ll hire you as a paralegal and train you.” (Benta, whose father’s law firm is in Madrid)
“The law school’s always advertising internships. I’ll grab the list tomorrow in class. Oh wait, they’re unpaid.” (Cammie)
“My boss says once you get your diploma, they’ll interview you.” (Benta, who does some job I can’t even pronounce that involves biochemistry)
“You need to get on Monster.com. That’s where the jobs are.” (Benta)
“No one’s on Monster.com anymore. It’s CareerBuilder. That’s where it’s at.” (Cammie)
“Why don’t you try webcam modeling? This says you can work from home.” (Benta)
“That’s porn Benta. Chloe’s not doing porn in my house.” (Cammie)
“It’s not porn, it’s more like stripping. God, you’re a prude.” (Benta)
“Maybe you can drive for Uber. My friend’s boyfriend does that and makes pretty good money.” (Benta)
“Only… she doesn’t have a car.” (Cammie)
“Could you both please stop talking?” (Me)
Stellar advice. And the situation at the Brantley house is more and more bleak, each passing day feeling like a countdown.
The only non-depressing thing right at this moment is a date I have next Friday night. It’s a blind date, my first. Paula, who works at the deli around the corner, has been pushing me for weeks to go out with her son. I still don’t know why I said yes, except that she’s one of the nicest women in the world and the grainy photo she showed me on her flip phone – yes, a flip phone – showed a guy who, through the poor resolution, looked fairly handsome. She gave me his name this morning, so Benta’s coming over tonight, and we are going to stalk him online. See what we can pull from the depths of the internet.
Oh shit. Nicole’s calling me from downstairs. And it’s in her new voice, which is high pitched and irritated, like I’m Chanel and just pooped on her Louboutins.
Till later… wish me luck. I’m off to the chopping block.
Speaking of this weekend, tonight is that blind date. Remember? Paula From The Deli’s son? Who may be handsome or disfigured, given the ridiculously poor resolution on her flip phone? He called me last night to “set up the details” of our date. Those were the words he used: “Set up the details.” I can’t think of the last time a man called me to make a plan rather than just text. It was a quick, fairly awkward call, but in today’s impersonal world, it felt almost chivalrous. Plus, he had a nice voice. I hung up with him and wandered into Cammie’s room. Mentioned the date and opened a huge can of information overload.
Have I mentioned that Cammie has been on nine blind dates? She’s the type of girl who everyone wants to set up. Hmmm… not sure what that says about me, considering that this is my first. Thankfully, her nine blind dates’ worth of experience provided her with plenty of unwanted advice to share.
Blind Date Rule #1: Research/Stalk him.
“I already Googled him,” I whined. Seriously, it wasn’t like this was my first step into the swamp of modern dating. The first thing I did after talking to Paula was whip out my iPhone and plug in his name. I’d planned to do a better job that evening, only Cammie was on a date with Dante and the wifi wasn’t working and PLL was on so…
“And…?” she asked, blowing on her nails before recapping the polish.
“And he’s a tech guy. He designs apps.”
“Like he’s an employee at an app company? Or he’s a tech guy at Walmart and works on their apps? Or he’s the creator of Angry Birds?” She set the polish bottle on the side table and raised a perfectly plucked brow at me. This all coming from the girl dating the Brantley’s chauffeur. Did she Google Dante before orgasming so loudly she woke me up? (And yes, I AM still bitter about that)
“I don’t know,” I growled. “That's what his Facebook profile says. App Designer. Nothing else.”
“God you suck.” She climbed carefully off the bed, her hand carefully held up and out of danger. “Did you look at him on LinkdIn? That’s the first thing you need to do. More research. Does he own property? Have unpaid tax liens? Live with his mother? Have any crazy ex-girlfriends?”
“That seems a little invasive.”
She glared at me. “You’re risking your life meeting this stranger. Be invasive.”
Rule #2: Pick the perfect location.
“Don’t let him pick the place.” She directed, walking done the hall and tossing the directive over her shoulder.
Oops. He’d already done that. A small sushi spot five blocks away. I knew the spot, the sake was cold and the lighting forgiving, so I had agreed quickly. I kept that tidbit to myself and listened.
“You need to pick a place that is fun yet kinda fancy. One that has cheap and expensive menu items, and watch what he orders. If he goes cheap, that tells you a lot. If he goes expensive, even more info. You want to be in and out within forty-five minutes. Ideally, pick a place with a bar or ice cream shop next door. Then, if it does go well, maybe he’ll suggest you guys grab some dessert or drinks.”
“And if it doesn’t go well?”
“Then you politely decline!” She enunciated the response like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
I wandered after her like a lost puppy. Thank God she’d be here to help me analyze the results.
Rule #3: Have an escape plan.
“I’ll call you twenty-five minutes into the date,” she instructed, carefully lifting her coat off of the hook and shrugging into it. “I’ll ask you where you are. If you name the restaurant by name then I’ll tell you that the super just called and there’s a water leak in the apartment and you need to go home ASAP. If you just say that you’re at dinner than I’ll hang up and you can enjoy the rest of the date in peace.”
Name of the restaurant: escape
I’m at dinner: stay
What if I mix them up? I looked at her in horror, watching her grab her keys. “Where are you going?” I was in over my head. Needing more coaching. A repeat of the rules. Training. More advice from her extensive experience.
“I have to run to the pharmacy before they close. You’ll be fine, we can chat when I get back.” She blew me a kiss and shut the door.
I stood in the middle of the foyer for a long moment and tried to remember the three rules.
A blind date. What was I thinking?
It’s been 60 hours since my blind date ended.
60 hours since I kissed Cammie on the cheek and thanked her for bailing my ass out.
60 hours since Dante invited me to join them for drinks and I relived the entire night over margaritas and Mexican music.
It wasn’t like it had been horrible. In fact, I probably didn’t have to take Cammie’s rescue call. I could have silenced her ringtone and lived through the next half hour. But… well, I’ll start from the beginning.
He was a nerd. That was my first reaction. When Alec walked into the restaurant and waved, my stomach dropped and every junior high instinct came on high alert. I could see his weakness in the nervous push of his glasses onto his nose. In the blush of his cheeks when we shook hands. He was on edge, his hands almost shaking when he first reached for the chopsticks. I don’t know that I’ve ever gone out with a nerd before. And I wondered, when we sat down at the tiny two-top behind a huge aquarium, if we would have anything whatsoever to talk about.
He was, actually, kinda cute. You had to look past the glasses and the extremely neat hair. The cardigan and the Timex on his wrist. When you looked past all that, he was working with a pretty good deck. Strong jaw. Brilliant blue eyes. Thick hair. But… *sigh* still nerdy.
I don’t know when I started thinking that good manners were a bad thing, but Iwinced when he pulled out my chair. Gestured him down when he raised to his feet whenever I stood. Watched him politely order and was somehow irritated by his ‘pleases’ and ‘thank you’s’. Is it bad that I, for a moment, wished he was more like Vic? Wanted him to lean back in his seat and hang his arms on the back of the booth? Check out the waitress’s ass and then give me an unapologetic grin? Interrupt my story, which he really wasn’t listening to, and pull me forward into a kiss?
I wanted all that and was instead stuck with a man who’d have made my mother beam. A man who asked me questions and was interested in the answers. A man, I’m firmly convinced, who would never cheat, steal, or lie. I probably would have been more likely to focus on all those good qualities if he hadn’t made dinner conversation entirely out of Wikipedia-quality material.
“Did you know that originally the sushi’s rice was never eaten?” He tilted his head towards my chopstick, which gripped a Surf & Turf roll in its tight grip.
“Really?” I raised my eyebrows and dunked the piece into some soy sauce.
“Yep. Sour, fermenting rice was used only to aid in the creation of a sour taste –called umami. Once that taste was achieved, they’d discard the rice and serve the fish.”
“So. when’d they start including the rice?” I got the question out, then filled my mouth with the gigantic piece.
He tilted his head and tapped his sticks on the plate. “I… don’t know. Can’t remember that part.”
He blushed, like the missed fact was a huge faux pas, and I laughed. And then, my cell rang.
I had considered silencing it. But then… what good was a date with a guy like Alec? And one day before Valentine’s Day? I would never end up with someone like him. I just wasn’t wired that way. My heart beat fast for confidence and asshole. For unattainable and nevergonnahappen.
Someone like Vic.
Maybe I shouldn’t have taken Cammie’s call. Maybe I should have given Alec a chance. Not rushed off with a ‘see you later!’ that I didn’t mean in the slightest. Maybe I could use a little more nerd and a little less asshole.
Maybe I don’t have any idea what I need.
Meeting the Parents:
This short scene was originally right before Chloe met Carter’s parents.
I hated Vic’s parents. They were snobby. Entitled. They had five homes, a century of wealth behind them and preset notions on who their son should date and what she should be like. They wanted a wife, someone polished and perfect, someone who would dote on their son and overlook his faults. I fell short. Especially to his mother. His father… well. I forget, dear blog, that you don’t know all of my secrets. You don’t know what I was so afraid would hit the press after my photos with Joey Plazen emerged. The scandal of that summer in the Hamptons. Before my parents’ poor choices overshadowed everything and drowned out my drama in a shitstorm of their own making.
Vic’s father is a bigger version of Vic. He swaggers. He dominates. He commands. He thinks that he owns people because he controls their financial livelihoods. He pushes people’s buttons to watch them jump and toys with lives for the pure entertainment of it all. And he doesn’t care if there is collateral damage along the way. Even if it affects him. Even if it affects his son.
It wasn’t that I was scared of him. I was just intimidated. And Vic didn’t help. For the first time ever, he’d been nervous and on-edge. He wanted his father’s approval so badly; he wanted me to pass the test. His father seemed larger than life when he’d strode into that three-story greatroom, the Atlantic Ocean sparkling through the windows behind me, everything about the room perfectly set for his grand entrance, for the impact that Victor Worth made when he met someone. It felt like the ground shook when he walked. It felt like I physically shrank when he came closer. He extended a hand and smiled, and I felt the pull…the same as I had with Vic… and helplessly put out my own hand.
“Beautiful.” His eyes dragged over me, his mouth curving into a smile, white teeth glinting at me like fangs, his hand strong in its squeeze. “You are absolutely beautiful Chloe.”
I was nineteen. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to watch out for. When Vic ran out to the car and his father pulled me closer, against his body, his hand cupping the back of my head, I didn’t know what not to do. I was in love and out of my element and I didn’t have the strength to know that I had a voice and a mind and I could use both in whatever way I wanted. I should have pushed him away. I shouldn’t have let him kiss me. He kissed me like I didn’t have a choice, like I was his to sample and I stood there and let it happen.
I wish I could say I was the reason we stopped. But I didn’t even do that. Claudia Jennison, a Hampton socialite with a mouth as big as her breasts, she walked in and he pushed me away, a laugh in his smirk, his eyes playfully on me. And when I turned away, Claudia’s eyes were on me. And everyone in the Hamptons knew about it by nightfall, and the story had grown, everyone convinced that I was screwing both Victor Worths.
I was stupid. And it blew up on me. But it also taught me, made me stronger. It made me the person I am today - one who can stand up for herself and push back.
“Ready?” Carter asked, the taxi coming to a stop, his hand reaching over and gripping mine.
Was I ready? To meet his parents?
After Vic’s, this would be a piece of cake.
And of course I was wrong.
In the Cosmo serial, Chloe had a series of fantasies regarding Clarke. I removed all of those scenes from the novel for two reasons. First, it was confusing to the reader—they weren’t sure if something would ever happen with Clarke, and they didn’t know which male character was Chloe’s love interest. The second reason was because it rubbed some beta readers the wrong way—especially readers who had strong aversions to cheating, even in fantasy form. If you are one of those readers, please don’t read this scene.
This scene is not from the original Cosmo serial, but was one I wrote afterwards, when creating the novel. It came right after Chloe broke the crystal item in the Brantleys’ foyer. Again, this is a fantasy, it wasn’t actually happening.
"You broke this?"
Clarke stood behind his desk, his hands tented on its surface, the pose one that emphasized the muscles atop his shoulders. I stared at them and tried to think of their name. Flaps? Traps? Traps. I think they were called traps. I fidgeted, my feet bare, my troublemaking ballet flats drying out in the laundry room. "Yes sir. It was an accident."
A dustpan sat before him on the desk, the remains of the glass ballerina in it. "You have any idea how much this cost?" He looked up at me, the weight on his hands making the muscles in his forearms stand out. I stared at the loose knot of his tie, the undone button at his neck, then his eyes. They studied me, dark and angry, but there was something else there. Something feral. Something that made my heart beat faster.
"A lot?" I guessed. My parents had had a similar piece. I remember seeing it on the FBI's list of seized assets. A Stuben Glass Horse. $24,000.
He chuckled without mirth, straightening, one hand moving to the opposite shirt sleeve and he rolled the cuffs, working it up his forearms, his eyes not leaving mine. "Yes, Chloe. A lot." He tilted up the dustpan and watching the shards fall out, big chunks mixed with a thousand tiny bits, some long and sharp, some almost dust. They dotted his papers, sparkling out from contracts and the wood and leather surface of his desk.
I swallowed. "I'm sorry. It was—"
"An accident." He interrupted. "Yes. I know. You mentioned that." He stepped back from the desk. "Come here."
"Here?" I repeated. Stalling while my feet tried to run. Not away. Straight to him.
"Don't make me repeat myself." Steel words of dominance. A feminine piece, deep inside of me, swooned.
I said nothing, but walked forward, stopping to the right of the desk, unsure of what he wanted.
"Pick out all of the big pieces. Put them in my trash can."
I hesitated for only a moment, his face too stern to risk another question. I stepped closer and faced the desk, my back to him, my fingers careful as they sorted through the pieces, collecting the big shards in my left hand, my only break in movement when I looked around for a trashcan, spying one underneath the desk. I paused, aware of him, directly behind me, the room quiet, his door shut, the room smaller with each passing second, crowding us together. I took a deep breath, and then bent over, holding the desk for balance, and reached out, dumping the first group of crystal into the trash.
I could have crouched down. It would have been more ladylike then my bend at the waist move, my ass just a foot from him. But I didn't, and I heard the moment he exhaled. "Good girl. Keep going. Trust me, you are going to want those sharp pieces gone before I fuck you across that surface."
I straightened, my heart quickening. Thank God I was faced away from him. Thank God he couldn't see the flush of my face. "Pardon?" I reached out for more of the pieces, so many pieces, my hand trembling a little. I grabbed a chunk, then a sliver, feeling as if I was picking at my sanity, not enough time and too many pieces before time ran out. Because I had certainly lost my sanity if those words made me wet. And they did. My panties were soaked, my legs trembling, and I rested one hand on the table, moving my broken collection to a free spot on his desk.
"You heard me." An answer to the question I'd already forgotten I asked. There was the clip of shoes forward and the toe of a dress shoe brushed one of my bare feet. He was closer, right behind me, the scent of him invading, my skin jumping when his fingertips brushed along my thighs, sliding up from my knees, growing bolder as they moved, my glass collection pausing as he slid warm palms underneath my wool skirt. "Keep picking those up." An order whispered against the back of my neck, his fingers spreading, caressing, as they moved over the curve of my ass.
"You're touching me."
"No." His fingers hooked into the top of my panties and he pulled them down, over my ass, the wet fabric dragging a line of moisture down the inside of my thighs and then they were gone, around my ankles, his fingers drifting back up and then in between my thighs, pushing at the wetness there, my head dropping back in a silent cry as he pushed a finger inside of me. "Now I'm touching you."
A hand fell to the table, and I brushed at the pile of crystal, frantic to clear it, a chorus of tiny clicks heard as they hit the floor. His finger moved deeper, then a second pushed in, and I pushed against him, his mouth at the back of my neck, his voice hard as it spoke. "You've been a very bad girl, Chloe."
"I know," I gasped, rocking my hips, needing the movement, the moment he brushed my g-spot turning my world fuzzy. When he pulled his fingers out, my pussy wept, the absence too much, my need too great. I was still recovering when his hands wrapped around my front, grabbing my shirt and ripping, buttons flying, my shirt suddenly ruined, my bra the next victim as he pulled at the underwire cups, pulling them up, my hands scrambling behind me, unhooking the clasp in the moment before he broke it.
"Look at yourself." His voice, in my ear, a hand at my throat, pushing my face up, my eyes finding the mirror on the opposite wall, above his credenza. I looked.
My small breasts hanging, one grabbed in his hand.
My mouth sagged open, his thumb on my jaw, his forefinger along my cheek, fingers on my neck.
My eyes wild, needy. A woman out of control.
"Look in your eyes when I fuck you." He growled, and let go of me, my body falling forward, his focus on the front of his pants. I was still scrambling for footing, my hands pushing on the desk, crystal biting into my palms, damp panties stretched between my calves, when he pushed inside and I cried out his name.
Thank you for enjoying these deleted scenes. To be notified upon Alessandra’s next release, please visit www.nextnovel.com.