Authors: Miranda Mailer
Never Understand Part 1 (Johnthen Trent Series)
An Erotic Romance by Miranda Mailer
Published By Real and Ideal Publishing 2013
© Miranda Mailer
The Author asserts the moral right to be identified as the creator of this work.
Cover design by Martin
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents herein are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the author and publisher.
Also by Miranda Mailer on Amazon Kindle
Never Understand Part 2
Never Understand Part 3
Never Understand Part 4 (Out May/June 2013)
Chapter 1: Chelsea, New York City Sunday 7 May
I stand blinking in front of the bathroom mirror, a tear escaping my eye again. The light is white and harsh…
I swear it’s the contact lenses. It shouldn’t be so difficult to get a contact lens in my eye, but hell – I’m distracted…
Anyone would be distracted. It’s four-oh-five on Sunday afternoon and I’m getting ready for work, and the noise IS distracting, damn it…
OK, by “distracted” I mean it’s making me frustrated, I admit it.
Why the hell do I even listen? Can’t I just shut my ears?
It’s not like I want to listen, and I’m sure as hell not supposed to listen. But it’s been like this the last three Sundays as I get ready for work.
The noise they make is very distracting.
I’m Jana Kidd and I’m an actress. OK, I don’t work as an actress; I don’t have a contract or a part in TV or a movie or theater. Not right at this moment. But I AM an actress. I must be an actress because I ran up debts spending three years at drama school, and damn it, I’m pretty good at it. I do off-Broadway shows when I can (
of course), but to pay the bills I work as a waitress at an upscale restaurant called
on the Upper East Side. OK, I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, but don’t be fooled. Waiting at tables is a temporary job, while I’m between acting roles (and I’ll scratch the eyes of anyone who says otherwise). All this is dispiriting enough itself when I catch my eye in the mirror. But right now the noise is distracting me.
I blink the lenses into place and look myself up and down.
Black skirt, above the knee. White cotton shirt, crisply ironed. Discreet make-up. Opaque black pantyhose – definitely no bare legs. I smooth down the shirt and pull up one last time on the black thigh-highs beneath my skirt. Pretty good. Massimo, the owner at La Serenissima insists on high standards of appearance.
Shit - who am I kidding? Standing here in my prim work clothes with all that mmmm-ing and ahhh-ing and giggling from the next room makes it even worse. My room-mate, Phoebe is having a “Sunday afternoon in” with her boyfriend, Joshua. Again. And from the bathroom, right next door to her room, it sounds like things are getting pretty hot in there. Again.
The bathroom is next to Phoebe’s bedroom, you see, which naturally is the “the big bedroom” since the apartment belongs to Phoebe in the first place. My room is more akin to a closet, so I’ve no alternative but to use this bathroom and that means listening to all that noise they’re making.
OK, so I’ll come clean. I’m Miss Angry and Frustrated this afternoon, and the reason I’m letting that noise get to me is that Josh was
boyfriend until only a couple of months back. And because Joshua is such a seriously hot guy in the first place… So it’s a case of what might have been. Joshua’s a fine Wall Street hunk, especially in his dress suit from work. And now he’s still around me… but not with me. You can see why I’d be a little cranky about it.
I check myself one last time before I get out of this bathroom. The lighting in here makes me look like a fucking specter, and that’s how I feel half the time. Trying to prowl around the apartment unnoticed, the ghost at the wedding, while Phoebe and Josh have all the fun. I smooth down the white shirt over my chest, pull up again on the black thigh-highs under my skirt. The giggling starts again next door. For an instant I imagine Joshua’s fingers on the top of my thigh-highs, under my skirt, grazing my skin. His fingers have been there many times before.
Then I swear I can hear the soft click of handcuffs onto Phoebe’s wrists in the room next door…
Jeez! Handcuffs? Seriously Phoeb? It’s barely four o’clock in the afternoon.
Like I said, the frustrating thing is, Josh Lake
a seriously hot guy.
That’s it, I have to leave. Now.
La Serenissima is a pretty cool place to work if you’re an out of work actress. The owner, Massimo, is a great boss (also quite cute). He’s originally from Milano, and carries himself like a typical Italian peacock male. His goatee beard, finely cut hairstyle and his wry ironic smile are all perfectly judged, and he can be quite fun too, so long as the restaurant’s running smoothly. His clothes are Ferragamo rather than D&G, and classically Milanese.
The clientele at La Serenissima is classy, and above all the tips are excellent. Not so excellent that I don’t struggle to make the rent at Phoebe’s apartment every month, but I
make it. And as Phoebe always tells me, at La Serenissima, there’s always a chance some big shot actor or director is going to be on one of my tables and I’m going to get his number and it will be my first big break. Not impossible. It’s that kind of restaurant.
Phoebe’s got a point, but I’m not sure my acting talent is
when I’m running around in a waitress skirt, or explaining the
to uncomprehending guests from Korea or China (“No, miss, I said I wanted a STEAK”). But devotion to acting requires blind hope above all else, and La Serenissima does offer a sliver of hope. But only a sliver.
The restaurant itself has a busy, upscale, family Italian feel about it. And I’m not biased when I say that the food is to die for. Classy, upmarket, but unpretentious. Francis Ford Coppolla came in once, but that was just before I started. The wine starts at close on a hundred bucks a bottle. For a bottle of champagne the wine waiter pretty much has to phone your bank manager first. The design is good though – simple black and white tiled floor, white linen cloths on the tables, and plenty of dark wood paneling; like it was the 1890’s in Milan. The ceilings are high and there’s a feeling of spaciousness and air, even though it’s always buzzy and full in there. Buzzy, but serene, just as La Serenissima should be.
Lastly of course, there’s the staff. Many of us are acting wannabes. Massimo likes actors, possibly because none of us ever get other work and leave. As a newbie, I spent my first dozen shifts comparing notes about acting school, until I got depressed by the sheer number of other talented people looking for work. It’s fine by Massimo, of course. He likes actors because we look good, and because he says working at La Serenissima is all about putting on a show. Makes me feel like I work in Disneyland when he puts it like that. But seriously, it’s a cool place. And one of these days I might be able to afford to eat in there.
Sunday evenings should be quiet, except often they’re not, because so many other good restaurants are closed. Tonight is hectic. Marcia from Brazil has overdone it. She’s trying a little too hard in shoes that are a little too high, and she’s hurled a tray of ciabatta and olives onto the checkerboard tiled floor next to one of my tables. I crouch down next to her slim, Copacabana ass to help her clear up, sweeping up the skittering olives as soon as I can – speed and calmness being of the essence. Massimo is behind me in a second. ‘Fuck ups – they gonna happen,’ he says in stage whisper. ‘We clear it up quick, and in
dieci secondi, tutto va serenissime
. No one gonna see nothing.’
That’s the idea, but crouched on my haunches mopping up olive oil, while Marcia hisses through her teeth at me, is not my idea of
Then – what? Is that Joshua is standing there?
An instant wave of pleasure passes over me, just for a split second, the pleasurable idea that Josh has come looking for me floods over me like a warm shower…
Except - it’s not Joshua. Of course it’s not, and why can’t I shake that guy from my mind? It’s a pair of men’s dress shoes, like Josh’s dress Oxfords, which I love. But it’s not Joshua. In fact the shoes are even more elegant, and somehow
this time. More expensive. I look up involuntarily, just in case. A tall, slim, powerful body with fine shoulders, in a charcoal suit. There - that’s certainly got my attention. Dark, handsome, sculpted features. If Michelangelo saw this guy, he would feel like giving up. Wow. Definitely not Joshua. I look down, mop up the last of the oil, my senses reeling; and not just with the fruity aroma of the
I can assure you.
Josh, you wouldn’t stand a chance…
We’re talking sculptured good looks, with that almost black hair and the sultry eyes we all went crazy over when we were teenage girls. Where Josh is coolly attractive, this guy is quiveringly dangerous. Am I rambling here?
Marcia has seen him. Course she has. She is on her feet already, smoothing down her skirt and switching on a 1000 watt Brazilian smile for this guy. Leaving me to the clearing up. Who can blame her? She fought her way out of the slums of Rio to New York City for this exact kind of moment. I place the last slice of ciabatta on Marcia’s tray and stand up myself, trying to keep a semblance of poise.
Mr Dark and Mysterious makes it worse by offering his hand to help me up. He bends down, quite gallant in fact, and pulls me up, as if recognising my effort in clearing up. A mysterious force makes me take his hand. His wrist is olive and strong and his fingers long and masculine. His watch is of such an obscurely expensive Swiss make that I’ve never heard of it, but worn elegantly relaxed, low on his wrist. He has that dark – white – dark thing at his wrist. Dark suit – white cuff – then the deep-tanned skin of a long-fingered, sinuous, masculine hand. I can feel in my hand that power as he pulls me up. I can feel somehow that this hand is strong, yet it’s sensitive enough to hold mine with just the right pressure. It was a kind thing to do to help me up there, yet there’s a scintilla of danger in his self-confidence.
There are plenty of wealthy guys at La Serenissima with some really classy suits. That kind of eye-candy is one of the perks of working here. But this suit is different. This
is different. The suit flows like liquid over his lean, muscled body. He carries so many subtle markers of style, of difference. Not just money and power - but style. The suit is almost plain black. Almost. With a cream shirt that has to be silk and an exquisite, psychedelic tie of pink and purple. All accessorised by those shoes, some obsidian and silver cufflinks, that watch and his eyes…
His eyes are deep gold with a hit of green. Quite astonishingly beautiful and intense. I stand there transfixed by the warm, firm feel of his hand, and feel his deep, gold eyes flicker over me. Checking me. I realize my left hand has moved to smooth my hair back as I look into those eyes. He acknowledges this with a flicker of amusement in his smile.
Massimo materializes behind Mr Dark and Mysterious, waving a hand at me like it’s a glove puppet, but I’m immobilized. I’m still holding this guy’s hand, and he’s looking into my eyes with this amused smile. How long have I held his hand? I’ve held the hand too long.
“Thank you,” I say finally, and let go of his hand. I’ve forgotten to breathe, let alone speak.
“Sure,” he says, with a rich, beautiful voice that it makes my stomach flip. A voice a girl hears with her whole body.
Then he’s gone, Massimo ushering him obsequiously to his table, with Marcia following up for no good reason at all, her Brazilian eyelashes optimistically aflutter.
I rush to the ladies room to smarten up after the spillage. I’m still not breathing right. My eyes look dilated, the way Josh said they did when I was ready to fuck. Am I so transparent?
Massimo is by the restroom door when I come out. ‘Get out there. He’s on your table. Or do I give him to Marcia?’ The actress in me comes to life. I may be in a sexual trance, but I am going out there to serve this guy. He’s mine!