A Bite of the Apple – Gallery Opening

A Bite of the Apple Cover[At the last minute I decided to participate in the July Camp Nano. With no time for advance planning I set my goal at only 25,000 words and let the Brothers Grimm do a plot outline for me – I’m doing a retelling of Snow White. Hopefully I’ll be able to introduce enough novelty to make this classic tale uniquely my own!

And so, without further adieu, here is the first scene I’ve written for this story!]

“Are you sure you’re old enough to be drinking that?”

Regan slowly turned and appraised the speaker. Male, mid-thirties, muscular, outdoors in a tux (and pulling it off very well!) with that undeniable whiff of old money. Definitely worth a flirt.

She flashed him a smile that photographers loved. “Don’t worry, you won’t be stealing any candy from this baby! Care to freshen my drink?” She took a quick swallow then offered him the empty glass.

“Trying to get rid of me so soon? We’ve hardly even met!” He kept his gaze on hers, steely blue peering into deep brown pools, while he took her glass and placed it on a passing tray, grabbing a full champagne flute in return.

Eyes still locked she took it from him. “You see? You didn’t even have to move, so don’t go thinking I was sending you away.”

“The thought never crossed my mind,” he chuckled, the grin causing his eyes to twinkle. Twinkle, yes, but with a shadow of grief, too. Interesting.

“My mother told me never to take things from strangers, so you’re going to have to tell me your name so I can drink this.” Regan was seriously getting her flirt on, and the handsome stranger seemed to be enjoying it. Perhaps this wouldn’t be another boring party after all!

“Your mother can rest easy. My name is Julien Cross. And you are?”

“Regan Cunningham.” She held out her hand, and he gave a little bow and kissed the back of it. So European! She felt a little heat in her face and chest.

“So what brings you here, Regan Cunningham? Are you a friend of the artist, or a patron of the arts?”

“I guess you’d say I’m a friend of a friend.” She really didn’t want to get more deeply into why she was here. She didn’t want to scare him off, at least not just yet. “And what about you? Are you a fan of whatever style this is?”

“Oh, I’m here mostly because my handlers want me here.” He glanced across the room toward a fussy older gentleman who looked as if he lived in tails. She also noticed a big guy scanning the room, watching everyone but him. Very interesting!

“Handler, huh? If you’re some sort of spy, you’re talking to the wrong girl.”

“Hmm. You’ve got a point. I should probably check you for a wire, or something.” He took a step back and looked her over from head to toe. Playing the game, she held her arms away from her sides and twirled in place so he could get a good look at her. He saw a smoldering beauty, with dark brown eyes, reddish-brown hair, and full lips in an almond face. A classic little black dress was clinging to her tall, slender frame, graced with an ample bosom. She was a fashion model and was willing to play on that fact, even though her body type was going out of favor. She was a little too curvaceous for high fashion, not wholesome enough for Victoria’s Secret.

“I don’t see anything suspicious, so I guess I’ll risk talking with you a little more.” There was that grin of his again.

A worried expression flashed across Regan’s face. “Uh oh! I think we did something wrong. That funny little man in the corner is trying to get your attention.”

Julien glanced over his shoulder, then turned back to her. “I wouldn’t worry about him. I’m sure he can find the mens room by himself. Tell me a little about yourself — since you don’t like the art, why are you really here?”

“A friend of mine asked me to accompany him, so of course as soon as we get here he abandons me and goes to hang out with his artsy friends. So rude of him, don’t you think?” She directed her gaze to a small crowd hanging around one of the artists, who seemed to be regaling them about the sculpture next to him. Julien also glanced that way, and then back to her. “Now what about you? Why are you here?”

“Oh, I came to New York on a shopping trip.”

“You’re shopping for art? You don’t strike me as a man who goes in for this modern stuff.”

“Oh? What kind of art do you think I ‘go in for’?”

“Let me see.” It was her turn to step back and look him over. “Definitely an outdoors type, with a vaguely european accent, German, perhaps?” He refused to say anything, so she continued. “Hmm. Yes German, or perhaps Hungarian …” Again he held his tongue, so she decided to take a guess. “Alright, I guess you’d be more comfortable with old oil paintings. Hunting scenes, perhaps spearing a boar or a stag. Or maybe dogs playing poker.” She said that last with such a straight face that he burst out laughing.

Dogs playing poker! You got me with that one!” The man in the corner was practically waving his hands over his head, so Julien said, “It looks like it’s time for me to leave. Let me give you a little something to remember me by.” He reached forward and draped a small necklace over her head. “Wear that the next time I see you and I’ll tell you its story.” He took her hand and kissed it once more, then headed toward the door. Regan watched as the bodyguard went to open it ahead of him while the “handler” intercepted him and started saying something into his ear. Julien refused to acknowledge them, but simply strode through the door and into the Manhattan night.

“Taking trinkets from strangers, my dear?”

“Just trying to amuse myself after being abandoned by Renee.” Regan reluctantly stopped staring at the door and turned to her friend Amanda.

“It seems you fared well in your abandonment!” Amanda reached out to examine the pendant more closely. “Not terribly big, but a nice little bauble. I wonder what it’s worth?”

Regan took a closer look herself. The pendant was a small, deep red stone that flashed in the light, mounted in a black setting that highlighted the fiery glints. The whole was suspended from a slender golden chain that almost disappeared against her tanned skin. It could be just a cheap trinket, but something about it told her otherwise.

“I don’t know. I’ll have Freddy take a look at it and see what he thinks. With luck he’ll buy it from me and I’ll come out ahead for the night.”

“You sure you want to do that? I’ll bet that hunk’ll be mighty disappointed the next time you see him if you’re not wearing it.”

“You mean Mr. Julien Cross? I get the impression he doesn’t come to town very often, so I doubt we’ll cross paths again.”

“You’ve met Julien Cross? How delightful!” The two girls were joined by Renee, an older man who stretched up and gave each girl a peck on the cheek and a pat on the butt.

“You know him?”

“I know of him. Wealthy enough to own a castle somewhere in Europe, or the Balkans, or someplace like that. I do hope you convinced him to buy something!”

“I’m afraid not. He’s already left.”

“Oh, that’s too bad! Well come along, my dears, there are some people I want you to meet. And remember, play nice!”

Next chapter -> The Pawn Shop


About Kurt Schweitzer

A former vampire logistics facilitator, past purveyor of Italian-style transportation, and Y2K disaster preventer, I'm currently creating websites, novels and other fictions while reinventing myself. Again.
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2 Responses to A Bite of the Apple – Gallery Opening

  1. Pingback: A Bite of the Apple – At the Playground | First Draft Fiction

  2. Pingback: July Camp NaNoWriMo – A Bite of the Apple | RocNaNo

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