Home > Loose Ends, Volume One (Loose Ends #1)(9)

Loose Ends, Volume One (Loose Ends #1)(9)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Dutifully, Luci picked up her menu, not surprised Pearl had a photo shoot with Henry on her schedule.

Long ago, Pearl’s husband, Nicolas, had been an up-and-coming fashion designer, gaining popularity and clients due to his extraordinary work in some small but notable, due to their costume design, films in Hollywood.

Then there would come the day when he was doing an advertising shoot and someone on his team hired a young, flamboyant, opinionated woman who had, at the time, wanted to be a photographer, but who was, at the time, hired to be a set assistant.

Nicolas Bazer had been a genius, but he’d also been shy. He detested the limelight and most social functions unless they were private functions given for close friends at his home.

The woman who he would fall in love with was the exact opposite.

She came to be the face and spokesperson of his label. She would also learn that her talents lay in set design and production, not photography, and she not only became her husband’s Creative Director, but also collaborated with giant names in the industry, as well as getting involved in a number of films over decades that had been shot in the city.

Last, the Bazers were renown for throwing lavish parties after his shows, or just whenever the spirit moved them, be it in their home or in some fabulous location somewhere in New York City, with Nicolas the quiet, enchanting host and Pearl the outrageous, and outrageously dressed, hostess.

With her style, her manner, and it was not to be missed, her heart, and most assuredly her talent, Pearl had earned respect and then fame in her own right, to the point she’d become an icon.

Nicolas had died three years ago.

And it was not once, but many times after Travis had died that Luci had thought about Pearl’s loss and tried to find the source in her own heart and mind that Pearl had somehow found in order to carry on after being with her husband for over sixty years.

Perhaps you should listen to what the woman has to say, she thought.

This would be wise. Her father, if he was there, would likely tell her the same, but of course, he’d say it in Italian, not just the language, but Italian in spirit with the forcefulness behind it.

But doing this would be dangerous.

Then again, honesty and wisdom often held danger.

It was only those who risked listening to the wise who learned to be the same.

She scanned the menu, made her selection and set it aside just as the Bellini was set in front of her.

“Fabulous! Let’s order,” Pearl announced.

Luci sipped and ordered something with white truffles, not because Pearl would disapprove if she didn’t, but because, well . . . white truffles.

No other words needed.

The waiter scurried off and Pearl instantly leaned into the table, looking at Luci but addressing Henry, “No offense, hon, but we’ve already had our chat so you know my feelings about how you royally screwed things up with Josephine.”

Luci bit back a gasp as Henry sighed, “Yes, Pearl, we’ve had our chat,” in a manner that explicitly shared that chat had not been enjoyable.

“Now,” she wagged a finger at Luci, ignoring Henry’s manner, and Henry on the whole, “you’re on the hot seat.”

Suddenly, Luci wasn’t in the mood to learn to be wise and definitely not in the mood for honesty.

She reached for her drink, murmuring, “I’d prefer simply to catch up and not be on any hot seat.”

“I’m sure you would, though you knew that wasn’t going to happen before you arrived, so just sit back and experience the moment, sister,” Pearl retorted, sitting back herself (or more aptly, settling in).

After taking a sip, she trained her eyes on Pearl. “You know, you shouldn’t be so dismissive of Henry’s situation. He and Josephine were together for ages. I can imagine that he’s—”

“Google Jake Spear,” Pearl commanded. “I did. There were a number of celebrities at the wedding, pictures all over social media. But also pictures when he was a professional athlete. When you see him, you’ll get it.”

Henry sighed again.

But Luci was curious.

She didn’t share that.

“I still think—” she began.

“He never made his move,” Pearl announced, and Luci felt her eyes get big again.

Unable to stop them, slowly, they moved to Henry.

“I thought you were lovers,” she noted.

“I do believe I’ve made my point about wasting time,” Henry drawled.

Mio Dio, she thought.

“Oh Henry, caro, I’m now very sorry for you,” she said softly.

He simply tipped the drink he was holding her way.

Then he put it to his lips and drained it.

“So you,” Pearl butted in, and Luci looked her way again. “I’ll warn you, my girl, I’m going to be blunt. And I’ll start that by saying, we all loved Travis. You know I know how difficult it is to lose the man who was put on this earth for you. My heart was in tatters when I heard you lost him. So young. It defies belief and gives new meaning to the concept of unfair. But yekirati, for you, the show is going on and you must go on with it.”

“I’ve come to terms with Travis’s death, Pearl,” Luci told her.

Pearl didn’t believe a word she said and didn’t only express that with her face, but with words.

“So why, precisely, were you a million miles away when you had a beautiful shoe on your foot and a dozen boxes of the same surrounding you?” Pearl demanded.

“Because I’ve met someone else.”

Pearl’s chin lifted slightly, and she murmured, “I see.”

“But he won’t have me,” Luci went on.

Henry made a choking noise.

Pearl’s already magnified eyes behind her glasses took up her face.

“I beg your pardon?” she asked.

“He won’t have me,” Luci repeated.

Pearl leaned forward. “For goodness sakes, why?”

“He’s one of Travis’s dearest friends.”

Henry made a low noise of male understanding while Pearl’s wrinkles rearranged themselves into supreme annoyance.

She aimed her glare at Henry.

“So you approve of this nonsense?” she queried.

“Approve? No. Understand? Yes,” Henry answered.

“Then please,” Pearl threw out both hands, palms up, and spread them wide to indicate the table, “educate us.”

“That would be impossible for me to do without offending you both greatly,” Henry replied.

“Because we’re too dim to understand?” Pearl asked.

“Because it’s a piss around your property issue that a woman simply cannot comprehend, mostly because it’s ridiculously stupid,” Henry returned.

Pearl was mollified by this and shared it by reaching toward her Bellini and taking only a half-still-annoyed sip.

But Luci turned her attention to Henry.

“You think it’s ridiculously stupid?”

He nodded. “As a philosophy, yes. Logically, it makes no sense. Emotionally, if, to try to find a like comparison, I had not foolishly thrown away any chance I had to win the only woman I’ve ever loved, and we had wed and built a life together, and we found ourselves at that time where we discussed the tragic and hopefully very unlikely event that one of us should pass before the other, in the prime of our lives, or whenever, I would find it very difficult to say with any authenticity that I would be fine with the idea of another man with Josephine.”

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