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About the author:
Lorain O’Neil is the author of Coquina Hard [Historical Fiction Standalone], Alien Advantage [Humorous Adventure Standalone], The Dangerous Path of Loving Jaesha [Very Dark Erotic Humorous Standalone Thriller], Angelique Rising [Humorous Standalone Dark Thriller], A Kiss From Moët [Humorous Paranormal Standalone Romance], The Liar Charms [Humorous Urban Fantasy Thriller], Firecrystal Deep [humorous sci-fi romance], Bound Fairy [Fantasy romance adventure], and co-author of Bedmonsters are Cool [Humorous Standalone Fantasy], all available on Amazon.
What inspired you to write your book?
Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
Here is a short sample from the book:
Her back was to me, she was standing in front of her easel, paintbrushes in hand, staring at a painting. Whatta cute little ass I’d thought. Darn, I’d let my mind roam, I was noticing the backsides of garage artists? In truth I was just bored, my girlfriend had left me and perhaps I was a bit lonely, but regardless you know your life’s on the skids when…
“Ms. Hampstead?” I asked. She turned. My God she had purplish-blue eyes, I’d heard of that color but had never seen it before. “My name is Kenneth Stone, I believe you drew this portrait of me? For an employee of mine, Joan Lexington?” I held up the ripped canvas and smiled though admittedly didn’t put much effort into it.
She sucked in her breath at the sight of that slashed canvas, walked toward me and inserted her finger into the tear precisely at the point where my inked crotch was.
What the hell?
“Bad break up?” she laughed. “Heh, better this,” she wiggled her finger still in the portrait, “than you, eh?”
I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
It was absolutely true but I didn’t appreciate her mentioning it. I had broken up with Gloria who’d taken a knife to the drawing while I’d thought she was packing her things. All my own megalomaniac fault if you believed Fraulein Gloria.
“I was wondering if you could repair it?” I retorted acidly giving the impertinent artiste my most lethal glare.
Completely unflustered she removed her finger, took the portrait from me and began walking around the room holding it out in front of her, studying it. The portrait had been a joke of Joan’s, who was head of my Vetting Department. Joan checked out every business, government or person that wanted to work for or with me but Joan’s true love was art and I’d told her she could do all the art for my new South African hotel.
Joan had known I displayed no personal mementos of myself anywhere, not photos, awards, degrees, nothing, so when she’d spotted a portrait this woman had drawn in a local art shop, a fluke, she’d tracked her down to the garage (which I’m sure she thought of as her “studio”) and commissioned an ink portrait of me drawn from photographs. Joan’s ostensible joke was that the sketch had been her first “selection” for the hotel, but in reality it had been a feeble excuse to give me a personal gift. Joan had had a thing for me for years, something I’d never encouraged because she was a world away from my type. God, sex with Joan would’ve been like drowning in a vat of lemon-rhubarb crème custard, and not quickly either. But I’d hung the portrait Joan had given me up in my house because I’d liked it. Unfortunately Gloria had known that.
“Sort of,” cute-assed-little-artist finally said as she gave me a totally fake smile I knew meant she was thinking of how much money she’d get for the repair. And it sure looked like she needed it. Her garage would’ve been a dump if it could’ve afforded the permit. And it was only one thin wall away from “Abdul’s A-1 Auto Transmission Service”, cramped and scruffy, and intermittently noisy. Her paints, canvasses, easels, and all the rest of an artist’s accoutrements were crammed into the small space. The door of the garage was rolled up against the ceiling, a sliding glass door (there was a crack in one corner) in its place so she had lots of light, but the workspace was nevertheless confined and shabby. A narrow staircase led to a second floor that I’d noticed upon arriving contained apartments, she no doubt lived over her “studio.” I idly thought what a dismal life for such a pretty young woman.
And shoot, she was pretty, especially those ridiculously violet eyes. Perfectly proportioned, a few more pounds she would’ve had a shot at beautiful even. About twenty-two or three I judged, seven years or so younger than me. Her hair was long, brown, at least until she moved into a shaft of sunlight where it flamed deep chestnut. She was tall and thin, but not the fashionable thin women strive for, but a didn’t-get-enough-to-eat thin that tugged at me mightily. Probably chose art supplies over food every time. I made a mental note to pay her well for the repair.
“Here’s the thing,” she said as she regarded me intently, “I know a guy who can repair the canvas, then I can ink it over. No one will see the damage except you ’cause you’ll know it’s there. But this guy, he’ll charge you two-fifty, five hundred if you walk in dressed like that, and then there’s two hundred on top of that for my work. So in the end you’d be paying almost as much as what your employee paid for it in the first place.”
I was shocked at how little Joan had paid her.
“And it’s not very good,” she continued, her tone clipped, “portraits from photos never are, and your employee selected the really cheap canvas for you. Can’t get the same clarity, the same crispness. And you’re not in it at all, it’s just a drawing of somebody, none of your essence is captured in it.”
My essence? Uh oh, she was building up to it, a bait and switch. I’d created a conglomerate worth hundreds of millions of dollars every dime of which I owned personally and she thought she was going to pull that shit on me? No doubt she wanted me to commission her to draw my essence, at substantial cost. She looked dirt poor but she could obviously spot great wealth –and opportunity– when she saw it. Oh baby I’d smirked, you are so out of your league.
“And how much would that cost me?” I scoffed before I could help myself.
“What?” she asked and I saw she was genuinely confused. Crap.
“A drawing that captured my essence.”
“Oh that’s two thousand, it’s live sitting, I wasn’t talking about that. Just that maybe this really isn’t worth repairing, or even buying another.” There was a frostiness in her voice as she tried handing the portrait back to me with a contemptuous snort to show that I’d offended her and she was ending our meeting. I wondered what kind of a trainee she’d make.
I felt badly, I had no choice. Got myself into that one.
“No, I think I’d like to do it,” I said, chagrined. “How many ‘live sittings’ are we talking about?” I looked around her garage wondering how many hours the whole stinking ordeal was going to cost me. Her eyes followed mine revealing her irritation.
“Not here,” she said and I saw how insufferable she thought I was (but she wanted the money), “at wherever you’re going to hang it, I have to do the drawing to fit the ambiance of the room. Sitting time three half hour sessions but for you I’ll make it two,” she added snidely, her mouth twitching in tight-lipped humor. Oh sweetie what I could do to that mouth. I envisioned folding her over a few of her paintings, explain to her who was the boss, make her freakin’ purr. It was very entertaining.
“My office,” I decided on the spot. Gloria II whoever she would be (there were two candidates I was trying to muster interest in) would not be getting her hands on that one. I pulled a card from my wallet and handed it to her.
“How much for the deposit?” I asked.
“If you want the good canvas –and I hope you do– five hundred.”
I definitely had her full attention as I handed her my money and restrained myself from the admonishment that she try buying some food with it.
“Monday nine a.m.?” I asked.
She stuffed the cash into her jeans and handed me a sheaf of papers held together by a large metal clip (its shape reminded me of one I’d used on Gloria). Printed on it were several small pictures of paintings she’d presumably done.
“Take this and pick out a pose you want,” she said. “I’ll see you Monday morning, Mr. Stone. What do you want me to do with this?” she asked holding up the damaged drawing.
“Have it repaired,” I said as I handed over a thousand dollars, I knew she’d take it. It was for her one lucky day (and I was cashless). “I’ll see you Monday morning, Miss Hampstead.” I stared at her, bemused that for some inexplicable reason I was rather impressed by the stuck up little chick. Maybe it was those purple eyes. Go figure.
I turned and left, hoping she’d heard how she’d gone from a Ms. to a Miss.