My book Fiona Love is now for sale in the Amazon Kindle store. It’s $2.99. Here’s a sample:
Let the skeptics tell it, Fiona Love was the hot new thing. One of those multi-hyphenates who’d suddenly popped onto the scene and was enjoying a rash of success.
It wasn’t true. The media made it seem like she’d sprung fully garbed in silk Valentino couture from some carefully crafted middle-class ocean, but that had come to her late in life. She’d worked for more than a decade as a model, sometime actress and most successfully, as a singer.
Having alternated between broke-ass poor and what she fondly called “domestic divinity,” Fiona no longer thought of herself in any class. She held a have-and-have-not philosophy, and have was infinitely better.
“Oh, I believe in the American dream, all right,” she once said in an interview. “I went through that starving artist period while I was making a name for myself.” She snorted, and the interviewer grinned helplessly. “Thankfully, that shit’s over! Things that were irritating are now convenient, and I’m insulated from quite a bit. But honestly, a lack of ready cash never kept me from buying the best. Credit,” she laughed. “That’s how I made it ‘til I made it. If your credit’s tight, you can have anything you want on a reasonable payment plan.”
Even Tiffany’s let you run up an interest free tab if you were a good customer. Of course, these days payment plans were strictly optional. Fiona had a sure-fire knack for leading a box office-winning weekend, music fans still bumped her old CDs, and she’d been smart enough to maintain all publishing rights so she was still making money per download. She regularly kept company with music industry heavies, only now, with the exception of the odd video, she was lounging rather than performing.
“That’s one thing I like about doing movies,” she said in the same interview. “You do a project for a few months, throw yourself all in it, then it’s over, and you can sit on your ass and chill.”
The reporter faithfully recorded the flash of her expertly veneered grin, the glassy sheen on her lush red lips. “Of course,” Fiona added thoughtfully, “In actor speak, ‘chill’ means wait for that next right gig. Same thing, though.”
Famously, the reporter, a well-loved cad from Esquire, had waited for a suitable opening and then inquired if her much loved by the media bosoms were real?
“Well, you’re classless aren’t you?” Fiona replied. “You probably rehearsed a dozen different ways to ask me that, didn’t you?” She smiled slightly, watching as he flushed pink with truth. “Yes, they’re real. Everything about me is real. Especially these diamonds. But that’s not you really want to ask is it?”
He grinned at her, heart racing as he waited for a clue to whatever it was she’d decided to offer him. Instead Fiona just grinned at him. She wasn’t giving him shit.
Said reporter received a considerable amount of miffed mail from women who weren’t offended so much as they felt sorry for his idiocy and wanted the chance to crow at how Fiona had handled his dumb ass. That diamond line had gone viral instantly.
The reporter didn’t mind a bit. Having grown up with a Park Avenue den mother he was familiar with jewelry collections. Fiona had some serious bling, and she was so hot he’d have endured much more public ridicule to keep his memories of that interview.
She laughed when one of the weekend entertainment shows called to ask her about the flowers he’d supposedly sent in apology.
“They were nice. Real chaotic and colorful. Filled a whole counter in my kitchen. But as truthful and jazzy as that diamond line was, I think I may have stolen it from someone else.”
No, Fiona Love was no dummy. She was quick, had good old-fashioned common sense, and was savvy enough to steadily build her portfolio via a cache of work other starlets envied.
Of course, they envied more than her work. There was her creamy skin, worth at least a bushel of angry, melancholy phone calls to agents inquiring why she’d won the role they were perfect for. Then there was her height.
Who did she think she was? The freak. Nearly six feet tall in heels, they sniffed, conveniently forgetting that to be tall in America is to be loved. And that voice. What’s wrong with her? She must be suffering from the Whitney Houston syndrome. Haven’t heard any new records in awhile, they said slyly, gleefully, and completely dishonestly. Fifi, as she was known by those who loved her, had no need to make new music for any reason other than inspiration. Not when there were paid appearances to make, commercials and movies to film and TV shows to guest star on.
As much attention as her tall, curvy body drew on various red carpets, the media also picked up on her style and professional work ethic. One enterprising journalist went way back, chronicling her supposedly meteoric rise to fame with a pictography of Fiona at various stages of the game.
In each photo she looked gorgeous. By turns smooth or smart or sweet, she retained this seething undercurrent of, something. It was hard to define what exactly. Sexy was accurate, but too simplistic. Hypnotic smacked of the surreal, and Fiona had an earthy sensuality that was nigh on irresistible.
Whatever it was, most of the great female entertainers had it. That hodgepodge of flaws and virtues that drew the eye like a crash on the expressway. There was a hint of Audrey’s frailty, a whiff of Marilyn’s desperate need for love and a bucket full of Josephine’s unique appeal and determination.
“That’s my favorite article about me,” Fiona said when anyone mentioned it. “It was well done and 100 percent true.”
The writer asked Fiona what she’d have been had she been someone different.
“Probably wouldn’t have been too much different. Maybe an activist or a comedienne. I’d have liked to be on par with a Whoopi in the ‘80s or a Mariah in the ‘90s. Mariah was the girl in the ‘90s.”
Fiona’s love life was also of intense interest and speculation, especially since she’d recently had a baby out of wedlock, and no one knew who the father was.
The odds were fairly evenly split between a gorgeous local businessman and a beautiful African actor currently living in Europe. Neither was talking, and her daughter Flora lived with Fiona’s mother full-time.
“It’s not the best way to do things,” she’d said in one of the only recorded comments about her child. “But my baby’s perfect, and I’m blessed that I can take care of her well.”
Flora was beautiful. A curly-haired Gerber baby dipped in creamy Godiva milk chocolate.
“Whatchu think she gon’ be when she grow up?” Netty asked as they stood over the soft handful snoozing in a frilly white bassinet.
Netty had been Fiona’s assistant and stylist for the past six years. She’d known Fiona since the third grade when Fiona had stepped in to help her face down a bully. By the time they’d whooped the little heffa’s ass they were best friends.
“Beautiful, whip smart, and filthy rich.”
Netty laughed. “That’s it? She’s already a week old. There’s no grandiose plans afoot for your little angel to take over the world?”
“Of course. But I ain’t no mind reader. I’ma wait ‘til she ready to do her thing, and whatever that is, I’ma make sure she do it. Period.”
Fiona’s cousin Cleo rolled her eyes. “She gon’ be a man trap, just like you. Only smarter, ‘cause you already made all the mistakes for her.”
Fiona laughed. “I wish! My girl’s already showing signs of genius, but one day some punk ass dude still gon’ get one over on her.” She shrugged. “Law of the jungle.” She placed her hand on the baby’s back and rubbed. “But mommy started she savings account,” she cooed at the sleeping child.
Several months later they revisited the conversation while out to dinner at Japonais. Netty and Cleo both had a thing for sushi. Fiona never touched the stuff, but she rolled because she was bored and felt like a change of scenery and a lychee Mimosa.
“Look at all these dudes,” Fiona told her cousin. “Some of the best ass the city has to offer, not to mention the outta towners, and I’m goin’ home with a bunch of girls.”
“You hate industry men.”
Fiona grunted. This was true, but a woman still had needs. It had been a long time since she’d had sex. Like damn near Flora’s conception long time. To quote Carrie Bradshaw, she missed the weight of a man on her.
“You see somebody here you wanna take home?” Cleo teased.
“No. Wait. Who’s that?” Fiona said gesturing discreetly to the tall, dark, extremely handsome man who’d just walked in.
“Isn’t that the model from the Ferragamo window on Michigan Avenue? Dane C-something,” Cleo said.
“Yeah,” Fiona said slowly. “He looks like he’s alone.”
“He’s picking up some food looks like. He was at your New York premiere.”
“Yeah?” Fiona said again, looking interested. “He’s a model?”
Her cousin’s eyes narrowed. “He’s more than a model,” she said, and regretted it when Fiona nudged her and said:
“Go ask him if he wants to join us.”
Cleo rolled her eyes. “What are we, in high school?”
“Fuck you.” Fiona rose gracefully from her seat and raised her hand. Half the restaurant craned around to look at who she was waving to; the other half was already facing that direction. One of the nosy, helpful patrons tapped Dane on the shoulder.
He saw her and gave that nod very few women can do right before he moved toward them.
“What else does he do?” Fiona asked, watching him approach on long denim-clad legs and handmade black Italian leather shoes.
“He was in a movie a while back. And he was in that perfume commercial you liked the last time we went to the show.”
“That was him during previews?”
“Where do I know that guy from?” Netty asked, catching up. She’d been engrossed in the menu with Sugar, Fiona’s new beauty girl.
“He’s a model. Right?” Sugar asked, and they watched him come to a stop before them.
“Hi,” he rumbled.
In a word, Dane was gorgeous. Deep voice, stubbled jaw, no fat anywhere fine. Fiona grinned, liking the sparkle in his eyes even more than the full, sensuous curve of his bubble gum pink lips. The upper one was slightly bigger than the lower, she noticed. It added a little bit of oomph to an already potent face.
“You’re not from Chicago.”
“Nope. Just visitin’ friends. You the welcome wagon I shoulda got at the airport?”
Fiona laughed. His New York accent was delicious. “Sure. Have a seat, and me and my girls will see what we can do to make you feel at home.”
He motioned to their waiter and handed off his takeout to be made into table food. Cleo took over the introductions.
“Dane Craig,” he said, shaking hands around the table. Fiona never introduced herself, and her girls knew better, but there was never any doubt who she was.
Had he not known her name, he would have still picked up on what she was. Fiona Love was a star. People stared. Some looked discreetly, others avidly. The restaurant manager checked on their table frequently, and their waiter didn’t seem to have any other tables so thoroughly did he hover over them.
Fiona ordered a small salad with flavored vinegar dressing to pick at. She disliked eating in public, preferring home-cooked food not prepared by her, though she could cook, a little.
Undaunted, the chef sent out tiny plates of nibbles to tempt her, most of which she ignored. Her girls, however, enjoyed everything. After she began to eat some baked fish dumplings with sesame sauce, the waiter slid into the back, and Dane saw the chef peek out to watch the food disappear into Fiona’s big, pouty mouth.
Having slipped onto a winner, the chef next offered two tiny, succulently prepared sardine-like fish that had been pan-seared, rolled in a dusting of lightly seasoned bread crumbs and baked. He presented them on plain, crisp romaine lettuce leaves with an elaborately carved lemon garnish. Fiona daintily ate these too.
A fist-sized dish of doctored rice appeared in a gorgeous lacquered bowl. Tinted yellow with saffron, it offered up slivers of moist seasoned chicken, and was so aromatic everyone at the table sniffed in appreciation. Fiona ate it all, patted her stomach and laughed.
“Tell the chef I need another hit of those last two to take home,” she grinned to the waiter, who would later report that her lush brown skin appeared to shimmer under the restaurant lights. “And will you please tell him I appreciate the size of the portions? He’s obviously very sensitive, judging by the flavor of his food and the care with which everything was presented.”
The waiter was so impressed he repeated it all faithfully. Before they left, the chef came out to personally deliver the food, thank her and kiss her hand. Fiona just laughed, then engaged the man in such flattering conversation the manager had to pry him away from their table to get back to work.
A few people approached, but were urged away by staff until Fiona saw it and motioned them over with a gracious smile. Two white women gushed about her last movie, and a black man asked when she was coming out with some new music.
When the last fan had been greeted and led away smiling, Dane entertained them with funny tales from his day. He recounted an earlier meeting, imitating one of the city’s most fabulous and unabashedly gay designer’s mannerisms with shameless flair.
Fiona watched him charm Cleo and Netty, knowing very well what each was thinking. Cleo assumed everyone who got near her wanted something. She was usually right. Netty assumed that anyone who got close either wanted something or was crazy and potentially dangerous. She was right more often than Fiona liked. But neither had to worry. Dane would be a temporary distraction. The stick with which she would scratch a very annoying itch. She was looking forward to it. She hadn’t had a one-night stand in years.