I have my hands full these days with all kinds of other things and have not been writing at all. Sad, but true. Well, that’s about to change!
I’m going to be lighting up the keyboard again, both on my blogs and on the books themselves, so I’ll be getting closer to completing this series. Don’t worry the fun won’t end there. I’ll be blogging here about the characters and situations for some time after that!
My idea is to bring together two of my favorites – well actually they are all my favs – and they will be dynamite. So, without further ado, let’s get them to meet…..
Frankie was a bit perplexed.
He folded up the sleeves of his white linen shirt with great panache and looked over at the big grandfather’s clock that stood in the corner of Paul Martin’s lavishly appointed office. It was almost 2 o’clock. The lady that everyone was raving about was nearly an hour late. Yet, Paul didn’t seem ruffled at all. In fact, he looked pretty happy as he chatted and laughed with one of Frankie’s fellow clerks who worked at Martin Transport.
Furthermore, neither Paul or his brother Charles, who co-owned the company, were at all disturbed by the news that Frankie had bought a bar. They simply laughed, clapped him on the back, and told him he’d never have to pay for a girl again. That was it. End of discussion.
And the bar, he named it Sweet Vermouth, was doing very well. The money was rolling in like a thunderstorm, and Frankie really didn’t need to keep this position at the freight company, but, the Martin brothers were too fascinating to leave. So, a manager was hired for the Sweet Vermouth, and Frankie stayed at Martin Transport. For now.
And then things blew up.
The other clerk made his exit, and another man suddenly entered the office.
“Excuse me, can I find Mr. Paul Martin here today?” The man had the look of a gentlemen about him, with clothing and shoes that shouted how expensive they were, and a voice that gave away the exclusive private education of his youth.
“I am him he, monsieur. How can I help you?” Although Paul was only 26 years old, just 5 years older than Frankie, he had a very mature, confident way about him that usually put others at a disadvantage. But, this stranger was not put off in the least.
“Sir, I am Reginald Pleasant. And I own The New York Bank.”
Paul raised an eyebrow. “Really? And you wish to speak with me? How can I possibly be of assistance?”
Reginald gestured toward a chair and Paul made a sweeping motion for him to be seated. “Thank you. I will get right to the point. You have a meeting with Mrs. Nora Wells this afternoon.” He paused to wave away Paul’s question. “Don’t ask me how I know I just do. You want her to invest in this shipping business or so I understand. Since her husband Richard is away on business of his own, he asked me to advise his wife should any financial matters arise. In other words, she may come here to meet with you, but it will be my opinion that helps her make up her mind.”
Paul didn’t miss a beat. “You want a percentage, I take it?”
Reginald smiled. He had the most perfect teeth Frankie had ever seen in his life, but his smile itself held something rather sinister. “We are men of the same mind. That makes it much easier.”
Paul sat back in his chair. “How much?”
“I want 30%.”
“20 is as high as I go.”
Reginald thought about it for a moment. He knew how things were without further discussion. That Paul Martin would’ve gone as high as 25 and that he would’ve gone as low as 15. He simply said, “Agreed.”
Paul laughed, and reached over the desk to shake Reginald’s hand. “This is the fastest business deal I have ever made, monsieur!”
Reginald Pleasant’s smile broadened. “And it will be the most profitable. Mark my words.”
And with that Reginald left, leaving his last words hanging in the air.
Having overheard everything from his small desk opposite of Paul Martin, Frankie looked shocked. “What? What kind of a meeting was that, may I ask?”
Paul considered his young employee for a moment. “I will tell you, Francois. After the lady gets here and we have spoken.” Paul considered Frankie for a moment. “You are old enough, I am thinking. And wise enough, as well.”
And then everything changed.
Frankie did not get a chance to reply. His attention was drawn to what was possibly the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Tall and slender, Nora Wells glided into Paul’s office with a special kind of grace only she possessed. Wearing an afternoon dress the color of the morning sky, Frankie could hear the sound of the skirts ever-so-subtly rustling as she walked by his desk.
“Mrs. Wells! How lovely you look today!”
Nora smiled and accepted Paul’s hand. “Thank you. I apologize for being so late. I was detained at the last minute by my banker.”
Paul shot Frankie a look that told him to stay quiet. “Ah yes. Bankers can be troublesome.”
Nora seated herself in front of Paul’s large, incredibly expensive, desk. “I believe we may be able to do business, Mr. Martin. With some provisions.”
Paul smiled. “Francois, would you please fetch tea? I am thinking it would be excellent and I trust that Mrs. Wells will join me?”
“I would prefer coffee, please.”
Frankie sat frozen for a moment, afraid to get up and make a fool of himself by tripping over his own feet. He had a way with women, in a manner of speaking. But those women were usually expensive call girls, saloon hostesses and the occasional barmaid. Nothing in his 21 years of rather limited romantic experience had prepared him for this……goddess!
“Oui!” Frankie quickly shuffled some of the paperwork on his desk. “I wanted to put this where it belongs first.” He looked at Nora for the first time. God! She was even prettier up close! “I will be happy to serve you and your guest coffee.”
Nora smiled at him. Nice enough young man, she thought. And he’s not exactly a man-about-town. The way he openly admired her was refreshing though. And sweet. Especially after being in the company of that damn Tracy…… “Thank you, ” she said.
A moment later, Frankie returned with a glistening silver tray and managed to set it down and serve up freshly brewed coffee with more confidence than he believed he owned. It was an enormous relief to him that he didn’t spill the works and spend the rest of his life in hiding.
“Now, my dear Madam Wells. May I ask what are your provisions?”
Nora set down her cup. “I want our agreement in writing. I know it’s not the norm but that’s the only way for me. You can call it what you like, within reason. But I want the financial portion of the agreement stated very plainly.”
Paul gestured toward her in a very French fashion, “You said that there were other provisions?”
“Yes. I want you to offer up real estate as security in the event of default.”
Paul considered that for a moment. Having already made a deal with Nora’s banker, albeit behind her back, Paul knew the proper answers to her questions. “That will not be an issue. I will send a messenger to my attorney today and he will draft up the agreement right away. Will you be able to meet again tomorrow, say at 4PM?”
Nora smiled. “Yes. I can.” She paused. “This was very easy, monsieur. Very. I hope you do not think me a fool because I’m a woman.”
Paul laughed. So, she had looks and brains. If her husband didn’t have such a reputation for being skilled with the pistol, he would pursue her as a mistress in a second. “No! I would not think that! Not about you!” He put his hands together over his heart.
“All right. I won’t prolong our meeting then. It’s probably best that I don’t linger here too long anyway.”
Paul stood up and offered her his arm, escorting Nora to the front door.
She had everything a woman could have. That’s all there was to it.
Frankie sat for a few minutes quietly, doing two things. One was breathing in the last remains of the rose water Nora had used for her hairdressing that day. And two was staring at the red smudge her lip rouge had left on her coffee cup.
He pondered that Paul likely wanted more than a business relationship with the devastatingly beautiful Mrs. Wells. But, he also knew that that would never happen. Again two things came into the picture. First, Mr. Wells did indeed have a reputation for being one of the fastest guns in the country. And second, there was no way Frankie would allow Paul to bed a woman that he himself had already made love to – in his mind and heart – from the first moment he set eyes on her.