Home > Hidden Seams(5)

Hidden Seams(5)
Author: Alessandra Torre

“Potentially,” I interject, reaching forward and picking a grape up from the tray, my fingers rolling the purple fruit between my fingertips. “Potentially bringing into your brand.”

He laughs. “Don’t be coy. If I want you, you’ll be here. You may not become my fuck toy, as you so crudely pointed out, but you will work for me. It’s the right place for you, Marco.”

He was right. His company was the place for me. And I came, without hesitation or negotiation.

But he was also wrong. I did become his fuck toy, in name, if not in action. It took a year of friendship to build up to it, but it eventually happened, and when it did—everyone knew.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

AVERY

Hank Williams croons from the jukebox and I glance at my watch, the restaurant empty given that it’s almost noon. I crack open a peanut and glare at the greaser who decides to settle into the stool next to me. He gets the hint and picks one a little further away.

“Here ya go.” The bartender slides a cheeseburger toward me. “Want a refill?”

I nod and lift the burger, my nails biting into the soft bun, a drop of ketchup and mustard falling off the end of it. I bring it to my mouth and scoot closer, leaning over the plate in an attempt to keep my shirt clean.

“Nice watch,” the girl remarks, her eyes lingering on the platinum timepiece.

“Thanks.” I stuff a fry in my mouth.

“It’s too bad,” she sighs, her eyes still glued to the face of it. I hate when people do this. End a sentence in a way that requests a response. I don’t bite, focusing on my plate and the attempt to drown out the bluesy sound of a country legend.

“I mean he’s so young.” She leans forward and lowers her voice. “I mean, fifty-five? I’m almost that age myself.”

I give up on the guessing game. “Who?”

Her eyes finally lift from my watch and meet my eyes. “Vince Horace. Didn’t you hear? He died Sunday night.” She says died in a hushed tone as if I’m unfamiliar with the concept. She gestures to the television behind her. “It’s all they’ve been talking about for two days.”

The television is on an entertainment talk show, and I watch as the screen shows a ridiculously handsome man stepping out of a Rolls Royce, one hand lifting to block the camera from seeing his face. I squint, trying to picture him in board shorts, on the front of a yacht. Yep. It’s my fantasy boy from last night.

“That’s him?” There’s no way in hell he’s fifty-five.

“No—that’s his boyfriend. They say he’s inheriting everything. Can you believe it?” She turns to face the television, her elbows resting against the bar top. “That slice of gorgeous is about to be a billionaire.”

I watch the man stride toward a brick building, the afternoon sun catching on his features. Close-up, and in a suit, he looks different than on the boat. Older, more refined. He’s attractive in an almost painful way, the kind that stabs you in the gut and reminds you that you are inferior, each angle only making him more appealing. It isn’t fair for men like that to exist, much less for them to inherit a billion dollars.

The photo changes, showing a handsome older man who must be Vince Horace. He looks familiar, and I straighten on the stool, watching as a slideshow of photos flickers across the screen. Him and the hottie boyfriend on stage at the VMAs. Him, on a catwalk, beside a team of models. Him, a pen stuck behind one ear, beside a dress form. I half stand, leaning onto the bar, and blink, trying to improve my vision, trying to calm my thoughts and watch the content without jumping to conclusions.

But the older man is him. I’m almost certain of it. The eyes are the same, the dimple in his right cheek, the closed lip smile. Granted, there are some differences. His hair is short, his features more mature, and he’s clean-shaven, his clothes clean and not rumpled. But if you take away some of the years, some of the composure, the refinement … I scramble for my bag, for the photo I keep there, the photocopy of the one in my truck. I barely get it out in time, the segment wrapping up, a final image of him filling the studio’s screen as the camera pans out to include the two hosts who chatter back in forth in front of the man’s face.

I flatten the photo on the bar top and look frantically from it to the TV, my finger pinned on his face, the other people in the photo unimportant. It matches, enough of a match for my heart to hammer against its cavity, my breaths shortening as I practically pant, my focus closing in on the image I’ve carried around for the last seven years.

It’s a photo of three people, all clustered on a blanket, beer cans littering the plaid fabric, the glow of a fire hanging off the left end of the photo. The blonde sits cross-legged beside a cooler, her gaze off the camera and on the guy to her right. The guy smiles into the camera, his hair shaggy, his eyes warm, one of his hands gripping the arm of the man beside him. The blonde is too young to be there, and the guy looks too old for her, but I can see myself in both of them. My fingers tighten on the edge of the photo and I glance back at the television, but the story on it has changed.

I push to my feet and dig a hand in my front pocket, pulling out a wad of cash and peeling off two twenties. I place them on the bar and reach for my drink, finishing off the soda as I stare down at the face I’ve spent seven years memorizing. My eyes move to my watch, the timepiece purchased on a whim during a New York shopping spree. I’d known the brand, known the stories of the man but had never bothered to look up his image.

Vince Horace. A household name, and one of the richest fashion designers in the world.

My father. A hippie from a concert, one who impregnated my teenage mother.

Vince Horace. A well-documented gay man. Now dead.

My father. Never found.

Could they really be the same person?

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

MARCO

I don’t feel any richer. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent ten years in this house, with Billy ironing my fucking sheets, Edward carrying around the telephone on a silver platter, and a staff of twenty others catering to our every need. I miss the nights when everyone would leave, where we would finally have privacy, and if Vince or I needed anything, we would just get it for our damn selves.

Part of me wants to fire them all, to wipe my ass with a piece of toilet paper that hasn’t been stamped on its end. To settle my head on a pillow that hasn’t been fluffed. To peel my own boiled egg or answer my own calls. A larger part of me doesn’t care enough to change anything. Since his death, I haven’t cared enough about anything.

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