Home > Hidden Seams(8)

Hidden Seams(8)
Author: Alessandra Torre

“And Vince gave you a chance.”

I carefully set the utensil back down, in its spot in the setting. Glancing toward the kitchen, I nod at the closest uniform, ready for the next course. “Yes. He gave me a chance.”

My chance hadn’t been on the design floor, it’d been in that bathroom, the opportunity brought on by my looks and not my talent. Vince had been a vain man, and I’d had to overcome my looks to get him to see my talent. In that first year of ‘dating,’ we’d fought more than we’d gotten along. And I’d been away from him more than I’d been at his side. I pick up the tiny fork that lies to the left of my setting and hold it up. “Do you know what this is?”

She focuses on the utensil and I can tell she doesn’t. I set it down. “It’s an oyster fork. Before I started working for Vince, I couldn’t tell the difference between that and a salad fork.” Six weeks of etiquette training, eight hours a day, had taught me that.

“Before Vince, I spoke English and a few rudimentary phrases of Spanish.” Now, I’m fluent in Italian and French. Half our staff is Italian, and I can find my way around Rome and Paris drunk off my ass.

“So… what?” She rests her chin atop her fist. “Vince taught you things?”

I move my hands off the table, sitting back as the lamb tenderloin is delivered. “Vince taught me everything. About fashion and about life.”

Her lips purse. “It doesn’t sound very romantic.”

It hadn’t been. His proposition, first made in that opulent bathroom, later legalized in a stack of documents, had been simple. Vince had just had surgery for prostate cancer, the complications which had rendered him unable to perform sexually, and void of any desire to. His image and reputation—one carefully built through three decades of screwing half of New York’s hottest men … he wasn’t ready to give up.

“I don’t understand.” I run a hand over my face and avoid his eye contact. “Why don’t you just find a boyfriend, someone who doesn’t mind your…” My mind gives out, leaving me stranded and without the proper word.

He brushes off the idea with the toss of a well-manicured hand. “Most gay men don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and their dicks to themselves. Especially not the sort of man I would need. One with your…” His eyes travel the full length of my body, and the meaning is as clear as a Times Square billboard.

He’d wanted a stud who wouldn’t try to fuck him. A stud who wouldn’t try to fuck anyone else. A stud who could stay loyal, and quiet, and give him the credibility and reputation he’d always had.

I pull the plate closer to me. “The two of us weren’t interested in appearing to be romantic to columnists, Miss Nance.”

Her cheeks flush and I look down, cutting my meat with the detached air I’ve perfected. “We were men. We enjoyed each other’s company. We learned from each other, me more than him. Did we fall in love over candlelight and champagne? No. Did we read poetry to each other, or share heartfelt conversations in a manner that you would understand? No.” I stab the tender piece and bring it to my lips, pausing and meeting her eyes. “I think we’re done here.”

Her gaze darts to her list of questions then comes back to me. “I’m not done.”

I chew the piece slowly, focusing my attention back on the plate, dividing the remainder of the filet into four small pieces.

“What will you miss most about Mr. Horace?”

I ignore her, lifting my glass and taking a sip. I clear my throat and Paulie steps forward. “Miss Nance, thank you for your time. If you could, follow me.”

“I’m NOT done.” She raises her voice, sputtering when Paulie all but pulls her out of the chair, their journey out of the room loud and argumentative. I wait until they leave, silence returning, then spear the next piece of lamb with my fork.

Maybe it’s too soon for press. Or maybe I’ll never be ready for them. Vince always handled questions about us. I had always just shown up, looked pretty, and smiled for the cameras.

“Should I cancel the photo shoot?” Edward speaks softly, leaning over the table to refill my drink.

“Let the attendants do that,” I snap. “And yes.” The thought of posing, more posing, at this point, drives me mad. “Have the executive team assembled. I want a meeting in Vince’s office in thirty minutes.”

“Certainly.” He glances down at my wine. “Should I bring you a stronger drink?”

“Hell no.” I stuff the last bit of lamb into my mouth, manners be damned, and reach for my napkin. “And have them bring out the rest of the courses.”

Three days. He’d been gone three days, and everything is already falling to shit.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

AVERY

I spend the evening researching Vince Horace. Fuzzy socks on, eighties music playing, I purchase an eBook called Vince Horace: The Real Story. It contains a detailed history of the man’s life, and I intend to scroll through until the eighties, but get sucked in by chapter one, and lose four hours reading. I stop sometime around two in the morning, stretch my stiff neck, and head to bed.

I can’t sleep, my mind filled with the stories, ones of an upper-class and conservative family. They hadn’t understood or supported a young Vince who enjoyed dressing dolls more than crashing trucks and had spent hours planning his outfits. There had been photos at the end of each chapter, grainy images of a serious-faced child, one who often looked as if he was fresh off an admonishment. I had zoomed in on each photo, tried to pair his chubby cheeks with my own, and I’d almost picked up the phone and called the McKennas to ask for some childhood photos.

I hadn’t. It had been too late, and an unexpected call, to ask a favor, after seventeen years of silence … probably wouldn’t be appreciated.

I roll on my side and turn my pillow, trying to calm the knot of emotions in my chest. It is exhilarating, the thought that I have finally found my father. Vince Horace is someone everyone knows, even me—a girl who shops without thinking, and dresses without concern. He is huge. Famous. Talented. Revered.

If Vince is my father, then I am someone special. I was born from someone great, I have special blood in my veins and fame in my history. Screw Kirk and Bridget McKenna and their country club and linen napkins. I am a motherfucking Horace, and my father dined with Presidents, and partied with rock stars, and created a billion-dollar empire from pure talent and grit.

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