renaissance_girl

I have been working steadily on Forever Fifteen III: Liberation, the third and last installment in the FF series. I know everyone is asking “What’s the delay?” and without giving too many spoilers, I can say I just want it to be right and it has taken me a while to work out all the plot points.

 

In Forever Fifteen III, we find Lucy living with John, who is all grown up. Just as John has resolved to be on his own as a lonely lawyer, Lucy comes back into his life and their romance blooms anew. There is trouble though because John is anything but a Natural Born Killer. He loves Lucy and yet cannot ever reconcile with what they have to do to survive.

 

Without giving too much away, I’ll reveal that Sebastian comes back into Lucy’s life at this point with a vengeance. Did you think he would let her go without a fight?

 

I am shooting to get it done by the end of summer and technically I’m on Draft 3 right now with 2 more drafts to go.

 

Here is a scene from the third book. Visit KimberlySteele.net for a DIFFERENT SCENE from FF3. Happy previewing!

 

John was in a good mood the next day and begged her to meet him for lunch, or at least pretend-lunch at a restaurant near his office.  The day was overcast as she slipped out of the back of the building, a light trench coat resting on her shoulders, a new dress kissing her calves.  She knew it was risky to meet him, but the taste of being out the previous night had ignited her wanderlust.  After they met for lunch, he was taking the rest of the day off so they could roam Manhattan together. The misery of the long summer was forgotten as she almost danced her way to the subway.  She felt so important in her trenchcoat and high heeled shoes.  No longer was she a vampire forever trapped in an adolescent’s body, she was now just another pretty collegiate (at least according to her fake ID) on her way to meet her gorgeous, older boyfriend over drinks.  She almost wanted to be carded, just so she could establish the fantasy of being twenty-one years old with a third party.
She opened the door of Café Alsace, a tiny place that was obscure as he promised it would be.  A small bell rang like a tidbit of Christmas.

 

He was sitting with his chin in his hand, peering contemplatively at his newest gadget, an incredible mini-laptop computer.  Lucy felt the usual electric shudder at how handsome he was in his somber work suit that hinted very subtly at how well-shaped he was underneath.  As usual, she noticed the other females, ranging in age from young to old, ogling him.  Well, I may not be the prettiest one to notice him, she thought as she spied an elegant woman who looked like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue checking John out, but I am certainly the oldest.

 

She smiled as she walked up to him and touched his shoulder gently.
“Luce!  You look beautiful.”  He said as he rose and waited for her to shed her coat.
“Thank you.”  She said, knowing she was being mercilessly assessed by every female eye in the little café.
“Was this place difficult to find?”
“It wasn’t too bad.”  She could smell his subtle aftershave as he pushed her chair in.  Like usual, she wanted to rip his clothes off; possibly even more so than the other women staring him down.
“What?”  He noticed her funny expression, his blue eyes deepening in color.
“Nothing, it’s just that I may be the most-envied woman in New York right now.  Or at least the most envied woman in Café Alsace.”
“You do look great.  I don’t think you’ve ever looked sexier.”
“Thanks, but I mean because I’m sitting with you.”
“Oh, come on.  Nobody gives a shit about me.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
They continued their pleasant flirting and small talk, drinking cups of caffeine that didn’t affect them in the slightest.  Lucy felt like the luckiest woman in the free world as he grabbed her hands and held them for a moment, examining her fingers.
“I remember how much I wanted to hold your hand in the van on the way back from Poltergeist.  Remember that?  We held hands in the theater but once we got into Mark’s car, we were too far apart from each other to make contact.”
“I remember everything.”  She smiled.
“You’ve got such beautiful hands.  Violinist hands.”
“They’re so plain, though.  Should I wear nail-polish?”
“No.”  He said.  “I was thinking you might wear jewelry.  That’s why…”

 

“John!  What are you doing here?”  A voice loudly cut through their lover’s reverie.  They both looked up to see the man in the suit.  “I’m so sorry.  John, is this the girl you’ve been telling us about?  Lucy, right?”
Lucy felt her blood rise to her face.  He had not kept her a secret!  He lied!
“Colin, it’s great to see you.  Yes, this is Lucy.”
Colin smiled, his well-groomed brown mustache making him look like a barber shop ad.
“I didn’t realize you told anyone about us.”  Lucy said to him, trying to disguise the strain in her voice.

 

“I wheedled it out of him.  I knew he was holding out on us.  How long have you two been dating?”

 

“Since May.”  Lucy said before John could answer.

 

“That explains everything.”  Colin said, shifting his weight from leg to leg.

 

“Please, Colin, join us.”  John said.  “We haven’t ordered lunch yet.  Order whatever you like, it’s on me.”

 

“Are you sure?

 

Lucy put on a fake smile.

 

“Please.  We’d love to break bread with you.”

 

Within a few moments, the waiter who had been waiting for Lucy and John to order food was happily scribbling orders on his notepad.  Three meals and several rounds of drinks later, John paid the bill and Colin finally left to go back to the firm.

 

“You know what’s next, right?”  He asked her once they were outside the restaurant.

 

“Yes.  They’re going to want a get-together to welcome me into the fold.  It’s not going to happen.”

 

“Really?  Not even once?  What’s the point of holding out?  They know about you.”

 

“Thanks to you.”  She shook her head.

 

“You can’t be mad at me.  I love you.  I couldn’t keep it a secret.”

 

“Why not?  Do you realize the Pandora’s box you’ve opened?  You need to say we’ve broken up.  Tomorrow at work, or as soon as you’re asked.”

 

“You’re being paranoid.  It doesn’t matter if Colin knows what you look like.”

 

“Oh yes, it does.  First of all, it forces me to re-locate.”  They walked briskly down the subway stairs together.

 

“That’s absurd.  Why?”

 

“If he knows, everybody knows.  They’ll drop by your apartment unannounced just to catch you.  They’ll be waiting.  The sooner I move out, the better.  I can live at a hostel or maybe you could rent me a small place far away from here.  That way we won’t be seen together, we’ll just meet in order to, um.”  She looked around for listeners.  “Eat.”

 

“You’re totally overreacting.  They’re not going to hang outside the apartment, Lucy, these are busy people with lives.  They honestly don’t give a shit when it comes down to it.  It doesn’t matter if we’re seen together.”  He stamped his foot angrily on the dirty, tiled floor of the subway.

 

“Oh, John.  I don’t age.  Neither do you.  Plus, think of what we have to do to eat.  Now they know you and I are an item.  We were almost caught on the last one.  You remember the police reports, the neighbor who said she saw two people, one younger female and one older male.  Now we’re absolutely marked, John.  Bonnie and Clyde.”  She said helplessly.
The train came and they resumed silence for fear of others hearing their conversation.  She felt like she could cry as they returned to the apartment, their bodies stiff with tension.  The day that started out so well was ruined.

 

“It is not my fault we were seen.  I wasn’t prepared to kill Kurtz’s dad and mom.  I thought I was only killing that stupid boy and you were taking the dad.  That’s why I botched it and made such a mess.  I wasn’t ready to kill an innocent!”

 

“Of course you weren’t ready, John, and of course it wasn’t your fault.  The fault is mine.  I should have left you alone.”

 

“It’s too damn late for that now, so quit saying that.  I’m so sick of you saying that!  I am fine with living forever or however long we live.  As far as the rest of it, you’re right.  I was a fucking idiot to tell anyone at work we were together.  I only told them about you two weeks ago . . . I slipped, okay?  And suddenly Colin stops in at the Café Alsace.  He hates the place.  He thinks it’s a dump.  He said he’d never eat there again after he got sick on their Boeuf Bourginon. He probably sighted us from the window.  New York can be a very small place, especially Manhattan.”

 

“I’ll stay as long as I can.  Until you rent me a place.”

 

“No.  I’m quitting my job.  We’ll find another country and change our identities.  I’ve saved almost every penny I’ve made since college and it’s time for me to use it.  I don’t know if you realize how well I’ve done for myself.”

 

“That’s great.  I knew you were prudent.  I would not have expected any less.”

 

“I don’t mean to brag.  I just want you to know I’ve had some investments that have paid off and I’ve also had a trust put in place by my parents.  Even without the trust, my net worth is in the multi-millions.”

 

“Wow, John.  I never guessed.  You don’t live ostentatiously.”

 

“If anything ever happens to me, I want you to be taken care of.  I have offshore accounts.  They’ll be yours.”

 

“Nothing will happen to you, John.  It’s my job to protect you.”

 

“That’s just one of the things I’ll have to take care of before I leave my job.  I’ll put the apartment up for sale next week.  Let’s take a couple of weeks to research the country we’ll land in and then I want to take a week to go to Chicago.  The realtor can show the place during our trip.  When we get back to New York, I’ll give notice at the firm.  Meyer’ll be happy!  He’s wanted my office for a decade.”

 

“Why Chicago?”

 

“I want to see my brother one last time.”

 

“You don’t have to do this.”

 

“I want to do this.”

 

The next day, a late summer storm brought buckets of rain to pound on the apartment’s generous windowsills.  Lucy felt trapped by it.  She had spent the morning obsessively researching South American countries as places to live.  What would it be like?  She could hardly imagine speaking Spanish and Portuguese on a regular basis.  When she was little, South America was only a rumor.  To believe other continents beyond the edge of the world existed was heresy.
When she heard John’s footsteps well down the hall, she met him at the door.

 

“I’m so glad you’re home!”  She threw her arms around him and kissed his neck.

 

“Hey.  So am I.” He wore a full, stiff suit, the modern day equivalent of fifteenth century armor.  John shed his shoes and followed Lucy into the bedroom, where she helped him take off and put away his work clothes, a routine they fell into when he returned from work.

 

“I haven’t wanted to mention this, but, uh, I’m feeling a little piqued.”

 

“You’re hungry. You’ve been opening the refrigerator door a lot lately.  You do it without even thinking because that’s where food used to come from.  I think our best bet is to do it in Chicago before you visit your brother.”
“I want you to meet him.”

 

“I can’t and you know that.  What you going to tell him?”

 

“I’ll tell him I’m moving to a country where I’m not actually going.  I think I’ll tell him I’m going to move to Berlin.  He knows I’ve traveled there at various times for business.  The important thing is not to leave a trail.”
“I have a bad feeling about this visit.  You need to leave him be.  At the very least, I shouldn’t go.”
“Lucy, I am going to see my brother and his wife and kids for a couple of days, because this is the last time I will ever see any remnant of my family.”

 

“I don’t want to go to Chicago.  Someone could recognize me.”

 

“We’re not going to Princeton Hills, Lucy.  We’ll be in the city.  No one will recognize you from old nineteen-eighties photos!”

 

“Yeah, well, you visit him and I’ll stay in the hotel.  You weren’t planning on staying overnight in his house, were you?”

 

“Oh hell no.  I promise, I won’t spend too much time visiting.  His wife wouldn’t want it.  She’s pregnant with triplets.”

 

“Triplets?”

 

“Fertility drugs.”

 

“You said they have two kids, what could they want with more?”

 

“I don’t know, Lucy.  You can stay in the hotel room.  It will only be a few hours.”

 

“I shouldn’t go.  I will though because I can’t bear time away from you.”

 

He reached out and touched her face.

 

“What does your brother do for a living?”

 

“He’s a financial advisor.”

 

“What’s his advice?  Next time be born to rich parents like himself?”

 

“That’s uncalled for.  I don’t know why you have to be so bitter.”  His posture became stiff.

 

Lucy panicked.  “I’m sorry!  You’re right.”  Lucy’s throat tightened, unable to bear any harsh words between her and John.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to see him?  His kids are truly adorable.  Very well behaved.  You love kids, don’t you?”

 

“Yes, I do.  I wish I could have had a life where I had my own children, but that’s no use lamenting.”

 

“You’re the one person I might have fathered a child for.  No other woman was worth it.”

 

“Thank you for that.  It means so much to me.”  She embraced him, burying her face in his T-shirt and smelling his wonderful John smell.  “It’s going to be nice to get out of this place.”

 

“What, you don’t like my apartment?”‘

 

“I can only vacuum the same patch of rug and polish the same vase so many times.  Is your brother’s wife a housewife?”

 

“Stay-at-home mom is the term they’re using nowadays, Luce.”

 

“Ah, I see.”

 

“I thought you’d be happy to get out of here.  I bought you some things.”

 

“You did?”

 

“Yeah.  Clothes, mostly.”  He walked to his closet and pulled out a shopping bag.

 

“I didn’t see that in there.”

 

“Well, they’re for my boyfriend, he’s an avid cross-dresser, you know.”  John pulled out a dress, several new pairs of jeans, and a few tops.

 

Lucy giggled.  “He’s going to look really hot in those.”

 

“He’s a sexy guy.”

 

“They look perfect.  This dress is so lovely.  Harvard-esque, I would say.”

 

“That was the idea.  A serious dress for a serious girl.”

 

“You know my exact size.”

 

“Don’t say that until you try them on.”  John pulled a black box from the bottom of the bag.  “I almost forgot about this.”

 

“Jewelry?  John, you shouldn’t have.”

 

“Yes, I should.  I meant to give this to you at the café yesterday, before Colin walked in and ruined everything.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Open it and find out.”

 

Lucy held the velvet box gingerly and pried the top open much like popping the hood of a tiny car.

 

A diamond winked at her from the shadows of the box.  When she looked up, John was on one knee.

 

“Lucia Alberti, will you marry me?”

 

Lucy’s eyes welled up with tears.  She stared at the box in disbelief, her heart pounding.   The room around her seemed to spin.

 

She looked at the man in front of her.  “Yes, ” she said weakly, her throat dry and her eyes brimming with tears.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Lucy smiled and her tears burst like a dam, spilling down her cheeks.  “Of course I’m sure.  I have always been sure since the day we met.  Oh, John, I love you so much.”

 

“I love you too.”  John took Lucy in his arms.

 

“What a beautiful ring.”  Lucy slipped the ring onto her finger.  “You have such exquisite taste.”

 

“In women?  I know.”  John held Lucy’s hand in his own.  “You realize we can’t have a normal wedding, right?”

 

“Of course not.  How will we make our union legal?  Technically, my ID that I took from Esther’s place says my name is Lisa Cavetti and that I’m 36 years old.”

 

“Hmm.  We’ll just have to figure something out, I guess.”

 

“That’s what we’ll do.”  She squeezed John’s waist.  “This is the best day of my life.”



Leave a Reply