Friday, September 22, 2006

Excerpt

Friday is my day to blog -- and I can't think of a witty, informative thing to say. So, I thought that I would offer you some alien romance of my own devising. You see, for some years now I've been working on and off on a story I call "No Princess Need Apply". It hasn't been published by anyone (yet), and may never be...but I like it a lot. It's all about an alien emperor getting a lingerie catalog in the mail -- and ordering the model rather than the pajamas she's modeling. I'm posting the opening to No Princess Need Apply (copyright 2006, Susan Sizemore) below.

Let me know if I should post more next week.

Susan Sizemore

“This one.”

The State Department official bent forward to peer at the glossy photo His Supremacy was holding up. What he saw was a pair of black silk pajamas, perfectly prim and proper, except that they outlined every curve of the magnificent body of the model wearing them. The young woman had a tousled mane of auburn hair. The clinging silk somehow made her more provocative than if she’d been completely naked. The promisingly teasing expression on the model’s exquisite face was just as enticing. That look probably helped sell a lot of underwear.

“I’ll take that one.”

The diplomat reluctantly looked away from the magazine advertisement. “I don’t understand, Your Supremacy.”

There was an amused twinkle in the Emperor’s startlingly blue eyes, but a great deal of impatience in the gesture as his blunt fingers stabbed at the glossy paper. He was not used to dealing with deliberately obtuse functionaries, and he’d been subjected to far too many such persons since coming to Washington.

“I like the look of this one.”

Advertisers are shameless. Even emperors are not immune from the blandishments of mass mailings. Which is how the Emperor of the Kariin Empire came to be perusing a famous lingerie catalog over breakfast by the indoor pool on this sunny morning in his ‘guest’ accommodations.

The official’s puzzled expression cleared. “I see. You want to order these.”

The emperor tilted his head to one side. “I wasn’t thinking in multiples. I’m not that sort of man. Just one will do.” He ran his finger caressingly across the photo. He smiled warmly as his gaze took in that lovely face once more. “This one.”
###

“I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of, Mama. Really. They’ve been here six months. If they’d wanted to eat us or anything I think they would have fired up the barbecue by now.” Summer switched the cordless phone to her other ear while her mother made a sharp retort.

“Sorry, Mama, I didn’t mean to be gross. New York’s no more dangerous now than it was before they came here. Besides, most of them are in Washington. There’s a group at the U.N., but I’ve never actually seen one. Hardly anybody has, really. Besides, I have been in Paris, you know. And doing the spring collections here. I’ve been too busy to worry about the whole thing. Better to be busy than to worry about the end of life as we know it, and all that.”

With the phone propped between her cheek and shoulder Summer opened the refrigerator and took out a container of yogurt. She longed for fried eggs and potatoes, but non-fat yogurt was her fate as long as she worked the runways of New York and Paris and Milan. Supermodel thin might be the ideal pushed at the masses, but she had to work hard to keep her big-boned frame just the right size for the designer fashions she modeled. Even though she maintained a disgustingly well-balanced diet and a professional athlete’s workout regime, she was often told she had too many curves for the job. She fervently looked forward to the day when she’d be able to go home and gain ten pounds. She hated cities, she hated the business. She loved the money.

“I’d love to come home for a while, Mama,” she answered her mother.

A pang of homesickness swept through her as she said it, but before she had a chance to make some maudlin comment that would reveal the extent of just how lonely she was to her worried Mama, the doorbell rang.

“Now, who -- ?”

Summer glanced with annoyance toward the door. Her apartment was an appropriately trendy TriBeCa loft; one big, multi-level room that took up the third floor of the renovated building. The apartment was wide, open, decorated in a sparsely dramatic style that really gave nothing away of Summer’s personality. She didn’t think of it as home, but as a place to sleep and host the occasional party. It was cold as a refrigerator in the winter. The one thing she did like about the building was the security it provided. It made no sense that someone would be at her door without first being announced by the doorman.

She hesitated in the center of the room, staring worriedly at the door, when the chimes rang again.

When her mother asked a concerned question, she answered. “There’s someone at the door, Mama.”

Since her mother’s response was an exasperated, “Well, answer it, girl. Don’t be rude.” Summer decided that she was perhaps being a bit too paranoid. She said good-bye to her mother, put her breakfast down on the slate topped coffee table, and went to the door.

Three men in dark suits stood in the hallway. They were nice enough suits, but the conservative cut of each of them, along with the very staid shirts and ties, told Summer that they did not have their tailoring done in London or Milan.

Brooks Brothers, tops, she thought, and said, “Yes?”

The men looked serious, as well as conservative. The one in front flashed a badge. His movement caused Summer to take a nervous step backwards. The trio marched inside and closed the door behind her.

“Wait a minute! You can’t just – “

“The United States is under martial law. We have the authority to enter any residence in the country,” one of the men told her.

She knew there were some emergency law enforcement measures that had been announced in the last six months, but she didn’t think there had been any call to enforce them. “What’s that got to do with me?”

The one who had shown the badge -- the FBI badge -- said, “Summer Simms?”

Her name was actually Susan Summer Simms, but all that alliteration had simply been too much for the insecure teenage girl who’d shortened her working name to Summer when she went into the modeling business. The world knew her as Summer, her family called her Susan, her mama called her girl, or sweetie. No one, including her brothers, had ever called her Sue or Susie. But she’d never heard anyone call her Summer Simms before, so she hesitated a moment before she said, “Yes?”

“Will you come with us, please.”

Despite how the words were phrased there was nothing of request in the man’s uncompromising delivery. His tone, their very presence, sent a shiver of dread through Summer. Her loft was big, but the large men with their grim sense of purpose made it seem smaller and darker and not at all the safe private haven she was used to.

She did her best to put on her coolly neutral ‘model’ face as she asked, “May I see that badge again?” He gave her a chance to take a more thorough look. It certainly looked authentic. “You’re from the FBI?”

“I’m Special Agent Cardon,” he answered. He gestured to his left. “Ricci from the Secret Service.” To the right. “Dalmer from the National Security Agency. This is a multi-agency operation, Ms. Simms.”

Summer gulped. She didn’t know whether to be alarmed or annoyed. There had to be some mistake. They must want some other Susan Summer Simms. “What’s a multi-agency operation?”

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“Am I in some sort of trouble?”

She’d never done anything illegal in her life. In fact, the only even vaguely morally questionable thing she could recall doing was posing for lingerie catalogs. That might be tasteless, but hardly against the law. Besides, the paychecks came in very handy.

“Am I in trouble?” she repeated.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” he repeated.

Summer put her hands stubbornly on her hips and looked him square in the eye. “Why aren’t you at liberty to say?”

The man smiled. She didn’t know FBI agents were allowed to do that. “Because I don’t know, Ms. Simms. What I do know is that we’ve been told that your presence is required for reasons of national security. I’m sorry I can’t tell you any more.”

The man’s going from stony-faced law enforcement officer to perplexed human in the blink of an eye was as disconcerting as the trio’s arrival. It did have the effect of disarming Summer’s growing belligerence. She went back to being worried and confused.

“Where are you taking me?”

Dalmer made a disgusted sound. “We don’t have time to discuss this.”

With a purposeful stride he crossed the room and went up the short staircase that separated the bedroom area from the living room. A large pine wardrobe stood on either side of the queen size platform bed. Dalmer opened the door on the wardrobe where she kept what she thought of as her ‘model’ clothes; silly, overpriced things that were destined to be donated to teenage cousins after a few wears because it was necessary to replace silly, overpriced things every season to remain in fashion. The other wardrobe contained her ‘real’ clothes; jeans and T-shirts and warm sweaters.

Dalmer pulled out a couple of short dresses and tossed them on the bed.

Summer followed him up the stairs. “Just what are you doing with my clothes?”

“I’m getting this show on the road,” he said. “We’ve got a plane waiting.” He looked back over his shoulder at her. “You better pack for a few days.”

“Pack? Where are you taking me?”

He didn’t reply.

Summer looked down at the FBI agent standing in the middle of her living room. She didn’t believe this was happening. Government agents didn’t really walk into people’s homes and take them away with only vague explanations about national security. Did they? Could they? Of course they could – martial law, special emergency powers, all that other scary stuff that she’d heard of but hadn’t been exposed to since the Kariins came. The agents were here, and they were intent on doing it. No one had pulled out a gun or handcuffs yet. Summer thought they might at any moment.

Dalmer found the overnight bag at the bottom of the closet and hauled it out.

“Hey!” Summer shouted. “Get out of my stuff!”

“Better grab her makeup bag out of the bathroom, Ricci,” he called down to the third agent. He ignored her. “A model’s going to want a lot of makeup.”

She only wore makeup to work. She looked good in makeup. It wasn’t her fault that God had given her great bones, but people always tended to think that the only thing that mattered to her was her looks. She had long ago given up trying to explain to strangers that she read books, was a great cook, watched sitcoms, and listened to both Lyle Lovett and the Gipsy Kings as well as occasionally going to the opera. She certainly didn’t try to explain anything about herself to these men who’d invaded her home.

She hip-checked Mr. Dalmer aside. “I can do my own packing, thank you.”

He smiled. “Good girl.”

Summer rounded on him. “Good girl? No one with any sense that isn’t my Mama has the right to call me a girl – good or otherwise.”

He blinked and took a step back. “Yes’m.”

She turned her back on him and grabbed things out of her closet. She was not going to explain to these Federal invaders that she was a hard working twenty-four year old woman who’d been supporting a large family since she was seventeen. Somebody is going to pay for this, she thought. That’s why I have an expensive lawyer.

“Can I call my lawyer?” she asked Cardon.

“Sorry, Ms. Simms. I can’t allow that.”

“That’s what I thought you were going to say.”
She looked around in surprise when Dalmer added a short, gold lace dress to the pile of clothes on her bed.

He lifted an eyebrow sardonically in response. “Girl – woman -- never knows when she might be invited to a party. Is that a Valentino?”

“Yes.”

Good Lord, a Federal thug who knew the names of fashion designers. Summer didn’t think people who were taken away by a trio of Federal agents got much chance to go to parties, but she didn’t bother to argue. She just did her best to find the most practical things she could in her most impractical closet and pack as quickly as possible -- though she didn’t know why she should be in a hurry to be dragged away to an unknown fate, even for the highest priority security reasons -- with or without party clothes. The one thing she was stubbornly determined to show some spirit about when they left was that she wasn’t going to be arrested and carry her own luggage.

To be continued…should you be interested

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:00 PM EDT

    I loved the story! Came to the blog from Linnea sinclair's site. Will read further if you post.

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  2. Anonymous7:25 PM EDT

    Definitely catches your interest - fun to read. Hope you post more.

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  3. Thanks! I'd be delighted to post more next week.

    Susan

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  4. Yes, I would love to read more!

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  5. Iread too much or too little. So now I need the rest! Please!

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  6. I'd love to read some more! What a place to stop!

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  7. David Gray7:19 PM EDT

    Oh, this is gonna get REAL INTERESTIN', I can just tell! *LOL* PLEASE tell us when this makes it to print.

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  8. david gray7:20 PM EDT

    Or, you know, post some more. We won't tell.

    ReplyDelete