Friday, April 18, 2014

R is for Ralph, Ruby, and Ramin: Blogging the #atozchallenge

Ralph Jonas from Arthur's Story: A Love Story is a gardener, Ruby, from My Last Romance, is a chanteuse, and Ramin, from my current work-in-progress The Crazy Old Lady's Secret, is an art dealer. All three of them are highly independent, charming, and somewhat mysterious characters. I love all three of them.

from Arthur's Story: A Love Story
One day, as Arthur knelt to examine a patch of chives that was glowing spiky and green in the April sunlight, Ralph Jonas, the gardener for the Wentworth Billingsly family stopped spading and addressed the boy. "Never seen chives before?”
The boy’s head snapped up and he grinned sheepishly. It was a very nice grin. “Yes, sir,” he said, “I just didn’t know that was their name.”
Jonas nodded slowly. “Like gardening, do you?”
The boy grinned again. “Yes, sir. Well, yes, I think I do.”
"You live around here?”
That seemed to startle the boy but he shook his head. Jonas knew about things like that. He knew about being embarrassed to say where you lived. He’d been through that himself.
"Want to give me a hand?”
Jonas thought later he’d never seen a face light up like that in all his days. “You’d a’thought I gave him a fifty dollar bill,” he told his friends at the tavern that night.
Arthur proved to be the happiest, most eager worker Ralph Jonas was ever to see. He spaded furrows and pulled up weeds and did every job Jonas gave him as though it was the most fun he’d ever had in his life. When Sophie, the kitchen maid brought them mugs of lemonade and pieces of fresh baked apple pie, the boy swallowed his in a few bites and then asked if he could go back to the work. The sun was low in the sky when Jonas told him it was time to stop.
'What’s your name, lad?” Jonas asked rummaging in the pocket of his work pants.
"Arthur, sir, Arthur Silver.”
"Well, Sir Arthur Silver, you did a fine day’s work. Here.” He held out a quarter and the boy looked up at him with enormous eyes.
"Take it,” Jonas said. He nodded toward the shed against the brick wall at the back of the garden. “You go in there and wash up now. And if you are back here tomorrow morning at sunup I’ll have another quarter for you at the end of the day.”

"Yes, sir!” Arthur thought that was the happiest evening of his life. He was going to be a gardener. Nothing seemed more wonderful.

from My Last Romance
                  I was seventeen when I met Silvio. He and his band, The Silver Saints, were playing a three week gig at The Balinese Room down on the boardwalk. My girlfriend Miranda called. "Have you seen those guys?" she cooed. "Every one of them is dark and slick and hot."
                  I’d seen them. They sure were dark and slick and hot. "Come on," Miranda said, "this could be your big break."
                Miranda was my number one fan back then. I started singing in our high school glee club but what I wanted was to be a torch singer, like Juliette Greco or Rosemary Clooney. I collected all the records—Jo Stafford and Peggy Lee. I practiced in front of my bedroom mirror for hours. It wasn’t enough to get the music right. I had to get the look and the shrug and the pout—the smoke. My Grandma never intended all those sewing lessons to result in the dancing dresses I made. She’d have tanned my hide if she saw the lipstick red, strapless gown I made for my big night. It hugged me right down to my thighs and then exploded in cascades of ruffles. In four inch heels I
practiced till I got the wiggle that could set those ruffles swaying. I borrowed some fake ruby earrings from Miranda and I looked like sin itself strutting into the Balinese Room that night.
              It worked. Silvio took one look at me and the next song the band played was "Ruby". That’s what he’s called me ever since. And the rest—as the saying goes—was history. Silvio was everything I wanted—tall, dark, handsome and ripe to fall in love—first with my body, then with my voice. Then with me.
              By the time the band pulled out of town my sewing machine, my record collection, and my wardrobe were packed along with them. That was forty-two years ago.

from The Crazy Old Lady's Secret
Cushing turned when he heard the soft whoosh of the elevator's doors sweep open. He crossed his office as a tall man stepped into the elegant quiet of the reception room.
"Mr. Aria?"
"Yes. You are Cushing Phillips?"
Cushing crossed the room and shook his hand. “Come on into my office.” Cushing stepped aside and as Ramin Aria passed in front of him Cushing caught the faint fragrance of something fresh, subtle, and very expensive.
"Please, have a seat." Cushing gestured to one of the leather wing-back chairs, then settled behind his desk. "I'd offer you coffee but I'm here alone today."
Aria unbuttoned his suit jacket—charcoal silk, Cushing noted, and most assuredly custom tailored—as he seated himself crossing his long legs.
"Thank you but I just dined." He smiled and that smile caused Cushing to catch his breath.
Ramin Aria had a smile of dazzling whiteness against skin the color of cappuccino. In
fact everything about him was dazzling in Cushing's eyes. He was a slender man but wide-shouldered with incongruously large, muscular hands, and a face of strong features—high, sharp cheekbones, a prominent nose with a fetching scar across it, and a square jaw. His thick black hair swept back from his face in subtle waves and brushed his collar. He wore his sideburns long and had just the suggestion of a beard, but his most arresting feature was his eyes. They were large and wide under heavy brows and the strangest color Cushing had ever seen—the color of honey around the irises but changing to light olive green and then to a deep olive. Cushing had no idea of Aria's age but as he sat, nearly speechless in the presence of such beauty, he grew increasingly convinced that he had seen this man somewhere before.

Thanks for reading.

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