Thursday Excerpt: Meet the Hero

Well, it's Thursday, so this must be an Excerpt. 

 This week, the Nine Naughty Novelists are trotting out their yummiest heroes for your viewing...er, reading...pleasure. Of course, I have to be different. 

I'm showcasing Mike from Let Me Count the Ways. He's not the youngest or hottest of my heroes, and he's definitely not the kind of hard bodied stud Claire (the heroine) is used to dealing with, but he has been described by one reader as “deliciously dominant”. In addition, the following scene, written in Claire's perspective, prompted Mrs. Giggles to say this about him:

While I often find that authors dropping the names of actors as a way to describe how their characters look like too much of a shortcut, I like what Ms Forte does here. She has Claire comparing Mike to Brian Dennehy, for example, but Claire describes why she thinks the comparison is apt, and in such a lovely way too that for a moment I find myself thinking that maybe every woman should have her own Brian Dennehy.

Yeah, ya got that right, Mrs. G. Brian Dennehy as a closet Dom? What's not to like about that? Ooh, baby, where did I put those handcuffs?

(to read the whole review go here: http://www.mrsgiggles.com/ebooks/forte_count.html )

If you've just come from the NNN blog, you've already read part of this scene—taken right out of the middle, too! Mea Culpa—but here's the whole enchilada. Which, as a bonus, includes Claire's description of yet another hero the very hot and delightful Derek Novello--who just happens to be the hero of Waiting for the Big One. Enjoy...

Chapter One


Yoga is not easy, so the Bhagavad Gita warns, for those whose minds are not subdued. But I can tell you, it’s pretty damn hard for any of us. Especially after forty.

I suppose I shouldn’t say such things. After all, Yoga did save my life. I turned to it in much the same way Tina turned to Buddhism after Ike. Married to a cruel, emotionally distant man, my career, my health, my looks, my self esteem had all hit the skids. Yoga offered me a way out, a way back. It offered sanity, peace of mind, discipline, and the courage I needed to pick myself up and turn my life around.

That’s why I used the money I got in my divorce settlement to open The Body Electric. I wanted to give something back, to share the blessings I’d received, to support myself by working at something I could still believe in. Still, as the Gita says, it’s not easy. Of course, the same can be said of pretty much anything; business, relationships, life itself. There are days, and today was definitely one of them, when it all seems damn near impossible.

Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling smoked glass that lined one entire wall of my second-floor office, I watched the class working out in the studio below me. A dozen and a half youthful beauties—mostly female—twisted their bodies into pretzels. Willingly. Eagerly. Effortlessly.

The first two were something I could completely understand and totally empathize with, given that their instructor was Derek Novello. Derek has some of the most beautiful musculature I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot. What woman wouldn’t be eager to give her all for a piece of that? But the effortless part—now, that’s where they had me beat. That’s what had me feeling every last year of my age today.

How many years, you wonder? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there are some things I just don’t share. Age is nothing but a number, you know, and a girl’s entitled to keep a few secrets.

Derek is the most popular teacher we have here, which is saying rather a lot. Especially when you consider that his classes are also among the hardest we offer. He’s tough enough to challenge the men to push themselves to their limits, charming enough to make the women want to melt—into those same willing pretzels I’ve mentioned.

Tireless, talented, passionate, intense. Derek brings everything he has to his teaching. For almost five months, he brought most of it to our lovemaking, too. All but his heart. That, I suppose, was par for the course, and frankly I wasn’t expecting anything more. These older woman/younger man things rarely last long and are almost never about love. I knew the moment it was over. Probably before he did. I could tell right away that Derek’s heart had been lost to a pretty blonde pretzel.

Still, I really can’t complain. I’ve been dumped before, but never so discreetly. To the casual observer I’m sure it appeared that I’d tired of him, rather than the other way around. I think even the pretzel was confused. And, in the months since our affair ended, I’d discovered another reason to be thankful. I no longer have to take even one of his classes. I can’t tell you what a relief that’s been!

At least I still look fit, I thought, taking a step back so that I could see my reflection in the glass. I sucked in my tummy, tucked in my buns, pivoted from side to side. “Not bad,” I murmured as I thrust back my shoulders and studied my breasts, wondering how much longer I could get away without having them lifted. “But you’re not what you used to be, that’s for sure.” Still, things could be worse, and no doubt they will be, in time.

“Nonsense,” a male voice insisted from somewhere behind me. “You’re as beautiful as ever.”

I spun around, startled to find Mike Sherman watching from the doorway—which just goes to show you the kind of funk I’d been in all day. I’d totally forgotten his standing, bi-monthly appointment to go over the books, three p.m. every other Thursday.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, his face flaming. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Don’t be silly.” Calling on all my training to hide my own embarrassment, I rolled my eyes and grimaced slightly. “Actors, you know.” I waved my hand in a negligent gesture as I seated myself—not in my chair but on the edge of my desk—where my crossed legs would appear to their best advantage. “We’re always so focused on appearances.” And ain’t that the truth?

“Well, you have to be, don’t you? The same way singers have to take care of their voices.” He looked so sincere as he said it too. As if he really might mean it.

“What a nice way of putting it.” I beamed at him as he crossed the room to his own desk. “How are things with you, Mike? How’s your day going?”

He didn’t answer right away. A small smile played over his lips as he slid his briefcase beneath the desk and seated himself. Then he glanced up at me, his eyes twinkling. “It’s always a good day when I know I’m going to see you, Claire. Don’t you know that?”

“Flatterer.” Laughing, I leaned forward a little, just enough to flash some cleavage in his direction. Call it a reward, if you will. “You have all the right answers today, don’t you?”

If they ever make a movie of my life, no doubt they’ll get someone like Danny DeVito to play the part of Mike, which will be a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I think Danny is a fine actor and he’s got the bald head, the soulful brown eyes and the teddy bear physique the part calls for. He’ll do a fine job of catching the nervous, slightly awkward exuberance Mike exhibited when we first met. But there’s so much more to the role than that.

For starters, Mike is big. Brian Denehy big. With Denehy’s surprising gracefulness—when he’s not acting all nervous. Mike, I mean. Then there’s his impeccably trimmed beard, the wicked twinkle in his eye and his rare and wondrous smile, all of which bring Sean Connery to mind.

But, even though Sean would be a dream to work with, if I were casting for the part I’d go for something different. I’d pick someone like a young James Earl Jones, for example. For his eyes and his smile and his size. For his astonishing ability to shift from fearful to fierce, from stern to boyish, from gentle to regal to commanding to jovial—or back again, or all at once. But, more than anything else, for his voice. For that deep, dark, delicious river of sound that could never be anything but male and can’t help but leave you wondering, why all the fuss about Tenors?

“It doesn’t count as flattery if it’s fact,” Mike replied in that lovely, low rumble of his.

“Oh, fact, is it?” I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled my recent conversation with Dave, my lawyer, over tapas and drinks. Dave had been pleased I’d taken his advice and gone to see Mike, but he’d seemed shocked by the deal we’d worked out...

He’s handling it himself?” Dave asked, looking up from his seared tuna, clearly having trouble coming to grips with the idea. “Didn’t he assign you to one of the people who works for him? You don’t have to bring your paperwork there? He just shows up at your office—himself—every month?”

No, twice a month,” I corrected, nibbling at the celery stalk that had come in my michelada. “Why? Isn’t that what you told me to do—to hire someone reputable? Someone I could trust? You said he was the best.”

I know I did, but, damn it, Claire, he doesn’t even do that for me anymore, and I was one of his very first clients! How much is he charging you, anyway?”

Surprised, I told him.

Oh, hell, no,” Dave replied, sounding almost insulted. “That’s nothing!”

I sipped my drink and refrained from pointing out that, in my current financial state, it hadn’t seemed quite like nothing to me. Then again, neither had Dave’s fees. You get what you pay for, I suppose.

Dave’s gaze had turned speculative. If he were anyone else, I know exactly what he’d have been thinking—that I must be giving Mike some additional form of compensation. Entirely too many people still confuse the terms ‘actress’ and ‘prostitute’.

He’s a fan, Dave,” I tried to explain. “It’s not that uncommon.” Although, these days, I’m afraid it really is.

But Dave had his own ideas. “You know what I think it is? He probably knows your business is too small to afford his usual rates yet. Probably he figures he can afford to give you a break because he’s banking on the fact he can use your name to attract other Hollywood types.”

Well, that would be foolish,” I sighed. I knew just how far my name would take him in Hollywood, even if Dave didn’t. It wouldn’t even take him as far as it takes me. Which is close to nowhere anymore. “Maybe he’s just being nice.”

Nice is no way to stay in business,” Dave grumbled, which only made me laugh because Dave is one of the nicest people I know. “He probably doesn’t want to pay one of his employees to work on an account he’s not making any money on. I bet that’s why he’s doing it himself.”

I’m sure you’re right,” I murmured. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there’s no arguing with a man who’s made up his mind about something. So why bother trying? Reason and logic are no match for sheer, pig-headed, male determination. And, when it turns out you were right all along, that’ll just prove to him that you’re a bitch. Directors are especially good at making that connection.

“It is,” Mike insisted now. “Absolutely fact.”

And I wasn’t about to argue with him, either. Not just because he’s a man. Not just because I didn’t want him to re-think the great deal he was giving me, or assign my account to someone else. No, I had an even better reason than those.

Mike’s a fan, no matter that Dave doesn’t see it that way, and you never, ever argue with your fans. That’s rule number one of being a celebrity. Fans are the lifeblood of our business. They’re why we do what we do. They’re the customer. They’re always right. And you never want to run the risk of their turning into Kathy Bates.

copyright 2007 PG Forte All Rights Reserved.

Buy this book HERE.

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