Enzo Donatore sat on one of the finely carved marble benches ringing the wide patio behind the palace. He was contemplating a little problem that had been worrying him more than was seemly. Ruining his afternoon, truth be told. Despite his gloom, light flooded the area where he sat. It shimmered on Enzo’s silver-flecked blond hair and closely trimmed beard; it shone on his strong teeth and jaw. His body was perfectly formed. His tailored jacket could not hide the breadth of his chest or his muscular physique, yet he carried his massive form with grace and ease.
His brother emerged from the castle’s nearest door with a very attractive young lady. He beckoned for his brother to bring the girl over. He was so distraught by the difficulty gnawing at him that he neglected to rise to greet her.
“Lorenzo, this is Andrea Beckman, the young woman I told you about,” Diego said. “We had a lovely time at the Alhambra yesterday. I invited Miss Beckman to the party this evening, and to stay as long as she wanted.” Diego smiled at her. “I’ll let you two get acquainted. I have work to do in the office.”
She looked at him with huge, trusting eyes. “Señor Donatore—”
“No, my dear, call me Enzo. Everyone who knows me does.”
“You’re a very long way from home, my dear,” said Enzo. “You’ve travelled all the way from California to my little abode.” He waved his hand to indicate the vast terrace around them, the lower courtyards cascading down the mountain, the vast blue skies, and the expansive fields and orchards of his domain. “You traveled all this way by yourself. You’re quite the adventuress.”
Enzo’s face radiated bonhomie, obscuring the sharpness of his gaze. Andrea stood next to him on the stone balcony, a slim young woman in a traveler’s cheap, wrinkle-proof dress. The dress couldn’t disguise the bounty of her breasts. She had dark hair and a fine, straight nose. Magnificent gray eyes.
He could tell she was awed by her surroundings, but managed to appear poised. From what Diego told him, this trip must have been the greatest adventure of her life. Most probably, it would be the last. His lips curved into a smile.
“I ran into Diego—Señor Donatore—at the Alhambra, as he said,” she replied. “He invited me to stay here. I hope you don’t mind. I don’t usually just meet people and then show up at their castle. But he was so kind and he said that you have company all the time, and parties ... It didn’t matter that we’d just met.”
Her voice had the ingenuous inflection of the American West. He loved it. As she blinked her wide eyes, Andrea’s flaws were perfectly apparent to him: greed, ambition, and a willingness to believe anything that seemed to serve her purpose. Enzo smiled broadly. She was far better than Diego had indicated.
“I’m delighted to have you, my dear. What Diego said was true. Sometimes it does seem that we have a continuous party.” He chuckled. “My brother has impeccable judgment about whom to include in our social circle, and, as you can see,” he indicated the massive stone palace behind them, “we have plenty of room. Please stay as long as you like.”
A delicate flush rose from her neck. “Thank you. I can only stay a week. I have a new job waiting for me at home. I just finished my master’s degree in computer science at Berkeley. This trip is a graduation present from my parents.”
“Tell me about your job. I’m interested in jobs. I provide many. You’ve heard of Donatore Indústrial?”
“Of course. The Donatore name is famous all over the world.” Her tongue darted around her lips before she answered, a defensive gesture. It told him who her employer was before she said the name. Of course, he already knew from what Diego told him. Everyone knew of the feud between him and Will Duane. He tensed in anticipation of the word. “Well, my new job is at Numenon, in their Palo Alto headquarters.”
A hiss escaped him. She pulled away.
“Don’t mind me,” Enzo said, recovering. “Will Duane is an old rival.” He waved his hand.
“His refusal to leave Europe and take his products with him has caused me much grief.”
A band struck up from the terrace’s lower level. “Ah, the party has begun. Would you like to meet your fellow guests?” He rose and indicated she should join him by the balustrade.
Andrea stood so close that he could have nestled his palm into the soft valley joining her waist and hip. He glanced at her face. A thin film of moisture glistened on her upper lip. A wisp of dark hair had loosened from her chignon and whipped in the wind. She reached up and secured it, neat as an adder.
She reacted to him the way everyone did when they saw him stand for the first time. She stood stiffly. Her eyes traveled up to his chest, and up again until her neck was craned back. When her head stopped moving, he knew she saw the underside of his nose and jaw. Her mouth opened; her face registered dismay and then, pity.
“I’ve a bit of gigantism, my dear,” he said. “Runs in the family. My father was much taller than I am. You must get used to me, and then you will think of me as your uncle Enzo.”
Enzo closed his eyes, inhaling sharply. He put his fingers to his forehead and winced.
“Are you all right, Señor Donatore?” Andrea asked.
He grimaced. “My dear,” he said, and then lifted her hand and brushed her knuckles against his lips. “I must attend to a bit of business. I’ll find you some company.”
They stood on the castle’s highest terrace. Buff-colored stone patios spread out behind them, and cypress-flanked stairways descended from each side. The staircases dropped and dropped again, until they reached the distant walls that surrounded the castle’s lands.
Enzo moved to the stone balustrade and looked down. The terrace below was crowded with people sipping drinks and dancing to black-clad musicians. A tall, auburn-haired woman looked up. He caught her eye and beckoned. She immediately headed for the stairs, moving toward them with surprising speed. The silk of her dark green gown pressed against her body as she walked, revealing its outlines.
“Andrea, this is Penelope. I’m going to leave you in her care.” Andrea looked flustered when she saw the other woman’s silk gown and jewel-draped arms and neck. Her hair was lacquered and wrapped as though she was a model in Vogue.
“Don’t feel embarrassed, my dear. We are formal here at the castle. Our guests are often taken by surprise. Penelope, get Andrea something to wear.” He kissed Andrea’s hand. “I’ll meet you for dinner. I’d like to continue our conversation, if that suits you.”
The Long Awaited Sequel to NUMENON: A TALE OF MYSTICISM & MONEY
WILL WE HAVE PEACE OR OUR DARKEST NIGHTMARES?
Will Duane owns the tech revolution. It's 1997; Will's been the richest man on the planet for twenty years. He can sway governments and ruin lives. Will's latest mission brings him into conflict with all that's holy.
He and his corporate hot shots reach their destination, a Native American spiritual retreat. Their luxurious motor homes enter the Mogollon Bowl, a geophysical anomaly where anything can happen. Now Will can spring his trap.
Grandfather, the powerful shaman leading the retreat, seeks a world where love is king, a world of peace and harmony. This vision has haunted him all his life. His corporate guest is the key to making his vision real. Grandfather knows exactly what Will Duane wants.
A malicious force steps into the action. Both men's hopes are dashed, as a sacred place becomes the playground of evil. A malevolent power tries to claim their lives and souls.
You won't forget this modern day fable, a high-speed, high stakes fantasy with visionary roots.
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Genre - Visionary Fantasy
Rating – R
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