So much to do! Where to start?

Ever felt like that? I can now work with some regularity thanks to lots of rest, yoga, and physical therapy, although not as much as I want. My brain is in overdrive with all the tasks I have to catch up on. 

Starting at the beginning. I keep telling myself the beginning is the best place to start. I’m updating some scenes in Midnight in Line and Form. Attempting to keep changes to a minimum – easier said than done. I’ve made more scene cuts. The three characters in the scene below, including the unnamed waiter, play big parts in the next book. (Running title: Midnight Philosophies.) As much as I like this scene, Midnight in Line and Form is best served without it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Peace, L.K. Latham

Cut scene fro Midnight in Line and Form

Leigh sipped her espresso, savoring its nutty flavors. She tried to wait before trying one pastry, but the shining chocolate glaze called her, and she nibbled it with joy. Midnight Philosophy was the newest coffeehouse in town, and its reputation for rare and delicious coffees and exquisite pastries exceeded her expectations. 

Her phone beeped. “Running late.” Leigh smiled knowing that, unlike Kitten, Barbara always ran late. It wasn’t her fault. She gave of herself to anyone who asked. Saying “no” was something Barbara never did. Leigh decided the pastry was too good to sit on the table and ordered a pastry sample platter for when Barbara arrived. 

She looked at the book with the intricate green and gold lettering, Romance in the Twenty-First Century by Kevin Vasquez. Leigh opened the book to the marked page and looked at the painting, The Rape of Europa, then read Vasquez’s critique, although she had read it many times despite loathing Vasquez’s interpretation. 

Never one to run from controversy, Reign challenges modern sensibilities with his rendition of The Rape of Europa. He uses his favorite model as the well-rounded Europa. While Titian’s Europa wobbles, frightened, clinging on the back of Jupiter as a white bull, Reign’s Europa leans against the wall of flesh of Jupiter that radiates Mediterranean manhood. White silk drapes her body in disheveled folds like Titian’s Europa, but Reign’s Europa wears the jewels of power and fortune she uses to entice the great man. She lures and ensnares Jupiter to her bed adrift with cushions and rugs, knowing her reward for seduction lies within her grasp.

Some may argue that the Reign’s focus is not Europa in the painting but Jupiter himself. They are wrong. Titian gives us the full face of the white bull that is Jupiter while Reign hides the face of Jupiter in shadows cast in the sea of pillows. Jupiter is not just a man to be conquered. Jupiter is all men. By ensnaring Jupiter, Europa traps all men as women will with their charms and lustiness. Reign affirms the natural laws of love and lust.

Leigh slammed the book closed. “Such bullshit!” 

The front door opened. Barbara walked in, smiling the smile she always wore. Leigh saw the smile and thought of her friend, Kitten, Barbara’s daughter. So much alike and so different.

“Leigh, I’m so pleased to see you again. How are you?” Barbara bent down and kissed Leigh’s cheek before sitting down opposite her. She pursed her lips, noticing the green book. “Please don’t tell me you’re reading that awful book?”

Leigh signaled the barista to bring the platter. “Not reading it, but the photos are so well done I like to have it as a reference. Here comes the sample platter I ordered for us. What would you like to drink?”

“How lovely it all looks.” Barbara’s eyes widened as the barista set the platter on the table. “What do you recommend I drink while sampling?” she asked the young man.

“I like tea with the sampler. I find coffee can fight with some chocolates, but don’t tell chef. He’d say coffee is the way to go.” The young man smiled. He had perfect white teeth and hazel eyes. He looked at Barbara but kept glancing at Leigh.

“Then a nice cup of tea, dear.” Barbara winked at Leigh.

“Will do.” 

“You have a fan in that young man, Leigh.” Barbara placed a napkin on her lap.

“He can’t be one of my readers. Much too young.”

The barista returned with a pot of tea. As he set it down, he tried to keep his face to Barbara. “Here you go. I’ve set the timer for five minutes. When you see it turn red, it’s ready.”

“Did you know you were serving a famous author?” Barbara asked with her knowing grin.

“I thought it was you,” the barista laughed. His cheeks flushed. “My mother and sister are huge fans of your books, Ms. Brown. They’re going to be pissed they didn’t get to meet you. And I will confess, I’ve read a couple of your books and like them, too.”

“I’m glad.” Leigh smiled and looked down, then grabbed a book she had underneath the green book with gold lettering. “Here, why don’t you have this. It’s my newest. It’s not a romance, but maybe you and your family will like it, anyway.”

The server took the book with black binding and a large portrait on the cover. His mouth hung open for a moment. “Thank you.”

“Autograph it for him, Leigh.” Barbara was always practical.

“Oh, yes. Let me do that.”

After the server took a picture of him with Leigh, they watched him take a picture of the book. He kept his nose in front of his phone as his thumb typed non-stop. 

“You’ve made somebody happy, today, Leigh. That’s always a good thing.” Barbara sipped her tea and let her hand wander over the platter of pastries. 

Leigh watched Barbara’s hand circling the platter. “I’m hoping I made you happy, today. You allowed me to use the painting as the cover without reading the book. I appreciate the trust you have in me to do it justice.”

“Oh, Leigh, you’re too good a person and a writer not to do it justice. I know you wouldn’t support anything that man said about the painting of my Kitten.”

Leigh pretended not to notice the tear forming in Barbara’s right eye. “It’s not like the romances I write. Only, having known Kitten for so long, and then reading how everyone thought Vasquez knew so much about her, and then no one seeing what the painting really meant, I just had to set it right. Writing the book is the only way I knew to do it.”

Barbara opened Vasquez’s book to the painting The Rape of Europa. “Daddy never liked the painting, but then he couldn’t see past the title. Just look at that face. Confident, strong, hopeful, and peaceful. She’s in charge but not conquering. She knows where she fits in with all those people Reign hints at. I like to think she’s leaning against Anthony. I know how close they were. Don’t know the others, but then Reign hid them. She’s the important one. Of course, she’s not my daughter in the painting. She’s a nation, a symbol. Your book tells the story so well.”

Leigh smiled at Barbara. Despite the fame she had achieved as a writer, she remained modest. And this book, her version of The Rape of Europa, a literary piece, provided her with a clear voice on the hope for a future for all people. “Thanks, Barbara. Try the mini eclairs. They’re almost as good as sex.”

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