Barbara Justice Books

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Chapter 1

“Explain to me again why we’re here, and not at the beach or in the pool,” Vince Moscolo said while wiping his brow with a handkerchief on a hot, humid August Sunday.  “It has to be 100 degrees in this tent,” he added, gruffly.

“We’re here,” replied Daphne Warfield, his girlfriend of six months, “because I’m trying to convince Sid Stein to cast me in his new movie.  I explained all of this to you earlier, Vince.  I need you to offer to finance the movie so I can get the part.”

“And I told you that I wasn’t going to do that,” Vince replied, aggravated.  “I already rented you a house for the summer because you wanted to be close to the ‘action’ out here.”

“Now, Vince,” Daphne said in a sing-song voice, as she draped an arm around his shoulders, massaging the back of his neck, “you know how difficult the transition from modeling to acting has been for me.  I need you to pave the way with a sizable cash infusion into Sid’s new project.”  Scanning the crowd gathered in the VIP tent at the Bridgehampton polo field, she said, pointing, “He’s over there.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

Rolling his eyes, Vince turned to Seth Jacobs, his best friend since they met on their first day of college nearly 23 years earlier, and said, “Why does it always comes down to money with women?  Just once, I’d like to meet one who was more interested in me than in my wallet, someone who didn’t treat me like a cash machine.  Maybe even someone who hasn’t been ‘around the block’ too many times, if you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, it can’t be easy being one of the richest, and most eligible, bachelors in the world.  You must get really tired of fending the women off, buddy,” Seth replied, chuckling, while patting Vince on the back.

“I’m serious, Seth.  Just once, I’d like to meet a woman who doesn’t throw herself at me and then expect me to rent her a house in the Hamptons, or buy her a part in a movie, just because she gave me a blow job,” he said, gesturing towards Daphne. 

Seth nodded his head in understanding, as the two men continued surveying the scene from the edge of the VIP tent, when Vince’s attention locked in on a tall, willowy woman with a golden tan and blond hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun.  Now that is a gorgeous woman, he thought.  She’s young, but not jail-bait young, and looks so innocent in that white sundress.  Pointing across the tent, he asked, “Who’s that?”

“The girl talking to Grant Glasso?” 

“Yes, the one in the white sundress.  Who is she?”

“I’m not sure, but she looks familiar.”  Turning to his wife, Seth asked, “Do you know who she is, Rachel?”

“That’s Jennifer LaBella.  She’s a model,” she replied.

“She’s stunning,” said Vince, unable to take his eyes off her.  “How come I’ve never seen her before?”

“Because she hardly ever goes out to parties or events,” interjected Daphne, who had suddenly materialized by Vince’s side.  “You aren’t trying to make me jealous now, are you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Vince said, a hint of aggravation in his voice. 

“Oh, yes you do,” Daphne replied, as she placed her arm possessively around Vince’s waist.  “Anyway, she’s not your type.” 

Daphne watched Vince raise his eyebrows in surprise.  She laughed and shook her head, before chiding her boyfriend.  “You’re a little too tough, and you like it a little too rough.  She’s a real goody-goody.”

Intrigued, Vince asked, “A goody-goody?”

“We did some photo shoots and runway shows together, back when I was still modeling,” Daphne said.  “Miss goody-two-shoes made the rest of the models look bad, because she was always on time, always polite, hardly ever went out, and never showed up hung over.  She was in college back then, and always had her head in her books, you know, studying, and when she wasn’t studying she was knitting.  Knitting – can you imagine it?  Ugh, she’s such a bore.”  Pointing across the tent to a man who was whispering in Jennifer’s ear, causing her to blush and giggle, Daphne continued, “That’s her boyfriend.  She met him in college, and she basically supports him while he works at some charity foundation.  He apparently doesn’t make any money, and we all mock her because he never takes her anywhere, and she always has to pick up the check on the rare occasions when they do go out.  I mean, seriously, what is wrong with her?  She can’t even get a good boyfriend.  She’s so dull and boring.”

On the contrary, Daphne, Vince thought.  Your description of her makes her probably the most interesting woman at this event.  She sounds like she’s a nice girl, and with that last name, she must be at least part Italian.  And she’s gorgeous too.  “If she rarely goes out, then why do you think she’s here today?” Vince asked, trying not to sound too interested.

“I guess because Grant Glasso is one of the hosts of the VIP tent, and he’s the one who discovered her a couple of summers ago, when she was working in his shop on Job’s Lane in Southampton.  She’s been his muse ever since then.”

“She’s from the Hamptons?” Vince asked, feeling a tingle of excitement in his groin.

“She’s actually from the city, but she once told me that she always spent her summers out here on her grandparents’ farm.  Her father is a doctor, and her mother grew up out here,” Daphne explained, happy to gossip about her former colleague. 

They stood together, silently observing the crowd for a few more minutes.  “I don’t know about you, Vince, but I’m going to do some more networking,” Daphne said, as she delved back into the throng. 

Vince nodded his head, but had tuned out what Daphne was saying, choosing instead to shift his entire focus to the young woman in the white sundress across the tent.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about a girl on first sight, Vince thought.  “Excuse me,” he said, as he left Seth’s side and began to make his way across the tent.  I haven’t even met you yet, but I have to get to know you, he said to himself as he walked towards her.  I have to find a way to make you mine.