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This story is the property of the writer Kalimaxos.
Any unauthorized reproductions without the permission of the author are prohibited.
This story was initially called “The Gala Proposal.”
I always thought it needed a rewrite, and this was the time for it. It even has a new name.
A Different life
I am Anna Sims-Renzetti. Owner of Simms Visions. Mother of Rachel and Bobby. Wife of Vincent Renzetti. I’m a respected member of our community, considered a woman who has it all by many. I have been interviewed by business journals, local TV, and newspapers to explain my success and how I make my life work.
I tell them the usual stuff expected of a successful woman like myself in her prime. How I owe it all to hard work, perseverance, and the support of my husband and family. I also say that I had a good family upbringing. Although inside, I know that I did not follow the path of honesty and doing things by the book as my father tried to teach me. Instead, I followed my mother’s last advice: That all that mattered was chasing one’s dreams.
I have to be honest; having a family and kids was not part of that dream. That was my husband’s aspiration. And it’s a good thing as he seems to be the one spending most time raising our kids on top of having a career of his own. True, we can now afford nannies and sitters to watch the kids. But we both know that he is the primary parent as I spent most of my time working at my business.
A business started as a small dress shop and is now a force in the fashion garment universe. The gowns we design are sold in high-end stores in the US and now internationally. While I bask in the glory of success, Vincent provides our children the stable home environment they need.
But it wasn’t always like this.
It had all started at the club Christmas party. Held in a ballroom at the Anderson Regal Hotel, it had been the party of all parties for their country club. Anyone who was anyone in their city was there dressed in formal-ware; Tuxes for the men and expensive evening gowns for the women. The dress shops on Hilbert Road, where all the wealthy women shopped, counted the money they had made dressing their picky customers. It had been a great close to a good year.
It was during that large party that it began. The son of one of the wealthiest men in town saw her pass by in that tight red and black gown. Being single and always on the prowl, he noticed the rings on her finger and smiled inwardly.
‘And the chase begins,’ he said to himself.
Anna Simms-Renzetti was the head seamstress at Bonne’s. The most prestigious of all such upscale clothing establishments. She had learned the craft from her mom, a seamstress at Sax Fifth Avenue, and ran her own business on the side. While other girls in high school dreamt of careers and college degrees, Anna aspired to be like her mother. Not quite. Anna’s biggest wish was to make her mother’s dream come true of having the dress shop on Hilbert Road her mother never did.
Anna thought of her mom lately. How the poor woman was killed when a drunk ran a red light and killed four pedestrians. Her mom, Glenda Simms, had been one of them. It had taken her thirty hours to succumb to her injuries. Thirty hours of suffering, but hours she had taken to tell everyone how much she loved them. Her last words to Anna had been:
“Chase your dreams. They are more important than anything else if you are to be truly happy. Everything else is window dressing.”
Anna had seen the pain in her father’s reaction. Her mother had not said a single thing about her husband and children being her happiness. Instead, she had mentioned to every family member in her dying remarks that she was dying disappointed she had not achieved her dream.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” Anna had promised her mother. “I’ll make it happen. No matter what it takes.”
And after her mother passed, Anna had set out to do just that. She had a year to go before finishing her business administration degree. That, too, had been a part of her and her mother’s dream. Anna was to run the business end of their future dress shop as her mother provided the expertise. Now Anna would have to do it all.
A slight hiccup to her plans had occurred at the beginning of her senior year. Feeling empty after her mom’s passing, Anna had allowed herself to become emotionally and romantically involved with Vincenzo Renzetti. He, being the son of a policeman and brother of a detective older sister. Vince, as he liked to be called, had fallen heads over heels in love with Anna Sims. She, being a contrast to his dark Mediterranean looks with her reddish hair and light skin. Anna’s hourglass figure, long legs, and green-gray eyes were the finishing touch.
Somehow, the young accountant-to-be and the dress shop owner aspirant made a pact to make a life together. Anna loved Vince to no end, but the last words of her mother dominated her thinking. Any family plans had ankara moldovyalı escortlar been set aside by both of them as they began their careers. He at a prestigious aerospace company’s accounting department, while she as a seamstress at a large mall corner store.
It was there that Anna had met Liam and Heda Manson. The wealthy owner of multiple businesses and member of as many boards of directors. His wife shopped at Anna’s store and liked how the young seamstress could take any dress and fit it to her peculiar body, making it look as if it was grown on her like a second skin.
Mrs. Manson, a thirty-eight-year-old beautiful woman, had been Liam Manson’s third wife. Clearly, the trophy to this fifty-plus alpha male who showered Heda Manson with lavish gifts and an opulent lifestyle. That had been a little over three years before the current Christmas gala. And Heda Manson was shopping at a low-end store, for her, on a whim.
Something had caught her eye, a lime-colored evening gown that would need extensive work. Something typically tasked to the seamstress shop if she was to wear it. Not sure of the abilities of the store seamstress, Heda almost walked away. That was when the young red-headed store seamstress walked up.
“I can make that dress fit on you perfectly,” The young redhead had said with confidence that stunned Heda.
“Are you sure?” head had said, staring down the younger woman. “it’s an expensive dress.”
Not for Heda, it wasn’t. But she wanted to test the young seamstress’s resolve. ‘I remember being that young and hungry,’ Heda thought.
“Yes, Ma’am,” the redhead had said, meeting Heda’s gaze with confidence. “Just buy the dress two sizes larger. Then I have extra material to work with to fit it on you as it should.”
“You seem pretty certain. Where did you learn that trick?”
“My mother was a Sax seamstress. I learned from her.”
“I see,” Heda feigned hesitancy. “OK. You got a shot. “
Anna had smiled and went to find the dress in two sizes bigger than Heda’s. The young seamstress had not told Heda that the wraparound dress design made it fast for her to alter. Thinking she would have to return the next day for it, Heda told her husband to take her to lunch at the expensive mall upscale restaurant.
“I’ll have it ready in an hour,” Anna said. “Ninety minutes tops.”
“You got an hour, kid,” Liam, who had been quiet, cut in.
“I’ll need you to put it on and then five minutes to fit you.”
Liam chatted with one of the saleswomen, exchanging phone numbers, while his wife and Anna were in the fitting room. And when Heda came out, her husband took her to lunch. As they were leaving, he looked at his watch and Anna.
“Sixty minutes kid. It’s not just a TV show.”
“Liam! Look what Anna did with this dress!” Heda said, modeling it for her husband.
But instead of the dress on his wife’s near-perfect ass, Liam Manson focused on the young seamstress. But to him, she was one of many young women passing by in his life. Liam had a stable of them at his company and plenty more in other places he frequented. Women he sampled at whim behind Heda’s back. While cute and young, Anna was just another woman he cataloged as a possibility.
Heda’s lime dress had been the talk of women at the past Christmas gala. So much so that the wealthy woman decided to reward Anna. And that was how Anna landed a job fitting dresses at Bonne’s. A great opportunity that the young seamstress took advantage of.
Since then, Anna had created a clientele of wealthy customers that requested her by name to cater to their needs. Her bosses were happy and gave her raises as well as promoting her to head seamstress. But Anna had one and only one goal. To one day own her own shop, and fulfill her and her mother’s dream.
Vince had been supportive to no end. But he wanted children. Every time it came up in conversation, Anna reminded him of their deal. As soon as she had her shop, they would have a family. And thus it was that Vince had waited patiently as their careers blossomed. He had just landed a job as head of accounting at a prestigious bank. The bank’s big boss was a regular attendee of the Chrismas galas, but Vince and his wife were not invited. Only VP-level bank officers and above had been.
Yet Vince was in for a surprise. His beautiful young wife would be going to the gala, only not as a guest. Anna would be attending as a representative of Bonne’s to repair any attending customer’s gowns as needed. The things those women did in and out of those gowns left a lot to Anna’s imagination. More than once, she had been given dresses to repair with cum stains on them. Being wealthy did not make people have class.
“When will you be back?” he asked as his wife donned a red and black evening gown and black heels. “Wow, hun, you look beautiful. How much did this dress set us back?”
“Nothing,” Anna replied as she finished her make-up. “It’s a loaner from Bonne’s. Advertising, so to speak.”
“I’d ankara ukraynalı escortlar say. You make it look fantastic,” Vince said, reaching for his wife.
“Hey, hey!” she protested, slapping his hands away. “You break it, you buy it. This thing costs almost two grand.”
Vince had gasped at that.
“I never realized how much money is in your business,” he said, staring at the dress this time instead of his wife’s stunning form.
“Most dresses by the women at the ball will be upwards of four to five thousand. Heda’s dress retails for almost ten grand. Some other women will top that with dresses from New York and Paris.”
Vincent shook his head at the revelation as he stared at Anna’s ass, covered by the glitchy red and black evening gown.
“I wish I were going with you,” Vince said.
“We’ve talked about it before,” she said as she clipped a set of dangling gold earrings from her earlobes.
With her hair up, they made her bare neck and shoulders seem more… sexier. Vince wondered how many men would admire his wife and ask her to dance. Men with money and power. It took all his self-control not to become jealous and ask her not to go. He knew this was an excellent opportunity for his wife. One he could not impede with his insecurities.
“What will you do tonight?” she asked. The question was almost obligatory the way she said it.
“I’m going over to Laura and Greg’s,” he said.
“I’m surprised they turned down going to the gala,” Anna said. “His parents and her parents will be there, as well as his CEO, Garrison.”
“They must have their reasons,” Vince said, sitting down on the bed as she finished primping.
They had become acquaintances of the Hansen couple last year and frequented their parties. The Hansen friends at their parties seemed awfully chummy as a group. And when the alcohol flowed, a bit touchy-feely with each other’s spouse. But nothing too overt or inappropriate. Still, Anna had a feeling the Hansens and their friends had something they were hiding. She hoped they would not involve Vince in it without her being there. She wondered if Greg’s cousin would be there. The woman was single and looking. Anna pushed any thoughts of jealousy aside and focused on the upcoming night she saw as an opportunity.
“Well, you have a good time over there,” she said, picking up the gold purse he had never seen before. “I’ll be at the gala late. I’m expected to be there until it’s over. If you drink too much, take an uber home.”
“Don’t worry about me. You just… get home safe. Text me whenever you need to. OK?”
“You do realize that I am going to be working, don’t you?”
“Yes, you just be careful with those vultures. OK?”
Anna turned, smiled, and walked over to him. She was careful not to mess up the dress as they hugged while she gave him a peck on the cheek. The lack of passion made things worse for Vince, but there was nothing he could do.
“How are you getting there?” he asked.
“Liam is sending a limo for me,” she replied, hoping Vince would not make an issue of it like he had last time.
And he didn’t, but she saw consternation in his gaze. Her husband was not thrilled at the attention the Manson couple gave his wife. Most of it without him present. He had been invited to just one of their parties for employees. Basically, an event for the Manson underlings. Only Anna was invited to their upper-tier parties. And no expense was spared for her.
Anna was glad to be out of the house and away from her husband’s suspicious attitude. Yes, men had hit on her at Manson parties. Especially those that Vince had not been invited. Anna had never accepted any such proposals to her credit, even though some men had been handsome and wealthy. There were times that Vince’s insecurities and suspicious manner irked her. Anna went to those parties to further her career and increase her client base. As she had explained to him repeatedly, it was only business.
She had gotten to the country club early to set up in a room with her assistant, Jimmy. The young man was gay. Vincent had met him and trusted her around him. Jimmy was more interested in learning from and being on Anna’s good side than anything else. He would work the repairs in the assigned room while she would be available to the customers outside. Bonne’s customers would have priority and preference, but Anna’s boss knew that helping other women could make them future customers.
Anna and Jimmy were busy almost from the start of the gala. And as expected, Anna received quite a few dance requests. She politely refused, letting the men know she was attending the gala as staff pointing to the Bohn’s vendor tag above her ample chest. While some left her alone, others would persist or return to ask again as the night progressed. But Anna followed her boss’s orders and remained on call.
A man in uniform
For some reason, by midnight, the requests for dress repairs dried up, and she decided to get sincan minyon tipli escortlar a drink at the bar. It was then that the man in military uniform approached her.
“Nice gala,” he said. “Would you be interested in a dance?”
Anna found the young man quite handsome in his dark blue dress uniform. He was muscular and fit in a short dress jacket and lighter blue pants with a gold stripe. He had hash marks on the side of his arm, but Anna was not sure what they meant. Nor the miniature medals on his chest. He sure was dashing.
“Thank you,” she replied, pointing to her name tag. “But I’m here as staff.”
“Realy?” he asked as he took a sip of his drink. “What do you do here as… staff?”
Anna could have sworn he hardly drank any of it. Maybe being in uniform prevented him from getting soused as some others were.
“I work dress repairs for the ladies here,” she said, taking a small sip of her drink.
“Oh! You are Anna,” he exclaimed. “Heda told me about you.”
“You know Heda!” she asked. “I mean Mrs. Manson?”
He smirked to himself as if it was an inside joke.
“Yeah, I know Heda,” he said, trying to be polite. “She is my stepmother. The second one. If I am keeping up with dad’s marriage scorecard.”
“You are Liam’s, I mean Mr. Manson’s son?”
“Yes,” he replied. “The errant son who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale like my other siblings.”
“He must be proud of you,” she said out of obligation. In three years she had known the Mansons, not once had they mentioned a son in the military. “What exactly do you do… what service are you in?”
Todd flinched inwardly at references to his father’s pride, or lack thereof in him.
“Army,” he replied with what she determined was almost an eye roll.
‘Another civilian without a clue,’ he thought to himself. But then her knowledge of the services was not necessary.
“Have you ever heard of Delta Force or The Unit?” he continued, raising an eyebrow.
“I can’t say I have,” she replied with a mischievous smile. The drink and the young man’s demeanor interested her. “Is it fun?”
“Oh, you can say that,” the dashing military man said. “We jump from planes and do other exciting things like climb mountains, ski, and… well, I don’t want to bore you.”
“You are not. It sounds exciting,” Anna replied. “If anything, you are different from all the people at these events.”
The young man stared at her for a few seconds and then extended his hand.
“Todd. I’m a Staff sergeant in the Army.”
“Nice to meet you, Sergeant Todd,” she replied as he held her hand, sending electricity through her body. He dripped sex appeal. “I’m Anna.”
“Todd will do,” he replied. “Are you sure you don’t want to dance with a poor guy who is out of place here? You are the first non-snob I have run into tonight worth asking.”
Anna thought about it, trying to decide if she wanted to open that door. If she danced with Todd, then other men would be lining up. But this young man just seemed different. Interesting.
“OK,” she replied, waving her wedding band hand for him to see. “But you are dancing with a married woman.”
“I’ll manage,” he said as he led her to the dance floor.
‘Said the spider to its prey.’ Todd thought with a smirk she never saw.
Todd already knew her marital status, having noticed her rings. But just hearing her warn him that she was married turned him on more. He found married women a challenge, almost an aphrodisiac. Already feeling himself get hard from only the thought, he kept enough distance from Anna’s hips and groin so she would not notice. Like a serial killer who had not stalked pray for a while, Todd wanted to make sure he did not ruin this hunt through haste.
“So,” he said as they danced, “tell me about yourself.”
And Anna did. Without realizing it, she was falling victim to Todd’s gift of listening. He had an innate ability to compel women to trust him and tell him about their lives. Once they began, they would divulge more and more until Todd knew enough about what was lacking in their lives to strike. The more Anna told him about her dreams to open her own shop, the more Todd was driven to have her. To conquer the wife of another man.
Todd smiled inwardly at women’s need to unburden themselves to a stranger. All he had to do was be disarmingly interested and polite. That and to listen. A quality that most men lacked, as most tried to impress the woman. Usually with who and what they were – or had.
“Quite a goal you have,” he finally said.
“I would do anything to make it happen. Anything.”
Realizing she had revealed too much, she blushed and looked away.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble on.”
“No,” he said with that dazzling smile. “You had me hanging on to every word.”
Todd had given up trying to figure out the origins of his compulsion. All he knew was that he had to find and convince a married woman to give up her marital chastity every so often.
This need had begun when he and a married teacher had an affair before high school was over. Having a crush on Mrs. Williamson for months, Todd had finally made his move. During class, he had starred at her without flinching when she caught him. Todd has smiled back politely until she looked away, unnerved enough to repeat herself.
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