Please welcome back Vonnie Davis. Vonnie is an award winning romance author whose books will make you laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between.
Thanks for having me today, Katherine. I’ve come to talk about one of my favorite institutions—Parisian cafés—and to spark some interest in my recently released book, MONA LISA’S ROOM.
Café life in Paris is alive and well. They’re everywhere, nearly two thousand of them. As Calvin and I walked the streets of the City of Light, I couldn’t get over the number of cafés. Every other building had a café, or so it seemed.
Some were large, their seating areas flanked with potted greenery. Umbrellas shaded customers from the sun.
Others seemed perched on the edge of sidewalks in places I’d never think to put one.
Cafés have a long and rich tradition. The first one opened in 1686 where gentlemen of fashion drank coffee, the exotic beverage vogue in France at that time. The mild Parisian weather allowed for outdoor enjoyment of this drink and both friendly and fierce conversation. Soon, wine and stronger spirits were added to the fare, as were sandwiches and frites (fries). Add the fact that many apartments were too small in which to entertain, and the popularity of cafés grew. Artists, writers, philosophers and students discussed and argued the state of the art world and the human condition and politics at Parisian cafés.
While there I never drank coffee or soda from a paper cup. Never. Also, sodas in Paris are served warm. When you ask for ice, the waiter’s nose wrinkles as if he smells something sour. “Ah, American.” Then, he’ll plunk one cube into your glass.
One of our favorite cafés was at the entrance to the Metro nearest our hotel. It was here, I observed French showmanship at its best. I’d ordered a Coke. The waiter came back with an old-style Coke bottle on his tray, along with a glass, a bottle opener and a clean white bar towel. Setting the tray on the table, he laid the towel across his shoulder. Then he placed the unopened Coke bottle on his shoulder, holding it in place by tilting his head onto the bottle. With a snap of his wrist, he used the opener to remove the cap. He held my glass in one hand and leaned over, the bottle still safely secured between his shoulder and neck, to slowly pour the soda into my glass. Ah, the French, they have a way about them.
The hero in my romantic suspense, MONA LISA’S ROOM, has a way about him, too. Niko has taken Alyson to a shoe store so she can buy high heels. He insists her casual mode of dress labels her as American. He wants her to blend in with Parisian women, so she’s not so easily spotted by the terrorists. He’s told the store owner, he’ll try the shoes on his “friend.”
Niko perched on the stool at Alyson’s feet, opened the first box and deftly flicked back the tissue paper on a pair of black kidskin pumps with skinny gold looking heels. “It’s rumored Da Vinci invented the high heel.” He removed her Birckenstocks and placed her bare foot on his thigh. Warmth from his muscled leg flowed up hers, causing her foot to give an involuntary wiggle.
His gaze lifted to hers and locked. Slowly he slid his hand from her heel up her leg to cup her calf. Thank God she shaved her legs that morning. “Stop.” The rawness of her voice surprised her. His touch made her very aware of her body, and her body was very aware of him. She couldn’t count the years since she was touched in such a manner—if ever.
Still, it was nice to know she could respond to a man’s touch. Thanks to her ex-husband’s avoidance, she thought herself sexually dead, certainly sexually unappealing.
“High heels do wonders for a woman’s figure, Aly. They make the legs look long and shapely, lift the bottom and make the hips sway.” His hands moved in a descriptive manner while he talked. “They make a woman look sexy and confident. Men’s eyes naturally pivot to a woman in stilettos.” Niko shrugged. “We can’t help it. We are men, after all. Weakened by women.”
Alyson stared at him. Men made weak by women? She’d never heard such talk, especially from a male, a very virile male if looks meant anything. He was gorgeous, arrogant as all get out, but gorgeous just the same.
Niko slipped the shoes onto her feet, stood and extended his hand. “Stand. See how you like the feel.” His gaze focused on hers again and for a second or two, when she looked into his eyes, her world stopped.
She vetoed the four-inch stilettos Niko favored in five painful, toe-pinching steps. Good Lord, a girl could get nosebleeds in those things.
Ten minutes later, Alyson wobbled in front of the cashier ready to pay for the black kidskin three-inch Pradas she wore. As soon as she saw the bow at the back of the heel, she fell in love with the shoes. Gwen called her a “bow freak.” When Niko reached for his wallet, she elbowed him. “Look, as long as they take Visa, I’ll pay for my own shoes.”
“Please, allow me.”
“Absolutely not. I planned on having an expensive birthday meal at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant tomorrow. With all that’s happened today, that plan is ruined, too. So I’m rationalizing since I won’t be paying for my birthday meal, I can pay this ungodly amount for the shoes.”
Niko placed his hand over hers. “I don’t mind. Let me treat you since I goaded you into buying them.”
“Really, that’s not necessary. Even my husband…er…ex-husband never bought me things. I’ve always paid my own way.”
He leaned an elbow on the glass counter and looked at her. “You’re kidding me. He never bought you little surprises? Little treats? A woman like you should be spoiled, treasured—” his voice lowered as he slowly trailed a finger up her arm “—loved often and well.” Merciful heavens, he was trying to seduce her in a shoe store. Gwen would squeal in delight when she told her about this.
“Down, buster. American women are different than French women. We’re not so easily seduced by glib words or smooth moves.”
His eyebrow arched and his demeanor turned insolent. “You think I’m trying to seduce you?”
Typical male. He touched her almost nonstop since they stepped into Minelli’s. Now that she called him on it, he wanted to deny everything. “I think you’re toying with me, seeing if you can make an old, lonely American woman quiver at your feet.”
“First of all, you’re not old. Second, if you’re lonely, that’s your fault. Third, if I wanted to make you quiver—” he leaned in, his lips against her ear “—I damn well could.”
You won't believe this email. I'm sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with a handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He's wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I'm in big trouble, little sister. He's kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I'm feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.
When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I'd foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I've met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.
Don't worry. I'm safe--the jury's still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!
View the Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/MonaTrailer
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (digital) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisaDigital
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (paperback) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoom
AMAZON (paperback) -- http://amzn.to/QQZGyD
AMAZON (eBook) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoomeBook
FIND ME ONLINE AT http://www.vonniedavis.com
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