"I'm desperate, Robert," she declared, weary resignation pouring from her words, her eyes and the exquisite persona of the sensuously endowed woman. The two sat at the window table of Café Aria, lunching on vichyssoise, cheese and tossed greens. Robert added oysters to his meal. Their waiter wore tails.
"Sasha, you are always desperate," Robert Dante remarked, as his manicured hand reached for a wine goblet and he took a drink.
Sasha sipped hers. She batted her eyes at him with a flirtatious twinkle, reduced to charming him, since he was not responding to desperation. Picking up the white linen napkin, she dabbed an end at the corner of her mouth while two gold charm bracelets tinkled on her wrist. Despite the meal, her red lips looked freshly painted.
Sasha Casella's chestnut hair was severely coifed, pulled back from her amber hued face and tied with a smart black bow at the base of her neck. Long ago she ceased hiding her facial expressions with curls of hair-once she realized how her strong features communicated more than just beauty. She moved through the world with authoritative ease, commandingly, never a victim to the lesser souls she met-except perhaps for Robert-the one man she could never own regardless of her desire to do so.
"I am desperate now, my love, Gabrielle will be the death of me-and herself." She sighed heavily as she languished against the table, leaning forward purposely to engage his sympathy.
"You are blatantly over dramatic, Sasha," Robert answered. He popped another oyster into his mouth. "Suppose you tell me why all this now?"
"Oh! Why do you eat those awful things!" She looked on his feast of oysters with a judgmental eye.
"Because I know how you hate them," he quipped.
"Please Robert, take her for a few weeks. Settle her down as you so sportingly do-until she has a little more appreciation for authority, and this whole legal thing blows over."
"You're still speaking in riddles, Sasha, be a little more blunt. That's never been a problem for you."
He was as severe a man as Sasha was a severe women-the two looked like a sparring king and queen on an elegant chess board. Notably, his near-black hair was sleeked back into a small ponytail behind his head. His eyes bore into her intently, an odd shadowy color-sometimes brown, sometimes appearing green, well-marked by defined brows. His face was substantial, full, yet with a classically sculptured nose, jawline and mouth. There was some Latin and some Celtic in his heritage giving him an astounding resonance that could be quite passionate and quite cold-though always directed, purposeful and unshakable. Robert Dante exuded a startling, thoroughly watchable elegance that was occasionally inviting, though usually forbidding.
"Okay, love, I'll give you the cold hard facts, since you won't consider my request without them. Though please don't discount her completely by what I say."
"The fact that I agreed to this lunch suggests that I take you seriously, Sasha. But don't dawdle, I have business."
"Yes, of course." She was showing a few cracks in her poise, not unexpected considering her position. "Gabrielle is suffering. My sister doesn't have a sensible bone in her body, and she's hell-bent on destroying herself and her future. I've paid for two spendy colleges and she can't manage a passing grade, while she takes on lovers like a whore-please excuse me, but I can't say it any other way."
Robert smiled, briefly amused.
"I have her with me now, but I swear, I'll kill her by the time the week's out. And the last straw, I spoke with the Hampshire Township police four nights ago, unbeknownst to me she was arrested for assorted misdemeanors-her boyfriend of the hour managed to bail her out. She's is facing some rather serious charges."
"Drugs and several minor things. But speaking to Sheriff Cathcart, he