Rinaldo paid us a visit, cleared Shannon’s clean plate, coaxed us into sharing some black forest cake and Fonseca twenty year-old and bustled away.
“After a few weeks, she called me and asked if it was okay to sell the pieces. I said, ‘you mean someone wants to pay money for them?’ and she said ‘fifteen thousand for the two.’”
“No foolin’. That was more money than I’d ever seen at one time. So I sold them and gave her a few more. When perfect strangers looked at my work, I felt unbearably vulnerable. I couldn’t even attend my own show.”
She sat lost in thought for a moment, and then with a sudden, fierce intensity she continued, “You have to learn to feel that way about everything you do. Especially with love. When you are fearless about sharing anything in your heart, you are truly in love.” The fingertips of her hand clutched together upturned, her delicate chin leading the rest of her body pressing forward toward me.
Her words made my heart quicken and thump against my sternum. A racket of clacking plates and laughter and chatter caromed off the stark marble walls and as I stared at her the noises seemed to come together to form a crystalline bubble around us. I must have been looking at her oddly.
“What the fuck did I say?”
“I felt like we were on our own planet for a second.”
She guffawed at that—I don’t know why—and I could hear her laughter echo off the walls. I scanned the crowd to see many eyes cast her way and felt proud to be with her.
Rinaldo showed up at the wrong time again, using cake and port as his weapons. But even he couldn’t break the spell. Shannon paid him no mind and he flounced off.
“We can never come back here again, you know.”
(Page submitted by the author, Pete Morin; more about the book here)
It’s hard to say no to dinner and romance and cake and wine, especially when it includes the passionate intensity of an artist in the grip of newfound success. It’s also hard to say no when an author makes things so clear with such economy. For instance, Rinaldo’s character comes vividly across despite the fact that we have no dialogue from him on this page; he is captured perfectly through his few simple actions, especially in the choice of verbs that is used to describe them. Similarly, the dialogue we do have is mostly missing its “she said” and “I said” cues, but the author has arranged the speakers’ actions and words in such a way that we’re never confused who is saying what, and he therefore has the good sense to leave out the extraneous verbiage identifying the speaker.
If I were to quibble with this page, I’d say it would benefit from a flash of Shannon’s eyes or a waft of her perfume just as she speaks the words that so engage our narrator’s heart. But for all I know, those details appear on page 81 or page 83, and the motion of her hand and form may be all that’s needed within context.
All in all, a skilled page from a writer who seems to know what he’s doing.