Naomi & Bradley
A Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Vodka & Vice, the Series
Angela J. Conrad &
Kathleen Hesser Skrzypczak
Copyright 2016 © Angela J Conrad and
Kathleen Hesser Skrzypczak
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
Trademarked names appear throughout this book. Rather than use a trademark symbol with every occurrence of a trademarked name, names are used in an editorial fashion, with no intention of infringement of the respective owner’s trademark.
The information in this book is distributed on an “as is” basis, without warranty. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this work, neither the author nor the publisher shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.
Naomi & Bradley, Reality Shows… Vodka & Vice, The Series
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2016 ©
Original photos by Allan Hansford
Cover design by Carol’s Cover Design
New York City, Friday, February 18th
We enter the magnificent old building in the East Eighties. A doorman opens the door and a young lady behind a pricey front desk flashes us a warm smile and says, “Mr. Dobrov, Miss Swanson, Mrs. Lucille Rochefort De La Cologne is expecting you. Go on up.”
We walk toward a golden bank of elevators holding hands like kids. There’s one open toward the end of a row of four. It has a brass plate announcing the word, PENTHOUSE, embellished on it. That’s the one Bradley heads straight to and I remember he’s been here before with Manny. Bradley presses me against the mirrored wall and closes me in with his arms; he leans down and madly kisses me. I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him even closer, totally forgetting my fear of elevators. I balance on my toes and whisk my tongue against his.
“I love you Bradley, I’ve missed you so much.”
“I love you back Naomi. I can’t wait to be with you again.”
We laugh at nothing and everything.
We are zipped to the top of Manhattan on a dream and a cloud. When the doors open, Bradley whispers, “Your aunt has lots of staff up here. We’d better control ourselves.”
I giggle and stand straighter, adjusting the roses I have brought for LaLa. When we step out of the elevators, no one is present to greet us, offer to take our coats, or show us inside.
“Wow, it’s impressive up here, just like you described it, but where’s that fancy upstairs doorman or imperial butler you promised?”
Bradley looks puzzled and shrugs. We both lean around the corner and see a massive white room, with white furniture, a white marble fireplace with a roaring fire. It’s gorgeous. Classical music is playing loudly from unseen speakers and the city flickers outside a wall of windows to our left.
Bradley takes my arm and pulls me back, “This is weird, I thought someone would be out here, last time with Manny it was full of staff.” It’s quiet except for the music which all at once seems strangely too loud and it has a sinister feeling to it.
Then double mahogany doors swing open to our right and Chase steps out into the hallway and grins.
“Welcome home Naomi, my own little half-sister, good to see you again.”
I stumble and Bradley grabs my arm to steady me.
“You too Bradley Dobrov, though we all hoped to see the last of you. Guess you’re part of the dog and pony show now.”
Chase looks different. No more casual sweaters or tight jeans. His blonde hair is newly cut and styled with thick gel. He’s wearing an expensive Stanley Korshak Italian suit, a dark wool with two buttons holding the tight jacket closed. I scan down and gasp at the beautiful handmade Bontoni loafers. It’s as if someone dipped an alley cat in a magic bucket of cream and transformed him into a runway mannequin. I am so surprised to see him here in my aunt’s penthouse, so altered, that it takes me a few seconds to register his startling words.
“What do you mean Chase? I don’t have a brother. Is that supposed to be funny?”
He smirks. “I find it rather amusing Naomi. Seems you’ve been left in the dark about a lot of things.”
I remember the lies he told me about Bradley, how he manipulated me into breaking up with my lover, and my voice sharpens.
“Why all the lies about Bradley? What are you trying to do?”
Bradley goes to step around me and confront him when another thickly accented voice calls our names from inside the warm white room.
“Bradley Dobrov, Naomi Swanson, what are you doing out there? Show them in Chase.”
The canned music abruptly stops, and I feel Bradley’s strong arm circle my back.
“It’s okay baby, I’m with you. Let go see what’s going on.”
Chase stands back, bows and waves us through the mahogany doors like the queen’s own private butler.
We step inside and I feel Bradley’s fingers tighten around my waist. He recognizes someone.
The enormous showroom is like a snow globe peppered with upscale black suits, all white elegance, dotted with several men wearing expensive wool. The air is heavy with smoke from cigarettes, and the crackling fire dancing in the background highlights the similarity of all the males in the room. They’re all holding a cognac or some other brandy-colored liquor in costly cordial glasses in one hand, and a Black Russian smoke in the other. The group’s proud stance, their aggressive posture, the matching handsome features, the room resembles a very European high-end ad campaign. I can almost smell the testosterone mixing with the smoke, combining in the air to form a toxic thunderstorm.
I glance down, my bouquet of bright red roses looks terribly out of place, and I lay them on a side table to free up my perspiring hand.
The largest man, a veritable mountain, sporting a full black beard, rushes up to us, and embraces us both at once. He smells rich and spicy. I can’t help but draw in a breath of cocoa, flowers, and cardamom. Serge Lutens, Paris. He further surprises and shocks by kissing Bradley and me soundly on both cheeks before roaring, “Dobrov! I see why we couldn’t shake you so easily from her. And you!” He grabs me, lifts me off the ground, and twirls me around in a giant circle laughing, “You are the image of your mother Beverly, but better, this crazy hair, a mane of black magnificence, these long legs like your father, hot to trot hey?”
I look over at Bradley with a “What the fuck?” And he shrugs and says, “Hello Mr. Slotzky.”
The older grizzly bear of a man kisses me harder this time on the lips and sticks his long nose deep into my hair, “Hell, you smell fabulous. I can look at you, those heavy gray eyes, and dream about hot Russian fireplaces, and your creamy white skin against mine. I was not so excited at first, hearing that Viktor was bumbling his chances to marry you, but my boy assures me everything is back on course.”
“That’s not happening now,” Bradley says, but they all ignore him and circle me, hand us both drinks and raise their cut crystal glasses into the air and shout in Russian, “Za vstrechu!”
Then another dark figure steps out of the shadows and states, “To the high-rise building over on Chambers Street, to Carl Swartz for making it happen, and to Naomi who’s going to help finance the entire project! To Naomi, my niece!”