The Attorneys: part one Beverly Hills 1978

Mr. Rinaldi: A short story ca.1978

I looked up from my desk, “Hello, Mr. Rothschild”

“Samantha, please Call me Martin.”

“In that case, could you call me Sam?”

His face flushed, and he winked. “Sam, Mr. Rinaldi is arriving tomorrow at noon. Please order a special lunch for us.”

“Would you like it set up in your office, sir?”

He squinched up his furry gray eyebrows. I understood his meaning. He doesn’t like it when I call him sir. Our relationship had evolved to a more friendly level since our luncheon date at his estate.

“Yes, Samantha… Sam! Use the large mahogany table, just remove the lamps. There should be room for four chairs. He turned to walk down the long corridor to his well-appointed office. “ Thank you, sweetheart.”    

I dialed up our caterer and ordered the lobster salad with grilled lamb chops for four because I interpreted that with four chairs his two partners, Setterling and Levin would be in attendance. Mr. Roberts likes it when I filled in the blanks.

The following morning, just before noon, two men arrived in my reception area. One was Franco Rinaldi and the other he introduced as his son Andre. I had not planned on a fifth for lunch and asked the young Mr. Rinaldi if he planned on staying.

He was sauntering around admiring the art, fondling the sculptures when he turned, “No, I was just delivering my father, there’s no need to entertain me.” Sliding his hands into the pockets of his trousers he rocked back on his heels, and explained with a devious smile, “I plan to do some shopping on Rodeo Drive.”

I was thinking I wouldn’t mind entertaining Andre at all. He was about twenty-five years old and carried himself like a GQ male. Slicked back hair, carved bone structure, with black eyebrows that lent him the image of Al Pacino playing the role of Michael in Godfather II.

I couldn’t imagine him sitting still for any length of time. Too bad.

His father gave a tug on his trousers and  took a seat smoothing his silk tie in a dignified manner.

Andre wore a shiny navy European cut sports coat with slender trousers and a loud trendy tie. I was sure he wasn’t kidding about shopping on Rodeo drive. It was obvious he wouldn’t be buying disco boots. His shoes were Italian leather. It made me wonder why American men were so narrow about their fashion choices. Andre was beautiful to look at and I preferred him to stay and saunter around in front of me all afternoon.

I buzzed Mr. Rothschild to announce Mr. Rinaldi’s arrival and his secretary came out to fetch him. Which left me alone with Andre. I was glad I wore my new body-hugging vintage Dior chic white suit I’d found it in a little shop on Melrose.

I stood and strolled from behind my desk showing off my good taste in shoes.

Andre noticed, and commented, “Aren’t we gorgeous!”

I smiled my best smile and turned my back to let him watch my backside while I crossed the room, then fiddled with the flowers on my desk for a moment.

My phone buzzed.  After jotting a note, I stood up again, but Mr. Lawrence strolled in and asked me to hold his messages. When we finished, Andre was gone!

I pouted, then picked up my Chanel bag, determined to enjoy my usual lunch-time stroll to Brentano’s, my favorite bookstore on Wilshire. And, oh well, I sighed. After lunch I would most likely see Andre again when he came back to fetch his father.

It surprised me when I returned to find that both Mr. Rinaldi’s had left. I plopped down behind my antique desk, pulled out my sketchbook and sketched the lines of the glass vase and pretty white tulips sent me by an attorney, an apology that didn’t touch the enormity of his error.

Turning my head, I found a handwritten note on my desk. The secretary who took over for me during my lunch had written, A Mr. Rinaldi would like the pleasure of taking you to dinner this evening. I gave him your address, damn it! Why is it you have all the luck?” Ann hated me because I had access to all the males, but she was my friend and I trusted her. PS, she wrote, “He said he’s sending a car for you at eight PM.”

“There is a god,” I sighed.

I pulled on a very fashionable black sheath dress and pulled my hair up in a knot with a rhinestone pin, and wore my prettiest, sexiest sheer black underwear just in case.

At five minutes till eight, I spritzed myself with Chanel no.5 and walked out to the veranda in front of the Deco apartment building to wait for Andre.

When the luxurious shiny black limousine pulled up on cue, I began to descend the steps like Audrey in Paris. As I approached the automobile, the driver came around and opened the back door of the limo for me. I peered in to say hello to Andre, except it wasn’t Andre. It was his father!

It took a great deal of stealth to prevent myself from revealing how shocked I was, and I was trying to remember his name while I climbed in. Was it Franco? Yes, Franco. He was smiling, putting his hand out to me gentlemanly,  “Good evening, mio caro.”

I struggled  to keep my composure and wondered how this could have happened.  Andre was not my date, but I couldn’t risk hurting Franco’s feelings. I’d make the best of it and go to dinner. Be Mr. Rinaldi’s date for the night. What did I have to lose?

We arrived at the Palm in West Hollywood,  a popular new restaurant I had been craving to try but was pricey. Working for the firm, I had developed a selective taste for the bon vivant, and this was the place to go to find it.

The maitre’d led us to a table next to a graceful palm tree. Mr. Rinaldi sat across from me with his back to the door. He was wearing a different suit tonight, more relaxed in a black sports coat, a pale blue dress shirt, and paisley tie.

He leaned forward, his arm across the table and touched my fingers, “Cosi carina, carina!”

I understood his meaning and smiled a thank you.  He held eye contact for a moment of intimacy that embarrassed me so I looked down at his ruby ring instead.

A posh restaurant was not new to me. I had been wined and dined by worse than him. Franco was a man I should be proud to be in the company of, and so I enjoyed every moment, even though I felt more like his daughter than his date. What was he, at least forty? Forty-five? Years younger than Mr. Roberts though.  I did, however, notice his groomed facial hair that gave him the dashing impression I admired.

He encouraged me to order all my favorites; oysters on the half shell, classic caesar salad, veal ala parmigiana with wild mushrooms. Mr. Rinaldi ordered the swordfish since he’d had lamb for lunch.

“What is your preference, or would you prefer I order the wine?”

“I adore a full-bodied red,” I said.

He raised his dark eyebrows and ordered a 1969 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

The Sommelier decanted it.

“It tastes like roses,” I said.

Mr. Rinaldi seemed pleased because he had just spent at least one hundred dollars on one bottle of wine!

“What is it like being  surrounded by all that precious art?” He asked.

“I noticed  that Andre was very taken with it.”  

“Yes,  Mr. Rinaldi responded. My son is a collector of beautiful objects and spends my money as though it were a bottomless gold mine.”

I changed the subject. “The art has involved me in assisting Mr. Roberts’ curator, hosting the exhibitions at Barnsdale Park.”

I felt like a child being asked what I want to be when I grow up.  But he was very interested in my hopes and dreams. I’d never had the experience of a father interested in my future.  How could I ask Mr. Rinaldi about his life, or  if he was married?  He wore no gold band, but still, it felt inappropriate. We were only having dinner together.

I began to see him as an equal. He became more handsome as we talked. I enjoyed his laugh and his way with words. He was an old-school Italian born in Italy and had at one time studied as an opera singer.

We laughed over dessert at a story he told me about his son, Andre. Then it hit me. I had forgotten all about Andre!

He walked me back to the limo.

“I know you don’t have any interest in an old man like me, but I wonder if you  wouldn’t mind spending a little more time with me this evening?”

I wasn’t ready to go home yet, but I was cautious,  “What do you have in mind?”

He smiled and leaned forward. “Please, Harry, drop us in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.”

We entered the crowded bar, and found a little table in a corner. Mr. Rinaldi ordered an espresso and grappa for himself and cognac for me. It was smokey in our dark corner. I was a little worried. I wondered if he had a room in this hotel. My mind was reeling, feeling stupid for allowing him to make this pit-stop.

“Have you tasted grappa?”

I shook my head.

“This is the way it’s done in Italy.”

He took a sip from his glass and leaned toward me. Putting his mouth on mine, he transferred the liquid from his mouth to mine.

His boldness shocked me.  Here we go, I thought.

I licked my lips.

“Now you’ve had a little taste of Tuscany,” he said.

I liked the feel of his lips on mine,  and craving more, I turned my face to him, “More please?”

“Would you like a glass of your own?”

“I will never drink it any other way.”

He transferred more of the gorgeous liquid from his mouth to mine. I felt sexy and a little tipsy.

“My darling, we must get you home to bed.”

On the drive back to my apartment I leaned against him, my head on his shoulder. His head turned and he kissed my cheek.  I encouraged him to find his way to my lips. He kissed me using his tongue. My body responded to a deep yearning inside me. I wanted him.

I placed his large hand on my thigh. My hand on top of his, I guided his warm fingers up to my panty line and pressed his warm hand against the silk between my legs. He was panting when he turned to me. I took my hand away and rested it where he was hard and bulging.

I’ll never forget how sexy it was, us in the back of the limo with the lights of the city flashing intermittently like a strobe across our faces.  

When we arrived at my apartment, I put my hands on his face and kissed his lips. His dark eyes grew bright when I whispered, “You will escort me up won’t you?”