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First Page: Unpublished Manuscript Futuristic Sci/fi Romance

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2136 – New York City, New York

The water fountain’s chiming sounds soothed her heart as she walked into the elegant lobby. The edges of the fountain gleamed of gold with a marble statue of a mystical Queen in the middle.

Jessie looked around the lobby. She wondered how much that gold marble cost and how it was made. Did one person sit there and chisel out the silhouette of the imperious Queen looking down at the peasants gathering at her skirts? Can you even chisel gold? Maybe she is thinking of marble. Her thoughts kept tumbling one after another as she looked around.

“Can I help you, Miss?” a cultured voice speaks out to her left. Jessie looks over and notices an older gentleman standing behind the gold desk. The opulence of this hotel was a little overwhelming. She tried to smile, and forced her legs to walk over and greet him.

“Yes, I was looking to meet Dimitri Maletski. I have his business card here along with some paperwork that I need to speak to him about.” Jessie explained, holding up her manila folder as justification for her request.

The gentleman looked intrigued as he eyed her folder. Jessie hugged it close to her chest. After cleaning out her mother’s files, these papers were a mystery she needed to solve and she didn’t want to lose them. She was being silly. She smiled at him sweetly and forced her arms to lay down next to her sides with the folder clutched in her left hand.

“Ahh, and your name please?” He asked politely. His graying hair flopped over his eyes as he typed into his computer, presumably looking up an appointment calendar.

“My name is Jessamyn Lacross, however I don’t have an appointment. Is he available?” She asked, equally polite. Good manners never hurt when asking favors.

“Mr. Maletski is currently in meetings all day. I would be more than happy to help you, or leave your papers on his desk. I am Vasily Savin, the General Manager of the Golden Crown Hotel, and can help you with anything you need.” He smiled urbanely and held out his hand to shake mine.

Jessie left her folders clutched in her left hand next to her side, and held out her right hand to shake his hand. She thought about what the best course of action was. She had already debated all of her options endlessly during the time it took to travel to New York City to locate the Golden Crown Hotel and Mr. Maletski.

“Thank you so much, Mr Savin. However, I do need to speak with Mr. Maletski personally. His name is on these papers regarding the Golden Lottery Commission and if you could let me know the best time to come back and meet with him, that would be great. I can give you my contact information and return when he is available.” Jessie explained nicely.

His hand kept shaking hers while he looked Jessie up and down. He seemed surprised. Jessie wanted to remove her hand from his and gently tried to pull it back.

“The Golden Lottery Commission, you say?” He murmured. He slowly looked back up into her eyes. His eyes were a dark gray and they studied her intently. Her smile froze and she felt uncomfortable. Should she not have mentioned the lottery? She couldn’t find any information in Google about it which was why she felt compelled to travel into the city to find out more about why her mother had these papers hidden away in her lock box.

Mr. Savin glanced down to the folder Jessie held by her side. She finally tugged her hand out of his and reached down to put the folder away in her bag. She adjusted the strap on her shoulder and put a smile back on her face and looked back up at Mr. Savin.

He smiled at her again. “Miss Lacross, why don’t you have some lunch in our award winning restaurant here,” he gestured across the lobby, “and I’ll talk to Mr. Maletski’s secretary about getting you an appointment today.”

“Thank you.” Jessie replied. “I have someone joining me, so I’ll just go and wait for her.” She looked around and started to walk toward the restaurant.

“I recommend the prime rib.” Mr. Savin called behind her.

Jessie looked sharply behind her. Seriously? The fact that the restaurant had steak available was amazing. She wondered which area they were getting their beef from. The news reports had been relentless about the shortage of beef around the Eastern States, not to mention the rest of the world. Considering she could probably only afford water with lemon, she knew the steak would be out of her budget. Although if her Mother’s papers on this mysterious Golden Lottery were correct, she might have a change of fortune soon.

First Page – The Apprentice – Historical

First Page – The Apprentice – Historical

Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

 


Six leagues from Bologna to Modena, an easy day’s ride unless you are leading three nuns, their chaplain, four nervous merchants with reluctant servants and a pack of fifteen mules. Not to mention two mutinous adolescents and the stout young monk with the wiry red hair and spectacles. It was mid-morning already, four mules had been unloaded and repacked, there were sure to be further delays on the road. The nuns would moan and whinge at every bump in the road, they’d agree to keep their lunch short but they’d certainly order the most complicated dishes in the inn. Instant indigestion; the cavalcade would have to stop for the ladies and it would be dark with three hours to go before reaching Modena’s outskirts.

It was not quite ten when the ill-assorted gaggle trailed out of the Montanari stables and onto the road. Lolo was flanked by Brother Theo, the Scottish monk and her brother Giovanni. Fourteen and furious. Furious with her father, with her aunt, with her pain-in-the-neck brother and most of all with Theo and his bright ideas. There was no sign of lightning in the clear blue sky, no possibility that the hand of God would strike Giovanni down for whining or Brother Theo for his plotting and planning. No chance that plague or boils would afflict her inflexible, tight-fisted father or her loathsome, snake-eyed aunt. She’d evaded it for five years, but now, thanks to Brother Theo, she was finally convent-bound. The only reason she kept her horse close by Giovanni and Theo was because the alternative was to ride alongside the nuns. Standing with the women as the mules were packed and repacked had been quite enough.

For now, there was bright sunshine, a change after weeks of dismal rain, the trees were coming into leaf and it was hard to fester. Between them, Theo and Giovanni were keeping up a spanking pace. What Theo’s game was, she couldn’t work out, but a game he certainly had. He’d come to Bologna a year before. One morning, she and Giovanni had stumbled onto a scene of controlled chaos at the Montanari Palazzo, supervised by a, squat monk with a strange accent. 

“No, over there, and careful with that box, it has scientific equipment. For the love of Mary and all the saints, don’t drop that box, it’s got the marmot in it.” He caught sight of the two bewildered children in the doorway. “You, yes, you, come and give me a hand with this. Are you the cousins?”
He had heard of them. He lifted piles of books out of yet another box and said, “Take these up to the schoolroom, Fra Benedetto asked for them and it seemed quicker to bring them than send them by carrier. And when you’ve delivered them, come back, there’s more to take up, I’ve got a globe and an astrolabe. Hurry now.”

The stocky little Dominican friar was from the edge of the known world, exiled for clinging to his faith when all around him were flocking to heresy. He’d been educated not in his homeland but in France and Germany. He bustled and busied himself with reorganising the schoolroom, a task which the stalwart but elderly Fra Benedetto observed with gentle scepticism. What thrilled Brother Theo most was the discovery that Lolo was working for Ulisse Aldrovandi, Bologna’s greatest man of science. Theo intended the marmot as his passport to an audience with the old man. Lolo drew it huddled over its breakfast, presented the sketch that afternoon to Aldrovandi.

Faster than Theo had dared hope, he was invited to Aldrovandi’s extraordinary house crammed with exotica and curiosities. That was the first of several favours Lolo had managed for the monk. All apparently forgotten; her thanks was an escort to a life in a cloister. A cloister full of scheming, dissatisfied, frustrated creatures like Aunt Lucrezia, seething, erupting, interfering. 

If the anger dissipated, she would start weeping. So, despite the beauty of the day, Lolo tended her fury, fanned it and refreshed it with resentment and bitter reviews of all the injuries the world had ever done her. She did not really notice how far Theo, Giovanni and she had advanced ahead of the rest of the party. Not until the horsemen were heading towards them.