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Season for Love
Velvet Carter


Dash was meeting Vance Shelton, his best friend and attorney, for a drink at the Monkey Bar, one of Manhattan’s renowned bar-restaurants. Dash had completed the preliminary paperwork at Randolph on the Runway earlier that day, but he wanted his attorney to read over the contract before he signed it.

Dash arrived first and settled in at the bar, which was full of businessmen and -women, as well as wealthy older gentlemen vying for the attention of younger beauties. Dash drank his Manhattan and eavesdropped on the conversation unfolding next to him.

A silver-haired gentleman dressed sharply in black gabardine slacks and a baby-blue tailored shirt was trying to entice a buxom redhead, wearing a skimpy hot-pink dress and matching spike heels, who was perched on the stool near him.

“So...have you ever cruised on a yacht in the Mediterranean?” the silver fox asked.

“No, but I’ve slept on several water beds here in Manhattan,” she replied, sipping her wine.

What the hell does a water bed have to do with a yacht? Dash thought as he listened.

“Well, I’ve got one of those on my yacht,” the man said, resting his hand on her bare thigh.

Dash watched as the man ran his hand up the woman’s leg and under the hem of her dress. She did not protest.

“Your glass is almost empty.” The older man motioned for the bartender and then asked him, “What is she drinking?”

“Chardonnay,” the bartender responded.

“Enough wine. Bring us a bottle of Dom.”

“Oh, champagne! I love champagne! The bubbles tickle my nose,” the woman said, giggling.

He’s going to ply her with liquor, pop a little blue pill and then show her his water bed, Dash thought, shaking his head. Women with low IQs were not his cup of tea. He liked his women to be attractive and smart, like Lark Randolph. Dash had read about Lark’s career in the industry trades over the years and had not only admired her beauty but also her accomplishments. Lark had taken her family’s company from a middle-of-the-road dress manufacturer to a leading designer of womenswear.

He sipped his cocktail and thought back to their meeting. He had found it hard to concentrate on the interview while staring into her beautiful face. Her features were picture-perfect—small hazel eyes, keen nose and pouty lips. She could easily have been a model instead of COO of a thriving fashion company. Her lips were painted a lovely shade of red that enticed him with every word she spoke. Dash’s mind had kept focusing on what he could do with those lips outside of the boardroom and in the bedroom.

In preparation for his interview, Dash had searched Lark’s name online. He had learned that after graduating from college, Lark had worked as a junior designer at Randolph on the Runway, under the tutelage of Darcy McCay, the lead designer at the time. Lark had learned every aspect of the business from the older designer. She had even gone back to school and earned an MBA from Harvard, which Dash found to be quite impressive.

Dash had had his pick of design firms with which to interview after he returned from Italy, but Randolph on the Runway had been his first choice. Lark Randolph had a stellar reputation in the industry for being an astute businesswoman and designer in her own right. He had wanted to meet her in person. Lark had said that his offer of employment was contingent upon his background check. Dash didn’t have any skeletons in his closet to worry about. It was only a matter of time before he was designing closely with the strikingly beautiful woman.

Working in his family’s textile mill during the summers of his youth, Dash had learned early on not to mix business with pleasure. He had gotten burned once, when he briefly dated one of the other employees. She had wanted a relationship, and at the time he had wanted nothing more than a quick fling.

From then on, Dash vowed to keep his personal life and business life completely separate. But being in close proximity to a knockout like Lark, keeping his vow was going to be a challenge.

As Dash waited for Vance to arrive, he took out his tablet and browsed through the portfolio he had shown Lark, in order to get a jump on design ideas for RR’s spring/summer line.

“Oh, shit!” he said underneath his breath when he saw the picture of himself and Heather lying on the beach in Italy. I’ll bet Lark saw this picture.

Heather and Dash had met in design school and had dated the last two years of college. They both had similar interests—both were talented designers and loved to travel—and they had quickly fallen in love. He’d had every intention of proposing while they were visiting his family in Italy—he’d even bought a three-carat diamond ring—but he hadn’t followed through. Unbeknownst to Heather, Dash had overheard one of her phone conversations while she was standing on the balcony in the guest room of his parents’ home overlooking a grove of lemon trees.

“No, I haven’t asked him yet... Yes...I promise I’m going to tell Dash the truth tonight. I love you, too, babe. ’Bye.”

“Tell me the truth about what?” Dash had said, walking out onto the balcony where Heather was standing.

She whipped around. “Uh...Dash...hi.”

“Who were you talking to?”

“That was Stacy.”

“Your roommate?”

“Yes.”

“Why were you calling her babe? What’s going on, Heather?”

“I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while, but Stacy isn’t just my roommate. She’s my...my...girlfriend.”

“Yeah, I know she’s your friend.”

“No...Stacy is also my lover.”

“Lover?” Dash’s eyes widened. “When...when did you turn gay?” he’d asked in total disbelief.

“I’ve always been bisexual, Dash. I...”

He cut her off. “Heather, why are you with me if you’re into women? Has this entire time we’ve been together been a lie?” Dash stood silent for a moment as the news of his girlfriend’s true sexual identity sank in.

Heather stepped closer to Dash, but he moved back. “No, it hasn’t been a lie. I love you, Dash.”

“Apparently you love Stacy, too.”

“The truth of the matter is I want to be in a relationship with both of you. Stacy and I have discussed it, and we want you to join us in a polyamorous relationship.”

“A poly...what?”

“A polyamorous relationship is a committed relationship between multiple people,” she explained.

“Look, Heather, I’m not into threesomes.”

“It’s not a freaky ménage à trois. Our relationship would be exclusive, exactly like a regular relationship, except with three people instead of two. I really think it could work. Whenever the three of us are together we always have so much fun. Remember the time we ordered in pepperoni pizza and watched that sci-fi movie from the eighties? We all laughed so hard at the bad special effects that our sides hurt. Remember?”

“Of course I remember. What does that have to do with anything? Watching a movie together is a far cry from having a relationship.”

“I was just reminding you how well we get along. To warm up to the idea, we could start out slow by going on a date with Stacy,” she had said, trying to sway him.

“I don’t think so. Sorry, but that’s not for me. Heather, you should have told me the truth about your sexuality and let me make the choice whether or not I wanted to be with someone who is bisexual. Instead, you made the choice for me.” Dash was hurt and a bit confused. Heather had never let on that she was also sleeping with a woman. Now it totally made sense why Heather and Stacy had only a one-bedroom apartment. Heather had told Dash that Stacy slept in the living room on the pullout sofa. Looking back now, he realized that was obviously a lie.

Dash didn’t have a problem with homosexuality. As far as he was concerned, whom a person slept with was their business. He just chose to sleep with one woman at a time.

“I’m sorry, Dash, for not telling you sooner.”

“So am I,” he had said with disappointment in his voice.

“Don’t let this interfere with what you and I have. I truly love you, Dash. Although I was hoping the three of us could have a relationship, I’ll be content with just you and I.”

“I don’t think so, Heather. I wouldn’t want you to resent me later. You should be able to have the type of relationship you desire.”
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