Natalie Clarke might be spiteful at best and vicious at worst, but was that reason enough for Phillip Gise to leave her lonely and diseased? Fortunately, she has a set of devious plans that just might keep her busy enough to forget her present situation.
Guy Lewis has played Best Friend Extraordinaire to Natalie since grade school, supporting her through all of her daily drama. This time around, Guy runs into his own troubles when his fierce, wealthy manager gives him the type of attention he never asked for...or expected.
Julia Clarke, Natalie's younger sister, has arrived in Brooklyn to uncover their grandmother's secret life in Block 24, the site of Auschwitz's little-known brothel. What Julia discovers proves more relevant in the present age than ever before.
Both heady and sobering, Block 24 is a look at the ways evil from the past can so insidiously visit the present.
"So," said Phillip, awaking Natalie with a whisper, "you dug the movie?"
She lifted her head from his shoulder and set her feet on top of the seat in front of her. "I dig anything with Brad Pitt."
"Yeah?" he responded, looking down at her, smirking. "Well, I dig anything with Angelina."
Natalie bit her lip, meeting his eyes. Yes, she was momentarily jealous but not feeling combative. In fact, she was in the mood for a flirt fest. She laughed. "You're not the only one. I'd make a scissor sandwich with that broad any day of the week."
Philip reached for her legs, laying them on top of his lap. "Nah. I don't see that happening Brad's obviously got that on lock."
Natalie stared down at her cream leggings over his dark blue jeans. She had worn a tiny leather skirt but included leggings so that Phillip would not see how pale her legs were. It was early spring, and she hadn't spent any real time in the sun yet. Bare legs would have looked better beneath the skirt, but she had turned the outfit into something Bohemian-like to redeem it, pairing the shorts and leggings with a loose cream blouse, seven bangles, and a brown packer hat. She hoped now, with her legs on top of his lap, he could appraise the length of them. She wanted him to want her in the worst way. By then, he hadn't made certain that he did.
"So, you don't think I can break up Brangelina?" Natalie asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "I've got mad skills, Gise. Obviously you don't know me very well yet."
"Did you just say Brangelina?" he asked, laughing and shaking his head. He caressed her lower legs.
"What are you--a Star! news reporter?"
"And if I was?" she asked, reaching forward, grabbing the center of his collared shirt, pretending as though she would rough him up. She smiled. "Brangelina is a very efficient term. Saves a lot of syllables. It's genius, really."
He grabbed the center of her blouse, drawing her even closer. She could feel his soft breath on her lips.
"So, what would that make us?" he whispered. "Natlip?"
She grinned, staring at his lips. "No. That would makes us 'Phatalie.'"
He squeezed his eyes shut, laughing quietly. He let go of her shirt and clutched her lower back. "I like that, baby. It's got potential."
Her stomach fluttered. It was the first time he had called her baby, and he said it with the Johnny Depp deep, lazy voice that made her toes curl in her sneakers. Plus, if she wasn't mistaken, his use of "potential" referred to more than a hybrid name.
"That's right," said Natalie. "It's gonna be 'Phatalie'. Because we're phat. P-H-A-T. Pretty Hot And Tempting."
He tickled her waist. "Did you just quote a movie?"
"Yep. Money Talks. It's the one with Charlie Sheen." She rubbed her hands quickly up and down his cheeks, as though she were warming his bare face. "My mom took Guy and I to see it when we were younger."
"Guy?" He circled her wrist loosely and clapped her hands together. "Who's that?"
"He's my best friend."
Phillip nodded, looking down at her legs. After a moment's silence, he looked back up. "So, you quote movies with ease, eh?"
"I do a lot of things with ease," she returned, moving his hands to her thighs.
He took a deep breath and ran his tongue over his lips. "I'm sure." He slid his hands from her thighs to her ankles, a safer region.
Natalie wondered what he was trying to do...or avoid doing. For the sake of her pride, she retreated. "I would tell you what I do with ease," she said before turning on a pitiful Jack Nicholson impersonation, "but you can't handle the truth."
He breathed out a short laugh, his hands creeping up her legs once more. "Well, show me the money."
She wrinkled her brows, laughing and setting her hands at the back of his head. She looked into his eyes. They twinkled in amusement. "What the fuck?" she said. "You can't just quote a random movie line. It has to at least make sense in the context of the conversation."
"Where the hell did these rules come from?" he asked, reaching for her hat, taking it off her head, and spinning it on his middle finger like a basketball.
"Gotta know the rules to play the game, Gise."
"But you don't get to make up all the rules."
"Actually, I do." She held his face. "I get to do whatever I want."
He buried his face into her neck, sniffing "Do I smell a diva?"
"Diva? No need for sly terms, sir. Diva is a bitch in sequins, right? I'm dressed down today." She giggled as Phillip rubbed his nose deeper into her neck. "Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto."
"Dolores Clairborne." He kissed her jaw, then the apple of her cheek. "I saw that one."
It's my favorite movie quote of all time."
"Real legit, N.C," he whispered, employing the Johnny Depp lazy tone again. He rubbed her cheek with his own. "Guess nobody puts Baby in a corner, huh?"
"Nice usage," Natalie replied, rubbing her cheek back against his and closing her eyes. Had a man ever felt this good? "Plus, I am actually a bitch, Gise." She felt his lips with her finger. "There's nothing good about me, see; suppose that's what makes me so great."
He spun her hat on his finger once more before letting it fall. "Don't recognize that line. What movie is it?"
"I made that one up myself. You like?" She separated her cheek from his, looking him in the eyes, grinning.
Philip smiled in response and reached for her waist, pulling her over to him and settling her on his lap. Her feet dangled just above the ground as he pressed the nape of her neck with his fingertips and brought her forward to his lips. He pressed his mouth over hers, holding her face in place with one hand. He moved with finess, easy but eager, his lips making fluent sweeps over hers, sometimes gently tugging at her bottom lip and at other times, hungrily sucking on her top lip. Her legs swung back in forth with his motion, intermittently bobbing against the seat like a hyper child. He pressed his fingers lightly into her cheek, pushing her mouth open and slipping his tongue inside. His saliva tasted like peppermint; Natalie realized then that he had bought the chocolate peppermint candies at the popcorn stand for this moment. He knew exactly what he was doing, and she wondered what had taken him so long to do it, to give her this full-fledged kiss. She was sure that this would be the defining kiss--the one a woman waited for to prove that a kiss really had the power to awaken a sleeping beauty. He deserved an award for his ability to warm her coolness.
She grew desperate for him, but for every attempt she made to speed up the kiss, he held her face still, taking his time to savor her mouth. He bundled the back of her shirt with one hand, pulling her backward slightly and moving forward to give himself and edge over her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, wondering if after these two months together, their first time would be right there in the empty movie theater. In that case, she wondered how she would disguise the paleness of her legs when he pulled her leggings down.
While she thought on these things, he brought the kiss to an end, giving her one soft peck before opening his eyes and mouthing "I'm the king of the world."
She smiled. "Titanic."
He tucked her hair behind her ear "Nah. I made that one up on my own."
Evan Tyler is an author by day, a lead guitarist by night. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck. Her favorite guitarists are Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. She aspires to be like all her favorites. Her debut novel, A Happy Accident, was the merging of her musical and literary aspirations. Evan's second novel, Block 24, is venture in a whole new direction.
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