Harrison’s back with a new look, nip and tuck, and bonus chapter. She and I have returned to the Cove, where the magic begins.
The Vast Landscape
by Jacqueline Cioffa
Genre: Literary Fiction
Cover Design by: https://www.facebook.com/yosbedesign
Bold contemporary fiction, THE VAST LANDSCAPE shares one woman’s journey filled with doubt, mistrust, fame, and self-discovery. Join Harrison on her quest to find inner peace despite the harrowing obstacles placed in her way. Will she succeed in stripping away her complex armor to unmask the flawed, beautiful, and strong iconoclast kept hidden for so long?
Honest to a fault, Jacqueline Cioffa creates a challenging love story sparkling with narrative originality.
“Once I freed it up to be fiction,” she said, “Harrison could go anywhere. I had a larger canvas for her to stomp on.” – Nicki Gorny, Stars Magazine / Post Standard
“I was always impressed by how courageous a writer Jacqueline is. Keep writing your fine prose.” – Mark Blickley, author of The Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press)
“The magic of Cioffa’s debut novel shines its light on the power of the written word.” – Julie Davidow, American Contemporary Artist, co-author of Miami Contemporary Artists
Helmets & Hard Hats
PRETTY IS PROMPT, bearing wine and a first aid kit.
“How did you know I hate flowers?” Harrison giving her schoolgirl grin. She can’t help it; he makes her giddy. Dr. Pretty makes himself at home, heads to the kitchen.
“Where do you keep the corkscrew? You look nice, Harrison.”
“Middle drawer, there are a few. Um, thanks.” Harrison blushes.
Secretly she’s glad he noticed; spent half the day at a salon. She detests primping. It’s in her contract, makeup and hair must be done in less than two hours, even that’s pure hell. She dyed her roots, waxed the bits and pieces, no landing strip. She hates the LA pre-pub look, disgusting. She’s not a 10-year-old girl for fuck’s sake; a neat triangle. Pale lavender fingers and toes; voila. The poor nail tech didn’t know what to do with her mangled foot. “Don’t worry, keep it out of the water, do the best you can, Chuney.”
Harrison had been coming to the salon for years, since she moved out West. Famous or not famous, those girls gave a great wax and mani-pedi. Rock & Republic black jeans, James Perse tee and La Perla undies. A bit of blush, mascara, gloss, she felt pretty. Sure, he had no fucking clue what she went through to get ready, with a cane no less. She didn’t give a rat’s ass.
“That’s some fancy collection of corkscrews, Miss Harrison,” handing her a glass of wine with a peck on the cheek. He smelled delicious, salt and pepper stubble tickling her cheek. Harrison raised her glass, “Borrow them anytime, on one condition. It’s Harry.”
“Harry it is. Hobble on over to the couch, I need to check your feet.”
“That’s not very appetizing; dinner should be here any minute. Jenny’s on her way with a feast.”
“Precisely. Once I smell food the good Doc. checks out. Foot up,” patting his legs.
Dr. Pretty changes the bandages, cleans the wounds, moves Harry’s feet up, down and every which way.
“No nerve damage, you got lucky, young lady. No more heroics. One week, stiches come out.” He wraps her feet in nanoseconds. Shit, that took her an hour.
“Thanks. Where is that dingbat?”
Dr. Pretty kisses her, slow, soft and wet. He holds her face in his hands, kissing her again on the forehead. “You’re awfully pale, Harrison. Harry. Cat got your tongue?”
“I could be your grandmother.”
Dr. Pretty laughs, the ice is broken.
“My grandmother’s way hotter than you. Don’t worry, we’ll take it slow. You’re the most fascinating woman I’ve ever met. Not the famous part; the girl who blushes and can’t make eye contact. I want to know her. Let’s see, I come from a semi-normal family. They didn’t beat us or chain us in the basement. We ate dinner together every night, spent holidays back East, in Maine. I was born there, left when I was ten. Pretty run of the mill stuff. I like my mom and dad. Dad’s a vet. Mom’s a retired psychologist. I have five sisters, yup, that’s right. I know a thing or two about girls. At least, I thought I did. Until you; everything flew out the window. Went to BU, got my medical degree at UCLA. You know the rest, Cedars Sinai ER, where the crazy celebrities end up.” Dr. Pretty laughs, ruffles her hair. “Fell in love with the climate, hiking, surf and a girl. Girl didn’t stick, California did. Your turn.”
Doorbell rings. Harrison is literally saved by the bell; true confessions have her head spinning. Jenny juggles three bags of food from two different restaurants, sets the bags on the kitchen counter.
“Should I grab plates? Harry?” Harrison looks at the couch, Dr. Pretty sneaks up behind giving her a hug.
“Hi, I’m Zack. We’re good.”
Fuck. ZACK? You could’ve introduced him, dumbass. Too bad you didn’t know his name. Goddamn Jenny, tight-ass 20-year-old pain in her butt. She’s efficient though, got to hand her that. Harry comes off the bitch, rude and arrogant. Gives Jenny their get lost signal.
“Thanks, used my card, right?” Jenny nods. Harrison hands Jenny a fifty, she looks puzzled. “Go on, scoot.”
“Off your feet missy, get in that chair,” Dr. Pretty points. “Don’t think for a minute you’re getting off Scott-free. I expect a bedtime story.” What? What happened to taking things slow, his words not mine. “Knock it off with the shock and awe. People do lots of things in bed, like cuddle, kiss and sleep. I told you slow and steady.”
“Where the hell did you come from besides Maine, Zack?”
There it is, Zack. Not Doc or Pretty or Dr. Pretty, just Zack. Sounds weird yet completely normal at the same time. The food tastes amazing. Zachary. Zack. He sure is Pretty. Zack rolls a summer roll, adds a mint leaf, dips in sauce and feeds it to Harry.
“Sure hope you’re not allergic to peanuts.”
Harrison swats him on the bicep, spitting the summer roll on her plate, grabbing her neck. “Hope there’s an Epi-pen in your bag of tricks.” Laughing uncontrollably, tears stream down her face.
Zack runs to his backpack, rummaging frantically. He heads to the couch and Harry is casually eating the summer roll, roaring.
“I am an actor, ya’ know.”
Dr. Pretty takes her plate, sets it on the table. He bends down picks her up effortlessly, heads towards the bathroom depositing her on a cushy, red velvet bench.
“Wash your face, brush your teeth. PJs and bed for you, missy. Knock when you’re done, no pressure on those feet. I’ll come to collect you.”
Harrison’s nerves are shot, her tummy’s in knots, she does what she’s told. She’s had sex before, millions of times. This feels different, terrifying, exciting, new. She cares, the stakes set high. Teeth brushed, face washed, sexy undies and t-shirt, Harrison sits on the toilet to pee. Great, this could take hours, when all of a sudden a steady stream of yellow flows. Goddamn it. What kind of spell has he cast?
Dr. Pretty grabs the bottle of wine, glasses, matches, and lights some candles in Harrison’s bedroom. Knock. He playfully pretends not to hear. Knock. Knock. He opens the door and grins, leans in to kiss Harrison.
“Aren’t you on-call?”
Pretty shakes his head. “Traded for 3 all-nighters.”
“Should I be flattered, or insulted? Bit presumptuous?”
“Both, I’d say,” taking his shirt off. Jesus H. Christ. He looks just like Jesus H. Christ, twelve-pack, biceps and that face. The stubble, tousled brown hair, the piercing hazel eyes. Harrison is in big trouble. Dirty, scruffy brown boys are her favorite kind of trouble. He places her gently on the bed, tight arms hovering inches above. Pretty lies next to her, scooping her up, unexpectedly kissing her neck. They make out like teen-agers. Harrison usually skips this part, gets down to business. With him she doesn’t mind, he’s so comfortable with himself he puts her at ease.
Dr. Pretty gets up, blows out the candles, removes his boxers and hops into bed. “I sleep commando, babe, you good with that? Wow, blushing again? Remind me to get naked more often. Sweet dreams. Wake me if you need to pee. No hobbling in the dark on my watch.”
Zack wraps his arms around Harrison careful not to touch her foot, caressing her head. She wants to ask why, why her? The killjoy, ever-suspicious voice in her head will not win. Harry closes her eyes, blocking out the noise and drifts.
When she wakes, there’s a wild flower from her garden on his pillow and a sticky note with a heart. She checks her phone. 10:00 a.m. Holy hell? Twelve voice mails, what the crap? It’s him, Dr. Pretty. #1 I had… #2 an amazing… #3 night. #4 You are lovely… #5 when you sleep. #6 Your… #7 guard comes down… #8 thank you…#9 well, you know, off to work… #10 3-day, 24-Hour ER rotation… #11 Better miss me… #12 Stay off that foot. I’ll know.
The ‘Call K’ reminder, the forgotten days-old promise now a black smear illegible on her wrist. Harrison’s stupid, high school grin returns, permanently glued to her face.
Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in the anthology, Brainstorms, and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness. She’s a storyteller, observer, essayist, potty mouth and film lover who’s traveled the world. Her work has been featured in the anthologies Brainstorms, Feminine Collective’s Raw and Unfiltered Vol. 1, and numerous literary magazines.
Jacqueline pens the column, “Bleeding Ink” column with Feminine Collective.
Her poignant, literary fiction debut, The Vast Landscape, gives new meaning to intense, raw and heartfelt.
Fans of the emotional, soul stirring first novel will not be able to put the exciting sequel, Georgia Pine, down.
The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
~ Georgia Pine, by Jacqueline Cioffa
Please find links to the revised edition of The Vast Landscape on Amazon and all of your favorite booksellers soon.
Editor: Justin Bogdanovitch
Proofreader / Formatter: Wendy C. Garfinkle
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AROUND THE WEB
AUTHOR SITE: http://jacquelinecioffa.com
BLEEDING INK with Feminine Collective: http://femininecollective.com/category/articles/columns/bleeding-ink/
MAKE UP TO MODEL CITI ZEN BEAUTY BLOG: http://modelcitizenmakeup.blogspot.com
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-Cioffa/e/B00H4EZKVE