“Mr. Slamm welcome to Valentino’s.”

A coat check girl wanders up to a dapper CURTIS SLAMM decked out in a three piece Armani suit and tie, and takes his wool skin overcoat off him.

Slamm straightens himself out as he is escorted to a quant small table in the corner. Already sitting is a beautiful woman dressed in a sultry fire engine red Versace cocktail dress.

As she sees Slamm approach, she stands up and waits for him by the table. Her brunette hair is freshly fashioned with long curls that softly feather her shoulder blades. Her face is powdered and highlighted lightly with a sultry mix of bronze and earth tones; her lips a meld of bronze and light brown gloss. She is accessorized with shining white diamond earrings, a matching necklace that sits perfectly centered within the a-line seam of her dress cut, a few diamond bracelets that sit snug on her petite wrists, and a black belt cummerbund tied off to the side in a rose shape and cinching her waist to accentuate her small hourglass figured waistline. She stands almost 6’ flat footed but in her old fashioned, black patent leather Jimmy Choo pumps she is almost face to face level with Slamm.

Slamm is careful not to spoil her efforts to look as lovely as she does by smothering her. Instead he leans forward carefully and gives her a faint peck on the cheek as she puts her hands daintily onto his shoulders.

Slamm steps back and gives her a good once over.

She playfully models for him.

“You look…wow!”

“You don’t look so bad yourself mister.”

Slamm pulls out the woman’s chair for her and she sits down. Slamm then has his chair held out by the host and sits as well. As the both flail their napkins loose from the over zealous floral design they were folded into and place them into their laps, the host carefully places menus in front of the couple.

“Do you need a wine list Mr. Slamm?”

“No, we’ll go ahead and just do a bottle of your Warres Vintage Port.”

“Very good sir.”

The host heads off. Slamm and his guest stare at one another, all smiles.

“How have you been?”

“This traveling circus I am on has got me going every which way, a movie here, an interview there, and a house show then live show performance everywhere; the typical life of an aging superstar.”

“Yeah but you know you love it.”

“I do, I do.”

Slamm smiles bigger.

“How about you?”

“Well you know the life of a publicist isn’t always so grandiose, it’s more mundane these days. That’s why I was excited when you called. I get to be a jet setter again, get away from Europe for a while. I miss the days of us all traveling together.”

“Those were some funs times for sure. How’s the rest of the family?”

“It’s tough Curtis. You know my mom she is still very much grieving and Dad, well he is so inside himself these days that if you get him to speak 3 words you have solved the DaVinci Code of the James’ family.”

“I thought about seeing them, next time I am in New York, but then I thought better of it.”

The woman reaches over and grasps Slamm’s hand.

“You just have to give it time.”

“Like with us?”

“Well we’ve known each other for so long, we all have our demons to fight, and I know how much you loved my sister. That made it easier.”

The woman withdraws her hand and sits up.

“Don’t get me wrong I was still so angry at you when it happened but I know you would do anything to get that day back.”

Slamm feels a tear welling up in his eye and quickly wipes it away.

“Janelle, that’s behind us. Let’s talk about what’s in front of us now.”

“What are doing out there Curtis? These guys you’re mixed up with, can you really trust them?”

“About as much as they trust me. Look I got opportunities here. I did them a solid, rid them of their competition.”

“Marcus Ash has never been competition.”

“Yeah but these guys don’t know that. They get paranoid because their predecessors were paranoid, so they think that’s the right response.”

“Well something tells me we have seen the last of Ash.”

“Don’t be so sure, he’s like a cockroach.”

“So what are doing this for, not the money or the titles? So what, the Hall of Fame?

“I am doing because I still can. Janelle it’s all I know. Truth is, this movie, it’s just a thing, not a career move. I tried to stay out but then I got to working out harder, healed up, and then I started to say why not. The FHW has always been that one elusive mantle piece I covet. They need me, so why not use that to make a run.”

“You’re not telling me the whole story. If you think I don’t know my Brother-in-law or the business...“

Slamm glances away for the briefest of moments but Janelle catches it. She sits back in her chair trying to stare a hole through him.

“It’s about ‘him’, isn’t it?”

Slamm is reluctant to answer, he tries to say it but his mouth won’t let him even try.

“Curtis, even if it happens, you have to have something he wants to even get close to him.”

“Did you forget who you are talking too? Who can get under someone's skin better than me?"

"Not in this case."

"That’s why this tournament here is important. I have to stay the course with these guys for now and show them I mean business then they can help me get what I want.”

Janelle leans forward, her face lights up.

“That's a slippery slope but that's not why I am here. You want me to help you figure a way out.”

“Just in case. I need to have an exit strategy. I know these guys have one. I need to be ready to strike first.”

“Hence why you want me to call Shane? You really think you have something to offer him?”

“No but the FHW might.”

Janelle and Slamm stare at one another, almost as if their thoughts had connected so much that they need not say another word.

The waiter interrupts this mind meld and the two go on to have their respective meals and drink some wine. The conversation shifts to memories of days long gone but never a mention again of the strategy that has begun to form.

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