This bonus scene comes from the Patreon short Ask Him and takes place before Ask Me. It explains what happened to Andre on the red carpet that caused him to retreat from the spotlight. You can download for your ereader or read below! Enjoy! xoxo – minx


“Mr. Lavin! Look this way!”

Hundreds of camera flashes spark as I turn, holding still so the photographers can get their shots. Ella, the model on my arm, thrusts out one leg and puts a hand on her hip, completely unfazed by the commotion.

She was a good choice for tonight.

Movie premieres are not my favorite things but my publicist insisted that walking the red carpet for the latest Oscar contender was a must. The fact that half of the men I’ve seen so far are wearing my designs soothes my irritation at giving up my evening. For a fashion designer, there is no ego boost quite like seeing your designs in the wild.

“Andre! We love you!!”

Cheers, whistles and screams erupt from the crowd behind the barricade as I make my way down the red carpet. As much as I hate the press circuit, the fans are the reason why I bother. Everywhere I go, they appear holding handmade signs and wearing shirts with my face on them. They blow kisses, scream my name and yes, women have been known to faint when I stop to give autographs. But the ego boost isn’t why I do this, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It’s the love they shower on me that makes it all worth it.

The young man who styled himself from the advice on my Instagram and got the job. The young woman who leaves a comment on a photo of a plus size model that she feels included. The busy executive who can relate to the random stories and pictures I share. These people have a connection with me and I feel one to them in return.

The flashes continue as I move down the red carpet slowly. If it was just me, I would probably pose once and then move on but the model on my arm deserves her chance to shine. She’s one of the new models chosen to walk in my last show and is hungry for every opportunity to gain exposure. She’s also not interested in men, the only reason I agreed to escort her tonight.

From the corner of my eye I notice my assistant, Kate, following just out of sight of the photographers, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. Up ahead, my best friend and the COO of Lavin Fashions, Jason Gautier, is on the arm of Hollywood’s newest starlet.

The romance must be a PR stunt otherwise he would have told me about it. But either way, the resulting press and media coverage will only be good for Lavin Fashions. Especially since Jason is of course wearing a suit from our upcoming line.

“Andre! Always good to see you. Have you met Annalisa?” He motions to the heavily made up blonde on his arm. When he turns back to me, his eyes shift to something over my shoulder. Then he pushes me to the side, shoving me into Ella so hard that she stumbles.

I faintly hear a scream and the sun glints off metal, the shine so bright it blinds me temporarily.

“I love you!”

When my eyes meet the young girl’s, for a moment she looks startled, then euphoric.

“We were meant to be together. Forever.”

Her arm raises high and for a moment all I can think is this is it. My last moments will be spent at the premiere of a movie I don’t want to see on the arm of a woman I don’t love. Everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion as her arm arcs downward and the knife cuts through the air. Behind her, I have a close up view of Jason’s horrified face as he reaches to grab her but he’s not close enough.

The knife continues it’s deadly plunge until it tears through the skin on her arm, spraying a crimson streak across her shirt.

I love you, Andre! I’m your biggest fan.” Her eyes lock on mine, huge and earnest as she is lifted off the ground from behind. Security surrounds us now, putting themselves physically between us to block me from any potential danger.

But all I can think is that the true danger isn’t something they can protect me from.

The danger is in being me.

* * *

This is what I needed.

I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with the soft, fragrant Italian air and then open my eyes to behold the land that has been in my family for almost a century. There is an undeniable beauty here- the dappled sunlight that spills over the olive grove, the caress of the breeze that brings the scents of the sea – but most important, is the sense of history. Of continuity. Knowing that I’m standing in the same spot my father once stood and his father before him and so on.

If anything can fill the void that has opened in me these past few months, it would be this place.

For the last few days, I’ve done everything you’re supposed to do on vacation. Eaten at the local restaurants, taking time to talk to each proprietor, many of whom are the same as when I used to visit as a child. I’ve slept the dreamless sleep that only medication can provide and read books that barely held my interest. Each day and each night I have put forth effort to rest my mind and relax my body and nothing has worked.

I am still not happy.

“Who could be unhappy here?” I speak the words aloud, needing to hear them, hoping that putting them out there in the universe will reveal the answer. But the olive trees seem content to ignore me and just be.

Maybe I should take a lesson from these trees.

Resolved to enjoy my short time left here, I push the dark thoughts aside and start walking. Most of my days are spent behind a desk now, reviewing budgets and plans as my extensive staff carry out my wishes. Nothing like when I first started, when I was involved in every design. I look down at my hands, smooth and unblemished. Such a change from the days when I had cuts and sores from pins and long nights of cutting fabrics.

Fashion design is a cutthroat business and no one makes it without having skin, and blood, in the game. But I had more than most, knowing that my background and family were all initially against me. Pampered sons in the Lavin family go into respectable fields such as law or medicine. Not something as frivolous as fashion. There were many long days and nights when I wondered if all the work would be worth it. If I’d ever get to prove them all wrong.

The fact that I did should give me comfort. Vindication, even. Somehow it doesn’t matter as much as I once thought it would.

“Andre! There you are.” My mother’s voice floats from behind me, pulling me from my thoughts.

Buon giorno, Mamma. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” We exchange kisses and I lead her back to the house. My mother has never been fond of the olive groves and standing in the sun.

“I tried, mio figlio. But no one on your staff seemed to know where you were. Or at least they wouldn’t tell me.”

Her words make me want to smile but I suppress it. My staff is loyal and would never reveal my location, not even to my mother. Especially to my mother. I’m just shocked that my assistant didn’t call to warn me. Kate is incredibly efficient and knows I don’t enjoy surprises.

“Apologies. I decided to take a holiday before Fashion Week starts and enjoy the last days of summer. I expect the new line will draw a lot of interest. We’ll be very busy soon.”

She squeezes my arm. “I never understood why your father loved this place so. He almost didn’t make it away from here. Perhaps it reminded him of his youth. But after the excitement of the city, I would have thought it would be a disappointment.”

I don’t tell her that the simplicity of this life was probably exactly why my father loved it here. The frenetic pace of Milan and the constant driving need to see and be seen has always been more my mother’s thing.

“Are you hungry? I can have Chiara make us something.” Although I don’t get here often, I employ a housekeeper from the village to look after the place and cook when I’m in residence.

Mamma is shaking her head before I finish the sentence. “Not today. I must get back to the city. Anna Maria is having us for dinner. I suppose I’ll have to give her your regrets?”

“Please do. I’m sure I’ll see her soon. She’s always on the fashion circuit.”

Anna Maria is my mother’s best friend and one of the reigning dames of their exclusive social circle. She’ll be front row at Milan Fashion Week and in New York as well, no doubt.

“Of course.” Mamma kisses my cheek as we reach the back door to the small villa. She shades her eyes with one hand as she turns to me. “Promise me you won’t stay too long. I worry about you out here all alone.”

“I promise. I’ll be back in the States before long anyway. We have meetings.”

She pats my shoulder gently before turning to go. I can’t even be annoyed by her meddling since she’s not the only one who has expressed concern about my sudden vacation.

Plenty of my friends wonder why I don’t stay more at my place in Milan or if I wish to remain on the Amalfi Coast, at least upgrade to one of the villas with a better view. Now that I’ve “made it” I can hobnob with Europe’s most wealthy and the Hollywood elite. They don’t understand that I don’t care about any of that. Not the way I used to.

But it’s time I get back to reality.

As I walk through the same home that is virtually unchanged from my childhood, I stop to look at a photograph on the wall. It’s a picture of me and my younger brother, Philippe, with our father. Papa is holding Philippe and I’m at his side, looking up at him with adoration. My father came from simple beginnings and taught us the things that really matter in life can’t be bought. As busy as he was, I never doubted that he considered his family the most important thing in his life.

As I look at the picture, I’m startled by the longing to have that someday. A child of my own. Family. People to care about me as more than just a source of income or an autograph.

Papa once told me that when I found the right person to spend my life with, I’d feel as though I’d found the missing puzzle piece to my heart.

I’m ready to find that piece.

* * *

Thank you so much for reading Andre on the Red Carpet!

This scene comes from Andre’s bonus novella on Patreon entitled Ask Him. Andre & Casey also have a short story called Tell Me.

If you love these characters and want more, check out my Patreon!