I, Philippe Zabelle (wealthy software designer, callous playboy, totally un-handy man), do hereby hire contractor Janice Diane Wyatt to renovate my home (but not make significant changes in my life, like making me fall for her, a single mom).
I give J.D. full authority to choose appliances and decor--as long as she doesn't distract me from my poker games or wear anything too revealing....
Should J.D. fail to complete this job-- or should I be unable to resist her beauty and intelligence--this agreement will be renegotiated according to our mutual desires.
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August 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Remodeling the Bachelor by Marie Ferrarella
"When are you going to get that cracked sink fixed?" Beau de la Croix asked good-naturedly as he slid back into his place at the poker table.
The question was addressed to Philippe Zabelle, his cousin and the host of their weekly poker game. Beau and several other friends and relatives showed up here at Philippe's to talk, eat and bet toothpicks on the whimsical turn of the cards. They used colored toothpick sinstead of chips or money because those were the house rules and Philippe, easy going about so many things, was very strict about that.
Philippe's dark eyebrows rose slightly above his light green eyes at the innocent but still irritating query. Beau had hit a sore spot. Everyone at the circular table was aware of that.
"When I get around to it," Philippe replied evenly.
"Better hope that's not soon," Georges Armand, Philippe's half brother commented, battling the grin that begged to break out across his tanned face. "If Philippe puts his hand to it, that's the end of the sink."
Philippe, the oldest of famed artist Lily Moreau's three sons, shifted his steely gaze toward Georges, his junior by two years. "Are you saying that I'm not handy?"
Alain Dulac, Philippe's other half brother, as blond as Philippe was dark, bent over with laughter at the very idea of his older brother holding an actual tool in his hand. "Oh God, Philippe, you're so far from handy that if handy were Los Angeles, you'd be somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Drowning," Alain finally managed, holding his sides because they hurt.
Georges discarded two cards and momentarily frowned at the rest of his hand. "Two," he decided out loud, then looked over to his right and Philippe. "Everyone knows you've got lots of talents, Philippe, but being handy is just not one of them."
Philippe tried not to take offense, but it bothered him nonetheless. For the most part, he considered himself a free thinker, a person who believed that no one should be expected to fit into a given slot or pigeonholed because of gender or race. With the flamboyant and outspoken Lily Moreau as his mother, a woman who made the fictional Auntie Mame come off like a cloistered nun, he couldn't help but have an open mind.
Even so, it got under his skin that he barely knew the difference between a Phillips-head screwdriver and a flat-head one. Men were supposed to know these things, it was a given, written in some giant book of man-rules somewhere.
The fact that he not only couldn't rebuild an automobile engine but was pretty stumped if one refused to start, didn't bother him. Lots of men were ignorant about what went on under the hoods of things housed in their garage.
But not being handy around the house, well, that was another story entirely.
Still, he had no natural ability, nor even a fostered one. He'd always been too busy either studying or being both mother and father to his brothers because his mother had once more taken off with a show, or, just as likely, with a man. Growing up, he'd found himself taking on the role of buffer, placing himself between the endless parade of nannies and his two younger brothers. Once out of their rebellious teens, Georges and Alain had both acknowledged that even though they loved their mother dearly, Philippe was the only reason they had turned out normal. Or at least reasonably so.
That didn't stop them from teasing him whenever the opportunity arose. Their affection for the man they considered the head of the family actually seemed to promote it.
"One," Alain requested, throwing down his card first. After glancing at the new addition, he looked up at Philippe. He put on the face that Philippe knew was the undoing of every fluttering female heart at the university Alain was currently attending. A university whose tuition bill found its way into his mailbox twice a year and which he promptly and willingly paid. "Too late to change my mind and get the old one back?"
There wasn't even a hint of humor on Philippe's face. "After insulting me?"
"Wasn't an insult, Philippe," his cousin Remy assured him. Remy, a geologist, was closer to Alain inage than Philippe. "Alain was only telling it the way it is. Hey," he added quickly, forestalling any fallout from the man they all admired, "we all love you, Philippe, but you know you'll never be the first one any of us call if we find that we've got a clogged drain."
"Or a cabinet door that won't close right," Vincent Mirabeau called over from the far side of the kitchen.
"Like this one." To illustrate his point, Vincent, another one of Philippe's cousins and Lily's godson, went through elaborate motions to close the closet door. Creaking, it returned to its place, approximately an inch and a half away from its mate, just hanging in midspace. "I think you should bite the bullet and hire someone to remodel this place."