Selected Chapter Excerpts from Capturing Captain America

Captain America vs. Captain Britannia?

“You have to go through with this!”

Tara knew Natasha meant business. When she took a position it was set in stone. Any hesitation would be futile. Tara just couldn’t go on another blind date set up even if it were complements of a prestigious matchmaker. Yet she knew she really should. So she involved Natasha in finding the right dress and look for her blind date with British-American Polo player Cameron Paisley. Without Natasha pushing her Tara knew she was at risk for backing out.

“I’m done with going on blind dates. Remember what happened with my stupid experience?”

“Stop dwelling on Ronan! He is a typical Orange County snob who doesn’t notice anyone outside the O.C. You aren’t shallow. He is. Besides, you were never attracted to Colin Farrell no matter how good he looked. Didn’t you say that Ronan could pass for his identical twin?”

“Yes. Ronan is Colin Doppelganger in appearance but no, I’m not dwelling. I’m old enough to have healthy cynicism on the dating scene.”

“Yes you are! Let it go! Stop needing his approval.”

“That is not it. He was different.”

“He was an elitist who should go find his next Real Housewife of Orange County candidate for casting. What’s the German phrase again that you always use to tell someone off but they don’t know it?”

“Verbiss Dich.”

“Ja. Verbiss Dich Ronan! Go Pink. Give love a try or at least a chance!”

Tara took a deep breath while staring at the mirror analyzing her appearance in the 10th dress she tried on that morning. After a few seconds she knew Natasha knew that she agreed with her statement to go Pink, the singer not the color.

“OK. How does this Valentino dress look? I love the copper tone.”

“You have a subtle yet dramatic La Dolce Vita look. Are you sure you don’t want to wear the red Armani cocktail dress for the first time you meet Cameron Paisley in person? I hear he is even more handsome in person. Like a doppelganger for the actor Michael Fassbender, your favorite, remember?”

“I read that his favorite color is Copper. Cristina the matchmaker at Stellar Hitch confirmed that.”

“Can you text the matchmaker about that? Maybe he likes copper on a horse but red on a lady? Optimize your odds Tara!”

The private shopper dressing room on the 5th floor at the Bloomingdales on Market Street was always a session in fidgeting. Natasha had taken Tara to her stylist to help pick out a dress for the weekend Gala event at the British Consulate of San Francisco. Tara was invited to the Black Tie affair celebrating the best of British ex-pat culture in the City by the Bay.  The Cultural Affairs Division had organized the fundraising event and called it “Rule Britannia by the Pacific”. A ticket was $1000 and funds raised would benefit Veterinarians without Borders. Several prominent ex-pat Britons were involved in organizing the Gala and a special appearance by Sir Sean Connery and Daniel Craig guaranteed a high turn-out. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, the original and current Bond, would be on hand to sign memorabilia to be auctioned off during the evening.

Tara had heard of the Gala months earlier and had an opportunity to attend as part of the UC, Davis Veterinary School faculty. At the time Tara declined because she wasn’t supposed to be in town during the fundraiser. She had planned to be in Los Angeles that weekend as part of a K-9 training conference but it was postponed for three months when the host city was changed to Seattle. Tara had forgotten about the benefit with the Brits but a chance phone call from Roxanne, her Huffington Post Editor, opened up a chance to go with a date.

Roxanne had been well aware of Tara’s “Fertile Thoughts” column and was privy to Tara’s lamenting over being brushed off by Ronan. Roxanne had her share of Sex and the City romantic adventures in New York before finding her real life Italian aristocrat husband Francesco one summer in Naples. Ever since her real-life fairytale wedding and marriage, Roxanne was a staunch supporter of the traditional art of matchmaking. Roxanne’s grandmother was a war bride from Italy who kept close to her family in Europe. Raised in a traditional Italian-American home in New York, Roxanne spent her summers in Italy, but would balk at the mention of being introduced to an eligible man by her relatives. The summer she met Francesco, Roxanne had just broken up with her own Mr. Big, after five years of dating. She had gone to Italy to avoid running into him in Manhattan and in a moment of vulnerability, said Si to a blind date. Within six weeks Roxanne married Francesco and now they were going on 15 years together.  When Roxanne heard about a new matchmaking company named Stellar Hitch in Los Angeles, she signed up Tara to their portfolio service, without telling Tara. A month later a surprise phone call from Cristina Morara acted as a sort of romantic game changer.

Tara was in her Vet Clinic finishing up paperwork on a Friday afternoon with her assistant Paula. Rarely did their reception line ring after 2:00pm on Fridays unless it was an emergency. Tara had picked up the call expecting a sick pet but the woman on the other end of the line was calling about a Polo Player, but not one who had an injured horse.

“Hello, Dr. Bender’s Vet Clinic?”

“Hi. This is Cristina Morara from Stellar Hitch. We exchanged emails about a month ago when you were accepted as a portfolio member in our database. How are you?”

Tara couldn’t recall any emails from a company by that name. Maybe Paula had sourced a new supplier of pet products for the clinic. Often Paula would answer the general clinic emails on her behalf.

“Were you speaking with my assistant Paula? She usually handles correspondence for the clinic.”

“No, it was you. Are you Dr. Tara Bender? The vet in Pacific Heights in San Francisco?”

“Yes but I don’t usually answer queries on our clinic email.”

“I’m confused. I was emailing you from your personal email address, Is that the correct account?”

“No. That is not our clinic email and my personal address is on gmail. I am the only Dr. Tara Bender who is a vet here in the Bay Area. Maybe I ended up on your subscription list or my email has been hacked.”

“I highly doubt that. You sent me pictures and filled out a long questionnaire. You sent me a detailed description of the kind of man you are trying to meet. Everything matches up with the photos of you on your website. I am confused now myself.”

Tara and Cristina spoke for several minutes concerned that Tara had been the victim of a prankster or identity thief. After a lengthy conversation and reviews of the correspondence Tara realized what had happened. Roxanne had mentioned Stellar Hitch to her about two months ago after The Huffington Post published an article about them. Stellar Hitch was a traditional European matchmaking company ran by a happily married couple who also met in Italy. Stellar Hitch espoused vintage dating and the art of romance. Their branding was such that Roxanne was convinced that they would only attract men and women serious about settling down with their extraordinary other half. Roxanne had urged Tara to contact them but she had been hesitant. Once the origins of the email were discovered both women laughed simultaneously on the phone.

“Look. I know that your friend should have gotten your permission to submit you to our database. The fact is, I have a client who is very interested in meeting you. You fit the description of his ideal woman. Since your friend is such a stand for you to have a happy ending I would really like for you to consider meeting him.”

“What can you tell me about him?”

“His name is Cameron Paisley. He was born in Florida but raised in England with his British parents and siblings. Cameron shares your love of animals. He has been living in Marin County for five years but has been a professional Polo player for over a decade. Cameron is also a philanthropist. He runs an Equine Facilitated Therapy Clinic called Europa in Mill Valley. It’s a residential treatment center for adolescents recovering from eating disorders.”

Tara felt her heart opening with that hope she used to feel for her imaginary Captain America. Then she braced herself because this man that the matchmaker had in mind could be some old guy looking for a woman half his age. She had heard of men hiring matchmakers to find them women young enough to be their granddaughters in an attempt to recapture their youth. She felt a cringe trickle down her spine at an image of a pudgy old British man with long white hair trying to look like Fabio. Hopefully this was not a prank and if her memory was correct, Cameron Paisley was only in his mid-30’s.

“How old is he? Is he divorced with kids? Did he attend University in England?”

“Cameron is an ideal age for you. He just turned 36 and no, never married, was engaged once for about three months when he was 26 but she wasn’t supportive of his passion for horses. He wants kids but doesn’t have them. We did a background check, which is standard for all our paying clients, and he attended the London School of Economics and graduated with a B.A. and MSc in International Economics. Best of all, he speaks fluent French and German. That is something Roxanne put down as a bonus for you.”

“I’ve heard of Cameron Paisley. He brought his horses to UC, Davis last year for a fundraiser but I was not on campus at the time. Why is he single? I’ve heard he is very social and from his pictures is rather handsome.”

“That is an excellent question. He does his fair share of dating but he is a traditional European man and feels that American women are not the right fit for him. Cameron wants to get married and start a family in the next five years. He wants someone with a traditional background and has a sense of culture who loves animals. You fit the profile. Will you give it a chance to just meet him? There is no obligation for you. Since you are part of our portfolio we are not going to charge you for the introduction.”

Tara couldn’t believe what she was hearing. That morning began with her hearing news that one of her patients, the proud owner of a Pekingese dog named Coco, was gushing about Tara’s pet jewelry line. She also shared with Tara that she had just moved in with her boyfriend Ronan. Tara didn’t probe Nicolet about her Ronan. The name wasn’t all that common but it there was a chance it was a different man. Tara preferred to not know for sure or not.

Just the mention by a Kate Upton look-alike Tantra teacher gushing about a man named Ronan was enough to make Tara feel letdown. When she and Ronan were getting to know one another for a brief two months Tara kept her cool. There was something different about Ronan. He attracted her intellectually as much as physically, and a mental attraction was the key thing for Tara. Unfortunately she wasn’t the Orange County girl he was looking for. Usually Tara would be annoyed for a day or two but this rejection seemed to linger for way too long. Not even twice daily meditation to Debi Berndt’s “Next: Overcoming Rejection” CD seemed to stop her from wishing he would show up again one day.

“Si Cristina. I would love to meet Cameron. If anything, he sounds like someone who would make a great new friend especially if he is an animal lover. How do I meet him?”

“I’ve already told him about you. He would like you to be his date at the British Consulate of San Francisco’s Gala Fundraiser for Veterinarians without Borders. The event is being held at the Westin St. Francis on Saturday evening. Are you free that night?”

“Yes. Wouldn’t he want to meet me before then?”

“If his schedule allowed he definitely would want to meet before the Gala but Cameron is in Argentina right now. He doesn’t return until next Saturday in the early morning. I know it is unusual but I feel you two will have a great time. My husband and I are going to the event as well. We arrive in San Francisco next Thursday and could stop by your Vet clinic so we can talk more in person. Is that possible?”

“Si. Absolutely.”

Later that night as Tara prepared to go out to dinner with Samantha to tell her about the surprise call from Stellar Hitch, her mind fixated on her own words to Cristina about being friends with Cameron if there wasn’t a spark. How odd she thought. When Ronan asked to be friends because he wanted to pursue someone else she told him absolutely not. Even odder, it was an uncharacteristic response for her. Tara had many honorary brothers who were male friends she first met on dates. She just couldn’t be Ronan’s friend.

For some ridiculous reason whenever Tara recalled Ronan’s face the Colin Farrell cover version of “I Fought the Law” would play in her head.



©2013 Jackie Morrison, chapter excerpt from Capturing Captain America


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