Spanish Disco
  • Spanish Disco
  • Spanish Disco

Spanish Disco

4.5 7
by Erica Orloff

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"Real life was messy. Sloppy bathrooms I could handle. Love I could not."

For thirty-three-year-old Cassie Hayes, life is about to get messier. She can't cook, unless you count coffee as a meal (she does). She can't commit (just ask her ex-husband). She drinks too much (tequila for breakfast). Of course, she has guided her share of authors to the

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"Real life was messy. Sloppy bathrooms I could handle. Love I could not."

For thirty-three-year-old Cassie Hayes, life is about to get messier. She can't cook, unless you count coffee as a meal (she does). She can't commit (just ask her ex-husband). She drinks too much (tequila for breakfast). Of course, she has guided her share of authors to the bestseller list for the literary publishing house where she works (when she makes it to the office). And now she must coax a sequel out of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author-turned-recluse. Moving in with the recluse is one thing, but teaching him the hustle so he can win the heart of his Spanish housekeeper is way beyond the call of duty.

Cassie slowly unravels, with no coffeehouses, no bagels and nothing but sand for nightlife. On top of that, she's having phone sex with her favorite author, the mysterious, London-based Michael Pearton, who has suddenly decided to ruin their perfect affair by insisting that after five years they meet in person. Add a tabloid reporter who is after the literary story of a lifetime, and Cassie's dance card is full.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A brilliant editor, workaholic, ex-Studio 54 wild child and burgeoning alcoholic-the heroine of this romantic comedy is caustic enough to take the varnish off Bridget Jones's nails. Cassie Hayes, 33, is perfectly happy with her coffee-chugging, 80-hour-workweek life as West Side Publishing's star editor. The closest she gets to nutritious food is the lemon wedges that accompany her daily tequila, and her current idea of intimacy is the incredible phone sex she has with her bestselling author Michael Pearton, who lives a safe 5,000 miles away in London. All this suits her just fine, until famous recluse Roland Riggs, who disappeared from the scene shortly after the publication of his groundbreaking novel Simple Simon, announces that he has completed the book's long-awaited sequel-and that he wants Cassie to be his editor. Cassie reluctantly sets off for the writer's secluded home on Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico, only to discover that Roland is determined to hold the sequel hostage until she teaches him to do the Hustle like a pro so he can woo his disco-loving Mexican housekeeper. While coaxing the book out of Roland, wrestling with her growing feelings for Michael, who is suddenly insisting that they must meet, fending off a tabloid reporter who has stumbled onto Roland's secrets and reconciling herself with her troublesome mother, Cassie has her hands full-and there ain't a decent espresso in sight. This isn't the subtlest love story, even by the standards of the genre, but Cassie is refreshingly free of the self-doubt that afflicts most of her peers. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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"Hello, Buttercup."

Most people panic that a jangling phone at 4:09 in the morning is a death call — the one in which a cop is about to tell you he's found your sibling or mother or father plastered like a bloody possum on the pavement of I-95. Instead, I uttered his name like a curse: "Michael!"

"Yes, darling, it's me."

I reached in vain for the lamp.

"I don't suppose there's any point in asking if you know what time it is."

"What would David have for breakfast?"


"Because I think eggs indicates a surprising lack of concern about his health. After all, his wife has been nagging him for years about his cholesterol. His smoking. And this could be his lone act of defiance. His way of telling the world to fuck off, as you, my dear, would so eloquently put it."

"Or he could merely like sunny-side up and a side of bacon, Michael. Is it that important what your character eats for breakfast?"

My fingers found the little pull-chain on my bedside lamp. I squinted and reached for the glass of warm bourbon and water I keep on my nightstand for conversations precisely like this one.


"Michael, you know I am not at my best until a good solid six hours from now. And that only after a pot of coffee. Can't this wait?"

"Be a love," he said, his English accent trying to charm me through the phone line. "Greet the dawn with me."

"Greet the dawn? Michael, I don't want to greet the dawn with you. I don't want to greet noon with you."

"Impossible! You don't want to enjoy the splendor outside your balcony with me? Your favorite author?"

"Favorite is not — most definitely not — the word that comes to mind right now." I sighed. "Those acknowledgments better drip with praise."

"To my dream editor, the love of my life, Cassie Hayes, without whom this book would not be possible and without whom I would curl into a fetal position and remain there. For life without the beautiful and witty Miss Hayes would, in fact, be life not worth living at all."

"That's a start."

"And she has a remarkable sense of the sublime and a true command of all dangling participles."


"And she's simply charming before the dawn."

Stretching, I sighed. "All right. Let me grab my robe and start a pot of coffee."

"Are you naked, Cassie?"

Michael Pearton was, quite possibly, the best writer I had ever worked with or read. He was also faintly mysterious. His back cover head shots showed a man with black curly hair and a crooked smile offset by a long, ragged scar on his decidedly square chin. He was both movie-star handsome and bar-fight dangerous. We'd never met but indulged in flirtation bordering on phone sex. Because I wasn't getting any other kind of sex, I tolerated his predawn ramblings.

"Why, yes, Michael, I am," I murmured. "Stark, raving naked. My nipples are hard because you know I keep my house colder than a meat locker regardless of what the weather is outside. And I am now shoving said nipples into my robe and shuffling in my bare feet to the kitchen where I will start a pot of coffee."

I rested the portable phone on my shoulder, talking in my pre-coffee rasp as I tied my green silk kimono, a gift from another author's trip to Singapore.

"I do so love it when you talk dirty, Cassie."

"I do so love it when you call me in the middle of the day."

"So nasty when you haven't had that cup. You know you should switch to tea, love. Do you ever use the set I shipped you?"

I flicked on the kitchen light, shielding my eyes from the brightness as it reflected on my Florida-white tile and cabinets, and stared at the sterling tea set perched, never used, on my breakfast bar. He had bought it at a flea market of some sort and shipped it over to the States. It was tarnished, but the elaborate handle on the teapot was ornately baroque, and though it matched nothing in my condominium, I adored it.

"Yes. It's gorgeous."

"You're a horrible liar. But I know it probably looks lovely wherever you have it."

"Michael, why does inspiration only strike you in the middle of my night?"

My Mr.Coffee machine started making noises, and I willed it to brew faster.

"It's very odd really. I go to sleep and wake up in the middle of the night absolutely certain of what must happen next. Oh . . . and showers. I get inspiration in the shower. And now, everyone else in London is getting ready for lunch, and I just have to finish this scene. It's sad, really. I have a twenty-thousand-dollar antique cherrywood desk good enough for the queen herself, and I never write a damn word sitting at it."

I knew he was sitting stark, raving naked in his bed, with his laptop and a hard-on for companionship.

"So your inspiration is that David is worrying about breakfast?"

"Yes. It's the morning after he's been denied tenure. He feels completely emasculated. And now, as an act of defiance, I see him having eggs."

"Okay, then. Let him eat eggs."

"What kind?"

"Michael, who the fuck cares what kind?"

"What kind? Would he eat poached eggs or scrambled?"

"I thought I mentioned sunny-side up with a side of bacon."

"But that was in offhanded comment. I don't think you really gave it much thought."


"You think so, really? What about eggs Benedict? Because then he would be eating all that wicked hollandaise sauce."

"I don't care, Michael. Give him hollandaise if it makes you happy. It's four-thirty."

"Is your coffee ready yet? You certainly are particularly crabby this morning."

"Michael, I don't know a single other editor who would put up with this kind of shit."

"Precisely. Which is why you have authors eating out of the palm of your hand, and Louis O'Connor has the most successful small publishing house in the States."

Eyeing the coffeemaker with lust, I smiled. "Coffee's almost ready. I'll be human soon."

A minute or two later, I sat down at my kitchen table an ocean away from West Side Publishing's most valuable author. Michael clicked away on his keyboard, and I drank coffee and held his hand long distance as we worked through the scene. He'd been blocked. I knew he couldn't get past the fourteenth chapter. Every book was the same. Somewhere in the middle he lost hope. He gave up. He got sick of his book, its plot, of his own characters. And then he didn't work for a while until he had an epiphany — usually in the middle of my night — and called me and we talked for hours waiting for the sun to rise and, with it, the resolution of his crisis. Although I think it was an excuse to hear me talk about my nipples.

"Michael," I yawned two hours later, "the sun is rising."

"Tell me about it he whispered."

I stepped out onto my balcony, facing the view a Boca Raton condo can buy. "Well, the Atlantic's really calm this morning — a beautiful azure blue. I see a seagull gliding lazily and a pelican swooping down. The sun is just peeking — the horizon is pink and purple and still midnight a little. The crescent moon is sharing the sky with the beginning of the sun. And here it comes. . . . God, it's beautiful, Michael."

The salty breeze kissed my face.

"You give good sunrise, Cassie."

"Well, if it weren't for you, I'd never see them, so I guess I should thank you. But I won't. I'm going back to bed."

"You've had a pot of coffee. Aren't you wired?"

"No. Good night, Michael."

"Good morning, Cassie. You are the bloody best. Thank you."

"May the next time I hear your voice be after lunch."

I hung up and ran a hand through my bedhead of messy black curls. I padded back to my room, drew the blinds tighter and dropped my robe, crawling sensuously beneath my sheets. I loved the decadence of going back to bed. I picked up the phone and dialed the office, pressing extension 303.

"Lou . . . it's me. Michael Pearton had another pre-dawn meltdown. We were on the phone discussing his main character's menu choices 'til just now. It's 6:30. I'm exhausted. I won't be in until at least noon if you're lucky."

I shut my eyes and thought I'd skip the whole day at the office. My boss let me work three days at home, thanks to voice mail and e-mail, and his sheer adoration of me. I was supposed to go in on Fridays, but the hell with it. I turned the ringer off on my phone. Sleep returned quickly. I dreamed of swimming in pools of hollandaise.

At 11:00, the phone rang, muffled, out in the kitchen. I could hear the caller ignoring the fact that I wasn't answering. I heard four rings, a voice speaking. Hang up, Four rings. Voice speaking. Hang up. Four rings . . .

"Oh for God's sake, what do you want, Lou?" I, finally snatched the receiver next to my bed.

"How'd you know . . ."

"You're the only person stubborn enough to do that, Lou."

"I need you in here today."

"Sorry. I put in my hours with the ever-neurotic Englishman last night. Or actually, this morning, but you know what I mean. I'll be in on Monday."

"This is big."

"What do you mean?"

"Bigger than Stephen King, big. This could make me millions. Your bonus could send you into early retirement."

"So who is it?"

"Can't tell you."

"Lou . . . this isn't high school. Not that I think you ever went to high school. You were born eating your young."

Cassie, my dear, you come and go out of here as the diva you are. But this one time, I'm telling you to get up, get dressed, and meet me at the office. I will mainline you a pot of coffee."

"This better be worth it."

"It is. In spades."

I climbed out of bed, still far too early for my taste. In the kitchen, I dumped out the grinds in Mr. Coffee, the only man in my condo in the last year and a half, and put on my second pot of the day. After a hot shower, a dab of crimson lipstick, and a sort of shaggy-dog shaking of my hair, I dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, threw a linen blazer on, and headed down Florida's AlA ocean highway to West Side's offices.

I'm not sure how it is I came to live in a land of pink palaces and perpetual sunshine. It doesn't suit my personality. But when Lou moved down here from New York, he took me with him. He came for the fishing and the sunshine. He came to get away from New York after Helen died. And I came because he did.

I climbed out of my mint-condition Cadillac that I bought for a song from the estate of an elderly man who had died. His kids wanted cash. Bargains abound in Florida if you don't mind owning stuff that belonged to dead people, When Lou first saw it, he thought I was nuts, "A banana-yellow Caddy? You like driving fruit?" But I have claustrophobia. I drive luxury land tanks.

Pressing the elevator button for the seventh floor, I rode up in glass to West Side's offices.

"Morning, Cassie, "Troy, the receptionist/junior editor, greeted me.

"Mornin'," I mumbled.

"You look a fright."


"Don't mention it. Coffee?"


"You got it." He held out a mug. "Start with this cup, and I'll bring a fresh one in, as soon as it's brewed."

I opened the door to Lou's office without knocking.

"This better be worth it. I'm feeling very bitchy today," I said, putting the mug down on a mahogany coffee table covered with books West Side had published, and flopping onto a long, buttercream leather couch.

"And how is this different from any other day?"

"If I wanted insults, I would call my mother."

"Guess who called me in the middle of the night?"

"What is it with authors and the middle of the night, Lou?"

"Indulge me."

"John Updike?"


"I have no clue," I leaned up on one elbow and took a swig of coffee.

He took the unlit cigar he had in his mouth and set it in his Waterford ashtray.

"Roland Riggs."

"Holy shit!" I said, as hot coffee sprayed out of my mouth.

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Spanish Disco 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved reading a book that took place near where I live. It was an easy and interesting story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story had a very good plot. But it lacked descirption. When I read a book I want to know what the people look like so I can picture it myself. Also it did not have a captivating read to it. Usually I can't put a book down, but I did with this one. I did enjoy it though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Character creations of author Erica Orloff dance right off the page and into the heart in a fast-paced unputdownable tale of Cassie Hayes, an intelligent and witty book editor from South Beach, Florida whose life is about to be turned upside when her boss, the owner of a small literary publishing house, receives a call from a Pulitzer Prize winning author offering a much sought after sequel. But there¿s a catch: he wants Cassie as his editor. This means that she must move in with the reclusive author, but in her zeal to keep the small publishing house from going under, Cassie strikes up a deal which includes teaching the infamous author to do the hustle. In the meantime, she¿s busily giving phone sex to her favorite best-selling, yet mysterious, England-based writer and author when he suddenly demands that they meet. Cassie¿s life is already a mess, but throw in a red chile-cooking housekeeper, a yard full of cats, two bunnies, Cassie¿s jet-setting mother, her demanding boss, and a fame-seeking tabloid reporter and let it boil for a month. The result is a laugh-out-loud, yet touching novel of the life of a thirty-something divorcee and her struggle to survive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BRAVO! The characters created by Erica Orloff in Spanish Disco took a deep breath and danced right off the pages and into my heart. Her theme of life and death as a never-ending dance really tugs at your heart. A real page-turner I couldn't put down. I'll be waiting to read more by Ms. Orloff very soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel is refreshing because the narrator is a regular person who has sharp and uncompromising observations about life, family and men. The writing was good and the characters are engaging enough to keep the pages turning. Great debut.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved Cassie Hayes! She's sassy and fun to read about! A women in her 20's/30's, could find a lot of parallels to her own life while reading this book...The "boyfriend" in England is great! Wish I had someone like him across the ocean! I finished this book in one sitting, while driving from FL to VA...Finished it by SC!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Though West Side Publishing book editor Cassie Hayes now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, she has never shredded her New York City lifestyle, which means coffee at any hour. In the case of her top novelist, Michael Pearton that could mean three in the morning her time as he calls her from England whenever he suffers writer¿s block or needs phone sex. Cassie likes this relationship because she fears an in the flesh coupling. Pulitzer Prize winning recluse Roland Riggs agrees to allow West Side to publish his first work since he won the Pulitzer for Simple Simon decades ago. His condition is that the editor resides in his remote home to teach him how to disco dance and court a woman because he is in love for the first since his wife was murdered. Cassie has the assignment that makes her stomach grind not so much because of the spicy food served or that she will be hustling her butt off, but because relationships are not her thing. Yet when Michael becomes extremely jealous, as he loves his Floridian based editor, she begins to reconsider what life is all about encouraged by Roland¿s struggle to regain his. SPANISH DISCO is an enjoyable contemporary romance that plays out on several levels as the cast consists of walking wounded souls. Though the tale evolves around gun shy Cassie, readers also obtain a reasonably deep look inside the souls of Roland, Maria (housekeeper and the love of his life), and Michael. Fans of dramas with a dysfunctional relationship theme as its core will want to disco with Erica Orloff¿s romantic romp. Harriet Klausner