I hope you enjoyed the first week we had together here at my new FREE READ blog. I know I had a blast and am really loving the story so far. In fact, today's installment was going to be a regular one, but I couldn't help giving you all a little more. It's a bit longer than normal, but...
I wanted to you to really get to know Mace.
As the weeks go by, you'll get to know him as well as...well, as well as Chantal does. LOL
And at the end of the installment I've got some contest info, so make sure you check that out too. Okay?
Ready to meet Mace?
Hustle Into Love
(Ten years later)
Managing a casino was already giving him a headache and he’d only been at the job for less than two weeks. What the hell had he gotten himself into? Mace D'Avranches groaned inwardly and didn’t even bother looking up from the paperwork he was staring at. “Yes, Cái?”
“I…ummm…just wanted to let you know Ms. Montgomery’s plane is due to land in an hour.”
Why in the bloody hell would the casino’s chef need twenty thousand pounds of lobster for the seafood buffet? Was that even reasonable? Mace scribbled a note to call Lì and find out.
Mace blinked and raised his head. “I’m sorry, Cái. What did you say?”
“Ms. Mongomery’s plane? It comes in at 7:40 this evening.”
Quickly shifting gears from seafood to unwanted mermaids, Mace narrowed his eyes. Another problem Lì had left him with. And one he’d sooner forget. “And I need to know this, why?”
Cái shuffled his feet. “Well, sir. There’s a problem.”
Sometimes getting information out of these people was like pulling teeth. Mace gritted his own. “And that problem is?”
“You asked I arrange a car to pick her up and take her to her suite here at the hotel?”
“Ummm. That’s the problem, sir. She specifically sent me a note saying she didn’t want to be met or picked up. She said she’d made other arrangements.”
Mace leaned back in his chair and pondered that. “Other arrangements?”
The slim Asian nodded his head. “She did not specify in her email, but she was very clear in her wording. She does not want us to come greet her.”
“What exactly did she say?”
Cái looked worried. “I…uh.”
“Come now, Cái. You’ll have trouble being her assistant if you become stressed over every directive she gives you. Now answer the question. What did she say?”
Heaving a dramatic sigh, the younger man pulled out a sheet of paper. “She writes…
‘While I appreciate the offer of a ride to the casino, I have made other plans and they don’t include being sucked into working at The Golden Tiger before my contract begins. Please do not meet me or arrange any transport. I’ll make my own way to where I’ve arranged to stay until I begin work.
And Cái, please do not think coming anyway will show initiative. I always mean exactly what I say and if you want to work for me, you’ll learn that very quickly. So I’ll see you in my office at 8:00am on Monday morning. No sooner. I do look forward to meeting you and working closely…’
Cái looked up. “There are some other directives about getting the office ready, but…”
“That’s all right.” Mace tapped his fingers on the desk. “I think I’ve heard enough.”
“I know you told me to go get her, sir, but I do want to keep my job. And she is very specific.”
“That she is.”
“So—” Cái cleared his throat, “—you’ll understand if I obey her and not go to the airport?”
“Do as she asks.” Mace held onto his temper with an effort and waved the nervous young man away. “Go get things ready.”
Obvious relief filled Cái’s face. “Thank you, sir.”
As the young Asian scurried out the door, Mace swiveled away from the desk and stared out the huge window. He took in and then let out a long deep breath.
When Lì had asked Mace to run the casino while the older man was on what he termed a “sabbatical”, Mace had been pleased to help. He’d always been curious about this side of Lì’s life, and he’d looked forward to learning more about the business and the Chinese culture as a whole.
But then, after Mace had accepted the position, Lì mentioned the amusements available at The Golden Tiger weren’t nearly as good as what was offered at the other casinos in town. The singers, dancers and musicians working at his casino just didn’t seem to have what it took to bring in the audiences.
Before Mace could offer any suggestions, Lì then dropped the bombshell that he’d hired his dear friend, Chantal to do a complete overhaul of the entertainment division of The Golden Tiger. She would be arriving at the end of the month to take things over and Lì—to Mace’s horror—had given the dancer full executive control over the entire project.
If it had anyone else but Lì, Mace would have quit on the spot. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with Lì’s “dear friend”, but Lì had been so pleased the two of them would finally meet, Mace had swallowed any hot words and just smiled sickly.
Restless, now, he came to his feet and walked over to the corner of the room where a large bamboo cage held a pair of Fairy Bluebirds. Their bright blue plumage and musical song soothed him as they hopped closer and stared at him with inquisitive black eyes. Picking up a pair of chopsticks, he fed the birds some wriggling grubs and smiled as one of them broke into full throated song as a thank you.
“Damn it, Lì,” he muttered as he fed the happy bird one last worm. “The last thing I want to do is have to play nice with your girlfriend.”
Striding back to the desk, he picked up the file he’d built on Chantal Montgomery. Ten years ago she’d been a nobody, working in a no name club somewhere in Vegas. But then she’d met Lì and her fortunes had changed. She’d disappeared for over a year—Mace personally thought Lì had put her up somewhere fancy where she could get rid of the trailer park persona and add some much needed polish.
Then she’d burst back onto the scene working at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and, as they say in show business, a star was born. After a few months of hard work and nightly performances, Chantal had become the most popular and unique act on the strip. She went from working at Caesars to doing celebrity gigs all over the USA.
She performed at Carnegie Hall, shocking some and delighting others with her enthusiastic joy of the dance. She was even asked to do a number at the White House, sending many of the conservatives into shock when after her fancy little scarf dance, she sauntered, nearly naked, up to the President and presented one of the scarves she’d worn as a souvenir.
She horrified purists by mixing all the disciplines. It wasn’t uncommon for the dancer to start off with a ballet, then move into a modern dance followed by a sexy strip tease. She refused to follow specific guidelines for her dancing and the acts she choreographed were completely nontraditional and unique.
When she was chosen as a celebrity dancer on a popular TV dance show, her name was on everyone’s lips. Whatever she did was gold. And for the first time since Josephine Baker, Gypsy Rose Lee or Mikhail Baryshnikov, a dancer was one of the most popular celebrities in the world.
After a few years touring the United States, Chantal moved to Paris where she performed regularly at the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergère. Offers rolled in, begging her to dance and choreograph for famous people in every country, but she was very choosy. She did personal appearances all over the world and was wined and dined by presidents, princes and playboys.
Mace’s lip curled. He’d never understood why Lì allowed it. Even if only half of what the tabloids shared was true, Chantal hadn’t been faithful to her lover. She’d had more affairs than he could count, and for a proud man like Lì, that would be beyond dishonorable. Yet he did nothing. Just smiled and continued the relationship.
As far as Mace knew, Lì hadn’t missed a single premiere or special engagement, always making sure to be there for what he termed, “moral support”. Again, it didn’t make sense to Mace. If you wanted to be that much a part of a woman’s life, why not just marry her and be done with it?
He suspected the question had been asked and Lì had been turned down. He shook his head and let the file fall back onto the desk. Of course it had. Why should Chantal limit herself to one man when so many of them were willing to take care of her?
Reluctantly, he picked up the picture that had slipped out of the file. It was of Chantal in her shimmering best, doing her famous prayer dance. It was her trademark, the dance she always started her show with. A sexy yet simple dance that teased the watcher with its innocence.
In the picture, she was dressed in pure glimmering white, one hand was stretched up to the ceiling, while the other was making its painstakingly slow way down the side of her curvaceous body. Chantal’s head was thrown back in ecstasy, and she was so ravishingly beautiful, Mace’s body stirred just looking at it.
Disgusted with himself, he tossed the picture down and paced to the window. While he had to grudgingly admit the woman had plenty of talent, he couldn’t see her leaving her jet set lifestyle to settle down and help fix the below par entertainment division of a small Asian casino. She must have another agenda.
Narrowing his eyes, Mace watched an airplane bank across the sky and head into the small Macau airport. Maybe it was time to meet Ms. Chantal Montgomery. Then he could see if Lì was right and she was the most beautiful woman on the planet both inside and out, or as Mace suspected, a cheap hustler who knew that her relationship with Lì was the only thing between her and poverty.
There's our Mace. And you'll learn more about him in a couple of installments. *grin*
Now, let's get to the contests. I went back and looked through the comments and as far as I can tell, no one brought a friend to the blog :-( I may be wrong, and someone just forgot to put it down in a comment, so let me know in today's comment if you brought a friend and forgot to mention it.
Now, as for the contest we had over the weekend, first off, if you haven't done or had a lap dance done to you, you should. Give it a shot. I've done one and had one done and it was pretty amazing, I must admit. LOL
But, even though I only had a few comments about the questions I asked, I did get quite a few sent to me privately. Maybe the lap dance was a bit embarassing for some of you to admit. LOL
And even though I didn't get the full ten answers as I requested, I will still do a contest for those who did enter, including those who did so through email--this time.
So the winner of the Halloween prize, a free download of my Halloween story, An Unholy Embrace is...
WooHoo! Let me know you saw this and I'll get you your download!
Now, don't forget to keep commenting. Remember there will be a monthly contest as well as an ongoing contest for the $25.00 gift basket from Macau. And every comment goes into the hat for those, so the more you comment, the better chance you have.
I'll be back next Monday with another FREE READ installment. I wonder if those fireworks I see in the Macau skies will be when Chantal and Mace meet?