It's time for another installment and as you can see, today is NOT Monday. LOL That is because I've made a decision.
I've had quite a few emails requesting...no...I think begging would be more appropriate. LOL Anyway, I've been asked to do more of the FREE READ.
And I've listened to you all.
But with my busy writing schedule I can't do every day as many of you asked, so I thought it through and what I'm going to do is this.
Since I already blog on M,W and F over on my CHAT BLOG, that leaves T,TH still free. (Weekends will be having something else in the near future) So, rather than double up on Monday, I'll be offering my FREE READ here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It may be a slightly shorter installment--depends on where I am in the book--but you'll have two full days of FREE READ pleasure to enjoy.
I hope that will make all of those who wrote and asked for more, happy, happy, happy! LOL
Anyway, here is today's installment. Stay tuned afterwards for the announcement of the October comment winner.
Hustle Into Love
* * * * *
“Welcome to Macau. Are you here for business or pleasure?”
Chantal Montgomery smothered a yawn. She’d been traveling for thirty-six hours and she was exhausted. But even as tired as she was she knew the correct way to talk to an immigration officer. She pasted on what she hoped looked like a genuine smile. “A bit of both, I hope.”
The middle-aged man glanced up at her then back down to her passport. He thumbed through its many stamped pages. “You wish to stay for how long?”
“I’m moving here. I’ll be working at The Golden Tiger.” She yawned again, forgetting to suppress it. “Sorry. It’s been a long two days.”
The official actually smiled. “You have come from France? It is a lengthy plane ride.”
Chantal nodded. All she wanted was a hot bath and bed. And a good beer. Not necessarily in that order. “I’ll be managing the entertainment at the casino. I start next week, but I wanted to come early and get settled.”
Narrowing his eyes, the man looked at the picture on her passport and then up at her. He blinked once then his face cleared. “You are Chantal Montgomery.”
She smiled. His awed tone told her she’d encountered a fan. “I am. It’s nice to meet you.”
“I saw you perform in Hong Kong last year. I took my mother for her birthday.” He went red and glanced surreptitiously around him at his co-workers. “She very much enjoyed your show.”
“I hope you both did,” she teased gently. She bit back a smile when he went even redder. “Would…your mother like an autograph?”
His dark eyes widened. He nodded so quickly she almost laughed aloud. “I…she would like that very much.”
Chantal scribbled her name across the paper he pushed towards her. “Give me a couple of months then bring your mama to the casino. I’ll make sure she has a special seat for the new show I’m developing.” She froze and looked worriedly at him. “That’s allowed, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not a bribe or anything.”
The man chuckled and stamped her passport, giving her thirty days to be in the country. “I did not take it as such. I would be honored to bring her. It will give her much happiness.”
Relieved her generosity and big mouth hadn’t gotten her into trouble, she took her passport and smiled. “Just let me know you’re there and I’ll take care of everything.”
The official bowed his head. “I thank you, and—” he smiled again, “—welcome to Macau, Ms. Montgomery.”
Giving her new friend a cheery wave, Chantal picked up her small carrying bag and made her way to the baggage claim area and then on through customs. She’d actually been surprised the immigration guy recognized her. Even after all this time, she often forgot she was a celebrity. Especially here in Asia.
In the states she was so well known, she would have to travel with a bodyguard and small entourage to protect her privacy. But coming here to Macau, she’d figured she wouldn’t need all that. So she’d given her staff some time off until she could evaluate how long she’d be staying and what her actual needs would be. Eric, her bodyguard grumbled, and she’d had to do some fast talking to convince the ex-linebacker to take some time with his family. She half expected him to show up one day and demand her to let him run interference for her.
And her assistant, Bettina…that had been hard. The woman had cried like a baby when Chantal had told her what was going on. But Bets didn’t like going to Asia. Bad memories about an attempted robbery when she and her young husband had been visiting Beijing prevented her from ever traveling to the Far East.
So with Eric off with his beautiful wife and two daughters, and Bets taking a long needed vacation with her husband in Hawaii, Chantal was on her own. It didn’t bother her. She enjoyed traveling and if Lì couldn’t be with her, she’d gotten used to going it alone.
Lì. She frowned as she thought about her best friend. When Lì had requested her to revamp the faltering entertainment section of his brand new casino, she hadn’t hesitated for a second. Without him even mentioning it, she knew he was calling in that favor he’d asked of her so long ago. And after all he’d done for her…after what he’d become to her, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for the man she loved more than anyone else on the planet.
But he wasn’t going to be in Macau to greet her. Something about an overdue sabbatical and desperately needing rest. But that didn’t sound like her Lì who was always filled with so much energy and enthusiasm. And she’d been downright surprised he didn’t want to be around to see what she was going to do. The changes she was going to make.
It worried her. Made her wonder if he was sick and wasn’t telling anyone. Yet when she’d blatantly asked him, he’d just patted her hand and told her he needed some alone time. With his very special friend. After that, she hadn’t asked any more questions, but still, she wondered. And missed him terribly.
She glanced around the airport curiously. It was the first time she’d visited Lì since he’d built the casino here, and before, she’d always flown into Hong Kong. This was the first time she’d actually landed on the tiny airstrip on the island of Taipa, Macau. But the bustling terminal looked busy enough. Obviously, this Las Vegas of Asia was bringing in the tourists.
Chantal grinned. And it would be her responsibility to make sure the entertainment at The Golden Tiger brought those tourists through their doors and no one else’s.
She was excited at the prospect. Looking forward to getting started. She swore to herself that when she finished, the shows at the casino would be the best in all of Asia. They had to be. This job was different. This job was special. This job was the most important one she’d ever do.
Because this one was for Lì.
Hope you enjoyed it. I'll be back on Thursday for the next installment where Chantal and Mace actually meet.
But as I promised, I have the winner of the monthly comment contest. As you know, each month I'll draw a winner from all the comments given. The winner will get a small token of my appreciation for following my FREE READ. Some months it might be a small gift from Macau. Another month a ebook download. Yet another month, a package or promo freebies. Who knows what will come your way.
The winner will be announced HERE on the blog and the winner must contact me at email@example.com and give me your snail mail address. Also, please note here in the comments that you have emailed me, just in case your post gets eaten my the internet squirrels. *grin*
Does that all make sense? Good. Okay, without any further ado, the winner of the monthly comment contest is...
Woohoo! Congrats and thanks so much for reading!!!!