This is getting good. I wonder just how much Chantal will put up with below she blows? Let's find out! Enjoy!
Hustle Into Love
Up in the seat where he’d been hiding, Mace also groaned, albeit this time quieter than he’d done the last time. Chantal’s unknowing display when she wiped away the work sweat earlier had nearly made him swallow his tongue. At first he thought she’d done it on purpose, especially now that he knew she knew he was in the audience. But the way she’d run the towel over, down and around her partially exposed breasts without even glancing his way had made him realize she hadn’t thought about him when she’d done it.
He was about ready to stand and go down to the stage to speak to Chantal when he saw Chóngdé stomp over to her. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, instead he slid back into his seat. An intelligent man didn’t get between two angry women.
Mace had learned that the hard way when he’d stepped in once between his mother and paternal grandmother when they were arguing about their latest charity project. They’d stared at him in icy displeasure, then even though he was well into his teens at the time, his grandmum had boxed his ears and told him to go bother his father instead. The embarrassing scene had taught him a very important lesson. One he’d never forgotten.
Sometimes it was just best to let the ladies fight it out.
But he didn’t even have to strain his ears to listen. Chóngdé was so angry it was a wonder they didn’t hear her in Hong Kong.
“Is this how you are going to teach us?” he heard her say sharply. “The same things over and over again? What about the routines we were working on? Shouldn’t we be practicing those instead?”
Mace watched as Chantal finished gathering her paperwork. She ignored the fuming woman and spoke instead to Cái, giving him all the files she’d brought with her. Mace couldn’t prevent a grin. He was surprised Chóngdé didn’t catch fire there was so much smoke coming out her ears.
“I’m sorry, Chóngdé.” Chantal finally turned to face the Asian woman. “I was in the middle of something else. You were saying you didn’t need the practice?”
Chóngdé flushed. “I said we should be practicing the routines we are going to be performing, not these basic dance moves. How can we look good on stage without practice?”
“That’s exactly right,” Chantal answered pleasantly. Mace had the sudden impression of a sultry golden Persian cat ready to spring on an unsuspecting mouse. “You need practice to perform well. Which is why none of you will be going on the stage until I see that practice has made perfect.”
There were a few moments of silence. Then Chóngdé cleared her throat. “What did you say?”
Chantal smiled. “I said until the act is up to my standards, none of you will dance.”
“You must be saying this wrong.” Chóngdé gave a little laugh, but her eyes were still furious. “My language is very difficult to learn.”
“No.” Chantal shook her head matter-of-factly. “Lì taught me. He made it easy. And I meant exactly what I said.”
“You think to stop us from the dance?” Mace realized that while, even in a temper, Chantal made Cantonese look like her first language, Chóngdé’s English suffered the angrier she got.
“I already have.” Chantal switched to English as well as she stooped and picked up a fallen towel. “I’ll replace some of what you gals have been doing with other entertainment, but I want dancing to be our big draw, and it won’t happen if you all look like a bunch of plucked chickens trying to get out of a stew pot.”
Mace choked back a laugh. She was right. He’d watched the act a few times and the troupe did give the impression of desperate fowls dancing for their lives.
“You cannot come in here and make these changes.” Chóngdé stomped her foot. “For the others perhaps, but not for me. I am special. Do you not understand?”
Chantal sighed deeply and Mace wondered just how long she was going to hold onto that famous temper. Hell, Chóngdé was trying his patience just listening to her.
“Chóngdé, I told you, I don’t care who you think you are.” Chantal slipped off her shoes and her little pink toes curled in pleasure. She stretched fluidly and Mace was shocked to feel himself get hard just by seeing it. Bloody hell! What was wrong with him?
“To me you are just another dancer,” Chantal went on. “And since you’re pushing this, I’ll have to be honest. I’m sorry, but you’re not even that good a dancer. I’m willing to work with you—”
“How dare you!” Chóngdé interrupted. Her fists clenched at her side. She stepped closer to Chantal, and Mace worried suddenly he might have to go break up a physical fight. His mother and grandmother hadn’t taught him the etiquette for that.
“I am the best dancer on this stage. I have always been the best at anything I do.” Chóngdé looked smug. “My father says this.”
“Then your daddy is blind!” Chantal snapped, obviously losing her temper. She stepped back and Mace watched her take a deep breath to control herself. He was reluctantly impressed as she continued. “I’m the boss, Chóngdé, and if I say you don’t dance…you don’t dance. That’s the end of it.”
Chóngdé tossed her head. “You are wrong. You see nothing. I will dance tonight because you are not the boss.”
Chantal cocked her head, but her eyes were a molten amber. “I’m not, huh? How do you figure?”
“You are just dancer in charge of entertainment. But I know real boss. He not let you do this. Not to me. He…likes me.”
“Excuse me?” Chantal’s face was a study of shock and then amusement. “You say you know Lì? Personally?”
Chóngdé’ snorted. “Not him. He gone. I speak of Mace D'Avranches. He is boss now and he is my…” She trailed off and tried to look coy. “Let me just say we know each other very well.”
Mace did groan this time. Surely Chóngdé hadn’t played that card. The sleeping with the boss tactic. Christ. A slow anger began to burn inside him. She’d gone over the line with that one. And to tell Chantal of all people. Damn it to hell.
There was a long silence, and when he looked back at Chantal, he thought he glimpsed a flash of pain before she bowed her head. That confused him. The idea of Chóngdé with Lì had amused her, but knowing he was seeing the other dancer had hurt her. Why? Shouldn’t she be more worried about the man she’d been with for the last decade?
“Well.” Chantal’s voice sounded rusty, and she cleared her throat. “I see.” But any pain Mace might have seen was gone when her head snapped up, and Chantal pinned Chóngdé with a pair of glowing eyes. “So you’re telling me just because you’re having sex with Mace D'Avranches, that makes you someone special?”
“And because you’re having sex with who you consider to be my boss, I’m supposed to let you do whatever the hell you want?”
“So—” Chantal put up her hand to stop Chóngdé’s protest, “—because you are screwing the very temporary boss of The Golden Tiger, even though you dance like someone who has just been stuck with a dozen cattle prods, I’m supposed to keep you on as lead dancer and put the others who, just to let you know, are ten times better than you’ll ever be, in the chorus?”
Chóngdé’s eyes flashed. “You—”
“I’m not done,” Chantal interrupted, her tone as icy as the winter gales in the mountains back home. “I think it's way past time I explained something to you.”
Mace covered his face with his hand and groaned a second time. Now he was getting a glimpse of Chantal’s famous temper, but he had to admit, Chóngdé had it coming. In fact, she wouldn’t like what he had to say when this was all over.
If he ever spoke to her again at all.
To be continued next Tuesday! LOL A bit of a cliff hanger. And on Tuesday I'll also have the next winner of the monthly goodie bag for November, so make sure you keep putting in those comments!
Hugs and see you next week!
Follow Your Dreams