Whew. It sounds like trouble ahead for both Mace and Chantal. I loved the way Mace stood up for her, yet gave Chantal all the credit for being in charge. But I wonder what it will cost them in the end. Oh well, maybe things will smooth out for a while. Enjoy!!!
Hustle Into Love
But Chantal wasn’t nearly as worried as Mace was. She was used to that kind of brouhaha, even though she’d never had a dancer bring in her mommy or daddy to pressure Chantal into changing her mind. But that just showed how immature and unprofessional Chóngdé really was.
Even a phone call from Lì hadn’t concerned her. She’d been pissed that Mace had called and bothered her honorary brother, but after a twenty minute conversation she’d calmed Lì enough to keep him from ending his vacation early and heading back to Macau to deal with the situation himself.
She’d torn into Mace that evening, furious with him for making too much of it. But he’d ripped into her right back, telling her she wasn’t untouchable, and a man like Hui Sun could be trouble. He ranted and raved about how he was responsible for keeping Chantal safe and secure. And his furiously possessive kiss at the end of the tirade made her swallow any more arguments. In fact, so angry and worried was he, Chantal had actually shut up without another word. Nor did she complain when he doubled the security detail that kept her company as she wandered in and out of the casino.
While she still didn’t think there was anything to worry about, if it made Mace sleep easier knowing she was protected, she was smart enough not to fight about it. And she did send a quick note to her personal bodyguard, Eric, to let him know she was in need of his services after all. If she had to be surrounded by hulking men, she’d rather it be someone she knew and trusted.
After that, she put it from her mind as best as possible and set to work with a vengeance. She didn’t mind performing, but she wanted the regular crew up and going as soon as possible. The day after the altercation with Chóngdé, she wound up firing the other reluctant dancers, and by the end of the first week, her choreographer had up and quit as well. Not that she missed him. Chin Zhao had been more trouble than help.
So she concentrated on the remaining four dancers, while putting out a casting call for others who may be interested. But to her surprise, she had only two worthy candidates who showed up for the tryouts. When she asked her other dancers why, little Dié bravely whispered that everyone in the dance community had been warned not to go near The Golden Tiger. To do so, she said, was to court the attention of people you didn’t want too close to your family.
It was then she realized the Sun family’s reach was as long as both Mace and Lì had warned.
It irritated, and she wished Chóngdé was in front of her so she could wring the obnoxious woman’s neck, but Chantal wasn’t one to give up easily. Instead, she went out and searched for dancers herself. It took more time than she’d liked, but she finally found a second pair of women who were more than ready to join the troupe. Not only that, as she was chatting up one of the valets at the MGM casino, she found that he was a part of a small dance act that did gigs in Hong Kong several times a month. She invited him and his friends to dance for her, and one look at the four-man team showed her she’d discovered hidden gold. They were talented, extremely limber and very good-looking.
She hired them all on the spot.
With her troupe complete, she now set to teaching. And having people who wanted to learn made all the difference. By the end of the second full week, she was ready to put her first four dancers on the stage and as she’d gigglingly told Mace, there wasn’t a plucked chicken in sight.
Chantal had to sigh whenever she thought of him. Since that explosive kiss and the dance that had followed afterwards, things had changed between them. They still argued—both of them were too stubborn to give in easily during a disagreement, but the making up part was getting to be a lot of fun. They hadn’t done the ultimate deed yet, but every time Mace kissed her it was as if he were making love to her with his lips. And that was something she’d never experienced before.
And he was attentive. Wonderfully so. She still didn’t know quite what to make of him when he’d show up after rehearsal with a silly grin and a bouquet of flowers just for her. He’d kiss her hello, uncaring of the whispering dancers or her sweaty face and body. He’d pull her into his arms and whisper how much he’d missed her during the day.
He showed her around Macau. They went to Fisherman’s Wharf where they wandered around the differently themed buildings. She’d exclaimed in horror over the cooked baby pigeons displayed for her culinary delight. Their beady little black eyes stared reproachfully at her, making Chantal lose her appetite all together.
They made sightseeing trips to the ruins of Saint Paul’s Church, A-Ma Temple and Guia Light House. He took her to the revolving 360 Café at the top of the Macau Tower where they had dinners and drinks and barely noticed the gorgeous view, so busy were they staring into each other’s eyes.
He made her giggle as they buzzed around the town in one of the famous Macau trishaws—a cycle-type rickshaw powered by the oldest Asian she’d ever seen. By the time they were done, Chantal made Mace give the gently smiling grandfather twice the normal fee because she felt so guilty for making the poor man work so hard.
They played baccarat in the Lisboa Casino, and Mace shook his head in amusement as she clumsily lost a hundred dollars playing roulette at the Sands. He took her to see Zaia, the Cirque du Soleil show at the Venetian and then wowed her when he got them VIP seats to see the most unique show in the area. The House of Dancing Water show at the City of Dreams resort was done almost entirely in water, and the scenery, props, and performances were some of the best she’d ever seen.
They explored the town and took long walks along the nature trails on the island of Coloane. They nibbled on fresh made egg tarts and haggled with the stall owners for the freshest seafood, bread and vegetables.
Chantal touched the pale green jade bracelet she wore. Mace had purchased it for her in a little back alley from a Chinese woman with a face so wrinkled you couldn’t even see her eyes. He hadn’t even bartered, the old woman’s naked feet and worn clothing were enough to make him give her exactly what she was asking. And, when the woman shuffled away to put the bracelet in a bag, he’d tucked two five hundred pataca bills underneath one of the other jewelry boxes.
It was then she knew she was falling in love with him.
She gazed out the window of her office and sighed. She really didn’t care if the bracelet was worth the fifty American dollars they’d paid or if it was only worth a dollar. It had showed her something of Mace’s heart, and that was what was important. He’d turned red when he she’d caught him hiding the extra money, which meant he hadn’t done it to impress her but because it was a natural thing for him to do.
How could a woman not fall for a loving, giving man like that?
But above and beyond all the trinkets, dinners and shows, Chantal found she just enjoyed being with him. The simple walks exploring the town or when he’d danced with her on the beach. He didn’t work at entertaining her, and that was a welcome relief from all her previous suitors who felt the only way to her heart was by inundating her with expensive and elaborate diversions. Fun, but like anything else, too much of a good thing made it unpalatable.
And, Chantal, for all her fame, fortune and popularity, was at heart, a simple small-town girl, and she longed for someone to treat her like a woman…not a commodity…not some arm-candy to show off.
She was beginning to think Mace might be that man.
Several times she’d almost given in to the hungry yearnings of her body and let him make love with her. But, each time it seemed as if something made her draw back at the last minute. The kisses were so hot and mind-draining, it was as if he stole away part of her soul whenever he got that close. And she wasn’t sure she was ready for that yet.
But she knew she couldn’t keep dancing away from him for much longer. The way he watched her, the very touch of his hand on hers made her whole body quiver with longing. She hadn’t waited this long with any of her other lovers—not when that spark was ignited—but Mace was different. After almost three weeks in his presence she was beginning to think he might just be the one.
She’d found her perfect partner.
I had to put in the baby pigeons. LOL Someone needs to champion their cause. But it looks as if Chantal has taken the plunge. Love is in the air...
I'll be back on Wednesday and we'll see what Mace is feeling about everything. *grin*
Follow Your Dreams