Shall we find out what happens with Chóngdé and her daddy? I'm kinda hoping Mace and Chantal kick their butts, but that's just me. But either way, I think we're in for a bit of a confrontation. Enjoy!!!
Hustle Into Love
“You did not waste anytime, did you?” Chóngdé hissed, speaking in Cantonese. “I suppose the best way to get him on your side was to sleep with him.”
Chantal turned around slowly. Mace held her arm, just in case she was ready to return the punch she’d received earlier. The three large men—bodyguards would be the polite term, enforcers being the more accurate one—standing behind Chóngdé and her father, probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
“Ms. Sun,” Chantal acknowledged icily, ignoring the scathing words. “How good of you to come watch me perform tonight.”
The Asian woman tossed her head. “I did not come to watch you. I find your kind of dancing…unimaginative.”
Temper flashed in Chantal’s eyes, but her words were curiously polite. “Of course. How silly of me. You much prefer the dead chicken dance.”
Mace swallowed a laugh and stepped in quickly. No matter what his mother and grandmum had taught him, there were times when it was appropriate to stop bloodshed, and this was definitely one of those times. “Sun. Nice to see you again.”
The older Asian man bowed. “D'Avranches.”
Mace tried for diplomatic. “Are you enjoying your evening?”
Hui Sun cocked his head. “When my only daughter comes to me, distraught and weeping because she has been unfairly forced out of a job she loves, it is difficult to enjoy anything.”
So much for diplomatic. “I see.”
“You will, of course, re-instate her.”
Chantal gave a low snarl, and Mace squeezed her arm. This was going to be awkward enough without having the two women go at each other again. “That isn’t my call, Hui. I’m not the one in charge of entertainment. Ms. Montgomery is.”
“I do not understand.” The other man frowned. “Are you not in charge of this establishment? Are you not this woman’s employer?”
“He’s not in charge of me, Mr. Sun.” Chantal gave a derisive snort. “I’m in charge of myself.”
Hui Sun didn’t even look at her. “My daughter wishes to dance at The Golden Tiger. You will see to this.”
Mace could tell Chantal was about to explode, but she either didn’t understand or she didn’t care about the cultural imperative that still existed about the male being in charge overall. He slid his arm around her waist and gave her a warning squeeze. “I’m sorry, but that won’t be possible. While I can’t say anything about the entertainment portion of this casino—Ms. Montgomery is in charge of it—I am responsible for making sure the employees here have a safe work environment. And because of that, I can’t, in good conscience allow Chóngdé to return, even if Ms. Montgomery allowed it.”
“Which I never will.” Chantal nodded decisively. “Your daughter is rude, argumentative, and refuses to be taught. She has no business being on a stage.”
For the first time, Hui Sun showed emotion. When he spoke, his voice was angry. “You allow this…woman to speak so?”
Mace shrugged. “Can’t really stop her. Even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. Chóngdé doesn’t have a place here. Not after what she did.”
“And what—” Hui Sun glanced at his daughter, then back to Mace again, “—did she do?”
“I protected myself,” Chóngdé shrilled. “She attacked me first.”
“I wish I had,” Chantal snarled, stepping closer. “It would have felt great!”
Chóngdé gasped and hid behind her father. “You see. Protect me, Father.”
“Mr. Sun,” Mace gritted out, “I was there, and Chantal didn’t strike your daughter, Chóngdé went after her.”
Tears glistened in Chóngdé’s eyes. “She hit me first, Lo Gong. You did not see it, but she attacked me. And then you sided with her.” She clasped her hands between her breasts and stared up at Mace beseechingly. “After all we were to each other. You broke my heart.”
“I’d like to break your heart,” he heard Chantal mutter. “And your arms and neck, too.”
“You’re saying Chantal started the fight?” Mace shook his head. “Sorry, Chóngdé, that’s not going to fly.”
“She touched me first!”
“Oh, for God sake.” Chantal stepped forward. “Are you talking about when I poked you in the shoulder? What are you? Three?”
“She assaulted me.” Chóngdé tossed her head. “I protected myself.”
Enough was enough. This was beginning to look like an act right out of a one of the American soap operas his mother loved watching. “As I said, the situation is regrettable, but I find I must error to caution. Chóngdé hit someone, and that will never be allowed at The Golden Tiger. My decision stands.”
“As does mine.”
It was obvious Chantal wasn’t about to let him stand alone. While it warmed him, the look on Hui Sun’s face urged caution. This was not a man to trifle with. There were rumors about him that made even the bravest man look over his shoulder.
“I suggest you reconsider,” Hui Sun said coldly. “I would hate to see The Golden Tiger fail due to supply problems or lack of qualified workers.”
Now Mace’s temper ignited. “Threatening me, Sun? Because of your daughter? I thought you wiser than that.”
The other man bowed again. “Family, though often a problem, is family. She is my flesh and blood.”
Chóngdé pulled on her father’s sleeve. “Don’t forget the other part,” she whispered.
It was said so coldly, Mace felt the temperature in the casino drop ten degrees. Chóngdé flinched and stepped backwards, but her face stayed smug and knowing.
“D’Avranches, I will expect you for brunch tomorrow as usual,” Hui Sun went on after a moment’s pause. “We have much to discuss.”
It was a royal command and Mace knew it. Chóngdé was using her father to get him back in her bed. But that wasn’t going to happen. Hell, he’d already been pulling away before she’d forced his hand and upheld Chantal firing her. Chóngdé might have thought they were something more, but dinners and brunches with Daddy were a little more intimate than he liked. As he’d told Chantal, he’d never been serious about Chóngdé. They’d only slept together twice, but now he knew he’d been foolish to do even that.
And having tasted the sweetness of Chantal’s kisses, there was no way he was going to settle for anything else. So he bowed low and shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Hui. I thank you for the offer, but I won’t be able to join you.”
The flat statement made the older Asian’s eyes narrow. “You refuse me?”
Mace inclined his head. “I have…other plans.”
“With her, I suppose,” Chóngdé hissed. “This gai…whore!”
Chantal lifted a golden eyebrow. “Excuse me. But since I’m not having sex with Mace and you were… Who’s the whore?”
“Chantal.” Mace pushed her slightly behind him and looked at the darker woman. “I am sorry, Chóngdé, but you’re making too much of a few dates. We were never anything serious. Leave your father out of this.”
“But her father is already in this.” Hui Sun tucked his daughter’s hand in the crook of his arm. “And while Chóngdé’s actions may have been unwise, I do not think she deserves to be dismissed. From her job or your company. I have come to you tonight to resolve this problem.”
It was intimidation at it’s finest. And the three big guys standing behind the Suns only helped. But Mace had stood up to stronger pressure in the past. You didn’t get to run a multi-million dollar company without ruffling some wealthy feathers. “We’ll have to agree to disagree,” Mace answered carefully. “Chantal believes your daughter doesn’t have the skill to dance here, and as I said, I don’t want someone who’ll resort to violence to resolve an issue. I have to do what is best for this casino. As for Chóngdé and I personally—” he shrugged, “—she and I have already spoken privately. I see no need to bring it up again.”
“But Lo Gong—”
“Enough, daughter,” her father interrupted. His voice dripped icicles. “It is obvious D'Avranches has made his decision and—” he turned and for the first time stared menacingly at Chantal, “—we shall all have to live with it.”
Adrenaline pounded through Mace’s veins. As Hui Sun, Chóngdé and their bodyguards spun around and walked away, he pulled a frowning Chantal closer. If the look on the older Asian’s face was any indication, they’d made an enemy that night. A simple firing had turned into something much, much more.And Chantal was right in the middle of it.
Wow. That I totally didn't expect until I wrote it. I knew there was going to be a fight but... Anyway, I think we've got trouble in Macau, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment!!!
Hugs and see you again on Tuesday!
Follow Your Dreams