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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hustle Into Love - Chapter Ten, Part Three

Hey all,

Let's take stock.  Mace is inside a blown up casino and Chantal has no idea what's happened to him.  Can you say scary?  Maybe today we'll get some answers!  Enjoy!!!!

Hustle Into Love


Mace wasn’t sure how long he was out, but he came awake suddenly, his heart in his mouth, his ears still ringing. Shaking his head, spitting out dirt and dust, he crawled over to an upended table and painfully pulled himself upright. His whole body ached and throbbed, but he pushed past the discomfort, unconsciously wiping the blood from a gash on his forehead. He looked around, trying to take stock of the situation. What the hell had happened?


Cursing, Mace staggered to where Bruce was half-covered in broken tables and splintered two-by-fours. “Bruce? Damn it, man. Are you hurt?”

“I am all right.” The older man coughed. “Just got the wind knocked out of me. Chin? Dae?”

Pushing a table off Bruce, Mace glanced over at the entrance to the kitchen. Both of the other security guards were slowly picking their way through the mayhem towards them. “Looks like they’re okay. They were farther away from the blast.”

“The bomb exploded.”

Mace nodded, though the movement made his head hurt worse. “You wait here. I’m going to see what happened.”

“Mr. D'Avranches, you shouldn’t go in there. It’s not your job.”

“You know—” Mace had to sigh, “—you’re not the first to tell me that tonight. And I have to say, I’m beginning to agree.”

Leaving the security chief to wait for his men, Mace moved carefully to the battered archway. The dust was still thick in the air, making it difficult to see inside. But what he could see sent fury spearing through him. The northeast corner of the room had been destroyed. 

It looked as if the stage had taken the brunt of the explosion. The long, sweeping red curtains Chantal had ordered were smoldering, the stage itself ripped to shreds, boards buckled and the steps caved in. Overhead lights swung wildly. Catwalks, backdrops and trusses were all tangled together, a smoking heap tipping drunkenly off what was left of the stage to crash into the floor beneath.

The bar connected to the stage—once a beautiful work of wood and glass art—was now a pile of shattered bottles, glasses and splintered timber. Lights sparked and flashed, and spilled red wine and liquor dripped onto the stools below like blood.

The rest of Lì’s beautiful casino was in shambles.

Sick at heart, Mace stared around him. It was horrible…unwarranted. Whoever did this would pay. If it were the last thing he did, Mace would see to that. No one was going to get away with destroying what he called his—even temporarily. 

Pushing through the debris, he made his way across the casino floor to the last place he’d seen the flashlights of the two bomb squad experts. They’d been on the far side of the room, by the cage, so he prayed the blast had spared them.

“Mr. D'Avranches!”

He heard someone call his name and turning, he saw Bruce, Chin and Dae, struggling towards him. “Bruce, you need to get outside. Have someone take a look at you.”

The older man snorted. “I am fine. I look better than you do. You’re bleeding pretty badly, sir.”

Frowning, Mace wiped again at his forehead. The  heavy smear of red that came away told him the wound he’d forgotten he had was still bleeding profusely. Pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket, he pressed it against his head. “I’m sure someone’s coming to see what happened, but the main doors are stuck tight. There are tables tossed against them. We can go around, but my bet is they will be coming in that way. Dae, Chin, start getting that opened up. Bruce and I will see if we can find any survivors.”

The men separated and it wasn’t long until you could hear the sound of tables scraping across the floor as the security guards cleared the way to the main doors. Muted sounds came from the other side as well as along the side corridors. It wouldn’t be long until rescue arrived.

“Here, sir.” 

Bruce had found the two police officers, and a quick check of their pulse had Mace sighing with relief. They were unconscious but alive. 

“They are very lucky,” Bruce observed quietly. “If they had been close to the stage…”

Mace nodded grimly. “They didn’t set it off. The bomb must have been on a timer.”

“Explosion occurred a little after eleven.” The security chief’s eyes narrowed. “We would have had an act on the stage if we hadn’t gotten the tip.”

The marrow in Mace’s bones went icy cold. He thought of Chantal, of little faerie-like Dié or even the sleek and smiling Bryan. If any of them had been on stage as usual, they would have surely died.

He could have lost Chantal forever.

As if to punctuate his thoughts, there was a crash onstage. The last truss of lights fell from the rafters, sending twisted metal and colored shards of glass flying. In his mind, he could see Chantal’s beautiful golden body sliced into pieces by the deadly missiles.

“Mace! Oh God, Mace!”

Blinking, wondering how his nightmare had suddenly come to life and spoken, he turned. But instead of seeing Chantal bleeding onstage, he saw her clambering over the ruined tables just inside the doors.

Joy and terror battled for dominance as he strode to meet her. A moment later she was in his arms, clinging like a limpet, tears a steady stream down her cheeks.

“I thought you were dead,” she wailed, clutching him so hard he knew he’d have bruises in the morning. “We heard the explosion and the whole casino shook. Oh God. I thought I’d lost you.”

Having his thoughts mirrored so closely startled him. “I’m all right. I was in the other room when it went off.”

“I told you—” she reared back and glared at him then clung tightly again, “—not to go in there. Damn it, Mace. You could have been killed.”

“Shhh,” he soothed, understanding more than she just how lucky they both were. “It’s all over with. And I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine,” she bit out. Wriggling out of his arms, she gently pulled the blood-soaked handkerchief away from his forehead. “You’re bleeding like a pig, and you’ll probably need stitches.”

“Wait a minute.” Mace ignored her threat about stitches as he realized she was alone. “Where the hell is Eric?” Awareness dawned and he grabbed her shoulders. “And what the hell are you doing here? I told him to take you to safety.”

“Don’t yell at me,” she shouted back at him. “I went outside like you told me, but I wasn’t about to leave, no matter how dangerous it was. My place is here…with you.”

“The hell it is,” he shouted back, adrenaline and fear a potent and explosive combination. “There was no reason for you to endanger yourself.”

“There was a perfect reason!”

“And just what,” he snarled, shaking her like a ragdoll, “was that?”

“Because I’m in love with you, you idiot!”  


WooHoo!!!  The cats out of the bag now.  How do you think Mace will react?  Let me know in the comments so you can be entered for our monthly contest.

And don't forget the newest story on the Truly Madly Deeply Romance Author Blog.  This time it's by Suzanne Rock  and is a romantic story called In Your Eyes. Remember to comment!  Like here, prizes are awarded every month.

Hugs to all, and I'll see you on Thursday! 
CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


mamasand2 said...

Another dramatic segment, CJ. You know you are torturing me with this. I can't wait for the next installment.


Harlie Reader said...

I honestly can't get enough of this story. They are perfect for each other. Can't wait for the next installment.

Ashley L said...

Ooooo! That's not the way Chantal probably wanted to tell Mace "I love you" but it will have to work for her. He had better respond with an intense, mind-blowing kiss followed by the same declaration. They were both lucky considering the bomb blew up the stage and Mace was injured. Will have to see what happens next and hopefully find out who planted it!

Mannouchka said...

Dear Cj,

I really like this entry I am waiting for Thursday
Have a nice evening

Susan Bloomingdale said...

He will of course have to blink and then have her repeat it before he sweeps her into his arms and returns the declaration!

Phylis said...

I think he is going to have that stunned look on his face! lol Looking forward to Thursday and what happens next! Perfect CJ!

SharonJM said...

Great comment, My place is here with you". Now together they need to figure out who's gunning for Chantel, although we the readers are ready to shout out the guilty.

Susan Bloomingdale said...

Woot woot!! Told ya hehe.