Welcome Readers...into my Dreams and Imagination.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hustle Into Love - Chapter Eleven, Part One

Hey all,

As promised, we're starting up again.  Hopefully with no more delays as we wind down to the end of our story.   Enjoy!!!

Hustle Into Love


Chapter Eleven

“It is a sad thing to see.” Lì stared at the destruction and sighed. He was dressed casually in slacks and a polo shirt but was still every bit the businessman. “So much damage. So much waste.”

Mace flinched at the soft words. His brother had arrived on the earliest flight he could arrange and demanded to be taken to The Golden Tiger immediately. Mace had worked nonstop to get as much of the mess cleaned up as possible, but there was nothing he could do about the structural damage left behind by the blast. He ran a hand through his hair and wished for the umpteenth time he hadn’t screwed up. “I’m sorry. This shouldn’t have happened. It was my responsibility and I let you down.”

Lì frowned and turned towards him. “I do not understand.”

“Damn it, Lì.” Mace paced away and then back. The dark suit he wore made him feel even more funereal, but he felt the need to meet his brother as a professional. Face to face. “I should have been prepared. I should have taken more precautions. This is my fault.”

“Ahh…so the mystery is solved. I can call the police and tell them you blew up my casino.” Lì shook his head. “Our mother will be most surprised to know you have turned into a criminal.”

“What?” Mace stared at him. “No. Shit. Of course not. That’s not what I—”

“Chantal told me you had taken too much on yourself. You almost died making sure all the guests were out safely.”

Mace felt his face turn red. “I did what was necessary. She’s overreacting.”

Lì nodded. “She is a woman. It is a common event.”

Mace wanted to roll his eyes, knowing how Chantal would take Lì’s statement. “I just did my job.” His gaze drifted over the ruined casino floor. “Unfortunately I did it too late.”

“Do not be stupid.”

“Stupid?” A coldness grew in Mace’s chest. “You trusted me and I let you down. I was supposed to take care of the casino not let it be blown up. But I was too busy worrying about Cha—” He cut himself off and swore loudly. 

Lì chuckled. “I knew you two would enjoy each other. Both so stubborn and yet compassionate. Perfect for each other. Mother will be very pleased.”

Mace gaped at him. A moment ago he’d been apologizing for letting Lì down and now they were talking about Mace’s love life? He’d entered an alternate reality. It was the only explanation. “Mother?”

Lì picked up a money chip that had been missed in the clean up. The picture of a golden tiger shimmered in the low light. “Mother could never understand why you refused to meet Chantal. When I decided to take my sabbatical and have Chantal revamp the entertainment we decided it would be a perfect time to force a confrontation.” He turned and met Mace’s astonished gaze. “You are both very important to us. We wanted the family whole again at holidays.”

Mace briefly wished for the scotch Lì had hidden in the office. “You arranged all this so Chantal and I would meet? We’d wondered, but…” He shook his head. “Son of a bitch. That’s so damned Victorian.”

Lì laughed. “Perhaps. But it worked, did it not?”

Mace sighed. “If I’d been honest and told you I thought she was your mistress, you wouldn’t have had to do this.”

“And perhaps you wouldn’t have missed ten years of happiness.”

That shaft hit home, Mace admitted. “I know. I’ve kicked myself a hundred times. Believe me. I was an idiot.”

“This is so.”

Mace tossed him a rueful look. “You don’t have to agree.”

“But I have always admired your intelligence.”

Giving up, Mace laughed. “I guess I should say thank you.”

“Do you love her, my brother?”

Lì’s face was serious, but it was easy to look him straight in the eyes. Mace nodded. “I do. She’s everything to me.”

A smile creased Lì’s gentle face. “And does she love you?”

Mace grinned at the memory of her shouting her love at him in this very casino. Love, fire and heat. Oh yeah, she loved him all right. And had shown him just how much every night since then. “Yes. Amazingly, she does.”

“Then it is good. You have each other now. Just as it should be.”

“I’m going to marry her.” The words popped out without Mace consciously thinking about them, but as soon as they left his mouth he knew the rightness of his statement. He said it again, slower this time, savoring each word. “I’m going to marry Chantal.”

Lì’s smile grew bigger. “I am pleased. Very pleased. She is special.”

“It won’t be easy.”

His brother shook his head. “No. Chantal is like a golden flame burning brightly for all to see. She is well loved, Mace, and a part of her will always belong to her audience. But her heart is true. Once she gives it to you, she will never ask for it back.”

Mace’s throat went tight. “I know. And I swear I will do everything I can to make her happy. It won’t be easy making our lives mesh, but I can’t be without her. I want it all, Lì. A home, children, a life together. Somehow we have to make that all work together.”

“Love can make anything happen if you want it enough.” Lì’s thoughts seemed to turn inward. “There must be compromise and honesty. Passion and pain. You must want the best for each other and give everything to make the other happy. It must be all or nothing.”

“You sound as if you know.” Mace spoke carefully. His brother’s sex life was still an uncomfortable subject.

“I know enough to understand I have been as dishonest with myself as I accused you of being.” To Mace’s surprise, Lì’s dark eyes narrowed in pain. “You lied about how you felt about Chantal. I have lied about my whole life. You have admitted your wrong, yet I stand here telling you how to take care of the one you love and I cannot do the same.”

“You…love this man?” Mace touched his brother’s arm. “The one you’ve been with?”

“Love him?” Lì smiled sadly. “It is not easy to speak of. I am not used to putting a name to how I feel about him. He…” Lì sighed and shook his head. “Even now I hold back.”

“Tell me about him.”

Lì closed his eyes. “His name is Aaron. We met years ago at a business meeting. The…attraction was immediate and mutual, but…”

Mace nodded. “Forbidden.”

“Yes.” Lì rubbed his eyes and for the first time Mace saw how tired his brother was. “We tried to pretend we were just friends, but after time we knew the truth. Forbidden or not, I loved him. And he loved me in return.”

“But you couldn’t show it.” Mace might still have trouble thinking of his brother as gay, but the pain he saw in Lì’s eyes ripped at him.

“No. So we stay in the shadows and enjoy the times we can sneak away. It is not what I want, but if the truth were to come out, the damage would be most severe.”

“I won’t judge you.” Mace said the words knowing they were true. Whatever he might have felt before, he loved Lì enough to want his happiness. Especially after falling in love with Chantal. “I don’t think anyone who cares about you will.”

“My family is my strength,” Lì said simply. “And my only regret was you not understanding my choice and misreading my interest in Chantal. But for both Aaron and myself, those outside our families would never forgive or forget. All we have built would be destroyed and ruined if the truth were to be known.”

Mace wanted to disagree, but he couldn’t. The cultural bias in Asia was real against homosexuality. Both Lì and Aaron were trapped and unless they wanted to lose everything of monetary value, they would have to keep their love, as Lì said, in the shadows. 

His throat tight, he swung his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “I love you, you know. No matter what you decide. Chantal and I will be there for you. For both of you.”

There was a suspicion of tears in Lì’s dark eyes. “As I love you, little brother. And I thank you for the gift of your support.” He gazed around at the smoke-charred room. “I think I will continue to need it, too. I hope you have no plans on going back to England.”

Mace squeezed his shoulder before letting his arm drop away. “I’m staying right here. No one messes with us and gets away with it. I’m here for the duration.”

Lì nodded. “Then I think the first thing to do is to figure out who hates me enough to destroy what I hold dear.”

I liked the idea of learning more about Li.  I hope you did, too.  Let me know what you think and I'll be back on Thursday with another installment.

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Chele Blades said...

yes learning about Li answers soo many thangs....I hope it all works out for him...but I have a feeling Chantal want be easy on Mace about marriage ...his way

love your writing and the free story glad you are up and running again!!!


Ashley L said...

Oh yes, I would love to learn a little more about Li. We only saw a brief glimpse of him in the beginning. I also think there are a few more surprises hiding in the corners waiting for the right time to come to light.

Carrie said...

I would love to learn more about Li and Aaron.I have missed getting your free reads.

Mannouchka said...

Dear Cj
I am so happy to have free read It's so interesting thank you so much and I wish you a wonderful week

Phylis said...

*sigh* It's so nice to have you and Mace, Chantal and Li back! It was good to get some background on Li. I am looking forward to the next installment! WELCOME BACK!!

SharonJM said...

Glad to have you back CJ. I'm glad that Li is back and we truly know his secrets. I'm still waiting for that third shoe to drop, I don't feel that the bombing is against Li, but directed to Mace and Chantel.
And marriage, Mace you better bring it all to the table. Your lady is not easy.

CJ England said...

Hey all,

Thanks so much for being patient with me. I'm hoping that won't happen again, and am trying to write and prepost ahead of time so I'll have a cushion. I'd had a week before, and look what happened. LOL

Anyway, I'm glad you're interested in learning more about Li and Aaron. I'm not sure what will happen with them, but I wanted at least some of their story to be told.

And I agree. Marriage might be on the table, but as Li said... It sure won't be easy.

Glad to be back!