Welcome Readers...into my Dreams and Imagination.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hustle Into Love - Epilogue, Part One

Hey all,

Well, it's almost over.  The Epilogue turned out to be longer than chapter eighteen, so it's been broken into two installments.  But, as promised, we'll be done by the end of the month! WooHoo!  

So, shall we see what Mace and Chantal are up to now that all the danger is over?  Enjoy!!!

Hustle Into Love



“I now pronounce you man and wife.” The minister doing the service smiled benignly.  “My boy, you may kiss your bride.”
“Oh, please do,” Mace’s blushing bride whispered up at him, her golden eyes gleaming with laughter.  “It’s been exactly sixteen hours and four minutes since you kissed me last.
Mace laughed out loud, startling the man of the cloth.  “Liar,” he murmured back as he bent close and nipped at Chantal’s lower lip.  “I know for a fact you were kissed at midnight last night.”
“Oh.”  His new wife pretended to look surprised.  “That was you who climbed the trellis to my room?”
Growling at her teasing, Mace pulled her into his arms, and with a flourish, dipped her low to the ground.  He then gave her a heated kiss that had the audience in the church breaking into cheers and applause.  While the minister looked slightly shocked, his parents, grandmum and brother gazed at them with pleased smiles.  Finally, their faces seemed to say.  It’s about time.
Mace had to agree.  As he and his new bride were swept by the cheering crowd into the beautifully decorated ballroom where the reception was to be held, he thought about how his life had changed.
 It was exactly three months to the day since he’d rescued Chantal—or she’d rescued herself—from Chóngdé’s clutches.  He’d wanted to marry her immediately—had even gone so far to petition the local magistrate for permission.  But to his surprise, Chantal had balked at the quickie wedding.  She told him in no uncertain terms that she was only getting married once, and she was going to do it right.
Like most men, the thought of a big wedding sent terror skittering down Mace’s spine.  He’d argued and begged and implored, but his stubborn lady ignored his every plea.  She refused to hear a word about eloping and shot down his ideas of getting married in Macau by stating she wanted a family wedding at Mace’s parents’ house. 
And Lì was going to be the one to give her away. 
The pride and joy Mace saw in his brother’s eyes when Chantal posed the question to him was all it took.  He couldn’t fight both of them.  With a sigh, he gave in.
But three months was all he would agree to.  He pulled out the calendar and his foot down.  “Make it a Saturday,” he stated, pointing to the month he’d chosen.  “But ninety days and no more.”
So Chantal now had another reason to hustle.  Quickly, she finished building The Golden Tiger’s entertainment program.  Cái, who’d become a valued ally, was promoted to director, with diminutive Dié at his side.  Mace had muttered to Chantal he wouldn’t be surprised if there would be another wedding announcement soon.
The male dancer, Bryan, turned out to be a damn fine choreographer, so after a few pointers from Chantal, he’d taken over those duties.  Already he had three new dances approved and ready to teach the others.
And the rest of the troupe, though sad at not having the Amber Princess in their midst, had enough confidence in what she’d taught them to carry the different dances on their own.  Chantal had done what she’d promised.
Lì now had the best entertainment in all of Macau.
Once that was done, they packed up and headed back to England and Mace’s childhood home.  Chantal was greeted with open arms, and Mace felt like a real idiot when his Granmum rapped him over the head with her fan and asked him why he’d taken so long to realize what was right in front of him.
When his bride-to-be batted her eyelashes and inquired the same thing, he’d had enough of the not-so-subtle-teasing.  Instead of smiling and sitting down with tea and crumpets, he instead did something he would have never done B.C.  Before Chantal. 
He tossed Chantal over his shoulder, and ignoring the shocked gasps of his parents he took his lady out to a secluded arbor in the rose garden.  Then he showed her what happened to women who laughed at their men.
Later, rumpled and grass stained, they’d sneaked back into their room, where they were greeted by a note from Mace’s mother.  In it she exhorted him to be more careful with where he took Chantal.  Apparently, a maid wandering in the garden had seen them.  Observing the two trysting—as his mother called it—the maid had quit in a fit of hysterics.  And since good help was so hard to come by, she pleaded with her son not to scare the staff again.
Chantal had whooped with laughter even as she turned red with embarrassment.  But from that point on, they’d been more circumspect.  Until last night, when Mace had climbed the trellis to surprise her with a kiss…and more.
Mace grinned at the memory.  Today was a long time in coming, and there were times he wasn’t sure he’d make it.  During the three-month wait, Mace had tried his best to stay out of the way, but daily he’d been sucked into the wedding planning.  No matter how many times he tried to explain he didn’t care what color the flowers were or how many bridesmaids she had, Chantal coaxed him into helping her decide.  Finally, fed up with cummerbunds and invitation fonts, he bribed Lì into coming to the house early.  Maybe then he could have some peace.
Once his brother was there, he was able to breathe a little freer. Better yet, together they both could escape from whatever wedding planning going on that day.  And Lì brought news of Macau, the casino, and to Mace’s great satisfaction, the final judgment of Chóngdé Sun.
Lì had heard through several underground contacts that while Hui was angry with Chóngdé over Chantal’s kidnapping and the ongoing human trafficking, what he’d been truly furious about was the bombing of The Golden Tiger.  All her acts had been criminal, yet by attacking Lì’s property after Sun had given Mace his word the vengeance would be stopped, Chóngdé had dishonored her father—broken his word.  That more than any other act he could not forgive.
After a week with her father, she’d turned herself in, and the pale, ghostly woman who’d come out of the Sun’s fenced and barred compound was not the same selfish spoiled girl who’d gone in.  Broken both in body and in spirit, Chóngdé welcomed whatever punishment the courts had for her.
Nothing could be worse than her father’s displeasure.
Chantal and Mace both breathed relieved sighs when Lì told them Chóngdé was now sitting in a Hong Kong jail and would be there a very long time.  And as Mace had predicted, Chóngdé’s arrest had broken the back of the Macanese slave trade.  Several other procurers had also been charged and convicted, their assets seized and their organization in tatters. 
Those involved in the bombing—two other men in Chóngdé’s employ—disappeared suddenly and were never found.  Chin Zhao also never made it to a police station.  When asked what had happened to the choreographer, Sun had shrugged and told the police the man had expressed a longing to visit his ancestors.
He was never seen again.
Hui Sun, while not abandoning his daughter completely, stated publicly that he did not condone what she had done, and Chóngdé must accept whatever punishment the law decreed.  Lì said though her father had paid for her legal fees, that was the extent of his involvement.  He did not go to any of the court hearings or visit his daughter in jail.  Apparently since money was what was important to Chóngdé, that was all she now got from the man who’d conceived her.
But, the powerful man also spoke out strongly against human trafficking in a popular monthly Chinese magazine.  In it, he urged everyone to learn from his daughter’s tragic circumstances, and make slavery a thing of the past.  Reports stated Sun had put much of his considerable wealth and influence into making that happen.
So finally, it was really over. Because Chóngdé had confessed, Chantal wouldn’t need to go back to Macau to testify.  The life sentence meant the Asian woman would never see the light of day again.  As Lì and Hui Sun had both promised, she was getting what she so richly deserved.  And Mace hoped knowing this would give Chantal the closure she needed, and the infrequent nightmares she still had about her imprisonment would cease all together.
The entertainment at The Golden Tiger was going along swimmingly, and the dancing brought in many new customers.  Casino profits had doubled in less than three months and Lì was so appreciative, he gave the entire troupe ten days off with pay.  He even paid for a jet to bring them to Mace and Chantal’s wedding.  Since Dié was Chantal’s maid-of-honor, Lì said it just made sense.
Looking around at all of them now, Mace had to admit he’d hit the jackpot when he’d taken the job supervising Lì’s casino.  Not only had he found the woman of his dreams, he’d gotten even closer to his older brother.  He now had a special group of Asian friends, plus, whether he liked it or not, he’d gotten a second brother out of the deal.
He glanced over at where his best man—Eric—was lifting his own wife, Diane, high for a torrid kiss.  His two daughters bounced at the big man’s feet then giggled as he hoisted them up for a four-way hug. 
Eric had become closer than a friend in the last few months, going so far as to move his whole family to England so he could keep working for Chantal.  But Mace, knowing the bodyguard’s level of skill, quickly added to Eric’s duties.  He put the man in charge of a special arm of security in the D’Avranches corporations.  Eric now ran a small team that looked after any VIPs that visited—a number than had increased exponentially since Chantal had come to live at the mansion.  It was a big promotion, but Mace figured if the man could keep a line on Chantal, he could do the same with anyone.
Chantal pulled out of Mace’s arms and hurried across the floor.  Bending down, she embraced the small boy.  Deshi was now strong and healthy and no longer silent.  Instead, his smiles and childish laughter brightened up their wing of the D’Avranches mansion.  Dressed in an exact duplicate of the tuxedo Mace wore, he was—as Eric had laughingly put it—a mini Mace.
Which, now, in a way, he was.   In Asia, Mace hadn’t only gotten a lady, new friends and a guy as close as a brother, he’d walked away from Macau with a ready-made family as well.
Chantal and he had adopted Deshi as their own.
They hadn’t set out to do it on purpose.  They’d both been adamant about keeping their promise and getting the little boy back to his home and family.  But when, after securing the government’s permission and setting out for Deshi’s small hometown just out of Hong Kong, they discovered a horrifying fact. 
Deshi had not been stolen from his family as so many children are.  His parents, in their fifties and already having two grown sons—Deshi was a change of life baby—weren’t so excited to have him back.  Not only were they poor farmers who barely made it day to day, from infanthood their youngest had serious health issues they couldn’t afford to deal with.  When they’d been offered money to have the boy go live “as a companion” to a rich Hong Kong family’s child, they’d jumped at the idea of having their burden removed. 
Had they known their son would be heading into a life of degradation and pain?  Of course not, they’d answered.  But Mace hadn’t liked the way their gazes slid away from his when the question was asked.  Leaving the small boy in a home where the same thing might “accidentally” happen again was unthinkable.
Chantal’s famous temper made an appearance, and it was only after Mace had calmed her down and sent her and Deshi out to explore the village that he’d been able to do what he did best.  After all, negotiations were his forte, and one look at the mother’s care-lined face and disappointed eyes when she glanced at her youngest, decided him.
Mace had a son after only fifteen minutes of discussion.
Chantal’s reaction to his impulsive gesture had sealed the deal.  She’d taken little Deshi into her arms and with tears of joy streaming down her face, whispered to the boy he was hers now.  And the look she gave Mace over the child’s dark head was so filled with pride and love, he’d known they’d both just received a wedding present they would hold in their hearts forever.
Keya and Ali—Eric’s daughters—had taken Deshi under their wing and instead of being frightened and lonely in a new country, the three of them became fast friends.  Under the girl’s tutelage, he was learning English quickly though he often chattered away in Cantonese whenever he got excited.
The little boy had puffed up with pride when he’d discovered Chantal wanted him to be the ring bearer at the wedding.  Keya and Ali were the flower girls, so the three friends often snuck away to the rose garden and practiced walking up the aisle.  Mace decided not to tell Deshi real men would have run the other way.
“Mace?  Can you come here?” 
Chantal beckoned him over.  In the white-silver, off-the-shoulders gown she wore she was beyond beautiful.  With golden highlights shimmering through the dress, she looked like an exotic candle sitting on the floor with her arms around her new son.  God.  How had he gotten so lucky? Mace cleared a suddenly tight throat.  He had no idea, but he planned on spending the rest of his life making sure she understood how fortunate he knew himself to be.  
 “On my way.”


Only one more blog to go.  That's so sad, but it's a happy time, too.  So come on back on Tuesday for the last installment.  We can see just what Chantal has to say to her new husband. 

And a very special Happy Birthday to Carrie who I think has a birthday today!  She's always been a loyal reader and I wanted to wish her well on her special day!  Give her a shout out in the comments below if you've a mind to!!!

Hugs to all,



Carrie said...

Its been a long journey to this point. Can't wait for you next free read to begin if you have another one.

Ray said...

This is a wonderful story. I wish I had started reading from the beginning.

Happy Birthday Carrie.

My second son has a birthday today and Millie and I have been married 46 years tomorrow.


Phylis said...

Happy Birthday Carrie! Congrats Ray!
Thanks CJ for sharing such a wonderful story. Looking forward to reading the ending and yet not looking forward. lol

CJ England said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the story still, Carrie. Just one more part to go.

And I hope your BDay was AWESOME!!!!

CJ England said...

Congrats, Ray on your long lived marriage. That is a real accomplishment.

And tell you son Happy Bday from all of us.

If you want to read the rest of the story, check the sidebar. It has a link to the beginning of this story and several others as well

Warning: Hot and Spicy is how I write them! LOL

CJ England said...

I know exactly what you mean, Phylis. It was hard to write the ending. I hated to say goodbye.

SharonJM said...

I'm glad that Mace and Chantal adopted Deshi and that they are officially on their way to their HEA. And I like that Hui Sun stepped up and condemned human trafficking.
Can't wait until the next part of the epilogue. And for the record, I believe that Mace and Chantal have been indulging in unprotected sex.

Ray said...

Hot and steamy is how I like them. I saw the links to the story archive. I just don't know which ones. I guess I need to check them all out for a quick read and get really into those that let me know how the adventure started.