Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aspen Exposé -- Group Novel -- Chapter 3




Chapter 3

Swimming with sharks can be hazardous to your health.

~Marilyn Baron

Jack paused at a wide set of double doors to the
entrance of The Presidential Suite. He slid the hotel
key card smoothly into the slot as the lock flashed a
green light signal. When he pulled the doors open,
Rachel hesitated.


What was she waiting for? Was she expecting to
be carried over the threshold? No, yes, well, maybe.
Jack placed his hand possessively on the small of her
back and guided her into the room which, like the
man standing beside her, didn’t disappoint.

It was sinfully spacious, well-appointed, and
designed to appeal to all the senses. The view of
Aspen Mountain was magnificent. Rachel tamped
down her first instinct to cry out, fly to the window
and exclaim with childish delight over the winter
wonderland spread out before her like a sumptuous
feast. She took a calming breath. Don’t act like you
were raised by a pack of wolves and never saw the
inside of a hotel room.

Well, she’d never seen the inside of a hotel room
like this before. And there was even a fireplace to
match the Alpine decor. How romantic. She knew
she was letting herself get carried away, caught off
guard by the whole idea of this ultimate ski retreat.

The luxurious bathroom was about the size of
her entire condo at home, all glass and granite,
Grohe, brushed nickel faucets and exposed fittings
in the European style, complete with a towel
warmer, television, heated floors, a whirlpool the
size of a Roman bath, and a shower stall, big enough
for two, not that she was going to test that
proposition. And, Holy Moly, a fireplace in the
bathroom!

There was a large, fully-furnished living room
with a bar for entertaining, and of course, another
fireplace. Jack set his laptop on the antique desk.
Champagne was chilling on ice in a bucket next to a
tray of mouthwatering white chocolate-covered
strawberries.

“Where’s the second bed, I mean, bedroom?”
Rachel asked.

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “This is a one-room suite.
And, theoretically, why would we need it? We’re
engaged, remember?”

Rachel colored and her voice tightened. “Y-yes,
right.”

Her heart stuttered at the sudden knock on the
door.

It was the bellman arriving to set up their
luggage in the cavernous closet. He rattled off the
amenities, which included ski butlers and a chef-insuite.

Jack handed him some bills while Rachel eyed
the thick matching white terrycloth bathrobes on
ivory silk covered hangers that spoke of unforgettable
pleasures. She imagined herself wearing
nothing beneath her robe, walking out of a steamy
shower to tangle with Jack in the three-hundred
thread count sheets and–

“Rachel, why don’t you shower, put on
something more comfortable, maybe take a cat nap
while I check out the meeting setup in the boardroom?”

Was the man a mind reader? Hopefully not. And
what exactly did he have in mind when he said
‘something more comfortable’? Probably nothing at
all. Then it hit her. She had nothing at all to wear,
nothing appropriate. In her haste, she realized she
hadn’t packed properly. She had the essential
undergarments, but no fancy dress for the fancy
dinner in the ballroom tonight, no stylish bathing
suit for the indoor spa (at least not one that actually
fit), no ski clothes for the slopes. Not that she knew
how to ski. Of course, she hadn’t bothered telling
Jack that. What had she been thinking?

Obviously, she hadn’t been.

“Um, Jack, I uh, I mean, well, I don’t have any
clothes.”

Jack arched his brows and smiled.

“What I mean is, I don’t have any appropriate
clothes.”

He dug into his wallet and handed her a
Platinum American Express Card.

“I can’t take that.”

“Yes, you can. Consider it payment for services
rendered.” The hungry look he gave her bordered on
predatory.

Rachel choked. He hadn’t just said that. Did he
think she was some kind of a high-priced computerprogrammed
call girl? This whole experience had
started out as something of a lark, but now that she
was actually here in the hotel room, the hotel room
with one bed—one imposing, can’t ignore the
elephant-in-the-room-type King-sized bed—things
were beginning to get a little dicey. Jack was
beginning to get ideas. Five thousand dollars or not,
she wasn’t that kind of girl. Was she?

“Close your eyes,” Jack murmured.

Rachel stiffened.

“I said close your eyes,” he teased. “Just humor
me.”

Rachel complied. What in blazes was he going to
do to her? The man was used to getting what he
wanted, anything he wanted, rumor had it. But she
wasn’t for sale. And the sooner he realized that–

His hand grazed hers, and then he began
massaging her fingers. Okay, the man had a definite
hand fetish. She was alone in a room with Mira’s
maniacal CEO. How much did she really know about
Jack Davenport? He could be a serial killer. Or a
vampire.

“Calm down, I don’t bite.”

Rachel blew out a breath. The man was
dangerously psychic.

“Are you almost done?”

“Okay, you can look now.”

Rachel opened her eyes and gasped at the
biggest canary diamond she’d ever seen, sparkling
on her ring finger. The facets of the fiery, square-cut
masterpiece flashed in the sunlight that streamed
through the large picture window, almost blinding
her. And it was a perfect fit.

“What?” was the only word she could manage.

“Do you like it?”

“How could I not?”

“It looks good on your hand.” He was still
holding her hand like he owned it, like he owned
her.

“Jack, you didn’t need to get me a ring.”

“You’re my fiancé, right? A fiancé needs a ring.
Wait until Marshall Van Buren gets a look at this
baby.”

“Oh.” The swagger in his voice punctured her
soaring spirits. For a moment she’d forgotten he was
just running a game, that this was all a charade,
none of it real. Not the relationship, not the ring,
only the searing memory of the steamy kiss in the
receiving room.

Jack glanced at his stainless steel, Tag Heuer
timepiece (which was no doubt worth more than her
monthly salary) with an impatient expression that
said she was already beginning to bore him.

“I guess it’s been long enough.”

“Long enough for what?”

“Long enough for that shifty son-of-a-bitch Van
Buren to think that I was getting some, so to speak.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Nothing personal but, I mean, what kind of a
man would leave a woman like you alone in his hotel
room unless a decent interval had passed?”

“A woman like me?”

“I saw the way that barracuda Van Buren was
looking you over like it was feeding time. I guess I
don’t blame him.”

Rachel didn’t know whether to be flattered or
offended. Jack Davenport was an enigma. What was
it her mother always said about men? ‘Rachel, you’re
going to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your
Prince.’

“Jack, Mr. Van Buren was as nice as he could
be.”

“He’s got everyone fooled. It’s all an act, Rachel.
He’s a viper. The man will stab me in the back at the
board meeting tomorrow if I don’t torpedo him first.”

This was a side of Jack Davenport she hadn’t
seen before. An unflattering, combative side she
didn’t like one bit. Shades of Lord Voldemort. Rachel
eyed Jack’s laptop. What was going on in that
unpredictable mind and memory of his? What was
he up to? What kind of secrets was he hiding?

Then she recalled another of her mother’s
favorite expressions. ‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ Well,
her curiosity had landed her in plenty of trouble in
the past. And, as her mother also liked to say, ‘A
leopard doesn’t change its spots.’

“How do you know he’s out to get you?”

“I’ve done my homework. I didn’t get to be where
I am today by being caught off guard or
unprepared.”

Well maybe he was prepared, but one thing
Rachel was sure of. Jack Davenport was no Boy
Scout.

And she was going to earn her merit badge in
cyber-snooping trying to prove it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Question for Chapter Three
What kind of engagement ring did Jack put on Rachel’s finger?

a) Pink diamond
b) Emerald
c) Canary diamond
d) Ruby
Leave your answer in a comment and stay tuned for Chapter Four next Sunday.
Thanks for stopping by and we hope you're enjoying our story.

31 comments:

Mary said...

c) Canary diamond

I love seeing the possible directions this story could take!

Christy LaShea said...

Canary diamond.

Uh-oh, Jack may have a dangerous side.

Marilyn Baron said...

Christy and Mary, thanks for commenting.

Christy, Just wait and see!

Marilyn Baron

Tami Brothers said...

I forgot about that diamond!!! Man, how could I have forgotten about that?

Awesome chapter, Marilyn!!! I'm intrigued and I even know what happens next...

Nicki Salcedo said...

C!

Marilyn?!? "Rachel, why don’t you shower, put on something more comfortable, maybe take a cat nap
while I check out the meeting setup in the boardroom?"

[Insert sexy music here] Yes, Jack, whatever you say. :) Can't wait to read more.

PJ said...

C) Canary Diamond

Ooh, good chapter! I like that unexpected touch of danger in Jack.

Marilyn Baron said...

Nicki, Watch out. My mother reads this blog!

Marilyn

Anonymous said...

Rachel's Mom would take back every one of her Mom-Sayings if she got a look at that Canary Diamond.

Cyrano said...

I agree with Anonymous,
Canary Diamonds make everything right...or do they? We'll just have to read on and find out.
By the way gals, I helped write this novel (chapter two) but didn't read beyond that point while we were in production because I love surprises. I have no idea what happens next and I'm so excited to find out.
Marilyn, Grrrrreat chapter darlin!
Can't wait to read next weeks instalment.
Have a wonderful afternoon,
Tamara

Dianna Love said...

I'm loving this story and I was so tickled to see your great article in the AJC this morning. Will bring my extra copies to the next GRW meeting for you. I'm always saying you are one savvy bunch!

Looking forward to the next installments and will plug this in my next newsletter,too.

Great job ladies! :)

Sandra Leigh said...

It's a canary diamond, and now I have to go find out what a canary diamond is. (I've led a sheltered life.) I'm beginning to worry about Rachel. She's stepping into deep water. Can't wait for the next installment.

Sandy Elzie said...

Hey everyone,

Glad you're enjoying the story. I know how it ends (I wrote the last chapter), but I'm soooo enjoying rereading it chapter by chapter each week.

Dianna,
Thanks for the nice comments about the article in AJC...we are thrilled...and thanks for the coming "plug".

Sandy

Marilyn Baron said...

Sandra, a canary diamond is a yellow diamond, more valuable than a white diamond.

Marilyn Baron

CiCi Barnes said...

Tsk, tsk, Rachel. What ARE you going to do now? Tammy, Tamera, and Marilyn have put our girl in a bind, so stay tuned on the coming Sundays to see what CiCi, Tami, Aná, Sally, Anna, and Sandy have in store for Rachel and company.

Great job, Marilyn, and our article in the AJC today was cooler than Aspen in January!

CiCi

J Perry Stone said...

C) Canary Diamond!

"Jack Davenport was no Boy Scout."

This sentence gets me panting, Marilyn (sorry Marilyn's mom).

Great writing.

Joyce J. said...

Canary diamond. Great chapter, Marilyn. Hi to Marilyn's Mom!

Joyce J.

Linsey Lanier said...

C. Canary Diamonds

Which are naturally occurring yellow diamonds, I just learned after a quick web search :)

This story's really getting good. Can't wait till next week. Great job, Marilyn!

I got goosebumps reading the AJC article. That's my PFHT sisters she's talking about. Wow. (There's a link to it on our sidebar for anyone who hasn't checked it out.)

Linsey

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Marilyn,

Still love the line about being no boy scout and getting her merit badge in snooping. I wonder what else Rachel is going to get her merit badge in??

Scarlet Pumpernickel said...

Wow! really enjoying reading this! Great job ladies. Makes me want to write the next chapter myself! Great idea for showcasing all the talent on the PFHTs!

Scarlet

Debbie Kaufman said...

Okay, canary diamond.
Love the twist at the end. Can't wait to see what cyber revelations are to come.

Maxine Davis said...

Canary diamond - just like mine - the copy cat!!

You believe that? Well, I've got some swamp land . . .

This is great. It's hard waiting a week to see what happens next!

Marilyn Baron said...

Maxine,

I believed it!

Marilyn

Lorraine said...

Our grandmothers circa 1900 kept canaries in cages; our granddaughters sport canary diamonds at posh resorts. Way to go, 2009. Let 'em sparkle. Enjoy.

JuJu said...

Loved this chapter! Reading this book is like drinking a pina colada -- it goes way too fast and is too tasty.

Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the chapter and it just gets better.

Marilyn

Sunnymay said...

A little yellow bird told me the canary diamond is the engagement ring.

Barbara Monajem said...

Ack! I'm so late.

Canary diamond.

I really love how Jack's combative side is coming out! Alpha hero, wheeee....

Marilyn Baron said...

Sunnymay, Cute note about the little yellow bird.

Barbara, it's never too late. You can leave a comment anytime between now and when we post the Chapter 9. Thank you for reading the chapter.

Marilyn Baron

ECSpurlock said...

Wow, Jack may be scaring Rachel a little, but he sounds all protective to me! And the canary diamond doesn't hurt; I have a sneaking suspicion that it might just stay on Rachel's finger after the last chapter...

More excellent scene-setting, Marilyn. I would definitely want to cozy up in a room like that and never come out!

Pamela-reader said...

Canary diamond.

Love the story so far... One complaint though... durn chapters are TOO SHORT! (grin) I want more!

Marilyn Baron said...

EC,

Thanks for your comments and kind words. Keep reading (We preview Chapter 7 tomorrow) to see whether or not your suspicion's about Rachel are right. You may be surprised.

Pamela-reader,
I'm glad you love the story. We are working on a sequel where the chapters will be longer, so stay tuned.

Marilyn Baron