Sunday, May 24, 2009

Aspen Exposé -- Group Novel -- Chapter 4

Chapter Four

When you play with the devil, expect some fire.

~ by CiCi Barnes

Rachel twisted and turned in front of the mirror,checking every conceivable angle of her body. Three-quarter-length sleeves of her red linen dress hid her upper arms and a brand new pair of Spanx contained her belly and love handles. Her cleavage, thanks to the plunging, underwire push-up bra, stood ready to attract attention. Dazzling white teeth heightened her smile.
The show could now begin. Yeah, the three-ring circus, starring scheming Jack Davenport and his faithful side-kick, Rachel, the clown. What had she been thinking when she’d agreed to this?
Obviously, not anything ethical. She should march right in there and tell Jack where he could put his five thousand dollars and his prepared homework.

She did one more turn, catching the slim view of her backside and the shine of her perfectly coiffed hair. Why waste a good spa treatment and the coming sumptuous meal? Tomorrow was as good as today.

She sauntered into the room in her new four-inch Manolo Blahniks, hoping she’d meet Jack’s high standards. Even though she shouldn’t care.

Jack stood, his back to her, in the middle of the room, deep in conversation on his cell phone.

“Yes, Marshall, that sounds like a plan. We’ll talk about it tonight. Yes. Yes.” He flipped the phone closed and turned. The device immediately clattered to the floor.

His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down while his eyes pinned her to the wall behind her.
Holding her breath, she tried to decide if his reaction was good or bad.

“You ... you look great!”

His tone said he never expected her to come close to great. To be honest, she didn’t expect it either.

“Thanks. The same to you.” His dark suit and smoky tie against a crisp white shirt heightened his heart-stopping good looks.

He leaned over to retrieve his phone then approached her with bent arm. She slid her hand to the crook in his elbow and braced herself for the evening, not sure she could make it through without blurting out something that would blow this whole charade. Jack’s smile melted her thought. Oh, he was good. Now she wasn’t even sure where the charade began and ended.

Downstairs, the maitre d’ ushered them through a maze of elegantly appointed tables to a window overlooking the slopes. Marshall Van Buren hadn’t arrived yet.

“Champagne,” Jack said to the waiter.

Rachel tried to hide the quick cringe. Great. Now she was in trouble. Champagne made her giggle and a giggling school girl was not the impression she wanted to give tonight. Too much hung in the balance. She needed to decifer the different faces that made up
Jack Davenport. Resisting the one she currently
witnessed would be the biggest challenge. The one
that looked at her as if she were a chocolate bar and he a starving man. The one that left her knees weak and her nerves on edge.

Just this morning she was hoping the ‘business’weekend would turn into what that look promised. But after the run in with Marshall Van Buren, she wasn’t so sure she wanted anything to do with the vindictive Jack she’d just seen back in their hotel room. He was definitely not the man she’d been drooling over for months. Now she wondered who this guy actually was and if, after this crazy weekend, she would have a job when she returned home.

“Smile, Rachel. We’re on.” The hushed voice drew her attention away from the magnificent view outside the windows. Jack rose from his seat as Marshall and a woman who looked half his age walked up.

“Allison. Nice to see you again.”

Rachel pasted on a smile, trying to look the part Jack hired her to play as the other woman embraced him. Not really sure what was expected of her, she stood. The move allowed her to see the covert squeeze Allison gave Jack’s backside before pulling back. The
woman was exactly Jack’s type: tall, lithe, blonde, and
with boobs spilling out of a dress obviously not made
for that particular size. The look that quickly passed
between them spoke of a familiarity that was far more
than just a friendly greeting.

“Jack, you devil. How have you been? I can’t believe you haven’t gone completely mad with all this cold.”

“It’s not so bad once you get used to it.” The easy jovial tone was back and Rachel couldn’t help but feel her skin crawl at the switch.

“If you’re an Eskimo maybe. Why don’t you come back to Texas where you belong?”

“Because he’s too ambitious for Texas, sweet thing.” Marshall spoke with his usual easy tone; one that Rachel had come to expect in the two years she’d worked with Mira Technologies and the numerous times she’d seen the man during one of his surprise inspections of the Denver offices. It was this good natured familiarity which made her doubt Jack’s earlier comments about the man. “I can’tbelieve you two love birds beat us down here.”

At this, Jack wrapped a possessive arm around her back and tugged her to his side. “You know me, Marshall. I get things done fast when I’m on deadline.”

Instantly, bells started ringing in Rachel’s head as the man beside her smirked. She tried to pull back a few inches, but he only tightened his grip.

“That’s why he’s so good at his job, right Marshall?” If anyone else had been watching the perky blonde, they would have thought she was passing on a sincere compliment. But the flash of fury and the silent warning Allison shot Rachel left a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.

What had she gotten herself into? Not only was Jack turning out to be the smarmy pick-up artist one tries to ignore in a bar, but now she was now smack dab in the middle of a married woman staking aclaim that she wanted no part of. Heaven help her.
his was going to be one long weekend.

Thanks for stopping by. And now for the question. Be sure to answer in your comment.
Question for Chapter Four
What reaction does Rachel have when drinking champagne?
A) sleepiness
B) headache
C) giggles
D) sarcastic comments


Christy LaShea said...

Champagne makes her giggle; I can relate ;)

And now Rachel's doubting Jack - oh, no, don't let him be too bad for our heroine!!!

Mary Marvella said...

Giggles and the bubbly go well together. You ladies are so clever.

CiCi Barnes said...

Good morning, Christy and Mary. Glad you stopped by to read and comment.

Stay tuned for a rocking good time.


Mary said...

I love the addition of Allison! This could be a fun evening :)

Champagne gives Rachel the giggles. (Me, I get a headache).

penney said...

Like me she gets the giggles!

Tami Brothers said...

I get the "giggles" too, then usually end up coughing because I end up breathing it instead of drinking it.

Too, fun, Cici!!!

I love this chapter.....


Sandra Leigh said...

Ooh, the plot does thicken. Rachel gets the giggles when she drinks champagne.

Cyrano said...

Loved the chapter Cici. This is the first time I've read it and I love being surprised by the turn of events. Great job!
And I giggle like Rachel when I drink champagne, but I adore the stuff.
Can't wait to read what happens next week.
Have a wonderful Sunday,

Maxine Davis said...


Fantastic twist and I love this chapter! Good work CiCi.

Rachel gets giggles after champagne. I just want more champgane. And I swear, when 'the girls' where drinking it while watching Mama Mia, it was definitely not the champagne that made us all dance around the cabin and sing loudly after it was over.

CiCi Barnes said...

Thanks Mary, penney, Tami, Sandra, Cyrano and Maxine for joining us today.

Yes, champagne can get you into trouble if you're not careful. Will Rachel be careful? Stay tuned next Sunday to find out.

Maxine, did you take pix of the cabin dance? We'd love to see them.

I raise a toast to one and all. (tee hee)


Debbie Kaufman said...

Gosh, how will Jack redeem himself in her eyes?

Champagne makes her giggle.

Anna Steffl said...

I've read this chapter several times and love it more each reading!

CiCi Barnes said...

Debbie, the question is: CAN he redeem himself in her eyes? Stay tuned.

Thanks, Anna. Glad you enjoyed it.


Sandy Elzie said...


I've read the entire story, but I'm so enjoying reading it again, chapter by chapter.

The plot is getting thick. Is our girl getting in over her head?

Stay tuned to find out how she handles this new situation.


Nicki Salcedo said...

Sandy stop bragging. Let me read the entire story, too!

Cici, the answer is the giggles. I had no idea you had a humorous streak!

Lorraine said...

I'm still GIGGLING over the very graphic vision of the chocolate bar and the starving man. Mmmmmm!

Marilyn Baron said...

Champagne gives Rachel the giggles. I enjoyed the chapter. Thanks.

Marilyn Baron

Scarlet Pumpernickel said...

Enjoyed the chapter. This on going story was a great idea! It showcases the multi-talented PFHT's so well. She giggles when she drinks champagne, just thought I'd add that so you'd know I read the chapter. Excellant job ladies, can't wait to read the next chapter.


Barbara Monajem said...

Late again!

While reading the chapter, I tried to guess what the question would be, and I was right! Woot!

She giggles.

ECSpurlock said...

Rachel may get the giggles when she drinks champagne, but I have a feeling Allison is going to be no laughing matter! Great twist, CiCi!

Pamela-reader said...

She giggles!

I Loved,loved,loved Jack dropping his phone. (I admit though, I wasn't so keen on the stutter... it would have been even hotter for me if "his eyes darkened & he simply said "Nice" in a rough deep drawn out voice. (grin)

I hope that later on, Rachel gets to put Allison in her place!

Great story so far everyone!