My first try writing a 'real' post in Ghost. I like the preview feature and it's super quick compared to my Wordpress blog. Still lots to learn though, like how to set up a link so it opens in a new window. Good thing I live by cutting and pasting content from other places.
I'm going to jump in pretty quick with the #SampleSunday from An Heir To Bind Them. I've had a really busy week and I'm finally getting back into my 'real' writing, starting a new Presents which I'll #TeaserTuesday on my Facebook Page on, you guessed it, Tuesday!
I'm also prepping for the RT (Romantic Times) Convention. If you're going, please look for me there. I'll have swag :)
If you missed it, last week's #SampleSunday is here. The prologue showed Theo in a helicopter with his baby niece and nephew, trying to find Jaya to help him with their care. Then the opening went back in time eighteen months to Jaya quitting her job at the Makricosta Hotel chain. She has just entered Theo's suite to tell him goodbye.
~ * ~
He sat back, hands on his knees, taken aback. “Why wasn’t I informed? If you’re moving to the competition, we’ll match whatever they’re offering.”
“That’s not it.” She sank onto the seat opposite him and grasped her hands together so she could portray more composure than she actually possessed. Emotions rose as she realized this was it, no more uniform, no more career with the Makricosta hotel chain, no more Theo. Her voice grew husky. “You—I-I mean the company—have been so good with training me and offering certifications. I would never throw that in your face and run to the competition.”
“We believe in investing in our employees.”
“I know, but I never dreamed I could go from chambermaid to the front desk in that kind of time, let alone manage the department.” She remembered how frightened she’d been of getting in trouble for leaving her cleaning duties when she’d brought a lost little boy to the office, hovering to translate until his parents were located. Theo happened to be conducting one of his audits and was impressed by her mastery of four languages and ability to keep a little one calm.
“My confidence was at a low when I began working here,” she confessed with a tough smile. “If you hadn’t asked me if I planned to apply for the night clerk job I wouldn’t have thought I’d even be considered. I’m really grateful you did that.”
There. She’d said what she had wanted to say.
“My sister would disown me if I turned into a sexist,” he dismissed, but his gaze went to his phone. His despondency returned to hover in the room like a cloud off dry ice. She sensed that whatever news was affecting him, Adara Makricosta had delivered it.
“Where are you going, if not two doors down?” he asked abruptly.
She lifted her gaze off the strong hands massaging his knees. He wasn’t as collected as he was trying to appear. For some reason, she wanted to take those hands and hold them still and say, It’ll be okay. You’d be surprised what a person can endure.
“France,” she replied, not wanting to talk about her situation, especially when it appeared he was only looking for distraction from his own troubles. “Marseille. It’s a family thing. Very sudden. I’m sorry.”
She wasn’t sure why she tacked on the apology. Habits of a woman, she supposed, but she was sorry. Sorry that she had to leave this job, sorry she was inconveniencing him, sorry that her cousin was dying.
She felt her mouth pulling down at the corners and ducked her head.
“You’re not getting married, are you? This isn’t one of those arranged things?” He sounded so aghast she had to smile. Westerners could be so judgmental, like all his relationships were love matches rather than practical arrangements.
“No.” She lifted her head and he snagged her into another moment.
It occurred to her why she didn’t feel threatened by this. They’d had a million of these brief engagements, all very short lived. For over four years, she’d been glancing up to catch him watching her and he had been looking back to his work so smoothly she had put the charged seconds down to her imagination, convincing herself he didn’t even know she was alive.
Our employer employee relationship...
Was that what had kept him from showing interest before? It wouldn’t surprise her. He held himself to very high standards, never making a false move.
But if that was what had held him back, what did it mean for her right now, when she was alone with him in this suite and he knew she was no longer off limits?
Ingrained caution had her measuring the distance to the door, then flicking a reading glance at him.
The air of masculine interest surrounding him fell away and her boss returned. “This is a blow to the company. I’ll provide you a reference of course, but would a leave of absence be more appropriate? Should we keep your job open for you?”
His sudden switch gave her tense nerves a twang, leaving her unsettled. Men never seemed to get her messages to back off. Having Theo read her so clearly was disturbing.
“I— No.” She shook her head, trying to stay on topic, tempted to say she’d return, but Saranya’s cancer made it very unlikely. She hated to even think about it, but she’d been through it with Human Resources and had to get used to reality. “I’m moving in with my cousin and her husband. She’s very ill, won’t survive. I’m close with their daughter and she’ll need me.”
“I’m sorry. That’s rough.”
She absorbed the quiet platitude with a nod.
“I don’t mean to sound crass, but would money help?” he added.
“Thank you, but that’s not the issue. My cousin’s husband is very well off. They were extremely good to me when I left India, taking me in until I was able to support myself. I couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t with them through this.”
Did he? His family seemed so odd. Estranged almost. His remark about his sister a few minutes ago was as personal as she’d ever heard him speak of her. The few occasions when she’d seen any of them together, none had shown warmth or connection.
Who was she to judge, she thought with a jagged pain? She’d been disowned by her family.
He seemed to have equally dismal thoughts. His gaze dropped to the papers still scattered across the floor. He picked up his drink, but only let it hang in his loose fingers.
“Do you want to talk about...whatever is troubling you?” she asked.
“I’d rather drink myself unconscious.” He sipped and scowled, “But I only have watered down soda, so...”
He set it aside and stood, giving her the signal that heart-to-heart confessions were off the table.
She tried not to take it as a slight. He was a private man. This was the most revealing she’d ever seen him.
“I’m sorry we won’t be working together any longer, Jaya. Our loss is the hoteliers in Marseille’s gain. Please contact me if you’re interested in working for Makricosta’s again. We have three in France.”
“I know. Thank you, I will.” She swallowed and wondered if she would turn into a complete fool and start to cry. Standing, she put her hand in his and tried for one firm pump with a clean release.
He kept her hand in his warm one. His thumb grazed over the backs of her knuckles.
Her skin tingled and her stomach took a roller coaster dip and swoop.
She looked at his eyes, but he was looking at their hands. Her fingers quivered in his grip as he turned her palm up. She almost thought he was going to raise it to his lips. He looked up and the swooning dip hit harder. That was a sex look.
But it was Theo’s eyes, Theo’s expression that was always so aloof but now glowed with admiration and something else that was aggressive and hungry. He skimmed his gaze down her cheek to her mouth and sensations like fireworks burst through her. Zinging streaks of heat shot down her limbs and detonated her heart into expansive pumps.
She was experiencing sexual excitement, she interpreted dazedly, and the sensations grew as he stepped closer and lowered his head. He was going to kiss her!
She stiffened with apprehension and he straightened. Her hand wound up hanging in the air ungrasped as he pulled in a strained breath from the ceiling.
“You’re right. It’s not appropriate.” Weary despair returned like a cloak to weigh down his shoulders. “I apologize.”
“No, I—” Please let her dark skin disguise some of these fervent blushes. “You surprised me. I came in here reminding myself not to call you Theo. I didn’t think you thought about me like that. I would—”
Was she really going to risk this? She had to. She’d never get another chance. “I’d like it if you kissed me.”
~ * ~
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My Masked Desires Contest opened May 1st and will run until August 17th. If you want to go straight to the entry form, it's here:
Okay, that's all folks. I have to say this post went surprisingly quickly compared to the Wordpress slog of click and wait. I think once I'm more practiced with the markdown feature it'll be even faster and easier. Yay Ghost!
Tune in next week to find out if Theo kisses Jaya. (Hint: it's a secret baby story.)