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Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Billionaire's Hidden Heart by Georgina Sand ♥ New Release Spotlight & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Contemporary Erotic Romance)

Brooding billionaire Jon Baxter and his vulnerable new hire Demeter O’Reilly play a dangerous game of seduction...

They sent me to Miami to take pictures of an old hotel. It was my first real job out of college, and the first time I used my camera for anything but fun.

I loved my new job. I was finally making money, had left those frigid Maine winters behind at last. I felt confident, and grown-up. But then I met Jon Baxter, the owner of the company I worked for, and everything changed.

We were opposites, Jon and I. I was innocent, vulnerable. I wore my heart on my sleeve. He was a sophisticated, brooding billionaire who’d hidden his heart away, someone who constantly wanted new experiences.

He shocked me with his view of the world. Introduced me to smoldering new emotions. Intrigued me with red-hot experiences that left me blushing and yearning for him every second of the day.

I knew it was wrong. I knew I was putting my job in jeopardy, by giving myself to the man I worked for. And yet, I sensed I’d found love where I’d least expected it. I wanted to grab it with both hands and never let go. But first I had to make the billionaire’s hidden heart my own...

A full-length novel with an HEA.

Chapter One

Modest and sensible. That’s the Maine character. That’s the character I was brought up with. And that character was never more necessary than in mid-March, when a zero-degree temperature was a warming trend and spring flowers were still two months away.
Swallowing hard, I brushed the snowflakes off my face and hugged my mom, who was also modest and sensible.
Sensible implied you wore bulky flannel-lined pants, turtlenecks, wool sweaters, and long johns. It required you to give up the cute leather high-heeled boots for those big, but warm Eskimo-style clunkers. In summer, it suggested that board shorts and a rash guard might work better than a bikini. I’d embraced sensibility as a survival mechanism, and while it had kept me hidden beneath layers of clothing, and had also led to a kind of modesty, too, one that I’d become accustomed to.
And yet, today I was heading off to a big city, where I doubted modesty and sensibility would cut it. I knew I’d stick out like a sore thumb among the stiletto-wearing citizens of Boston, and it wasn’t just because of my countrified clothes. I’d been raised in the country and was a country girl, whether I liked it or not. And I didn’t know how to be anything else.
My mom sniffled and wiped her tears and squeezed me with all the strength she could manage. Then she shoved me toward the Greyhound Bus that was going to take me to my job interview. I bolstered my courage one last time and stepped on. My gut wrenched as the door closed behind me--I was leaving behind everyone who’d ever meant anything to me.
Still, I needed this change. I did. I was twenty-four and the time had come for me to strike out on my own. For the last few years, I’d been driving everyone crazy with my complaints about being bored and feeling like the world was passing me by. And so, when I won B3 Corp.’s photography contest and received the offer to come down for an interview, my mom and everyone else had demanded I go.
Somehow, I managed to push my suitcase and camera case into the overhead bin. With a self-conscious look at the other passengers, many of whom were staring at me, I sat down in that faux-leather seat next to a snoring elderly man with little round glasses. He jumped and his eyes snapped open when he sensed me sitting next to him.
I looked out the window and waved to my mom as the bus pulled away. She waved back, her face lined with a few new wrinkles, a loose cap I’d knitted for her covering her salt-and-pepper hair, her down-filled coat keeping her warm from a brisk wind.
Goodbye, mom.
I saw that she was crying again, even as she waved furiously. My own tears flowed freely. I felt like I was abandoning her, just like my dad had. She kept waving even as the bus drove out of sight.
I missed her desperately, already.
I tried not to think about it, though. I tried not to notice the way my throat tightened as we passed the You are Leaving Owl’s Head, Maine...Come Back Soon! sign. When the last buildings of my hometown rolled out of sight, I wiped my tears from my cheeks and let my hand drop into my lap.
“First time away from home?” the elderly man next to me asked, his worn face creased with sympathy.
“Where are you headed?”
He gave me a reassuring smile. “I’m Harry Mills.”
“Demmie O’Reilly.”
“Nice to meet you, Demmie.” He patted my arm in a fatherly manner. “You’ll like Boston. It’s a grand old city. Lots of Irish pubs, museums, and then, of course, there’s the Bruins!”
I nodded and managed a smile in reply, but didn’t say anything else. I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Rather, I pressed my head against the window and watched the snow-covered hills and valleys pass me by. Maine natives had another quality besides sensibility and modesty: an ability to endure. We all did our best to have stiff upper lips, and not only bear whatever harsh conditions came our way, but also to make the best of them. I hoped this last trait would come to my rescue while I tried to fit in with city life. If I screwed up during the interview and B3 sent me back home, I’d need it even more.
My elderly neighbor sensed my reserve and fell back against his seat, too. A few minutes later, he began to snore quietly.
I wished I could fall asleep, too. To just get past this moment, this pain of leaving home, without having to experience too much of it. The best I could do, though, was stare at the trees that whizzed by and try to nurture that little spark of excitement inside me that wanted to come alive. The sky shone with a dull gray light, but every once in a while, sunlight peeked out, and I took that as a good sign. I tugged my coat closer around me, huddled down into the seat, and waited for the bus to deliver me to the start of my new life.

Chapter Two

Hands clenched together, I stood at the window looking out at buildings that stretched impossibly high—higher than anything I’d ever seen before. The clouds and snow that had dogged northern Maine had given way to blue skies here in Boston, and sunlight blazed off the many-mirrored surfaces outside, to reflect against my eyes. The B3 corporate offices had to be on the thirty-sixth floor at least, and it gave me a bird’s eye view of the city, the harbor, and every reflective surface in between.
I shielded my eyes and backed up a little, pressing into the conference table behind me as I tried to imagine taking a photograph of the city without letting the glare destroy the shot. Some of the buildings were simply amazing—at certain angles, they looked almost two-dimensional. Silently wondering how the buildings’ architects had accomplished such a trick, I assessed different angles, thought about different filters...polarized or half-polarized—
“Demmie, thank you for coming down to see us, and congratulations on winning B3 Corp.’s photography contest,” a male voice said behind me.
I spun around and found myself looking at a distinguished-looking gray-haired man in a business suit. Another younger man stood behind him. The second man was dressed equally business-like. My gut tightened—their highly polished appearance intimidated me. We didn’t often see men like that up in Owl’s Head.
We traded introductions. I found out that both men—Walter and Sean—were executive directors who managed the division in which I’d be working...if I got the job. Then they told me to take a seat at the conference table, and sat opposite me. We faced each other across an expanse of wood. A big vase of orange blossoms stood on the table between us and perfumed the air with a delicate, yet potent fragrance.
“First of all, let me mention how impressed we were by the portfolio you submitted as part of the competition,” the younger one, Sean, said. “You have a knack for a creative photo, for making something dramatic from the commonplace. I especially liked the shot you took of the elderly couple sitting on the sofa. They looked so dynamic, so young, even.”
Inside I was quaking, but somehow I forced myself to smile. “Thank you, sir, I—”
“There will be no ‘sirs’ in here, Demmie,” the older man cut in. “Please, call me Walter. And this is Sean.”
“Of course.” I swallowed hard. “I took the photo of the elderly couple during a photography retreat at Maine Media College. They live at a nearby assisted-living facility. Their families were very happy with the shot, too.”
“Well, it’s genius,” Sean said. I thought I saw a little flash of warmth in his eyes. “Tell me: How would you photograph, say, the vase of orange blossoms between us?”
I studied the bouquet and its small waxy flowers that gleamed like freshly fallen snow. Thick green leaves surrounded them, making their white petals seem even more pure in comparison. “Preparation is key,” I finally said. “Choosing the right lens, the perfect time in terms of light, the best backdrop, identifying the focal point...there are so many decisions that go into a good photo. They would all have to be considered, and then decided upon. Also, it’s important to find the unusual thing, the interesting thing. Sometimes it’s not the perfect flower, but the bent or dying flower next to it, that creates a more interesting shot.”
Sean smiled. His eyes became warmer. “You attended Maine Media College?”
I nodded. “I graduated last May, with a Master of Fine Arts degree.”
“That’s almost a year ago. Have you held any positions since then?”
“I’ve done freelance work, mostly.”
“What kind?”
“A lot of nature photography, inanimate objects, some fashion.” I pulled the portfolio I’d prepared for the interview out of the briefcase I’d purchased only last night, after arriving in town. “Here’s my portfolio.”
Walter took it from me and put it on the table between himself and Sean. Together, the men began to look through the best of my photographs. They asked me questions about a few of them: what had inspired me to take it, how I’d set the shot up, and what processing I’d done to the photo afterward. As I talked, I felt perspiration gathering beneath my navy wool suit—again, purchased the previous evening—and silently reminded myself to keep my jacket on.
Once they’d finished looking at my portfolio, Walter closed it and handed it back to me. His gaze ever so briefly roved over my body, from my sensible one-inch heels to the top of my modestly styled head, and his smile widened. I felt myself blushing at the way he stared at me. Guys back home had never been so...frank in their appraisals.
“If I may ask, is Demmie a nickname?” he murmured.
“It’s short for Demeter,” I admitted, my cheeks growing warmer. I fussed with the barrette that was holding my hair back, made sure it was in place. “My mom is an English professor, with a specialty in Greek literature.”
“Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest.” He turned to his younger colleague. “She’s a goddess.”
Sean grinned. “We’ve gotten lucky.”
I smiled hesitantly. “The luck is mine.”
“How do you feel about relocation, Demmie?” Walter asked.
My heart gave a little thump. Somehow, I managed to shrug. “That’s what I’d planned to do--relocate. This is my first trip to Boston, but I like it already.”
“Have you done a lot of traveling?”
“I’ve never really been out of Maine.”
Sean picked up my resume and glanced through it. “It says here you’re fluent in Spanish.”
“I had five years of Spanish in high school. I spoke it well enough after graduating to teach it to kids at a Spanish language camp during the summer.” I played with the edge of my shirt, folding and refolding a little section of fabric. I was really nervous, and this interview wasn’t getting any easier. “My accent isn’t the best, but I can hold my own in a conversation.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “All of your freelance work has been for businesses in your hometown?”
“I photographed a spread of Acadia National Park for the National Park Service,” I offered, some of my nervousness becoming excitement. Something in their voices told me they liked me. “I also worked as the primary photographer for Maine Now’s online fashion section.”
“We’ve looked at both, and we’re impressed,” Walter assured me. “You’re exactly what we need: someone young, fresh, and with a natural talent that, quite frankly, is the strongest we’ve seen in a long time. We have a lot of Spanish-speaking clients, so your fluency is definitely a plus. What do you know of B3 Corp.?”
Suddenly my heart was beating very fast. “B3 Corp. owns a variety of boutique hotels around the world,” I replied breathlessly, repeating the information I’d found on the Internet. “Also several restaurants.”
Walter nodded. “We have a growing portfolio of restaurants and boutique hotels, as well as a substantial pipeline of properties under development and in negotiation. Our executive director, Natalie Selby, maintains the image of B3 brands globally, and oversees the production of all photo shoots: talent coordination, fitting schedules, design involvement, and participation in the shoots themselves. You would be working for her, in the role of brand manager. What do you think, Demmie?”
“It sounds perfect,” I stuttered. Further words failed me. I felt stunned that they seemed to want to give me the job.
“What would you say if we told you that if you take the position, you’d be expected to leave tomorrow morning for Miami?”
I gulped and shook my head, then smiled widely. “Wow.”
Sean grinned at my reaction. “I take it you’d have no problem with this.”
“No, not all. After the winter we’ve had, a little sunshine would be great.”
“It would be a temporary assignment, a few months at most,” Sean replied. “You’ll be working with Natalie on a campaign for a new boutique hotel that’s just beginning construction. And you’ll be getting a lot of sunshine, not a little. There’s no one you’ll be leaving behind?”
I shook my head emphatically. “I take photographs. I do my best to create art. I haven’t had time for anything else.”
Walter stood and held out his hand. “The job is yours, if you want it.”
I stood as well. Gratitude made my voice tremble. “Thank you, Walter.” I turned to look at the younger executive. “And thank you, Sean. I don’t even need time to think about it. I want nothing more in the world than to work for B3 Corp.” I grasped Walter’s outstretched hand in a firm grip, and wished my dad had been alive to see this success of mine. “Well, then, Demmie,” Walter said, as we shook hands. “You’d better head back to your hotel and pack your bags. A limo will be by at eight am to pick you up.”

Chapter Three

Short-sleeved shirts, linen pants, sandals. Men with dark eyes who moved slowly, casually, in no rush, their gazes falling upon me with lingering curiosity. I traded glances with them, these men who studied my gray wool suit and the oversized plaid coat that hung over my arm. With the women, too. No doubt they wondered why I was walking through Miami International Airport dressed like the abominable snowman. They didn’t know that I hadn’t had any time to shop before leaving Boston. And I hadn’t realized how hot and muggy it would be down here. Within five minutes of getting off the plane, I knew I was going to have to make shopping one of my top priorities.
After assessing, and then rejecting, several drivers holding up placards with names other than mine, I found the driver my new boss Natalie had sent to pick me up. Older, friendly, and about a foot shorter than I was, Carlos led me outside to a Town Car and introduced me to a whole new world, one called Miami: heat, confusion, rapid-fire Spanish, eager taxi drivers. And then, luscious creeping flowers, palm trees that stretched toward a blazing sun in a brilliant blue sky. Orange blossoms perfuming the air with an overwhelming sweet fragrance.
Once we reached the city itself, I had only a few minutes to gaze up at the high rise buildings and cruise ships docked in a harbor before we crossed a bridge and headed into South Beach. As Carlos maneuvered the car along Ocean Drive, I shamelessly gawked out the window at the art-deco hotels, the barely-dressed people crowding the sidewalks and the parade of high-end sports cars driving past. My photographer’s eye found countless things to shoot, and I tried to memorize each, so I could return later and do them justice.
Finally, Carlos pulled up in front of an entrance to a five story, sand-colored hotel decorated with chevrons and fantails. An art-deco sign proclaimed the hotel’s name: The Barcelona. Giant palm trees flanked the doors and a bellboy in a spotless uniform waited beneath the awning that shaded the entrance. I stepped out of the car and paused to breathe in the moist air, feel the sunshine heating the top of my head and listen to the ocean, which crashed against the sand just out of sight. Somewhere in the distance, Latin music throbbed.
Miami felt so different from Owl’s Head, Maine, that I might as well have been transported to the moon. Not for the first time, I counted my lucky stars. Even though I’d won B3’s photography contest, I still didn’t feel like I deserved all of this...glamor. Not a Maine country bumpkin like me. I figured I must have done something really wonderful in a former life.
Carlos retrieved my suitcase from the trunk and handed it to a bellboy, and then the bellboy and I were walking inside. I caught my breath as we entered the lobby. Two-story windows, soaring ceilings, rich mahogany pillars, granite tabletops and clean, symmetrical lines greeted my eyes. The feeling was understated, luxurious, like a rich man’s study. I’d never seen anything similar up north. I wondered what other extravagances awaited me.
The bellboy headed toward the registration desk with my battered old suitcase, while Carlos joined me near the entrance. Carlos immediately began scanning the lobby, looking for someone. After a moment, his gaze zeroed in on a woman in a white linen suit. She was seated in a lounge area and had a cell phone pressed against her ear.
“That’s Natalie,” he said.
We began to walk towards her.
She had curly brown hair drawn up in a bun at the nape of her neck, and even from a distance, I could see she had a great figure. Her eyes were an animated blue and she was gesturing at no one in particular with her free hand.
“Oh, Miguel, don’t tell me you’re not ready for the initial shoot,” she was saying. She paused, listened, then frowned. “I know the hotel’s under construction. Tomorrow, though, it’s going to be partly cloudy. Do you know how rare that is down here? It’s perfect lighting, so we need to take advantage of it.” Another pause, then, “I don’t care. We’ll be there tomorrow morning. Early. Have your construction workers bulldoze something else until we’re done. It won’t take long.” She looked up and saw me coming. “One second.”
Carlos and I stopped in front of her.
“Natalie Selby,” she said, and held out her hand.
I shook it, feeling her firm, warm palm against mine and seeing the friendliness in her eyes. I liked her instantly. “Demmie O’Reilly.”
She assessed me, her gaze running up and down my figure before settling on my face. Her smile widened. “Demmie. That’s short for Demeter.”
“Yes, it is.” I glanced at the glass of wine on the table next to her. She was drinking already? It was barely afternoon!
“Welcome, Demmie. It’s good to have you on board. Did you have lunch?”
“Not yet,” I admitted.
She crossed long, slender legs and turned to a waitress who had just finished taking drink orders from a businessman seated nearby. “Get her a Cuban sandwich.” Her attention switched to me. “You’re going to need it, you know. It’ll be a while before dinner.”
I nodded, wondering what a Cuban sandwich was.
She gestured to a chair next to her. “Have a seat.”
I sat and rearranged my jacket over my arm. I felt like I’d been caught up in a whirlwind. Hurricane Natalie, I thought.
She gave me a distracted look, held up a finger to ask me to wait, and then went back to her call. “I know, darling. It’s not easy for you either, with your subcontractors screwing up like that. We’re expecting a lot. However...I’m not saying you need to stay away all day. Just an hour, right after dawn.”
She continued wheedling the person on the other end of the line, even as her gaze returned to me and she winked in my direction. I watched her for a while, then deliberately looked away so I wouldn’t appear to be eavesdropping on her conversation.
My gaze wandered across the hotel lobby and I noticed a man near the bar. Six foot four if an inch, he wore a gray suit and had dark blonde hair which he’d clipped short and brushed to the side. Lean and muscular with an erect stance, he exuded power and dominance. A shadow of a beard darkened his chiseled chin, and a small gold hoop earring hung from his left ear. Standing there, with his legs spread wide, one hand on his thigh and the other around a bottle of beer, he looked like a pirate, ready to pillage and plunder. I noticed he wore a silver ring on his right hand, but nothing on his left.
I blinked to make sure I was seeing him correctly, then stared a little more. I couldn’t help myself.
His teeth looked very white in his tanned face, and his blue eyes had an intense quality which suggested very little, if anything, got past him. Overall, he seemed remote somehow, as if he’d distanced himself from the rest of us. And yet, I noticed his gaze slide over to Natalie and stay there, as he considered her in an absolutely blatant way.
I shook my head slightly, cynically. Men. I’d rarely seen one as arrogant as this one—
Suddenly, he turned to study me. I froze, feeling the weight of those glittering eyes, and his close, almost insulting regard, as if he could see right through my clothes. I lifted my chin slightly, pointedly returned his stare, and then looked away, determined to show him that I wasn’t going to faint on the spot because he’d deigned to notice me.
Seconds later, I snuck a glance at him, and saw he was smiling.
My heart gave a thump and heat flooded my cheeks. I turned away again, annoyed that I’d only managed to amuse him.
Carlos tapped my shoulder. “I’ll check in for you, Miss, if you’d like.”
I saw the kindness in his eyes and nodded. “Thank you, Carlos. I’d appreciate that.”
As Carlos headed toward the front desk, Natalie hung up on her phone call and sighed. “Miguel, he’s very set in his ways, but he’s agreed to allow us to come out to the construction site tomorrow morning and do an initial shoot, before his workers arrive.”
“The hotel is still under construction?” I asked, dragging my attention back to my boss.
“It’s called Beau Paradis, and it’s being rebuilt, actually.” She accepted another glass of wine from a different waitress, took a big sip, and savored it before elaborating. “It was originally built in the early 1900’s. A hurricane took it out a few decades ago, and it’s been sitting on the beach decaying ever since. Jon Baxter bought it for a song, or so he says. You’ve met Jon?”
“Not yet.”
“Jon is the oldest of the three Baxter brothers. Together, they own B3.”
I nodded. “They’re quite brilliant, from what I’ve heard.”
“Brilliant and rich,” she clarified. “Each brother is a billionaire in his own right.”
“Wasn’t there a sister too?” I asked, recalling the research I’d done on the company.
“Oh, yes,” she said breezily. “She’s the real brain behind the business.”
I smiled. Suddenly I really liked her.
She gave me a friendly smile. “Well, we’d better get you up to your room. We’ll leave for the site in about an hour, so we can get an idea of what we’ll need for tomorrow’s shoot. I’ll have your sandwich sent up.”
We stood. Carlos came over then and handed me a little folded card.
“Your room key,” he informed me.
I thanked him.
Natalie thanked him too, and then gave my gray wool suit the once-over. “I hope you brought summer clothes. It’s hot as hell in Miami.”
“I didn’t have time. Walter and Sean offered me the job yesterday afternoon, and this morning I was on a plane.”
We began walking toward a bank of elevators.
“If I had been you,” she told me matter-of-factly, “I would have been in Loro Piana before the sun went down yesterday. You’re going to earn a lot of money, so you might as well start spending it.”
I wanted to tell her that until this moment, my values had included sensible and modest. Sensible and modest girls didn’t spend money like it grew on trees. I didn’t think she’d understand that, though, and knew such an admission would make me look like someone’s country cousin. I simply followed along behind her as we hurried through the lobby.
“No worries, though,” she continued. “I’ll have something sent up to tide you over until later on. What size are you?”
“About a ten,” I said, aware that we were approaching the guy who looked like a pirate. He gave us another flagrant once-over as we drew closer. I swallowed and tried to ignore the butterflies in my stomach.
“Shoes?” she pressed.
I blinked and hesitated. “Also a ten.”
She glanced at me, then swiveled to stare at the pirate. “Do you like what you see?” she asked as we sailed past him.
He lifted one dark, winged eyebrow, but otherwise didn’t answer. Then his gaze found mine, and suddenly I was drowning in deep blue eyes, eyes that seemed to hold all of the mystery of the darkest parts of the ocean.
I gulped. They didn’t make ’em like this up in Maine.
“Here we are,” Natalie said as she stopped in front of the elevator.
I nearly bumped into her as I stopped, too, and forced myself to look away from him.
“Go on up,” she told me. “I’ll see you in the lobby in an hour.”
The elevator doors opened, and I stepped inside.

Chapter Four

A little while later, Natalie and I were sitting in the back seat of an old convertible T-bird, with Carlos at the wheel. We were driving south of Miami along Bayshore Drive, with the sun beating down on us and the wind whipping my hair into an even frizzier mess than it already was. Somehow, Natalie had dug up flip-flops and a white halter dress for me to wear—frivolous things that I never would have bought for myself.
I had to admit, I was completely scandalized by the amount of cleavage the dress revealed. I’d always been modest, had always hidden myself beneath high-neckline shirts and dresses. Now I felt practically naked. Still, on the positive side, for the first time I wasn’t roasting alive. Given the heat and humidity down here, I figured I’d better get used to showing some skin.
Natalie opened her purse and pulled out a bottle of sunscreen. “Darling, you’re getting pink. Put this on.”
I took the bottle, squirted some of the sunscreen onto my palms and rubbed it in as we drove through Coconut Grove. Carlos slowed the car and merged into traffic that led down a quaint little main street crowded with boutique shops. I returned the sunscreen to Natalie, then relaxed back against the seat and took it all in. Brilliant blue skies, palm and coconut trees, bougainvillea tumbling over walls, fountains spurting water—it was paradise.
When we passed a sand volleyball court, I stared at the players: four men, two against two, all of them in speedos that left little to the imagination. They were young, tanned, buff, their bodies covered with sand and no doubt salty, too. I imagined how they smelled: hot, sweaty, masculine.
When a blonde guy jumped to spike the ball over the net, I stared at the way his body moved beneath his speedo and blushed, surprised to feel a little answering tingle. I had more than a passing acquaintance with my most secret parts—masturbation was the one thing I did that wasn’t modest and sensible—but I hadn’t expected to be so affected by the sight of a man’s body. I guess I’d never paid much attention in the past. No wonder I was still a virgin.
I sighed. “This place is amazing.”
“Is this your first ride in a convertible?” she asked.
“Maine’s too cold for cars like these.” I ran a palm over the warm leather seats. “It’s wonderful.”
She smiled. “You’re not doing too badly, for a poor little girl from the backwoods. Wait until you see the hotel. You’ll love it. Beau Paradis has its own island, twenty acres of it. Back in the day, it drew more of the rich and famous than the Biltmore Hotel.” She paused and pointed at a metal and cement bridge that stretched across Biscayne Bay to an oasis of green. “Here’s the turn now.”
I picked up my camera and focused on the bridge.
“Carlos, slow down a little,” Natalie said loudly.
Carlos complied, and then we were moving slowly enough for me to snap several photos: the bridge, which gleamed in the sunlight; Biscayne Bay from the middle of the bridge; and Beau Paradis’s island of tangled palms and vegetation.
Once we reached land, we drove beneath a streamer of blue triangular flags and onto a gravel road that might have been paved once, but had long ago fallen victim to the hot Miami sun. A simple wire fence on either side of the road kept us from the construction zone.
To our left, backhoes were clearing a large swathe of muddy land, and dumping an assortment of broken palm trees, rocks and bushes into dump trucks. Closer to the road, construction workers appeared to be pouring foundations and setting footers in the ground. Natalie pointed in their direction. “Tennis courts,” she informed me, speaking loudly so I could hear her over the roar of the machinery. “Pétanque courts, a pool complex, a spa, private bungalows.”
I nodded and snapped a few photos, then turned to the other side to view the hotel--a combination of old, crumbling cement and new steel girders. The old part of it looked like a typical hotel from the 1920’s: perfectly rectangular, about ten stories high with rooms hugging either side of a main corridor. The steel girders were framing out a new, modern section next to the old part. The new gave the hotel a more sprawling aspect and brought the design into the twenty-first century. Beyond, a white sand beach and the Atlantic Ocean beckoned, and groupings of palm trees rustled in an ocean breeze.
“I like what they’re doing to the hotel,” I said. “It’s the perfect combination of old and new.”
“Jon—Jon Baxter—personally supervised the architectural details. He’s a genius where that’s concerned. I’ll show you the plans tomorrow, when we get down to work.” She paused and spread her arms wide. “I want everything done within a month, so we can open around Cinco de Mayo.”
I glanced doubtfully at the old part of the hotel. “You’re sure we can get it all done in a month?”
“We can get that done, and more,” she replied, a note of steel in her tone.
Carlos pulled up to an area with a wind-tattered tent and makeshift picnic tables. A few construction workers in jeans and t-shirts were sitting at the tables, eating. They looked up as we parked and got out of the car. A few of them studied my cleavage, then glanced lower, at my bare legs. I fought an urge to hide behind my hands.
Get used to it, I told myself. This was Miami, not Maine.
One of the men had on chinos and a button-down shirt. He was talking on his cell phone, but when he saw us pull up, he ended his call and walked over to the car. He spoke in rapid-fire Spanish. I silently translated. He was very upset, because one of his subcontractors had delivered windows with defects, a broken seal of some sort.
“Stop speaking Spanish, Miguel,” Natalie demanded as she walked over to him. “You know I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”
Miguel switched to English and spoke more slowly. I remained standing at the car, feeling awkward, wondering if I should go take photographs of the site. The construction workers continued to watch me with a good deal of interest, and I felt myself flushing. I fanned myself with my hand.
Natalie paused to take a call on her cell phone. Miguel, clearly irritated by the interruption, put his hands on his hips. Natalie gave him an annoyed look and moved away.


Pennsylvania author Tracy Fobes is an award-winning writer of novels and screenplays in the categories of thrillers, romance and horror. Prior to deciding that a literary career was her passion, Tracy gained a BS in Computer Science (minor in mathematics) from the University of Scranton, and worked both as a systems and business analyst in the pharmaceutical and financial industries. She now devotes her time to writing fiction, and has been published by both Simon & Schuster and Leisure Books.

As she states, “The inspiration for a new story comes from many places: art, music, old movies, books, newspapers. Occasionally, when I’m listening to a song or looking at a painting, I feel an intuitive jolt, an unexpected click. An idea about that painting or song sets my creative impulses to bubbling. I can always tell when I’m on the right track because excitement grabs hold of me and the skin at the back of my neck tightens. The ideas that give me some sort of visceral reaction are the ones that usually end up as my stories. Stories about women and men who come together to love have always been my favorites.”


Win an eCopy of The Billionaire's Hidden Heart!
***Please note: This prize is authorized by Tracy Fobes/Georgina Sand***

#GeorginaSand @GeorginaSand

1 comment :

  1. Thank you so much! I will enjoy reading this tremendously


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