Authors: Alexandrea Weis
Cover to Covers
World Castle Publishing, LLC
World Castle Publishing, LLC
Copyright © Alexandrea Weis 2014
First Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC
February 1, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
Editor: Maxine Bringenberg
eins of gold embedded in the onyx marble floor shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight that was sneaking in through the hotel’s teak and glass entrance. Elegant arrangements of white orchids were strategically placed throughout the busy lobby, while women of all shapes and sizes, wearing skimpy fashions so common in the hot Dallas summer, were flitting about, carrying oversized suitcases and vying for the attention of anyone who would take the time to notice. Sharply dressed hotel staff politely scurried amid the guests, dutifully indulging the whims of their clientele. At the ornate teak-stained front desk, expensive leather luggage was piled atop several tall, gold racks, waiting to be delivered to rooms. Next to the bags, white-gloved porters stood at attention, demonstrating the renowned five-star service offered by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
“If I can be of any
further assistance, Mr. Moore,” a peppy blonde with too much black eyeliner said to the man in the impeccably tailored, dark blue Hugo Boss suit. “Please, let me know. I have your suite key.” She pushed the white key-card over the surface of the front desk. “Your usual order of Veuve Clicquot and strawberries will be waiting in your room,” she added with a welcoming smile.
The self-assured gentleman
removed his dark Porsche sunglasses and let his deep-set dark brown eyes linger over the young woman’s attractive face. “Afraid I won’t be needing that this time, Missy,” he murmured, getting a glimpse at her nametag.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Moore. I was informed you are always to have a bottle of Veuve Clicquot waiting in your room whenever you stay with us.”
Wandering over Missy’s stout figure, his eyes fixated on the way her blue blazer clung to her ample bosom. “I usually do when I’m staying here for a relaxing weekend. This time, however, is all business.” He placed his sunglasses in his jacket pocket.
Missy leaned forward, revealing her cleavage as her blue eyes
meandered up and down his body. “I am very sorry to hear that, Mr. Moore.”
The flirtatious pout that puckered her red lips made Tyler Moore
wipe his hand across his chin, attempting to hide his cocky grin. At six-foot-one, with black, wavy hair outlining his chiseled cheekbones and determined, square jaw, he was used to getting such suggestive looks from the opposite sex. But he knew that looks could only get you so far with a woman.
“How sorry are you?”
Missy’s eyes popped with interest. “I…I’m not sure what you mean, Mr. Moore.”
“How sorry are you that I won’t be having any fun this weekend, Missy?”
She fingered the lapel on her blue blazer adjacent to her right breast. “I would hate to think your stay here would only be about business, Mr. Moore. If there was anything I could do to change that….”
He felt a kick of satisfaction as he gazed into her hopeful eyes. “Perhaps you might come up with a few suggestions of other ways I could spend my weekend in your wonderful hotel? We could go over them later…at the bar, after you get off work.”
The pale blush blossoming on her cheeks was so becoming that Tyler almost began to believe their playful repartee had been worth the effort.
“I’ll think about it, Mr. Moore.”
“You do that, Missy. When you have an answer, you know where to find me.” He motioned to his overnight bag and black suitcase by the desk. “Be a sweetheart, and have the porter take my bags to my room. I have to meet a client in the bar before I go up to my suite.”
flush on Missy’s cheeks was positively radiant. “Yes, Mr. Moore. Right away.”
Tyler turned from the polished reception desk
, unable to hide his smug grin. No matter where he went, the lust in a woman’s eyes never got old. The entire episode with the desk clerk had only reinforced his belief that it was his confidence, and not his looks, that always got a woman to give him what he wanted. He had learned long ago that his handsome face could only take him so far in life, and had made a concerted effort to take control of any situation. It was a philosophy he had incorporated into every arena of his life.
“I’ll have to check back in with sweet little Missy. See how she looks without the blazer
.” He strutted across the lobby toward the arched entrance of the Rattlesnake Bar.
A warm glow of honey, onyx, and a contemporary Western-theme greeted him as he stepped into the
cool bar. Perched on the brown leather barstools, an array of women sipped on a myriad of colorful alcoholic concoctions while trying to chase away the sweltering afternoon heat. Tyler noted how more than one set of eyes turned his way as he strolled up to the bar. He checked his confidence at the door and pushed all thoughts of possible late night hookups from his mind.
flourishing oil and gas business was always more important than women. Besides, women were nothing more than a distraction at this point in his life. Having just passed the milestone of his fiftieth birthday, Tyler pondered that perhaps it was time for him to stop pursuing such meaningless liaisons and settle down with a tolerable woman who could cater to all of his needs.
Two divorces is plenty,” he reasoned as he arrived at the onyx marble and teak-topped bar. Lightly stroking the smooth surface of the marble, he remembered many of the encounters he had experienced in that very bar. Snapshots of blurred faces and forgettable names skipped across his mind. Some of the women had been exciting, a few horrific, but none had been…memorable.
You know who was memorable, don’t you, Ty
his inner voice taunted.
She was the one you let slip through your fingers.
Tyler snickered at his self-remonstrations. He hated to admit his inner demon was right, but it was. She had happened so long ago, but he found it funny how advancing age only seemed to make the memories of youth more poignant. It was as if growing older brought into focus the emotions that the impetuosity of youth seemed to blur.
“Mr. Moore,” a gray-haired bartender in a red vest cheerfully greeted. “Welcome back to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Do you want your usual?”
“Yes, Mike.” Tyler nodded. “Thanks for remembering.”
“Of course, Mr. Moore.” Mike reached for an old-fashioned glass and a carton of orange juice from the shelf below the bar. “You here for another weekend of….” Mike’s dull gray eyes swerved to a group of women at the bar. “Your usual fun?”
“Strictly business this time around, Mike.”
Tyler grinned, looking amused. “I’m waiting on a client and will be tied up with meetings all weekend.”
pouring the orange juice. “What a shame. I’ve come to enjoy your weekends here, Mr. Moore. I live vicariously through your adventures at the Ritz-Carlton.” He placed a napkin down on the polished marble before he set the glass of orange juice on top of it.
“Thank you, Mike. I’m flattered.” Tyler
scanned the crowded bar. “Is it my imagination, or are there a lot of women here for a Friday afternoon?”
“Not your imagination, Mr. Moore. There’s some big romance co
nvention in town.” Mike waved casually to the barroom. “Several of the authors are staying here, along with their fans.”
picked up his drink. “That would explain the women. Shame I have such a full agenda this weekend.”
“Might not be your kind of crowd, Mr. Moore.”
Tyler sipped his orange juice. “What makes you say that?”
Reaching for a towel, Mike chuckled.
“Have you ever read a romance novel?”
“I can’t say that I have.”
Mike wiped away an unseen spot on the countertop. “My wife’s addicted to them. I think most romance readers are the kind that only live vicariously through their steamy novels, and are not apt to fulfill those fantasies in real life.”
“I guess it’s sort of how you live vicariously through my adventures, eh Mike?”
“Safer that way, for everyone.” Mike let his eyes take a turn of the room. “My wife has been talking about this convention for weeks; says she can’t wait to meet all of her favorite authors.”
“Really? Who are they?”
“A Penny Band or Brand, then Nigela Frank
lin…and of course, there is her absolute favorite, Monique…something.”
A cold stab shot across Tyler’s chest. He slowly put his drink down on the bar. “Monique?”
His dark eyes never left his glass. “Do you happen to know her last name?”
“Not sure.” Mike let out a short, snort-like laugh. “You would think after all the times my wife talked about her books I would remember. I know she’s from New Orleans, though.”
Tyler’s stomach clenched. “Her name wouldn’t happen to be Monique Delome, would it?”
“Yeah, that’s it, Delome.”
Mike paused, observing Tyler with a renewed interest. “I thought you said you never read romance novels, Mr. Moore?”
“I haven’t. I once knew a Monique Delome from New Orleans, but that was many years ago.”
Mike dipped his head toward a section of brown leather booths at the other end of the bar. “Well, maybe she’s the same woman you knew. She happens to be one of the writers staying at our hotel.”
“She’s staying here?”
’s dull gray eyes twinkled with interest. “I take it she was a very good old friend.”
Tyler got ahold of his emotions. What kind of man was he if he let the mention of her name get to him? “No, it’s nothing like that. We were….” He shrugged.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s sort of like all those romance books my wife reads. She must go through a dozen or so a month, but when I ask her what they were about, she just shrugs. But when I ask her to tell me about her favorites, she can remember them like she just read them…even if she happened to read them a long time ago.” The bartender slowly smiled. “The good ones always stay with you,” he added.
lifted his drink from the bar. “Yes, they do.”
waiting customer momentarily distracted Mike. Standing just down from Tyler, a supercilious man was tapping his fingers impatiently on the bar. Tyler studied the stranger over the rim of his glass. His curly gray hair, lofty blue eyes, stoic features, and fitted gray suit reeked of irritation and arrogance. Tyler guessed that they were about the same age, but the world-weary essence in the man’s eyes made him seem much older, but not very much wiser.
“I need a Dewar’s and water, and a soda water with lemon,” the haughty man ordered in a deep voice.
“Yes, sir.” Mike nodded and turned away to make his drinks.
“You here for the con
vention?” the man inquired, his condescending eyes gliding up and down Tyler’s figure.
“Me?” Tyler put his glass down. “No, I, ah…just heard about this romance thing.” He
curiously inspected the man. “You here with your wife?”
The man’s hard features softened slightly. “No, I’m here with my client.” He rested his elbow on the bar. “I manage a few writers and have to come to these things to make sure other agents and publishing houses don’t steal them away. It’s a real cutthroat business.”
Tyler’s eyebrows went up. “Cutthroat? Romance novels?” He suppressed an urge to break out in hysterical laugher. “I never realized it could be that way.”
“I know, it sounds silly.” The man
’s rigid posture relaxed as he moved closer to the bar. “But the women who work in this business are tougher than my male clients. The science fiction geeks have nothing on these romance writers.”
Tyler rubbed his
hand across his chin, hiding his grin. “I’ll bet.” He browsed the stranger’s designer suit, posh Italian leather shoes, and the hint of the expensive steel watch under the sleeve of his jacket. Whatever he did for his writers, Tyler sensed he was good at it.
“So what does a man
ager do for a romance writer?”
pitched his head thoughtfully to the side. “Keeps the world at bay so they can write, would be the gist of it. I arrange their book signings, publicity tours, and attendance at these conventions, so they don’t have to worry about it. Like many writers, they just want to stay at home and work on the next book. My job is to allow them to do exactly that. For some of my best writers, I do a hell of a lot more.”