Hello and welcome back to Tuesday Tales. Each week, a group of talented authors share a scene from their current work with you. I’m working on a contemporary romance called Wedding Bell Blues. This week’s word is SAVE:
MJ frowned, crossed to the phone, reached for the handset, and watched Paul step out onto the deck to give her some privacy.
“Madame Summers, I have an international call for you,” the operator said. “One moment.”
An international call? God, it has to be Carla. What the hell am I going to tell her?
“MJ?” Carla’s worried voice came over the line.
“Yeah, it’s me? What’s up?”
“What’s up?” she screeched loudly, forcing MJ to pull the phone away from her ear. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” Carla continued, her indignation clear in her voice. “I’ve been worried sick.”
“Everything is fine, Carla,” she lied. “They have clocks here. It’s almost two. What’s the problem?”
“The problem? You’re on a tropical island alone and you ask me what the problem is? I’ll tell you what the problem is—you didn’t call. You promised you’d call the moment you checked in, and that would’ve been almost two hours ago according to the itinerary you gave me. I’ve been worried sick.”
She should never have given her that schedule. Only Carla would hold her to the exact time listed.
“You could’ve saved yourself some money. I didn’t call because I haven’t checked in,” she answered, trying to keep her voice light.
“The rooms aren’t available until after four,” she fibbed, hoping Carla wouldn’t call her on it.
“So where are you? Why did it take so long for them to find you?”
“It’s a big resort. I’m just having a drink with a friend.”
“Male or female,” Carla asked, some of the irritation gone from her voice.
“Not that it matters, but male.”
“Get out of here. Are you telling me there are single men there?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” It wasn’t a lie. There was one.
“Is he there with you?”
“He is.” Well, he was sort of. “This place is absolutely gorgeous, everything I expected and so much more.” That was an understatement. “You should see the flowers. I’ve never seen dark pink orchids like the one on this table.” The flower, freshly cut and placed in a crystal vase looked like velvet—almost too beautiful to be real. “Listen, this is costing you a fortune. As soon as I get settled, I’ll message you on my tablet—”
“Not so fast. I’m paying for it so give me a few deets. Just answer yes or no. Is he good looking?”
“Is he rich?”
MJ looked around the room, knowing it would’ve cost more than the mid-range package she’d chosen, and he’d just bought a house. “Possibly.”
“What kind of answer is that? Never mind. And you’re sure he’s alone.”
“Oh, yes. He told me so. He bought the vacation from a friend, not realizing what kind of place it was.”
Carla laughed. “Then you must be manna from heaven, but girl, you’ve got a big problem.”
MJ dropped onto the bed. There was no way Carla could know about the reservation, so what else had gone wrong?
“What do you mean? Everything seems fine.” Another lie, but what choice did she have?
“You’ve got company coming.”
MJ’s blood ran cold. Had Mark and Melena announced they were coming here, too?
“Who?” she asked, grateful her voice sounded almost normal.
“I was watching Louis James Live this morning, and he had Antoine Leroux, the salvage diver, on his show.”
MJ bit her lip. Leroux? The name sounded familiar. “How does that affect me?”
“Your mom watches that show, doesn’t she?”
“Never misses an episode.”
“Well, the man’s on his way to Martinique to look for Lacorneille’s ship. He should arrive tomorrow. Louis James is going to air daily segments on the treasure hunt. According to Leroux, he’ll be spending time at that resort on Paradise Island. You’re screwed girl.”
The wheels in MJ’s head started turning. The last thing she needed was to end up in a background shot, because no matter how brief a glimpse it would be, Mama would recognize her, and so would Mark and Melena.
“I’ll have to make sure to stay out of their way. Thanks for the head’s up.”
Now she realized why the pirate on the poster had looked familiar. He was Louis James, one of New York’s most popular morning show hosts. The poster must have advertised the televised treasure hunt.
Wonderful. Just frigging wonderful. But I’ll be fine. I’ll be gone before they get here.
And she would be. She just needed to convince Paul that she’d be safe on Martinique.
“I’ve got to go,” Carla said. “We’re going to Joel’s parents’ house for a barbecue. I’ll check the computer for your message later. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Believe me,” MJ said. “He’s a nice guy, but that’s not in the cards.”
MJ hung up the phone and drained the last of the rum in her glass. What else could go wrong?
That’s it. I’m off for some family vacation time and I’ll be back June 14. Until then, don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.