Olivia Spencer ran a hand through her thick,
honey-blonde hair and gladly stepped out of the stuffy confines of the airplane
into the warm, welcoming sunshine of San Cristobel. She paused at the top of the
passenger boarding stairs, inhaling deeply, breathing in the familiar salty air
of the tiny tropical nation.
you for flying San Cristobel Airways, please watch your step as you leave the
plane.” An overly perky flight attendant waved behind her. “Buh-bye!”
Olivia was ready to smack the blonde woman, hard, after
being subjected to her chipper attitude for over four hours on the flight. She
felt the soothing hand of her lover run along the curve of her spine, and
smiled, the simple touch calming the urge to slap the stewardess silly.
it’s beautiful!” Natalia Rivera gasped, staring at the surrounding area. The
view from the top of the boarding stairs was stunning. A cloudless, blue sky was
surpassed only by the vibrant azure of the Atlantic Ocean, crashing steadily
against the bright white beach. Palm trees swayed in the slight breeze and sea
gulls flew overhead, as the heavy afternoon heat hit her like a wall.
is gorgeous, isn’t it?” Olivia grinned and pulled out her sunglasses,
pushing them along the bridge of her nose into place as she lead the way down
the stairs to the hot pavement below.
could you possibly leave all this, to come to snowy, freezing Springfield?”
Natalia extended the handle on her carry on luggage and pulled it along behind
her, tiny wheels squeaking as they walked across the tarmac to the white stucco
Olivia peered over the rim of her sunglasses, raking
her eyes down sweet curves and tight denim jeans before heading back up the
petite form again. Finally meeting her partner's dark eyes, she levelled a
heated, intense stare at the younger woman, moistening her lips with the tip of
her tongue, before slowly raising a single eyebrow. She smiled as Natalia
“Oh, there are some pretty hot things about Springfield too, sweetheart.” Olivia’s voice dropped to its most seductive register. She simply chucked softly as Natalia flushed ever so slightly and a naughty smirk formed on her lover's delectable lips. A shiver slid down Olivia's back in reaction to those damn dimples. Dragging her eyes away from her lover, Olivia pulled out her Blackberry and powered it on, scanning quickly for any messages from Frank or Phillip
emergencies?” Natalia slowed her pace towards the small building so Olivia
could focus on the small device. She knew they were only going to be gone for
essentially a long weekend, but still, it was a long time away from her sweet
baby girl and Jellybean. Apparently for both of them, as she watched Olivia sigh
with relief and smile back at her.
Just an e-card from Josh wishing me an early happy birthday.” Olivia's smile
widened as she read his message. “He said he wishes he was here to tell me in
he is so sweet,” Natalia said. She glanced away, staring at the other
passengers walking past them as she felt a momentary pang of irrational
jealousy. Of all her partner's ex-husbands, Josh was the one she worried the
most about sweeping back into Olivia's life and stealing her away.
A bright glimmer caught her eye and she glanced down at
the ring on her finger, and then at the matching one on Olivia. Natalia turned
into the slight breeze blowing across the airfield and let out a long breath.
She couldn’t help the smile that broke out every time she thought about being
engaged to Olivia. Or for that matter, the heat that flushed her body from the
knowledge that Olivia Spencer was hers and that she equally belonged to her.
Maybe the reason for all of Olivia’s ex-husbands was that what she had really
needed all along was a wife.
Natalia smirked to herself and turned her attention
back to her lover, as Olivia chuckled mischievously and her thumbs typed away a
response to Josh's text message. God, she was like a little kid sometimes.
"What are you saying to him?"
just told him I’m celebrating it somewhere hot and sunny with a scantily clad
Natalia. I bet he wishes he was here.” Olivia waggled her eyebrows and hit
send, slowly leaning in for a quick kiss before swinging open the door to the
airport building. The cold air-conditioning felt good against their skin and
they made their way inside.
They stood in a long winding line up, Natalia ready
with their passports in hand, Olivia flipping through the resort brochure and
package that she’d asked for from the Xiao’s people in San Cristobel. Their
invitation to discuss letting go of one of their many smaller resort locations
had been a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one. Franchising the Beacon was
definitely still her and Natalia’s goal.
Olivia looked closer at some of the pictures. There was
a swimming pool, an executive nine-hole golf course, top of the line fitness
facilities and several clay tennis courts. There was a good stretch of
beachfront, a five star restaurant and an outdoor patio. It wasn't a hotel so
much as a resort facility. It would be an awfully big first expansion for the
Beacon. And if she was honest, she wasn’t sure it was a good fit for them
right now, especially with world economics still shaky.
Olivia also wasn’t sure this was the best idea for
her personally. San Cristobel held so many hard memories, things she still
needed to work through. She glanced over at Natalia who smiled sweetly and then
shuffled forward again in the slowly moving line. So many things she still had
to tell Natalia.
Chewing her bottom lip, Olivia sighed softly and tried
hard not to think about that. Turning back to the package, she knew the Xiaos
had put forward a very sweet deal. This weekend away together to check out the
resort was perfect timing and a good opportunity to see if this could work as a
Beacon franchise or not. Olivia could only assume that the Xiao’s hotel chain
must be hemorrhaging more money than she imagined.
A small part of her danced with glee, thinking of
Decker and the new Barbie doll he placed in her old position, suffering in the
still turbulent economic climate. However the Xiaos themselves were very nice
people and she didn't want to see them in dire straits. Olivia glanced up and
shuffled forward as their turn with the custom officers and airport security
Finally making their way through the body scanners and
answering all their questions, they quickly found the rest of their luggage and
made their way through the busy terminal to find a taxi to take them to the
resort. An older man was standing by the revolving door, holding a Galaxy Hotels
sign with the name Spencer written on it.
looks like the Galaxy San Cristobel team have thought of everything,” Olivia
murmured, impressed. Their driver tipped his hat and grabbed their luggage,
leading them to the waiting limo. Natalia slipped her arm through Olivia’s and
smiled up at her, sliding her dark sunglasses into place as the stepped out into
the tropical sunshine.
already got everything I need, right here.” Natalia tangled her fingers with
Olivia's and smiled contentedly as the driver opened the back door and they both
slid across the soft leather seat and into the air-conditioned luxury of the
Francesca Rivera stared up into her father’s smiling
face and burst into tears.
hey, now.” Frank Cooper bent down and scooped his baby girl from the baby
carrier and into his arms. “Shhh… Daddy’s here.” He paced in his small
office, rocking his daughter and cuddling her close. He glanced over at the
young woman smiling encouragingly from the door. Despite his good intentions, he
knew police headquarters was no place for a baby, but Frank had been delayed and
Jane had said it would be no problem to swing by. Still, he felt bad bringing
Francesca’s sweet innocence into his world.
Spencer left specific instructions about looking after Francesca, Chief
Cooper.” Jane chewed at her thumbnail and quickly checked her watch. Her
boyfriend would be waiting for her by now, but she knew that Ms. Spencer would
kill her if she just left the baby here unattended with the Chief.
know Jane, but it’s the first time I’ve really had her all to myself and
I’d just like to spend a little time with her,” Frank shifted the crying
child onto his shoulder and sank down into his leather chair, bouncing her a
little to try to distract her. Francesca just wailed louder.
Jane rolled her eyes and stepped over to the small
carrier, pulling out Francesca’s wubby, the soft pink blanket the child seemed
to be lost without. Handing it over to the clueless man, Jane sighed and nodded.
There was only so much she could do where the Chief was concerned. Ms. Spencer
may be paying her to look after Francesca during the day while the Chief was at
work, but Natalia had pulled her aside and told her to let Frank decide how much
time he wanted with the baby. The extra hundred bucks she had slipped her
definitely made her point. Jane smiled softly. She did enjoy working for Ms.
Rivera; she was so much less scary than Ms. Spencer.
then, I’m just going to touch base with my boyfriend and I'll head out then
when you’re ready to leave for home.” Jane
pulled her phone from her purse and wandered out of the Chief's office.
just you and me, little Sweet Pea.” Frank smiled as the little bundle seemed
to settle down into her blanket and her crying diminished into little unhappy
squeaks. Her eyes slowly blinked shut and she was asleep. Frank stared down at
her and felt his heart swell with love.
Anna Li stuck her head into his office and took in the adorable sight of father
and child. Smiling softly, she lowered her voice so as not to disturb the baby.
“You're needed down in the lab. Desilva is going off the deep end again,
ranting on the other investigators.”
Frank rolled his eyes and stood with his daughter
asleep in his arms. He really needed to find a more professional supervisor for
the forensic department. The man might be a good crime scene investigator but
his management skills were certainly lacking. Frank looked up to find Jane
standing beside Detective Li, chewing her thumbnail.
sorry Jane. Can you wait a little longer while I put out this fire?” Frank
asked quietly. Jane sighed and nodded, taking the sleeping baby from him and
tucking her back down into her carrier. She watched as the Chief disappeared
into the pandemonium of his squad room. She knew meeting him at the police
station had been a bad idea. At this rate, she wouldn't even see her boyfriend
at all tonight.
The long black limo pulled up outside Spaulding
Enterprises and eased into the reserved parking spot out front. Before the
driver could unbuckle his seat belt to let his young charge out of the vehicle,
the back door popped open and Emma Spencer leaped out of the car.
Jake. See ya later!” Emma waved at her daddy's driver and slammed the car door
quickly shut behind her. Slipping her backpack onto her shoulders, she yanked on
the thick glass door and walked inside the imposing building, stopping at main
Virginia!” Emma smiled up at the young woman manning the desk. The
receptionist turned and returned her smile warmly.
Emma. You’re right on time.” Virginia hit a button on her telephone
switchboard, sending all calls to the automatic attendant. She had learned the
hard way that you don’t ever take your eyes off of the boss’ daughter. She
picked up the handset and dialled an extension she knew by heart. “Emma’s
here from school sir.” She nodded
as she received her instructions, watching carefully as the girl bounced and
resettled her backpack. “I’ll let her know.”
is James coming down or Lizzie?” Emma asked, as she came around to peek behind
the reception desk. She loved watching all the television sets mounted into the
desk that Virginia sat behind. You could see so much stuff happening in her
brother will be down shortly. Your father also said to tell you to not wander
off.” Virginia tried to keep her smile hidden as the rambunctious girl just
rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically.
can't do nothing. Besides, they were able to fix the photocopier no
problem…” Emma grumbled, but was quickly distracted by seeing her Daddy on
one of the monitors. He looked like he was arguing with two really old men who
were pointing at a folder in their hands. “Hey, isn’t that my dad?”
Virginia turned to the monitor that Emma pointed at and
nodded. “He's talking with two of the senior board members.” Virginia just
shook her head sadly. It didn't look like it was going well with Mr. Hamilton or
old man Weckworth. Ever since Alan Spaulding had died, those two were circling
like vultures and making trouble. She didn't know how Phillip Spaulding put up
don't look like nice men,” Emma stated, her little brow furrowing.
Virginia nodded and didn't say much, although she
agreed totally with the girl. Best not to say too much, you never knew what
might get repeated. And with the office politics flying around Spaulding
Enterprises these days, she wasn't about to take any chances with her job.
because they aren't nice men at all, Emma.”
They both turned as a familiar deep voice spoke up from behind them.
Emma's face lit up at the sight of her big brother and she leaped towards him
for a hug.
Squirt.” James grabbed Emma's backpack by one of its many handles and dangled
the girl a few inches from the floor before she could reach him.
down!” Emma giggled as she spun a little in his strong grip, feet spinning in
didn’t hear the magic word…” James laughed as Emma squealed happily.
it.” James teased a little longer. Emma growled and finally gave in.
okay! Pleeeease, James, my smartest and bestest big brother. Now put me down!”
Emma finally squeaked out and was promptly dropped back down to her feet, with
James chuckling at her.
was that so hard?” James ruffled her hair and turned back to the security desk
Virginia, I've got her from here.” James smiled at the attractive
receptionist. She just nodded at him and started answering her phone lines
again, various red buttons blinking steadily from the switchboard. He led the
way over to the bank of elevators and hit the up button. “Dad's meeting with
the Board of Directors is running late.”
did those men look so mad at Daddy?” Emma asked as the elevator doors slid
shut and James hit the button for the top floor. He looked at her and tried to
figure out how much of the bullshit politics she would actually understand.
Nodding slightly, he decided that she was a smart kid and should know the truth.
they don't want Dad and Lizzie to run Spaulding. They think that they could do a
better job themselves.”
Granddad said it was Daddy's.” Emma scratched her nose, trying to figure out
why anyone wouldn't listen to what Granddad said.
know. Crazy, huh?” James smirked as the elevator dinged and the doors opened
to the ninth floor. “I think Auntie Alex might have said something to get the
Board all upset.”
Emma grimaced. She didn't really like Aunt Alexandra
very much. She always hugged her too tight and wore too much perfume. Mommy
didn't seem very happy when she was around either. And Mommy always knew when
someone was trouble. Besides, Natalia always says to trust your feelings, and in
this case Emma knew she felt the same way her Mommy did.
James pushed open the big oak door to their father's
office as Emma followed him in. His cell phone chimed and he pulled it from his
pants pocket to see who had texted him.
hi to Daisy for me,” Emma chirped as she dropped her backpack and hopped into
the leather chair behind the desk. James just shook his head, his thumbs already
flying across the keypad.
you get her that necklace for Valentine’s Day that we looked at?” Emma spun
the chair a little and looked up at her brother, who simply glanced over at her
and smiled softly. "See, I told you she’d love it.”
yeah, thanks, Squirt.” James hit the send button and slipped his phone back
into his pocket.
James behaving, Emma?” Lizzie popped her blonde head into the room and grinned
at her little sister. “You know what he’s like. You can’t leave him alone
for a minute without him wandering off and getting himself into some sort of
trouble.” Lizzie came into the office and stood beside her brother, elbowing
him lightly in the stomach. He snorted and chuckled along with the girls.
"What’s all this giggling in my office?”
Phillip grumped from the door of his office, but he couldn’t keep the frown in
place, breaking into a huge grin, as his children all laughed a little harder at
him. It warmed his heart to see them all together in his father’s old office,
now his office. Alan had been right about one thing, family was everything. It
occurred to him that the future of Spaulding Enterprises looked pretty damn
comfortable sitting in her rightful throne. Someday, it would be the three of
them against the world. And he couldn’t wait to be there to see it.
plotting a hostile take-over and James and I are doing rock, paper, scissors for
who gets to run the overseas operation for her,” Lizzie teased and ran a hand
over her softly swelling belly.
I want to be a marine biologist and swim with the dolphins…” Emma said, a
little worried all of a sudden. She didn't want to have to sit inside all day
with grumpy old men yelling at her.
can be anything you want to be, pumpkin.” Phillip dropped a kiss to Emma’s
soft hair and scooted her out of his chair. Slipping on his reading glasses, he
settled back at his desk and brought up his email. “Swimming with dolphins
would be a fantastic job.”
does that mean I can drop out of school and race cars?” James teased, yanking
his father’s chain a little. Didn’t want the old man to get too comfortable
after all. Phillip just looked up at him over the rim of his glasses and shook
try,” Lizzie murmured and elbowed her brother again. She handed a file over to
their father. “Did you tell Weckworth and Hamilton where to stick it?”
Phillip grimaced and pulled Emma onto his lap, very
aware of tiny ears listening to their conversation. He ran a hand through his
short hair and sighed.
going to continue to be trouble, unless you can neutralize Alexandra,” Lizzie
warned, sitting on the edge of her father's desk. The man always wanted to
believe in the good of everyone. Alexandra, however, needed to be watched very
carefully. She was old school Spaulding, and that was nothing to take lightly.
know.” Phillip hugged Emma closer as she started doodling a dolphin on some of
his papers. There were days that he wished he were nine again. “But it’s
Friday night and I’m not going to worry about it right now, besides I’ve got
a date with my littlest girl.” Emma
smiled up at him and nodded.
picking me up in half an hour. Ever since he jumped in to help out with Josh
gone, he’s been working such late hours.” Lizzie sighed and absently rubbed
at her growing belly.
sure he just wants to get everything settled at Lewis so he can concentrate on
you and the baby when the time comes.” Phillip pushed his reading glasses
further up along the bridge of his nose and quickly glanced through the file
Lizzie had handed him.
meeting some guys from school. I’ll see you at home later, Dad.” James
headed towards the door, it was starting to get late and he still needed to
too late tonight, okay, James? We need to go look at tuxedos tomorrow,
remember.” Phillip glanced towards the door as James nodded, waving at Emma
before disappearing into the hallway.
James!” Emma waved back and turned to look up at her Dad. "Are you really
going to dress up like monkeys, Daddy?" She watched as Lizzie and Phillip
exchanged a confused look and turned back to stare at her. She blinked back in
"’Cuz James said he hated wearing monkey
Natalia swiped the card key through the lock and opened
the door to the Xiao’s private penthouse suite. Pushing it open, she took in
her elegant surroundings. The suite was meant for royalty and special guests, or
for the Xiaos whenever they were visiting the resort. And the Galaxy San
Cristobel had obviously spared no expense.
my heavens,” Natalia whispered as she stepped deeper into the suite, her feet
sinking into the thick plush of the carpet. There seemed to be picture windows
everywhere, with amazing views from all angles, a huge sunken living room with a
small kitchen attached, and a balcony overlooking the sea.
Some help for the heart patient please…” Olivia grumbled from the doorway,
struggling with their bags. Behind her was a bellhop with the rest of their
sweetie, I’m sorry!” Natalia went over and grabbed the door, holding it open
for both of them. “Let me get the door.”
Olivia sighed and shook her head, dropping their bags
to the right of the door.
on, kid, you can bring those in the main bedroom, over here.” Olivia found her
way to the master suite. Glancing around she could see why Natalia had been so
impressed. The entire suite was tastefully designed and elegant, yet homey. She
picked up a framed picture of the Xiaos from the bookshelf.
our family to yours, welcome to the Galaxy San Cristobel Hotel. Your home away
from home,” Olivia read, nodding her head. “Nice."
"Hey, that was your idea, wasn't it?" Natalia
peered over her shoulder. It was a cute photo, with Mr. and Mrs. Xiao, along
with their three older children in a lush backyard garden setting.
apparently Decker and my replacement continued with some of my suggestions.”
Olivia set the photo down, a part of her imagining what it would be like with
her family’s photo in the frame. She snorted at the thought. Not exactly the
same “family values” that Galaxy was promoting. A light tap on the door
caught her attention.
Spencer, welcome to Galaxy San Cristobel.” A balding, dapper man in his
mid-fifties stood at the door, a genuinely friendly smile gracing his face.
Riker, so nice to finally meet you in person. And it’s Olivia.” Olivia
grinned back, turning on her considerable charm. The hotel general manager had
an excellent reputation in the industry and she had enjoyed the few initial
conversations they’d had while planning their stay. She ushered the man in and
shut the door behind them.
that case, call me Doug,” He turned and smiled at Natalia. “And this must be
Ms. Rivera. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
please. I can’t wait to see the facilities.” Natalia smiled, pleased with
his strong handshake. “The package you sent us was wonderful.”
have your itinerary all planned, as we talked about last week.” Doug smiled
warmly, confident in his hotel staff to stand up well under their scrutiny.
I can’t wait to tour the kitchen. I wonder if your executive chef will
remember me.” Olivia leaned back against the sofa. It had been a long time
since her days working in the kitchen at the royal palace. She had started there
the summer before—
Olivia shifted suddenly and turned her thoughts
abruptly back to the here and now. She glanced up to find the dark eyes of her
lover and was more than happy to lose herself there for a moment or two as Doug
chuckled softly and continued.
yes. He definitely remembers you Olivia.” Doug smiled mischievously. He would
never reveal the stories his executive chef had regaled him with about their
potential new employer.
no. Do I need to worry?” Olivia glanced at Natalia and then back to the older
man as he just shook his head. She liked him already, and if she read her
lover’s body language right, she did too.
is quite the character, and very temperamental,” Doug tried to explain, “but
he makes the best—“
name it, he makes the best version of it found on the island. So you just put up
with all his quirks. I know.” Olivia chuckled, turning to Natalia. “Massimo
never was very shy about how fantastic his cooking is, and with good reason.
You’re going to love it.”
if you will excuse me, I’ll let you get settled in. We’ve made reservations
for you tonight at 7pm at the Chef’s Table, with samples of all our signature
dishes.” Doug opened the door and stepped into the hallway, Olivia moving to
follow him to the door.
the big guy I can’t wait.” Olivia waved him off and shut the door quietly
behind him. Turning she leaned against the door and sighed, happy to just
seems nice.” Natalia grabbed her largest bag and headed towards the bedroom to
start unpacking. She needed to get out of her jeans and into something a little
Yeah, he does, and he’s done a good job of running this location.” The older
woman paused and watched her lover head into the bedroom. “I’m just worried
it might be more than we can chew, y’know?” Olivia grabbed another piece of
luggage and followed behind.
let’s give it a chance, okay? Having a sunny Beacon destination isn’t such a
bad thing either.” Natalia dropped her luggage and popped the small black bag
open, hunting for her shorts. Pulling them out, she started to unzip her jeans
when she felt strong hands slide along her arms, leaving a trail of goose bumps
behind. Warm hands started to help peel her jeans off, thumbs hooking into the
elastic waistband of her panties underneath, slowly easing them down over her
hips as a cold nose nuzzled along her neck.
long do we have until dinner?” Natalia gasped, shivering as Olivia sucked and
nipped at a tender earlobe.