An Excerpt From: CHARMED
Copyright © KOKO BROWN, 2007
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Whoa, whoa, partner,” Chloe huffed. Taking him by surprise, she bucked her hips and successfully pushed him off her. She then rolled out of bed, pulling the sheet with her.
“Okay, now it’s time for this dream to end.” Chloe closed her eyes then pinched her arm. When she opened her eyes again, her gorgeous lover was still lying stretched out on the bed. He was looking at her intently and with what looked a bit like worry.
“Why do you always keep referring to this as a dream? This is definitely real and we were married last night.” He validated his claim by lifting his left hand and wiggling his ring finger at her, a gold band winked back at her.
Without even having to look down, Chloe instinctively knew the weight on her left hand wasn’t her favorite aquamarine-and-diamond ring she wore on a daily basis. Unable to resist, she looked down at her hand.
“Damn!” Chloe couldn’t believe the size of the yellow diamond, the size of a lima bean, sitting on her ring finger. Grabbing hold of the back of the nearest chair, she was suddenly seized with a bout of nausea.
“Oh God, what have I done?” she groaned, beginning to falter backward.
“The ancients say that temporary memory loss usually occurs during the transition,” Tristan informed her matter-of-factly. He removed the condom then rose gracefully from the bed with blissful disregard to his own nudity.
Although he reached to steady her, Chloe snatched her arm away from him. That sent her stumbling toward the wall of windows that looked out onto the Las Vegas strip.
Unmindful of the thirty-floor drop below, Chloe fought down the urge to hurl as the events of the past week flashed before her eyes.
She remembered how she and her best friend Shirley had flown out to Las Vegas to celebrate her selling out Metro Park West the week before and the subsequent six-figure commission that came with the final closing.
She also remembered checking into the luxurious Kensington. Covering over five city blocks, the hotel featured miniature-size versions of well-known British landmarks.
One of the hotel’s four restaurants was housed in a half-acre park with live trees reminiscent of Hyde Park. The Big Ben was home to a traditional English pub. Replicas of the London Eye and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum provided guests with in-house entertainment. And the lobby was surrounded by the River Thames.
“Oh God, what have I done?” Chloe whispered as she remembered that fateful night a week ago.
She and Shirley had only been in the hotel for a few hours when she’d met Tristan Smythe, the sole proprietor of The Kensington. She couldn’t believe her luck when she’d met the handsome owner of the newest and most popular hotel on the strip at the five-dollar roulette table at the casino.
When she sat down across from him, they’d exchanged polite smiles but she couldn’t help feeling that he was watching her. And she was correct because he’d eventually moved several seats over to sit next to her and began flirting with her outrageously. Even going so far as to asking her out on a date, which she repeatedly refused, despite of his charms.
However, Chloe wasn’t entirely immune to his handsomeness, British accent and dry wit for her concentration had faltered on the gambling table. And she ended up losing five hundred of her hard-earned dollars.
Calling it a night before she lost any more money, she had been floored when he’d gathered his winnings as well and invited both her and Shirley back to his suite for a late-night supper. Unbeknownst to them, his suite consisted of the entire floor of his hotel.
From that day forward, he’d wined and dined her with his private chef. Upgraded their room to the Queen’s suite, treated them to Las Vegas shows and flown her to Lake Tahoe in his private helicopter.
This week had been so much of a whirlwind that she hadn’t known if she was coming or going. Two nights ago as they were having dinner in his penthouse, she hadn’t hesitated when he’d asked her to marry him. Before she knew it, the marriage license was procured. And she was standing in front of a minister in the hotel’s grand ballroom, pledging to love and obey him in sickness and in health “until death do us part”.
Turning to him, Chloe knew deep down she couldn’t have done any better if she’d been in her right mind. Yet this man was still a stranger and a fruitcake to boot with his silly talk of Count Vladimir and the ancients. She might be a plus-size girl but she wasn’t that desperate.
“We’re celebrating our honeymoon, aren’t we?” she asked. He nodded his head, yet he didn’t move toward her when she finally collapsed into the chair she was holding on to.
“Well, there is only one thing that we can do,” she announced, smiling at him brightly. Obviously he must have felt her smile was genuine because he returned it with one of his own.
Chloe’s heart skipped a beat at the effect it created on his already gorgeous features. Maybe she might have to rethink this marriage thing. It wouldn’t be so bad to wake up every morning to a beautiful man like him.
However, Chloe bolstered herself against his charms. She tightened the sheet around her and shook her head.
“No, that’s not going to happen again,” she stated firmly but lost a little of her resolve when she noticed the slight narrowing of his eyes.
“What I was going to say is that the only thing we can do at this moment is to get a divorce…”