Authors: Jaclyn Brooks
Copyright 2014 Jaclyn Brooks
Diamond Flower Romance
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
This work of fiction was created and reproduced in the United States of America.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Fabian is relaxing on the bed with his arm around Claire, remote in hand, flipping channels to find something to watch that they both like. They had bought a bunch of magazines to ease the boredom that is bound to happen when you’re cooped up for long periods of time. He has just finished reading through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated and needs another distraction. Claire is still leafing through her Marie Claire. He hopes she can read with the TV on because he needs another distraction.
Fabian is kind of enjoying his first ever stay in a cheap motel room. Because his family is in the luxury hotel business, he’s always stayed in hotel suites that have everything a wealthy traveler could want. And, what the suite didn’t have one could simply contact the concierge for immediate assistance. Motels are a different experience altogether. You show up, check in and are pretty much left on your own to scrounge up whatever you need at any particular time. Being a fugitive on the run from the New York City police is the sole reason Fabian wanted to stay in a place like this. It’s way easier to be anonymous amidst other souls that have their own reasons for shacking up here a few nights.
Fabian settles for a mid-day talk show with guests that are angrily screaming obscenities at each other. He finds these shows amusing to watch every once in a while. There always seems to be someone taking a lie detector or DNA test. When someone fails either one, or both, sparks are sure to fly. Fabian gets comfortable as he watches another round of he said she said.
Claire looks up from her magazine, distracted by the shouting. “You’re really enjoying your time slumming around with me, huh babe?”
“Yeah, but I know our version of slumming is nothing like the real thing. We’re just temporarily crashing this lifestyle.”
“I can’t believe you like watching this show.”
“What? Don’t you care how many women this guy has been caught cheating with? Or, that he may not be the baby daddy of her child?”
“Not really. But whatever floats your boat.”
“Watching dysfunctional people on TV is a good way to fill up the time. Unless, you’ve got a better idea.”
“Nope.” Claire throws her magazine on the floor and snuggles up against Fabian.
He knows how lucky he is to have her here with him. Claire could have left him and gone back to New York after that fiasco at Ryan’s ranch. They agreed that they had both been utterly humiliated by being locked in chains for several days. Fabian’s ego took a big hit as well. He had always taken pride in being a guy that can handle himself in any situation. Well, he never anticipated being captured by a cunning, overly horny woman like Amanda Burdett. He still can’t believe how easy it was for her to capture him and place him in a compromising situation. If it wasn’t for Claire’s quick thinking, he might still be there chained to that damn stripper pole.
He and Claire decided to skip the nearest town and drive all the way to Boulder where they could more easily blend in without standing out as outsiders. Once they were settled, Fabian thought long and hard about calling Ryan and letting him know the truth about what Amanda has been doing while he’s away. He’s been going back and forth on the matter. If Amanda were his wife, he’d certainly want to know about her unusual sexual hobby. Then again, once he knew it would probably destroy the marriage. Throw in the fact that he had done sex acts with Amanda and the wisdom of revealing all gets downright murky.
For now, Fabian has chosen not to tell his friend. He left Ryan a short voice message explaining that he had to cut his visit short. He thanked Ryan for sticking his neck out for a buddy and hung up. Maybe down the road he’ll get up the courage to tell Ryan everything, or maybe he’ll take what happened between him and Amanda to his grave. Hopefully, Ryan will never see that video footage Amanda recorded of him in their bedroom.
Right now, Fabian is busy keeping him and Claire safely hidden away while he figures out his next move.
Fabian’s prepaid cell phone rings. “Hello? Oh, yeah hi Mike. Got something for me?”
Mike is the private investigator Fabian had the good sense to hire before he left New York. He hired the P.I. to track his stepmother’s activities on the day she disappeared. He especially wants to know what Sloane was doing while checked in at the Continental Crown. Any little clues could help him begin piecing together this mysterious puzzle about who is framing him and why.
“I hit the jackpot, man,” Mike says proudly.
“You did? Tell me.”
“One of the clerks at the hotel front desk overheard Sloane Cooper talking on the phone to someone about going to Cabo San Lucas.”
“So, I followed up on that by checking to see if Cooper Enterprises has any hotels in Mexico and it turns out they do.”
“Good find, Mike,” Fabian says as his excitement begins to rise.
“They own the Sun Paradise Resort in Cabo. I got some good connections in Mexico and I had one of them go to the resort on a fishing expedition. Based on the photo you gave me we got a positive I.D.”
Fabian excitedly slaps his palm down on the bed. “You’re freaking kidding me. Really? You found her?”
“My contact spotted a woman that looks just like her. Dude, your stepmother is very much alive. She’s working on a tan while staying in some pretty fancy digs south of the border. Now, there’s no Sloane Cooper registered at the resort so she’s obviously using a fake identity.”
Fabian explodes in a mixture of glee and righteous conviction. “I knew it! I knew something stunk about this whole disappearance thing. Man, you are worth your weight in gold. You have no idea how happy I am right now.”
“There’s something else you need to know,” Mike says in a more somber voice.
“I got a tip that the original security footage the Continental Crown recorded of Sloane on that day has been deliberately tampered with. A security employee told me that video of Sloane leaving her hotel room for the last time is missing. Time stamps show this footage was edited in certain places before being handed over to the cops.”
“Do they know who did the editing?”
“Naw. No one is copping to it, at least not yet. My gut tells me that someone working hotel security knows what happened to that missing footage, and why it was cut out. Anyway, I’ll keep following up on this for you.”
“Thanks, man. The info you’ve given me is definitely going to change the game in my favor.”
“That’s what you pay me for. Talk to you soon.”
“Stay on the hunt, man.”
Fabian notices Claire staring at him with intense curiosity. “Who was that and what did he say that put you in such a great mood?”
The words practically burst out of Fabian’s chest. “That, my beautiful darling, was Mike. He’s a P.I. I hired to dig up some information on Sloane. What he found out is that…”
“Sloane is alive and hanging out at a CE resort down in Mexico,” he says excitedly.
Claire bounces on the bed like a happy kid. “Fantastic!” Her giddiness quickly wears off. “But, that means that she wants people to think you kidnapped her. Or, killed her. Why?”
Fabian wrinkles his brow. “Hmm. That’s an excellent question, Claire. Knowing Sloane like I do, I bet it has something to do with getting her greedy paws on my dad’s fortune.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me,” Claire says. “Your dad gives her plenty of money. She doesn’t have to lift a finger to work. Plus, she lives like a queen. What more could she possibly want?”
Fabian believes he knows the answer. “Freedom from ever having to marry again for money, that’s what. Sloane’s greed knows no bounds, apparently. She’ll do anything to get me out of the picture so she can get more of the money. As of now, I’m still in dad’s will. I’ll inherit quite a chunk of change when he dies.”
It only took Fabian a millisecond to come to this conclusion. He knows that if Sloane should divorce Gray she is bound by an iron-clad prenuptial agreement. Gray was smartly advised by his lawyer to have one drawn up. What Fabian knows about their prenup is that Sloane is only going to get about $2 million or so in a divorce settlement. That’s way more than the average divorcee gets, but to Sloane it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s no secret that Gray Cooper is worth multiple millions. He’s damn near close to being a billionaire. The only way she can get more money out of her marriage is to somehow get Gray to change his will. No way will Gray want to leave a substantial part of his fortune to a kid he thinks has slept with his wife, and possibly killed her and disposed of her body.
The idea that his own father thinks he would do something like that still grates at his soul. With Mike’s information he now has a chance to prove his innocence and clear his name.
Claire looks at Fabian like she realizes something awful. “Oh my god. Do you think Gray’s in danger?”
“I don’t know, Claire. He might be. We need more information about what’s going on. I’m thinking we should head on down to Los Cabos ourselves to look for her.”
“Go to Mexico?”
“Yeah. Ever been there? It’s awesome.”
“No. I ah, never had the chance. I don’t really travel much.”
“Well, that’s gonna change now that you’re with me.”
Claire wraps her arms around Fabian and they share a few sweet kisses.
“How are we getting there? By private plane?
“Nope. Too risky to do another charter. We’re going to have to transform ourselves into bona fide tourists.”
“Huh? I’m not getting it.”
The details are already churning in Fabian’s mind. He still has access to plenty of money to make things happen quickly. “We need new identities. I’ve got a friend in New York that can hook us up with fake I.D.’s, including passports. Who should we be?”
“How about someone inconspicuous like Jean and Joe Miller?”
“Sounds good. Bland and easy to remember.”
“Is your friend a bad dude? Someone like an identity thief?”
“Nah. He’s a talented artist with some family connections that do stuff like sell fake identification. I’ll email him our photos and he can get the job done and express mail everything to us here at the motel.”
“Wow, Fabian. I can’t believe we’re really doing this. It’s like one of those undercover detective spy movies.”
“People that wanna disappear do this kind of stuff all the time, babe.”
Fabian has to admit to himself that he too is excited about going to Mexico in the guise of the average American tourist. He agrees with Claire in that it is kind of like playing at being spies. Perhaps this little adventure will even make a good plot for an indie movie. There’s certainly enough intrigue going on in his personal life to come up with a good script. He’ll definitely pick this idea up again once the dust settles and he’s free to live his life anyway he chooses.
Claire has just stepped into the most beautiful hotel lobby she has ever seen in her life. Well, it’s not really a hotel. It’s a fancy resort. They have just arrived at the Sun Paradise Resort in Cabo San Lucas, or Los Cabos as Fabian likes to call this beautiful Mexican city. No matter how you say it, this place is absolutely breathtaking.
After getting their new identities, it had taken them almost a week to drive to the border and into Mexico. That was the first test at seeing if their fake identification and passports would pass muster. Despite their worries, it was a pretty easy border crossing. Tourism is big business in Mexico and the border personnel didn’t seem too concerned about another attractive American couple coming into their country to have a good time.
To her surprise, Fabian was very comfortable driving in Mexico. He was relaxed and in a good mood the whole way. He told her he had driven this route before many years ago with a bunch of friends. This familiarity gave him a sense of ease during their scenic drive. Claire was just the opposite. She was filled with giddy excitement over this new experience. It’s her first time visiting any foreign country. She’s heard so much about Cabo and now she’s finally here in person at this amazing resort with her drop dead gorgeous guy. Okay, he’s a fugitive, but that’s just a temporary thing.
The lobby walls are awash in light pastel yellow. Large, cushy white couches line both sides of the posh interior. As soon as you enter the lobby, your eyes are immediately drawn to an absolutely stunning view of the beach, with its green palm trees lazily waving in the breeze, and the ocean waters just beyond. Visitors can actually walk right through the lobby and stand on the open terrace gazing out at the magnificent horizon. Claire would be happy curling up on one of these oversized couches and camping out right here. The only thing tearing her away from this picture perfect view is her desire to join Fabian at the check in desk.
“Mr. and Mrs. Miller, right?” The woman behind the reservation desk speaks English with a Mexican accent. The computer terminal in front of her displays the day’s cabana reservations.
“Yes. That’s us,” Fabian says with an innocent smile.
“You’re in cabana number twenty-two.” The clerk hands Fabian the keys to their luxury accommodations. “If you need anything simply contact the twenty-four hour concierge service.”
“Thank you, we will.”
“Enjoy your stay at Sun Paradise,” the desk clerk says pleasantly.
“Come on, honey,” Fabian says as he grabs Claire’s arm and steers her towards the elevator that will take them to their part of the resort. “Let’s get this vacation started.”
Claire almost calls him Fabian, but catches herself just in time. “Joe, I can’t wait to see what our cabana looks like.”
Claire wonders if it was Nathan that came up with the idea to call the resort suites cabanas. She finds it to be a stroke of genius. Most likely it was a hardworking underling like herself that had the initial idea. Cooper Enterprises top management probably approved it and then slapped themselves on the back for their brilliance. Despite the fact that she may not even have a job at CE anymore, due to her going AWOL from her normal life, she still feels like a proud employee that has some small connection to the creation of this magnificent resort.