Authors: Mimi Riser
The prequel to
A “Spirited” Comedy Romance
The LOVESTRUCK Series
Story #1 (rated PG)
Copyright 2013 by Mimi Riser
All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review. Also, this ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
[Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.]
by Mimi Riser
“Everyone has some psychic ability,” Angelica said. “But most people repress it. I know I did. Good Lord, I was past fifty before I finally admitted the voices I heard were real.”
Angelica D’Leon, heiress and socialite, was seventy now and driving her family nuts with regular news updates from the spirit realm. Danny D’Leon winced at the latest announcement.
“You’re getting married. Soon,” his grandmother told him. “I saw it in a dream last night. The bride wasn’t quite clear, but I’m sure it’s someone you already know. Or knew.”
Gee, that narrowed the field. Danny’s list of current lovers was surpassed only by his list of former ones. He changed girlfriends oftener than most men changed their socks. Variety was the spice of life, right? Danny
spice, damn it – spicy food and spicier babes – neither of which could be found at the Cosmic Crumpet Tea Room, Angelica’s favorite choice for their weekly luncheon together. They’d been coming here for months, so he’d had ample time to sample the fare.
“I’m not the marrying kind.” He frowned at a passing waitress, an overly wholesome brunette who gave him a nervous look.
Angelica chuckled. “That’s what your grandfather used to say, but he married me anyway.”
“Gran, he married you for your money.”
He said it to aggravate her into the dropping the subject.
He should have known better.
“Horse hockey. He married me because he got me pregnant with your father.” She shot him a smirk. “Still, it worked out well. We had a lot of good years together before he passed over to the Other Side.”
“Louder, Gran, they can’t hear you at the back tables.”
“Oh, when did you start being such a prude, Mr. Love-’em-and-Leave-’em?”
The waitress, passing by again close enough to overhear, suddenly burst into tears and raced off toward the restrooms.
One could only assume it was the “leave ’em” part that got her. Danny felt a twinge of what some might call guilt. He blamed it on indigestion. Damn crumpets and herbal tea.
Angelica’s eyes narrowed. “Good Lord… Her?
“Mona?” Danny cleared his throat. “Is that her name?” He knew it was, of course. He was just stalling for time.
“The name of your
, you mean?”
“Hell, yes! I see it clearly now. All of it!”
Danny hoped not. It had been only a brief fling a couple of months ago, and pretty vanilla compared to his usual romps, but it still wasn’t the sort of thing a guy wanted his grandmother to witness – psychically or otherwise.
She threw a cosmic crumpet at him.
“You’re your grandfather all over again!”
That put it concisely. Nuff said.
Danny brushed buttery crumbs off his shirt and pushed away from the table. Easier to face the proverbial music than to sit here facing Angelica.
The sound of muffled sobs met him when he reached the lady’s room.
He knocked on the closed door. “Mona?”
“Not without you. C’mon out. We’ll go somewhere and talk.”
Suspicious little waterfall, wasn’t she?
“Why you’re crying, for starters. My grandmother thinks it’s because of me.”
“What is she, a psychoanalyst?”
Suspicious and sarcastic.
Danny heaved a sigh. “No, she’s just psychic – clairvoyant and clairaudient. She sees visions and hears voices from the ‘Great Beyond’.”
The door clicked open, and a teary gaze challenged his. “And you’re all about ‘live for the moment’ – you don’t believe in any kind of
, do you?”
“Maybe not.” Danny wasn’t sure what he believed actually, but he’d always played fair with his sexual conquests, never led them to expect anything more than the sex. And the women he dated were generally the sort who preferred that arrangement – party girls and panthers – fast females who stuck to the fast lane and shunned seatbelts. Beautiful predators as hungry as himself.
He’d made a mistake seducing a “good girl” like Mona Carmichael, but contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t a total louse. He did have
feelings, some sense of integrity hidden beneath the playboy image. If Granddad D’Leon could do the honorable thing, so could Danny – as long as he didn’t think too much about how it would impact his future. But he rarely considered the future consequences of his actions anyway, so that part was easy.
“It doesn’t matter what I believe or don’t,” he said. “Gran believes you’re pregnant. By me. Is she right?”
Mona slammed the door in his face.
“I’d take that for a yes,” Angelica said, coming up behind him. “Mona dear,” she called softly, “I understand how you feel, really I do. The same situation happened to me when I was your age. But you have to think of the baby, what’s best for it. Danny is trying to do the right thing for both of you. He’s going to marry you, dear.”
“I am?” Danny stiffened. Was
what he’d been planning, thinking? Had he even been thinking at all? Hearing Angelica say it aloud – to Mona – made his nebulous notions of honor sound so…so solid. Like a ball and chain. Sudden uncertainty swamped him. His whole carefree lifestyle sank before his eyes.
He was in over his head, drowning…
Angelica elbowed him hard in the ribs, yanking him back to the surface and what seemed a suicidal duty. Then again, she’d no doubt cut off his allowance if he didn’t do this, so his life was ruined one way or the other.
He drew a deep breath.
“Yeah…that’s right… I’m going to marry you,” he said to the door.
It swung open, and Mona fired a laser look at him. “Why?”
Okay, now he was mad. Did she think this was easy for him, that he proposed every day?
“Because if you’re carrying my kid, I have to marry you, damn it!”
to?” She tried to slam the door again, but Danny blocked it with his foot.
“You should have said you
to,” Angelica told him. “Mr. Tact, he’s not,” she told Mona.
“Look who’s talking,” Danny muttered.
“Not me. This discussion is over.” Tight-lipped and tear-stained, Mona started to push past him. “Thanks for the offer, Romeo, but the answer is no.”
“No?” He blinked in surprise.
She glared. “No. When I marry,
I marry, it’ll be for love. You don’t love me, and frankly I don’t love you either. So let’s call it even, and you don’t owe me anything. End of story.”
“Horse hockey.” Angelica gripped them both by an arm and herded them toward the exit. “You’ll have plenty of time to fall in love with each other after the wedding. That’s what honeymoons are for.”
* * *
And that’s how Danny ended up in the “Karma Suite” of the Elysian Fields of Love Ashram & Romantic Retreat, with a horrible headache and a bride who’d barely speak to him.
Well, almost-bride. They’d checked into the suite that morning, Thursday, and the wedding was scheduled for Saturday. It was one of the resort’s special package deals. A Babylonian ceremony with drums and panpipes and embarrassing costumes in the outdoor Sun Shrine, followed by a snake-dance procession to the Yin-Yang Pavilion, and topped off by an “Olympian Bacchanal” reception in the Aphrodite Poolroom.
didn’t even begin to cover it.
Mona was as mortified as he was. It was the only thing they agreed on. If they had to marry, why couldn’t they do it simply and sanely?
“Horse hockey,” His grandmother had said. “Weddings should be festive and
“For who?” one might have asked, but it wouldn’t have done any good.
Angelica had handpicked this crackpot place and decided the agenda – of course – and made all the arrangements in a whirlwind week of activity. She was also staying in the Karma Suite with him and Mona until after the knot was tied – like a noose around his neck.
“As a chaperone,” she’d explained, “for appearances’ sake.”
Like hell. Considering the reason for this marriage, it was a little late for chaperones. Besides which, from what Danny had seen of the “Love Fields” so far, it was open season on sex here, with open attitudes to match. And in any case, Angelica had never given two hoots for
. She was just making sure neither he nor Mona could escape.
Not that either of them were planning on trying. They might be unhappy, but they weren’t stupid. Angelica had hired a swat team of undercover agents to watch them – and what the agents missed, her blabbermouth spirit guides told her. Danny and Mona might manage to ditch the corporeal guards, but they’d never make it past the dead ones.
Morbidly resigned to their fate, they sat at opposite ends of the suite’s balcony, as far apart as they could get, watching annoyingly amorous new-agey couples twisting themselves into tantric pretzels in a “Yoga for Lovers” class on the lawn of the Kama Sutra Garden below.
This was supposed to be sensuous?
Danny had practiced a lot of positions in his bedroom gymnastics, but these contortions looked painful. And dangerous. A guy could damage his equipment doing—
“Marriage doesn’t have to be forever,” Mona mused, though whether to herself or him, Danny wasn’t sure. “We can always get divorced, right?”
The mere thought made his gut clench – always had – but he’d never told anyone why. It would have ruined his studdly reputation.
“That’s not an option,” he mumbled.
“Afraid your grandmother will cut you off if we do?” She gave a contemptuous laugh. “That’s your problem, Romeo, not mine. I don’t need Angelica’s money. I know how to
for a living.”
Oh, right, that was another black mark against him, the fact he’d been born rich. Mona was blue-collar stock and proud of it. But Danny had some pride, too. He had four years of college, for godssake, with the three summers between them spent in the family construction firm. Not behind a desk either. Angelica had wanted him to learn the business he was due to inherit someday from the ground up. He’d worn a hardhat, climbed girders, and hauled sacks of cement with the best of them. That was how he’d built his muscular physique. But after college it had seemed a shame to waste that physique on girders when girls were so much more appreciative. Yeah, he was rich
handsome. Was that a crime?
“Hey, babe, I’m perfectly capable of earning my own way.” And he would. Eventually.
dear old dad retired. “I’ve got job site experience and a degree in business administration.”
“Really?” She sounded surprised.
Understandable, he supposed. Thanks to that fateful “fling” they knew each other in bed but not out of it. Both of them were marrying what amounted to almost a casual acquaintance. Except the bed part had been anything but
. It had been pretty damn good, as Danny recalled. That was something, wasn’t it? Lasting marriages had been built on less.
“So why haven’t you ever
She would ask, wouldn’t she?
The real answer involved family politics and a business that was currently run by a father Danny didn’t want to work with, didn’t even much like. But to explain why would open doors he’d rather keep closed. There had to be a simpler, safer response.