Return to Havana
Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Interracial/Multicultural
Cover Artist: Dawné Dominique
Editor: Red Rose Publishing
Word Count: 10,908
Release Date: January 10, 2013
Poor little Alice 's story was unfinished when her group of friends parted ways a year ago in Havana . Now she's back for Eve's wedding and her story is just beginning when she sees Gabriel again. After all he promised if she returned he'd end that pesky fact she was still a virgin once and for all.
The Hotel Lindo stood magnificent against the skyline as they disembarked the ship at the dock. Eight stories of white stucco with Spanish style cupolas on top. Flowers blew their fragrance on the wind, taking the staid air of Boston away from memory. Havana, playground of the rich, was all that mattered for the next two weeks. The hotel was world famous and their friend was to wed the owner in less than a week. Their friend, the secretary.
Alice took a deep breath. Same quiet Alice, shy as she always was. If her red hair was supposed to mean a temper, she hid it well. "I can't do it," she muttered to herself. How can I go to a friend’s wedding as the oldest virgin known to man? They'll all look at me and go, poor Alice. Such a pretty thing if only she knew what to do with it.
"Alice! Marianne!" The screams reached them just before Dahlia and Eve came flying at them, arms clutching around their necks. Cuba had been good to them, their skin glowing from days on the beach and nights dancing. Eve was an ethereal angel, Dahlia seductive even to her, Marianne was a doll who might be Italian, but her bleached blonde hair made her ethnicity impossible to tell. She was just steady, Alice Brady.
"You won't believe Eve's wedding dress," Dahlia gushed. Her large belly was keeping them at an arm’s distance despite the hugs, and she wasn't even due for another 3 months. The look in her blue eyes made up for her distance, there was no denying she was happy to see them, her eyes glowed with delight.
"Well, at least I invited them. I still haven't forgiven Marianne for eloping. Dahlia either, now that I think about it," Eve protested. She was a classic beauty with large deep-set eyes and full lips. Curly hair, dark like the night.
Marianne and Dahlia grinned over at Eve. "You're just jealous I beat you to it," they said in unison and burst out in laughter.
"Where's Victor?" Rick asked, obviously looking for some other male to help diffuse the female overload. For all intents a man’s man, indeed a lawyer, who never had trouble saying anything, but in this sea of women getting the chance was hard, to say the least.
Palm trees rustled in the sultry breeze as Eve waved over the drivers to start getting the bags loaded. "At the hotel. He's been working on a deal to open a new hotel in Miami. I'm making him work and get things done before we leave for Buenos Aires on the honeymoon, where he's looking to open another hotel, of course."
"Like every proper secretary should." All four of them quoted together and again burst out laughing before they piled into the cars.
Rick and Marianne rode in the front car leaving Alice with Eve, alone. Seven months since the five of them had come to Havana for a well-deserved vacation. Eve, Dahlia, Marianne, Alice, and Nora. Nora, someone they hadn't seen since the last time they were in Havana. Someone they hardly mentioned even. After the ship docked, she'd all but run from them. Quit her job, moved from Boston to Hollywood, last they heard. She'd gotten what she always wanted though, a rich movie producer to marry her, get her out of poverty. Since their Havana holiday, they hadn't seen her once. The others, despite the distance of another country, still wrote faithfully.
"Is Gabriel still an escort for the hotel?" Alice asked quietly, not wanting even the driver to hear.
"No, I made Victor fix that almost as soon as you left."
How would she ever find him now? Wait—why did he leave . . . Eve never seemed to notice her disquiet and kept talking.
"Victor promoted him to floor manager. The man has a way with people like none I've ever seen. He was being wasted as a companion flirting with old women." Alice let out a sigh of relief. "Now he keeps the entire restaurant happy. Sales have gone up 20% since he took over the job and Victor has his evenings free to go dancing." Eve leveled her eyes at Alice. She'd kept Eve's secret all those years, their friendship went just a little bit deeper than the others. "He's been asking when you would arrive. Now why would that be?"
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