Chapter One – Fear of a holiday
“And the last I saw of her, she was exquisite. She stood about five feet, eight inches, long midnight black hair, and the deepest and richest of blue eyes, and a body that the sun had kissed on quite a few occasions. Just simply put the kind of woman that every man would want. Maybe that’s why HE went after her.”
“Okay, thank you Miss. Washington, we can continue later.”
“Thank you. I never mind giving a life interview.” Jean Washington was currently the rising top author, if not the youngest. Just shy of her 28th birthday, she had three books on the top ten of the New York best selling list. She was smart and cunning and she extended that knowledge into her writing. She was known for her romantic skills but had two books in the suspense category and those were climbing the charts as well.
“You need a holiday, Jean.” Jean, who’s five foot, six inch frame, turned completely around, stared at her Editor and friend.
“Susan, for the last year in a half, you’ve tried to get me to take a holiday. Every time you suggest it, I easily turn you down.”
“And as your boss, I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” Jean eyed her friend and smiled. Leave it to Susan to have her way.
“Fine. I leave when my book is complete.”
“That’s in a month, Jean. You sure you’re going to be ready?” Jean gave her friend a curious look. She had just reached the last deadline and by normal standards it would take at least three months to finish the editing and processing. Not to mention the promotion, plus a book signing tour. She wouldn’t be done until sometime next year, so where did this ‘month’ come from? “Okay, I tweaked a few things,” she said, reading Jean’s face. “You need to go. How about France? No, a cruise! Or...”
“Susan, I want to go to Italy.” Susan sighed, a dreamy smile upon her lips.
“You’ll enjoy yourself. And find prince charming. And…”
“And have fun, thank you. You plan my books and my life, don’t plan my holiday.”
“Okay. But at least let me help.” Jean laughed, agreeing to let Susan help her with a few bookings.
Five weeks later, Miss Jeanette Washington was on board flight 2206 to Italy. She sighed as she glanced out the plane window. It was a long flight and the sun was just settling into noon position. Jean tried closing her eyes, but she couldn’t. Her stomach was doing wacky little flips. It wasn’t that she was scared, for she had flown plenty of times. It was her fear of a holiday; the fear of finding a romance and having it snatched away from her yet again.
Jean’s mind turned to her past, recalling her past loves and how they were all stolen by one woman she called friend; a Miss. Sapphire DelRusso. Even in high school, Sapphire could have any man she wanted. She wasn’t smart exactly, but she was gorgeous, and that she knew. She wouldn’t mind flaunting and flirting to reach her low goals. In fact, it all started with Mark Mayer, the football quarter back…
… “What are you thinking?” Jeanette turned her attentions to her friend and smiled into those blue eyes.
“Mark. He asked me out for this weekend.”
“And? What did you say?” Jeanette shrugged, showing she was uneasy with this question and answer game.
“I’m not like you, Sapp. I know next to nothing about relationships.”
“Do you think Mark minds? He knows you’re smart. Trust me; he’s not looking for some right now.” Jeanette rolled her eyes, hating this talk. She trusted Sapphire, that wasn’t the problem. She was just uncomfortable talking about sex. She always had been, and probably always would be. “Come on, Jean. This is your senior year and you’ve been on five dates. Live a little. It won’t kill ya, ya know.”
“I know, Sapp. Want to double?”
“No. Mark asked you, not us. Sides, I don’t want to steal your man, you know.” Jeanette laughed at that, not thinking Sapphire would even stoop so low as to steal a friend’s man, a best friend’s man.
Two weeks later, Jean totally rethought that statement. According to Sapphire though, she didn’t steal him because he wasn’t Jean‘s, after all, a date was just date, forget the kiss they shared. It was this point that she knew things would never be the same in their friendship. Three years of being friends went sour because Sapphire couldn’t stand Jean dating someone she couldn’t have…
…Jean snapped out of her memories of high school. Mark had apologized over and over, but it would never be the same. Sapphire had said Mark was forceful, told her he only wanted her. Jean didn’t have much control; she realized that a long time ago, that wasn’t her nature.
“You okay?” Jeanette turned her attention to the man sitting beside her. Hazel eyes burned into hers and she quickly knew that face.
“My God, Tony, it’s been forever.”
“Yes, it has. How are you doing, Jeanette?”
“It’s just Jean now. I’m doing great. Books are flying, so I can’t complain.”
“Yeah, I read one or two. You were always smart.” Jean smiled at her ex-boyfriend. “What are you doing in Rome?”
“Holiday. My boss is forcing me to take one.” Anthony laughed at that, nodding his head in understanding. “And you?”
“Sapphire wants a divorce; I’m flying over to sign everything and talk to her.” Jean raised an eyebrow in question. “After you left for New York, Sapphire and I got married. I thought I could tame her, make her settle down. Our marriage lasted 19 months before she started cheating. Leaving you for her was a mistake.” Jean smiled at the man, a happy feeling surrounding her, one she knew was bad, but couldn’t help it.
It was nice to see the man suffer like she had done. After she had met Anthony, it was an instant click. For months, they could never be without each other. Their love was deep and secure, or at least, that’s what Jeanette had thought. Going to a party, held by Sapphire, Jeanette soon learned just how deep and secure other things were. She walked in on them, wrapped up in each others arms. Her heart was broken for the third and final time by that conniving woman, and that was their end of a friendship, even a rocky one.
“I’m sorry, Tony.” He smiled, showing he knew just how she felt.
“At least let me take you out some time in Rome. Get to know each other again.” Jeanette studied the man sitting on her left hand side. It was amazing how love was. She thought herself in love, when in all truth; it was a little more than an infatuation. She shook her head slowly, but commented that she didn’t think that a good idea. She turned her attention back to the window, promptly ending the conversation. He let her go and she wanted nothing more to do with him.
Jeanette lifted her hands above her head and stretched as the plane arrived at the gate. That had been the longest flight and the toughest, thanks to Tony. He had tried numerous times to draw her into a conversation, but nothing worked. She was here to relax, to ease her mind, and who knew, and perhaps even start a new book. Although, had she told Susan that, Susan would have yelled at her and Susan would have come as well; thank goodness she snuck her laptop in her suitcase.
Jeanette smiled to herself, lost in her own little world. She had to quickly find a place to rent a car and travel to her lodgings, for a solid bed sounded good to her now. So lost in her world was she that she had no knowledge about the people that were around her. As soon as she collided with the man, she was worried, for she knew it was all her fault and wasn’t sure how to apologize for her mistake. Although, she blinked a couple times before staring up into the chocolate brown eyes, that looked to be furious, or so she thought.