Novel Name : Masters & Lovers Box Set Three

Chapter 7

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Richard waves me to a seat. “All working out with the hotel then, Michael? How's my investment
coming along?”

“It's all going pretty well. In fact, I was going to ask if you're free one day next week.”


“For coming up to the hotel and meeting the new staff. I've been trialling them down at the City Centre,
but I'm happy with them now.”

“All good?”

“Some.” I rock a hand. “I shed a couple who didn't come up to the mark but I'm left with a team I'm very
happy with. They're all multifunctional but specialising in different areas.”

“Those areas being?”

“One is a qualified swimming instructor, which means among other things, that we can make visits a full
family affair. The parents can bring the kids and there's someone to keep an eye on them in the pool.”

“Sounds good. And the others?”

“One is a chiropractor cum masseur…”

“Which frees up your time...”

“Exactly. She does aromatherapy too. And the third can take charge of the self-defense classes.”

“Which frees up Charlotte.”

“Quite. So, if you would like to, you and Beth can meet them all and maybe you'd like to use the
facilities while you're there?”

“I'm sure Elizabeth would want to. Massage and aromatherapy would be just the sort of thing she’d
enjoy. And of course afterwards, she can tell her friends about it.”

“I sort of had that in mind myself.”



Michael pours coffee for himself and Charlotte then passes the jug to me. “Charlotte, can you make
yourself available after breakfast for half an hour?”

“Course I can.” She crunches toast. “What am I making myself available for?”

“I'd like to introduce you to the new self-defence trainer. The other new staff too when they arrive this
afternoon, but him in particular. You can talk him through what you've been doing and perhaps give him
an overview of the clients. Richard and Beth are coming too to meet them all.”

“Checking up on his investment?” I ask.

“Yes, but he wants Beth to be active in the project, so I made a point of inviting them. Give her the
opportunity to be involved.”

Charlotte scrapes butter over more toast. “No problem. What's he called? This trainer?”


She nods, slapping marmalade over the butter. “And what kind of self-defence does he do? Does he
specialise in anything particular? Judo, karate, jiu-jitsu...”

Michael downs his coffee in two gulps. “He seems to cover the field. If it’s something a woman can use
to defend herself, or a man for that matter, he seems happy to teach it.” He reaches for the coffeepot.
“Certainly the clients in the City have been very happy with him. But his forte is boxing.”

Charlotte chews on her toast, her brow creasing.

“Something wrong?”

“What does he look like? This Charles the Boxer?”

“That's the great thing. Given that the clientele here is mainly female, he's real eye-candy. Big, blond,
blue-eyed strapping guy but I'm almost certain he's gay, so the women are comfortable with him when
it has to get physical.” His phone beeps and he checks the screen. “Ah,... That's him arriving now.”

Charlotte puts down her toast and her gaze travels to mine.


“Think I'll tag along if that's okay,” I say.

“Sure.” Michael’s smile is sunny. “The more the merrier. Let's make him welcome.”

Heading for the hotel lobby. Michael steps smartly, but Charlotte hangs back.

A man stands waiting, tall, blond, powerfully built. Michael strides forward, hand offered. “Charles, great
to see you. Thanks for coming.”

Charles takes the hand with a firm shake. “You too, Michael. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the

“Let me introduce you. This is my friend James and my wife, Charlotte.”

“Nice to meet you, James." He offers his hand, smiling broadly...

Instantly likeable…

.... then his gaze travels past me to settle on Charlotte and he gapes. “Jenny?”

Charlotte steps forward from where she has been lurking behind me. “Hello, Chad.” She looks down,
then at me, then at Michael. “Um, let me introduce you both to my first husband, Chad.”

Michael, his eyes wild, “Husband?”

She lays a hand on his shoulder. “Yes, husband. Hi, Chad. You might like to know that your employer is
my second husband.”

Chad and Michael stand frozen…

The book of etiquette is silent on this one…

The receptionist is staring…

Did no-one teach you manners, girl?

Time to take charge…

“Gentlemen,” I say. “Charlotte… Perhaps we should go somewhere more private?”


We head for the house.

Charles. Chad… says nothing, but as I gesture him through to the lounge, Michael and Charlotte
following, he swirls around, gives an apologetic nod to Michael, then sweeps Charlotte into his arms,
bear-hugging her.

“God, Jenny, you're here. You're safe.” He swings her back and forth. “I tried so hard to find you before
they did, but you just vanished and yet here you are….” He stands back, holding her hand, his gaze
openly admiring. “And look at you... You look fantastic.”

Charlotte casts apologetic eyes at Michael then her gaze hovers over mine… She’s tense, picking at
her fingernails.


Of my reaction?


… before she replies. “So do you, Chad. You've, um, filled out rather since I last saw you.”

Set her mind at rest…

I step forward, offering my hand. “I know Michael introduced us before, but it became a bit confused,
didn’t it. I’m James. It’s good to see Charlotte finding her old friends again.”

Charlotte lets out a long breath. Chad tilts his head. “Charlotte? Mmmm… Jenny to me.” He turns to
Michael. “Do you mind if I have a talk with her? You have any problem with that?”

Michael havers and I step in. “Of course he doesn’t. He’s just a bit shell-shocked.” I give him a glare.
“He’ll remember his manners soon.” Michael stirs uneasily. “Why don’t we give you two a few minutes
to yourselves. Chad, tea or coffee?”

“Tea, please.”

I hook an arm through Michael’s. “You’re on tea duty. I’ll make the coffee.” He scowls but doesn’t resist
as I head for the kitchen…

Thought I might have to tow him away…

In the kitchen, I click the door carefully shut, and equally carefully, keep my face straight. “You’ve pulled
a blinder there, my friend...”

Michael rocks on his heels, arms folded. “I'm not happy about this,” he mutters. “Look at the bastard.
He’s like a bloody Michelangelo statue.”

“Ten minutes ago you were thrilled that you had a good-looking trainer.”

“That was then.”

I slap him on the shoulder. “C'mon, get over it. He's gay. Their marriage failed because they didn't get
past the wedding night.” He glares from under his brows. “How much of a threat exactly do you think he
is to you?”

“I'm still not happy,” he growls. Then he points. “You think this is funny,” he accuses.

And I finally let my laugh break loose. “No, I think it's fucking hysterical. You actually employed not only
Charlotte’s ex, but the man who taught her how to box.”

He glares and I look away to hide the grin I can't suppress.

“Look at it this way,” I say. “Knowing how well Charlotte can throw a punch when she’s a mind, he must
be a fucking brilliant trainer.”


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