Present day, Sunday, September 8th, 2:11 PM
Le Mille Neuf, 1009 Rue de Bleury, penthouse, Montreal
The young man at the front desk in the luxury apartment building looked up in surprise at the quartet of women making their way across the lobby, carrying what looked like a variety of flowers, sweets, and boxes, chatting happily amongst themselves as every male head in the lobby turned in their direction.
An older man in the uniform of a professional driver or chauffeur was following them, his arms piled high with packages, puffing slightly.
The women, who were carrying on an intense four-way conversation between them, did not notice the attention they were garnering like magnets. They ranged in height from just over five feet to just under six, with a variety of body types, hair and skin colors ranging from alabaster to ebony, and clothing styles, all of which had some sort of bright artistry to them.
They stopped in front of the desk.
The tallest of the group, a fair-skinned beauty with gray eyes and shoulder-length brown hair atop a tall, willowy figure, smiled down at him.
“Penthouse deux, s’il vous plait,” she said politely in a perfect French accent.
The young man slid his swivel chair quickly under the desk to shield his lap from view.
“Qui appelle?” he asked in a French-Canadian accent. “Er—whom shall I say is calling?” He picked up the phone.
“The—uhm—Fivesome,” Briony Windsor, known as Sarah to her friends, said.
The young man waited for an answer, requested permission for entry and, receiving it, directed the four women to the penthouse elevator, only to discover they had started across the back lobby while he was hanging up.
They already knew where they were going.
“Has anyone heard from Sloane’s father recently?” Dr. Corinne Byrnes, a veterinarian and the second-tallest member of the group asked the others as they entered the elevator and pushed the button for the top floor.
“I spoke to him last night,” said Reverend Grace Fuller, the Associate Pastor of the Obergrande Community Church back in New York State. “He says she seems to be doing better, as long as she rests. Apparently he hasn’t been entirely successful at keeping her in bed.”
“Shocker,” mused Elisa Santiago, esq., a practicing attorney and civil rights advocate who divided her time between law on the international stage and a quiet practice back in Obergrande, the pretty Adirondack hometown of the four young women and the friend they had come to visit. At five-foot-three, she was petite, like Grace, and extraordinarily well put-together, every detail of her wardrobe perfect, just as every detail of her business and personal life seemed to be.
“Well, between us we have plenty of things to keep her amused in bed,” said Briony. “Although that’s like selling ice to penguins; Sloane has made of art of being kept amused in bed most of her life.”
“Truth,” mused Corinne as the elevator doors opened, providing a stunning view of downtown Montreal and its exquisite spires.
The four women hurried down the sunlit hallway of windows to the door where the number 2 was elegantly displayed.
Elisa pushed the doorbell.
A tall, strapping, dark-haired man with a finely-featured, neatly-bearded face opened the door a moment later.
All four women blinked in surprise.
“Dr. Marlowe?” Elisa’s voice broke the silence.
The man’s dark blue eyes blinked as well.
“Come in, ladies,” he said quickly.
The women looked at each other, then followed him into the penthouse.
“What’s he doing here?” Grace whispered to Briony. “Sloane told me they couldn’t stand each other.” Briony shrugged.
“Perhaps they’re working on the Quadricentennial?” Elisa suggested as they passed through the elegant central foyer into the open living area, a high-ceilinged room ringed with floor-to-ceiling windows.
She turned to Corinne, the only one not to have met Nathan Marlowe. “He’s a world-class history professor here at McGill and in New York at NYU, a specialist in the Adirondack Park area and particularly in Obergrande. Sloane’s mother hired him to do the authentication and other research for the town’s four-hundredth anniversary next May.”
“Well, if her mother likes him, I can see why Sloane can’t stand him,” said Corinne. “Those two can’t agree on whether the sun is up or not.”
Dr. Marlowe was standing at the far left edge of the open sitting area, next to the door that led to Sloane’s bedroom suite.
The women and their driver, still lugging their packages, followed him.
A glorious spicy smell filled the air near the kitchen.
On their way past a recessed alcove in which a towering animal cage stood, Corinne paused and clicked softly at the sweet, melon-sized animal inside it.
“Hiya, Pfeffernusse,” she said. “You’re lookin’ good, gurrl.”
Ed Hillenbrandt, the driver, waited until she was following the other girls again, then paused in front of the cage himself.
“I still say you would make a nice hat,” he whispered.
Pfeffernusse just stared at him with her big black chinchilla eyes. Then she flicked her large ears and spun around, her white belly disappearing from view as she turned her gray-blue back to him.
“You’re not by any means the first female to give me the cold shoulder, ma’am,” Ed said as he went to join the women.
They had assembled at the door of Sloane’s bedroom when Dr. Marlowe held up his hand.
“She should be sleeping,” he cautioned. “If she is, why don’t you all make yourselves comfortable in the room until she wakes up? She needs her rest, but I have to wake her up gently every few hours. She has until two-thirty or so to sleep, so she’s due to wake up shortly.”
Briony nodded, as did the other girls, and shifted her packages to her other side.
“I’ll wait out here,” said Ed, still puffing slightly. “I can see her after you’ve all had some time with her.”
Dr. Marlowe opened the door.
Sloane was sitting up in bed, awake, a dozen or more folders spread across her bed.
Marlowe rolled his eyes. “You’re not supposed to be working, Sloane. Where did you get those?”
“I’m not telling,” Sloane said, beaming as her friends came in the room. “What are you guys doing here?”
“We thought we might check on you since you just got out of the hospital, two days of which were in the ICU,” Corinne said pointedly. She strode to the bed and bent to her friend, hugging her gently, then stood up and filled her arms with an enormous, tissue-wrapped bouquet.
Sloane pulled back the papers, revealing half a dozen long, thick stems atop which were pointy, elegant blossoms with a fan of red-gold and violet-blue petals, and a larger green-and-rose-colored base.
“Birds of Paradise,” she murmured. “You remembered. Oh, Corinne, thank you.”
“Of course I remembered, after the lecture you gave me during the setup for my brother’s wedding a few years ago,” Corinne said. She sat down on the far end of Sloane’s enormous bed as Grace made her way toward the pillow end. “You said that Birds of Paradise were unique and classy and showed that someone cared enough to have them brought in, unlike roses and carnations and mums, which you can ‘get on every street corner,’ as I recall. As I watched you checking every table arrangement in the reception hall, I noticed how much they look like you, especially the red-gold colors. I also brought six singleton vases, since you told me they should always have their own ‘home.’ ”
Sloane’s eyes filled with tears as Grace bent over to hug her. When the pastor stood up, she opened the bakery box she was carrying.
“These are from MaryBeth Finley,” she said. “She sends her love—she still hasn’t gotten over watching you collapse at Charlie’s when she was waiting on you. She’s still worried it was some kind of food poisoning.”
“I’ve never heard of food—even bad food—causing a brain bleed before,” Sloane said, peering into the box, which was from Pancake Heaven, the other restaurant/bakery where MaryBeth worked. “Oooooo. What are these?”
“Vanilla-strawberry,” Grace said, tipping the box so that Sloane could better see the four puffy, exquisite cupcakes. “MaryBeth said to tell you that they’re vegan.”
Sloane dipped a finger into one and scooped up a swath of fluffy frosting. “I’m not a vegan,” she said as she stuck the tip of her finger into her mouth. “Mmmmm, these are insane.”
“Oh, I told her,” Grace said, straight-faced. “I assured her you have eaten way more meat than the rest of us put together.”
A shocked silence fell in the beautifully-decorated bedroom.
A deep throat rumble occurred in the doorway, from which Dr. Marlowe rapidly disappeared.
“Grace Fuller,” said Sloane, her eyes narrowing, “Reverend Grace Fuller—was that a deliberately dirty comment I just heard coming out of your saintly mouth?”
“Yep,” said Grace.
Sloane raised her hand slowly and Grace high-fived it.
“Respect,” Sloane said. She licked the rest of the frosting off her finger. “And respect to Van, for whatever it is he’s doing to you in bed. Next time I stop by your house, I’ll be expecting to see your freak flag flying along with a pair of crotchless panties on the flag pole underneath Old Glory and the symbol of the West Obergrande Elect.”
Title: Thursday’s Child: Far to Go
Author: Polly Becks
Genre: Romantic Suspense
International attorney and human rights advocate Elisa Santiago believes she has life under control—an impressive career, a solid group of friends in Obergrande, and a handsome law partner for hot “car action” when she needs release. Little does she know that her entire world is about to burn down when she discovers that nothing she believes she knows about herself and her past is true. Can the gorgeous former CIA operative, acting as her guide and guard as she returns to Colombia, the land of her birth, looking for answers, set her world on fire in a good way?
THURSDAY’S CHILD: Far to Go is the fifth book in the eight-book series The Extraordinary Days by breakthrough novelist Polly Becks. The first book, No Ordinary Day, tells the tale of an epic tragedy that changes life forever in a small town in the wild, mystic Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, and the mystery surrounding that tragedy.
Purchases of this book provide a direct cash donation to Children International.
Best-selling author Polly Becks has been making her living writing for more than twenty years, as well as working as an editor, curriculum developer, and teaching secondary-school Spanish. She has more than 350 books to her credit, mostly educational materials, as well as professionally published fiction in both the adult and YA market in a variety of genres, plus more than 30 Children’s books. She is excited about exploring the digital literature frontier and is honored to be the launch series for GMLTJoseph, LLC.
Rose contest: http://www.pollybecks.com/the-rose/
Blog post about release: http://www.pollybecks.com/meet-elisa-our-next-heroine/
Order link: http://www.pollybecks.com/books/thursdays-child-far-to-go/
Order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01435EE8G