Because I forgot to put a call out for teasers this week (headdesk) you're stuck with me. I hope you don't mind.
I've decided to give you an early holiday present...
CHAPTER ONE (in it's entirety) of Master of the Inn
You want it?
It was a cool autumn evening as Elyse Clapton left the New York City limits behind her. She glanced in her rearview mirror and realized she wouldn’t miss a thing. For the past four years she worked hard putting everything she had into making Santiago’s Grill a success. Fresh out of one of the most prestigious culinary schools in Manhattan, she allowed her boyfriend to talk her into becoming the head chef at his local restaurant. Philip invested a huge amount of money into Santiago’s but had no idea what to do with it. While Elyse worked at making it one of the trendiest spots in the city, he worked at getting into the panties of every girl who set foot in the restaurant.
Elyse finally wised up and ended their relationship. She also resigned as executive chef. On the verge of a breakdown, her family advised her to head to the country for some much needed rest and relaxation. Maybe a few weeks in the little remote town of Oxford just outside of New Haven, Connecticut would help her heal and figure out what she wanted to do with her life.
As she drove down the back roads, she allowed her mind to wander back to her childhood. She had so many memories of the quaint inn she’d visited during summer vacations and much too short weekend getaways with her family. Her father, a professor at Yale, loved to explore different locations. Elyse had stayed in many gorgeous vacation resorts, lavish hotels and sophisticated, historical inns. One her favorites had always been Pleasure Inn. It wasn’t far from her childhood home, but every time she and her family went there, they always came away with special memories. She thought of the warmth the owners always exuded. They could make every guest feel special.
She hadn’t been there in over a decade. Not since she was sixteen, the summer before her father’s diagnosis. Once her dad fell ill, they traveled less and less. Even after he passed away a few years later, she and her mother never returned to Pleasure Inn.
Elyse couldn’t get the place off her mind. Not since she’d dreamt about it the night before. The dream seemed so real and made her miss her dad more than she’d realized. When she ended things with Phillip, she decided to go back to a simpler time in her life. A time when happiness surrounded her and life held so many possibilities. She’d been so busy beating herself up over what had happened with Phillip it seemed nothing could motivate her. The memories of Pleasure Inn changed that.
Impulse took over, and now she found herself pulling up the long, winding path leading to the inn. The original sign still hung at the foot of the driveway alerting guests to the entrance. Dusk was settling around the large house. A solitary truck rested in the driveway, but no one else seemed to be there. Elyse hadn’t bothered calling ahead because if there wasn’t a vacancy she could always stay in town. She was hoping that the inn would have a room, but figured it might be a long shot during the busy tourist season. But as she got out of her car, it seemed too quiet; it had never occurred to her that the place wouldn’t still be in business.
A light came on in an upstairs window indicating someone was there. Elyse walked up the front steps and tried the door, but it was locked. Just as she reached for the bell, the door flew open and a large, muscular figure appeared. The old screen door and the absence of lighting in the foyer concealed his face.
“Hi,” Elyse said. “I was driving by and wondered if you had any vacancies.”
“This is an inn, isn’t it?”
“It hasn’t been for over four years.” He turned on the porch light. “I thought everyone in this town knew that.”
His disheveled appearance made her think he wasn’t planning on entertaining visitors. His dark, thick hair looked as if he’d run his fingers through it causing it to stand on end. He hadn’t bothered to button his faded blue jeans or put on a shirt before answering the door. Elyse couldn’t help but notice how his well-defined abs disappeared into his waistband.
“I’m sorry.” She moved away from the door. “I’m intruding.”
“No.” He stepped out onto the porch in his bare feet. “I just didn’t expect anyone out here at this time of the night.”
“I drove from the city. I thought I might stay the night. I used to come here as a kid.” She looked past his shoulder into the foyer. She saw a fresh stack of wood in the corner and several cans of paint. “Are you renovating?”
“Trying to.” He nodded. “It’s a work in progress.”
She caught a wave of alcohol on his breath.
“Are you just passing through?”
“I’m not sure. I just needed to get away and I remembered how perfect this place always was.”
“Yeah,” he looked over his shoulder. “Not so much anymore.”
“My uncle owned the place, but he couldn’t keep up with the maintenance. He and my aunt retired and left it to me. It’s just been sitting vacant since then. It needed a ton of work. I didn’t realize how much until I actually started ripping things out.”
“How long have you been renovating?”
“A little over six months.”
“Well, thanks for your time. Maybe I’ll visit when you’re finished,” She smiled encouragement, but disappointment filled Elyse’s heart at the thought of not staying there. “Good luck with the renovations.”
When she turned to leave, he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. “Wait.”
When she turned, his ice blue eyes held her gaze. The intensity there made her stomach flutter. It should have been a warning sign to run fast and far, but her body responded in other ways. The sensation he created from just one touch coursed through her system, landing straight between her legs.
“For the past few months I’ve been renovating the third floor. If I’m going to live here and run this place, I wanted my rooms to be done first before I started on the rest of the inn. There are two bedrooms up there; both have private bathrooms. You could stay if you want.”
“That’s very nice of you, but—”
“Your room has a lock.”
As if that would keep you out. You have the keys.
“I’m not ready to have guests yet, so I wouldn’t charge you.”
“I couldn’t, but thank you.”
“You drove all this way to Pleasure Inn. There isn’t another place for miles. Spend the night and then you can leave in the morning.”
She wasn’t familiar with the surrounding area and the drive had made her tired. What if she couldn’t find another place to spend the night?
“I don’t blame you for being cautious.” He shrugged. “You do what your gut tells you: but you’re more than welcome to stay here.”
She stared into his deep eyes for a few moments. She’d left the city to get away and forget about the disaster of a relationship with Phillip. She’d done nothing but work for years. She hadn’t been to a restaurant or on a vacation in months. She was too busy cooking for others. Would one night in a beautiful Victorian inn be so bad? How could it be, especially when the inn keeper looked like a goddamned Calvin Klein model?
“I’ll stay on one condition.”
“You have to tell me your name.”
“Oh.” He ran his fingers through his hair and smiled for the first time since answering the door. “Forgive my manners. I’m Logan Cole.” He extended his hand to her.
“Nice to meet you, Logan,” She said properly as she shook his hand. “I’m Elyse Clapton.”
“Welcome to Pleasure Inn, Ms. Clapton.” He dipped his head as he held the door open for her. “Where all of your fantasies become reality.”
Master of the Inn coming January 4, 2013
Copyright © 2012 Ella Jade