I would like to share a snippet of A Hotel in Bath with you. A journey that began in Paris, continues in Bath.
“Welcome to London, Miss Grey,” he whispered.
“Thank you, Captain.” She leaned toward him and with her fingertips caressed his cheek.
The plane roared to a stop amidst layers of dense fog, the silvery hue obscuring the landing strip. Inside the plane, the woman sitting next to Peter Riley shivered, he gently stroked her hand, his gaze on her face as soft as the caress. He was so completely aware of her that he could taste her increasing panic. Their relationship was new, and Minola Grey was skittish about commitment. He knew the relationship terrified her, a fear of betrayal never far from the surface.
Minola looked up at him and their eyes locked. “A hotel in
, Captain?” London
“Yes, Miss Grey. We were going to go to my apartment, but I received a message that the painters were delayed, and the apartment is not ready. A hotel in
. That concept should
be familiar to you, except this time, I’m staying with you from the very
beginning,” he replied smiling. His grip on her fingers tightened. She took his
breath away. “I love you,” he whispered in her ear. “Nervous?” Bath
“No. Yes. Hmmm. Now, that is an interesting response. Any regrets?”
“No. Never about you. Meeting your parents, well, let's just say that is an entirely different matter,” Minola replied.
He remembered the first time he met Minola Grey. Paris. And murder. As an Interpol agent, Peter Riley was part of an investigative team in Paris; somehow, she wound up becoming an indispensable part of his life. Because of him, she had matured as a woman and as an artist—she’d become a success in Paris, and now had a major show planned in London—but she still had doubts and insecurities about their association. Minola continued, “Peter, what are your parents going to think? I’m a stranger you are imposing on them during their vacation. Maybe I should stay in London. We can all meet later in Bath.”
His grip on her fingers did not relent, he understood her and her fears. She was a remarkable artist whose talent he’d seen grow darker and grittier with her exposure to his profession. He’d been terrified for her safety. It happened right in front of his eyes, she’d seen death and her life had been threatened, horrifying him in the process. She learned about greed, hate, how easy it is for someone to take a life. Peter would do anything to keep her safe and wrapped in a cocoon of his own choosing. Yet throughout their time together, she remained stoic, timid, and more importantly, mistrustful of their relationship.
“First and foremost, you are not a stranger. You are the one and only woman in my life. Have been since the day we met. We are going to Bath together. My parents are looking forward to meeting you. And I want to be with you, but if I’m not enough of a lure, there is an added incentive; a gallery in Bath you will enjoy visiting. I know the owner.”
“A gallery? Ah, you twist my arm, Captain. By the way, you are enough. You will always be enough.” She leaned over and once again touched his cheek. “Peter, how long are we going to stay in Bath? Maybe we should get two—”
“We are staying in one room. Together.” He brought her hand to his lips, before she had a chance to withdraw. “We can leave tomorrow morning. It’s not a long drive, and we can relax tonight. Well, maybe not relax, entirely. I have missed loving you,” he said with emphasis.
“Peter, I'm afraid; I feel as if you didn't get a chance to…”
“I have everything I want. You. I’m thinking of leaving Interpol. I’ve found I cannot risk your life again; your safety has become an obsession.”
“What?” She shook her head. “No, you can't. You told me a while back that you make a difference with your work. I know you make a difference—I've seen it. It’s what you want. I can’t let you alter your life so dramatically. Besides, how can I possibly be in danger just by being with you?”
“This is not like being a policeman. Some of the people I deal with reach a long way and retaliate. Violently. My family is further detached from me by living in a small village where everyone knows each other. You, my love, will be living with me and have a high profile. You can become a perfect target.”
“You would be giving up your career because of me, and it would be my fault. I can’t live with that...Peter, I can’t.”
“I will not be giving anything up. It’s time I assumed responsibilities at home.”
“What do you mean? Responsibilities at home? You would throw away your career and resent me later. You didn’t even discuss it with me. We have to talk. Are we together or not?”
“We are. Absolutely. I’m not letting you go. Ever. And you are correct, we do have to talk. Once we get to Bath. Tonight, I want to make love with you.”
Leaving the plane, his grip firm on her waist, he ushered her to the baggage area. He wasn’t going to let her go. His need for her increased with every breath he took. How on earth is that possible? He recognized that she still felt tentative and apprehensive. The betrayal in Chicago had left her vulnerable, and he had his work cut out for him to allow her to grow in their relationship, allow her to trust him and believe in him. Believe he would never betray her.
Peter’s cell phone went off, and he answered instinctively. “Mother, how are you?” His arm around Minola’s waist tightened perceptibly. “Yes, we are on our way to the…yes, no, not my apartment…we should be in Bath tomorrow.” Peter listened to the voice at the other end of the line. “I’m sorry, son,” he heard his mother say, “Madeleine was killed sometime yesterday. Ashby is asking for you and Fitzhugh has been trying to get in touch.”
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
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