Monday, January 29, 2018

Bentley Square by Carol Ann Kauffman

Dear Gentle Readers,

BENTLEY SQUARE, Time After Time, is the story of two unlikely lovers, Miss Rebeca Robbins, wealthy businesswoman and community activist, and Mark Ramsey, a down-on-his-luck office manager, shrouded in danger and mystery.

Strangers meet on the train. She, a beautiful, wealthy businesswoman. He, a down on his luck office manager. They have nothing in common. And yet, they are drawn to each other with an undeniable hypnotic magnetism. This is the story of Rebecca Robbins, daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the country and Mark Ramsay, a man shrouded in dark mystery and hiding in the shadows from death squads amid international intrigue.
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I know an author's not supposed to have favorites of her own stories. It's like liking one of your kids more than the rest. BUT I DO like BENTLEY SQUARE and The BASLICATO very much. Here is an excerpt from Bentley Square.


Deadly Ambush

Becca was ready a little before eight, but wanted to give him a few minutes to walk up from the ad agency. She freshened up a bit, smoothed her favorite lilac skirt and sweater set, and squirted on a little Chanel perfume. She went down to the first floor and watched for him out the window, her heart pounding. When she saw him, she went outside to meet him.
He broke out into a giant smile when he saw her. She was right. He had one gorgeous smile when he decided to let it out. He reached for her hand. She responded, squeezing his hand.
“Hi. Mark!”
That touch! That magic touch of hers, he thought; just the feel of her hand in his was something wonderful. He remembered this warm loving feeling, but from where? 
“I’m so happy to see you. I thought you…” he trailed off.
“I almost made it, Mark, my hand was on the door. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, honey. I understand unreasonable bosses.” He smiled again.
“Mark, I have to tell you something, something I should have told you the day we met.”
“Are you married?” He held his breath, knowing full well he still wouldn’t back off, no matter what she answered. Now that he found her, he would pursue her, even if she were married. It would just be harder and messier. The only way he’d leave her is if she told him to go away, not some husband who obviously ignored her and left her alone too much.
“Good. I can handle anything else. Tell me. Is it bad news?”
“Well, no, it isn’t bad for me at all, but you may think it is.”
“No, if you don’t think it’s bad, I won’t, either. I promise. Come on, it’ll sound better over coffee.” He wanted to hold on to this perfect moment with her a little longer before allowing anything in to ruin it and bring him crashing back to reality. They walked the rest of the way down to Sullivan’s hand in hand in silence, smiling over at each other every now and then, and took the booth farthest from the door. It was quieter, a little more private. He sat across from her and reached for her hand, feeling that surge of sheer bliss once again.
“Feel that?” She nodded. “It’s a cosmic connection…our cosmic connection.”
“It is?” she giggled.
“Yes. And you can’t deny a cosmic connection, you know,” he smiled and nodded. This felt so good, so right to him. He was hopeful, something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. And happy.  Never this happy. Hopeful and happy. “I’ll buy you whatever you want. Are you hungry? You have to be, you’ve been at work all day. Sully makes a good meatloaf. And the pie is homemade. Mrs. Sullivan makes the best pies in the world,” he said, pulling ones and a five and change out of his pocket and laying it on the table. It was all he had until payday, and he didn’t care if he spent every penny of it on her tonight.
“Coffee will be fine. Black.”
“Are you sure?” She nodded. He ordered two black coffees.
“Before you begin, I need to tell you something first. You know I live at the Comstock and I work at Fusco’s Ad Agency. If I miss one day of work, or screw up just one time, he’ll fire me. I got my performance evaluation yesterday morning and it was less than satisfactory. Actually, it was horrible. I think I only got this manager’s position because I was the only one on staff who owned a suit and tie. I have no outstanding qualifications. I can be homeless and jobless very soon. I want to be very honest with you from the start, Becca. I’m no prize. Are you… sure… you want to give me a chance? You might want to think twice about even letting me hold your hand,” he said, still holding her hand, wanting to hold it forever.
“Mark, what are you trying to do? Make my bad news look good by comparison?” He laughed, still not letting go.
“Tell me. Come on. If I told you I could be homeless and jobless within the next three weeks, what could you possibly tell me that would be worse than that? And I appreciate your not running for the door, by the way.” She laughed.
“But, you see, I don’t care about those things. You can come and stay with me. There’s plenty of room where I live.” She played with his fingers. “And I have job connections here in the city, where you’ll at least get a decent lunch hour, and quite possibly some wonderful fringe benefits,” she nodded, flirting with him. “So… don’t worry about a place to live or a job, okay?”
“You’re very sweet. Now, tell me. Come on. You can tell me anything.” He smiled that big, wonderful smile and held on to her hand.
Becca was thrilled. She found him, and he was real. Not only was he real, but he was also considerate and very sweet, with an irresistible smile and big brown eyes. It was evident that he liked her, and he didn’t know she was heir to the massive Robbins fortune, or that she was already a millionaire on her own. Yet.  
“Okay. Here goes. Now don’t get upset.” She squeezed his hand.
“I promise you I won’t get upset. Right now, sitting here with you, holding your hand, I’m feeling incredibly lucky to have found you, and nothing could upset me. I haven’t been this happy, Becca, oh, …ever.” He smiled at her, his heart soaring. “Come on, honey, tell me.”
 “Mark, I’m Rebecca…”

Shots rang out in the diner. Mark leaped over the table and covered her with his body, holding her head down on the booth seat. More shots.

Stay still and be quiet. They’re trained to shoot at any sound or movement.  I’ll protect you, honey, don’t be afraid. I won’t let anything harm you. Ever.

Bedlam ensued. Screaming, glass breaking, more shots, crying, running, more shooting, shouting, something crashing to the floor. Then sirens.
Becca thought, this can’t be happening! She had just found him, and he was all she had hoped for. More, actually. And now they were going to die in this coffee shop bullet barrage. They had, what, fifteen wonderful minutes together before all hell broke loose. And who was the target of this attack? Sully? Her? Who?
“Becca? Are you okay?”
“Yes, Mark, I’m okay.” She turned to face him. “But… you’ve been hit.” The front of his shirt was covered with blood.
   “I know,” he said. 

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