Red Sky At Morning
Yellow Rose Books
B O O K S B Y
Dar and Kerry Series:
Eye of the Storm
Red Sky At Morning
Thicker Than Water
Terrors of the High Seas
Copyright © 2002 by Melissa Good
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The characters, incidents and dialogue herein are fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
"author's cut" edition, revised, and expanded First Printing 2007
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover design by Donna Pawlowski
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Printed in the United States of America
This is for Mike. He’d appreciate the yacht.
THE HOTEL LOBBY was full of people: men in business suits, and women in equally well-tailored suits of their own. The plush carpet muted the conversation, but the buzz tickled the senses as the crowd shifted and moved, sophisticated glances meeting and mouths tensing into polite smiles.
Behind the long, marble-topped front desk, two reservations agents observed the cocktail party with mildly bored expressions. “I hate these parties,” one confided. “They’re so stupid.”
Her companion shrugged. “They’re all right. At least, this bunch is okay. They tip. That convention we had in last week...shoulda ended up at the Motel Six.”
“You got that right.” The female clerk fiddled with her terminal, then leaned on the counter and sighed. “How much longer?”
“Two hours.” The dark-haired man leaned on the counter next to her, watching the crowd. “Uh-oh...”
“What?” The woman peered in the direction of his gaze. “Oh.” She rolled her eyes. Entering the hotel’s elegant glass and brass revolving door was someone obviously out of place in the lobby full of expensive, chic clothing.
The sweat-shirted, blue-jeaned figure edged its way through the party, collecting stares along the way, headed unmistakably for the desk. Rips sliced the denim above the knees and complemented the hiking boots that scuffed across the thick carpet.
“Water fountain,” the man guessed.
“Bathroom,” the woman countered.
“Change for a dollar.”
They both smiled sweetly as the scruffy figure came to the desk and rested long, powerful hands on the polished surface. “Yes...ma’am?” the male clerk inquired. “Something we can do for you?” His tone indicated polite doubt.
One of the hands lifted and removed the sunglasses hiding a pair of remarkably piercing eyes, which now drilled right through him. A dark, perfectly shaped eyebrow lifted wryly as the woman answered,
“Roberts. I have a reservation.” It was a low voice, but distinct, with the 2 Melissa Good faintest hint of the South in it. “But I’d be just as happy if you told me I didn’t so I could get my ass on a plane back home instead.”
The male clerk blinked. “Um...” He rattled a few keys, then managed to get the name typed in, aware of his co-worker peering avidly over his shoulder. To his immense surprise, the name obediently returned an actual reservation, of which he studied the details.
“Yes...yes, Ms. Roberts. We’ve got it right here. Um...do you have any luggage?”
“Just this.” The woman hefted a weathered leather overnight bag slung casually over one shoulder. She took the key the clerk handed over. “Elevators?”
“Over to the right there, ma’am.” The man’s tone had altered to one of tense respect. “Is there anything we can send up for you?”
Dar turned and surveyed the crowd, some of whom were eyeing her disreputably ripped jeans with distaste. “Aspirin.” She enunciated the word carefully, then turned and made her way to the sleek elevators, ducking inside one and punching her floor. The doors closed lazily, blocking her from view.
The two clerks watched her leave, then glanced at each other. The man shook his head. “Son of a bitch.”
“That’s their CIO?” The woman stared at the computer screen.
“She’s got the VIP suite?” She looked up at the now closed elevator.
“I don’t get it.” The man shook his head. “These nerds are something else.”
DAR SIGHED AND leaned back against the wall, swallowing as her ears popped with the rising of the car. She was already regretting agreeing to present the company’s quarterly results at their stockholders’ meeting here in New York City, all the more so because it was so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, and that meant crowded planes, and crowded airports, and lots and lots of traffic.
Dar closed her eyes. And small elevators. She felt a familiar queasiness start in her stomach and concentrated on taking long, deep breaths, clenching her hands around the straps of her bag and the laptop case over her other shoulder. Add that to the sinus headache she always got when flying in the winter, and the dry heat, and by the time the damned elevator grudgingly allowed her out, her body was tense and shaking, making her nauseous.
The hallway was also small, and she edged down it, finding her room and opening the door, moving forward into a plush, thankfully acceptably large room, and letting the heavy partition shut behind her.
She dropped her bags down on the huge bed and collapsed into the nearby chair, her head falling back to rest on the soft leather. “Alastair, I’m going to get you for this.”
Red Sky At Morning 3
As though in psychic response, her cell phone rang. With a silent curse, Dar removed it from its clip on her belt and opened it. “Yeah?”
“Well, well, good afternoon, Dar.” Her boss’s voice sounded calmly cheerful. “Where are you?”
“The hotel,” Dar replied, keeping her eyes closed. “Finally. We circled for over two hours before they let us land at LaGuardia.” She exhaled. “Damn weather.”
“Damned Northeast. Why the hell can’t we have these meetings in Houston?”
“Now, Dar.” Alastair’s voice grew placating. “It won’t take that long. Besides, I thought you liked to travel.”
Dar thought about the hours spent inside the crowded plane, pressing in on nerves newly sensitized by an accident weeks earlier that had reawakened a latent claustrophobia Dar had thought she’d conquered years back. “Not as much as I used to,” she admitted, having been surprised by the level of discomfort she’d had to endure. “Maybe I’m just coming down with something. Anyway, did you need anything, or are you just calling to bust my chops?”
Alastair McLean, the CEO of ILS, chuckled. “That sounds more like you. Actually, I wanted to invite you to dinner. There’s a nice place just across the road from here...good Italian.”
Dar let her eyes flick around the room, aware suddenly of its silence.
“I realize I’m not as interesting company as Ms. Stuart is, but...”
Alastair coaxed. “C’mon, Dar, I promise I won’t talk football at you.”
Just hearing Kerry’s name brought a smile to Dar’s face. Her friend, lover, and roommate was stuck back in Miami, consolidating a large deal with one of their major clients. “All right,” she finally replied.
“You’re not bringing the whole board, are you?”
A snort. “No, I wouldn’t waste the clam sauce. Just you and me, Dar,” Alastair reassured her. “I’ll drop by your room at six, all right?”
Dar eyed the clock. It was barely four, and that gave her time to shower and relax a little. “Sounds good.” She let a smile cross her face.
“See you then, Alastair.” She closed the phone and relaxed a little, stifling a yawn with the back of her hand. “Damn.” The hand lifted and rubbed her eyes. “I need some coffee.” The hotel phone was nearby, but her body resisted moving, content to remain nestled in the leather chair, now nicely warmed and comfortable.
She slumped there limply for a moment, then lifted her cell phone and thumbed a number into it without looking. Dar lifted the instrument to her ear and listened to its buzzing ring. Once, twice...then the noise stopped and a soft grunt issued down the line, bringing a smile to Dar’s face.
“Hello?” Kerry’s voice sounded almost breathless.
“Avoiding the elevators?” Dar queried.
4 Melissa Good
“Oh.” Kerry exhaled, then apparently stopped moving. “How’d you guess? They just called me down to the tenth floor, and I thought I’d jog back up.” The sound of a door opening and closing, then the echo of the stairwell vanished, replaced with a soft hum. “Where are you? Did you just get there? How was the flight?”
Dar pictured her lover striding down the hall, with that distinctive, sexy walk, and her nose wrinkled in pleasure. “Hotel, yes, pain in my ass,” she replied succinctly. “Just thought I’d check in. We hit weather over Virginia.”
“I know,” Kerry answered over the sound of a door closing. Now the hum was gone, and it was quiet. “I, um...tracked your flight.”