Authors: Rhonda Laurel
Tags: #sweet romance, #mainstream romance, #sweet contemporary romance, #short sweet romance, #mainstream contemporary romance, #short mainstream romance
Sweet Cravings Publishing
Copyright 2013 © Rhonda Laurel
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A Sweet Cravings Publishing Book
California Bored and Tourism
Copyright © 2013 Rhonda Laurel
E-book ISBN: 978-1-61885-787-3
First E-book Publication: July 2013
Cover design by Dawné Dominique
Edited by T. Hayes
Proofread by Renee Waring
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Sweet Cravings Publishing
To Faith and Nick, thanks for showing me the
wonders of California.
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Faith Travers looked around, wondering if
she would miss the lavish décor of the executive conference room.
An emergency meeting had the entire department speculating that the
axe, threatening to fall since last September, was finally going to
make its appearance. To an extent, she felt prepared. These days,
the corporate life span lasted as long as a spray tan. When she
started her faceless position nineteen months ago, she was the
victim of a sudden career change at that time too. Now, she was
being ushered out of this job.
As everyone sat nervously in their seats,
Faith sat back and watched the reactions unfolding around the room.
Gladys, who mentioned retirement a few weeks ago, wore a wide,
pearly tooth smile. Alfred, whose wife just had a baby, was
gripping his cinnamon bagel so hard the raisins were popping out.
The rest of the attendees looked like it hadn’t sunk in yet. She
always wondered about people who nestled into jobs for twenty or
thirty years. Sure, there was security in it but where was the
challenge? Life was constantly moving, and to assume in this day
and age that no one would feel the effect of the fast paced world
we lived in was unfathomable to her.
Ah, the Red Folder Bandit arrived. Well, it
was actually Patty from Human Resources, nicknamed the Red Folder
Bandit because every time someone saw her with those folders,
twenty people would mysteriously disappear by the end of the day.
People feared Patty, but Faith felt sorry for her. She was a nice
lady and many had even attended the big barbeques at her home, but
the reality was that the law of the jungle prevailed in the
corporate sphere--kill or be killed. Patty’s alternative was to end
up fired too if she didn’t feel she had the stomach to do the
After a grimace from a weary Patty, the
meeting began with the obvious…the company was downsizing in an
attempt to stay afloat. Faith felt like someone just blew a
bullhorn in her ear and a headache set in. She wasn’t that torn up
about the job going away but it was lousy timing. She had a
glorious vacation to sunny Hollywood, California scheduled with her
friends next month.
Patty could have been speaking Mandarin for
all she cared. A ten-day vacation to Hollywood was the last thing
Faith should be thinking about. Could she get her money back? She’d
paid it in full almost two months ago. Would it be rude if she sent
a quick text to her travel buddy, Kendra, while the boom was still
When the theatrics in the conference room
subsided, she’d place a few phone calls and see how she could
salvage the California trip then think about how to salvage the
rest of her life.
* * * *
Faith held her hand over her cup as the
latest bout of turbulence rocked the cabin of the plane. She
normally enjoyed evening flights but found it hard to sleep. Her
friend, Kendra, sat next to her, sleeping like a finely manicured
baby. The trip was non-refundable and even though this sent Faith’s
stress level through the roof, Kendra was elated that her master
vacation plan didn’t derail. Kendra thought losing a job was the
perfect time to take a vacation. As Faith continued to explain her
scarce reality, Kendra pooh-poohed the conversation and said to
have a little ‘faith’. Pun intended.
Faith flipped through the tour book she
bought at the airport bookstore, trying to focus on something else.
In addition to Faith and Princess Kendra, there were ten other
women traveling with them—Sandy, Debbie, Cara, Shannon, Jamie,
Isabella, Maya, Casey, Daisy, and Lourdes.
She knew a few of them socially, but the
rest were fresh faces. Kendra had everyone excited about the
customized tour set up with California Scenic Tours. Apparently,
they didn’t normally do that sort of thing, but after a few days of
flirting with the manager on the phone, Kendra got what she wanted.
She even mentioned that if this guy were as cute as he sounded on
the phone, she would find the time to have a vacation fling. Leave
it to Kendra to have a man waiting for her when she arrived in a
Faith glanced around at the sea of pretty
girls, all of them waxed, curled, and fluffed within an inch of
their lives, and here she was with cactus legs. It had been months
since her last trim and she’d need a blow dryer with a nuclear
setting to straighten the curls of her ginger locks. She didn’t
have manicured and polished nails like the others, she preferred to
keep them short to do her gardening. The fresh soil always made her
feel renewed and connected with the world around her. That’s what
she was hoping for, some kind of connection in California.
Ever since Kendra put the trip together,
dreams of high tides rushing a strange beach and a feeling of
serenity plagued her almost nightly. That’s what she needed right
now, a big dose of clarity and serenity. She knew it would be a
matter of days before her and the Kendra clones clashed, having
mentally omitted half the things she saw on the itinerary. She
didn’t want to go to the hottest clubs in Hollywood and schlep up
and down Rodeo Drive, perusing stores she probably couldn’t afford
to sneeze in. She wanted to see palm tree lined streets and get her
picture taken in front of the
* * * *
“Excuse me, Faith? I’m in the middle of
giving a tour.” He said through clenched teeth.
“Well, perhaps if you stop leaving out
pertinent information I wouldn’t have to talk.”
Nick Constantine sighed.
he thought. He always had one on his bus,
they knew more about California than he did. Never mind he’d been
giving tours for over ten years and had lived in the state all his
life. When he picked the group of twelve women up that morning from
their hotel, she was the only one who glared at him as if he’d just
stolen her wallet. She’d joined the group late as he stood in the
middle of the lobby, acquainting himself with the other ladies. She
wandered up after ending a cell phone call and began reading a
travel book. Five days was a bit long for a group tour, but Kendra,
the leader, had flirted with the manager for over an hour and a
custom-made tour materialized from thin air.
“And the straggler?” He called her out.
“Your name is?”
“Good morning, Faith! What a beautiful day
and what a beautiful name,” he boasted, determined to kill her with
“If you say so. And your name is?”
“Nick.” He moved through the crowd to shake
her hand. “Nick Constantine. I’m your tour guide for the next five
“Had a little too much coffee this morning,
Nick? It’s a little early for all that enthusiasm, isn’t it?”