"Provisions in the Contract"
As a beautiful onyx colored luxury 1940 Packard pulled into the large drive way and pulled to a stop in front of the entrance to the infamous Grand Hotel the waiting press hurriedly pulled out their notepads, pens and cameras as they all ran to the designated press line. “Miss Fair! Miss Fair! Over here! Over here answer a question for the New York Journal-American” one of the many reporters standing around the entrance to the Grand Hotel screamed out, hoping like all the others to be the one to get the exclusive on the stunning international performer Chestiny Fair… and her historic arrival at the Grand Hotel. With the Grand’s 14th Annual Summer’s End Gala one the biggest events of the season scheduled to happen at the end of the week reporters from newspapers all over the country flock every year to Highmount, New York, and this year seemed to be the year to top it all. They all waited with baited breath to get their first look at the first, only, and likely last Colored performer asked to perform let alone stay at the prestigious luxurious hotel.
Smiling Miss Chestiny Fair the most celebrated performer in the industry was brimming with excitement as waited for Frank her manager to walk around to her side of the car where she sat with barely contained glee and open up the door for her. Taking his outstretched hand she allowed him to gently pull her out of the limo, giving him a small smile “thanks Frank. We’re here can you believe it?” not able to keep her excitement in another moment she asked him looking into his smiling face even though five foot seven was considered rather tall for a woman on the other hand for a man he was considered to be extremely short and constantly teased for it especially by her.
Laughing “you’ve gotta pace yourself Ches, if your excited now what are you going to do on Sunday?” he asked smiling at her indulgently. Their relationship was more than that of a business one through the years it had grown into a paternal one. Frank had been there for Chestiny from the beginning and had seen her through some hard times this week was just as exciting for him as well, he just covered it up better.
Patting him on the shoulder as she stepped past him “you’ll bring me back to earth” and truer words had never been spoken, Frank who had slowly taken on the role of a doting father through the years and her solace in a world often both cruel and mad. She had no idea where her life would be without him. Turning to the reporters she started to walk over intending to answer a few questions before going into the hotel but Frank’s gentle but firm hand on her elbow quickly leading her away had her looking up at him silently in confusion.
Looking down at her with an odd expression “sorry Ches but we can’t do any press while here, the Hotel management put it as one of the conditions of your contract”. Pausing he waited for the three porters to make their way through the crowd and to them “her trunks are in the back” he gestured to where their driver was already unloading their trunks and other luggage from the trunk of the limo.
“Yes Sir, right away Sir” the oldest of the three Porters said to them as they rushed past them and to their task making quick work of distributing the trunks and bags between the three of them.
Chestiny sighed mentally counting out ten relaxing breaths in her head, clearly Frank had decided not to tell her beforehand about these terms and conditions and in and of itself made her suspicious. Taking another deep breath she knew her manager probly did the right thing because if she’d known this beforehand she wouldn’t have come not that doing press was so wonderful but the implication that even though they needed her fame they still wanted to hide her away. Looking at the hotel building she had to admit this was a great moment, it wasn’t very often a girl got to stay in a real life castle, especially since there weren’t very many in the Americas. Chestiny suppressed the urge to grin like a loon as she looked at what she could of the building through the dark “it would have been better if we got to see this place during the day, why’d we have to check in so late” she fussed at Frank but he wasn’t really listening to her. Taking the small opportunity to explore a bit while no one was paying attention to her, she walked to the side of the building where no people were, she’d read about the history of The Grand years ago having always had a fascination with the opulent hotel. It still felt surreal that she was here as a guest and performer and not as a maid, or cook.
From what she’d read the Grand was formerly a castle owned by a very rich family here in Highmount, New York. No one knows for sure what ever happened to the family but it was rumored that the very same family of the original castle are also the owners of the hotel. She loved that they’d kept the originally architecture intact, the enormous stone castle was imposing and looming even in the dark casting intimidating shadows in spots that lacked lighting. The grounds was tended by some of the best gardeners and landscape artist in the country that worked tirelessly all year to keep beautiful the Grand Hotel’s four public gardens, two private gardens, the labyrinths and koi fish ponds not to mention then endless acres of flawless green grass, the shade of green so bright Chestiny could even make it out in the dark. Looking around she could see romantic candle lit lanterns lit throughout the gardens and lighting the way to cobblestone pathways meant to guide patrons throughout the hotel grounds across from where she stood to the side of the building. The entrance doors which were thrown open for the night air to cool the lobby were imported Indian wood so heavy they took five men to carry each one and attach them to the frames.
Chestiny smiled taking a deep breath of the New York State air, this was the type a place a girl like her dreamed of, never once had she thought she’d one day perform here let alone be asked to stay as a guest. She was just a little Colored girl from Phoenix, Arizona, but since then she’d defied all odds. She’d traveled all around the world, throughout the country, she’d even been asked to be in a movie and not to play anyone’s maid…but somehow this moment standing here in front of the Grand Hotel waiting for Frank her manager to her their arrangements together made her finally feel like she’d made it, like she was equal. All the doors shut in her face, not being able to walk in the front door where she was performing, having to get ready in her car cause dressing rooms where ‘WHITES ONLY’… Chestiny could feel the beginnings of a few tears threatening to come down. All of her white counterparts that’d hated her, or blackballed her because they refused to perform on the same stage as a Colored girl, now she was performing at the Grand. She smiled ear to ear her chest puffing out with pride, the Grand was one of the most prestigious hotels in the world they not only didn’t’ let just anyone perform at their ‘Summer’s End Gala’ but the only Colored people allowed in the building were cooks and maids. She was making history and couldn’t be prouder.
“Ches” Frank yelled for her to come on “where are you girl come on” the tiredness of the trip was clear in his voice.
Shaking her head a bit to clear it Chestiny lifted her dress a few scarce inches so she wouldn’t trip and using a mix between a jog and a shuffle hurried over to where her manager stood with a group of hotel employees. “sorry here I am” she apologized to Frank not wanting im to look bad in front of the Grand’s Managers, she knew how people treated him for representing a Colored person for talent and she promised herself she would never give him cause to be embarrassed with her.
Frank turned to her as she slowed down and stood by his side “good Miss Fair I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Clark Johns” he gave her a subtle shake of the head their code telling her the person in front of her would find it offensive if she were to extend her hand for a shake. “Mr. Johns here has come to check us in personally and make sure we get settled in, nodding politely to the women standing slight Mr. Johns left “This is Ms. Elody Martinique she’s of the maids in the hotel, she’ll be seeing personally to your comfort as well” he finished not bothering with introducing her to the other two people with the group so she assumed they mustn’t be important.
“Ms. Martinique, Mr. Johns” Chestiny gave each one a polite nod “it’s very nice to meet you both. Thank you for having me here the hotel is beautiful…” she complimented intending to ask him a question about the hotel but the manager cut her off.
“Yes I know it is, we all work very hard” he said smugly, looking at her with thinly veiled contempt “please call me Clark Miss Fair” he asked as if the very question was like pulling teeth. Waving a nonchalant hand behind him “and call Ms. Martinique Elody, now please come with us and we’ll get you checked in and settled in you suite” he said in loud slow tones as if one was talking to a dumb animal. Without another word and rather rudely he did a military style turn swiveling on the ball of his foot and started walking towards the entrance not bothering to see if his guest followed.
When the group made a curve to the right and began walking towards the side of the building Chestiny stood a few feet away from the main entrance looking completely perplexed “excuse me?” she called out just loudly enough for the entire party to hear her and stop walking, turning to look back at her. Pointing to the main doors “I know I haven’t been here before but isn’t this the main entrance? Why are we going down there?” she looked back and forth between Frank and the Clark the hotel manager.
Clark looked between Chestiny and Frank a few times before a look of annoyance crossed his features “she wasn’t informed” he asked Frank clearly he would rather Chestiny not be there at all.
Frank walked back to Chestiny and took her hands in his and she knew he was going to say something she wouldn’t like “well you see the condition of you staying at the Grand during the duration of your performances is that you are not to be seen by the other guests. The Grand still maintains its stance as a segregated hotel and doesn’t want to offend or loose the patron of its more prestigious guests, therefore the agreement is while you are not making an appearance at one of the social events you have been booked for while here or performing for one of the shows you are to stay in you suite where you have the entire floor to yourself so that there is no risk of you being seen” he recited now memorized first paragraph of the conditions of Chestiny’s contract, the guilt he felt at keeping this information from her before she signed the agreement was clear but the prestige performing at the Summer’s End Gala would add to her career for Frank outweighed all of the grief she would get from these prejudice pricks. For him his kid’s future was more important than anything, especially with the secret she carried in the end she needed all the power she could get if ever suspicion clouded her.
Chestiny felt the tick starting in her jaw, it always went off when she was aggravated and lately it seemed to be happening more times than not. Deep within her she felt her Leopard spirit stirring with irritation as well and quickly put her arms behind her back when she saw the skin on her arms literally crawling out the corner of her eyes the telltale sign that her inner Leopard was close to the surface than usual. She’d never have to worry about losing control actually shifting being a Therian but she could still do some freaky things humans would put her away for and knew she had to get it together. She could feel her pacing back and forth her rage mixed with her own anger mingling until neither of them could tell one from the other, a growling sound snapped her out of her inner thoughts and had her looking around.
“Was that you” Clark looked at her his eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he shook it in confusion, ‘was that an honest to God growl that came out of her mouth?’ he mumbled under his breath.
Frank pressed up close to her back and mumbled under his breath so quietly no one else could hear but her “get it together Kid” he rubbed the back of her neck briefly in a soothing manner her cat instantly responded “you can’t afford to lose it here, not this weekend too much is at stake” he warned stepping back just as quickly.
Giving him a barely perceptible nod that she understood Chestiny felt her leopard settling as she turned back to the hotel manager, clearing her throat a few times “sorry I have a frog in my throat. Now why are we going this way”.
Clark was quiet for a few moments looking her over suspiciously as if he instinctively knew something about her was off but couldn’t place what, as if coming to some inner decision he finally answered her “well to be frank Miss Fair The Grand has never allowed a Colored person through the front doors, we are already breaking precedence having you here management has no intention of prancing you through the front door” the resentment in his voice was palpable. His eyes traveled down her body again this time with hate as he took in her floral half hat piece placed expertly in her pin-curled red hair, the navy and white silk dress by Mme. Eta Hentz and her black geometric shaped corde purse with the Lucite handle that hung in the crook of her arm, her nude expensive silk stockings with black roses embroidered at the ankles and her expensive Chanel heels. Everything about Chestiny screamed success and she knew in the very moment his eyes finally met hers once more and widened in surprise at being caught before the disdain returned that she would have to watch Mr. Clark Johns.
“Very well” Chestiny nodded letting it go, the contracts were signed she couldn’t put up a fuss now, besides this was her dream wasn’t it. Pulling herself up with all the poise of a queen just like her mama taught her she held her head high dispite their nasty looks “fine then let’s go” she said waving her hand as if granting them permission, she could tell she’d pissed them off more but who cared…she knew no matter what she did they would hate her, so she mine as well have some fun.
Look out for Book 2 of the "Grand Hotel Series" available soon!
Closing the cockpit curtain the Stewardess walked promptly over to the intercom a present smile on her face as she picked up the microphone and brought it to her mouth. “Please buckle your seatbelts Ladies and Gentlemen” the Stewardess announced using the microphone at the head of the plane. “We’ll be arriving in Paris, France and landing shortly”
For Lois Symone this month long vacation to Paris was the trip of a lifetime. Since she was a child growing up in the French Quarter or New Orleans Paris was the ultimate destination. It had to be one of the most romantic places in the world, there was so much to see, so much history and culture and of course the fashion. She could remember as a little girl her Mama telling her about all her adventures there before she came to America and it was all she could dream about since.
Sighing Lois closed her eyes to keep from looking out the windows as the plane began its decent not wanting to ruin her first look at her beloved ‘Gay Paree’. She had no desire to enjoy that moment on a tiny charter plane no she wanted to experience the city the way it was meant to be. Her eyes clenched so tightly together that they hurt but the smile she wore on her face grew even wider when she felt bump that indicated the plane landed on the runway and rather roughly to be honest she thought to herself as her right hand went up to her suddenly fluttering heart and the gasps of the other passengers echoed throughout the plane. But none of that mattered she was in Paris and ready for adventure, the flight over she’d dreamed of what this moment would be like, the sights, the smells, and the people. She was practically bouncing in her seat a whole lifetime of dreaming coming down to one moment, she was finally coming home to Paris.
As the plane eased to a slow halt she opened her eyes with a shuddering breath, a sudden case of nerves coming on so strong it was overwhelming. Reaching for her purse under her chair she took out her engraved gold cigarette case and gold lighter that her Papa brought for her for the occasion. Opening her case she took out one of the Embassy brand King sized cigarettes and brought it to her lips with shaking fingers quickly lighting it then taking a deep relaxing inhale. The Stewardess’s voice coming through the microphone once more had Lois quickly putting it out a few exhales later as she scrabbled to put everything back into her purse and sit back in her seat to see her clearly making sure to take in every word.
“Ladies and Gentleman may I have your attention please!” the young Stewardess spoke into the mic loudly to be heard over the chatter then waited while the ten passengers riding the Stratocruiser Flagship charter plane settled down. “We have now arrived at our destination and are about to leave the plane. I would ask you all to be patient and form a single file line and ask that you be careful coming down the rollaway steps. On behalf of Stratocruiser Flagship Pan-American I would like to thank you all for choosing us to fly with and we hope that we have made your time with us pleasant. Bienvenue á Paris: Welcome to Paris merci” hanging up the small microphone she walked to the plane’s exit and opened the door and stepped out smiling at everyone’s cheers and claps.
...Smiling gently at her he went straight to the dining room and began setting up her breakfast. Her mouth watered as one by one he revealed what was under the silver covers. There was a large plate of exotic fruits, some breakfast pastries, also scrambled eggs with turkey bacon and a large carafe of coffee with cream and sugar and mango juice. He also placed a large vase of fresh hibiscus and Jamaican orchids before her in the center of the table. He also pulled out a long velvet jewelry box out of his pants pocket along with a small envelope and placed them beside her flowers. Leaving the cart there he bowed to her and began to walk to the door.
“Wait! “Rosalie yelled stopping the man “what’s that? Tell me” she asked him her voice coming out shaky as tears sprung from her eyes again.
The man turned around “I truly don’t know madam you must open it” he said kindly as if he sensed how fragile she was at the moment.
“He’s really gone isn’t he” she whispered flopping into one of the chairs as she tried to admit to her rebelling subconscious that he truly was gone.
Zuradia dropped her hair as she heard the knob on the door jingle. Biting her lip she looked down at her half naked body wondering if she should have gotten dressed while Rebel was gone. What could he possibly have to tell her that would warrant stopping a session of what she just knew was about to be the best, hell the most epic sex of her life?
Looking up hearing the door open she shivered at the grim look on Rebel’s face as he walked through the door not understanding what he left to go get or what would warrant that doomed look. Then he stepped through the doorway and to the side and a man that look so much like him it could have been his… no it must be his twin stepped in also to stand beside him. Gaping like a fish Zuradia raised from the bed in shock her lack of clothes forgotten. Looking between the two of them as she tried to wrap her mind around what she was seeing.
“Rebel?” she asked her frantic emotions showing through in her voice. When the one on the left raised his hand she nodded her head amazed. In the back of her mind she wondered if she was in shock that could be the only explanation for her being so calm. “And who are you” she addressed the one on the right her voice trembling.
“Estoy Jet cariño” the stranger with the familiar face and voice informed her making her body respond at the sound of the nickname she was rapidly becoming found of, she didn’t like it at all. In this confounding situation she found it a betrayal her body, heart and mind weren’t capable of working in one accord at the moment if the lurch in her heart was anything to go by. Holding her hand up “don’t” she said icily satisfied when both men nodded their heads properly chastised…she couldn’t handle them touching her or coming anywhere near her. She had no idea what her reaction would be. Looking back and forth between the two of them, she was completely stumped at what to do or say she couldn’t wrap her mind around what Rebel was trying to tell her. Then she noticed small mole at the corner of Jet’s mouth that wasn’t on Rebel’s and it became clear, in her mind she replayed the entire night up to this moment like a movie.
Pure horror replaced her beautiful features as she replayed the night in her mind. The weird things they did, the moment she suspected they must have switched, hell they even kissed differently. How stupid was she? But then again who would suspect such a thing?
Looking up she saw them slowly making their way to her with their hands up as if calming a skittish animal. “No! y..y..you” she screamed her breathing becoming rapid as her heart began pounding painfully fast as sparks of light flashed behind her eyes and then her world went black.
Jet ran over to Zuradia catching her just before she hit the ground and carrying her to the bed Rebel shadowing his every move. “Well we didn’t handle that well at all” he said ruefully sweeping his hair off his forehead.
Running into the bathroom, Rebel came right back out with a cool rag and glass of water returning to bed he sat on her other side and gently wiped down her face. “I don’t like feeling like this” he said unable to meet his Twin’s face.
“I know what you mean Hermano. I can’t believe she shrank from us like that…though I don’t blame her. She must think we’re monsters”.
At the sound of groaning they both looked down relieved beyond measure to see Zuradia waking up. Helping her sit up Jet helped her take sips from the glass Rebel handed him. While Rebel unconsciously gave her a slow head massage whispering sweet nonsense in Spanish both solely focused on her comfort.
It took a few minutes before she remembered what was going on her groan quickly turning into a moan as she settled comfortably between them feeling a sense of belonging and love in that moment that terrified her. Her fear had her quickly coming back to her senses she used it as fuel and for strength, slapping them away Zuradia quickly slid off the bed uncomfortable with the awareness she felt. Remembering her nakedness she looked around the room for her discarded dress and quickly put it on leaving her beautiful corset crumpled on the ground knowing it would take too much time to put on, with the torrent of emotions she was feeling she needed to leave quickly. “ I don’t want to see either of you again. Give me your keys I can drive myself home and you can get your truck from there” she kept forcefully kept her voice cold knowing if they caught even a trickle of what she was feeling she’d be doomed.
“Please come out to the living room and let us explain things” Jet tried to pled with her
“Yes please ca…Zuradia” he caught himself “don’t leave like this. We love you” the look in her eyes almost broke her heart. It made her want to drop her things and run into his arms but then her eyes traveled to his mole reminding her he was Jet and not Rebel and she snapped.
“Love! Love!” she couldn’t help it she began laughing and couldn’t stop. She knew she must have sounded hysterical by the way the Twins were looking at each other but she couldn’t help it. “You two are loco” gesturing between them “this is not love. Answer me one thing please? Were you going to sleep with me without telling me?” she asked her voice shaking.
“No! Cariño that’s… we could never do that. It would be a violation that is why we are telling you, we want to begin our lives together right…honestly believe us please. I know you have no reason to right now but let us prove it to you” he said his accent becoming thicker with his rising emotions so it was becoming harder to understand him.
“ This whole thing was a violation! Don’t you two get that?” she said breathless from yell and churning emotions.
“Yes we do. It was just that we were afraid that you wouldn’t accept both of us” Rebel explained his voice cracked as his eyes glazed over with unshed tears.
She almost caved yet again and went to them. She needed to end this now…shaking her head, a desperate plea for no more “for the record I’m not upset about there being two of you I’m upset about the lies. Rebel we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve had long talks, spent time together, hung out, laughed and in all that time you’ve never said once you had a twin how long has he been here? What else don’t I know?” tears flooding her eyes “How long would you have kept this up?” unable to keep then from falling they began to fall, she let them stream down her face she wanted them to know how they’d hurt her. When they moved to come to her however she backed away from them moving towards the door. She could tell by the emotions on their face that they cared for her but she didn’t think she could get past this and as an afterthought her father popped into her mind. There was no way Barney Jackson would ever let her be with two men, he couldn’t even handle the idea of her being with one. With the kind of control he kept on her life she shuddered to think what he’d do just thought of that made even more hysterical tears flow.
“Cariño” Jet pleaded coming to her despite her protests. Wrapping his arms around her nodding when Rebel moved in behind her mumbling nonsense to her as they let her hit them and cry herself out unaware that the tears where now for them instead of because of them.
Exhausted she slumped back against Rebel her eyes swollen and puffy with tears “how could you” she whispered. Not knowing what to do cause as much as she would like to tell them to go screw themselves and never see them again she knew deep down that she was in love with both of these men. That realization shocked her to her core, she already knew she loved Rebel but in one night she’d fallen in love with his Twin brother as well and now she would have to be without them. Pulling away from them she straightened her clothes “the keys please” she said trying to ignore the crushed look in their eyes and the pain in her own chest at the thought of leaving them.
Sighing they led her out of the bedroom and back to the living room “are you sure you don’t want us to drive you? You shouldn’t drive like this” they tried once more though the concern was real.
“I don’t want to spend another moment with either of you. Keys” she demanded holding her hand out ignoring their winces. She knew that was a low blow, she regretted the words as soon as they came out but they deserved it. Clutching the keys they dropped in her hand she skirted around them both as they tried to pull her in for an embrace and hurried to the door but Rebel’s voice stopped her. ‘Huh’ she thought to herself ‘it’s funny she could tell the difference between them already’ quickly dismissing the thought as fast as it came not wanting to examine it.
“Okay cariño” he said sounding completely dejected letting go of whatever he would have said after a few minutes of looking into her eyes.
Refusing to feel bad for them or be sucked in she rushed out the door. Throwing herself into the truck she speed off crying the whole way home and hating herself when she took the large flannel shirt full of their scent that was folded up in the back seat to sleep in.