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About the Author
She penned her love of Paris and romance to the pages of her first novel, A Window To Love, published in 2013, when she sat down, and instead of putting paint to paper, put her pen to paper and began her first novel. Since that first novel, Fifi has self-published several steamy contemporary romances and has many more in the works.
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Read an Excerpt
By Fifi Flowers
Champagne Girl StudiosCopyright © 2017 Fifi Flowers
All rights reserved.
"Start with 'Let's Celebrate.' Sounds more inviting than 'It's Time to Celebrate.' And drop all of the 'at, in, and the' from the wording, too. Watch your spacing and mix up the fonts." An incredibly sexy voice commented ... commanded over my shoulder as I sat at my dining table, working on my laptop.
Come Toast with Us
Grand Opening of Martini Sunday
First Sunday of the Month
Brunch to Happy Hour
Downtown Palm Springs
Look for the Bright Green Olive
"What are you, some graphic designer expertise?" I hadn't bothered to turn around, but instead fixed everything he pointed to while smelling his heavenly scent of man mixed with soapy freshness. I didn't have to look up at him to see him, his looks were etched in my mind; dark brown hair, chiseled face with stubble, full lips, light amber eyes, and an amazingly fit body.
"I was a graphic design major in college before I gave it all up to start my own full-time personal training business in the desert. The bodyguard stuff, I just sort of fell into, thanks to one of my high-profile clientele."
I wanted so badly to bring up the fact that I had seen — computer stalking — that he did quite a bit of fitness modeling too ... or that I recognized him bare chested on the cover of a Raine Roubaix romance book. I let it go and continued to let him give me pointers.
"Vary the fonts a bit, create some interest." Yes, whatever you say.
He had sparked my interest as he came to my rescue at the grand opening of my chef friend Vin's D'Barn Bistro. Caught up by my past, I was subjected to harsh words by one of the guests that was in attendance. I never expected to see him there as the event didn't seem to be a place where he could gain ground as it was in the Temecula Wine Valley. However, there were quite a few celebrity types milling about through the crowd. Seeing him had me wondering if Vin knew him somehow ... and the rest of the VIPs. Chef Vin had become rather popular thanks to a wine rep named Darla.
Strange that Darla would also be helpful to me, when she came flying into the face of a very unlikeable man. I wasn't sure if she knew who or how powerful he was as she began to tell him off, telling him to release the tight grip he had on my arm. I don't think she really cared who he was, she simply had my back. But then I lost all focus on her and her words to the devil as the most gorgeous man, wearing an earpiece along with a perfectly fitted dark suit, joined us. He promptly informed Darla that he could handle things from there and that she should take me away. Was he protecting me or the man that I was more than happy to walk away from? I got the answer to my silent questioning when Darla told me that the hot bodyguard, Sutton Beauclaire, was her brother ... and that was how he came into my life.
My new life with a fresh start in a completely foreign environment to me — as I had been born and raised in San Diego, by the sea — was not so bad. Of course, I had yet to spend a scorching summer in the Palm Springs area. I had a lot to learn, like whether it was feasible to close the bar and go away to someplace cooler for the slow season. And how many people, actually, frequented establishments in the downtown area during the hot summer months? All questions I hoped to have answered as we planned to stick around for our first summer in the desert. Dawson and I would eat lots of popsicles, drink lemonade, enjoy a foreign element called air conditioning, and swim in water that would probably be like bath water by late afternoon. I learned quickly about an aeration system that shoots the water up into the air like a fountain and then back into the pool to cool the temperature down. I never had a swimming pool growing up because we were within walking distance of the beach throughout the summer months.
Besides the climate change, Dawson and I took on new identities too. I, funny enough, decided to use a nickname I had been given when I worked for a lovely young woman close to my age named Pansie. She owned a great place called Cafélicious in the downtown area of San Diego, close to Little Italy. It specialized in coffee and pastry, provided by her cousin Marzi, to begin, and then she added comfort food made by Chef Vin along with an expansion. I came in when the expanded menu arrived, working as a server — something I had done as a teen and went back to once my little boy started school. A co-worker there named Saylor was big on throwing out nicknames and gave me mine after she heard me say that Marzi's baking, especially her orgasmic cookies, turned me into a vixen. It stuck and I received a nametag for my apron that said, "Vixen." I laughed and wore it proudly.
I got used to hearing it in the cafe and even outside when people recognized me on the street, but it threw my son for a loop. One day someone called me Vixen and he asked why people called me one of Santa's reindeers and I said it's because I like to eat candy and sweet treats like they do. He quickly corrected me by saying, "Mom, everyone knows that reindeers eat oats with glitter like we put out on our front lawn every year on Christmas Eve."
"Oh, that's right, I forgot. I have been telling everyone they eat candy canes and cookies." I smiled down at his angelic face.
"That's Santa, Mom." He shook his adorable head adorned with shaggy brown hair that my friend Vivienne cut for him. I let it go saying my mistake as I couldn't tell him the other definition for a vixen; a naughty, flirty woman. Luckily, eight-year-olds lack attention spans so we happily and easily moved on to another subject.
Then things took a turn for the worst with my ex-husband and I took on the Vixen name for my everyday life, along with pulling up stakes. The timing worked out so that I didn't have to take my son out of school but I did have to tell him that we were moving away. I told him that we needed to play a bit of a game, changing our names as it wasn't easy to explain my whole fucked up situation with the man he thought was his father. I wasn't ready to get into why his real life father had never been in the picture or telling him who his father is. Again, he was carefree about things as all kids should be and liked that he got to use his middle name Dawson along with the last name of Dupree that I chose for us. He said, "Cool! I sound like a professional baseball player. Now up to bat, pitcher or catcher, Dawson Dupree!" And then he hit me up for something I usually said no to. "Mom, can I play Winter Ball where we're going?" How did I say no to that? I didn't.
So, just like with my name change from Veronica Grant to Vixen Dupree thanks to a little help from my past, I decided that I needed a new look too. Or an old look, as I got rid of my very fake — to me, other people loved it — looking bleached blonde hair that my ex insisted on — that should've been my first clue that he was looking elsewhere or pretending that I was Ada. A trip to Vivienne's Luxe Salon brought me a more natural look; heavily weaving in different shades of brown from dark to light. I loved how it instantly made my grayish-green eyes pop.
"See how things pop?" I wasn't sure that I could answer him at that moment with him over me, flipping things around on my screen. I guess I was moving too slowly for him. He could've asked me to trade places with him or he could've moved my laptop over but no, he had to encompass me within his big, strong arms. No complaints really, except that I could barely breathe being so close to him, yet it was completely innocent. Apparently, we weren't on the same track — I was thinking sexy time and he was thinking work time. I needed to get my head on straight and focus on what he was doing and saying to be helpful. However, if he really wanted to be helpful, he could've thrown the laptop on the floor, lifted me up on the table, and rammed his ...
"Could we maybe make the Martini Sunday part a little more like the sign?" I asked. Oh, I was so bad and so smart, asking him to do more in an effort to keep him surrounding me.
"Okay, let's change the first word to all caps except for the two 'i's' and then script the Sunday part with a more swirly look as you call it." He was just zipping along and then to my delight without asking for it, he added a cute clip art olive complete with a pimento pepper. "And there you have it! All done and like the sign." Sure as shit, he had made my invitation look amazing adding different fonts and graphics, and, unfortunately, he was no longer surrounding me, but standing back behind me, looking like he was admiring his creation.
"That is much better than what I put together. Had I known, I wouldn't have wasted the last couple of hours struggling to line things up. I could totally kiss you!" Thankfully, my exclamation just sounded casual and not like a come on, or an invitation, or a brace yourself, I'm about to climb your body, and wrap my legs around your waist.
He snickered at me and moved toward the kitchen. "How about we celebrate with a glass of wine? Darla sent me some new bottles. I brought some over this morning, it's been chilling in the fridge all day."
"Sounds good," I said, moving to the island where he had two glasses lined up. Perfect, a couple glasses of wine and I could pass out to dream about my son's hot protector. I was not sure hiring him had been the best decision on my part since my lady bits were in need of attention.CHAPTER 2
How did I ever think that I could work for Vixen? Being around her day and night for the past five months has been pure torture. The first two months weren't so bad because she was just settling in and staying with parents of a friend of hers so I wasn't needed as often. But once they moved into their house, I was needed just about every day either for nights or days, often both as Vixen's schedule varied with her martini bar and grill. For the most part I was with Dawson but, of course, there were exchanges and hours spent together because he wanted me to go to things like his baseball games. I loved being with both of them and if I was truthful, I wanted Vixen since the moment I first saw her. And that was why I should've found her someone else to watch after her son, but I was being nothing but selfish, wanting them ... and her to myself.
I met Vixen at the opening of the D'Barn Bistro, a restaurant in a barn that once belonged to my grandfather. When he first came to America from France to start his own vineyard the first thing he did was have the barn built to house his wine production, equipment, and to serve as his home too. That was until my grandmother came along with ideas of marriage, a family, and a house to raise them in amidst the grapevines.
So wanting to please her as well as himself, he planted vines situated around an area where he eventually built a wine tasting room, and then a mini French chateau where my sister and I grew up. Our parents worked as traveling salespeople for the Beauclaire Vineyard. Not sure why they had me and then Darla. I awarded full credit to my grandparents for raising us. I was forever saying that they shouldn't have had us at all and it was my grandmother who finally silenced me. She wanted to have more children, more than the two they had been gifted with. She, also, told me that she was less disappointed in my father than her daughter who ran off and married a very controlling man who never brought her around to see her parents. I had only recently learned about my extended family — all my life I thought my father was an only child. I felt kind of bad when the day came that I too told my grandparents that I wanted to go away to college and that I had no interest in the wine business.
Luckily, they were behind me in whatever I wanted to do. I was a little worried when I left the winery for college, a design school in downtown Los Angeles, in a somewhat shitty area. When my grandfather saw it, he offered to send me to their Paris campus where I could stay with nearby relatives but I said LA was good enough for me. I didn't even know if I wanted to pursue art, but I knew I didn't want to run the family business, and I knew art would get me through college as it had high school. One thing for certain, my grandparents were adamant about Darla and me attending college.
When I was not attending classes, I worked out in a nearby LA gym, and there I got the idea to become a personal trainer. People were forever asking me how I had gotten my body into such great shape. The more people approached me, I started thinking, why not get paid to answer them? So I ended up taking a weekend fitness and nutrition course and got certified so that I could work in the gym where I had been working out in, as a trainer. I was amazed how quickly I was able to build a clientele and how quickly I was propositioned to do personal training outside of the gym. One celebrity client asked me if I would be willing to work as a bouncer for a few of her parties — the price was right, so I said yes.
It amazed me how one job turned into another job thanks to word of mouth. I found that I was getting too busy with work and that my grades were slipping. That was when my business went from one employee, me, to three and then five as I brought in and trained people to work for me after they had received their certifications. Sure, they could've started their own businesses but I was fair, honest, and above all, I had the connections and clientele everybody wanted to work with.
After graduation from art school, I had no intention of ever going back to the vineyard. Darla would have to be the one to keep the family business alive and thriving. She could count on me for any kind of graphic design they needed, but that was all I was willing to contribute, besides helping out during harvest time here and there — time permitting.
One of my celebrity clients was instrumental in my decision to settle in the Palm Springs area after I was asked to work as a bodyguard during an annual international film festival that was held in the desert. Accepting, I signed on for a whole week and saw nothing but potential everywhere I went between the several theaters, hotels, and party venues. I knew that the desert area had been a celebrity haven years ago but I didn't know that it continued and that many still had vacation getaway homes in the area. That eye opener showed me that high and low-profile security was often a necessity for stars and their families.
I preferred my personal training services to security so I made that my main focus and had one of my buddies head up the body-guarding details. The setup worked well for both of us and especially with me taking on Vixen and Dawson — they became my main clients ... interest ... family. I was at Vixen's disposal, helping her with getting Dawson where he needed to go safely along with attending his school functions, and I didn't miss a baseball game. And my other clients were the best, letting me schedule them in between my new obligations. Anything to do with kids, they seemed to be willing to bend. One of my clients said, "Family comes first," and I didn't have the heart to tell her that they weren't really my family per se, but I wanted them to be, I was sure of that. Of course, a couple of my female clients were always giving me advice where Vixen was concerned once I mentioned her to get them to stop trying to fix me up. I just let it go in one ear and out the other, there is no point arguing with women giving pointers about other women and how to treat them. Besides occasionally some of it made sense but I wasn't sure that I could use any of it on Vixen, yet.
I had gotten a little carried away when I leaned over her to fix her invitation, she smelled so good, and she gave me an easy excuse to take her in my arms. Not exactly the way I wanted to take her into my arms but I took the opportunity. It wasn't the smartest thing to do to my pants or what was in my pants as he was struggling to break my zipper. Wine! That had been my solution. I should've gone home. Vixen was home, Dawson's homework was done, he was fed, showered, in bed, and I had no other reason to stay but I wanted a little ... a lot of Vixen time. That was a few days ago and once again a couple nights later I found myself offering Vixen wine when she walked through the door after closing time. I have no idea why I chose to torture myself by staying, but I couldn't seem to walk out the door.
Excerpted from Martini Sunday by Fifi Flowers. Copyright © 2017 Fifi Flowers. Excerpted by permission of Champagne Girl Studios.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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