.@SSaraDaniel confesses: I swore I’d never, but I just did it…
Get a dog.
Yep. I was never, ever getting a dog. I was convinced every dog wanted to eat me. I still think the majority of them probably do. But as of this writing, we’ve had a dog for all of 2 weeks, and he hasn’t shown any sign of making me his breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight snack.
Why did I get a dog, you might be wondering. Well, my daughter begging for one for about nine years (she’s 13) finally wore me down.
So, this got me thinking. What things have my characters done that they swore they’d never do? Have a one-night stand a week before her wedding. Yep. That one was a doozy.
“It’s a week before my wedding, and you’re giving me what?” Surely no one would consider such a crass idea as an appropriate prenuptial gift. Caroline Sunburst turned to her best friend Sabrina, who appeared just as shocked.
“A one-night stand,” her mother repeated, patting a plastic card into Caroline’s hand as if the gifts were perfectly natural, expected even. “And one for your maid of honor, too. Sabrina, you need some excitement to spice up your boring life.”
Although too well-trained to make a scene in the crowded, elegant restaurant frequented by the society ladies of San Diego, Caroline would not accept the gift. Faithfulness and trust were her top requirements—she didn’t want a relationship like her parents had.
“Mother, I’m committed to being faithful. Blake and I agreed we won’t have affairs or cheat on each other.”
“How noble of you.” Her mother sniffed her displeasure. “You have a week to squeeze in a lifetime of passion. Lord knows there’s not a speck of it to be found between you and Mr. Stuffed-Shirt.”
Needing support, she glanced at her friend again, but Sabrina seemed too caught up in her own shock over receiving such an inappropriate gift from an impeccable, proper society matron.
“You like Blake.”
“Sure, I do. He’s the future of Sunburst Hotels and knows how to make a business profitable.”
Caroline squeezed the card until the edges dug into her flesh. Brought up to manage every aspect of the hotel business, she knew her competence exceeded that of the other executives, even though her contributions were denied equal consideration by her family and the corporate management.
“However,” her mother continued, “I have a hunch you and Blake have as much fun in bed as your father and I do, which is to say none. When we do have sex together.”
Ugh. “I do not need to hear this.”
“Actually, since you are following in our footsteps, you do.”
Caroline tapped the gift card against the restaurant table. Once, long ago, she’d experienced passion. Or maybe it being first love and her not knowing better caused her to imagine so. Anyway, it didn’t matter. Weighted by her father’s strong disapproval, she and her lover had gone their separate ways.
“The match has been set up through Madame Eve and paid in advance, but the gift card will pay for any extras you want at the Alvarado Ranch.”
She lurched, bumping the table with her knee and sloshing the water in their glasses. “Where?”
“I couldn’t exactly book a room at a Sunburst property, now could I? You need to go someplace far enough away no one will recognize you. I suggested this location, and Madame Eve immediately latched onto it.”
The logo on the plastic card came into focus, teasing her eyes. The Alvarado Ranch Resort. The Google alerts about Javier Alvarado and his Montana resort came regularly. Despite having no money for horses of his own, he’d shown a natural affinity for the animals as a stable hand where she practiced for equestrian competitions in high school.
Together, they concocted elaborate plans to combine their love of horses and her destiny as an hotelier. The resulting fantasy resort allowed people to pretend to be ranchers for a week while enjoying all the comforts of an upscale life. They even envisioned the house they’d build on the grounds, designing it right down to the “Home is Where My Horse is” craft sign hanging on the front door.
But she bowed to her family’s pressure, while he built their dream alone. Her mother hadn’t stood up to her father when he’d forbidden all contact with Javier. Surely, she wouldn’t have set Caroline up to have a final fling him. No, the one-night stand was simply scheduled to take place at his resort. He might have knowledge of such setups but would hardly arrange one for himself where his employees might get wind of it.
She’d go to his resort, satisfy her curiosity over what he’d become and spend the night alone. When she returned home, she would delete the Google alert and marry Mr. Stuffed-Shirt…er, Blake…without a single hesitation over what might have been.
Pulling out her phone, she texted Blake to tell him about the trip, but saw no reason to mention the one-night stand. She would absolutely not sleep with anyone besides her soon-to-be-husband.