From Ex to Eternity(4)

By: Kat Cantrell

The decision to go with Cara was easy. Seeing her again was not.

Cara was a cold, scheming woman, no doubt. All women were scheming—or at least the ones he’d dated were—but Cara had proved to be the worst by trying to trap him into a marriage he didn’t want. Thankfully, her scheme hadn’t worked and he’d gotten out before it was too late.

He would never again make the mistake of agonizing over the decision to ask a woman to be his wife, only to find his effort was all for nothing. It had taken considerably longer than five minutes to get over it, but he’d moved on and rarely thought about his former fiancée...until today.

This consulting job had dominated his focus for the better part of six months. Regent Group had hired him to revive an anemic line of Caribbean resorts, and evidence of the life he’d pumped into this property’s veins bustled around him. He thrived on insurmountable challenges.

Cara wasn’t but a small, necessary cog in a larger machine and couldn’t become a further distraction, no matter how much of a surprise it was to discover he was still dangerously attracted to her.

“Alice, please send a bottle of cabernet to Miss Chandler-Harris’s room. Cara,” he clarified as he and Alice evaluated the pool area. Meredith drank martinis, with two olives. Obviously quite a few things with the sisters had changed, but not that, he’d bet.

“Yes, sir,” Alice responded.

The largest infinity pool in the Caribbean spread out between the two main buildings. The pool’s dark basin turned the water a restive navy in deliberate contrast to the turquoise ocean. Intimate concrete islands dotted the outer edge of the pool and would be set up for private dining later in the week.

A breeze picked up strength and rattled the multicolored umbrellas in their stands. Half the stands were empty, yet another in the long list of issues. Many of the thousands of resort projects he’d meticulously approved for implementation had already been done, but not enough. The work teams should be much further along.

Now that he’d arrived, his firm hand would guide the teams into executing the strategy or he’d guide the offenders into the unemployment line.

Keith Mitchell did not allow others to fail on his watch.

In three days, the grand reopening would coincide with a three-day bridal expo. Dozens of merchants, media executives and other wedding professionals composed the elite group of people invited for the resort’s relaunch as a premier wedding destination.

Cara’s fashion show was one of the highlights of the party.

The image of Cara in a wedding dress continued to compete for his attention. Those bare feet peeking out from under the hem had done a quick, sharp number on his lower half. He’d only ever seen her out of heels when she’d been out of everything else, as well. Naked Cara was a sight worthy of recalling.

They’d had chemistry to spare two years ago, and it hadn’t fizzled in the least. A slight miscalculation on his part, but manageable.

The resort manager met him in the lobby, dead center over the inlaid Carrera marble Regent emblem. Elena Moore took his hand in her firm grip. “Mr. Mitchell, welcome back. I’m pleased to see you again.”

“Likewise.” He’d hired Elena personally and their management styles meshed well. “Show me what you’ve accomplished.”

His last visit had been three weeks ago, and Elena’s staffing efforts had dramatically improved since then. Nearly all of the openings in the organizational chart now listed names, and most had received training. They discussed Elena’s biggest hurdles until Keith was satisfied with their agreed direction.

Elena showed him to the two-bedroom penthouse suite he’d requested and disappeared. Two pieces of matched luggage bearing Keith’s initials sat inside the room, though they hadn’t passed the porter. Invisibility—the mark of excellent hotel service. Keith had earned his road-warrior status traveling as many as three hundred days a year, and if he knew anything, it was hotels.

Everything in his life was temporary by design because soon enough, he’d be moving on to the next job. He preferred it that way.

The seventeen-hundred-square-foot suite had been equipped with three flat-screen TVs, a kitchenette and wireless internet connectivity, precisely according to Keith’s specifications. When the resort reopened, guests in this suite would have the services of a dedicated concierge, as well.

He tested everything twice. Satisfied, Keith unpacked his clothes and hung his suits in the walk-in closet, taking up only one of the four available racks. He traveled light and alone, always, but guests would appreciate the space.

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