When I arrived at Bentley Hotels International headquarters to interview Richard Bentley, I was ushered to the CEO’s office suite on the penthouse floor. A breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge was visible from the sweeping windows. His office was very modern – strategic lighting, glass and chrome with a scattering of bright colorful Persian rugs. Antique leather bound books lined the walls.
GJ: Thanks for inviting me to your office today for this interview, Richard. What a view!
RB: My pleasure. One of the benefits of owning a chain of luxury hotels is that I can have a fine view from the top floor.
GJ: May I ask you some personal questions to help promote Autumn Masquerade?
RB: Hopefully not too personal. I’m a private person, but I’ll try to help you.
GJ: I’d like to know how you came to own such a luxury line of hotels? Are you self-made or did you inherit a fortune?
RB: (he grins) I grew up quite poor, only child of a single mom. When I was nineteen, an old great-uncle I never knew passed away and left me everything he had. It was a nice amount but not enough to make anyone rich. I bought a dilapidated motel on the edge of Las Vegas, did some innovative decorating and promoting, and turned it into a cash cow. That led to my first string of hotels in strategic locations, but the properties weren’t luxurious. When a rock star offered me a staggering sum for the chain, I couldn’t resist. That’s when I started Bentley Hotels International, a luxury hotel chain in the most exotic locations in the world.
GJ: How did you meet your wife, Eva?
RB: (his smile dissolved and sadness lines etched into his handsome face were visible) She became my personal assistant. I’d never dated an employee before Eva. I struggled with it for weeks but knew I was losing the battle because I couldn’t think of anyone or anything else.
GJ: What was she like?
RB: More than anything else, she was a very happy person deep inside. Even when there were problems or worries, she always knew how to rise above them. She was beautiful, but her kindness and compassion made her unforgettable.
GJ: I understand you’ve been dealing with guilt since she passed away. If you could tell her just one thing, what would it be?
RB: (deep sigh, fingers fork through hair) “I’m sorry I booked the jet that took you away from me forever. Please forgive me. Life is not the same without you.”
GJ: What do you think she’d say to you?
RB: She’d hug me and tell me to stop feeling bad about it, that it isn’t my fault. She’d probably also tell me to get back out into the world and start living again.
GJ: And do you want to do that?
RB: At times, yes. Other times, no. There’s one person who could probably convince me to move ahead again… (his eyes look happier, a slight grin curves his lips)
GJ: Who’s that, might I ask?
RB: Anna Spencer. She works for me, and is a very innovative thinker. Eva knew her – they worked on some charity projects together. Anna’s very different to Eva, but there’s something about her that keeps me thinking about her when the long evening stretches before me and I’m sitting alone on my balcony.
GJ: How do you feel about psychics, Richard?
RB: (now I’ve got his attention) That’s an abrupt change of subject. Why psychics?
GJ: Just curious. Some of them can speak with the dead, maybe give you a message from Eva.
RB: I’ll let you in on a secret. My mother was psychic. My dad left her because of it. I’ve always had great compassion and understanding for those who can move in that world.
GJ: What plans have you got for the new year?
RB: There are several new hotels opening around the world, plenty of excitement lies ahead. I think I’m ready to move along with my life. Maybe I’ll ask Anna out on a date.
GJ: Thanks for sharing from the heart with me, Richard.
Anna Spencer has a successful corporate career. She learned long ago that her psychic gifts needed to remain a secret if she didn’t want to risk ridicule, rejection, and losing those she loves.
Richard Bentley, her boss, is a widower still plagued by guilt. He rented the private jet two years ago that crashed just before Thanksgiving and took his beloved wife away forever.
Anna has been falling in love with Richard little by little. She is unaware that he, too, has been falling in love with her. If time heals all wounds, will he move beyond the guilt and grief that has consumed him for two years, to live and love again?
When Anna is forced to use her psychic gifts at a friend’s Masquerade Ball, her secret collides with her daily reality. Richard will attend the event as his first social engagement since Eva died. Communicating with the dead is Anna’s greatest gift, and Richard’s deceased wife has messages for them both.
Anna must face her fears and not let them consume her. Will he fire her if he finds out? Even worse, will she lose his respect and friendship?
This is an 11,000 word novella with a PG-13 rating – it is appropriate for all audiences (one kiss only). It is a holiday romance, and focuses on the season of autumn, the themes of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and gratitude. A brief excerpt of Christmas Spirits is at the end of the story. It’s a Christmas romance novella about undying love that transcends time, with generational themes.
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity.
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