Dream Launch: The Dream Series, Book One

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Sample Chapter

When rising ad executive Raleigh MacMillan lands the biggest account her agency has ever had, her life becomes entangled with her wealthy client, Blaine Montgomery, an older charismatic entrepreneur with more than business on his mind. Raleigh’s innocent, career-focused life suffers distorted twists and noxious turns as she is manipulated into his erotic world. The most unexpected of all is her introduction to the secretive, sexy, handsome Trevor Daniels, one of the men assigned by Montgomery to guard her life. He possesses her in ways that she never imagined were possible, as he holds tight the real reason for his obsession with her.

Montgomery’s own obsession to control her spirals out of his grasp when the community is rocked by his shocking ties to a murder linked to his darker side. As the investigation tightens around Montgomery, it reveals a sinister thread that brings Raleigh an unexpected and troublesome reunion with a sister presumed a world away. Unraveling the story uncovers her ties to the dark world of pleasure and pain. Raleigh is compelled to sort through the lies and find the truth – even if what she learns will destroy her.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Launch-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00YTHWZLC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433468481&sr=8-1&keywords=dream+launch+jayelle
Bn: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dream-launch-jayelle-thorne/1122055394?ean=2940151653145

Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The ride back from our breakfast meeting somehow seems shorter. Lighter. Easier. Layers of jugular maneuvers in previous client meetings shed over strong coffee. Laughter fills his Jaguar. When his lean-across to open the passenger door presses against my breasts in an awkward linger, newfound camaraderie dissolves faster than a sugar cube drenched in acid.?

He sits back. Smug. Faking a cough. Pleased with my uncomfortable anguish as blood rushes upward like a crimson tidal wave.

Shoulders cave.

Chest withdraws.

Breath ceases to exist.

?"Now that we know each other? better," his guttural words jolt my exit scramble from the sports car, and he leans to catch my eyes downcast in a rattled purse dig. "Call me Blaine from now on. And don’t let them give you a hard time for being late this time, Raleigh, and don’t forget…"

"It’s not billable," we say in unison.

"But, you can count on that starting as soon as I get back to the ad agency."?

In the midst of my resumed key search, I realize my new client hasn’t driven away. His brazen gawk hasn’t cease-fired, and that brash smug hasn’t diminished.

Poise stumbles into self-conscious missteps toward the safety of my car that is beeping and blinking as if happy to see me. I hasten inside with nerves bordering on fray.

That’s when I notice the man leaning on the black Suburban parked across from me and caution-be-damned indignation catapults me from the car.?

Instead of trying to avoid me, he crosses his arms in cocky defiance, and looks me straight in the eye and takes my anger in stride.

"Who the hell are you? And, what the hell do you think you’re doing?" My voice echoes in the expanse devoid of people with only pointed keys defending my courage.?

"We need to talk."?

Just four simple words, but they send me railing. "Talk? Hell, no! I should call the police. For all I know, you’re the sick asshole who murdered that young woman the other night. And, you… you…"

That’s when the foolishness of accosting a stranger in a dark, cold parking garage reeking of motor oil and gas fumes triggers the panic alarm. "You… you better be careful. Blaine is parking his car. He’s coming right back, and he’ll?"

"Mr. Montgomery hired me to follow you."

Shit! I wasn’t expecting that bolt of baffle. I turn my ragged esteem toward the elevator, pushing the Mini Cooper’s remote and tossing spitfire over my shoulder, "Yes, we do need to talk… and? and right now? in Blaine’s office!"

He pushes the button for BGM Enterprises, without a word.?

The receptionist keys a code, without a glance.?

The colossal wooden doors open, without a sound.?

The long dark hallway leads to Blaine Montgomery’s palatial executive office suite, but he stops short at a door with a nameplate reading R.C. Brown.?

A toss of his keys on the table, a nod to the seat on the right, and he closes the door on my last raw nerve.

Dusty round table. Two tattered chairs. Bookcase bulging disheveled law volumes, a rumpled Mapsco, and well-worn Kids Say the Darndest Things book by Art Linkletter lay on top.

No photos.

Nothing on the walls.

The blinds are drawn.

The overhead fluorescents are stark.

It’s not very warm and inviting. But then, neither is he.

"R.C.?" I ask.

"Yes."

"Stands for?"

"R.C."

My puff of disgust before a long deep breath musters enough courage to glare at this R.C. man. He’s the one who needs to do the talking. Not me.?

I sit back, cross my arms, and meet his earlier defiance seethe-on.

The air swarms in hot garlic from his breathy grunt as he sits in the chair across from me. Locked in an eyeball tug of wait, the room tightens around my shoulders. Panic seizes my fisted gut. Spit dries into coward parch. My eyes sting from lack of blink.

"Mr. Montgomery hired me to follow you."?

That’s old news. I call his bet with an eyebrow of disgust and up the ante with squinty eyes and raise the stakes with a draw of mouth pucker, bluffing my way into forcing this sluggish hand of the real issue on the table.

"You’re in danger."

Damn! I wasn’t expecting a verbal slap.

He pulls something from an inside pocket that he finger-presses before pushing it toward me. "Recognize him?"

I don’t have a clue, but I take my own annoying time to respond.

The angle of a man wearing thick black glasses makes it impossible to guess height, age, or weight. But I can almost smell the stench of rumpled clothes in desperate need of laundry, his oily hair in filthy need of shampoo, and dirty face in disgusting need of razor.

?Two can play monotone exchange. "No."

"Didn’t think so."

Nothing apologetic or kind in this man, R.C. Brown’s, expression, just business. All business. Serious business.

The gnaw of silence eats my patience and spits bile drowning in bitter. "If you’re not going to tell me what’s going on, then I’m leaving."

His throat clears. His shoulders shrug. His words grenade. "There’s a hit out on you, Miss MacMillan."

Shit. Damn. Shit. Shit. Shit!

"Enough with the dramatics. Either you tell me everything you know or I’m calling Blaine."

His raised palm halts my fake fumble for the phone that is outsmarting my senseless fingers.

"Mr. Montgomery does a background check on everyone he does business with."

I tilt a tell-me-something-I-don’t-know glare in his direction.

"The usual. Credit. Personal info. Bank accounts…"

That boring piece of non-news doesn’t even warrant an eye-roll. Duh.?

"There is nothing out of the ordinary on you, or any of your creative team at the ad agency. Didn’t expect to find anything. Rarely do. Just SOP ? standard operating procedure. Good business practice. Mr. Montgomery is a wealthy man, and wealthy men have to be careful who they?"

"And, they have the money to spy on people." I regret the words as soon as they spring off my tongue into the wide-open vastness of nowhere to go but down.

Another uneasy silence until he serves more hot garlic with his chopped words.

"Late nights. Weekends. The two of you will work closely together. He needs to know who’s going to have that kind of access to him. That’s what I do. It’s my job to look for anything out of the ordinary and to find something. It didn’t take long to find him because he was looking for you. He, on the other hand, had a lot of interesting things out of the ordinary."

I hate the word interesting, an overused word meaning everything from intriguing to gosh awful and any degree of imagination between. In this case, I’m sure it sits way beyond the awful end.

"?professional criminal. Man for hire. Record longer than my arm. Petty teenage stuff. Serious stuff as an adult. Drugs. Armed robbery. Kidnapping. Murder?"

That word grabs my fragile composure by the throat and slams me up against the wall of nowhere to run, trampling my crumbled nerves around my feet.

"? easy to follow the trail. In and out of prison. Not headed for a long life. Risky choices."?

I take him up on an unspoken offer of a room temperature bottle of water. My throat is Sahara-parched and oasis-challenged in an ever-changing mirage being built on despaired hope amid devastation of delusion and shifting sands of time slipping through my fingers.

In a welcome pause that lets the tremble steady and the raw scab, he gets another water for himself.

Opens it.?

Takes a long swig.?

Sets it down.?

Screws the cap back on.?

Looks at me with pensive eyes. No hint of reassure. No apology of peril to come. No caution of danger ahead.

"Not easy to follow the trail on who hired him. Dead end."

My unease shifts in the chair like a teenager just learning how to let out the clutch on a standard where an automatic would have been easier to go from first fear to seconds away from full throttle choke.?

"Bad choice of words. Sorry. Been doing my investigation for more than a month. Working on this part more than a week. Numb to the details. Occupational hazard."

There’s a scar on his right cheek just under his eye. Another occupational hazard?

Sour words force themselves through tight lips below the deep crinkle of my pissed-off brow. "I’m the one who should be apologizing, Mr. Brown. I should be grateful that you’re doing this. I-I-I-I just had no idea. I feel so? stupid."?

"No, ma’am. You’re a smart lady, Miss MacMillan. You’re good at what you do. So am I."

I slip my must’ve-forgotten-my-Southern-manners smile around my can’t-believe-this-shit-is-really-happening disbelief and extend a this-is-all-I-can-come-up-with genuine Texas handshake. "Glad to meet you, R.C. Brown."

He laughs a nervous sound and stares a little bit, and grips a little unsure. "I’m glad to meet you as well, Miss MacMillan. And, I want you to know that, although you are in real danger, nothing’s going to happen to you. Not on my watch. Not on Mr. Montgomery’s dime. You’re too important to him."

Wasn’t expecting that shit-in-your-pants piece of news.

Quick.

Recover.

Pick your dropped jaw off the floor, Raleigh Kay MacMillan, before R.C. Brown clamps his shut again.

"You’ve got my attention, Mr. Brown. Tell me more."

"He’s been following you for a week, keeping his distance. Taking photos…"

Gulps dry-heave like a goldfish gasping for air after the bowl shatters in a puddle of lost cause on the floor.

"Then, something changed this week. I should have followed my gut instead of you on Sunday evening. Yes, I was there at the charity event that night, Miss MacMillan, but I didn’t kill that young woman."

We grin at my feels-like-an-eternity-but-really-just-minutes-ago garage ranting rave.?

"When I followed you back to your house, I saw the old, beat-up Chevrolet parked around the corner."

Blink.?

Swallow.?

Breathe.

"… Miss MacMillan. Miss MacMillan. Something you should tell me?"

He pulls a little notebook and pencil from his back pocket, checking his notes and making new ones as I recount seeing that car parked at the office this morning and feeling that fret at the shadows this week and shouldering that shock at the peeper last night.?

He asks if I’m sure that’s all.

My head indicates it is. But the pit in my stomach knows better. I’m not sure of anything at this point except the murky, cold terror gyrating my life into out-of-control hell. Prickly sharp needles pierce my spine with disbelief and distrust and doubt. Solitude smothers self-assurance into shutdown.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know where to turn.

I don’t know how to do this.?

"? safe place for you to go. BGM keeps it year round for clients and special guests like you."

He puts a card in my numb fingers. Just a phone number. No logo. No company name. Not even his name.

"Call that number. Any time. Don’t tell anyone where you’re staying. We’ll get some of your things, but you can’t go home."

What the hell is going on??

Why is this shit happening to me?

I look up from my dumbfounded card stare. "But, I have to go to work. I-I-I have things to do… I-I have Blaine’s brand launch?"

"Of course. But, we’ll be picking you up and dropping you off. You can’t drive your car. I know this is not what you thought your day would turn out to be. But, like I said, you’re in grave danger. We have to be careful until we’re sure we know everything and we’ve caught everyone involved. Do you have any questions, Miss MacMillan?"

Questions? Hell, yes, I have a shitload of questions, but my frazzled mind and my freaked out psyche kidnapped my voice. I don’t want to ask. I don’t want to know. I can’t take any more.

Not now.

Not here.

Not today.

He leans forward with genuine concern on his face, not the all-business persona we started this conversation with. Somehow, that’s strangely reassuring. I think.

"I’ll take you to work. Just call when you’re ready to leave. Best to wait until the crowd thins, to avoid as many prying eyes as possible."

The silent head-back to the garage ends when he takes my keys.?

"But, I need them…"

His hands-on guide into the Suburban’s back seat nixes my protest and secures my stay-put before his front seat dart-around retrieval of something from the glove compartment.

"New keys to the agency and your office. Everyone gets new ones tomorrow anyway because of that car. The third one is the elevator to the penthouse. Security code on my business card."

I flip the card over and see five numbers in a smaller font dimmed through tears.?

Why is someone following me, spying on me, trying to kill me?

Is there a connection to the charity ball murder last Sunday evening?

How is Blaine Montgomery involved?

What does this have to do with me?

All I thought I had to worry about this week was landing the biggest client this agency and Fort Worth has ever seen.

I was not expecting this.

Footsteps into the agency are just autopilot taking control. I’m certainly not in control. Not anywhere near the control panel of my life.

Alexa hands me a stack of messages and puts a verbal one on top, "I was told you need to go upstairs the second you get here."

The three executives are staring at the elevator when it opens. Standing at the desk where Alexa’s twin, Lexi, is interning.?

Stanley Worchester hugs me and plants a fatherly kiss on the top of my head. "Are you okay, Raleigh?"?

I grin through questions racing around my paranoia. Does he know? What does he know? How much do they know?

Camilla is standing in Mitch Riley’s office with a half-full glass of champagne in her hand with bubbles nowhere in sight. Stanley is pouring me one. Brad Stewart is closing the door. I am feeling like a mouse too close-quartered to the three big cheeses and the scared cat who looks like she swallowed a canary with the bird flu.

"Well, ladies. Let’s start with a toast." Mitch raises his glass. "To the next big things coming our way."

After forced clinks and shallow sips, Camilla and I sit on the sofa as we are pointed to do, but we don’t exchange glances. We sit far away from one another. We’re barely breathing.

"Big client. Big money. Big changes around here. Big shift in security." Brad looks straight at me, and the sofa feels like a rock making me wish for a Kardashian cushion.?

"Lots of things to go over." Stanley takes a seat in the black leather wingback to my right and leans forward. His smile tries to lighten the atmosphere, but the intense cloud is hanging like Michael Jackson’s newborn over the balcony. "The vice president title for landing the agency’s biggest client is attached to a company car. Volvos okay?"

Camilla and I blink.

He takes that as our okay.

It was.

"Bigger bonuses. Profit sharing…" Mitch ticks off a litany of executive perks and personnel shift-a-rounds headed our way. "?kidding about that last part, of course. You just won’t have time for vacations. There will be an increase in staffing, so you won’t spend all?"

Brad refills alcohol.

Stanley nods confirmation.

Mitch drones details.

Camilla and I grin through overwhelm after overwhelm that is way bigger than anticipated, and way better than expected and way greater than imagined.

"? each of you a personal executive assistant."

"The twins."

My interrupting voice startles even me. I thought it was buried alive in the landfill from the deluge of words circling like buzzards dropping shitloads of interesting crap all over me. Camilla and I had already talked about the twins, so I know I’m not out of line with her. I just hope I’m somewhere inside the line of the bigger box the executives are putting around us. Their non-blinks assure we’ll get our way, and the meeting continues without even a pause.?

I wasn’t expecting this.?

None of this.?

R.C. Brown is right.?

This day is not turning out at all like I thought it would.?

My mind disseminates the day starting with the fruitful new client meeting that turned out to be unexpected fun then faltered into frustration. My shit-awful encounter with R.C. Brown that got better, sort of. My in-the-middle-of this meeting with the agency hierarchy that’s? well, nothing can top this.

But, Blaine Montgomery’s fingers, power, and opulence are all over every bit of it. Every bit of me. Every bit of my life that has just turned inside down, upside out, flipside up. And, I don’t like it. I don’t feel good about it. I don’t see it headed in the right direction.

I don’t know why.

I just don’t.

At some point, the WSR execs think they’ve covered it and ask for questions. We assure them there will be questions when we’ve wrapped our arms around all their generosity.

"You now have side-by-side offices across from your assistants’ desks. There’s some new talent we’ve had our eye on for a while who started this morning. There’s a ten o’clock to make all the introductions. Unless you’d prefer to wait until tomorrow?"

"Actually, ten this morning is perfect." I extend my hand, as does Camilla. "Thank you, Mr. Worchester. Mr. Stewart. Mr. Riley."

"That’s Stanley, Brad, and Mitch to the two of you from now on. And, we thank you. Congratulations, ladies." Stanley Worchester hugs us.

He is the teddy-bear of the trio. The moneyman who pays the bills, collects the billables, and approves the raises. Always warm. Always friendly. Always supportive.

Unlike the something-not-quite-genuine Brad Stewart. Too quick to smile. Too quick to say the right thing. Too quick to keep the balance of even tilted in his direction. He was a real PR man. The kind of man you expect to see on the used car lot with his fake rug of hair and his cold weak handshake on the would-I-steer-you-wrong deal of the day and his pat on the back that comes with a sharp pierce stab.

And the forked-tongue Mitch Riley. An ad man through and through. With pitchfork savvy like a stingray on the prowl looking for the next challenge among the weak and the vulnerable and easy prey. A way with words. Innuendos. Double entendres. Hidden agendas.

Walking down the stairs, I wonder what Camilla and I have really gained and what we’ve really lost. You give up something to get something. Always.

Always.

When we get to our new offices, I rub my finger over the VP title just to make sure it’s really etched there before we countdown from three and open our doors.

Fragrance abounds from a giant bouquet of yellow roses in a sparkling Waterford crystal vase on the shiny brand new black granite-topped desk. The most incredible oversized painting on the wall, which takes my breath away when I see the Georgia O’Keefe signature ? an original.

I do a Mary Tyler Moore swirl to enjoy every angle of this surreal experience wishing I had a hat to toss in the air.?

That’s when I notice the robin’s nest blue box with the white satin ribbon. Inside is a sterling silver key finder engraved:?

I hold the keys to your future.

Blaine

4 reviews for Dream Launch: The Dream Series, Book One

  1. Redrabbitt

    This story has so many edgy twist and turns, just when you think you may have it figured out, a new mystery is thrown into the mix. Secrets, lies, murder, deceit, greed, desire, control and so much unknown. Blaine Montgomery is so many layers, but who is he really? Raleigh MacMillian loves her job as an ad executive and getting new clients, especially big wig clients is in her blood. But Blaine believes he has the right to call all the shots, include her personal life, and Raleigh isn\’t playing his game, especially by his rules. The plot kept me captivated with constant suspense and the pages turning with witty dialogue, and entertaining cast of characters.
    This is a series, and no, you will not have all the answers, maybe by the end of this first book, you will actually have more questions. So much we still don\’t know and I look forward to book two in this twisty tale and the game of cat and mouse. I would define this book as full of surprises, suspenseful, fast paced and complex.

  2. Redrabbitt

    This story has so many edgy twist and turns, just when you think you may have it figured out, a new mystery is thrown into the mix. Secrets, lies, murder, deceit, greed, desire, control and so much unknown. Blaine Montgomery is so many layers, but who is he really? Raleigh MacMillian loves her job as an ad executive and getting new clients, especially big wig clients is in her blood. But Blaine believes he has the right to call all the shots, include her personal life, and Raleigh isn’t playing his game, especially by his rules. The plot kept me captivated with constant suspense and the pages turning with witty dialogue, and entertaining cast of characters.
    This is a series, and no, you will not have all the answers, maybe by the end of this first book, you will actually have more questions. So much we still don’t know and I look forward to book two in this twisty tale and the game of cat and mouse. I would define this book as full of surprises, suspenseful, fast paced and complex.

  3. doodlebug

    Intriguing mysteries that pull you around clever, clever dark corners. Leaving you desperate to find out who or why or how these things are happening to someone as sweet and smart as Raleigh MacMillan. Focused on her hectic career, she is pulled into the undercurrent of Blaine Montgomery, a man with more than advertising on his twisted mind. There is so much more to the evil spirals and sweet turns and frightening thrills entwined in this story. Layered with complex characters and unexpected plots, the story of the MacMillan sisters could not have been done in just one book. Thank goodness the author didn’t try. I can’t wait to read the next one, and I hope there are more. I love not being able to guess what’s coming next. That’s a compelling story chocked full of mystery and suspense and romance for a loyal reader ready for more.

  4. doodlebug

    Intriguing mysteries that pull you around clever, clever dark corners. Leaving you desperate to find out who or why or how these things are happening to someone as sweet and smart as Raleigh MacMillan. Focused on her hectic career, she is pulled into the undercurrent of Blaine Montgomery, a man with more than advertising on his twisted mind. There is so much more to the evil spirals and sweet turns and frightening thrills entwined in this story. Layered with complex characters and unexpected plots, the story of the MacMillan sisters could not have been done in just one book. Thank goodness the author didn??t try. I can??t wait to read the next one, and I hope there are more. I love not being able to guess what??s coming next. That??s a compelling story chocked full of mystery and suspense and romance for a loyal reader ready for more.

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