Two murders have occurred at the Barrel Springs Day Spa and Rejuvenation Clinic in Palmdale, California. Police hurry to find the culprit before anyone else is murdered.
Competition for business takes a turn for the worst when two Day Spas fight over clientele in the Antelope Valley of Southern California.
Alexa stretched languidly adjusting the warmed Turkish towel over her small derriere. In all her twenty-five years of public service, she had afforded herself but one extravagant luxury--an herbal, full body massage by the master himself, Raul Hernandez. The man had hands of gold.
He swept into the room, turned, and securely closed the door.
"Hello, Ms. Bond. Thank goodness, it's Wednesday. This effeminate act is so tiring..."
He moved about the room setting up his massage table, talking non-stop sports as he progressed. When he'd warmed the chakra stones to the correct temperature, he placed them on Alexa's back.
"...and he was smart enough to hold out for fifty million. I wish I'd had his insight."
Alexa uh-hummed at all the right intervals and allowed herself the opulence of drifting into a warm sleep, lulled by the smooth baritone of Raul's voice. She knew, and trusted, Raul to massage all the kinks out of her body while she slept undisturbed.
Just as she stood to accept the Pulitzer Prize for her insightful article, written during her spare time for the Los Angeles Times on the current graft in City governments, she heard her name called from far away. The voice became insistent and nearer. She realized Raul was trying to wake her from her slumber.
"Oh, please, Raul, just five more minutes. I was so near this time."
"I'm sorry Ms. Bond, but I have another scheduled appointment in fifteen minutes. I need time to prepare the room." He handed her the Spa's signature terry cloth robe and slipped out the door.
Alexa smiled at Raul's attempt to sound American. He'd vehemently declared he was from upstate New York, but she knew he'd been a star soccer player and hero on Spain's national team. Irreparable damage to his Achilles tendon during the final World Cup game had made it impossible for him to continue playing the sport. During his physical therapy, he'd decided to learn massage as a way to put money in his bank account while he studied to become an actor in America. His dark looks had served him well in soccer circles, and he felt they would be his ticket to stardom. The accent was being carefully cultivated in an acting class he was attending. From the moment he'd learned to whom Alexa was married, he'd been trying to curry her favor.
Pamela Love sat staring at the mural of the Tuscan countryside behind Beth Anderson's desk waiting for Beth to finish her phone call.
"Dead? Are you sure? There's no mistake. She's not just unconscious or something. Okay, okay. Tonight, the usual spot at nine o'clock. No. I can't get away before then." Beth, her smoldering dark eyes sparking, turned to Pamela.
"Sorry. I had to take that call. As you were saying?"
Pamela sighed dramatically flicking a wayward strand of hair from her eyes. "Look, Beth, I've done all I can do. Last night's meeting included the chief of police, a state senator, the incoming mayor, Gil Johnson and me. We discussed the issue for two hours before we came to the conclusion we were deadlocked-for the time being."
She rose from her chair smoothing invisible wrinkles from her designer suit. Checking the diamond encrusted watch on her wrist, she leaned down and retrieved her leather handbag.
"I'm sorry, but I've got a court date. I'm suing that obnoxious adult film star who insists on using my name. By the time I'm done with her, she'll owe me the earnings from her next fifty movies. In the meantime, I'll continue to encourage the others to see things our way.
"It wouldn't hurt if you could find a weak spot we can use to our advantage."
Pamela put her hand on the doorknob.
"And keep this between you and me. I really hate to say it, but your employees are worse than a bunch of high school girls. They've no clue about discretion. I wasn't aware Blade Mossman was leaving Barrel Springs Day Spa. That is the only reason he would be making visits here, isn't it?"
Beth felt her cheeks burn.
"I thought so. You really should nip the gossiping in the bud. I can't afford to be aligned with any one particular faction in this issue." Pamela started out the door.
"For your information, Blade and I are--seeing--each other. We thought we'd been sufficiently clandestine, but I guess we got sloppy. Neither of us can afford a divorce so please keep this under wraps." Beth's eyes pleaded with Pamela.
A lopsided smirk appeared on the flawless face. "Oh, you can count on me. I'll contact you after the vote. Later, Beth."
Gliding on her stiletto heels, she exited the office closing the door behind her.
The wall next to the Tuscan mural opened, and Beth's assistant, Elise, stepped through the door.
"What in the world was all the bull about you and Blade?" She narrowed her dark brown eyes at Beth taking the seat Pamela had recently occupied.
"Well, I sure as hell didn't want to tell her the truth, now did I? Until we have the situation finalized, I can't implicate anyone: not you, not me, not Blade, no one. Pamela's so determined there's hanky-panky going on inside the massage rooms; I can almost guarantee she has a mole working here. After the vote next Wednesday, when we win, by the way, I'll bet we have more than one resignation. Did you find out anything new?"
Elise leaned forward placing her elbows on the desk. "There's a new company looking at the spot. They"ve sent in a financial consultant to check out the property."
"Damn!" Beth slammed her fists on the desk. "Having Barrel Springs Day Spa as a competitor is no problem; I can deal with local talent but an outsider, I don't know. How did you find out about this anyway?" She cocked an eyebrow at Elise.
Sliding back in the seat, Elise squirmed. "There's this clerk in the law offices..."
Beth allowed a slow grin to emerge. "Well, aren't you the clever one?"
Two raps on the door interrupted further continuation of the conversation. It opened revealing a muscled, tan young man in the gym's workout uniform.
"Ms. Anderson? It's time for your work out."
Beth sighed as she glanced at her desk clock. "Okay. Give me five minutes to change into my gear, and I'll join you on the floor."
She nodded at the young trainer and stood. Elise took the clue and followed her lead stretching her arms in a move reminiscent of Beth's cat, Buster.
"By the way, Elise, what is this financial consultant's name? Maybe he can be convinced to back away from the situation. I'm sure we could ask a couple of our girls to intervene. How could he refuse?"
"While that would normally be an excellent idea, Beth, this particular consultant's name is Keisha Douglas. He is a she and straight. Any and all of our girls would be a tempting morsel to a man, but this consultant is tough as nails and no nonsense. My contact at the lawyer's office is intimidated by her. Kind of reminds me of you."
"Flattery will get you everywhere, Elise. I need to get ready to work out. It always seems to soothe me and get my mind thinking. I'll find a way to win this gamble.
"Oh, by the way, I need you to talk to Roni and Scott as soon as possible. They've been bickering again, and it's driving away the customers. Threaten them with days off without pay. Maybe that will bring some peace into the office. Keep me posted, Elise."
Beth strode down the hallway to the locker room. 'I have to win this. Cyndi Palmer and her circle of friends have beaten me for the last time. With this ace in the hole, I'll have the most prestigious Spa in the Valley. Let's see her top that.'