All in a Day’s Work
Beijing surveyed the lobby of the Tabby Hotel, making sure that all her guests were comfortable.
The toilet paper heiress was sitting in a comfy maroon chair with her prized teacup Yorkie cradled in her arms. The well-groomed, silky-furred dog was licking the salt off his owner’s margarita glass. An older couple, who looked like ordinary travelers but were really dripping rich with old soft-drink money, played a game of backgammon at a mahogany game table in the corner by the bay window.
Then there was one of her favorite clients, Natalia, who had been living in one of the Tabby’s penthouse suites for six months paid for by her boyfriend, business tycoon Seth Soberman. The Russian beauty was drop-dead gorgeous, with flowing blond hair, although she had quite the wig collection as well. Her beautiful green eyes were framed by lashes that seemed as long as her slender legs. She had no career, and wasn’t exactly certain about what she aspired to do with her life, but the one thing she was sure of was her love for Seth.
Beijing had just finished seeing to it that all the stores Natalia wanted to shop at today knew she was on the way when Beijing’s eyes roved across the marble floor, through the custom-made bar, past the bellman’s stand, beyond the giant fish tank to land on a man in khaki pants that were too short, a white polo shirt, and deck shoes. He tried to come off as nonchalant but instead stuck out like a rock in a glass of water.
Beijing strolled over to further inspect the man. “Hello, sir. Is there something that I can help you with?” she asked politely while checking him out.
“No, just waiting for a friend,” he said, shifting his leg in front of the black bag by his feet.
“Would you like for me to give your friend a buzz for you to let them know you are waiting?” she offered.
“No need. I don’t mind waiting. I’m a patient kind of guy,” he said with a dry smile.
Beijing paused briefly, and then said, “Okay, no problem.” She sensed that he was up to no good. “Well, if you need anything, come and see me,” she added.
As she walked away, she heard his cell phone buzz. She lingered over a plant pretending to check to see whether it needed to be watered while she listened to the one-sided conversation.
“Yeah, he’s here. He’s definitely here. I heard the limo driver outside bragging that he picked him up from the airport. Yeah, the ‘friend’ is here, too. Ole Johnny boy is as good as busted.”
Beijing made a mental note to herself to scold the limo driver but smiled at the tip she’d just gotten from her ear-?hustling. She was now certain that the guy in the lobby was one of the paparazzi with big plans for her famous guest, Johnny Wiz, to be his next meal ticket.
It’s not going down today. Not today, not on my watch, Beijing thought as she punched in her security code to open her office door.
Beijing was a jack-of-all-trades who more than lived up to her title of concierge-at-large for the Tabby chain of hotels. She went to extreme measures sometimes to satisfy the extraordinary requests of her high-powered clients, ballers, and anyone else rich or famous who strolled through the door of the Tabby Hotel. She went to great lengths to make sure her clients’ stay was as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible. Between her thousands of contacts and vast resources, she could get anything accomplished.
Johnny Wiz was a music industry mogul. The man, in some way or another, touched over 50 percent of everything that got played on the radio, and this week he happened to be her client.
She picked up her office phone and called Johnny’s room.
“Hi, Johnny. It’s Beijing. I wanted to warn you there’s a guy down in the lobby with a camera bag and he’s definitely not taking pictures of the beautiful skyline,” she said.
“Shit,” Johnny exclaimed. “The piranhas will never give me any peace.”
Beijing heard an exaggerated feminine voice in the background ask, “What’s wrong, honey?”
“Damn paparazzi are downstairs wanting to steal a picture of me with you,” he told his friend, and then he asked Beijing, “Any suggestions on what to do?”
“Don’t you worry about a thing. I’m on top of it as we speak. Just don’t open the door for anyone until you look through the peephole and see that it’s me,” she warned.
Beijing knew that the feminine voice in the background didn’t belong to a woman. Johnny Wiz’s secret rendezvous was with a flamboyant two-snaps-and-a-shake male companion, and they had been spending a discreet, quiet, cozy few days together. However, the paparazzi had plans to share their lurid affair with the world. Rumors about Johnny’s sexuality had been floating around the industry for years, and a photo of him with his secret lover would command big bucks from the tabloids.
After Beijing hung up with Johnny, she called her partner in crime.
Seville was Beijing’s first cousin, and the closest thing to a real sister that she would ever have. Their fathers were brothers. When they were young, they saw each other for two weeks every single summer and every Thanksgiving when Beijing and her father would visit his brother, Jimmy, in Charleston, South Carolina.
The two girls had always been as thick as thieves when they were young and had gotten even tighter as they got older. Seville’s boyfriend and the love of her life had recently been transferred to a plant in Germany, and as fate would have it, Seville got a job there, too. Her boyfriend’s contract had a little over a year and a half left, and Seville had agreed to be there with him for the long haul.
Seville was due to leave for the big trip in a few more days and had been packed and ready to go for over a week now. Beijing couldn’t get time off work, so the cousins had agreed that Seville would hang out today at the Tabby with Beijing. While Beijing put in her hours at the hotel, Seville chilled in her cousin’s luxurious suite and enjoyed all the amenities of the five-star hotel. After Beijing got off work that day they would spend time together.
Beijing let her fingers do the walking and her mouth do the talking when she called upstairs to her suite. “Seville, I need you to come down to my office. Time for you to work off all that luxuriating you’ve been doing.” She added, “Oh, and wear something sexy and chic.”
Ten minutes later, Seville slipped into Beijing’s office through the back hallway looking stunning in a shoulder-baring top, sandals, and skintight jeans.
After Beijing explained the situation to her, Seville said, “Girl, that damn Johnny Wiz! I can’t believe he’s bi, but then I shouldn’t be surprised that he would think nothing was off limits to him with that ego of his. And you were keeping his secret from me?” She raised an eyebrow. “And I really can’t believe you are going to help that cocky asshole. After the way he treated you yesterday?”
“My job is to assist him. He’s in my care until he leaves this hotel. And I don’t want it to ever be said that I allowed a scandal to happen because I didn’t like the way a client spoke to me,” Beijing explained, leading Seville back into the hallway with a quick look to make sure none of those bottom-feeding scandalmongers were in sight.
“As cocky as he was, I would let him get caught,” Seville said, following her.
Beijing shot a look at her cousin and Seville knew Beijing meant business, so she changed her tune. “You know I got yo’ back. But I am only doing this because of you, not to help that self-absorbed booty bandit.”
“Well, let’s put the plan in motion. I will call you when the coast is clear and then you take the freight elevator and meet me upstairs, Room Nineteen Thirty-four.”
When Beijing arrived at Johnny’s room, it was apparent that he was worried. He looked vulnerable as he paced the floor and continuously peeped out the window. This is not the same arrogant man from yesterday—not the way he’s on edge sweating bullets, Beijing thought.
“Calm down, everything is going to be okay,” she assured him.
Beijing turned to Johnny’s lover. “Will you please put this on?” She handed him one of the hotel housekeeping uniforms she had grabbed on the way up. There was a knock on the door. Beijing checked the peephole and saw Seville standing in the hallway, twirling a finger in her long hair. She quickly let her into the suite.
Seville strutted through the door swaying her hips from side to side, looking fashionable and seductive with a twist of class.
Beijing made her introductions. “Johnny, this is my cousin Seville, your date out of here.”
Seville was the perfect person to play the role. She stood five foot nine, with a long black deep-wave hair weave. She didn’t need the makeup that she painted on her mocha skin, but it made her eyes stand out. She was beautiful.
Johnny’s eyes met hers. “Thanks for coming to help me wiggle out of here,” he said sincerely.
Beijing could see the relief overtaking the worry on his face when she began to explain how they were going to maneuver out of the hotel and to the airport. “Beijing,” he said nervously, “the reason I don’t want anyone to know about this is because of my mother—”
Beijing stopped him. “You don’t owe me, or anyone else, an explanation. It’s simply nobody’s business what you do. Johnny, I am here to make your stay here and your transition home as smooth as possible.”
He took a deep breath and smiled at her.
“Thank you, Beijing.”
“My pleasure, Johnny.”
“Do you think this will work?” he asked, still somewhat unsure.
“Of course it will,” Beijing said with confidence.
“If it does, you know I will owe you big-time,” Johnny Wiz said. He pulled a wad of folded cash from his pocket and started counting out hundred-dollar bills. “Take this,” he said with his hand full of money, extended toward Beijing.
She shook her head no. “I can’t accept that.”
“You have to, you saved my ass; this is only a small token of my gratitude.”
Excerpted from Relapse by A Nikki Turner Original. Copyright © 2010 by Nikki Turner. Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.