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Cayenne (Spice and Stone Book 2)

Cayenne (Spice and Stone Book 2)

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Cayenne finds herself entangled in a web of confusion when she discovers her best friend's co-worker, Dirk James, bears an uncanny resemblance to her teenage crush, Lance Cauldwell. Despite the striking similarity, Dirk seems oblivious to Cayenne's existence and is more interested in her friend, Alex. 

Cayenne was left with a mystery; how could two people be so alike and why did she feel the same with Dirk as she did with Lance?

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Chapter One

“I never thought I’d say this,” Alex said, plopping herself down on the lounge chair beside Cayenne. “I am in love.”
Cayenne snorted. “You say that all the time.” She was sipping a welcome drink brought to them by the butler at their villa.
“But this time, I really mean it,” Alex said. “I swear, my heart hasn't righted itself from the moment Dirk walked into the office two months ago. Did I describe him to you?”
“Several times,” Cayenne said patiently. She felt lightweight and carefree and could listen to Alex wax poetic all day about her co-worker.
The breeze was refreshing, and the scenery was top-tier. Everywhere she looked had blue skies and sea views.
Alex had rented an eight-bedroom villa for the long holiday weekend and had invited a few of her friends and this Dirk fellow, who she was constantly fawning over like a ditzy schoolgirl.
They had found the poolside after they had chosen their rooms, and since then, Dirk was all Alex could talk about.
“He has the aesthetic that I like,” Alex said, “mocha-toned skin, thick level brows, dark brown eyes the color of rich mahogany, and juicy pink lips. I can barely concentrate on what he is saying most of the time. When he speaks, a rush of wind starts in my ear, and I only hear him from a distance. I see his lips, though; they move in slow motion.”
“Isn't that a bad thing?” Cayenne asked, concerned. “You just got promoted; you can't afford to zone out of hearing your colleagues, no matter how delicious they look.”
“I know,” Alex said, unconcerned. “But I can’t help it.”
Cayenne adjusted her sunglasses and placed them on top of her hair. No matter how much Alex promoted Dirk, Cayenne didn't like him. He wasn't a part of their friend crowd. Alex had asked him to stay the entire weekend, and they didn't even know him. He would be a cuckoo in the group of twelve, changing the dynamic because Alex would act coquettish and coy around him. Cayenne hated it when Alex went into her sophisticated mode.
It would all be an act for the rest of their time there.
“What time is Dirk coming by?” Cayenne asked lazily.
“Why can't you wait to meet him?”
“No,” Cayenne said, “just wondering when you will start putting on your actress persona and start acting weird. As you do around every guy you like at first.”
“I don’t act weird,” Alex sighed, “I do, don’t I?”
“Oh yes,” Cayenne nodded. “And when the thrill wears off, you start acting normal again, and then you get bored and dump them.”
“I don't think I will ever be bored of Dirk James,” Alex said dreamily. “When he stepped into the office on his first day, I instantly knew he would change my life. Do you think he'll like it here?”
“Oh, he will,” Cayenne nodded. “It's gorgeous, luxurious, and exclusive. What's not to like? You are going all out for this weekend; it must be costing you an arm and a leg.”
“It's fine,” Alex said breezily.
“I didn't want to say anything,” Cayenne said, concerned, “but lately you've been spending recklessly. What about saving up for a house?”
“Relax, young one,” Alex laughed, “I know what I am doing. I am the newest senior wealth manager at LAD Wealth Management. I should advise you on money management, not vice versa.”
“I know,” Cayenne said, “that is why I am concerned. I know how much you earn, and funding your latest lifestyle is not sustainable.”
“You know about my base salary,” Alex said, “but there are incentives and...” Her phone buzzed. Someone was at the gate.
She grabbed the phone and gasped. “He is here. He is not supposed to be here until twelve like the others. I have to go and get dressed,” Alex said, panicking, “you go and greet him. Keep him entertained.”
“Okay,” Cayenne said, looking down at herself. She and Alex wore identical cute, lightweight dresses that she had picked up at a craft market. She felt peeved that Alex thought the dresses were not presentable enough for her precious Dirk.
“There is nothing wrong with your dress,” she pointed to Alex, but her friend was already inside, and running towards her room in a panic.
Cayenne shook her head. She didn't want to move from her sheltered spot overlooking the glistening blue pool, but she had to meet Dirk and keep him entertained per Alex's instructions.
She checked herself in the floor-to-ceiling mirror in the hallway and confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the dress. Her face was okay but she had chewed off all her lip gloss so she refreshed the gloss and headed for the front door. She fixed a welcoming smile on her lips and opened the door.
“Hello there, Dirk,” her voice faded as she stared at the man before her. She was shocked on so many levels. This guy before her was not Dirk James; he was Lance Cauldwell, her first love. She knew every line of that face. She had once tried to count every one of his thick, stubby eyelashes.
He looked the same—no better, way better. She saw why Alex was gushing over him; she had done the same when she was seventeen, and he was their next-door neighbor studying for his master's at the university.
“Lance!” Cayenne hissed, “When did you change your name to Dirk?”
"Excuse me?" the guy in front of her stepped back. He looked at her with no recognition behind his eyes. "It seems as if I have the wrong address!"
“No er…sorry,” Cayenne stammered. She was confused. Was he Lance Cauldwell’s twin or something? He obviously did not know who she was.
“My name is Cayenne,” she cleared her throat, “Alex sent me to greet you; she went to freshen up.”
“Oh, nice to meet you, Cayenne,” he held his hand out for her to shake, and when Cayenne put her hand in his, all the hairs on her arm stood on end.
She hurriedly pulled her hand away and stepped aside for him to pass.
She had only had this reaction to one guy. His name was Lance Cauldwell, and he looked exactly like Dirk James. Something was not adding up.
"I have no idea which room she had assigned to you because she wasn't sure you would come," Cayenne stammered. "But I am supposed to entertain you until she comes down. Have a seat, please. Make yourself at home, and welcome to Sea Glass Villas."
He looked at her and smiled ruefully, “I came too early, didn’t I?”
Cayenne looked at the clock. “You did.”
“Sorry about that. I was in the neighborhood; my grandparents have a place close by, so I had to stop by and say hello. Unfortunately, they are visiting Jamaica for a funeral.”
"So sorry to hear," Cayenne nodded.
She was staring at him fixatedly. She had to stop. She could see why Alex said she zoned out when he was speaking. She used to do the same thing to Lance when she was seventeen. His lips were a rose-pink hue.
Could two people look exactly alike with the same features, including the same shade of lips?
"Do you have a twin brother?" Cayenne asked curiously.
"No," Dirk said.
"Are you sure?" Cayenne asked.
"Quite sure," Dirk nodded. "My mother would have told me if she had twins."
"Maybe she gave your brother away," Cayenne said, "and kept you."
Dirk laughed. "I doubt it. She loves children. Besides, my grandparents on both sides of the family tree would not have allowed that. I have four siblings."
"Is one of them called Lance?" Cayenne asked.
"No." Dirk shook his head. "They are all younger than I am. My mother found the love of her life eighteen years ago, and they’ve been busy popping out babies ever since."
Cayenne chuckled. "That sounds like something Lance would say."
"So, he looks like me and has the same sense of humor?"
"That’s right." Cayenne nodded. "What about your father? Could you have a sibling called Lance on his side of the family?"
"No," Dirk shook his head. "Unfortunately, I was his only child. He died before I was born in a biking accident while he was on vacation here in Jamaica."
"Oh, sorry to hear." Cayenne looked deflated. "This is a crazy coincidence."
"Who was Lance to you?" Dirk asked.
"My next-door neighbor when I was seventeen," Cayenne said sheepishly. "My first real love. What I felt for him was so pure and, deep and all-encompassing. I vowed that I would never get married if I can't feel for my future husband the way I felt about Lance."
Dirk frowned. "Wow, I assume you are not married now?"
"No," Cayenne chuckled, "but I may have taken that little bit of childish infatuation a bit too far. Maybe seeing you today is a sign that I need to update my vow."
"I hope that’s not the case," Dirk said. "Pure, deep, all-encompassing love is something to aspire to. Settling for less will make you and the other person miserable."
"You are right," Cayenne smiled. "You are cool. I see why Alex is so into you."
He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. Cayenne noted. He was not that into Alex. So why was he here? And why did the prospect of him not liking her friend give her a little fissure of joy?
Maybe because she was fascinated with Dirk James. He looked and felt like Lance. Her head hadn’t worked out the difference yet, but she wouldn’t be the kind of friend who would come between her friend and the guy she loved.
"Oh hey, Dirk," Alex came downstairs in a tight blue dress and furry blue house slippers. Her hair, previously in a ponytail, was now down her back in loose waves as if she had used a curling iron.
Her dusky skin was glowing; she had used her no-makeup look, which meant she actually had on makeup, but it looked effortless. She looked like a perfect Barbie doll.
"Hello, Alex," Dirk said. "You look amazing."
"Thank you," Alex sat down. "I am so happy you could make it."
"Me too." Dirk nodded. "I haven’t had a vacation on this side of Jamaica in ages."
"Would you like some refreshments?" the butler interrupted any further conversation. He listed the names of the drinks. "Lunch will be served at one o’clock, as agreed, Miss Alex."
Alex nodded. "Thank you, Balfour."
"Cayenne, a moment, please," Alex indicated to the patio. Cayenne got up and followed her.
"Isn’t he dreamy?" Alex squealed when they were on the patio.
"Yes, he is," Cayenne said. "You were right; he could be a dead ringer for Lance Cauldwell. I wish you had met him so that you can confirm whether I am hallucinating or not."
Alex looked uninterested in the comparison. "Listen, kiddo, I must ask you to switch rooms. Your room is beside mine, and I want Dirk beside me instead."
"That means I am going to have to share with Sanya," Cayenne said. "She’s the only single girl; Anthony and Jerome are going to bunk together, and then the couples will have their rooms."
"Make it happen, love," Alex said excitedly, oblivious to her displeasure. "Don't be a spoilsport. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have Dirk James right where I want him. Besides, I couldn't have him sharing with Sanya, could I?"
"True," Cayenne sighed. "We didn’t take that into consideration when you invited him. I hate sharing rooms. Where is the loyalty of sisterhood?"
"I want that man," Alex said. "Sisterhood is taking a back seat this weekend. I am going all out to get him. I still can’t believe he came. He didn’t show me one lick of interest in the office. You and Sanya better stay in your lane; he is mine."
Cayenne chuckled. "Okay."