chapter 11 excerpt

I jumped out of bed at 7:00 a.m., and drove to Brentwood. About a hundred or so runners were warming up and joining their groups. I saw Patricia and recognized a few others in my running group, including the tall, lanky blond who was rumored to be a famous actress on a popular TV show. I only watched a few shows on Discovery and the History Channel, so I was clueless.    
“Hey Cali, you’ve been MIA for a month or so,” said Patricia.
 “I’ve been busy with school and traveling,” I responded while stretching my legs.
“Really, where to?”           
“I went to the Channel Islands a few weeks ago and then to Palanque, Chiapas. Other than that, I’ve just been too busy to get up so early on a weekend. But I plan on still doing the marathon and training with the group when I can. What do we have today? Fifteen miles or something crazy like that?”          
“Yep. Two weeks ago we did thirteen and I thought that was hard,” she said while jumping around.     

The faster groups were already bouncing down the street. Our group leader announced our departure with a quick “Let’s go!” Patricia and I ran side by side for the first half, then the group shifted and she moved up to talk to someone else. The run along the boardwalk was beautiful, with views of the deep blue ocean off to the right. Then we entered Venice Beach, with beach bums stirring about and venders setting up their booths for the day. Plenty of t-shirts, plain white socks, cheap jewelry, incense, and henna tattoos. The vegetarian activist was setting up his booth. “Meat kills! Stop the torture and killing of animals! It’s destroying the planet!!! Do your part now by becoming vegetarian.” I had met him once while rollerblading on Venice beach and stopped to talk to him. His name was Jingle and he gave me a jingle bell so that I wouldn’t forget it. He showed me pictures of slaughterhouses and of rabbits being tortured. He was a bit too extreme for me and I couldn’t bear to look at the photos. I was already a vegetarian and had been since I was a teenager. I certainly didn’t want to look at pictures of animals being slaughtered.      

Across from Jingle was some guy putting up signs about the coming of the end of the world. Excerpts from the Old Testament and, in bold, handwritten letters, THE END IS NEAR. SAVE YOURSELF. It didn’t look like he was selling anything. No Bibles or reference to any religion. I guess he just wanted to warn the world.                                 

What a sorry soul, I thought. Venice Beach definitely attracted the strangest people in America. The sad thing was I actually liked Venice Beach, and I visited it on a weekly basis. Did that make me strange?

Chapter 10 excerpt

I drove to our new apartment with the directions Roger gave me. It was right down the street from my condo. The church was a dead giveaway, right on the corner of Ocean Park Boulevard. I parked next to Angel’s Saab in the church parking lot and walked across the street to unit 3.What is it with Roger and threes? Maybe it’s a feng shui thing. The door was locked and I noticed that there was no peephole for looking out. I rang the doorbell. Angel threw open the door and greeted me with her crooked sexy smile.  

“How did you know it was me?” I asked.  

“I saw you park, silly. What, you think I would open the door for anybody?”  

I walked in and put my bag on the kitchen counter and checked out our new apartment. Basic, yeah. No stairs inside. Two bedrooms with one bathroom in between. No TV, limited lighting, a small kitchen as you walked in, and a view of busy Ocean Park Boulevard. I could see why Angel was upset. Not the upscale apartment we were used to, but we would make do. We had a view of the parking lot, which was better than at the Marina for seeing clients arrive. Angel was doing double duty; she’d been there since noon.  

“I’ve seen four guys today and made six hundred dollars. I’m keeping more of a cut from Roger since he stuck us in this awful place.” She sat on the couch. “We’re on our own here! He won’t know.”  

“You’re right. He won’t know,” I agreed as I searched through my bag in the kitchen. “We could even rent our own place and keep all the money,”  I suggested halfheartedly.  

“Do you want to?” Angel asked.  

“I don’t know about the maintenance,” I said with concern. “I have other obligations with school. I don’t want to worry about keeping an apartment. Not to mention the legal aspects if something happens. I guess we should just stick with Roger and the apartment for now, and cross that road if we come to it.” Angel looked at me mockingly. I continued. “This is a temporary thing for me, Angel. I don’t want to get into it too deep.”  

Angel sighed. “You and school. You’re never going to make this kind of money as a…what, archaeologist? Why bother.”  

“It’s not about money. I want a normal life someday. I want to do what I enjoy. What I’m passionate about. You think you’re going to be jacking people off when you’re in your forties? Get real.” I was soft, yet firm.  

Dark Diva Review

Latest review from Dark Diva Reviews

Deb’s Review: Intimate Encounters by Sierra Michaels immediately drew me into the characters and scenes of the sensual massage business and the struggles of the girls working at the apartment. The characters are very likable and the book is well written. It also delves into issues such as career choices, college life, suicide, guilt, and friendships. I highly recommend this book because it’s a very easy read and after the first chapter, I couldn’t put it down.

The main character, Cali, is a student paying her way through school and I found myself laughing at the interactions between her and her friends. She was easy to connect with as I was reading the story and I think Ms. Michaels wrote this role and plot line with this objective in mind. So as a reader, be prepared to connect and feel the intense emotions Cali is dealing with in each scene.

In addition, I enjoyed the place and subject matter that Cali was studying because it was fun and fascinating, at least in my opinion. This story line has many different elements or components, such as surviving in the real world, feeling of pressure to succeed, emotional battles, friendships old and new, and Intimate Encounters. In essence, it has all that and a bag of chips. The imagery and descriptors used to describe the places they traveled is amazing to the point that I could easily picture it in my mind as I read along. Moreover, the landscapes described in the story sounded breathtakingly beautiful.

I have to ask Ms. Michaels, why this plot line because it is an interesting one. Will the other girls get a book? Will Cali, if you do more books have a cameo in them? The girls are just so much fun. I also would love to see Cali find her true love. {I know, I cannot help but want that for her.}

I have to say if you want a sweet and sexy read then Intimate Encounters is a must for your book collection! Sierra Michaels is a fresh delight for this reviewer! I cannot wait to read what’s next for her.

Rated 5 Delightful Divas by Deb!

Chapter 9 Excerpt: Palenque, Chiapas

We got the rental car and headed off, agreeing to hit the museum when we returned to Mexico City. Ray glowed with eagerness to show me his favorite ruins and old friends. Mexico City was much more crowded than I had anticipated—traffic jams, smog, cars honking, people crossing in front of traffic. The countryside was a welcome relief. A Mexican cowboy galloped by on a beautiful chocolate horse following a heard of cattle.                 

“You are going to love Moses,” he said as he reached for my hand. “And his wife is really amazing. She just got back from India, where she was studying yoga with a master.”                             

That sounds cool,” I said as I stared out the window. I took in all the beauty of the jungle and the small villages.                   

The hours flew by as the scenery and conversation flowed. We decided not to stop along the way and save any sidetracks for the return trip. As we arrived at our lodge, Ray remarked at how the property had changed. “Moses added new cabins and landscaping,” he said, surprised, as we entered the forested area.                    

“This is really remote,” I commented.                    

“That’s the point. Just you and me.”
Oh, shit,  I thought, what did I get myself into? We found Moses and he greeted us with a smile. 
“Ray, how are you, my friend? It’s been so long.” He shook Ray’s hand while giving him a loose hug.     
Moses, this is Cali.”      
“Hi,” I said with a smile as we shook hands.      
Moses was an older, distinguished Mexican man in his late sixties. He had an authentic warm smile that made me smile in return.       
“Come, come, you must see the changes we’ve made.” We walked past several newly constructed villas hidden in the jungle to the central courtyard. It was simple and natural, loosely landscaped with tropical plants and large palm trees among wooden benches and a stone walkway. Several young hippie-dressed Americans and Europeans were hanging out in the garden.  This is an interesting place, I thought.         
“Come, come, let me show you your room.” He showed us our villa and told us to meet him at the restaurant after we settled in.
 The room followed the same theme of naturally fitting into the environment. It was basic but had all the amenities, with the exception of the shower being outside.”This could be interesting,” I said to Ray. “We even get to shower with nature.”
He patted my ass, threw me on the bed, and gave me a warm, sexy kiss. “I thought you were a nature girl. You Jane, me Tarzan.” 
I laughed, then gently pushed him off me. “Come, come,” I said mocking Moses. “Let’s check out the rest of the property.” I pulled him toward the door.  

We met back up with Moses at the Restaurante Vegetariano. Ray wasn’t kidding; it was a purely vegetarian restaurant with a gypsy-type ambiance, half library with books everywhere and tables uniquely decorated with Mayan motifs scattered about.       

“My wife cooks the food herself,” said Moses.
 “I would love to meet your wife,” I said, looking around the room for her.    
“She is in the tree house. Let’s go find her.” We walked through the garden and past several stand-alone villas to the tree house. It looked like something from Alice In Wonderland. The outside was painted bright blue, green, pink and purple, all ebbing and flowing into each other. Four narrow floors were stacked upon each other, with the top floor being a combination sundeck and garden. A giant mushroom-shaped Tiki topped the center of the sundeck. No wonder hippies hang out here, I thought. It was like walking into a fantasy scene developed by Lewis Carroll. The tree house was surrounded by ginger plants, papaya, mango, and coconut trees.
 We proceeded into the house. To my surprise, it was Moses and his wife, Ana’s, home.  

Chapter 8: Excerpt

I put my material away, locked up the lab, grabbed some coffee to go, and headed home. On the drive, I thought about Geoffrey more than usual. He was brilliant—he had a Ph.D. from Stanford—and he seemed to have a love for life when we were together so many years ago. At that time, he showed no signs of depression. I loved him more than anything in the world, and I was devastated when we broke up and he left for Australia. When he returned a year later he was a different man and I had moved on, but I still wanted him in my life. When he needed me I was there for him. Except for the night of his suicide. He had called a few days earlier and asked me to come over and hold him. His depression was getting worse, and had been since he returned from his sabbatical. He tried medication and it didn’t work for him. I tried to convince him to try different types of antidepressants, that one was bound to work for him. “Try walking,” I once naively suggested to him, thinking exercise might help.  


The last time I talked to him I was really busy with school and could not do the forty-five-minute drive to Pasadena. I told him to hang in there and I would see him next week when things calmed down for me. I will never forget that cruel phone call I got a few days later. “Cali, I’m a friend of Geoffrey’s,” the man said with a somber voice. “He was found dead this morning in his house.” I began to shake. “Was it drugs?” I asked. “No, a gun. Your name was on a list of people to call. There will be a memorial service on campus. I’ll call you back with the date and time when I find out more,” he said before hanging up the phone. I screamed and cried and walked to the store to buy cigarettes, a habit that I had managed to quit just months before. I wanted to go to a bar and just drink all day, but I pulled myself together and went to school, sat in the Japanese garden, and contemplated life. Tom and Sasha stopped by the garden to offer their condolences; so did Len and Kyle. I was so used to going to campus that I didn’t know how to stay home and cry. I had to be somewhere, and the garden seemed like that somewhere. Death was sad enough, but suicide brought guilt, a feeling that I still had driving home this evening. I was nervous yet excited about getting my tattoo.