The Playground of the Gods

“Cathy Cash Spellman orchestrates a fast moving plot with panache, weaving in plenty of explicit sex, action-packed adventure and credible characterization.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“Cathy Cash Spellman has done it again!  Only this time, she tackles the tricky subjects of sultry sex, raw power, feminism, and morals.”

Bill Beutel, ABC-TV

Six beautiful women…

Six powerful men…

A vacation in paradise…

or a deadly game of survival?

It began with an invitation to the world’s most exotic pleasure island.  It became a nightmare of obsession and murder.

Now six of the world’s most powerful men are about to learn what money can’t buy.

And six of the world’s most beautiful women are about to prove that they’re nobody’s trophies.

The Playground of the Gods Plot

A tour de force of wild adventure, surprising passion, and full throttle suspense set in an island paradise as dangerous as Eden.

Only one place on earth can serve the needs and fantasies of Thoros Gagarian, one of the world’s richest and most powerful men.  That place is Mora Utu – the Playground of the Gods – a green jewel in the placid, blue expanse of the South Pacific, one of the most luxurious and seductive private preserves anywhere on the planet.

Only one challenge can rouse the appetites of Thoros’ five closest friends: men of wealth, accomplishment, and power.  That challenge is to join Thoros in celebrating the completion of Mora Utu with a week of sex and sunshine.  Each guest is required to bring a trophy woman beautiful enough to grace the island and the men’s beds.

But the women – who have not been forewarned that they’re merely trophies – do not consider themselves toys.  They have no intention of playing the pawns in a rich man’s game.  And when one of them becomes the victim of sudden, rapacious male violence, they leave the men behind and head for the jungle, and band together to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.

Suddenly, six smart, tough, and resourceful women must call on skills they’ve always had – to use in ways they never dreamed.  Martial combat, negotiation, sabotage… who knew these would be the skills they’d need for their trip to Paradise.  They’ll be guided in their crusade by an old Native wise-woman with a secret, ancient agenda of her own. And finally, they’ll be forced to consider uniting with the men who have become their adversaries, when, without warning, the jungle threatens to consume them all…when Mora Utu itself, like the brooding gods that silently preside over it’s domain, demand blood sacrifice.

A novel of passion and revenge, The Playground Of The Gods drops us into a shocking and very real war between the sexes – one where nature has the last word, and none but the fittest will survive.

 

The Playground of the Gods Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sixty-three-year-old Thoros Gagarian exuded power.  Women liked that.  Men either envied or admired it, which was much the same thing.  The fortune that had made this excessive power possible was entirely his own doing.

Six feet four with the long-boned, agile strength of his mountain ancestors, Gagarian had their wiliness, too.  It was apparent in the feral eyes that took in everything, and in the barely visible mouth that turned up just a little at the corners, this hallmark of a horse trader who’s used to trading well.  Rug merchant, an enemy had called him once, derisively, and Thoros had smiled the wily, knowing smile.  “Thank you,” he’d replied.  “My father would be proud to know the gift has been passed on.”

Thoros snapped shut the drawer of the burled satinwood desk that would have dwarfed an office of ordinary size, and leaned back expansively in the old leather chair that had grown, over the years, to fit his body like a well-worn baseball mitt.

It was poker night; his favorite night of the month.  Long ago this had been a weekly pleasure, but life’s demands had battered the key players, so that now the six old friends assembled only one evening each month.  But, the change in timing to accommodate the demands of their varied schedules was the only deviation Thoros permitted in the game.  This circle of friends was important in a way that was unclear even to him – five men of power, money, and accomplishment, who demanded nothing of one another but camaraderie, high-stakes poker, and the security of absolute silence about whatever passed among them.  He would have felt poorer without them, bereft in a visceral way.

Thoros looked around the elegantly paneled room in which he spent so much of his life, with quiet satisfaction.  He was feeling expansive tonight, and replete, as he took inventory of his world.  Being a billionaire provided for all creature comforts and gave him his pick of beautiful, cultured women many years his junior.  His only heir, Marcos, had turned out to be a mensch with the balls for the business, and he had damned good friends.  Life was better than what Thoros had dreamed in his tenement, immigrant childhood.  Better by far.

The office door opened, and Marcos Gagarian strode into his father’s domain, as if cued by the older man’s thoughts.

“Excellent work on the Paramount deal,” Thoros complimented, looking up from the desk at his darkly Levantine son, who bore the profile of his mother’s Greek ancestry.  Marcos grinned acceptance, but didn’t pursue the topic.  He was proud of his work on the deal, but not inexperienced enough to feel smug.

 

Marcos was somewhat in awe of this street-smart visionary who was his father.  Thoros seemed to him larger than life-sized, and a formidable act to try to follow, although it had never occurred to him not to do so.  Marcos knew the evolution of Thoros’ accomplishments as well as if he’d traveled the grueling road himself.  How he’d made his first big fortune in aviation, his second in hotels, his third in Vegas, and after that, it hadn’t mattered what Thoros Gagarian set his Midas touch to; money followed money, as inexorably as the sun rose and set.  Marcos knew on some cellular level that his father possessed the gift of a mighty imagination, always envisioning how big things could be, always intuiting the fiduciary tricks and shortcuts that would make it all become reality.

Marcos Gagarian had made his father’s history a life-long study, as if it were his doctoral dissertation.  Others had speculated that envy spurred him to make his own mark in his father’s domain, but that wasn’t true.  Marcos both loved and admired Thoros, and hoped that someday he would measure up to the extraordinary standard that had been set in the Gagarian household.  And, in truth, he had both the genes and the intellect for the task.

“Got a minute before the big game, Dad?” he asked as he walked toward the chair that flanked the large desk.  An easy deference characterized his manner toward Thoros; it was just shy of friendship – respectful and aware of the propriety of maintaining distance from so exceptional a man.

Thoros smiled indulgently.  “I can spare ten or so,  if that’ll do for you,” he said.  “I’m a little late as it is.”  His voice was deep, authoritative, but softened somewhat for Marcos.

Thoros liked his stalwart, rugged son well enough.  The boy had guts and the instincts of a

falcon on the hunt where the business was concerned.  Which, as far as he could see, was the only thing other than respect, that a man’s son owed him.

“It’s this Aquilar negotiation,” the younger man began.  “I thought I’d bounce an idea off you.”

Gagarian made no reply, but sat back in his chair to listen.  It was not in him to make life easy on his son.  Fair, maybe; but never easy.

“They’re smart and they’re tough, Dad.  But I think there’s an Achilles’ heel.”

Gagarian waited.

“They think I’m the errand boy,” Marcos continued, “and at the last minute, you’ll sw

oop in, and then they’ll get down to the short strokes.”

Gagarian’s slate-gray eyebrow raised itself, awaiting clarification.  “Does that bruise your ego?” he asked in a tone that allowed no margin.

Marcos looked startled by that thought.

“No way,” he replied earnestly.  “It just seems to me, maybe we can use that mindset against them pretty effectively.  If we let them think they’re playing the second string, maybe we can do an end run and cream them, before they know they’ve been hit.”

The eyebrow descended.  It was good to see that the rug merchant gene had successfully made it to the next generation.  He nodded approval.  Thoros had never understood men who gave no quarter in business to employees, but indulged their sons.  The damned fools got what they deserved when they did that.  Expect the world of whoever works for you; ruthlessly root out those who don’t measure up, reward those who do.  That was the Gagarian philosophy, and it worked.  If Marcos hadn’t measured up, Thoros would have loved his son no less, but the boy wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the business.

“Old man Aquilar has a weakling and two bullies for sons,” Thoros replied, thoughtfully.  “His reasoning may be clouded by that.  What do you propose?”

“Let him think he’s got me by the short hairs.  Draw the talks out long enough to leverage the stock.  I’ve already got a handle on the weak links in the outstanding shares.  I think a little pressure could hand us the whole pie without giving up any crumbs.”

Thoros nodded.  It was a sound plan – one that needed no further discussion at the moment.

He rose and put his favorite pen in his breast pocket, the gesture that always closed the office day.  Marcos stood, on cue.

Relieved that his father hadn’t said no, he said with a grin, “Give my regards to the Godfathers.”  As long as he could remember, the five poker players had been his father’s friends.  Long before they had grown rich and renowned, these men had been fixtures at the Gagarian house on poker night.

The two men left the quietly opulent office and moved into the deserted corridor of desks that during business hours housed the essential workforce of an empire.  Thoros was taller than his son, and Marcos was wider, stockier, but both moved with a genetic similarity, a steady, forceful stride in which a millennium of warfare in tough mountainous terrain had put stealth and power and surefootedness into the gene pool and the race memory.  Even in repose, they looked somewhat dangerous.

They headed toward the elevator door and home.

The Playground of the Gods Reviews

“Cash-Spellman orchestrates a fast-moving plot with panache, weaving in plenty of explicit sex, action-packed adventures and credible characterization.”

Publishers Weekly

“Spellman tells a tale so rich in love, lust, betrayal, redemption and the magical ways of the truly powerful that men and women will never look at themselves or each other in the same way after they finish this provocative story.  Get ready for one hot page-turner that will keep you riveted in your seat.”

Georgette Mosbacher, Feminine Force

“Who isn’t intrigued by a glimpse into the lives of the super-rich and super powerful in a sensuous, tropical setting?…  Add to this scenario sex, murder, heroism and enlightenment and you have an engrossing read that is impossible to put down… I think this is Cathy Cash Spellman’s greatest book yet!”

Adrien Arpel

“Cathy Cash Spellman has done it again!  Only this time, she tackles the tricky subjects of sultry sex, raw power, feminism, and morals.  Lives there a man… or woman… with soul so dead… who would not like a ticket to The Playground of the Gods? Round-trip.

Bill Beutel, ABC-TV

“Another spellbinder from Cash-Spellman!  The Playground of the Gods is a swinging, slippery-sliding, merry-go-round for the adult senses!

Gerald A. Browne, 11 Harrowhouse and Stone 588

“The Playground of the Gods sees Cathy Cash Spellman writing at the height of her particular magic and her formidable storytelling powers.”

Patricia B. Soliman, Coco, the Novel and Intimate Strangers

“Spellman is a great, great writer.”

Myrna Blythe, Editor in Chief, Ladies Home Journal

“Cathy Cash Spellman is a born storyteller.”

Eileen Goudge

“A page turner… in the style of Sidney Sheldon, a Story of Fantasy and Revenge.”

San Antonio Express-News