Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Blue seas, white sands, and red hot passion on a Caribbean Island.
Escaping would-be fortune hunters, lottery winner Katie makes a new life in a rundown shack on a Caribbean Island.
Brent Mahon, wealthy speculator and confirmed bachelor with many business interests there, meets her and sparks fly.
Amid heightened sexual tension, Katie makes a discovery which could change their budding relationship. Does she reveal her secret find and risk losing the man and her home, or can she live a lie?
Genre: Contemporary RomancePurchase links: Amazon ARe Smashwords Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Tropical island, Lottery winner
Release Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
“Looks like we’re in for a storm later,” Rupert advised cheerfully.
“Mm.” Katie looked again at the clouds. “Perhaps sooner rather than later.”
But she forgot all about the weather as Rupert turned off the road onto a rutted dirt track, and they bounced along through mango, hibiscus, and citrus fruit trees. The track gradually turned to sand, and around a final bend the deep blue Caribbean came into view.
“Oh, my!” Katie jumped out of the car before Rupert had time to apply the hand brake. “This is fantastic! I’ve seen all the photos, of course, but they could never do it justice. I can’t believe it!”
On a white beach in a small sheltered cove, her shack huddled among the thick greenery that fringed the sand.
“Rupert, this is just great!”
“Yeah, well. Maybe you should take a look inside first before you get too excited. Come on.”
He carried the cooler toward the shack. Katie slung her bag over her shoulder, kicked off her sandals, and ploughed through the powdery sand behind him, the marvelous sound of rolling surf in her ears.
Rupert waited, stepping back while she inserted the rusted key. That took a little time as her gaze was on the gaps between the wooden planks to her left where an industrial-sized cockroach appeared to be sunbathing. Pushing the door open, she stepped into the gloomy interior.
Rupert quickly crossed to the windows, throwing the shutters open one after the other, allowing the magical light in.
“This is the main living area.” He waved his arm around the fair-sized room, which still contained the previous occupant’s furniture.
“Cool. There’s a funny smell.”
“The place has been locked up for ages. Fresh air will soon clear out that smell.”
A small section of the room, divided by a flimsy-looking counter, housed a sink and two-burner stove.
“And in here,” Rupert ushered her through a door, “is the bedroom.”
“Okay.” Katie could see the sand and blue sea between the gaps. “Free air conditioning. You were right, it is run down, but hey…I was warned before I bought it. I can’t complain. Where’s the bathroom?”
“Well, ’bye for now.” Rupert shook her hand as fat drops of rain began falling.
“Oh, before you go, Rupert. I really need some kind of cheap transportation.”
“I understand.” His glance flickered over her again.
Katie could imagine just what he was thinking as he looked at her long hippy-style dress and cheap sandals. “Can you suggest anything?” she asked.
“I’ll pick you up in the morning if that’s okay. We’ll see what we can sort out.”
“That would be great. Thanks a lot.” She walked with him to his car, turning to look out across the sea. “Who owns the huge white yacht anchored over there?”
“Ah, that belongs to Brent Mahon. He owns Ellipse Island. You can just about see it on a clear day. He’s been moored in the bay for a few weeks before building starts on a huge new holiday complex half a mile down the beach that way.”
“Oh!” Katie had visions of jet skis, hang gliders, and water skiers going past her precious stretch of paradise. So what? A person could put up with anything living in such a place.
Waving good-bye, she ran inside as the drops turned into a deluge.
The noise from the short storm was deafening. Torrential rain on a tin roof, Katie quickly learned, was not a gentle occurrence. To take her mind off the water steadily dripping onto the sofa, she unscrewed the wine, found a glass, and poured a generous measure. After a few sips, a search beneath the sink revealed a bucket ideal for catching the water before it soaked the already dank upholstery and with that in place, Katie dragged a sagging, slightly smelly chair to the window to watch the storm, considering herself the luckiest person ever.
Already, ideas for renovations were swirling through her head. Her first priority was the addition of a bathroom, since at the moment there wasn’t one, as the embarrassed Rupert had informed her. To Katie’s amusement, out the back was a long drop toilet and close by a shower of sorts, if, she mused, you could call a hose attached to a spigot with no privacy whatsoever a shower. Still, all of that was for tomorrow.
Tonight she intended doing a little exploring once the rain stopped, and then going to bed for an early night.
Rupert turned up bright and early the following morning. “You didn’t sleep well?” His glance took in what Katie knew were a couple of generous bags under her eyes.
“Not really. The bed isn’t exactly the last word in comfort. I have an idea things may be living in it. And I heard a few strange noises that kept me awake. There are no bolts on any of the shutters.”
He laughed. “You’ve nothing much to worry about here. It’s a fairly safe place, and not many people on the island know the shack exists.”
She climbed in his car. “What about the advertising?”
“It was only in a New York magazine and, I think, the London Times. After all, why waste money on expensive advertising when you know you have a very saleable commodity on your hands.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
As they set off, Katie glanced back. “I was puzzled by the sight of the yacht last night.”
They bumped up the rutted track. Rupert shot her a look. “In what way?”
“Oh, lights blazed from it, and I could faintly hear laughter and music. I thought there must be one helluva party going on. Against the backdrop of the blackness of the sea and the starry sky, it looked kind of magical. This morning it appears deserted. What does this Brent Mahon person do?” She clicked her seat belt closed.
Rupert laughed. “What doesn’t he do? For a start he’s mega rich and loves to entertain. He comes from somewhere overseas where he made all his money…in commercial property, I believe. Out here, he’s built numerous upscale resorts on many of the islands. The one he’s building next to you will be his biggest yet, apparently, and très, très exclusive!”
“Wow, the project sounds interesting.” They were entering Castries, noisy, bright, and busy even so early in the day. Rupert pulled up outside a small forecourt with about a dozen cars parked on it.
“Get ready for this,” he said. “I think you’re in for a shock.”
Katie soon understood Rupert’s remark. The minimum price for a car was more than fourteen thousand U.S. dollars. The car may have only cost eight thousand dollars when it landed on the island, but with import duty, the 1996 Toyota Hillux was going to set her back $14,500. She could see there was no point in haggling, so she bought it.
“Well, Rupert, I definitely feel lighter in the pocket after that,” Katie said as she climbed into the car. “One more thing. I need to speak with a builder regarding renovations.”
He grinned. “I’ve already made some contacts for you.”
After they parted company, Katie visited the electrical appliance shop where she ordered a washing machine, stove, fridge, kettle, and toaster. Then she walked to the furniture store and purchased a large comfortable bed, two sofas, small tables, and lamps to be delivered later that week.
Loaded up with bed linen, pillows, and towels, she drove to the supermarket, where she bought eggs, milk, salad, and fish to last her the next couple of days until her appliances arrived. She also loaded up on cleaning materials. As she’d mentioned to Rupert, the shack had a decidedly unusual smell.
It felt wonderful to Katie driving that ferociously expensive Hillux down the rutted track to her shack. Parking it in the shade, she unloaded everything, storing the perishables in the cooler Rupert had left. She then busied herself with cleaning.
Opening the three windows and shutters wide, pulling everything out—the furniture store would be removing the old stuff—she dragged all but the rickety bed outside.
Sweat poured off her as she disinfected, scrubbed, bleached, and removed a rotting carcass of God-knows-what from beneath the sink cupboard. At last, the place began to smell fresh.
Katie, however, was not. Perspiration soaked her T-shirt and shorts. Grabbing one of her new towels, she walked down the powdery sand to the water’s edge. With nothing but the yacht in sight for miles, she had no compunction about stripping off her clothes and diving in.
“Whoo, what bliss!”
The water temperature was reminiscent of a warm bath. Turning onto her stomach, she started swimming freestyle, her one and only decent stroke, plowing through the water with ease. She reached a distance equal with the rocks separating her cove from the rest of the beach and deemed it far enough for her first day.
On her back, lazily beginning to stroke her way toward the beach, Katie enjoyed the sensation of water washing over her bare body. Thinking she’d heard the sound of a helicopter, she scanned the sky, but there was nothing to see, only that huge expanse of cloudless blue.
“What the heck?” Katie spluttered in a panic, for the noise had definitely become louder, sounding as if something was about to land on her. Upright, treading water, she saw over the swell of a wave a personal watercraft not ten feet away from her. She quickly wiped the salt water from her eyes.
“Hey,” a voice called out. “Are you okay? You’re a long way out.”
She peered into the sun. A man, standing astride the water machine, bare but for a pair of boxers, was making his way cautiously toward her. Aware of her nudity in such crystal clear water, Katie yelled out.
“Stay where you are! I’m okay. I was just having a damn swim.”
He was now about five feet away, and she could see him very clearly. Splashing water in front of her and ruffling the surface a little to retain her modesty, she stared.
What a hunk. The man had a craggy, handsome face topped by longish black hair swept back over his forehead. Every muscle on his well-tanned torso rippled. From the hard shoulders and upper chest, down to the board-flat stomach, he exuded uninhibited sex appeal.
“Hey, lady, no need to get upset, I was concerned is all. There’s nothing around here for miles, so seeing a lone swimmer is unusual. Where’d you come from?”
Katie nodded over her shoulder. “Back there.”
He grinned, showing beautiful white straight teeth. “The shack? I heard some dame bought it but didn’t expect anyone would move in until it was—you know, fixed up a bit.”
“Well, this dame doesn’t mind roughing it. Now if you’ll excuse me.” And flipping onto her stomach, Katie started swimming back.
“Brent Mahon,” she heard his shout, followed by a loud whistle and laughter. “Wow. Great view from here!”
Fury made her swim fast. Arrogant and chauvinistic he might be, but good heavens, he sure had the looks to make any woman quiver in her underwear.
Upon reaching the beach, she lay in the shallows until his machine was far enough away she was assured of privacy. Dragging herself from the water, she decided another trip to town was necessary.
She needed a swimsuit.
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