“Well, well, well, look who is back.” Jason Pryce dropped his travel bag and turned around warily to face the owner of the contemptuous voice.
“That’s right Karen. I am back. Don’t I get a kiss?” Karen glared at him, her eyes narrowing to slits.
She flipped her bleached blond hair and placed her hands on her hips. “You can’t be serious. You left without saying a word and you didn’t even call the entire week you were gone. I had to hear from your mother that you weren’t in the country.”
Jason shrugged, “I had an emergency, I had to drop everything and run.”
“The last time I checked you own a cell phone-several as a matter of fact. Not even one call?” Karen growled in frustration. She shook her head, “You know what, I have had enough of this-of you running off all the time without a word. We never spend any time together,” she finished with a pout.
Jason cocked an eyebrow. He studied the woman before him with pure amusement. He was pretty certain that she was only interested in spending time with his money. If he wasn’t around that meant she had no access to his credit cards, so he could see why she was so upset. “I’m touched that you enjoy my company so much Karen,” he said dryly. He ran a hand over his face in exhaustion. All he wanted to do was hop into the shower, and then have a few drinks and fall into bed.
Karen’s features suddenly softened, “You could make it up to me baby,” she drawled sweetly. He raised his brows in question. A broad smile spread across her lips, “You can take me somewhere nice and expensive tonight.”
He sighed. Why did he always find himself with superficial women like Karen? He took in her almost plastic appearance. Fake lips, and breasts, fake attitude, fake everything. She was only interested in what he could give her, yet he entertained her for so long. Five months to be exact. He must be some kind of magnet for shallow women. “I’m tired Karen.”
She folded her arms and pouted. “Fine, since you don’t care about me, I really don’t see any reason why I should stay with you. You are lucky I put up with you for so long.” She turned to head to the door. Karen turned to look at him expectantly. Jason remained silent. “If you let me walk out this door, it is over. I mean completely.”
“Well I guess I’ll just have to suffer the loss Karen. I deserve it for treating you so badly,” he muttered, his words dripping with sarcasm. She huffed and wheeled around dramatically and stomped to the door.
When the door slammed, Jason muttered, “Another one gone.” He couldn’t exactly say he was heartbroken. He picked up his bag and headed up the stairs.
Stepping into the shower, he turned on the tap and let the warm water wash over him. He closed his eye and rolled his shoulders, wincing when pain pierced through his left shoulder. He peered down at the jagged knife wound, his souvenir from the Congo.
Walking into his bedroom, he made his way to his buzzing cell phone. “Hello mother.”
“Jason, how dare you not call your mother as soon as you got back?”
He winced, “Sorry mother, I was going to call in a little bit, I swear. How are you?”
“I’m fine dear. I should be asking you that question. I do so hate when you take off on those dangerous missions.”
“It’s a part of my job.”
“I am well aware but I thought you gave up that aspect of your job.”
It was true he had tried to give up the dangerous part of his career, but for some reason he kept getting sucked back in. When he retired from the army and started his security firm, it was his plan to leave most of the danger behind. “You know me; I just can’t avoid the excitement.”
“Running off to war torn countries and carrying out potentially deadly missions is not what I call excitement dear.” His mother’s voice was laced with concern.
“There is no need for you to worry mother I’m not going on any military related job for a while.” He meant it this time.
His mother sighed, “Alright dear. Will I see you at the office tomorrow?”
“Sure.” After hanging up the phone, he went to get the drink he had promised himself. He would no doubt need the alcohol to sleep tonight.
Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, he regretted letting Karen walk out earlier. She would have proved a useful distraction from his tormented thoughts. He couldn’t close his eyes without a memory popping up. Memories of war and death, memories of the things he had done in the past to survive and save lives. He tossed and turned for the majority of the night.
Heads turned as Jason strolled into Pryce Security. He nodded in acknowledgment of a string of “Good Mornings”. He always got extra attention when he showed up at his security firm because he didn’t put in an appearance too often. He chose to operate from the background, leaving the women in his family to be at the forefront. Having them run things also served as a cover for some of his more unconventional activities, that only a few people were aware of. A gasp sounded as he neared the main office. “Jason!” He grinned as his younger sister Lydia hurdled her way toward him. He opened his arms to catch her flying frame.
“Hey kiddo, it’s good to see you.” He released her and smiled adoringly down at her.
“I’m so relived you’re back big brother.”
“I know,” he was relieved too. “Thanks.”
“A little warning, mom isn’t in such a good mood this morning, so tread lightly brother,” Lydia warned.
He rolled his eyes,”What has her riled up this time?”
“I believe it has something to do with that bimbo you call a girlfriend, Karen,” she said in disgust. “Honestly Jason, you can do a lot better. What is it with you and the fake Barbie types?”
Jason inhaled deeply, “Shit.” He wondered what stupid act Karen had performed this time. He made his way to his former office which his mother had since taken over. Pushing the door open, he spotted her behind the massive oak desk pouring over a pile of documents. She looked up when the door closed with a click. Giving him a smile she said, “Ah my one and only son. Get over here and give your mother some love.”
Jason strolled to the desk and planted an affectionate kiss on her forehead. “Good morning mother.” He looked down at the woman who had single-handedly raised her three children after the death of her husband. Sadness washed over him at the memory of losing his father at the age of fifteen. He was killed by a suicide bomber in Benghazi. His mother had been terrified when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military. He only lasted as a Marine for four years before branching off into mercenary work. He didn’t do too well following rules so he decided to do something that allowed him to make his own rules.
It turned out that he made the right decision. During his time working independently he made enough money to start his own security firm. With a few wise investments, he was a self-made billionaire by the age of thirty. Now he was able to provide for his family like he wanted.
“How is your morning so far?” He asked taking a seat.
She scowled, “Not as peaceful as I would have liked.”
His eyebrows shot up in question. What had Karen done? “Why is that?”
She huffed and sent him a pointed look. “Your girlfriend or whatever she is to you showed up here this morning, ranting about how wrongly you treated her. I have no idea why she felt like she needed to come to your place of business and to your mother, and I really don’t know why she thinks I would want to get involved in your personal life. I had to have security escort her out.”
Jason covered his eyes and let out a groan. “First of all she is my ex-girlfriend now and I apologize for any trouble she caused. She was just pissed that I didn’t throw myself at her feet when she decided to leave last night. She is probably more upset that she will not be receiving any more expensive gifts.”
His mother stared at him silently for a few seconds before saying, “For goodness sake Jason, when are you going to find a decent woman to settle down with? I’m tired of seeing you flit around town with these-these temporary women who are only after your money.”
“I thought you didn’t want to get involved in my personal life,” he reminded her.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. Holding up her hands she stated, “Fine you’re right. Who you date is none of my business. I just think you need to do better,” she mumbled. She turned to pierce him with a green gaze much like his own. “How are you really? How was your trip?”
He frowned, “It was fine and you know I don’t discuss those trips.” He quickly averted his gaze. He could pretend to be unaffected and show no emotion to fool anyone else, but not her.
She studied his haunted eyes with concern. She opened her mouth to argue, but snapped it shut. Instead she nodded and simply said, “Alright son.”
He got up and walked to look out the floor to ceiling window. He stared out over the snow covered city of Columbus. “I have been thinking. I need to get away. I’m going to take a little time off to… regroup.”
“Get away as in a vacation?”
“Uh, yes a vacation.” The word sounded strange coming from his lips. When was the last time he indulged in such a thing?
“That’s great honey. I think you could use a little relaxation time.” She tuned in her chair to face him. “When are you planning to leave?”
“On Monday. Can you hold down the fort until I get back? I’m not sure how long I will be gone.”
She snorted loudly, “Can I hold down the fort? What kind of silly question is that? I have been running this place for years.”
He smiled. Indeed she had. His mother ended up behind his desk by chance. A few years ago he had been called away to aid in an urgent government issue. His mother who was employed as his secretary had agreed to take over a few simple tasks while he was absent. It turned out that he was away for a lot longer than expected. To his surprise she had taken the reigns and operated the company like a pro. Who knew his mother was so shrewd when it came to such business? To hers and everyone else’s surprise he had stepped back and allowed her to take the reins indefinitely. “I’m sorry for even asking the question. Of course you can. How come you haven’t asked me where I’m going yet?”
She pursued her lips, “I was trying not to be nosey. You’re sisters say I have a problem, so I am proving that I don’t.”
He grinned, knowing that not prying into his affairs was killing her on the inside. “I’m heading to the Caribbean, Martinique to be exact,” he declared, putting her out of her misery. “The island was recommended by a friend.”
She smiled, “That sounds amazing. I’m glad you’re getting away.”
“Yes me too.”
Camille Preston dropped the perfectly arranged bouquet from her hands. She gaped at her sister. “Cassy what do you mean he is gone?” She lifted her long white gown off of the floor and ran to the window. She peered outside. How could Lucas be gone? The ceremony was going to start in just a few minutes. She couldn’t get married without the groom.
Cassandra’s shoulders lifted, “He was standing at the altar and his phone rang, then he dashed out and said he had to go. That was over twenty minutes ago and he hasn’t returned.” Camille ran to pick up her cell phone.
“Maybe he had some kind of emergency. I hope he’s alright.” She hadn’t received any calls from him. She dialed his number and waited. It rang without an answer several times. Trying not to panic, she took deep breaths like her yoga instructor taught her. She was prone to panic attacks and she felt one coming on at the moment. “He’s not answering. Something must be wrong.” She rushed toward the door.
“Where are you going Cam?” Her sister asked.
“I’m going to look for him.”
“I’m coming with you.”
Camille knocked on the limousine’s window, startling the driver awake. “Uh yes Miss?”
“I need you to take me somewhere.” The driver nodded and started the vehicle. She turned to her sister, “What if he’s lying injured in a hospital or something? We should go to the hospital.”
Cassandra gave her a pitying look, “Honey I doubt he has been injured. I hate to say it, but I think you should begin to consider that he just ran off because he got cold feet.”
Camille tuned to her sister, outraged, “How can you say that? If that was the case he would have said something to me.”
Her sister looked unconvinced, “Mhmm.”
Camille scowled, “That’s all you have to say?”
She sighed, “He never really seemed like the reliable type. I really never liked him. Maybe all of this is for the best. I honestly didn’t like the idea of you marrying him anyway.”
“Do you have any idea how selfish you sound, big sister? Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean he isn’t the one for me. I love him and that is all that matters.”
Cassandra shrugged, “I suppose, if you like the shady type.” She turned to Camille, “You have to admit he is quite a shady character. Look honey let’s just focus on finding him. I say we go to his house first.”
Camille nodded and remained silent. Her sister wasn’t entirely wrong. She knew Lucas kept a lot from her, but with his job, he had to. When she had first met him a year ago, he told her he worked for the government. She understood that he couldn’t tell her everything so she never pushed him for information. She tried her best to be the cool, understanding girlfriend. She rested her head against the seat. She had accepted the secrets he kept because she didn’t want to lose him. She had to believe that something bad had occurred for him to run off on their wedding day.
The limo finally pulled up at the gate of Lucas’s massive family mansion. Camille jumped out of the vehicle and ran toward the gate, her high heels clicking on the pavement. She pushed through the gate which was thankfully open and made her way to the front door. She glimpsed a strange car parked nearby. Whose car is that? She pushed the thought aside and continued to run. The front door was ajar causing alarm to surge through her. She prayed that nothing had happened to Lucas or anyone of his relatives. Without knocking, she entered the house. Halting in her tracks, a gasped escaped her lips.
Luca swung his head around and his eyes widened. He quickly let go of the woman in his arms. “Cam, what are you doing here?”
“Looking for you Lucas, what else would I be doing here? And who is she?” Recovering from the shock of walking in on Lucas lip locking with some strange woman, anger started to mount.
Lucas glanced at his companion, then back at Camille. “Err this is Chelsea, an old friend of mine.”
Camille glowered at him, recognizing the name. Lucas had mentioned her a few times. “You mean the old friend who you were dating? The one you broke up with before you met me?” She nodded when Lucas’ eyes widened in surprise. “Yes, you mentioned her quite a few times.” Of course, she thought that things were long over between them, but apparently not. Her shoulders dropped along with her heart. “You left me on our wedding day to meet with her? Why? What’s going on?”
He ran a hand over his face, “Cam, I’m sorry. You’re a great girl, but when Chelsea called and begged me not to get married I-”
Chelsea stepped forward, “Look sweetheart he still loves me and I love him.” She looked down her nose at Camille from her superior height. “Just accept it,” she hissed. Camille’s mouth dropped open. She sent Lucas a look of disbelief. He just stood there and allowed the red haired Amazon to talk to her like that.
He shrugged, “I’m sorry Cam. I covered all of the expenses for the wedding, so you have nothing to worry about.” The pitying look he sent her nearly killed her.
“You told me you were in love with me you bastard. You all but begged me to marry you and one call from your ex has you calling off our wedding? Wait, you didn’t even have the decency to call it off, you just disappeared and left me at the church like a complete idiot.” She captured his gaze, “Did you even really love me?”
He hesitated, “Cam-”
She held a hand up, “You know what? You don’t even have to answer that.” The fact that he hesitated spoke volumes. “Well enjoy yourself with Chelsea, Lucas.” She turned and walked out. Her pride stopped her from falling apart in front of them. She made it half way to the waiting limo before collapsing onto the pavement.
Her sister rushed toward her, “Cam? What the hell happened in there?” She kneeled beside her and wrapped her arms around her sister’s shaking shoulders.
She looked up with tear-filled brown eyes, “Let’s just get out of here.” Cassandra assisted her to her feet and led her to the limo. She settled into the back of the vehicle and wept uncontrollably. She cried mostly because she had made it so easy for Lucas to play her for a fool. What was she thinking getting married to a man who kept so much from her and after only one year of dating? Her beautifully planned Christmas wedding had gone down the drain. She would probably hate the holiday from now on. She let out a low moan as she thought about the humiliating task of announcing to the guests that there would be no wedding. She had never hated anyone as much she hated Lucas Crawford at the moment.
“Camille you have to go on the trip,” Melissa pressed.
Camille looked up at her best friend as if she had suddenly sprouted two heads. “Mel, why the hell would I go on my honeymoon without a husband?” She stared down into her glass of vodka. She still needed the strong spirits to numb her pain after practically being jilted at the altar yesterday. Merry Christmas to me, she thought miserably, lifting the glass to her lips.
“I agree with Caroline,” Cassandra chimed in. “Don’t think of it as a honeymoon, think of it as more like a vacation.”
Camille considered her sister’s suggestion. It would do her some good to get away. She hated the pitying looks she got from everyone. Even now sitting in the bar on a Sunday afternoon, she was getting fleeting glances form some of the other patrons. The joy of living in small town Norton, Virginia, she mused silently. She shook her head, “I can’t. Lucas paid for the plane tickets and everything else. I don’t want that reminder of him on a vacation.”
Melissa snorted loudly, “What better way to get revenge than to have a good time with the rich jerk’s money? And even better, find a handsome man to have a fling with while you’re away.”
Camille rolled her eyes. How could she go away and have a good time? She was in so much pain. All she wanted to do was lock herself up in her room and hide from the world forever. The thought of her former fiancé rolling around in bed with the model-looking Chelsea caused her to drain the contents of her glass. She indicated to the bartender to pour her another drink.
“Bring her water please,” Cassandra told the bartender. She turned to her sister, “I am not going to stand by and watch you drink yourself to death over that man. He isn’t worth it Cam. Go on the vacation, relax, have a good time, and forget about that clown.” She folder her arms “I bet he isn’t even giving you a second thought with that other woman around to entertain him.”
Camille fought back tears. Her sister’s words were harsh and cut her deep, but she was right. Why was she pining away over a man who didn’t love her? She was stronger and smarter than this. She and her sister had made their way in the world without parents since they were young children. She had worked hard to go to college and make a decent life for herself without anyone’s help. She certainly didn’t need to depend on a man to be happy. What she needed to do was pick her pride and self-esteem up off the ground, dust them off and move on. “I suppose you two are right. Maybe I will make use of the already paid for honeymoon.”
Melissa rubbed her hands together in glee. “Good girl, I’m glad you came to your senses. I bet you are going to meet a man who is going to rock your world.”
“I’m not going on the trip to get my world rocked by anyone, Mel. Lord knows it has been rocked enough already,” she muttered. “I’m just going to get away from everything for a week. I already have the time off from work anyway.”
Melissa shrugged, “I have a feeling that you’ll meet someone and end up having a good time. Who doesn’t enjoy themselves in the Caribbean? You are bound to grab a man’s attention. Look at you, you’re gorgeous.”
Camille sighed, not at all consoled by her friend’s words. She remained silent and sipped on the water that her sister forced on her. She scowled deeply. She would have preferred to continue drinking something way stronger. Cassandra nodded knowingly at her and smirked. “Well, I guess I’m off to Martinique tomorrow, and by myself, what a complete drag.” She sat back in her seat, “Who goes to a Caribbean island like that alone? I’m going to feel so out of place, especially in a damn honeymoon suite.”
“If you play your cards right while you’re there, you won’t spend the entire week alone honey,” Melisa stated.
“I’m not you Mel. I can’t put myself out there and flirt with every man I see.” The comment warranted a heated glare.”No offense.”
She shrugged, “Well, you’re not wrong. Don’t worry I’ll give you some pointers on your way to the airport tomorrow.”
“Great,” Camille said, not at all enthusiastic. Even with all of the tips in the world, she would never be able to muster up the courage to approach a man. It was Lucas who had approached her and engaged her in conversation a year ago. She blew out a breath. She was now sure that her lack of experience was why she had fallen so easily. She couldn’t believe that she had attracted the attention of a wealth and sophisticated man like Lucas. She had known it was all too good to be true.
Camille unfolded herself from the taxi and looked up at the impressive five star hotel looming before her. “Wow,” she whispered. There was no way she would have been able to afford a place like this. At least she got an expensive get away out of her relationship with Lucas. The taxi driver retrieved her suitcase from the trunk and put it down beside her. She gave him a smile, “Thank you.” Grabbing her luggage she pulled it to the entrance of the building. Glancing around, she realized that she was way out of her league. She took note of the sleek vehicles that the other guests arrived in and how expensively dressed they were.
She looked down at the simple sundress she had gotten on sale at a cheap department store. Her lips twisted wryly and she made her way inside. The interior of the building was just as eye catching as the outside. Her eyes roamed over the lobby as she made her way to the receptionist’s desk. She yelped when she came into contact with something hard. She quickly jumped back, realizing that she had walked right into someone, “Oh I’m so sorry,” she sputtered. The man turned around with a scowl. His eyes dropped to see who had invaded his personal space. His scowl quickly disappeared as his gaze swept over her.
“It’s alright,” he drawled with a deep baritone.
Camille’s eyes widened slightly. Oh my. She stared up at the green-eyed man with sandy blond hair, shaped into a crew cut, deep set eyes and strong jaw. He wasn’t classic movie star handsome; the stubble around his jaw gave him an extra masculine, rugged look. He looked like the type to throw a woman over his shoulder and show her a good time. Her eyes moved down to take in broad shoulders clad in a white shirt that showed off his toned form. She blinked rapidly and swallowed hard. “I uh wasn’t paying attention.”
His lips lifted slightly, “No harm done.” He turned around and proceeded to the desk. His deep voice washed over her and sent shivers down her spine. He was the type of man that Melissa suggested she have a fling with on her island getaway. But there was no way it would happen-well only in her dreams. She watched him as he sauntered away and disappeared around the corner. She continued to stare at the empty space he left until she was drawn back to reality by an irritated voice. “It’s your turn Ma’am,” stated a gruff voiced from behind her. She glance back to see an annoyed older man.
“Oh right, thanks.” She grabbed her suitcase and quickly moved to the desk.
Her mind was still on the very attractive stranger she had collided with when she entered her room. She looked around in awe. She had never stayed in a hotel room so lovely in her entire life. She plopped down on the inviting bed. “Well here I am,” she said into the silence. What did she do now? Since she had no company, she really didn’t want to do anything but stay in her room. She kicked her shoes off and curled up on the bed. Images swirled in her mind. She pictured standing in the church in her wedding gown, admiring herself in the mirror. She had been so happy until her sister had rushed in and told her Lucas had left. She also couldn’t shake the image of him kissing the gorgeous red head. She huffed in pure dejection. She now felt like she wasn’t good enough for Lucas. His parents hadn’t even liked her much. They always thought she was beneath their class. She snorted; they must be beyond thrilled that the wedding didn’t happen.
Her thoughts strayed to the very hot stranger in the lobby. She sure would like to get a piece of him. “Oh crap, I’m starting to sound like Melissa,” she murmured. She got up to retrieve her phone. She couldn’t afford to make any calls, so she sent texts to her sister and her best friend to inform them of her safe arrival. The texts would probably cost her an arm and leg as well. She read the replies that came in. She was particularly peeved by Melissa’s reply.
I can picture you sitting in your room.
Get your ass out of there and have a
Good time. I mean it. Love you.
She threw down the phone and folded her arms. Only Melissa could make her feel like a boring loser from across the ocean. But she was right; she shouldn’t stay in her room like a hermit. The only thing she would achieve by doing that was have endless tormented memories of Christmas day. “Christmas is officially the worst.”
Camille walked through the crowd in the small town. She had been on the island for four days and she had done nothing but eat and sleep. She had to make an effort to enjoy the remaining three days of her supposed vacation. So, she decided to venture into the nearby town. It was probably less than smart to go out on her own in a foreign country, but the package that was paid for didn’t include transportation, and she couldn’t afford to hire a tour guide. She made the decision of taking the much cheaper public transportation. All she had to do was ask questions and she would be fine.
She should start making her way back to the hotel though. She wanted to get a little rest before the big New Year’s Eve party later on. She looked around, “Ok, where the hell do I find a taxi now?” She pushed through the crowd in search of an available vehicle. It seemed like New Years Eve wasn’t the best time to be out, the place was packed. Camille looked up in concern, it was already getting dark and she still couldn’t get a taxi. Damn it. She walked over to what appeared to be a bus stop. She was relieved to find that the area wasn’t crowded.
She straightened from the post she had been leaning on, her body on high alert when a stranger approached her. He said something in the native language.
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.” He said something again, this time revealing a knife. Camille gasped, fear overtaking her. He stepped forward, effectively maneuvering her further into the dark alley. She whimpered when two more men stepped out. The man holding the knife shouted something, indicating to her bag. She gulped. It was just her luck to get robbed on vacation.
Jason did a double take at the woman leaning against the post of a bus stop. Wasn’t that the woman who had walked into him in the lobby of the hotel? He peered at her over the crowd; his height gave him an advantage. It was her. What was she doing out by herself at this hour, especially in this part of town? It seemed she was alone. He has thought about her several times since their encounter in the lobby. Her almond shaped brown eyes and full lips had caught his eyes, she had an exotic appearance. She was a beautiful woman- not really his type though. He usually went for tall, leggy blonds. This mystery brunet couldn’t be more than five feet, three inches tall. She also had more curves than the women he usually dated, curves which he found very appealing.
He had been tempted to return to the lobby and strike up a conversation after he had left the receptionist’s desk, but didn’t bother. She was probably on vacation with a husband or boyfriend. Such a pity, he thought. He could use the distraction of the lovely stranger. His vacation wasn’t turning out to be as relaxing as he had hoped. Lying in bed at night always bought up old nightmares and memories. What was he thinking coming here alone? It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
He watched as a local approached the woman. A long string of expletives escaped his lips when she backed away and out of his sight. The look of terror on her face was indication that she had done so involuntarily. He let out a sigh, ever the hero he pushed through the crowd in her direction.
“Please just take the bag and let me go,” Camille pleaded, as she offered her handbag. The other two men laughed mockingly. She backed up further when the man holding the weapon stalked forward. She shrank back when she felt the wall behind her. Oh no, I’m going to be killed at the age of twenty-six. Her Christmas holiday just kept getting worse.
“Sortir de son.” Camille recognized the voice instantly. It had been ingrained in her mind four days ago. Jason stood calmly as he repeated, “I said get away from her.” All three men turned toward him, ready for a fight. He rolled his eyes in exasperation and muttered a curse.
“No, don’t hurt him, I’ll give you whatever you want,” Camille shouted, afraid for the man’s life. When the men stepped toward him, she rushed forward and stepped in front of him. “Leave him alone you ass holes. Here this is what you want, take it,” she held out her handbag again.
Jason gaped at her in shock and amusement. His lips curved into a smile. It was the first time in a long time since anyone stepped up in his defense. He took in her small frame, truly impressed. His smile dropped as the local holding the knife made a move toward her. He sprang into action shoving her behind him and efficiently disarming the man. The attacker cried out in pain as Jason twisted his arm behind him. “I was hoping we could handle this peacefully,” he muttered. The other two men lunged at him.
Camille watched wide-eyed as the man who had stared in her fantasies for the past four days took out her three attackers. She watched in amazement as the three robbers managed to get up off the ground and scamper away.
Jason turned to watch them run, a bit disappointed. He had a little more steam to blow off. His gaze darted to the woman who was staring at him open mouthed. “Are you alright ma’am?”
Camille nodded. She frowned; did he just call me ma’am? “T-thank you, are you alright.” She frowned again, realizing the stupidity of her question. Of course he was alright, he did all of the ass-kicking.
He grinned, “I’ll be fine. Let’s get out of here shall we?”
Camille followed him, deciding that it was best if she stayed as close to him as possible. “Uh I’m Camille by the way. I don’t how I’ll ever be able to repay you for saving my ass.”
Jason glanced down at her. And what a fine ass it is. He blinked, shoving away his carnal thoughts. “No payment necessary, Camille.”
“So what’s your name?” She ask running to keep up with his long strides.
“Jason. Where are you headed?”
“Back to the hotel, but I couldn’t get a taxi.”
“I’m heading back there myself. I’ll give you a ride.”
“Thanks, that’s very kind of you.”
They walked until they reached the parking lot of a shopping center. Jason pulled open the passenger door of a black car. Camille hesitated briefly before sliding in. She figured he wouldn’t have save her life if he meant her any harm. He walked around to fold himself into the driver’s seat. He comfortably maneuvered through the streets. “I thought you were a tourist like me,” Camille stated. “But you seem to know your way around pretty well.”
“I am a tourist. I rented this car my first day here. I have been driving around this place for days, so I’m pretty familiar with it.” He liked his freedom; he didn’t want to rely on anyone else to take him around.
He pulled up in front of the hotel. “Here you are Camille. I hope you will exercise more caution while you’re here?”
She blushed, “I sure will. Thank you for the lift and you know… saving me and all.” He nodded. She hesitated before exiting the car. She watched him drive off, wondering where he was going. She had wanted to ask him if he wanted to join her for dinner, but couldn’t muster up the courage. She sighed, her shoulders sagging. She turned to walk inside.
Walking through the lobby, Camille pulled self-consciously at her dress. The short, red, sleeveless contraption revealed way too much in her opinion. Melissa had insisted she bring it along and make good use of it. She called it the ‘catch a man’ dress. Camille rolled her eyes. Why did she always allow Mel to talk her into things she was uncomfortable with? As it turned out, it was the only thing she had in her suitcase that was suitable for a party in a place like this. So she had put it on. She came to a stop at the door leading outside to the back area of the hotel. It was after eleven and the party was in full swing. She glanced at the expensively clad men and women, suddenly feeling better about choosing to sport the dress. At least she could say she fit in.
She was tempted to turn around and go back to her room. She knew she would feel awkward flying solo. A couple coming behind her forced her to step inside. She squared her shoulders and aimed for the bar. Maybe if she got plastered enough, she would begin to feel more comfortable. Hoping on to a stool, she ordered an apple martini and began her night of excessive alcohol indulgence.
“Hello gorgeous, want some company?” She looked up to see a chubby, balding man grinning lasciviously at her.
She fought the urge sneer at him, “No thank you.”
“Come on you’re sitting all by yourself. Let me buy you another drink,” he slurred, blatantly staring at her ample cleavage.
Oh great, now I’m being harassed by a drunk. “I’m fine really. I’m waiting for someone.”
“Yes you are fine,” he grinned. “Well I don’t see anyone so can’t we have a drink or would you rather dance?” Camille rolled her eyes in disgust. How does she get rid of him?
“She was waiting on me, so you can go now,” Jason stated from behind her persistent pursuer. The man turned around and had to hold his back to look up at him. Jason sent him a deadly look.
“Oh uh right,” he said quickly making his escape.
Jason’s eyes swept over Camille in appreciation. “We meet again.”
She turned to smile at him, pleasantly surprised. “Jason, hi. You have saved me twice in one evening. Do you make it a habit to be a hero?”
He grunted, she had no idea how applicable her question was. He took a seat beside her, “Maybe I just search for beautiful women to rescue.” Camille blushed profusely. His lips curled upward. It was refreshing to be in the company of a woman who was still capable of blushing, and who still had all of her natural body parts. He studied her. She had an innocence about her that brought out his protective nature. “So, tell me Camille. What is a gorgeous woman like you doing sitting at a bar alone?”
She gave him a sad smile, “I’m on my honeymoon.”
His heart dropped, so much for hooking up with the exotic beauty. “Where is your husband?”
Camille giggled, “In Virginia with another woman.” She giggled harder when his brows furrowed. “The wedding didn’t happen. I just decided not to make the honeymoon go to waste. So here I am, alone.”
Relief swept over him, “Wow, that’s unfortunate.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t even know why I even shared that with you. It must be the alcohol.”
“No apology necessary.” He extended his hand, “Dance with me?”
She looked down at his hand, and then placed hers in it. He led her to the dance floor just as a jazzy tune started. Jason pulled her to him, placing his hands on her hip. Her breath hitched in her chest at the close proximity. She reached up to wind her arms around his neck. Jason felt his pulse rate kick into overdrive. Camille’s intoxicating scent filled his nostrils. He couldn’t ignore the electric current that course through him. When was the last time he had felt this kind of attraction to a woman? Thinking back, he didn’t think he had ever experienced anything like it. He peered into her eyes, a bit amazed and confused.
She smiled up at him, “So Jason, tell me. What is a man like you doing here alone?” She asked repeating his question. She frowned slightly, “You are here alone aren’t you?”
He let out a laugh, “I am. I just wanted to get away for a while to relax. I heard about this island from a friend of mine. He said this place is magical. I am starting to believe he is right,” he said softly.
Camille smiled and averted her gaze, feeling extra timid all of a sudden. She couldn’t believe she was in the arms of the man who had incited such attraction the very first time she saw him. She bought her gaze back to his. “What did you want to get away from?”
He held her gaze for a few seconds before answering, “Work.”
“What is it that you do?” Based on the way he handled himself against her attackers earlier, he must be in law enforcement. “Let me guess, you are a cop.” He smiled and shook his head. “Hmmm, you’re in the army?”
“Something like that,” he answered vaguely.
“You’re a man few words huh?” He nodded and she laughed. They swayed to the music in silence for a while.
“Alright everyone, only a few minutes before the new year rolls in.” They stopped dancing and turned to the man holding the microphone on stage.
“Wow, another year coming to an end,” Camille muttered.
“What do you say to another drink to ring in the New Year?” Jason asked.
“Sure.” He held on to her hand and led her back to the bar. Heat coursed through her as they maintained skin contact. What was it about him that made her feel like this? Her body certainly didn’t react to Lucas in the same way.
She took a large gulp of her cool drink in an attempt to cool down. The man beside her was wreaking havoc on her mentally and physically. She resisted the urge to lift her hand and fan herself. If she was going to take Melissa’s advice and hook-up on this vacation, she wanted it to be with Jason for sure. But was she bold enough to make it happen? “Ten, nine, eight-” the chorus of the countdown pulled her out of her deep thoughts. “Three, two, one, Happy New Year!”
She gasped in surprise as she was pulled into a kiss. Warm lips covered hers and moved gently. She immediately melted into Jason, resting her palms on his chest. Her lips began to follow the movements of his. She parted them allowing his tongue to slide into her mouth. She let out a moan.
Jason pulled away from her remembering that they were in public. His breathing was ragged. He took a swig from the glass in his hand. What he had meant to be chaste kiss had turned into something much more intense. The second his lips had connected with hers, he had been lost. He glanced down at her to see her gapping up at him. “Happy New Year, Camille,” he said gruffly.
“H-happy New Year,” she stuttered.
He gave her and intense stare before asking, “Would you like to go somewhere more private?”
“I- yes,” she whispered.
They made it to a secluded area at the side of the building. Camille held on to the iron rail and looked out into the sea, which was darkened by the night. “I’m uh sorry about what happened back there. I got a bit carried away.”
She turned to face him, “Oh there’s no need to apologize. I enjoyed it,” she said shyly.
He grinned and spun her around to face him. This time he kissed her with more passion, moving his lips over hers roughly. He moved their bodies further into the darkness and pressed her against the wall, blocking them from sight.
Camille’s mind began to race. Her body wanted nothing more that to take things to the next level. But her ever rational mind, kicked in. She couldn’t do it after all. She wasn’t the type to have one night stands with strange men, no matter how attractive they were. She pushed against his chest. Jason reluctantly lifted his head. “I-I can’t. I have to go,” she said, ducking away from him. Her chest heaved as she tried to regain her composure. She turned and quickly walked away.
“Camille wait,” Jason called, following her. Stepping back into the crowd, he saw Camille heading back to the bar. “What happened back there?” he asked her, settling on to a stool. He glimpsed a man that wasn’t there throughout the night, studying him from the other end of the bar. He frowned, and planted his gaze back on Camille. He didn’t want the man to know that he took notice of his presence. His eyes quickly scanned the crowd. It seemed the man wasn’t alone; there was another man across the room with his eyes trained on him. His lips curled in disdain. Amateurs. They couldn’t be any more conspicuous.
“I just- I don’t know,” Camille said, distressed. She sighed, “I’m not really the type of girl to ‘hook-up’; you know what I mean?”
He nodded, “It’s ok. I get it and I’m s-”
“Don’t you dare apologize, like I said the kiss was… nice.”
He cocked an eyebrow, “Just nice?”
She smiled, “Ok, way more than nice.” She nibbled on her bottom lip and his gaze dropped to her mouth. “I should go. See you around Jason.”
“See you around,” he murmured. He couldn’t help the disappointment that he felt. But it was probably for the best that she left. He could now better deal with the men who were obviously spying on him. Who the hell were they? In his line of work, he no doubt garnered a few enemies. But, he had kept himself out of trouble for a while. He turned his head to watch Camille disappear through the door. His eyes widened when the man from across the room followed. His head snapped up to glance at the other end of the bar. That man too rose to make his way through the door. “Shit.” He jumped up and headed to the door as well.
Camille stepped out of the elevator and heaved an aggravated sigh. I am such an idiot. She had the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with no strings attached, with a gorgeous man and she couldn’t do it. What was the matter with her? There was no doubt that Jason could have taken her mind off her failed wedding. The way he had kissed her was enough proof that he was capable. She began to get overheated just remembering the feel of his lips on hers. She pulled out her key card and opened the door.
Before she could step inside, a gloved hand clamped over her mouth. She instinctively began to struggle. Her feet were lifted off the ground as strong arms wrapped around her. She thrashed and kicked, landing a blow to her attacker’s shin with her stiletto.
He growled, “Keep still you bitch, or I’ll put a bullet in your head right here.”
She stilled when she felt cold metal press against her temple.
It was supposed to be a quiet getaway... After being jilted at the altar, a heartbroken Camille Preston is desperate to get away. She decides to make use of her planned honeymoon and escapes to the Caribbean. She is encouraged by friends to move on by having a fling, no strings attached while on her trip. She knows that it is not in her nature to be so reckless and bold, so she puts the idea out of her mind- until she has an encounter with a sexy stranger who invokes desires she had never felt before. Ex-Marine Jason Pryce is on a solo vacation, seeking an escape from his memories and solace for his tortured soul. When he lays eyes on an exotic beauty, he is convinced that she is just the distraction he needs to relieve him from his torment. His attraction to her is surprising and undeniable. He begins his perusal of her, only to discover that her life is in danger. Their vacation quickly turns deadly and it is up to Jason to save her life... if he can get to her in time. Ex-Marine Jason Pryce is on a solo vacation, seeking an escape from his memories and solace for his tortured soul. When he lays eyes on an exotic beauty, he is convinced that she is just the distraction he needs to relieve him from his torment. His attraction to her is surprising and undeniable. He begins his perusal of her, only to discover that her life is in danger. Their vacation quickly turns deadly and it is up to Jason to save her life... if he can get to her in time.