Authors: Kira Sinclair
Tags: #Island Nights
Shaking her head, Lena headed for the door. Colt reached out to stop her, but she was too fast. “You don’t have to let him in.”
“I do if I want any clothes to wear on the island. I wonder how long it took my mother to realize she could hand Wyn the perfect excuse to make me see him.”
Not long, Colt guessed. The woman was flighty, but she was also calculating. From everything Lena had told him about her childhood—which wasn’t much—he’d gathered her mother had spent her entire life moving from man to man—and dragging Lena behind her. Her only valuable skills seemed to be charming and wheedling her way into whatever she wanted.
The minute Lena opened the door, Wyn pushed past her. However, he slammed to a halt the minute he saw Colt. With a dark scowl on his face, he said, “What’s he doing here?”
Colt knew Wyn had never liked him, but then the feeling had been mutual, so he didn’t exactly hold that against him. What he did have a problem with was the way he’d treated Lena.
She deserved better.
“Give me one good reason. That’s all I need,” Colt promised in a calm and even voice, taking a menacing step towards him.
Lena inserted herself in the middle, splitting a hard stare between them. Tension simmered as they both glared across the top of Lena’s head.
“Stop it, both of you.”
Wyn took a step forward, but she planted her hand hard into the center of his chest, stopping him in his tracks. The minute her palm collided with him, she recoiled. A knowing smirk touched Colt’s lips and he enjoyed the way Wyn’s mouth tightened into a hard line.
“Thanks for returning my suitcase. You can go now.”
Wyn tried to reach for her, but she scooted backward, straight into Colt. For a minute she jerked the other way, but as soon as her mind caught up and she realized he wasn’t a threat, she leaned gratefully against the solid line of his body.
“Lena, we need to talk,” Wyn said, grinding the words out between clenched teeth.
“I have nothing to say.”
“Okay, then just listen.”
“I don’t want to hear it. All I want is for you to leave.”
“Look, we still have the honeymoon. Why don’t we go away? See if we can fix this. I mean, see if I can fix this.”
Lena shook her head, sadness clouding her eyes. Colt wanted to rush to her defense, to stand between them both and defend her, but he realized she didn’t need his help. She was perfectly capable of handling this on her own. She’d always been a strong woman—it was something he admired about her.
“I’m not going anywhere with you. I am, however, taking the trip that you promised me. I think it’s the least that you owe me. A chance to get away, sort through some things. Maybe after I get back I’ll be ready to talk to you, but don’t think for a second that means I’ll ever take you back. I experienced enough dysfunctional, toxic relationships with my mother. I have no intention of falling into one myself.”
A hard glint entered Wyn’s eyes. He wasn’t happy, but then there wasn’t much he could do about it. What did it say about Colt that he delighted in seeing the other man thwarted?
“What if I just show up?”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Besides, I’m not going alone. Colt is coming with me.”
Wyn’s body bowed tight with anger. Colt had no doubt that it was barely in check. Taking a deliberate step forward, Colt drew Wyn’s glittering gaze.
“I always knew there was something more between you two.”
Lena let out an exasperated sound, as if this was ground they’d covered more than once and she was sick of traveling it. “How many times do I have to tell you? There’s nothing between us. Hell, I barely see him. Don’t paint me with your brush just because you’re feeling guilty at being caught.”
Wyn’s teeth ground together. Colt could hear them from where he stood several feet away. If the man had come here to beg forgiveness, he certainly had an ass-backward way of doing it. But Colt had no intention of pointing that out.
“Fine. Enjoy your trip.” Looking Colt square in the eyes, Wyn said, “I hope you get sunburned.”
Colt delighted in being able to smile at him and promise, “Don’t worry about me. I never burn. And I swear I’ll keep Lena good and covered up. Or even better, out of the sun altogether. I wonder what else there is to do on a romantic tropical island besides swim?”
THE LAST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS had been hell. Sure, Colt had upgraded them both to first class but a delayed flight, two hours sitting on the tarmac, a missed connection and nine hours in the Atlanta airport were not how she’d envisioned the trip beginning. Of course, nothing about the past day had happened as planned.
But they were here now and that was what mattered.
The island was about forty-five minutes by ferry from St. Lucia. The ride over had been amazing—bright blue sky, therapeutic sunshine and a brisk tropical breeze that had helped to clear the jetlag cobwebs from her brain.
When Wyn had told her he’d booked them at Escape, Lena had checked the place out online. The resort, the only thing on Île du Coeur, had a volatile and romantic history. The small island had originally been a cocoa plantation but had been turned into a boutique resort about fifty years ago. It had been renovated, added onto, changed hands multiple times and let fall into disrepair until the current owner had purchased it almost three years ago. The place was now billed as an adult-only tropical retreat. Small and intimate, lush and seductive, perfect for a honeymoon.
Apparently, there was a local legend to the name of the place.
Île du Coeur
literally translated meant Heart Island. Supposedly, everyone who visited found their heart’s desire—whether it was what they were looking for or not. Lena had her doubts, but she had to admit that it was a great marketing angle.
Lena had been surprised that Wyn had sprung for the most expensive bungalow at an already pricey resort. The man came from money, but he was very careful about how he spent it. His frugal nature was one of the things that had attracted her to Wyn in the first place. Considering where she’d come from, that quality had been extremely important to Lena.
Her mother had been…erratic. Hell, she was still unreliable. Using her ethereal beauty and fragility, she’d spent her life conning a succession of men into taking care of her. But the arrangement was never permanent. It had been a good year if Lena didn’t have to change schools more than once. And that was assuming her mother actually enrolled her. Sure, she’d lived in Europe, Brazil, D.C., New York and possibly every state in between, and she’d hated every last second of it. Except for those few months with Colt and his family. That was the only time she’d ever felt that she belonged.
All she’d ever wanted was to find someplace permanent, to grow some roots. Someplace that wouldn’t change in the middle of the night when the wife discovered the mistress, and Lena and her mother were thrown out on their ear.
The only contact she’d ever had from her father was the monthly check that provided the only steady income they had. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep her mother in the lifestyle she preferred. Lena had often wondered if her mother had gotten pregnant on purpose, just to ensure money would come from somewhere. She’d never been brave enough to ask. Probably because she’d been afraid of what the answer might be.
Normally Lena wouldn’t have been one to splurge on unnecessary luxuries, but whatever Wyn had spent on the honeymoon had been worth every penny.
The island was gorgeous, just what she’d expected. Lush colors—green grass, red, pink and yellow flowers, rough brown trunks of towering palm trees and clear turquoise water—surrounded her. The pebbled path leading from the pier to the main building wound through perfect landscaping. She could hear laughter and music floating on the warm sultry air.
The grand facade of the plantation house greeted them. Antique wood and faded walls lent an aura of old-world charm and history that just couldn’t be faked. A larger more modern building rose up behind the house. No doubt it had been added at some point to expand the hotel space.
Lena spun on the path trying to take it all in as Colt held the door open for her. Ducking beneath his outstretched arm, she scooted past. The minute her body brushed against his, an unexpected tension stole into her limbs. It wasn’t the first time she’d had this kind of reaction to Colt, although it had been a while. She groaned inwardly. Why did the physical reaction always have to blindside her? It was nothing. Chemistry. Shaking it off, she tried to focus on the lobby.
Polished wooden floors, hand-carved molding and period fabrics covering the chairs all gave the space an air of authenticity that immediately charmed her. From across the room a cheerful woman with friendly eyes asked, “Checking in?”
Lena nodded, the first genuine smile she’d felt in days on her face. “Lena Fuller.”
“Rand,” Colt’s deep voice rumbled behind her.
She whipped her head around to look at him. “What?”
“I imagine they’d have you listed under Rand, not Fuller.”
Lena wrinkled her nose. “I suppose so.”
“Oh, are you the Rands?”
The cheerful woman spoke over their words, moving away as she said, “We’ve been expecting you, although we thought you were arriving on the earlier ferry. Let me get Marcy for you, she’ll be handling everything while you’re here.”
Not only was she friendly, but fast. The woman disappeared, leaving Lena standing at the vacant counter, her mouth hanging open, unsaid words stuck in her throat. Colt tapped his finger on her chin and she snapped her jaws shut, ignoring the rush of heat that blasted through her face.
A small woman burst through the doorway behind the wooden counter. Beautiful pale hair fluttered around the sharp angles of her face. She carried her shoulders in the straight line of a drill sergeant, telling Lena that she was definitely in charge.
Marcy stuck her hand out and Lena automatically grasped it.
“Welcome to Escape. I’m Marcy.”
She reached for Colt’s hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you in person, Wyn. Of course, I’ll be working with you both this week, trying to keep everything flowing smoothly.”
“Working?” Lena’s mind raced, but she couldn’t make sense of what Marcy was saying.
“The production crew arrived yesterday and set up this morning. We were under the impression you’d be arriving earlier, but I suppose things happen when you’re traveling.”
Lena found herself apologizing, although she wasn’t exactly sure why. Normally, hotels didn’t care when you checked in and none of the literature she’d read about Escape indicated there was a strict policy. “We missed a connection.”
“No matter. We’re on a tight schedule, but we’ve adjusted things accordingly. The team would like to start immediately with some romantic shots during your welcome dinner this evening once you’ve settled.”
The fireball glanced down at the tiny gold watch wrapped around her slender wrist. “Your reservations are at seven so that gives you a couple hours to settle into your bungalow and unpack.” With a smile that was more perfunctory than welcoming, she asked, “Any questions?”
“Yes, what are you talking about?” Lena stared blankly at Marcy. It was as if she was speaking another language, one Lena knew she should understand but didn’t.
“The photo shoot.” The other woman’s eyes glanced behind her at Colt before returning to Lena again. “Surely Wyn explained everything to you.”
Colt cleared his throat. “Perhaps you could do us both a favor and go over it again.”
An expression of disbelief and irritation flitted across Marcy’s face, but she looked at Lena and explained. “Wyn and I have been working on a marketing campaign for Escape. When we started throwing around the idea of featuring a couple, he had the brilliant suggestion that we use you both as a real example of a loving couple honeymooning on our beautiful island.”
“Why would we want to spend our honeymoon posing for an ad campaign?”
Marcy’s brow wrinkled as her frown deepened. “Because you aren’t paying for the vacation.” She shot another nasty look across at Colt. “He really didn’t tell you any of this?”
“No, no, he didn’t.”
“I’m going to kill him.” Colt’s words were low and she thought Marcy hadn’t actually heard them. He started to turn, but Lena grasped his arm and held him there beside her. His biceps flexed beneath her hand. When had he gotten so strong?