TROUBLE IN PARADISE                                                                                    Vintage Release

 

 

 

 

Like it? Buy it!

 

Amazon | Amazon UK | iTunes

Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Goodreads

 

 

 

Hugo Griffin thinks Maddy Osborne is a spoiled little rich girl. She thinks he's a gigolo who is after her vulnerable godmother's fortune.

Stranded alone together on Paradise Island, forced to work together to survive, they have all the time in the world to discover that first impressions can be misleading.

 

Special Launch Price!  99c

Trouble in Paradise is a revamped Liz Fielding classic that was originally published by Harlequin Mills and Boon - for marketing reasons that had nothing to do with the story - under the title All She Wants for Christmas. It's now been given a facelift and it's original title so grab it now at the special launch price of 99c.

 

taste test...

‘IS that Ursa Major?’ Maddy asked, pointing to the familiar constellation as Rupert made a move to seize her hand. But he wasn’t to be diverted by the diamond-spattered velvet darkness of the Caribbean sky.

‘Who cares?’ he demanded, and Maddy gave a startled cry as he grabbed her waist and pulled her roughly into his arms. ‘You know what I want.’ With a crazy little laugh he began to plaster her face with kisses.

‘Rupert,’ she gasped, turning her head from side to side in an attempt to avoid his questing mouth. ‘Please! Don’t—’ But he wasn’t taking no for an answer. ‘You must know how I feel. You’ve set me on fire, Maddy!’ he declared. ‘I must have you... I will have you.’ She was trapped, the hard stone balustrade protecting her from the sharp drop to the sea digging into her back, Rupert blocking the way to the house with his body. ‘I will have you, he repeated. ‘No matter what it takes.

‘No! she protested, desperately trying to push him away. They were supposed to be friends - just friends - and because of that she had fallen for the oldest line in the book. ‘Come and look at the stars...’ How on earth could she have been so stupid? ‘You know you don’t mean this, Rupert, she declared, but he wasn’t listening and Maddy suddenly had the most awful premonition that he did mean every word.

‘I know you think I’m a fool, but I’ve never been more serious in my life. Look...’ He fumbled in his pocket and produced a heavy, ornate ring set with rubies and diamonds and held it under her nose. ‘This was my grandmother’s engagement ring. That’s how serious I am.’ There was more but Maddy no longer heard him, only the shocking echo that boomed in her head. ‘This was my grandmother’s engagement ring’...

The stars began to spin, the terrace dissolved but as Maddy swayed towards him, Rupert misunderstood and thinking he’d won her he grabbed her hand and pushed the heavy ring onto her finger. ‘I know I’m not much of a catch. I’m not clever like you, but one day you’ll be Lady Hartnoll—’

The light spilling from the open doorway caught the stones and they flashed hateful red fire.

‘You’re right, Rupert.’ Her voice seemed to come from far away, brittle and light as spun sugar as she tugged at the ring, hating the sight of it on her finger, desperate to be rid of it. ‘You’re not in the least bit clever or you’d know better than to offer rubies to a redhead. You’ll have to do better than your grandmother’s precious bauble—’

‘I’ll get you another ring,’ he said. ‘Diamonds, emeralds, anything you like!’ His desperate words didn’t register as she twisted the ring back and forth, desperate now to be rid of it, to get away, but her knuckle, broken once when she was a child and awkward ever since, refused to give up its treasure. ‘You can have everything I have.’

‘A second-hand ring, a second-hand title—‘ the words spilled out of her as she lashed out wanting to hurt the man who had brought her worst nightmare writhing out of the darkness ‘— a second-hand fortune? You have nothing of your own.’

That finally got through to him and there was silence, blissful silence.

‘My God, it’s true!’ The silence was shattered as Rupert found his voice. ‘Charlie Duncan warned me that underneath you were as hard as nails.’

‘A pity you didn’t listen to him.’ She gave the ring one final twist. As it flew from her finger, the heavy clawed setting clipped his cheek before disappearing into the darkness.

Rupert touched his face where the ring had struck him, staring in disbelief at the smear of blood on his fingers before, with an anguished cry he dove to the ground and began a frantic search for his family heirloom.

This final touch of farce was too much for Maddy and as a bubble of near-hysterical laughter caught her unawares she clapped her hand over her mouth and spun quickly away, blundering into a figure standing in the purple shadow of the bougainvillea that tumbled about the French windows.

The man caught her, his strong hands grasping her shoulders and Maddy was looking up into fiery green eyes that seemed to see into her very soul.

He was tall — he had to be if she was forced to look up at him — with the kind of dark, weather-beaten good looks that made women melt, and for a moment she remained transfixed, mesmerised, with Rupert, the terrace, the scented Mustique night all forgotten.

‘You can put her down now. Griff, darling.’ A cool, feminine voice brought her sharply back to earth and she turned, hardly believing her ears.

‘Zoë! I didn’t know you were coming to Mustique. When did you arrive? Have you rented somewhere? Stay with us, we’ve loads of room.’

Zoë glanced over her shoulder at Rupert who was by now frantically quartering the terrace in his search for the precious ring, but she made no comment. ‘No, darling,’ she said. ‘I’m on my way to St. Vincent and since the Dragon was on her way there to pick up a charter, I hitched a lift with Griff. I know it’s rather late to call, but we’re leaving at first light and I wanted to speak to your father.’

Griff?

Her godmother had enjoyed several ‘little flings’ since her divorce ten years earlier but this man was very different from her godmother’s usual sleek, well-groomed, well-heeled companions. In his mid-thirties, casually dressed in a pair of lightweight trousers and an open-necked shirt, he was a lot younger than Zoë, and Maddy, still held by those strong, vital hands, felt herself grow hot.

‘You captain the Dragon?’ she asked, turning back to look at him. ‘I saw her pass the island a couple of days ago. She’s beautiful.’

‘Of course not,’ Zoë cut in, a touch impatiently. ‘Griff’s…’ She shook her head, waving away whatever she had been about to say. Griff was what? Just along for the ride? ‘Why don’t you join us tomorrow, Maddy? We could have lunch on St. Vincent. You could stay the night if you like.’

‘No,’ Maddy said, unnerved at the thought of being confined in a yacht, no matter how luxurious, with Zoë and her young lover. Then, aware that she had been a little abrupt, she added, ‘It’s very kind of you, but I can’t leave Dad all by himself.’

‘You’re quite sure?’ Zoë asked.

Maddy found herself staring once more up into the compelling green eyes. The thought hovering in her mind might be “toy boy” but that didn’t suit him at all. He was a lot younger than Zoë but there was a hard edge to him. He was all man.

‘Positive,’ she said. ‘Did you say your name was Griff?’ she queried, the chill in her voice an attempt to disguise the unwelcome intensity of her reaction to him.

‘I didn’t say anything.’ His voice had a low and gravelly sound that seemed to unravel her nerve-ends. The slightest stress on ‘I’ suggested that she had said far too much and she felt the heat rise to her skin under his discomfiting gaze.

‘Just Griff?’ she demanded pertly, attempting to put him in his place. Even as she said it she realised how ridiculous that was. This man wasn’t ‘just’ anything and his ‘place’ would be wherever he chose.

‘Hugo Griffin,’ he replied formally, with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. ‘But Griff will do.’ He extended his hand. Maddy resisted the urge to put her hands behind her, step back. She was a successful business woman, she wasn’t about to have her will sapped by a sudden excess of pheromones. Even so, her tongue moistened her dry lips as she responded and as he grasped her hand, it was as if a current of electricity were being fed into her body, lighting her up.

It was frightening, exciting, appalling.

She jerked her hand free and turned quickly to her godmother. ‘Have you seen Father?’

‘He’s on the telephone.’

‘Still? I don’t know why he bothered to come on holiday. Come and have a drink.’

‘Don’t you think you’d better stay out here and help your friend find his... er... bauble?’

Maddy flushed scarlet as Griff, one brow raised the merest fraction, caught her eye. She glared at him, then glanced back at Rupert, who was now crawling about under the seating in the summer house.

‘I’m sure he’ll manage,’ she said abruptly and, brushing quickly past Griff, she went inside.

‘I’ve been blown to bits driving in that wretched Jeep, Maddy,’ Zoë said. ‘Will you point me in the direction of a mirror?’

Zoë was the most elegant woman that Maddy had ever met and she looked as if she had stepped straight from some exclusive hair salon, but Maddy didn’t argue. ‘You can use my room. Up the stairs and—’

‘Show me the way, darling,’ Zoë said, and the edge to her voice suggested that the desire for a mirror was simply an excuse to singe Maddy’s ears over the scene she had just witnessed on the terrace.

Maddy turned to Griff and waved vaguely in the direction of the drinks cabinet. ‘Please, help yourself,’ she said, and flushed once more as he regarded her with an expression that made her feel as if she had said something suggestive. ‘To a drink.’

* * *

‘Darling, this is gorgeous,’ Zoë said, sitting on the edge of a lace-hung four-poster bed. ‘The whole house is a delight.’

‘We were lucky to get a Christmas cancellation. Why don’t you stay here and spend the holiday with us?’

‘Christmas?’ She pulled a face. ‘I’ve never much cared for tinsel in the tropics.’

‘No tinsel, I swear! Not even a tree.’

‘It’s very sweet of you but Griff and I have something special planned. We weren’t going to stop in Mustique at all, but I wanted to speak to your father and when his office told me he was here on holiday...’ She paused. ‘What do you think of Griff?’ she asked, so carelessly that Maddy’s heart sank. She thought that Griff was likely to break her godmother’s heart. She had never seen her so lit up, excited.

‘Something special?’ she repeated, with a sudden dreadful premonition. ‘Zoë—’

She held up a hand. ‘Don’t ask. I know everyone will try to talk me out of it, so it’s going to be a secret until afterwards. Besides, it’s you who has some explaining to do,’ she said, briskly changing the subject. ‘How on earth could you be so unfeeling to that poor boy? He’s obviously head over heels in love with you.’

‘Nonsense. He’s a clown.’ A stupid, sweet, foolish clown who had blundered unknowingly into a hurt that she had buried so deep that she thought it could never touch her again.

‘Well, you certainly made him look like one tonight. I’m afraid money has spoiled you.’ Zoë took a brush from her bag and began to tidy her hair with little fidgety movements that betrayed her anger. ‘You’re a very beautiful young woman. But handsome is as handsome does. The fact that you’ve been hurt in the past doesn’t excuse unkindness.’

‘No... I’ll apologise when I’m sure he’s not going to repeat his proposal.’

Zoë’s face softened. ‘Are you sure?’

‘He’s just a friend. A good one I thought.’ She sighed. ‘I had no idea…’

Zoë’s face softened. ‘That’s a pity. I wish I could tell you, show you what you’re missing—’ She shrugged, let it go. ‘Run along and keep Griff amused, darling. I can find my own way down.’

Keeping Griff amused was at the very bottom of her wish-list and besides there was something more important she had to do. ‘I’m sure he can take care of himself. I’d better make sure Rupert has found that ghastly ring. Help yourself to anything you want,’ Maddy muttered, and fled, determined somehow, to make her peace with Rupert.

*  *  * 

‘What did you think of Zoë’s new—’ Michael Osborne paused, hunting for the right word ‘—friend?’

Hugo Griffin was the last person Maddy wanted to think about. She had been aware of him the previous evening, knowing instinctively whenever he was looking at her.

‘I hardly spoke to him,’ she said. ‘He seems very fond of Zoë.’

‘Is he genuine, do you think? She was asking me about selling stocks. A lot of stocks. I’ve an uncomfortable feeling that he’s at the back of it.’

‘Surely not!’ She began furiously buttering toast. ‘I mean, she’s not stupid. What reason did she give for wanting to sell? You did ask her?’

‘She pointed out that it was none of my business, but I’m seriously concerned.’ He shrugged. ‘I just hate to see a friend, a woman at a vulnerable age, taken advantage of by some unscrupulous...’ He shrugged again. ‘Well, I don’t have to draw a picture.’

Maddy’s appetite had suddenly deserted her as she remembered their brief conversation the night before, her certainty that Zoë was on the verge of something rash. ‘Poor Zoë.’

Michael Osborne pulled a wry face. ‘If Zoë was poor there wouldn’t be a problem. I want you to try and find out what’s going on.’

‘She wouldn’t thank you for interfering,’ she pointed out. The last thing she wanted was to get involved in Zoë’s romantic entanglement with Griff. ‘Surely you can use your business contacts in Barbados to check up on him?’

‘And if he finds out? Tells Zoë?’ He shook his head. ‘I’ll make some discreet enquiries when I get back to London.’

‘But that won’t be until after Christmas.’ Her father pulled a face. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I see. Your telephone call last night means you have to go home.’

‘I’m sorry, sweetheart, but something has come up and I have to be there for a meeting on Monday.’ He held up his hand to stall her protest. ‘It does give me the perfect excuse to ask Zoë to have you to stay with her on St. Vincent. Such a pity that Rupert lost his head or he could have gone with you.’ He reached out and lay his hand over hers. ‘I’m sorry, I wouldn’t have wished that scene on you in a thousand years.’

She shook her head. ‘You couldn’t have known what he had in mind.’

He shrugged. ‘I only invited him so you’d have company your own age. I thought you liked him.’

‘I do. As a friend. I’m afraid he misunderstood your intention.’

‘Lesson learned,’ he squeezed her hand ‘but I can’t leave you on your own for Christmas’

‘For heaven’s sake, Dad, I’m twenty-three years old. I have my own flat in the centre of London and I run my own business. I’ll be fine.’

‘No doubt, but allowing yourself to look like a spoiled and helpless little brat isn’t too much to ask if it means protecting Zoë from some good-looking confidence trickster, is it? I thought that you, more than anyone, would want to save a friend from that.’

*  *  *

 

‘I’ve never flown in a seaplane before,’ Maddy said in a brittle attempt to appear friendly. But she couldn’t meet his eyes; instead she looked beyond Griff’s sharply defined features to the small craft moored against the jetty as he lifted her luggage from the Jeep.

Zoë had said she’d arrange the flight to St. Vincent and Maddy had [LH1] been looking forward to it, at least until she’d met the pilot. He tossed her bag into the tiny hold and indicated the passenger seat with a curt nod of his head. ‘Unless you climb aboard instead of standing about chattering,’ he informed her, ‘you won’t be flying on this one.’

Maddy felt her mouth nearly drop open. Chattering! [LH2] She had merely tried to ease the almost palpable tension between them, but clearly he was furious that she was being foisted on Zoë.

Reluctantly, she turned to face the man. His sea-green eyes were regarding her intently and she had the uncomfortable feeling that he was capable of peeling back the layers of her mind to discover what she was thinking.

Could he possibly suspect the real reason for her visit?

She regarded him coolly from beneath her lashes. He was tall, with the brawny, well-tanned physique of a man who spent most of his time out of doors; his shorts, faded T-shirt and bare feet pushed into leather thongs were in stark contrast to the expensive if casual cut of the clothes he had worn when he’d come to the house —- a stark contrast to the immaculate white uniforms worn by most charter pilots.

He wouldn’t last long with Dragonair unless he made more of an effort, she thought. Or did he have bigger plans? There were plenty of rich widows and divorcees in the Caribbean. Women like Zoë, alone and vulnerable to the flattery of a good-looking man.

 ‘If you’ve seen enough?’ he prompted, raising one sharply defined brow.

Maddy felt a blush steal over her cheekbones. He’d thought she was ogling him for heaven’s sake! The sheer nerve. Flustered, she turned to the aircraft, which bobbed gently on its floats against the jetty, and gestured at the fierce red dragon painted on its tail.

‘Don’t Dragonair pilots normally wear a uniform?’ she demanded, slipping into full spoiled-brat mode to cover her confusion.

‘Normally,’ he conceded. ‘But who said this was a normal charter?’

‘You’re just doing this as a favour for Zoë on your day off? Won’t your employer object?’ she queried.

The expression in his eyes was unreadable against the dancing reflection of the sea. ‘Are you coming?’ The low, warning timbre of his voice sent a shiver of goose-flesh rippling up her spine.

Maddy gave an imperceptible shrug and lifted her chin just a touch. ‘I don’t seem to have much choice. Zoë is expecting me.’ If she had hoped to prod him a little with this, she signally failed.

‘She didn’t have much choice either, the way I heard it. After all, you mustn’t be deprived of your holiday.’

‘I thought you were in a hurry,’ Maddy snapped crossly. Then, as she made a move to board the seaplane, it rose and fell slightly against the dock on the swell of the tide, and she hesitated.

‘Afraid of getting your feet wet?’ he asked.

She threw him her most withering glance, but he didn’t wither. On the contrary, he put two hands about her waist, lifted her from the jetty and swung her across the gap, holding her for just long enough over the space where the ocean sucked against the jetty to let her know that he was seriously considering whether to dump her in it. A little gasp escaped her lips at such brazen intimidation and, apparently satisfied that he had made his point, his mouth twisted momentarily into a tormenting little smile. Then he placed her very gently on the seat of the plane.

‘I....’

Griff raised a dark brow with speaking insolence at her inability to say precisely what was on her mind. ‘Yes?’ he prompted.

But Maddy, burningly conscious of the pressure of his fingers through the fine silk of her biscuit-coloured camisole, the invasion of the broad pads of his thumbs beneath the flare of her ribs, was finally lost for words.

 Worse, she was blushing for the second time in less than five minutes.

Her immune system was normally alert to all the danger signals, but this man had somehow slipped under her defences while she’d been reeling from her scene with Rupert and she was very much afraid that he knew it. She had to disabuse him of the fact, and quickly.

‘One hand would have done,’ she said. It was meant as a rebuke but her voice was oddly breathy and it came out all wrong.

The lines that bracketed his mouth deepened and he very nearly smiled. ‘Valuable cargo must be treated with care,’ he replied.

‘Valuable cargo?

‘Zoë told me that you are an heiress to a considerable fortune.

Maddy felt a little chill invade her soul. ‘Is that all she had to say?

‘Shes been going on all week about how charming you are which is odd, because shes usually so discerning.

‘You are unbelievably rude,’ she said, as crushingly as she knew how.

‘Anytime, Miss Osborne, he replied with grave formality, totally uncrushed. But at least he had removed his hands and she could breathe again.

‘Now, would it be too much trouble for you to move over? You’re sitting in my seat. Unless, of course, he added, with a wry twist of his mouth, ‘you would prefer to fly yourself to St. Vincent Island?’

About to tell him that she was perfectly capable of doing just that to wipe that mocking smile right off his face, she decided that she’d already said far too much and scrambled across the tiny cockpit into the passenger seat.

Besides, it wasn’t strictly true. She had a pilot’s licence and quite a few hours in her log book but she’d never flown a seaplane. If the pilot had been anyone else she would have asked if she could take the controls for a while, but she wasn’t about to ask Griff-will-do for any favours. Which was probably just as well, because she was pretty sure that he wasn’t in the mood to grant her any.

Nevertheless, she watched with the fascination of the newly addicted, following every movement as he ran through his pre-flight checks, wound up the engine and then called St. Vincent control for permission to take off.

The crackling voice on the radio gave him a heading and height and he threw her a glance to check that she had fastened her seat belt before casting off and closing the cockpit door. The snap of the lock made her jump. It had an almost ominous finality about it, as if the two of them were cast adrift from the rest of the world.

‘Ready? he asked.

‘Yes.’ She gave herself a firm mental shake and looked out of the window, determined not to say another word until they reached St, Vincent.

Griff taxied out into the deserted bay, waiting a moment for clearance. Then he opened the throttle and, unable to help herself, she turned to watch, holding her breath as the plane surged forward under his steady hand and skimmed over the clear turquoise water for dizzy, breathless moments. Muscles flexed on strong, tanned forearms as he pulled back on the control column, their strength defined by the fine line of hairs, once presumably as dark as the untamed mop that decorated his well-shaped head but now turned to dark gold from constant exposure to the sun.

Her back was momentarily pressed hard against the seat and then quite suddenly they were airborne, free, and Maddy gave a little sigh of pure pleasure that drew a brief, enquiring glance from the pilot. She didn’t respond, choosing to concentrate on the unfamiliar view of a string of islands that disappeared into the hazy distance, each with its own protective circle of reef.

The plane banked steeply, offering a breathtaking [LH3] view of the exquisite colours of the bay beneath them, every shade of turquoise, then jade and bright emerald-green until, beyond the white ruffle that betrayed the hidden reef, the water turned to deepest sapphire. As they gained height a yacht, brilliant white against the sparkling blue depths of the ocean, shrank to the size of a child’s plaything and Maddy had a brief glimpse of the wreck of the Antilles [LH4] which years before had run onto the reef between Mustique and a nearby island and broken its back. Then there was nothing but a cloudless blue sky.

Maddy watched intently as Griff made the small adjustments for a straight and level flight, envying the sure, confident touch of his long, sun-darkened fingers on the controls, recognising a man in his element. As if sensing that he was being watched, he turned, and for a brief second their eyes, the tawny and the green, clashed.

‘Don’t do that,’ he said abruptly.

‘Do what?’ She knew instantly that even thinking the question had been a mistake. Asking it out loud had been madness.

‘Flirt when you don’t mean it. Flash out signals like a firefly on heat. I realise there is a type of woman who can’t resist the challenge but—’

‘I beg your pardon? Maddy gasped.

‘I said—’

‘No, she said quickly, with a tiny gesture of dismissal. ‘I heard what you said; there’s no need to repeat it. She snapped her head round to stare straight ahead at the achingly blue sky, painfully aware that once more she had flushed hatefully beneath the beginnings of a tan, but this time she refused to let it go. ‘You’re quite wrong, you know. I wasn’t trying to flirt with you. Damn. Why on earth had she said that? Far better to have ignored it. St. Vincent wasn’t far. Much better to keep her silence. ‘I was just interested in the controls. No! No! She hadn’t meant to say that! It was as if her tongue had a life of its own.

‘The controls? Griff gave a short laugh. ‘Of course you were, Miss Maddy Osborne. Before she knew what was happening he had grasped her dismissive hand and laid it over his on the control column, holding it captive, small and white between his own strong, workmanlike ones. ‘Like this?’ he asked, his decisive mouth far too close for comfort.

‘No!’ Maddy was desperate to pull free from the hateful, exhilarating touch of his hands but her brain was ignoring the urgent signals for help.

‘Will you show me how you do that?’ he mocked, his voice slipping easily into a fluttering, breathy impersonation of her own, so good that if she hadn’t been thrown totally off balance by the swiftness of his attack, by the unexpected surge of warmth as the palm of his hand was pressed against her knuckles, she might just have found it funny. ‘Oh, Griff, aren’t you strong!’

His voice wavered in a perfect imitation of the kind of woman she had heard a dozen times during the past couple of weeks, the kind of woman who hung around the muscular young men who worked around the hotel and on the beaches. The kind of woman he preyed upon? If so, why wasn’t he encouraging her instead of mocking her? Could it really be true that he was ready to fleece Zoë?

If that was the case Griff wouldn’t want Maddy telling her godmother that he had made a pass at her, would he?

He made no move to hold her as she snatched her hand away, seething with indignation. ‘Maybe half the women in Mustique have thrown themselves at you, Mr Griff-Will-Do,’ she told him with considerable force, ‘but, I can assure you, you are perfectly safe from me.’

‘I’d be perfectly safe from you if you stripped naked and danced the limbo. I don’t like heartless girls who tease.’ His green eyes, hard as the heart of an emerald, flickered carelessly over her, apparently unmoved by her outburst. ‘Judging by the performance I witnessed yesterday, you’re obviously a past master. Or should I say mistress?’

‘Mistress?’ Maddy, who prided herself on her ability to take most things in her stride, felt a flutter of confusion ripple the smooth surface of her life. Disturbed, unsettled by the man’s insolent manner, she lashed back, ‘Hardly that. It was doubtless his desperation to get into my bed that drove Rupert into offering marriage,’ she responded vigorously, without pausing to consider the wisdom of such a statement.

‘There’s no need to explain; the picture came over loud and clear.’ His voice was barbed. ‘If you can drive a man that far you must have a rare gift for the game.’

‘It’s not a game,’ she said stiffly, fervently wishing that she had kept to her plan to ignore him. But it was impossible to ignore him in the tiny confines of the aircraft. He reached across the small space between them to graze her mouth with the edge of his thumb and she gave a shuddering little gasp.

‘Your lips drip ice. Miss Osborne, but your eyes are on fire. A dangerous combination. He tucked his thumb beneath her chin and forced it up so that she was looking straight up into those insolent green eyes. ‘One day you’ll meet someone who won’t take no for an answer.’

‘You?’ She had intended cold mockery, derision. The word came out as a breathy little gasp, an invitation.

‘Would you like to find out?

He didn’t wait for her answer but reached for the dark glasses perched on the ledge above the instrument panel and slipped them on.

Following his example, she slipped on her own sunglasses and pushed them firmly up her nose, signalling that as far as she was concerned the conversation was at an end. It should never have started. She wasn’t so easy to provoke under the normal course of events, but this man had rattled her from the first moment she’d set eyes on him.

Tease indeed!

As if Rupert Hartnoll’s proposal had been welcome. His arrival on the island aboard a friend’s yacht had been a complete surprise but her father, misreading her pleasure at seeing him as something more, had issued an invitation to stay without consulting her.

Maddy glanced at Griff from behind the relative safety of the darkened lenses. She wasn’t in the least surprised that he appealed to women like Zoë with too much money and nothing to keep them occupied. He had the kind of body any woman would find irresistible and, if not precisely handsome, his strongly moulded face and the well-defined curve of his mouth suggested a sensuality...

Confused at the turn her thoughts were taking, Maddy tightened her lips. Handsome is as handsome does, she reminded herself very firmly, then threw an exasperated glance at the cockpit ceiling. Oh, Zoë, she thought, why couldn’t you take up knitting and grow old gracefully?

Griff reached up for the radio, speaking to traffic control to inform them that he was approaching Paradise Island.

‘See you in a couple of weeks, Griff. Have a good holiday,’ the voice crackled back before signing off. He hooked the radio back up. Maddy frowned, surprised that he hadn’t immediately contacted the next control area. But she had learned to fly in the busy airspace near London. Out here everything was more — relaxed.

‘You’re going on holiday?’ she demanded. The words were out before she could recall them. She had assumed that he would be working, that she would at least have some time alone with Zoë to find out what was going on. But if he was going to be there all the time... He was staring at her. ‘The air traffic controller said...’ she began, then coloured. ‘It doesn’t matter.’

‘A couple of weeks fishing, if you’ve no objection,’ he said abruptly. He didn’t elaborate and she left it. It didn’t matter to her what he planned to do, and since she knew Zoë loathed fishing they would at least have some time alone to talk.

She glanced out of the cockpit. They had dropped height considerably. Below them was a small island which, from the air seemed deserted. Not a sign of life, no craft to mar the perfection of a narrow horseshoe inlet that ran up to a small, sheltered beach fringed with tumbled rocks. No buildings to spoil the perfect natural mop of lush greenery that decorated the hilltop centre although she knew that could be deceptive. Few islands were totally uninhabited and the windward side might be choc-a-bloc with holidaymakers, although it seemed unlikely.

‘Is that Paradise Island?’ she asked.

‘Like to have a closer look?’ It wasn’t a polite invitation and she turned at the sudden tenseness in his voice. Then the engine gave a little splutter and the propeller ceased to spin. Maddy watched, fascinated, as Griff switched off the engine, pushed in the throttle, turned off the fuel — classic textbook procedure prior to an emergency landing...’Shoes, glasses, false teeth, he snapped urgently. ‘Open your door. Now!

Her eyes saw what was happening but her brain wasn’t taking any calls.

‘I haven’t got false—’ Then the sudden realisation that the engine had cut out, that the crackling chatter from the radio had abruptly ceased and that the only sound was the air rushing past the fuselage broke through the disbelief and she reacted. She kicked off her shoes, flung off her glasses, flipped the door lock before burying her head in her lap.

 

 

Like it? Buy it!

 

Amazon | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

 

From the book TROUBLE IN PARADISE by Liz Fielding

Copyright © 2016 by Liz Fielding