This assignment in Fiji was supposed to be ZoÃ« Conrad's ticket to a new life of excitement and adventure. But immediately stumbling over a body was a whole lot more excitement than she'd bargained for.
Then the dead man turned out to be very much alive-- and she found herself giving in, almost against her will, to his slow, sensual seduction. And yet...millionaire hotel owner Sean "Breeze" Guthrie's killer smile couldn't quite conceal the darkness in his eyes. Was he really capable of the crimes he was accused of? Was she falling-- and falling hard--for a murderer?
Fiji June, present day
Fiji was totally gorgeous.
Zoë Conrad gazed up at her assignment, a charming, whitewashed Queen Anne-style bed-and-breakfast perched on a vividly green jungle-covered slope above a sparkling blue and white crystalline beach. "Romantic and isolated," the Secret Traveler info sheet had said of the Indigo Inn, which was located on one of the northeastern islands of Fiji. Zoë would definitely add quaint and appealing to that description. Colorful birds flitted through the trees. Sweet, fragrant flowers scented the air and a pretty sailboat bobbed cheerfully next to the dock where she stood by her luggage, taking it all in.
My God, she thought with an appreciative sigh, everything is perfect. Absolute five-star perfection.
Well. Except for the dead guy in the hammock.
Zoë took one look and screamed at the top of her lungs. The man was sprawled with both arms and one shorts-clad leg dangling over the sides, his Hawaiian shirt covered in blood.
Spinning around on the rickety wooden dock, she jumped up and down, waving her arms hysterically at the swiftly receding seaplane that had just dropped her off in what was supposed to be paradise.
"Wait! Stop!" she yelled as the pontoon craft pointed its nose away from her and taxied smoothly over the turquoise water. "For the love of Pete, stop! Help!"
But her friends and fellow Secret Travelers, Alicia and Madeline, who were off to their own assignments, must have thought she was simply waving an enthusiastic goodbye, because they waved back just as enthusiastically from the small, square windows of the six-seater. Then the plane lifted from the waves and soared off into the clear blue sky.
Leaving Zoë all alone with two suitcases and a dead guy.
"Damn," she muttered desperately. "Damn, damn, damn!"
Now what? The three-day seminar she'd taken when she'd first joined the company as a hotel-and-resort evaluator two years ago hadn't covered finding dead bodies.
Sticking her shaking hands under her armpits, she reluctantly turned back to the beautiful bed-and-break-fast on the hill, praying someone would come out to greet her. No such luck. The Indigo Inn's owner, Sean Guthrie, had profusely apologized in his last e-mail that he would most likely be away on business until morning and the new staff would not be arriving for three days. She'd assured him that was quite all right, she'd picked the inn for its solitude, not to be pampered. He'd replied that the front door would be unlocked as usual, the gardener would be there to help her with her luggage and the inn's hostess, Aruna, would return from her afternoon break at four o'clock. Meanwhile there would be sandwiches and beer in the fridge, help herself.
Not that Zoë couldn't use a beer about now. Or something stronger.
A lot stronger.
A pair of scarlet, blue and green parrots swooped down and sat on a tree branch just above the hammock and started chattering gaily above the dead guy's head.
"Shoo!" she yelled at the birds, appalled, and hurried up the garden path to chase them away from the body.
Which, just then, let out a soft grunt.
"Omigod! He's not dead!"
She ran up and peered at the man over the edge of the giant hammock. Could this be the gardener? She held her breath, waiting for him to move. Or do something.
He didn't. He still looked dead. The sigh must have been in her imagination.
She tilted her head in pity. A shame, really. The guy had been handsome--in a stiff sort of way. Okay, really...