Authors: Brenda Jernigan
Published by Brenda K. Jernigan - at Smashwords
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OTHER BOOKS BY BRENDA JERNIGAN
THE DUKE’S LADY
THE EARL’S LADY
THE WICKED LADY
DANCE ON THE WIND
WHISPERS ON THE WIND
CHRISTMAS IN CAMELOT
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E-MAIL - [email protected]
WEB PAGE - www.brendajbooks.com
San Antonio, Texas - September 1987
Danielle Kapur was sick of her life.
Every day it was the same old thing . . . get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, then go to bed so she could start the routine all over again. There just had to be more.
Therefore, she’d made a decision.
So she was being stupid . . . real stupid, but the way Danielle saw it, it wasn’t the first time she’d done something stupid and it probably wouldn’t be the last.
The phone’s sharp ring finally broke into her thoughts. She knew who was on the other end even before she said, “Hello.”
"I, for one, can't believe you're going to do this," Susan Cross, her best friend and nag said.
"Well, I am."
"Have you forgo--"
"No!" Danielle cut her off, speaking a little louder than necessary. "I've not forgotten that Steven has been out of the country for eighteen months. And that a zebra never changes his stripes."
"You mean a leopard never changes its spots," Susan corrected her as she always did. "And thank you for not making me say it first.”
"Are you finished with the lecture?"
"Did it do any good?"
After a moment of silence, Susan asked, “Where are you going?”
"We're meeting at a little island off the coast of North Carolina called Sea Horse Island. He's rented a house there. It will be just the two of us for a romantic weekend. After all, I've never officially given him his ring back, so it will be a good time to discuss our future and where this relationship is going, if anywhere. I've changed this past year, Susan. I won't let Steven walk all over me like he has in the past."
"Oh, please ... You know you're deaf, dumb and blind where that man is concerned."
Dani hung up without answering. She zipped her black leather bags closed, then slung the garment bag over her shoulder, and left the bedroom, pulling her wheeled carry-on behind her. She made a last stop by the kitchen to make sure everything was turned off and to get a glass of water for her motion sickness pills and a Valium that Susan had given her awhile back when she had been anxious. A definite must. Quickly, she swallowed the tablets. This was one flight she wasn't going to throw up on.
She was looking forward to leaving San Antonio and her job behind. Reaching for the doorknob, she paused and prayed she was doing the right thing, because she'd done some pretty dumb things in her twenty-six years, and she hoped this wasn't one of them.
There just had to be more to life than going to work and coming home to nothing. There just had to be true love.
Adrian Massimino finished unpacking his luggage. He stood the suitcase in the closet, then went over to the glass doors and slid them open, letting in the wonderful ocean breeze. He inhaled the tangy salt air and smiled. Yes, sir, this luxurious beach house was complete with every modern amenity and was well worth the two million dollars he'd paid for it.
It was his escape. His hideaway.
Adrian poured himself a drink, then wandered out onto the deck that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. The wind felt good, but dark clouds gathering on the horizon caught his attention. This was typical of how his life had been going lately ... a beautiful new home, white sandy beaches, and it was going to rain like hell all weekend.
He rubbed the back of his neck, trying to remember the last time he'd heard the weather report. Lately, he had been so busy revamping the headquarters of the latest acquisition of The Mass Corporation, the holding company he owned and worked with his life-long friend, Marty Townsend, that Adrian had forgotten to take time out for himself. Perhaps that was the reason his last girlfriend had decided to date someone else on the side. And he knew
was the reason he'd sent her packing, though he'd lost interest in her long before she left.
It was the same old story. He'd find a woman he liked, and things would be fine for the first few dates, then she'd find out he had money, after that, it was all downhill. She’d try just that much harder to please him and he'd lose interest. He wanted to be more than a meal ticket. He wanted someone to see him for himself, not his bank balance. He didn't believe in fairy tales. His wife had killed his belief in anything. He'd been separated from her for two years, and soon the divorce would be final.
Adrian took a swallow of rum and Coke, letting the smooth liquid glide down his throat. What a way to spend his thirty-ninth birthday. Alone. Well, not exactly alone, he amended. He placed his glass on the rail and chuckled as he looked out at the slate-gray waves rolling onto the beach below him.
He withdrew a note from his short’s pocket. It seemed his good buddies, knowing that he'd sworn off women, had decided to give him a no-strings-attached birthday present: a night's pleasure with a very expensive call-girl.
They had been sneaky about slipping the note into his suitcase, explaining that they had checked everything out, including her health record. Marty knew damned well there were no phones at the beach, and that way Adrian wouldn't have a chance to say no. This island was the perfect escape: no phones, no TV and no cars. If you went anyplace on the island, it was either by golf cart or bike.
Adrian sipped his drink. He'd give the woman some money for her trouble and send her on her way.
Then again, it might be refreshing not having someone ask about his financial status and what he thought about long-lasting relationships. After all, wasn’t she just like the rest of the women he’d dated? She was just a little more up front about her price. And more economical, too, he thought wryly.
Love was an emotion for fools, he decided. And he wasn’t going to be a fool. Not again.
The rise and fall of the waves mesmerized him as always. The sea didn't look rough yet. Maybe the storm front would bring nothing more than a brief thunderstorm and the rest of the weekend would be white sands and warm breezes. He finally felt his muscles relax as the sea's rhythms worked it’s magic on him.
Indian summer days and September storms, God how he loved them!
The taxi dropped Danielle off in the middle of nowhere. And she did mean nowhere! The road actually stopped at the water’s edge. "You don't understand. I need to go to Sea Horse Island," she informed the driver with what she hoped was her most intimidating voice.
"That's the way you get there, ma'am. You stand at the dock and a ferry will take you over in about fifteen minutes. Unless you'd rather swim," he said as he got out of the cab and held the door open for her.
Well, so much for intimidating the driver. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, ma'am. Looks like you made it just in time to catch the last ferry. See.” He pointed. “It's coming."
Danielle looked in the direction the cabby pointed and saw the lights on a boat heading their way. "Isn't there a road? Can't we just drive over?"
"Nope." He shook his head as he set her luggage on the ground. "The only way to get there is by boat, lady. And if you don't hurry, you ain't going to get there at all."
Danielle slipped the cabby some money, collected her bags, and trudged along the dock. She found the ticket booth and bought a voucher to the island. "Aren't there any other passengers?" she asked the lady in the booth.
"Afraid not, sweetie. Not many people on the island this time of year. ‘Sides which, most of our residents got worried about Hurricane Felix."
“But they said it was turning away and wouldn’t hit the East Coast,” Danielle said.
“That’s what they say.” The woman nodded. “Let’s hope those weather men are right.”
When the ferry docked, Danielle boarded the boat and ambled over to an empty bench where she deposited her suitcases and slumped down on the wooden seat. She was a little tired and her head was spinning. She reached for her pills again and held up the box so she could read the fine print. "I took one before I boarded, one when I got on the plane and another one when I landed in Atlanta." She turned the box over until she saw the recommended usage:
or two pills for all day relief
. "But I’ve always taken that many, she thought.
However, this time she felt different.
Of course, the booze hadn’t helped either, she reminded herself.
Her plane had been two hours late, and she'd run like hell to catch the next flight. Her nerves had been stretched so tight she'd indulged in a Rum and Coke on the plane. Then the plane had hit an air pocket and she’d gulped another drink. For someone who really didn't drink very much, she'd found the instant relaxation wonderful.
For a little while she'd stopped asking herself the thousand questions that ran through her mind. Would Steven come to meet her? Would he be at the docks when she arrived? Did he still love her?
Her tired mind had become a movie projector, constantly rolling film clips of her life with Steven. And some were not very pretty.
The boat jerked. She clutched her seat as the ferry backed away from the dock. At least the sudden motion stopped the questions from tumbling through her mind.
But why hadn't he been at the airport? He had to have known she had never been here before and everything would be strange to her. She held her watch under the light at the end of the bench. Midnight. Maybe he had been at the airport, but had given up hope that she was coming and had left.
Danielle leaned over the boat rail so she could better see the island's lights as they twinkled and danced in the distance. Somehow, she felt as though something wonderful was about to happen to her, and she was more than ready.
hiccupped, then giggled. She was actually nervous about seeing Steven. She felt like a virgin. Again, she giggled, followed by more hiccups. Had it been forever since she'd made love?
Yep, one year, six
months, and three days. But who was counting?
The sound of the sluggish engines slowing down only added to the butterflies in her stomach. Fifteen minutes later, the boat scrubbed the dock, then gave a final lurch, making Dani nearly slide off her seat. She stood and grabbed the rail. Holding tightly to the rail, she stumbled back to the gangplank, but stopped short when she didn't see any form of transportation
The captain approached her. "Is something wrong, miss?"
"There aren't any cars." She glanced around the deserted gravel parking lot. "Can you call me a taxi?"