Excerpt: Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise Cover

Chapter 1

“I’ve heard of ‘going native,’ but isn’t this pressing the point?”

The voice was distinctly disapproving, close to his hammock, and utterly female. Reilly Anderson lifted his hat enough to see an expensive pair of high-heeled shoes and a take-me-to-heaven set of legs beside him on the veranda. He had to be dreaming. Legs like these weren’t seen in the rain forests of Central America. He knew. He’d looked.

“Have you lost your voice along with your mind?” she asked impatiently.

Reilly stirred. So he wasn’t dreaming after all. “Who wants to know?”

He heard her gasp.

“Tony? Tony, is that you?”

The hem of her white linen skirt slid up her thighs as she leaned down to peek under his hat. Twisting her head to get a better look at his face, she narrowed her gaze indignantly.

“You’re not Tony,” he heard her say over the roar of the float plane’s engine. “I’m looking for Tony Church.”

Reilly stared back at China-blue eyes and what could be the most gorgeous woman he’d seen in eight months. He wasn’t sure, because she continued her accusing stare from a peculiar angle. Everything else seemed to confirm his suspicion, though. Tendrils of blond hair were slipping from her topknot and drooping like damp ribbons around her earrings, high cheekbones, and dewy complexion. Because she was bending at the waist, her necklace hung below her chin and away from her clingy silk blouse. Then there were those lips, shimmering like her stockinged legs but peach-colored, pouty, and… He closed his eyes, frowning at the physical reaction she’d triggered in him. She definitely belonged in his dreams, but she didn’t belong at the Paradise Hotel.

Not if she was looking for Tony Church.

Throughout his perusal the float plane’s roaring takeoff wiped out every sound. She’d been trying to ask him something and when he finally heard her, she was shouting. “Can you tell me where I can find him?”

Dropping his hat on the floor of the veranda, Reilly straddled the hammock and sat up. With less than a month to go, this was all he needed. An insistent outsider poking her pert little nose around for Tony. “What makes you think he’s here?”

His deliberately quiet response startled her. Straightening up, she smoothed the long, thin strap of her shoulder bag. When she’d regained her composure and was about to speak, her gaze wandered to a place below his face. Her smile faded as her lips parted to take in a breath.

Reilly looked down to make certain his fly was zipped. No surprise there. Hell, except for nature calls, he hadn’t had it unzipped for months. He looked up at her again and guessed his clothes were causing her gaping stare. The faded Hawaiian shirt with the ripped-out sleeves and no buttons had seen better days. “I said, what makes you think Tony Church is here?”

“I, uh…” she began. Blinking, she looked out toward the river. Her voice was suddenly businesslike. “The young boy I spoke to at the dock—you see? There he is now. When I asked about Tony, he pointed up here to the veranda. I thought you were Tony.” She looked him squarely in the eye this time. “Obviously you couldn’t be.”

“Obviously,” he agreed dryly, turning his head toward the water.

A barefoot, shorts-clad ten-year-old was doing his best to half drag, half carry three suitcases over the wooden walkway leading to the hotel. The boy staggered to the stairs with a smile plastered across his face. Reilly winked at him, then returned his attention to the woman. She had managed a smile, too, but it was sliding away as the boy dropped a piece of her luggage.

She reached out her hands in a vain attempt to caution him. “If you could be a little more careful with those, I’d appre—” She winced as each piece banged against the wide steps. “—ciate it.” Under her breath she whispered to Reilly. “Can’t you help him? He’s so small.”

Small, yes, but Reilly had seen him carry thirty-pound bundles balanced on his head. Still, her voice was tinged with concern. He checked out her legs again as he spoke. “Chico.”

As his brown toes reached the veranda, Chico turned toward the hammock. “Yes, Reilly?”

“Don’t carry so many at the same time.”

“Okay, Reilly.” The boy opened his arms and let the luggage drop. One of the suitcases hit the edge and popped open, scattering its contents while tumbling back down the steps.

“My clothes!” Hurrying by the boy, she headed down the steps, grabbing up her belongings as she went.

Reilly raised his eyebrows as the boy moved toward the hammock. “We’ve got to work on this bellhop thing, Chico.”

Chico nodded earnestly. “Three suitcases, Reilly,” he whispered, holding up three fingers. “She is good for business. We’ll be good to this lady, Reilly. Then this one won’t go away fast like the others. She will spend lots of money. No?”

Reilly eased his gaze from the seat of her white linen suit. He frowned, thinking about the complications her presence would bring to at least two areas of his life. His work and his libido.

“She won’t be around long enough. And you won’t, either, if you don’t get a set of bed linens over to Room Two. Rapido.”

As the boy scurried into the hotel, Reilly stood up, swung a leg over the hammock, and made his way across the veranda. The leggy blonde didn’t look up. Flowery silk nightgowns, several swimsuits, and enough pastel panties and bras to fuel his dreams for a decade disappeared back into the suitcase. He sighed. She was moving way too fast, and he was enjoying the show way too much.

“I didn’t catch the name,” he said, heading down the steps. He surveyed the scene, then reached for something pink and lacy and intimate. Whatever the article was, the sheer material would surely dissolve in the afternoon rains.

“Please don’t touch those,” she said, snatching whatever it was from beneath his fingers. She continued gathering up the rest of her belongings. How many of those things had she packed? he wondered.

As if she’d heard the unvoiced question, she raised her head. Her glance landed on his bare chest, moved up to his face, and then veered sharply to the right. She was frowning again, and he knew why even before he looked at the hotel’s sign behind him.

“Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?”

She shook her head. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

When he’d taken over the Paradise Hotel eight months ago, he’d had to pit his immediate goal against his years of marketing experience to leave the sign the way he’d found it. The results of the humid climate and parrot droppings had all but obliterated the red and gold letters, turning the thin wooden rectangle into something resembling a prop from a bad B-film. The realist in him had won out over his executive ego, and the sign had remained in its original deteriorating state.

“I’m trying my best to keep us out of the travel guides.”

“I don’t think you’ll have much trouble there,” she said dryly.

Shaking his head, Reilly pulled on his ponytail and snorted with amusement. The Paradise Hotel wasn’t what he had in mind when he’d studied at the Wharton School, but he had to admit that he’d developed a soft spot for the place. Probably his brain, he concluded wryly. What the hell? If the dilapidated structure didn’t have charm, it certainly had atmosphere. And the rain forest, still standing, leant it an exotic backdrop.

In an unguarded moment he turned to the woman beside him. From the roll of her eyes he knew she wouldn’t be sticking around for long. Clearly she didn’t share his feeling about the place. Good, he told himself while trying to absorb the small bump she’d delivered to the executive side of his ego. Yeah. Right. Fine with him. She looked like trouble anyway, and trouble was something he didn’t need at this stage of the project.

He took a half-smoked cigar from his pocket and slid it between his teeth. If she disapproved of his shirt, he couldn’t wait for her next reaction.

“Maybe I shouldn’t hide this little jewel. I think I will get postcards made,” he said, holding a match to the shredded end of the cigar. He drew in enough to turn the tip orange, and when she finally turned to him , he tried out his grin, the snaky one Chico assured him made children in the nearby village hiccup. Removing the cigar, he waved it toward the building. “Welcome to the Paradise Hotel. I’m Reilly Anderson.” He rubbed his hairy chest, then extended his hand, palm up. “I didn’t wear my tie.”

“I noticed,” she said with ladylike contempt. Taking a business card from her purse, she placed it in his hand. “I’m Allison Richards.”

Without a glance he slipped the card into the torn shirt pocket and his cigar between his teeth.

And then the staring contest began.

It lasted too long. In that steady, China-blue stare he met his match. And he didn’t like it. Especially since the mirrored determination came packaged in feathery framed eyes, a resolute tilt of a chin, and a mouth that he sensed was capable of constantly surprising him—if he let it. And then of course only in his dreams. Her look continued boring into him with enough feminine energy to blitz every masculine circuit in his six-foot-two-inch frame.

It was his turn to look away. What was happening to him? Heatstroke? He was feeling peculiarly disoriented. He almost expected to look down and see himself standing in a boardroom in his business suit and power tie instead of on a rotting wooden walkway in khaki shorts and half a shirt. Drawing on the cigar, he reminded himself that disapproval was what he’d spent the last eight months courting from anyone wandering into the Paradise Hotel. Why was he allowing her disapproval to get to him? For safety’s sake he allowed himself to look at her shoes while he thought about it. But he couldn’t keep his gaze from its upward journey. When he got past her hips and those perfectly shaped, just-big-enough breasts, he was no closer to an answer. In fact he wasn’t sure of the question.

“Mr. Anderson, I have my reservations—”

He looked at her face. “We don’t make reservations.”

“I meant, I have misgivings about staying here. But since the plane left already, I’ll have to spend the night.”

“I think I can fit you in,” he said as she scanned the ground for any stray possessions. He could understand wanting her in that instant, sexual way any man would want her. Even with the humidity at one hundred percent, her hair straying around her cheeks, and the sheen of perspiration lighting her brow, she still managed to look as if she’d been sculpted from a breath mint. He could even understand his uneasiness about her asking for Tony Church. One wrong word on that subject, and they could all end up in the river. What he couldn’t understand was the frisson of alarm bounding merrily through his body. Pulling the cigar from his mouth, he muttered a sibilant curse. Eight relatively uneventful months had gone by, and with less than one to go, she walked in. There was trouble in paradise, and he had to get rid of it. Fast. Picking up a can of hair spray she’d missed, he tsked several times. “The mosquitoes love this stuff.”

“Thank you.” She snatched the can from his fingers, tossed it in with the rest of her belongings, and closed her suitcase. “We were talking about Tony Church, Mr. Anderson. It’s very important that I find him.”

Beyond the clearing a howler monkey let loose with a leaf-shaking growl. Allison Richards’s purposeful expression softened as she scanned the jungle around them. Reilly didn’t miss the growing excitement shimmering in her eyes. The first time most people heard a howler this near, they usually started from the sound. By the look on her face she was hoping for a chorus.

Perturbed at the pleasure her reaction was providing him, Reilly wrinkled his brow and tried sizing her up again. This time he vowed to do it more analytically.

She was on the thin side, but definitely fit-looking. Health-club-fit-looking, no doubt. Those silky pastel scraps she’d returned to her suitcase were bound to look like cellophane candy wrappers hugging her—Whoa! Pinching the bridge of his nose, he forced his thoughts to the other mind-blowing subject she’d presented him.

“What makes you think Tony Church is here?”

Looking back at him, she was all business again. “His letter. The return address was the Paradise Hotel, in care of Selva Verde Airlines. I know he’s been here.”

“Well, he’s gone.”

“Mr. Anderson—”

“Reilly.”

“Reilly.” She offered him an economy smile, the one she probably reserved for the mail boy or her pedicurist. “Where did he go, and how do I get there?”

Allison clasped her hands behind her back and held on for dear life as Reilly Anderson’s gaze roamed over her again. And again. Lord, she hoped he wouldn’t stroke his chest anymore. Whether he realized it or not, each pass of his hand was an invitation for her to follow suit. Once she felt those tight curls spring back beneath her fingers, she’d want to test his biceps with a squeeze and run her knuckles over his smoothly shaved chin and cheeks. While her attention was focused on his face, she’d most certainly have to test those lips with her own. A quick, hard kiss to knock his socks off, if he’d been wearing any.

“Everything all right?” he asked.

“Perfectly all right,” she assured him while her heart continued ricocheting off the insides of her rib cage. But everything wasn’t all right. Something about Reilly Anderson’s blunt attitude had shaken her composure. While she was trying to figure out how that had happened, a long-forgotten image began fighting its way to her consciousness. She couldn’t quite make it out. Tucked away for years, the image continued calling out to her for recognition, demanding attention to a once-familiar scenario. More confused than ever, she struggled to understand the meaning behind the shred of memory and why it connected to this moment. And to Reilly Anderson. The image started gathering momentum, but Reilly’s compelling presence challenged it every step of the way. The tug-of-war continued for several disturbing seconds. Pressing her fingers to her temple, she looked toward the jungle.

Reilly broke the spell. “It’s the heat up here,” he explained. “Follow me.” Picking up her suitcase, he returned to the veranda and picked up two more.

Forcing the memory back, she hurried up after him. He was right. Of course it was the heat. No one was calling her. Reaching for the screen door, she jerked back when he kicked it open and went inside. As he tossed her suitcases into the corner of the lobby, she bit back a groan. She hadn’t survived that river landing in a one-engine float plane only to have Reilly Anderson stop her search. He knew something about Tony, and she wasn’t going to blow her chances of finding out what by whining over scuffed luggage.

Following him through a pair of saloon-style doors, she walked into the Paradise Bar and Grill. At least that’s what the unlit neon sign advertised. The place looked more like a storage area for used and abused bar furnishings. Even the overhead paddle fan dipped and swayed like a warped record album.

“Name your poison,” he said, ducking under the bar and popping up on the other side.

“A lemonade, if you have it.” He gave her a skeptical look as she slipped onto a barstool and crossed her legs. “Perhaps iced tea, then?”

“Perhaps not. Better make it bottled water or beer.” After mashing his cigar in an empty peanut can, he pointed over his shoulder at a modest array of recognizable labels. “I don’t offer my hard stuff until after sundown.”

His hard stuff. After sundown. Inside and out she melted a little more. Swallowing with effort, she took her time wrapping the strap around her purse before placing it on the bar. Sure, all Reilly’s body parts spelled stud with a capital S, but there had to be a better explanation for this overwhelming fascination. Squirming on the barstool, she reminded herself that she always stayed clear of such an irritating type of man. She settled instead for—no, that wasn’t right—socialized with a more intellectual type of man. A responsible type. At the very least, a civilized man, who wore shoes and had buttons on his shirt and used them. And never, never wore his hair in a ponytail.

Trying to avoid looking at him, she thought long and hard about her present state. There had to be a deeper reason why desire was flooding through her like a rushing river. Fanning herself with her one hand, she decided to blame this mix of fascination and desire on the humidity. Didn’t everyone blame things on the humidity when they didn’t want to think about… deeper things? “Perrier would be fine.”

“Yes, it certainly would,” he said, pulling a nondescript bottle from the bar’s refrigerator. “But all I can offer you is our house brand.” He presented it for her inspection as if it were a bottle of fine wine. “Cholera free and cold.”

Goad on, she wanted to tell him. You’re not going to win. As vice president of mortgage loans I’ve been goaded by the best. And I don’t want to like you anyway! Okay, so that attitude was childish, but Lord, how she wanted to shout it.

“See?” he said, tapping the bottle with one finger. “It has all those tiny bubbles too.”

She saw. Like the proverbial jungle cat in those documentaries on the Discovery channel , he lazed around his lair in the midday heat, sleek and deceptively mellow. When the time came for action, she knew, he’d spring to it like an arrow from a bow. Direct and dangerous. Touching her fingers to her brow, she pulled in a long breath. The last thing she wanted to do was put herself into a situation she wasn’t prepared to deal with. Not on any level. Reilly Anderson might be her only link to Tony. She couldn’t risk losing that link over another smart-ass retort.

“Yes, I see,” she said, keeping her voice neutral. The tension between them continued tightening. How was he doing that? How was he reaching inside her with nothing but those big green eyes and shaking the very core of her? She pressed her lips together, willing herself not to respond, but he had already hit his target. She looked at him again, letting the smile creep slowly up her face before she spoke.

“What more could a girl ask for?” Taking the glass container from him, her fingers brushed his. Her gaze drifted down to the big, strong hands that had cradled the bottle. Tiny scars and a few calluses couldn’t hide their sensual potential. They waited, open and empty and more than capable of answering her last question.

“You tell me,” he said, locking into her gaze.

“Just a clean glass, but I don’t think I’d offend anyone if I drank straight from the bottle.”

He leaned back against the low cabinet behind him and folded his arms. “Knock yourself out.”

Unscrewing the cap, she lifted the bottle to her lips and drank. She hadn’t realized how thirsty she was until she’d finished half the water. When she started to lower the bottle, she realized he’d been staring at her. The air in the room suddenly thickened, slowing her movements. She wiped her lips, and his green eyes crinkled at the corners.

“Go ahead,” he said, daring her with a dip of his chin to take the bottle once more to her lips. “There’s more where that came from.”

She knew he was trying to unnerve her and that the only way to win this round was to accept his dare and finish the water. She also understood that by wrapping her lips around the bottle a second time, she’d be a willing party to an erotic charade. A charade he wanted her to perform for him again. She meant to slam the bottle on the bar, but in that same instant something arced between them. Something strong and vital and more stimulating than the touch of any of her lovers—few though they had been. She started to raise the bottle, but his eyes suddenly darkened. Pushing off the cabinet, he swiped it from her hand before it touched her lips.

“Slow down,” he demanded, trying to hide the fact that he was breathing harder than he should have been.

She let what she knew was a shocked expression remain on her face. So he felt this desire, this fascination too. The knowledge invaded her body with a drugging heat, or maybe that came from his closeness. Just inches away. “Why?” she whispered. “It’s so good.”

He leaned toward her. Her eyelids fluttered shut. When she opened them a second later, he’d moved back, suddenly standing tall again. “Because I don’t want you puking all over the bar.”

That explanation brought her to her senses. It also appeared to bring Reilly Anderson to his. He kept his hips pressed to the bar as he picked her card out of his pocket. “So tell me, Ms. Allison Richards, vice president of mortgage loans, why are you looking for Tony Church? Did he miss a house payment?”

“It’s a personal matter.”

“Yeah?”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Maybe I do and maybe I don’t.”

Without breaking their connected gaze, she pushed off the barstool and tucked her purse under her arm. “Forget I ever awakened you from your nap. I’m sure there’s someone around here capable of answering my questions if you aren’t.”

The staccato sound of her heels filled his ears as she walked across the barroom and out the saloon doors. The sound tapped into a dormant part of him, stirring his competitive nature. Adrenaline surged through his veins as that neat linen suit covering her backside continued baiting him. For one strange instant the past eight months vanished, and he was back at Taylor Pharmaceuticals moving and shaking with the best of them. Could this be true? Did he miss his pinching collars? Coffee in a paper cup? A good scrap about profit margins? He would muse over those things later. Not now. He wasn’t through with Allison. “You’ll be wasting your breath, Mzzzzz Richards.”

“No more than I’m wasting it with you,” she shouted back. “And how do I get a room around here?”

He ducked under the bar and joined her in the lobby. “You sign that book and follow me,” he said, picking up her suitcases. He watched her flip through the pages, lingering over a few near the end. When she began signing her name, he shifted the weight of the suitcases and turned to the door. “Don’t bother filling in the rest of those blanks. I have your card. That’s all I need.”

She turned around and shrugged at the back of his head. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Beats me,” he said, managing the veranda door with his toes.

“Can I use my cell phone up here?” she asked, reaching into her purse and catching the door at the same time.

“You could if we had service up here. Sometimes the house phone works.”

“Sometimes…” she echoed.

She followed along, staring first at his hopelessly broad shoulders and the balling muscles of his arms and then at his behind, tight and compact—and begging for a pinch. Her eyes widened at the audacious thought. She’d never pinched a man’s butt, but if she were so inclined, this was the butt to pinch. She couldn’t help herself. She snorted a giggle and then another.

“Something funny back there?” he asked, turning the corner on the veranda.

“No.”

He stopped at the second door and motioned with his chin for her to open it. Following her in, he dumped her suitcases on the floor. “Just a word of caution. People come to San Rafael for many reasons. Maybe Tony came to get away from something. Maybe he came to forget someone.”

“Is that why you’re here?” she asked.

If she only knew. He ignored the question. “Maybe Tony Church doesn’t want to be found.”

“Too bad, because, come hell or high water, I’m going to find him.” She gave him her sweetest smile as she tossed her purse on the dresser.

“You’re one determined woman,” he said, shaking his head.

“I know Tony, and he’ll want to hear what I have to tell him.”

Reilly felt a trickle slide down his back. Damn heat. He reached to rub a low point on his spine. The trickling sensation continued even after he stopped rubbing. “Leave the message with me. I’ll give it to him… if he passes through here again.”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

He shut the door with a backward push from his foot. Moving a step closer, he lowered his voice. “I’ll be discreet.”

“I doubt that.”

“Come on. What’s this all about, Allison? What brought you all the way to San Rafael?” He leaned in close, but this time her eyelids didn’t flutter shut. “What’s the big secret? Is he in trouble with the law?”

She shook her head. “No, Reilly. He’s going to be a daddy.”

“What?!”

Reilly Anderson couldn’t have looked more shocked if she’d sucker-punched him in the stomach. Or was it possible that his dazed expression was one of disappointment? Whatever was going on behind those deep-green eyes of his, she decided not to gloat. Reilly still hadn’t told her what she needed to know. Perhaps this news would spur him to talk. “I said Tony Church is going to be a daddy.”

His mouth opened and shut several times before he spoke. “How? I mean, when’s the baby due?”

“In about four months.”

“Four months?” he asked, staring at the neat gold belt buckle lying flat against her middle. “But you don’t look pregnant.”

“What? Not me, you idiot. My sister. He’s married to my sister.”

His dumbfounded expression turned to relief and then to doubt. “Tony never said anything about impending fatherhood.”

“Of course not,” she said, taking in the scene around her. Clean, folded sheets and a pillowcase lay on the unmade bed, a flashlight stood upright on the nightstand, and nothing large and leggy crawled in or out of anything. Convinced she could survive the night in this place, her gaze returned to Reilly. Her gaze always returned to Reilly.

“Allison, what do you mean by ‘of course not'”?

“I mean, Susan didn’t find out she was pregnant until after he’d left.”

Raising his eyebrows, Reilly kept them up for several seconds before speaking. “How long after he left?”

“What kind of a question is that? Are you implying that my sister would lie about this?”

He ran his hand over his sleek hair and ponytail, then forced an apologetic grin across his face. “Sorry about that. Really.” He cleared his throat. “So, how is Susan doing? Everything okay?”

This was an interesting turn. Reilly Anderson asking after her pregnant sister. She began answering without trying to hide her suspicion. “Everything’s fine. A healthy textbook case, her obstetrician says.” Adjusting her watch, she hesitated before telling him anymore. For once, instinct overrode her cautious nature, urging her to trust him. “Susan and Tony love each other very much. They just had a misunderstanding that somehow got out of control. Probably had a lot to do with all those hormones charging up in her.” She wrinkled her nose. “You know how it is.”

He wrinkled his. “No, I don’t.”

All those soft, sweet feelings welling up in her breast disappeared with his patronizing imitation of her. Off guard and confused, she mumbled, “Oh. Well, I don’t either. I’ve just heard things.” Damn him. Probably the only thing he knew about pregnancy was how to start one.

She watched him pull his hands down over his face and sigh with unnamable frustration. “Go home.”

“Not on your life.”

He gave her one long, unreadable look as rain suddenly banged onto the tin roof. “Drinks are at six, dinner… whenever,” he said over the clattering noise above them.

Reaching for her wrist, he brought it close to his mouth. For a second she thought he was going to kiss the back of her hand. Instead he took a look at her watch, running his thumb along the delicate gold bangle, then capturing the mother-of-pearl face between his fingers. Allison, however, wasn’t looking at her watch. The hand holding it and her wrist had captured her attention. The corded back of it was wide and tanned with a recent history written in fresh nicks and several scratches. Such a beautifully masculine hand; she’d never felt quite so fragile. With her heart booming loud enough to drown out the rain, those mysterious images were on the move again. As if it were an old tune fading in and out of her consciousness, she strained to hear the words, but no one was singing.

“That’s in two hours,” he was saying. Letting go of her wrist, he headed for the door. “You can share my bathroom. Just lock my door when you’re in there and don’t forget to unlock it when you’re through.”

“Just a minute. Did you say I could share your bathroom?”

With one hand on the door he turned around, bracing his fist on his hip. She sounded as if he’d invited her to commit murder with him. “Hey. I don’t offer to share it with just anyone. If you don’t think you can keep your things picked up in there, tell me now.”

“Doesn’t this room come with its own bath? I mean, I’ve never stayed in a hotel room without its own bath.” Panicking now and not caring that he knew, she concluded, “I’ve never had to share a bathroom with a… strange man.”

Reilly bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. “Besides the public facility near the bar, there’s only one other working bathroom. It’s on the opposite side of the hotel. If you think I’m that strange, you can share with Reverend Phillips and the Bartolino sisters. And Mr. Garfield, when he’s around.”

“Who?” she asked, touching her temples. She gave him a tired shake of her head. “Never mind. I don’t want to know. I’m sorry I asked.”

Reilly watched her sink wearily onto her bed. Her travel and her troubles appeared to be catching up with her. She stared at her shoes, then leaned over to wipe dust from the tip of the taupe-colored leather. When she raised her head to look around the room, he fought his inclination to give her a gentle hug. She looked as if she needed one. Cripes, with one word of encouragement she’d probably wrap her arms around him and cry. And then regret it. “Take a nap. Meanwhile I’ll see if I can find the mosquito netting for this room,” he said, going out and shutting the door.


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