Isabelle plans to escape the real world when she takes a tropical vacation. But escape becomes too real when Paradise Resort disappears. To win her freedom, she must break an oath and out-play her opponent in a game of seduction. Her self-control is resolute until her traitorous body decides this is a game she wants to play.
Jonathan’s needs are simple: break down Isabelle’s resistance, win the game, and get back to the real world where an emergency waits. Desire grows between them as each roll of the die reveals secrets, truths and skin, until Jonathan is forced to confront his worst fear or forfeit Isabelle to the dark mastermind of the game.
Isabelle was vaguely aware of the stricken expression on Jonathan’s face as her knees buckled. Only with legs clenched tight did she keep herself from tottering over.
The sun was a blazing half disc hovering over the horizon, the trees, an ink smudge rimming the beach. Within minutes, the shore would be chilling, isolating, disorienting, all except for this one fire-lit area.
Jonathan’s gaze rose from the bizarre note she’d found. “It’s a joke, it has to be. We have to play a game to get back to the resort? Rhapsody? That’s insane.” He peered once again at the forest where ten minutes ago the resort had stretched over a few kilometers. Not a sound came from that site now, not even wind through the trees. Besides the flicker of fire, the night was still as a corpse.
“Did you find any sign of life out there?” She forced the words out evenly to tamp her panic and keep her voice from cracking.
“No, nothing. Did you know the resort has an invisible security fence? We won’t get past it if we go through the forest.”
“That’s odd. No, I didn’t hear anything about invisible security. Whoever wrote this note is playing games with us. Do you think this is a hoax put on by the resort?” Though she didn’t wish to admit it out loud, something about this scenario seemed . . . unearthly. A few feet from the fire lay a carpet with over-sized pillows placed for comfort and as the note suggested—pleasurable game play. She couldn’t kid herself into believing that display had been on the beach five minutes ago. The cozy fireside retreat seemed to have appeared from under the snap of a magician’s cloak.
“I doubt it.
“The note says we can’t escape the beach. ‘Play the game of Rhapsody to win your return to Serenity Resort.’ I don’t know who the lunatic is behind this, but we’re cut off from the hotel.” Jonathan checked his watch. As if the time mattered. With the sun sinking, it was light’s out any minute.
“I don’t have time for this,” he said.
Like she did? “Late for your date with the redhead?”
He shot her a wry look. “Not tonight.”
“I’ve got them lined up for Saturday.”
His dry sense of humor appealed to her from their first conversation. She couldn’t deny she’d behaved like his Monday night date until the redhead showed up. He’d been too easy to be with, like an old friend—they’d fit like parts clicking in perfect sequence. She could blame his good looks, the wine, the atmosphere, the conversation, but the truth was she’d gone to his room Monday night because she was too weak to keep to her relationship recovery program. But that was Monday. Today was a new day. “It’s some kind of magic trick. Mirrors?”
His gaze fell on the pillow arrangement. “I don’t think so. I see the game.”
She took a quick step back as he crossed in front of her, the thud of his footsteps a muted sound over the sand. Four torches rimmed the blanket sending shadows rippling over Jonathan’s features. “This is it—Rhapsody.” He read the words stamped across the box top before flipping the lid off.
“A board game? Are you kidding me?” Her panic subsided to a slow canter in her chest. This was nothing more than a silly hoax.
As Jonathan studied the board, she studied him. Her cast-away partner exuded some sort of undefined magnetic force that drew her closer, close enough to notice the mahogany highlights in his hair. The distinguished angles in his face knocked him up a level from handsome to devastatingly gorgeous.
Oh, sweet heaven.
He had a way of standing with his arms behind his back that made him appear open, receptive, with boyish, innocent appeal. His jaw was shadowed with a dark dusting under full lips with luscious curves turned in a pervasive grin. Luscious? She shouldn’t think luscious. He could have lips like sun-ripened peaches, it didn’t matter. She’d made herself a promise. No, stronger than a promise—a vow. No sexual relationships for one year. What was one year out of an entire life time?
She dropped her gaze when she realized he was watching her. That smile of his was infused with enough male heat to melt an iceberg. “What could there possibly be to smile about?”
“Guess what the objective of the game is?”
Sharon Clare lives in Ontario with her husband and three wonderful grown-up kids who come and go from the nest. She fell in love with writing at the University of Toronto where she graduated with a science degree in psychology and professional writing. She writes light paranormal romance and has published short stories, art reviews, newsletter and magazine articles. Her favourite place to write is outside under the maple trees beside the lily pond. Find out more at: www.sharonclare.com