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Remember, I own you…
Haunting and vile visions keep all American girl Leesa Douglas looking over her shoulder every day and night. A monster from her past ripped every fairy tale from her life, giving her reason to fear. Pretending has become her way of life; with a new name, a new country, and for two years, she has allowed herself to feel peace. Now a successful restaurant manager, Leesa loves her island paradise in the Bahamas. Playing and working with her best friends couldn’t be better, especially since they are four of the most gorgeous men she’s ever laid eyes on. The only problem is that she's keeping a damaging secret from everyone – one threatening to destroy her life and her soul.
Kaydyn Foster, renowned island chef, knows something is wrong with his lovely co-worker, the one with whom he longs to share his bed and his life. Sadly, he has no idea how to break her out of her shell. That is, until a horrific storm washes out the road from the restaurant where they work and keeps the friends together one night. Playing out a fantasy, Kaydyn suggests a game of Truth or Dare. During the event, they share intimate moments and dangerous secrets, including Leesa’s desire for a dominating man. In the light of day, the threat becomes real. Terrified her previous life will destroy all of them, Leesa sacrifices all she loves, choosing to run again when the nightmare returns. Only Kaydyn can prevent her from leaving. Can he find her in time, before the past fractures them forever?
Publisher's Note: This book contains elements of power exchange, domestic discipline, and explicit sexual scenes.
There’s no place you can run far enough away from me. Never forget, sunshine. I own you…
“No! This can’t be happening to me.” Leesa shivered violently, her voice a strangled scream as she palmed the plate glass window in the dining room.
“No!” The next flash of lightning forced a series of harsh whimpers from her mouth. She scuttled backward, hovering in the doorway to her office, frozen with fear. “He’s going to fucking kill me!” Panting, she shook her head from side to side. “I don’t believe it!” A jagged double bolt drove her forward into the shadows of her office. She pressed her cheek against the window as if searching into the darkness for a damning answer.
“Is that Leesa?” Mark eyed her silhouette which could be easily seen through the oversized inner office window.
“Yeah it was,” Dusky’s voice offered, full of concern. Pitching the kitchen towel aside, he strode toward her office. “Shit!”
Kaydyn Foster wiped his hands on a kitchen towel and surveyed the room. He’d seen Leesa nervous or uncomfortable regarding various things before, but tonight she was more than on edge. It was as if she were seeing a ghost. “Is she okay?” He eyed his best friends and grew concerned seeing the looks on their faces. Dusky Segal, Mark Graves and Steven Torres were like big brothers, protectors. They also worked together almost every day. Tonight, he was glad they were here.
“Go. See what is going on,” Dusky suggested.
Leesa yelped. “I hate you! You fucking asshole! I refuse to…” She stopped short and stole a glance into the dining room.
“What the hell?” Startled, Mark flew past the long mahogany bar toward her office, nearly knocking over a tray of dishes, reaching her first. “Leesa, what the hell happened honey?” He threw his body behind hers and glared out into the malevolent sky. “What do you see?”
She stood shaking as the raging effects of the storm cast a haunted glow around them. “I just saw him. I did. He’s here and he has a knife and he’s come to finish the job. He found me… he… he’s going to kill me! Please help me!”
Kaydyn advanced quickly, tugging her from Mark and wrapping his arms around her shaking body. As he pulled her tightly against his chest, her thin frame molded easily into his larger one. He glanced out into the wind whipped night, unable to see little of anything but ominous shadows grazing against the carved shore. That didn’t mean she hadn’t seen something real that terrified her. “It’s just the storm, baby girl. Nothing else. You’re very safe here with us.” Kaydyn had only seen Leesa Douglas, the all-American girl and his current restaurant manager, so full of terror twice in the two years he’d known her. Each time had been during a storm. Yet tonight she was more hysterical than ever before.
“I hate this,” she managed to whisper. “I know, we have guests. I’ll be okay.”
“What do you think you saw?”
“Nothing,” she whispered as she tried to smile. “Really. Nothing.”
“Okay. If you say so. I promise you there’s nothing to worry about.” He eyed the few tables that held customers. While a couple of the patrons were watching in fascination, they were at least welcome regulars and considered the staff family. Still, to have her so frenzied in the middle of dinner while a storm raged outside was more than a bit unnerving. He gave Mark a nod. They didn’t need to make any more of a spectacle out of what was happening.
Mark backed away toward the door, his hands in the air.
Leesa’s voice was barely a strangled whisper, the words were meant for Kaydyn only. “You don’t understand! He always told me he was going to find me and kill me! I can’t run any longer. He’s found me!” She bit her knuckle as her hand flexed open and closed and struggled to gain control. Hissing, she blinked several times. “Why? What did I do wrong? Why?” Her body shook violently against Kaydyn’s.
“What do you think you saw? Who are you talking about?” Kaydyn whispered as he glanced around at the crowd in the restaurant. Jesus! Thank God the music was loud enough the customers hadn’t heard what she said. “It’s okay Mark, I’ve got her.” He eyed their friend who stood looking worried, every muscle tense.
“You sure, buddy?” Mark kept his gaze locked onto Leesa.
“Yeah, go on. Tend to the customers.”
Mark nodded, catching Kaydyn’s drift and inched forward to rub Leesa’s arm before walking back toward the main dining room.
“I saw a real monster. He’s going to cut me into little pieces. He’s… got… got a knife and he told me… that… that he would…” Gulping, she stopped short, as if trying to retract her anguish. A single tear trickled down her face. “Shit Kaydyn. I’m sorry. It’s just the storm. I’ve been having nightmares lately. That’s all. Guess I’m exhausted. I think I’m seeing ugly little men in my dreams.” Laughing nervously, she brushed her hand through her long curls.
Somehow he knew better. Lately he’d noticed the increasing bouts of emotion that seemed to be slowly overtaking her. He wanted nothing more than to help and comfort her, the woman he adored in so many ways. The same one who refused to give him the time of day in any other regard but work and friend time. The fact that she allowed him to hold her during the middle of dinner service meant something had drastically changed for Leesa Douglas, the beauty who wore her mysterious past like a badge of honor. Yet suddenly whatever secrets she was hiding were coming back to bite her.
They stood for a few minutes holding each other, Kaydyn rubbing her back. “Relax. I’m here for you if you’ll lean on me.”
“I’ll be okay,” she said as she sighed.
He shook his head as Mark strolled back into the room.
“You have friends out there, girl,” Mark smiled. “They’re worried about you.”
“You do,” Kaydyn added.
Leesa jerked away from Kaydyn and stumbled backwards, falling hard into the corner of the desk as if the words of comfort were overwhelming.
“Whoa girl, I got you.” Mark took her by the arms and pulled her into his arms for a bear hug. “It’s just the storm.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not usually this way. Whew! I need a vacation.” She clawed at Mark’s arm as she wiped away tears with the back of her hand, her eyes darting back and forth across the flickering wrath of the storm. She seemed to allow the comfort of his arms for just a moment before she broke free and moved toward the windows, palming the glass and drawing her body to its full height.
Kaydyn knew instinctively she was sending a warning to her would be attacker.
“Stay away!” she murmured.
Mark moved behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist. “Shh… we’re here for you.” Kissing the top of her forehead, he used the tip of his finger to slide a loose curl from her face as he eyed Kaydyn.
Turning her head, her eyes flashed across the dim room as she bit her lip. “You… you’re right. I’m sorry. I… I’m fine.” She calmed down slowly and patted Mark’s hand, the gesture little more than perfunctory. “I’m sorry. I know I keep saying that, but I normally don’t get so rattled.”
“It’s okay, honey. You hate ominous weather. I think we all have a touch of that now from living on the islands. Let’s get you something to drink.” Mark guided her away from the window as he glanced at Kaydyn and shrugged his shoulders.
Kaydyn followed them slowly, stopping in the doorway of her office. Eyeing Dusky, he nodded. He was glad to have good friends and they all cared about her. Dusky was his closest friend and confidant.
“Everything okay?” Dusky asked after glancing over his shoulder.
“Shit. I guess so.” What the hell was going on? He moved out into the main dining room and gazed across the expansive space. If only he could get her to talk about what had happened in her life.
Dusky moved forward and sighed. “She going to be all right? I mean, that was something else. Not like her to freak in front of customers.”
“I know. She’s been working long hours.” Kaydyn had no idea what to think any longer.
“Yeah, but that’s not unusual. Do you think she really saw something out there?”
“I don’t know, but that frazzled behavior is not like her. To think some guy is waiting out there to kill her is pretty farfetched.” Kaydyn sighed as he brushed his hands through his hair. All right? The woman was a walking bundle of nerves. He’d known she carried baggage, but even though during the past few weeks her behavior had altered, tonight was terrifying.
“Go to her and help her feel better. This storm is ugly,” Dusky said.
Kaydyn shrugged. “You know how she is.”
“I know, strong-willed, pig-headed, opinionated and ballsy. Just like you, interestingly enough.” Dusky grinned. “But seriously man, something else is going on tonight. I’m not sure it’s just the storm.”
True enough. She wasn’t normally this outwardly distraught and it frightened Kaydyn. He stared at the crazed pulse of the lightning as it flashed in colorful shimmers across the turbulent sea. Without a doubt, he knew one thing for certain. The single reason he hadn’t attempted to get any closer to the sensuously stunning kitten before was her damning secret, the wretched skeleton that kept her from opening up to him, or any man for that matter. His gut told him that the secret she carried had nearly destroyed her and he was more than determined to save her soul, and murder the man who had tortured her.
If only she’d tell him the name of the bastard.
The stunning woman who gave to everyone else and haunted his fantasies had been driven to a life of hushed words and hidden documents. He snarled as he watched her walking the floor. Clearly, she was unaware he knew anything about her past or how much he cared. He didn’t know any details, but he could guess. Was he right? He couldn’t know for sure. The only thing he knew for certain was that the man had been abusive. That was enough. There was no doubt in his mind that before the month ended, her asshole of an abusive ex-husband would be dead by his hands.
He stole a longing glance at the woman who boiled his blood, and he licked his lips. His cock twitched just watching her nervous ticks. God, how he wanted to be inside her sweet pussy, driving into the core of her, but he shouldn’t think like that. Still, he wanted her so badly he was unable to look at her without imagining her naked and writhing under him. Swallowing hard, he brushed his hand over his taut erection, the one that had been begging for release for two years. Moving toward the kitchen, he turned to watch her, now smiling and laughing with the customers.
“Everything will be okay, my friend,” Dusky murmured. He turned and looked at the ringing phone. “Please tell me there’s not another asshole trying to make a reservation for tonight.”
“I know she’ll be fine. She’s strong.” But he wasn’t sure, given the blazing look of terror he’d seen earlier. He cursed and shook his head as he walked into the kitchen.
“Hey Leesa. Phone call. One of your many admirers, no doubt.” Dusky followed closely behind Kaydyn, but turned to watch her as well. “Hm… you okay? You look kind of pale and not from her outburst either.” He tipped his head as he slapped his friend on the back. “Oh, I get it. Jesus dude, are you ever going to deal with her? Ask her out finally? Take her home and make passionate love to her? Fuck her brains out. Make her your woman?”
Kaydyn knew Dusky meant well. After all, he’d been the only one to hear about Kaydyn’s fantasies. Best friends since childhood, he and Dusky had seen each other through broken relationships and tough financial times. “Fuck her brains out? That’s a pleasant thought. Perhaps I should mention that to her and see what she says. Maybe I can even throw her across one of these little tables here and be the floorshow for the night. I might even spank her sweet ass. There you go, real entertainment. Geez, caveman, Leesa isn’t like that and you know it.”
“Yeah, well, she adores you, that’s for sure. The two of you need to run off and make babies together. Everybody knows how much you love her man, not just me.”
“Babies? Please. I doubt she’ll even go out with me.” Did all his friends really see how much he wanted Leesa? He risked another glance toward her and heard the echo of his heart thumping into his chest. “How the hell can you tell that?”
“Well, duh. Take your blinders off. It’s easy to tell by the way she stares at you when she thinks you’re not looking. Her eyes get all glassy and those sinful ruby lips of hers pout, all for you man. And you? I know you too well. Remember? You better go grab her or I sure as hell will,” Dusky snickered.
Kaydyn knew his long-time friend wasn’t entirely kidding. Dusky adored Leesa as well. All the men in the restaurant did. She was an intelligent breath of fresh air to the Bahamian men. Between her creamy alabaster skin, long red curls, and luminescent emerald green eyes, she was every red-blooded male’s fantasy. The hourglass figure and long carved legs were simply the icing on the vanilla cake. “I don’t know. She’s fragile.” The question still remained: could she finally forget the past and allow him in?
“Not as fragile as you think even given her outburst tonight. She’s pissed at something. Go for it man. You know you want to.” A clap of thunder stopped their conversation for a moment.
“I want to Dusky, I really do. It’s just…” He noticed the look on her face before she grabbed the phone at the bar. He didn’t have to hear what she was saying to know she was pissed. When she slammed the phone on top of the back bar, he shook his head. “Who was on the phone?”
“No idea. Some guy. Just asked for her.”
“What are you thinking?”
Kaydyn exhaled and kept his eyes on her as she clenched her fists and kept her head down. “I’m not sure, but whoever was on the phone she had no desire to talk to.”
“Then I suggest you find out what the hell she’s hiding before it’s too late for both of you. She’s private. I get that, but its holding her back and it might just kill you.” Dusky sighed and patted him on the back. “The storm is really starting to kick up so leave your hormones aside and let’s get these people out of here. I’d like to get home at some point.”
Kaydyn nodded. Dusky was right, technically anyway. He wanted more from the beautiful woman who dragged his very soul into the depths of humanity and back again. “Give me a minute and we’ll get it rolling.” He shook his head and wanted to turn away, but he couldn’t. He ached to have Leesa in his bed. He’d waited for so long for her to be comfortable and he told himself he’d be happy settling with nothing more than her friendship. But tonight, he was determined to help her realize that while they had been around their flirtation, his attraction had taken another turn.
“You okay, Leesa? Anything wrong?” Dusky called.
“I’m fine. Perfect. Just perfect,” she mumbled and stormed away from the bar.
“Whew. I think we should leave her alone for a little while.”
“For now,” Kaydyn said. He admonished his thoughts, but his protective side mixed with his strong desire for her and he was having difficulty in not mixing the two. How many nights had he lain awake thinking about pressing his lips to hers? He’d longed to touch the sizzle of her creamy skin as she feathered her hands down his back, guiding his thick shaft into the heat of her belly. A flush swept his system as he thought about her voluptuous breasts. He could imagine her slender fingers taking his throbbing cock in hand, cupping his balls and squeezing just enough to force a moan from his lips.
He could see himself bucking like a wild animal the second she inched down on her knees, nestling between his legs to slide a long lick down the side of his shaft before taking his blood engorged tip into her mouth. He closed his eyes and envisioned her angelic face, her sensuous mouth, her tongue licking him while he moaned above her as he fought to enjoy himself and finally explode into her hot mouth. “Stop it. Get a damn grip.”
He sighed and tried to think about anything else. He was dangerously close to guiding her into the walk in, and fucking her brains out while she screamed out his name. As good as the concept sounded, that approach wouldn’t work. God above, what would it be like to taste her? He groaned and chastised his ridiculous thoughts. The last thing she needed right now was some lover cowboy on the move. What she needed was a friend, and one who would protect her. That was more than obvious.
“Careful lover boy, your thoughts are showing loud and clear including that huge bulge in your pants. I suggest you take care of that before you go out front lest the customers and the woman you crave think you’re a sexual deviant.” Dusky shook his head and leaned against the kitchen doorway, grinning as he winked.
Kaydyn growled and threw a towel at him. “Yeah, yeah. Get the hell out of here and do your job before I fire your lazy ass.”
“In your dreams.”
He could still hear Dusky’s chortled laughter as he sauntered back toward the bar. What a group of musketeers they were, but Dusky was right. While he enjoyed having Leesa as his friend and prayed that wouldn’t change, at some point it would be time to turn up the heat and throw down his cards. He merely had to understand when the time was right. He would do anything for her, but at what cost? What or who was troubling her to the point she was more fragile than when she’d arrived?
* * *
Leesa steadied her nerves and assured Mark she wasn’t flat out losing her mind. Yet after what she’d swear on a bible she’d seen, she wasn’t so sure anymore. The phone call hadn’t been the first. In fact, there had been several hang ups during the last two weeks. While Hank might be on the road, or lying in a ditch or fucking some bimbo, that didn’t mean he couldn’t have one of his buddies keeping tabs on her. That sounded just like the gutless asshole. She refused to allow him to get the better of her.
After accepting Mark’s offer of a cognac, she walked into her office, sat clumsily in the chair and fought to keep the terror from bubbling to the surface. She looked up from her computer toward the sound of the wind howling outside the window. The large pine trees swaying against the glass gave an eerie feel to the darkened night. Her emotional breakdown earlier was abnormal, but the terror was real. There was no doubt in the far reaches of her mind she’d seen him, her own personal monster. The only question: Did she simply see him in her mind? She tried to concentrate on closing out the previous day’s books while Kaydyn and the team worked the room in the restaurant she loved and called home. This was the only place she felt safe.
She fingered last night’s receipts and sat back in her chair, attempting to piece together the nightmares. There was nothing new, just flashes of what she could remember. Maybe she was working too hard. She took very few days off. Hell, maybe she was simply losing it.
There was one way for her to find out if she was going crazy. The man was a magnet for the Internet and every bit of press he could garner. Stealing a glance into the dining room, her fingers danced across the keyboard. It took barely a minute before her search engine brought up every place Hank ever considered being. Her eyes darted up and down the screen. An event earlier that day was recorded. She clicked the link and watched the video performance of his latest single. Sighing, a telling caption flashed across the screen.
“San Francisco, huh? Stay right there, asshole.” Breathing a sigh of relief, she wiped a bead of perspiration from her cheek and realized she was safe, at least for now. The boys could handle any of his cronies, that is if she told them the truth. But, how could she? They’d judge her, call her stupid. No, they won’t! She rubbed her eyes and counted to ten. This was safe. Safe. Yes. She would be safe here no matter what. The mantra didn’t seem to be working.
Then again, no one was truly safe, were they? Weren’t the nightmares enough? Why had the freak come back to haunt her days as well? There was no way he could’ve physically found her. She’d covered her tracks too well, right? She fought new tears and concentrated on the men in her life who seemed to care about her. Kaydyn.
She could see the man, her best friend in the world nonchalantly watching her out of the corner of his eye as he came and went from the kitchen. While there was a look of concern, she could read his thoughts well enough. They’d danced around their attraction for months. How could she ever learn to trust or love again? She smiled as heat crept up the sides of her neck. He was one gorgeous man and any girl would feel lucky to have him. She dared another glance and bit her lip.
Every time she was in the same room with him she envisioned the two of them together. She’d thought about him taking control, becoming the dominant she’d always wanted. She groaned. Control.
That was something Hank was very good at. There was no way she could allow a man to ever exercise any level of dominance over her again, no matter what the girl inside desired.
She looked down at the paperwork and opened Excel. Kaydyn would remain her friend and nothing more. After entering the bar receipts, she looked at her watch then heard his booming laughter. He was certainly the only fantasy that dragged her away from her nightmares. When she caught his eye, she blushed. “Whew.”
With every vision, she imagined opening her legs as wide as her lithe body would allow, to give him all the access he dared to take. Blatant raging hunger roared through her body and went straight to her heated pussy at the whisper of his name… Kaydyn. And tonight was no exception. The look he was giving her was nothing short of feral. Oh, how she hoped she could be his feast someday. She’d spent too many nights with a lonely vibrator thinking about him filling her, using her, fucking her. She swallowed and tried to look away as her nipples scraped against the thin lace of her bra, the effect painfully reminding her that he was off limits, not because of him but because of her. She was damaged goods and no man could want her ever again if they knew.
“Damn you!” Leesa was angrier than she’d ever been. Hank was doing it to her again, stealing away her life and perhaps her lover. Gulping, she grabbed the cognac, her hands shaking. Barely able to get the crystal to her lips, she took a long swallow, relishing the way it burned the back of her throat. The feeling meant she was still very much alive. She set the glass down and placed her head into her hands. What was she going to do?
The thunderous roar of the wind slicing against the side of the building brought her back to reality. The panes shimmied back and forth hitting the thin bracing, reminding her that island gales were always wild and violent. She hated these storms with a passion. Unpredictable. They seemed to go on forever and they generally produced some kind of damage. It was the only thing she hated about living in the islands.
The humidity tangling her long curls, Leesa pushed back a stray strand and sighed, wishing something or someone could give her the answers she needed. “When are you going to stop?” She snarled as a weather bulletin flashed across the screen. The damn storm was going to be a killer. She glanced at her watch. It was only nine-thirty—way too early to shut down. Nope. Her boss kept the place open no matter what the weather. Tis the islands my girl. You must be prepared for every kind of weather, Trey always told her. His haphazard attitude sometimes drove her crazy, but the now-wealthy man was more than a friend.
Granted, she couldn’t complain. Trey Montana had given her the prestigious job as manager two years ago when she desperately needed work. By all rights, she shouldn’t have been allowed to work in the Bahamas. She was nothing more than a lily-white state side girl with shaky identification. Even with all her baggage, Trey had been kind to her and continued to pay her too well for her duties. The man was a Godsend in more ways than one. He even kept out of her hair and allowed her to run the restaurant as she chose. Well, mostly out of her hair. He’d absolutely shudder if she even considered shutting down the place because she was scared of a little weather. Oh no!
Chuckling, Leesa rose from her chair and walked to the door. Eyeing the handful of tables remaining, she knew they were in for a long night. She grabbed Steven’s arm as he sauntered by. “Hey. How many are left?”
“Just got a couple more in the door if you can believe it.” He smiled his toothy grin, the clipped British accent husky. “You know how vacationers are.”
“Sadly, I do.” A long night indeed.
“By the way, you look beautiful tonight.”
Always the flirt, Steven never seemed to take life too seriously and Leesa loved that about him. She called Steven her silly rock. He was her busiest and most profitable waiter because of his wit, charm, and erotic good looks. She wasn’t sure how he maintained such a marvelous attitude as poor as he was. Working his way through college and feeding his entire family of twelve, Steven had little time for fun. She had to admire the guy. Like most Bahamians, he cared deeply for his family and that simple little fact was one of the reasons she adored Steven and considered him a best friend. His positive attitude was also why she respected him so much. In truth, all four of the men who worked in the restaurant were her friends. The thought brought a smile to her face. They were best friends indeed. They worked and played together almost every day. “Thank you. You look yummy, as usual.”
“Yummy? Perhaps you and I need to go out after work and have our way with each other.”
“I’m not sure you could handle me.” She couldn’t help but lick her lips and cock her hip for emphasis. The tall heels gave her a distinct advantage and helped her feel like the vixen they seemed to bring out in her.
“With that kind of look you realize I want to try,” Steven laughed. “You know Kaydyn, love. He makes a production out of everything. We could be here for a while.”
She turned her gaze to the kitchen door and knew Steven was right. Kaydyn was a marvelous but impetuous chef. “Yeah, I do. Seriously though, the storm is coming in fast. I’m worried.”
“You look flushed. Is it honestly the island storm that’s making you so nervous, Leesa?” His impious look did little to mask his thoughts.
“Nice try,” she said as she wrinkled her nose. “I’m fine. Really. I’m all good.”
“Right.” He grinned, slicing a nefarious glance toward the kitchen and then back to her glassy eyes. Winking, he eased a strand of hair from her face. “Sure you are girl.”
Leesa could tell how hard Steven was working just to make her smile. She feigned a happy expression. “Really. Stop fussing.”
“Okay, okay. Then stop looking so worried about the storm. The building will take it. You know we’ve had worse storms than this. Try and relax.” Steven brushed a lingering kiss across her cheek and moved away with his tray of drinks.
Relax? Yeah right. She touched the warm heat of her flushed skin and sighed. Between the blatant sexual innuendos and their exotic good looks, all four men were enough to do her in. She’d thought about every one of them over the past several months and felt guilty for doing so. But she hadn’t been this wound up in so long. Why tonight? Was it the storm or the fact she hadn’t had sex in years? Shivering, she glanced out the window. She wasn’t apprehensive about the building. The stone fortress had withstood a good six hard hits over the past few years with only minimal damage. Yet she was edgy as a skinned cat about getting home. Vision or no vision, she needed the comfort of her bed and a glass of wine to soothe her nerves.
She walked to the back wall which was banked by ceiling to floor windows allowing the best panorama of the Atlantic Ocean. And the scariest views of every approaching storm. The wind was whipping the sea into a frenzy of mist and waves, and she shook her head and thought about the road outside. The restaurant was appropriately called The End of the World Bar and Grill because it sat on the Southern-most tip of the island. Difficult to get to but well worth the trip. Quote unquote.
No, that wasn’t entirely true. The one-story building built sometime in the fifties sat on a small island just off the main island of the Grand Bahamas. What troubled her was that there was one road leading in and out. Sitting dead at sea level, she’d seen the ancient pavement flooded at least three times over the past two years. The crumbling edges stated very clearly the narrow road needed to be resurfaced soon. The water somehow always receded quickly, but the mere thought of being trapped unnerved her. She hadn’t experienced a tropical storm of this magnitude since she’d arrived.
Tonight’s squall was a dazzler. The secluded location precluded tourists from just dropping by, but the restaurant was very well known for their fantastic fresh seafood and the beautiful white sandy beaches. They even had a beach slip access and slide pool near the bar area. Packed to the gills at all hours, many times they served as many as three hundred guests a night. Kaydyn Foster had made a name for himself in three short years. And at least for the night there appeared to be some common sense among the locals and the majority of tourists. The restaurant was appropriately quiet. Which meant she didn’t have to worry about guests getting blown away in the outdoor seating area. The area was closed off earlier at her insistence as the storm brewed. “Time to do your job and get them out of here before the weather worsens,” she whispered to herself.
Leesa moved through the crowd of adoring people, shaking hands and recognizing the regulars. She was well liked in the club and certain prominent islanders came to have a late night snack and a look in her direction. Some of the men made sure to come alone and made it known they desired her attention, which she never gave them. It wasn’t her style. Every once in a while, it dawned on her she was the only white girl in a sea of heavenly dark skinned men, an anomaly. At least her compadres in the restaurant treated her like one of the guys, even if the patrons didn’t.
The five of them shared war stories about past loves over pizza and beer and a rousing game of pool at the local pub when they had a rare night off. They loved competing against one another. All five loved sports, but the guys were amazed at the sheer number of stats she could rally off her sharp tongue at any given moment. And a recent twist was that the sexual bantering had picked up, but she attributed that to their closeness and trust.
Her newest nighttime fantasy pertained to being sandwiched between all four of her co-workers and it had kept her up late many a night. She was lonely and hungry yet skittish about giving them any indication of her needs, especially Kaydyn. But there were moments her desire almost got the better of her.
She walked into the kitchen to find Kaydyn quietly cursing. His dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she could see the strain written all over his face. She affectionately called him Kaydyn the Enforcer because of his infamous petulance in the kitchen, but only in the kitchen. Outside in the big bad world, he was a roaring pussycat. In his kitchen, he ruled with an iron fist and an evil tongue. “What’s wrong my Enforcer Man?” She coined the phrase for him the second day on the job when he’d thrown a hot skillet at her simply because she’d talked back to him after a particularly horrible grilled salmon was served to a customer. Undaunted and fearless, she threw it right back, much to Trey’s chagrin, and hit Kaydyn squarely in the head. The two had been buddies ever since.
Kaydyn growled but glanced at her gleaming smile. “You always know how to silence me buttercup.” He teased in his alluring British accent.
“Back at you, baby. What’s up? You look more stressed than I do.”
“I sent a couple of the servers home far too early. I didn’t anticipate we’d have four tables arriving so late. Even Dusky wants to get the hell out of here.”
“Yeah. I’m not thrilled either.” Leesa frowned. “How ‘bout I step in and be your right-hand girl?” She knew her way around the kitchen, having worked every station at her father’s restaurant in Nashville over the years. Sometimes she missed the grueling work. She also loved being by Kaydyn’s side. He comforted and protected her and probably had no idea how calming he’d been for her over the years. Let alone the fact she could get away with staring at his carved ass and long legs while they worked. What a delicious perk.
His eyes flashed and he laughed. “Would you? I’d be eternally grateful.”
“God yes. I just want to get home before the brunt of this ugly storm hits.”
He handed her an apron. “Table five still needs their salads and I’ve got to get the shrimp down for seven. Do you think you can prep the salads and get the appetizer ready for table sixteen?”
“Who was on the phone?” he asked after several minutes.
“A little while ago. You seemed really upset.”
She swallowed and plastered on a smile. “It was nobody. Probably cut off because of the storm.”
“Right. Okay. I’m sure you’re right.”
Of course, he didn’t believe her. She sounded as unconvincing as ever.
“You know if you want to talk to me about anything, and I do mean anything, you can.”
“I know and I appreciate it. I really do. Just let it go. Okay?”
“Okay. For now,” Kaydyn said, and breathed out a heavy sigh.
They worked together seamlessly over the next twenty minutes to get all the food out in a timely fashion.
“Mark! Steven! Orders up!” Kaydyn snapped and the two waiters came scuttling into the kitchen.
“Easy does it, Kaydyn the Enforcer. We’re on the job for you,” Mark laughed.
“You know how he is,” Steven quipped. “Brutal.”
“You ain’t seen brutal boys!” Kaydyn snarled, yet his eyes twinkled.
Leesa watched their bantering and although she felt a bit calmer, she felt an odd sense of tension that refused to go away.
“You know how the prima donna is.” Steven blew a kiss in Kaydyn’s direction.
“Yeah, yeah. Just get on with it.” Kaydyn growled in jest and threw a towel at them as they glided toward the door.
“You’d better get moving or face the wrath of the enforcer.” Leesa smiled and gazed at the two men. Mark and Kaydyn had been friends for years. He was unfettered by the chef’s harsh attitude and teased him mercilessly about his quick wit and sharp tongue. Together, they were quite a team.
Kaydyn playfully snapped Mark with a towel. “Get out of here.”
“What, you need time alone with the lady?” Steven teased.
“You!” Kaydyn grinned and pointed a finger at him.
Steven shook his ass back and forth on purpose, laughing all the way out the swinging door.
Leesa chuckled. “You’re on fire today, baby!” She watched his expression turn from playful to sensual and felt a bead of cream trickle into her thong. How she admired the man. Yes, he was a classically temperamental chef, but he was damn good at it and nothing was going to stand in his way. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he’d drifted back to the islands to help out his family and gain some much needed experience. She knew he longed to go to America and was simply paying his dues here now.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet, sweet cheeks,” Kaydyn smiled.
“Sweet cheeks? You have something in mind tonight?” she cooed.
“Perhaps.” He tugged her forward, his actions nothing more than a tease.
She laughed as she palmed his chest but the second they stared into each other’s eyes, she felt the familiar tug of desire and her mouth went dry. “Kaydyn I…”
He lowered his head until his lips were a mere inch away from hers. “Leesa.”
A bolt of thunder slashed against the tin roof shaking the entire building.
“Shit!” Leesa blinked furiously and pulled away. The exotic scent of his cologne burned within her, sending a long series of shivers dancing down her spine. God, she wanted him but this wasn’t going to happen. “Um, let me go see where this damn thing is… the storm I mean. We still have to clean up after folks leave.” The restaurant was closed on Mondays which thankfully was the next day and she loathed coming in on her day off to clean.
“I understand.” Kaydyn eyed her for a moment before looking away. “I’m going to the bar to have Dusky make me a much needed drink. Want something spicy?”
“Um, yes, but it won’t be found in a liquor bottle.”
“Funny girl. So witty for a girl. I’ll have him make you something anyway.” Kaydyn threw his apron at her as he walked out of the kitchen.
Leesa slid against the back wall. “Damaged goods.” That’s all she’d ever be.
* * *
Kaydyn shook his head as he walked toward the bar and thought about the almost kiss. Why did nature have to intervene? He sighed and envisioned her impish little smile. He loved watching the way Leesa’s long legs carried her in the sensuous dresses she wore. She was so unassuming he sometimes found himself simply watching the way her hands fluttered as she spoke or the way her eyelashes batted against her high cheekbones. She was breathtaking. He tried to shake away his thoughts, but couldn’t stop thinking about her delicious body and the way she moved in her clingy dresses. His blazing need to see what she was wearing underneath that dress overtook him and his cock sprang to action. Lace or silk?
Then he thought about her reaction to asking about the phone call. Something was coming to a head. He’d been around the block more than once. If only she’d trust him.
“I see you made headway,” Dusky teased.
“Earth to our chef. Where are you?”
“Just thinking about the phone call.”
“Did you ask her about it?” Dusky folded his arms.
“I did and nothing. There was no one there. Right.” Kaydyn kept his voice low.
Dusky patted him on the shoulder. “She’s got to be the one to come to you if she wants to talk. You know that.”
“Yeah. Yeah. I do. I think she’s okay now. Let’s just finish up the night. I have better things to do.”
“There’s the man I know and love. By the way, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were planning a serious night with her.”
“Maybe I am.” Kaydyn grinned and imagined her slender body writhing under his as he plunged inside her sweet pussy. He closed his eyes and allowed the sinful vision to take hold of the last bits of his sanity. He wanted her naked and on top of silk sheets so he could feast on her pussy. He pulled his mind out of the gutter and looked away.
“Wow. Finally. Do you have a plan?”
Dusky wiped the bar and grinned. “You know, to seduce her?”
“Come on. It’s time to get serious. What woman do you have in your life?”
Kaydyn sighed. Dusky’s words were true enough. He had no one to warm his bed. Then again, he knew why. “Look, she’s going through a rough time.”
Dusky cocked his head. “Why is it I think you know more than you’re willing to tell?”
Kaydyn shrugged. “Maybe I do, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“You’ve been my closest friend for years so I know you pretty well. You’re a protector and a friend. Talk with her. She’ll open up to you.”
“I don’t think so. The damage is too severe.” He eyed their customers as they continued laughing and feasting. He desperately wanted to show her that kind of life. How in the world was he going to get her to open up to him? “Let’s just get finished so we can go home. I may try asking her out for lunch tomorrow.”
“Now that’s more like it,” Dusky said, his voice laced with a touch of danger.
Kaydyn walked toward the back windows. Tomorrow was another day, one he hoped would be filled with sunshine and blue skies. After all, they were in the islands. He chuckled. If they could only get through the night.
Could he tell her what he knew and then again, would she forgive him for delving into her past?