A novella: short steamy contemporary romance set in Hawaii.
Major Edmund Quinn, WSO F-15E Strike Eagle
The dream mission: spend a week of leave snooping around a luxury Kauai resort, enjoying all the amenities, then report back to a skeptical investor.
DeAnna Drake, middle manager of a Waikiki resort
The nightmare mission: spend a week snooping around a luxury Kauai resort, enjoying all the amenities, then hijack their secrets for her employer.
Two novice corporate snoops who never expected to fall in love, or to discover that love changes everything.
~~ EXCERPT ~~
Major Edmund Quinn sat perched on a barstool in his favorite Goldsboro, North Carolina pub, nursing a lukewarm beer. Damn it. No need to rush home to an empty apartment. The minute he and pilot Steve Shorner, former drinking buddy, former boon companion, and now absentee roommate, had finished for the day, the smitten flyer took off like he’d hit the afterburner.
Studying the faces around the pub, Quinn narrowed his eyes. If he wanted company, why not call one of the women he’d met last weekend?
Quinn’s phone buzzed. Or, maybe one of them was calling him. He tapped the screen. “Hello?”
Nobody called him Ed, Eddie or Edmund except his family. Sounded like his younger sister. He checked Caller ID: Olivia.
“Hey, peanut.” His evening perked up. “How are you?”
“I’m fine.” Uh oh. Clearly someone in his baby sister’s wide circle of family and friends wasn’t fine. “Did you get my email?” she persisted.
“Haven’t been home yet.” He braced himself. “What’s up?”
“I’m worried sick about DeAnna.”
“Who?” Quinn knew he’d made a mistake the instant the word left his mouth. There was a loud, exasperated huff through the phone.
“You know very well who. DeAnna. My sorority big sister at UNC? My bestie ever since. Her phone goes straight to voice mail. I used to get long chatty emails. Now I’m lucky to get a pitiful paragraph. I need to know exactly where she is. That she’s really and truly okay. You gave me your solemn promise you’d help.”
I did? “And I always keep my promises to you, don’t I?”
“Well, so far.”
Shit, was that a sniffle? “Ollie honey, tell me what you want me to do.”
“I’m pretty sure she’s in Hawaii. You need to help me find her.”
“Olivia. I will keep my promise. However, you need to remember I have a day job. It’s not as a private investigator.”
She giggled. “I know. You work in the back seat of an F-15. The best Weapons System Officer, WSO in the entire—”
His phone chimed with an incoming call. “Ollie. I’ve got to take this. Call you right back. Pinky swear.”
He heaved a sigh of relief. What did Olivia think he could possibly do? Reading the new ID, his mouth spread into a grin. Frank Whitney, a fellow WSO stationed at Mountain Home AFB.
“Hey, Whitney, what’s up?”
“Quinn, my man. How much leave you got left? I need your help.”
“White sand beaches, beautiful women in string bikinis, and all the single malt scotch you can drink.”
“Damn. How many bodies are we burying?”
“Would you believe, it’s a favor for my old man?”
“I need you to spend ten days in Hawaii with me. On a secret spy mission for Dad.”
“Are you punking me?”
“No joke. Piles of dollars at stake. Dear ole Pop has zero sense of humor when his money’s involved.”
“Got the leave. Listening.”
“The old man’s considering a huge investment. Needs to choose between two Hawaiian hotel chains. The one he doesn’t choose to rescue could be forced to close one of their island hotels. I’m rooting for Dad to resuscitate the one called Fragrant Gardens of Kauai Resort and Spa. So that’s where you and I are going.”
“Doesn’t your dad employ minions for this shit, like pro spies?”
“Sure he does. They’ve already started looking at both locations. Haven’t been able to get much in the way of on-the-ground due diligence. To get the straight scoop, Dad decided to embed non-employees. Us. We’ll look around, help him determine which location to invest in.”
“It’s not the best time for me. Shorner just got back—” Quinn signaled the barkeep for another beer. “When does your father want us there?”
“Don’t forget,” Frank said, “beautiful women in bikinis. All expenses paid.”
“Sure, those beaches are crawling with—”
“Space-A to Hawaii is a nightmare. Expenses paid? You’re serious?”
“As a heart attack. Repeat: the old man doesn’t screw around. He’ll spring for airline tickets, room, food, drinks, and expenses. His staff even made up a stupid-man’s questionnaire. Fill in the freaking blanks.”
“I’m in. Thank him for me?”
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