The Scavenger Hunt Game Rules: Draw a card. Seduce the man. End of game.
Consequences for failure: Two weeks on a remote island with no internet—a career killer.
The Player: Abbie
For the first time in twenty-eight years, Abbie Sinclair is free from the life her parents mapped out for her.
Not playing the scavenger hunt game that her friends invented was a godsend. She chose to pay the penalty.
When she discovers the man who once betrayed her love and broke her heart is also on the island, her courage quickly deserts her.
Sparks fly when Tony and Abbie meet again. He has to wonder if fate has offered her up on a silver platter. She was the rich kid who crossed the tracks to venture to the wild side of town. Dating the bad boy motorcycle guy must have really been a thrill. When things got too hot, she left quick enough and let mommy and daddy clean up her mess.
But neither one of them can know what lengths someone will go to keep them apart—even murder.
The Scavenger Hunt series is intended for an 18+ audience and contains lots of raunchy love scenes. If you’re a family member and want to keep the image in your head that I’m sweet and would never have naughty thoughts, then I’d advise you not to read these books. I’m an introvert—big difference.
Abbie's parents would be furious. A laugh that was part fear and part dread bubbled out. She would be lucky if they were only angry. Her hands began to tremble. She gripped the handles on her white purse just a little tighter, twisting the leather straps back and forth.
When she was eight, they agreed to let her have a puppy, but only on the condition she would take care of it. One morning, she forgot to let Scooter outside, where he stayed in his pen during the day. When she came in from school that afternoon, her parents informed her that they had taken him to the pound. She’d never asked for another pet.
Abbie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. They were why she was running away—no, not running away. Twenty-eight-year-old women did not run away. She rubbed a weary hand across her forehead. She just couldn't go along with their plan another day for how she should live her life.
The ocean spray caressed her face like a gentle rain. Calm stole over her. Maybe for the first time in her life, she was doing something right. And if she was screwing up everything, well, so be it.
“There’s the island, missy,” the captain of the mid-sized boat pointed out.
She opened her eyes and glanced around. The island came into view with palm trees, their fronds swaying in the light breeze, and white sandy beaches, just like the pictures in the brochure.
A shiver of trepidation rippled over her. Or maybe it was anticipation. She was free. Only for the next two weeks, but there was no internet and no phone service. Even if her parents discovered where she was, they wouldn't be able to call and ask if she was losing her mind. They couldn't badger her for leaving the job they'd chosen for her or the congressman they'd decided she would marry, complete with the engagement announcement in all the papers.
Abbie had met Richard Benton a few times at her parents' parties. He was rich—old money, of course, and older than her by fifteen years. The whole time they’d talked the few times she’d met with him, he bragged about working out and how he was in such great shape.
Sure, he had a good build, but as far as she was concerned, that was all he had going for him. When she'd first met him, there'd been something in his eyes that reminded her of her parents. Something just as cruel, just as controlling.
Abbie couldn’t do it. She’d left her parents a voice mail. Yes, she knew it was the cowards’ way out. So what else was new? She’d never been able to stand up to them. That was why her life was in the toilet. Maybe over the next two weeks she’d be able to figure out exactly what she wanted.
The boat slowed, pulling up to the dock. A young man and woman waited to assist. The young man wore shorts and a T-shirt, no shoes. Their skin tones were a beautiful golden bronze.
The young woman wore a flowered sarong, a lei of colorful flowers around her neck, and a pink tropical flower behind her ear. She wasn’t wearing shoes either. They both looked young, maybe eighteen.
Welcome to island life.
Abbie realized how overdressed she was in a white pencil skirt, pale blue silk blouse, and a white jacket. At least she’d chosen white flats rather than heels. The couple on the dock wore welcoming smiles, and her tension began to ease. Who cared how she was dressed? She was on her first vacation all by herself.
As soon as the boat stopped, the captain grabbed Abbie’s two suitcases and handed them to the man on the dock, then turned to her.
“Be careful, Missy. The boat will rock a little when you stand.”
He held out his hand. She gathered her satchel of art supplies, purse, then took his hand. His grip was firm as she stood. He was right. The boat rocked just a bit. She waited a moment until she got her bearings, then stepped onto the dock. As soon as she was clear, the young man jumped into the boat and began unloading the supplies that had also come with them.
“Welcome to Waterfall Island," the young girl said. Her English was perfect, but Abbie detected a slight accent. She took the lei from around her neck and placed it over Abbie's head. The scent of the tropical flowers wafted up to her. “They smell wonderful, and the lei is beautiful. Thank you."
The young girl’s smile broadened. “My grandmother makes them. I’ll take you to your hut.” They each grabbed a suitcase and began walking up the beach toward the green grass. “I’m called Malia. If you require anything during your stay, please ask any staff member, and we will assist. That was my twin brother, Paavo. He will take the supplies to the main house.”
She’d thought they must be related. They looked too much alike. “I’m Abbie.”
She could feel the energy of the island. There was something about this place that spoke to her. As though she was coming home. She almost laughed at her foolish thoughts. She absorbed the calmness of the surf as it gently rolled onto the beach, the scent of the tropical flowers, and the vibrant colors. She glanced once more toward the boat as she stood on the grassy knoll.
Her breath caught in her throat. A man was walking on the beach. He wore only a pair of white shorts. She couldn't quite make out his face, but he had the body of a man who regularly worked out. She didn't think he was an islander. A visitor? His skin was tanned, but not like Malia, different somehow. He turned and started toward them. Abbie's mouth suddenly went dry.
“That’s the owner,” Malia told her. “He’s a very good man as well as very handsome. Be careful, though. He breaks many hearts."
“I’m not looking for an island romance,” she told Malia. Not that she would turn one down. It had been a long time since she’d even been on a date. She’d almost forgotten how it felt to have a man pull her close, lower his lips to hers… She shook away the vision that clouded her brain. Freedom must be going to her head. Her dates were all duds.
As the man came closer, she felt a vague sense of recognition. That was crazy, of course. She didn't know anyone on the island, especially the owner. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling. Then it dawned on her that he reminded her of Tony. For just a moment, old memories flooded her mind. The schoolgirl crush, the way he made her feel when he pulled her close, when his lips brushed across hers. She drew in a shaky breath.
Knowing that fate couldn’t be this cruel didn’t stop her heart from pounding the closer he got, until he stopped in front of her.
“Hello, Abbie. It’s been a long time.”
Her suitcase thumped onto the grass. She couldn't breathe. Her brain quit functioning. She swayed. He put a hand on her arm to steady her. This couldn't be happening. She quickly looked toward the dock. The boat had already left. He'd told her it would be at least a week before he returned. No escape.
She could handle this. God, please let her handle this without making a fool of herself.
Abbie squared her shoulders and drew her wits about her. What they had was over. She forced away the good memories and let the bad ones in, remembering the endless nights of crying.
He was gone.
The money. Then there was the money he took.
“Hello, Tony.” Her words were crisp as she held in the anger that curled throughout her body like a venomous snake ready to strike.
She might as well have been talking to a stranger and not the man she'd fallen hopelessly in love with when she'd been a young, naïve eighteen-year-old. How could she have been so stupid? She’d given her virginity to him. Damn him for showing up and ruining her chance to get her head on straight. How could she do that with him here?
“Malia, I’ll take Abbie the rest of the way.”
Malia looked from one to the other, then gave a quick nod and hurried away before Abbie could beg her to stay. She didn’t want to be alone with Tony. The coward inside her had returned full force.
She met his gaze with a frown. “You don’t look at all surprised to see me,” she accused.
He grabbed both her bags. “I was surprised when I saw your name on the guest list. How many years has it been?”
Ten years, three months… “I haven’t a clue.”
She followed him. It was all she could do to keep up with his long stride. Dammit, he didn't seem to be as affected by her as she was by him. That wasn't fair, not at all. She had compared every man she had been with to Tony. He'd ruined every relationship for her. Not that there had been that many.
What had Malia said? He was a heartbreaker? It sounded as if she'd meant nothing to him. The bad boy motorcycle rider had a fling with the rich girl from the other side of the tracks. If she remembered correctly, he'd broken hearts back then, too.
Why would she even think Tony would have changed? If she did, she was still living in a fantasy world.
He turned down a gravel pathway lined with flowering bushes and white stones on either side. He didn't stop until they were standing in front of a tiki hut, complete with a thatched roof. He bumped the door open with his foot and moved out of the way so she could enter first. The room was small and airy. When he brought her suitcase inside, the room closed in on her.
"Dinner is in an hour." His gaze swept over her, and she had a feeling he found her lacking in some way.
"Turn left at the end of the path. We serve meals in the main house. You might want to dress more casually. We're not quite so stuffy on the island, Princess."
Tony was gone before she could find a suitable answer. She stomped her foot. Princess? She clamped her lips together. He used to call her princess when they were dating. The name had been a caress on his lips, an endearment. Now he made it sound like something despicable.
She reached for her purse, then remembered—no cell service. She needed to talk to one of her friends. This was not the relaxing vacation she’d imagined.
And what the hell was wrong with what she wore? She moved to the full-length mirror in the corner and stared at her reflection. She looked fine. Her pale blonde hair was pulled back into a tight bun at the base of her neck. A few tendrils had escaped during the boat trip, and her suit wasn't wrinkled.
She frowned. Maybe that was his problem. She’d worn a suit. She’d only worn it for traveling, though. Everything else she’d packed was well suited for an island. As soon as she’d placed her reservation, she‘d gone shopping.
Not that she cared what Tony thought.
Tingles rippled over her. Okay, maybe she did care, but not in a she-wanted-to-jump-his-bones way. She didn’t want him to think she was the same mousy girl he’d taken notice of when she was a senior in high school. Except right now, she did look kind of mousy. She could easily change her appearance, though.
So what if she wanted him to see the vibrant, sexy woman she’d become? She wanted to flaunt herself in front of him. She wanted him to see what he’d thrown away.
Her thoughts moved to the past. She was a senior in high school, and Tony was a couple of years older. He had worked for a local mechanic and had a bad boy reputation. He was always getting into trouble. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother died when Tony was six. There was no supervision, and Tony took advantage of the situation.
No, there was someone else. She frowned. An uncle. Yes, that had been it. She didn't think Tony saw him that often.
But that was all in the past.
It would seem the money her parents paid him to stay away had come in handy, she thought as she looked around the room. One hundred thousand dollars was all it took to buy him. How could she face him knowing that he’d been bought? That what they’d shared meant so little to him?
A fierce determination stole over her. She wouldn’t hide in her room! No, she’d show him exactly what he’d thrown away. Abbie wanted revenge. She wasn’t sure how she’d get it, but there had to be a way.
She looked at her watch. She would take a shower and change. Maybe a plan would come to her. She glanced around. At least he'd put her in a decent hut. It was small but nicely appointed with a large bed draped in white gauze. There were two doors. A toilet and sink were behind one. She opened the other to an enclosed shower with no roof, so it would feel as if you were showering outside. Ingenious.
The island couldn't have been cheap. She wondered if he'd robbed a bank as well.
By the time she’d showered, Abbie was ready to face the enemy. Well, as soon as she dressed. She set her suitcase on the bed and began unpacking, wearing only a white towel tucked between her breasts.
What had possessed her to buy all these bikinis? She'd never even worn a bikini. But then, she knew what she was doing. She was trying to change who she was. She felt it would take more than changing how she dressed to do that.
She placed her undergarments neatly in a drawer of the dresser and set her makeup on top, then placed the suitcase beneath the bed and put her other one on the mattress: shorts, capris, t-shirts, and colorful sarongs.
She smiled as she unfastened the towel and let it fall to the floor. She chose a blue sarong that reached mid-thigh. After she donned blue bikini panties and a strapless bra, she stepped into the dress. It caressed her body as she brought the clingy material over her hips. The dress hugged in all the right places rather than being loose like Malia’s had been.
She slipped her feet into thong sandals. A spritz of her favorite perfume, the same brand Tony had said was his favorite. She should've changed it years ago, but it was her favorite, too. She added a little lip gloss and turned to look in the mirror. Her deepening frown made her wonder what she’d missed.
Ah, her hair. She loosened the bun and grabbed her brush. Her pale blonde hair curled down to her waist. When she looked back into the mirror, she smiled. Locked and loaded, she was ready to do damage to
Revenge for what he’d done to hers.