Baited [NOOK Book]

Overview

Her billionaire mentor's invitation to go sailing with his family seemed a timely break for diver Katsu "Kat" Espinoza. Until she saw the yacht's captain--Will Ashton, her treacherous, still-too-appealing ex--and her mentor made a shocking announcement: Kat was his newest heir!
She could handle the angry accusations, the ice-cold shoulders. But when the boat was wrecked, stranding them all on a deserted island, Kat suspected that someone had a more permanent solution in mind. ...
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Baited

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Overview

Her billionaire mentor's invitation to go sailing with his family seemed a timely break for diver Katsu "Kat" Espinoza. Until she saw the yacht's captain--Will Ashton, her treacherous, still-too-appealing ex--and her mentor made a shocking announcement: Kat was his newest heir!
She could handle the angry accusations, the ice-cold shoulders. But when the boat was wrecked, stranding them all on a deserted island, Kat suspected that someone had a more permanent solution in mind. With the survivors looking to her for leadership and Will being maddeningly secretive, Kat considered who among them might be truly dangerous.
Then the survivors began to disappear, one...by one....
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426854460
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/15/2010
  • Series: Silhouette Bombshell Series , #112
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 450,693
  • File size: 283 KB

Meet the Author

Chris Marie Green writes as Crystal Green for Harlequin and Silhouette. She loves to travel: some of her favorite destinations include Great Britain, New Orleans, Italy and Japan. In fact, you can see a couple of her travelogues on her web site at crystal-green.com.

When Chris was nineteen years old, she wrote a fan letter to Valerie Sherwood, a historical author who answered her gushing missive and inspired Chris to write her first romance. Today, that manuscript resides in a dusty file cabinet and will never see the light of day. However, Chris has moved on and feels lucky to have other stories published by the Special Edition, Blaze and Bombshell lines.
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Read an Excerpt

Three Weeks Earlier--Just Another Day at Work
Kat knew it was going to be a long day the second Yoko Nakamura muttered, "scum" and tripped her as they entered the Neptune Point Pearl-Diving Show boat.
Kat decided to ignore her self-appointed rival, instead taking position at the back of the small, open-sided vessel. Once there, she adjusted the sexed-up ama uniform--an isogi--that Neptune Point made her wear for the entertainment of the tourists who visited the San Diego theme park. The garb featured an almost-puritanical white hood, but when the isogi's long-sleeved white shirt and extended wraparound skirt got wet, the costume turned transparent. Anything for the sake of entertainment, right? But the effect was a far cry from what a traditional Japanese pearl diver would have looked like back in the heyday of the trade.
Yet it wasn't like Kat was here to sell truth. Hell, she wasn't even a full-blooded, one hundred percent natural Japanese girl herself--not with all her dad's Mexican-American genes running willy-nilly all over her facial features and under her skin. Nope. Her job was to present a fantasy, to whet appetites so the crowds would shuffle from the observation bleachers and into the cultured-pearl shop after the show, spending their hard-earned cash on things she could never even dream of affording. Things like blue seed-pearl necklaces, creamy bracelets, exquisite rings.
Tracy Ito, wonder-roomie and best friend, took her spot in between Kat and Yoko, and their driver took off from the prep dock toward the entrance of the Pearl Lagoon. Tracy was also fully garbed in ama finery.
"Think you can chill out today, Yoko?" Tracyasked. The other diver ignored Tracy, concentrating on smoothing out her own isogi instead. Kat had been enduring problems with Yoko ever since her rival had joined the shift a couple of weeks ago. She hated Kat for a hundred reasons: mostly because Kat had beat Yoko out for the lead diver position--and the slight raise that went with it. A prideful Yoko had taken this to heart. She was constantly messing with Kat underwater, snatching oysters from under her grasp to make sure she had a higher count in the unofficial, normally playful daily competition to see who could bring up the most booty. No bones about it--Yoko was determined to position herself to take over Kat's job when the time came.
A meaningless rivalry, Kat thought. But Yoko's dislike was also more personal.
Light-skinned and so very Japanese on the calm surface, Yoko had reportedly lived in the U.S. for about six years--it'd been enough time for her to develop a Yankee-style habit of "keeping it real" and expressing her true opinions, unlike a more tempered girl from her old country would. Back home she would've been encouraged to hide her racial disgust of Kat in public. But here, in this country? Nah.
Yoko finished fussing with her uniform then shot Kat a cool sidelong glance. Three guesses as to what was coming next.
"Eta," Yoko mouthed without giving voice to the insult.
Finally past her limit, Kat made a move toward the other woman, only to be held back by the levelheaded Tracy.
Good thing, because anyone familiar with Japan knew what eta meant. In spite of Kat's limited knowledge of her Japanese mother's culture, she knew it was a slur for a social underclass known as burakumin, a taboo subject no one dared discuss in polite company. Burakumin were considered unclean in part because of their blood-related professions: leatherworkers, slaughterhouse workers, and the like.
Scum of the earth, Kat thought. That's what her mother's family had been. And that's why Mom had jumped at the chance to marry Lieutenant Joe Espinoza, who'd whisked her out of Japan and into the golden country of Disney and Levi's jeans--the culture Mariko Okamoto had worshipped.
Little had she known that, after she died, her own mixed-blood daughter would suffer in America just as Mariko had in Japan, nicked by slurs that were just as hurtful.
Not that Katsu would ever let anyone know that. "Eta," Kat said, testing the word and calming down only because she knew it would nettle Yoko. Their boat glided nearer the lagoon. "I don't know, Tracy. I kind of prefer what the kids in middle school used to call me."
Tracy, ever the willing straight man, didn't miss her cue. "And what did they call you?"
"Spic-anese." Kat nodded proudly. "Has a more clever ring to it, don't you think?"
"Definitely a keeper."
Predictably, a flustered Yoko quickly flipped both of them off, and, as they rounded the corner into the lagoon, slid her hands into a graceful two-handed wave aimed at the audience.
"What a pill," Tracy whispered, also morphing into super ama, speaking through her smile and waving at the crowd while keeping her head slightly lowered in an act of submission and shyness.
Kat followed suit, liking her job--and the decent paycheck--too much to play Yoko's destructive game right now. "Water off my back--that's all she is."
They circled the rim of the small arena, making sure to push the stereotype of the adorable Asian doll to its fullest. Hey, it was in their job descriptions and it paid the bills. If they'd been real ama, they would've presented a different picture: Their bodies would've been muscular and maybe even chubby, the better to keep warm against the water. Their hair would've been shorter and their skin tanned by the open elements. Actually, the Neptune Point Pearl Divers looked more like geisha than laborers; they were made up to be slender, petite, quiet, pale.
At least from a distance.
Under the isogi, Kat was anything but the cliché. Even if she applied waterproof cosmetics to lighten her complexion, in her off hours she proudly wore the slight rosy-tan skin she'd gotten from her dad. Her almond-shaped brown eyes were just a little wider than the other amas", but she'd inherited her mother's delicate chin, gently shaped cheekbones and tea-brown hair, which Kat wore to her shoulders. The white costume hid a streamlined body, chiseled by hobbies such as surfing and skin-diving.
A twenty-four-year-old water baby and good ol' American melting pot. A mixture of everything life had thrown at her.
Tracy chatted as the boat putted by the audience. "Hey, look, your boyfriend's here."
Kat scanned the front row, finding an older, too-thin man wearing a baseball cap, a tiki-print shirt and sunglasses. He was hunched over, leaning his forearms on his khakied thighs.
"Boyfriend?" Kat asked. "Duke?"
"You've spent enough time with him these past months. I don't know, Kat, I'd totally go for your new pal, if I were you, even if he is old. The guy's loaded and a sugar daddy could pay off those debts of yours. Know what I mean?"
"Nice, Tracy." Kat didn't know what else to say. Her quick friendship with Duke Harrington couldn't be debated under a modest smile or even in the few seconds they had before the lagoon show really began.
He was someone to hang with. A mentor. And Duke liked to drop into the pearl-diving scene every once in a while to watch her work and take slow walks through the park. Just enjoying life while he could.
Kat offered him a welcoming wave, but he responded a little stiffly. Her heart jolted.
Was it a bad day, like the ones she'd seen him suffer through before he'd had stomach surgery and gone on the new medication? And here she'd thought that this round of treatment was supposed to be helping.
The smell of gasoline and ocean wind accompanied the gurgle of the boat's cut engine. As the show's announcer began her presentation--a spiel aimed at convincing the masses to buy pearls--the amas dipped into the murky lagoon constructed for the exhibition. Before each diving session, technicians transferred oysters from a pearl farm to the water, making Kat's job a smooth one.
Four times a day and then home to check the surf report. She had a beautiful life.
She swam to the side of the boat and grabbed a small, open barrel-shaped basket and tied it to herself. It would float next to her, a receptacle for oysters. After fixing a mask over her face, she sliced forward, pushing the basket in front of her as the emcee's happy voice filled the arena.
"The ama, who dive for everything from seaweed, abalone, shellfish, lobster, sea urchins and octopus to oysters, are usually female in Japan. It's said that perhaps women can withstand the stress of the cold water better than men, or perhaps they're more capable of conserving heat."
Kat took one last look at Duke, glad for every day he could be here. Glad that his stomach cancer hadn't physically barred him from coming to her shows...yet.
Just before Kat dove, Yoko swam to the spot next to her.
"Eta," she said again, diving under.
Frustration singed through Kat's chest, but she quelled it. Dammit, she'd spent most of her life here in the States blowing off the comments of prejudiced ignoramuses, so why was one stupid word from a jealous cow like Yoko bothering her?
She wouldn't let it.
Kat hesitated only a moment, staring at the water, just like she did with every dive, building her confidence.
Every time you go under, you win, she thought. No fear. No problem.
After a deep breath, she dove headfirst, heart in her throat, caught in a silken web of excitement and wariness.
Silence enveloped her as she darted down, propelled by well-worked muscles. She was at home now, cradled by liquid comfort, suspended in a hushed womb where nothing could touch her. Here, she could feel her dad's presence again, his own love of the ocean all around her. It was the only place she could channel him now, the only place that cushioned the pain of losing him...and the failure of their relationship.
As she floated farther downward, Kat was alert enough to realize that the deep was also a dark place, hiding danger behind every shift of light. A foreign world where she didn't really belong, no matter what she told herself.
It was a capsule of contradiction, mixed emotion. Unfathomable.
The blue-green depths were beautifully eerie, lending to the welcome uneasiness. She loved everything about the water--the sounds, the legends, the freedom. Diving was a chance for tranquility, a chance to prove that she could beat the odds and conquer the heavy crush of bad memories, memories of a time when the ocean had almost beaten her.
Since the ama generally tried not to dive for longer than a minute--who needed hypoxia to end a diving career?--Kat paced herself.
Pulse fluttering, heightening her senses to giddiness, she cruised over to a rock where an oyster had been deposited. At about the sixty-second mark, she retrieved two more, then aimed her body toward the surface.
With a slight pop-splash, she broke the waterline, put the oysters into her barrel and took a second to recover while hanging on to the floating basket. Over the emcee's droning speech, her breathing sang like a whistle. To the untrained ear, it was alarming, but her lungs and heart were the better for it.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A strong romantic suspense thriller

    Unable to resist what seemed like a fun time, diver Katsu 'Kat' Espinoza accepts the invitation of her wealthy mentor Duke to join him and his family on his yacht. Kat might have declined if she knew that her cheating former boyfriend Will Ashton is the captain and that Duke¿s family hates her because he named her as his heir.-------------------- Still she vows to have a good time while avoiding Will and refusing to take crap from Duke¿s angry family members. However, when the vessel is shipwrecked, she, the crew, and much of the family make it to an apparently deserted island. There, as if out of a Christie novel in a Barrie setting, someone begins to kill the survivors one at a time.-------------------- Taking And Then There Were None and placing it in a different milieu makes for a strong romantic suspense thriller that will have the audience along with the lead couple speculating just who the killer is. The action starts from the shipwreck and never lets up until the final confrontation. Will and Kat are a fine pairing though she has doubts because she believes he is a philanderer and thus untrustworthy at a time in which to survive they must depend and trust one another. Crystal green keeps the action and reader guessing throughout this strong fun tale.------------------ Harriet Klausner

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    Posted April 3, 2010

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    Posted July 3, 2011

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