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Zane stared out the closed window to the panoramic picture of tropical beauty and sighed. It was perfect and he was bored.
He shouldn't be. This laid-back, no pressure lifestyle was exactly what he'd signed up forthe complete opposite of the life he'd left behind.
For good reason.
He swiveled in his desk chair until his full attention returned to the bank of security screens that occupied the wall in front of him. He should probably run back the tapes to check those sixty seconds he'd been distracted. But he wouldn't. In the eighteen months he'd been on the island, not a single exciting thing had ever shown up on those screens.
And why would it? The resortthe only thing on Ile du Coeurmight have plenty to take, but there was only one way off the island. The chances of a thief being caught before the ferry arrived were pretty damn good. Especially with him on the job. None of their guests had ever had so much as a candy wrapper taken. The worst thing he'd had to deal with since he'd set foot on the island was a drunk who'd fallen through one of the thatched huts along the beach.
The only thing hurt had been the hut.
Zane looked at the timer in the bottom right corner of one of the screens and registered that Tom, his replacement, would be there in about twenty minutes. So far the boy was working out, and Zane was happy he'd hired him.
After Tom arrived, Zane planned on walking the grounds, checking that no guests from the couples side of the resort had left their cabana doors standing open in their romance-fueled haze.
The resort specialized in adult vacations. Singles came not only to relax but to also meet other successful singles. They tended to stay in the main building of the resort. Couples came for the romantic, secluded atmosphere Escape excelled at creating. And since they usually wanted more privacy, they occupied the bungalows on the far side of the resort. In between were various buildings and shared amenitiesa bar, five-star restaurant, gym and spa, water sports equipment and instructors, tennis courts, a large pool complex and, of course, the beach and jungle. Somehow the entire resort managed to maintain an untouched, romantic feel, while still offering the latest in modern amenities.
Part of that could be attributed to the remnants of the French plantation house, the face of the entire complex. The house itself had been expanded and updated over the years, but it still retained the air of gentility and mystery. The public rooms were more than two hundred years old, keeping their period pine floors and rich interiors. The guest rooms had been added on to the back of the existing house at least fifty years ago when it had first been converted to a resort. Since then, the structures had been updated and modernized several times over, the latest when Simon purchased the place.
After Zane had verified that everything and everyone was locked up tight, he was going to head to his own quarters at the back of the resort to see if there was anything interesting on TV.
That was his plan.
Until sirens began blaring overhead. Zane jackknifed in his chair, his eyes immediately sharpening and scanning the bank of monitors before him.
The information screen blinked fire zone six just as the telephone at his elbow rang. He punched a command into the system, his screens filling with every camera they had in zone six. Nothing. No flames. No smoke. All he saw was panicked guests running around. He shook his head at the pandemonium. Picking up the ringing line, he spoke to the nice woman from the alarm company on the other end.
Insurance required they maintain the service, although he had no idea why. No one from St. Lucia could get here in time to be of any help. Even with boats, it would take the fire department forty minutes to reach the island.
However, they were prepared. Even now, the head of the grounds crew was mobilizing the pump truck that they painstakingly tested once every month.
Not that Zane thought they'd need it.
Dropping the phone into the cradle, he immediately snatched it back up.
"Marcy, I don't see an actual fire. Evacuate the guests just in case, but I'm thinking this was either a short in the system or a drunken guest playing a prank."
"Zane, you know better than that. Our guests don't get drunk they get happy."
"Yeah, yeah, feed me the line tomorrow, when I'm not dealing with a crisis."
The grumble in his voice belied the rush of adrenaline flowing through his veins the first zing of electricity he'd felt in months. He'd missed it, this flurry of activity that meant he had a purpose.
"The staff is already implementing fire procedures. I'll let you know when all guests are accounted for," Marcy said.
"Let me know if anyone finds sign of a fire while you're at it."
Slamming down the receiver, Zane began to furiously type in commands, systematically scanning each zone, starting with five and seven before backtracking to one.
He didn't get much further.
Halfway through scanning the fourth-floor hallway, he watched a woman disappear inside one of the guest rooms.
"Idiot," he muttered under his breath. She'd obviously heard the fire alarm. Hell, it was practically spiking into his brain and making his eyes throb. God only knew what she thought was more important than meeting a fiery death.
He was halfway out of his chair when she reappeared and went to the door immediately to the right. Ten seconds flat and she was inside that room, too. Because the main guest rooms were housed in the old French plantation house, they didn't have modern key-card technology.
He'd argued with Simon about the need to upgrade to that sort of system but the other man had grumbled something about old-world charm and authenticity, tacking on a statement about cost and headaches. Zane had managed to talk Simon into adding security cards to the restricted areas and the executive suite on the top floor, but that was as far as he'd been able to push. He wondered if the man would listen to him now.
He watched the woman on his screen appear and disappear one more time. Alarm bellsthe ones inside his headstarted clanging. Something wasn't right.
Picking up the two-way radio beside him, he yelled into it for Tom. "Get your ass up to the Crow's Nest," he said, using their nickname for the security hub. "I've got a situation, but I want eyes up here in thirty seconds."
A crackle of static floated up from his hand as he raced into the stairwell. "But "
"Now," he yelled again. Whatever the other man was doing could wait.
Zane's mind raced just as fast as his feet, putting the pieces together as he flew down the two flights of stairs.
The fire alarm had been a diversion.
He burst through the door just in time to see the red-haired woman slip into yet another room. He'd barely gotten three doors down when she reappeared.
"Hey! Stop! What are you doing?"
Zane reached automatically to his hip, searching for a piece of his past that was no longer there. He hadn't felt the need for a sidearm in almost two years.
His body tensed for the chase. He expected her to runthey always did. Instead, she stopped in her tracks and turned to face him.
"Thank God." He could see tears glistening in the corners of her eyes as she took a step toward him. Warily, he slowed.
"What are you doing?"
"I was looking for my room, but I couldn't find it and the alarm is making my head hurt and I started to panic and."
Her rambling words trailed off as one of those tears slipped free and rolled down her cheek.
He might have bought it, if he hadn't seen her go in and out of several locked rooms with his own eyes. With a speed that would make his trainer at The Farm weep.
He went to step behind her and she spun, her eyes going wide and her mouth opening in a silent protest. "Turn around."
"Wait. Why? What are you doing?"
He took out his badgenothing like the one he used to carry, this one was white plastic with his picture and title as head of security for the resort in big, bold lettersand held it in her face so she could get a good look at it. "Turn around before I put your face in the wall."
Reluctantly, she took a half step sideways, presenting him with just enough of her arm to grasp and spin. Snatching the other one, he had her wrists locked into one hand and his other pressed between her shoulder blades, just enough to keep her uncomfortable and cooperative but not enough to damage.
"Now, we're going to take a little walk. And you're going to tell me exactly what you stole from those rooms" he couldn't help himself, he really wanted to know her secret "and how you got in and out so fast."
"I swear, I didn't steal anything."
"We'll see about that."
Well, she obviously hadn't gotten away clean. Giselle Monroe wanted desperately to rub the throbbing pain centered right between her eye sockets, but she couldn't. Her wrists were currently locked together behind her and tethered to a rickety chair. Her mind flashed back to the one other time she'd felt the cold steel of handcuffs against her skin. Not her finest hour.
She'd been sixteen, rebelling against her overpro-tective father and brothersall three of whom were copsand had been caught, breaking into the school gymnasium with her friends. They'd honestly been doing it for a lark, nothing else. The fact that the cop hadn't found any spray paint or drugs or anything else had gone a long way in getting them community service and two weeks suspension instead of a stiffer sentence from the courts and the school.
Well, that and the pull of her family's name.
For a teenager, community service had been bad enough. When her father had found out she was the one who'd picked the lock, he'd tacked on six months' house arrest. Sneaking in and out of the house had become a skill she learned for survival during those months.
Her father would be so proud to see how she'd put those old skills to new use. The sarcasm and cold metal cut into her skin, reminding her she was far away from home, with no father or brothers to save her this time. But she wasn't about to show the tight-jawed giant who'd unceremoniously dumped her here any weakness, especially the fear snaking through her belly.
Okay, so her assessment of him might be a bit unfair, considering the guy was just doing his job, but he'd locked her inside a closet-size room with stale air and the permeating smell of industrial-grade cleaners. And then left her here. Alone.
She had no doubt that she was being watched. She could practically feel his eyes on her. Waiting for her story to crumble.
The beauty was that it wouldn't.
By now, he'd probably questioned the guests of the rooms she'd been in and discovered that nothing had been taken because she hadn't been lying. She hadn't broken into the rooms because she'd wanted to steal anything, and certainly not from the guests. Recover what was rightfully hers? Absolutely. Steal? She wasn't a criminal. There was a difference, not that the Wall of Silence was likely to understand that.
The door squeaked open.
Without turning around, she asked, "Are you going to let me out of here?"
"Wha" she squeaked, craning around in the chair as far as the handcuffs at her wrists would let her. "What do you mean 'probably not'? I didn't steal anything. You have no right to hold me!"
Elle rattled the metal rings against the wooden slats of the chair, using their noise to punctuate her protests. "The minute you let me out of here, I'm calling my lawyer. I'll own this place when I'm done."