-RT Book Reviews on MINE AT LAST
The Thrill of You (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #343)by Celeste O. Norfleet
He makes her feel like the most desirable woman in the world
Sexy, magnetic Florida business owner and philanthropist Mikhail Coles is wrong for Cyanna Dupres in every way. And he's the one man who can give her what she wants. Seducing the commitment-wary bachelor is the easy part. But once Cyanna wants a lifetime connection, will she lose the lover who… See more details below
He makes her feel like the most desirable woman in the world
Sexy, magnetic Florida business owner and philanthropist Mikhail Coles is wrong for Cyanna Dupres in every way. And he's the one man who can give her what she wants. Seducing the commitment-wary bachelor is the easy part. But once Cyanna wants a lifetime connection, will she lose the lover who makes her feel like the world's most desirable woman?
Formerly Special Forces, Mikhail is haunted by demons he can't shake. But Cyanna's passion is taking him to thrilling new heights where anything is possible even love. Called in on one final search-and-rescue operationto find Cyanna's missing brotherMikhail realizes he wants more than a fleeting affair. Can he succeed in his mission and keep Cyanna safe so they can become the family she's always wanted?
-RT Book Reviews on MINE AT LAST
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This was her last attempt. Cyanna Dupres pulled into the lot and parked her car in what had become her usual space. She turned off the ignition and got out. It was August. The weather was hot and balmy, the breeze was nearly nonexistent and the smell and taste of salt water was everywhere. She squinted and braced her hand above her eyes as a shield. Even with her dark sunglasses on, there was still a bright glare from the intense sunshine. She looked around. Of course nothing had changed since yesterday.
The same boats and yachts sat in their marina slips, and the same large sign hung overhead: MC Private Marina & Boat Rentals. An arrow pointed to the left directing all traffic toward the main office. She turned to the right. Farther down the dock path, another more understated sign hung off to the side warning off tourists and unwelcome guests. She ignored it just like she had done the past few days. But there was something different this timethere was no one around to stop her from proceeding farther down to the private dock area. She smiled and kept walking. She was on a mission and hoped this was finally the day.
This wasn't her first time there. She had visited Key West two months ago, last month and now this time. But this was the first time she had actually stayed more than one day. She'd been there for the past five days, and everything about it took her breath away. Over the years she had lived in a number of other places, including New York, Paris and London, but she'd never felt the instant warmth and acceptance she'd felt in Key West. She'd never allowed herself to. She was a gypsy by nature, never settling down in one place for long.
But she knew that life had changed the moment she got word about her brother's helicopter going down. It was time to take a break and settle down. She had worked hard, practiced relentlessly, performed and toured nonstop all her adult life. If the past few days had showed her anything, it was that she needed to stress less and relax more. Coming here was the best idea she'd had in a long time.
Key West had style and panache. The island was alive with the rich flavor of numerous cultures. From the people to the scenery to the homes, the ambience was a kaleidoscope of multicultural delight. Everywhere she looked, she saw the thrill of excitement and life. It was a far cry from her quiet, stagnant world of polished manners and the refined poise of cultured concert halls.
This place was real, and the people were real. This was just what she was looking for, and it was totally unlike what she was used to.
Of course it wasn't perfect. In the past five days she'd found that it was hot, really hot, and like most coastal cities it rained a lot. It was crowded with tourists and cruise ship vacationers, and there was always a festival going on where people partied twenty-four hours a day. But none of that mattered. First things first, she was there for a reason, and she certainly wasn't leaving until she got exactly what she wanted. This was where Mikhail Coles lived, and that meant she needed to be there, too.
She didn't really know a lot about Mikhail. But what she knew she liked. He was attractivetall, muscular but not overdone, perfectly fit and incredibly toned. His facial features were strong with an angular jaw, high cheekbones, full, kissable lips and mesmerizing light-tinted eyes that seemed to pierce right through your soul. But most important he was a friend of her brother's and he'd been kind and caring at her brother's memorial service months ago. The moment she'd seen him, she'd known he was the one.
He owned this small private marina and the patch of land beside it. Both looked as if they had seen better days. They weren't exactly run-down, but a serious cash infusion wouldn't go amiss. She hoped she was correct in assuming that his finances were lacking. Money was always a good incentive, and hopefully it would work on him. It wasn't that much to ask. Just a small donation on his part and he'd never have to see her again. And he was going to agree. Once she'd made up her mind that he was the one, she was adamant.
So, on the fifth day she continued down the empty dock. There were a number of large expensive yachts in the slips, but still no one was around. It was like the boats just appeared overnight and the occupants vanished. Then she saw the gated and closed-off section farther back beyond the dock area with a number of bungalows and small cabins. She assumed the people who owned the yachts stayed there. She also figured that's where Mikhail lived.
For the past week, the gate had been closed. Today she saw that it was wide-open. She walked back cautiously, expecting to be tossed out at any minute. She spotted someone kneeling down beside one of the boats doing something with a rope. From past experience she knew there were at least three men who worked there.
The older man, named Jumper, was crotchety and grouchy with a perpetual scowl on his face. The other man, Cisco, seemed to be in his early thirties. He was tall, dark and definitely handsome. He was also distant and closed off and was just as no-nonsense as Jumper although not quite as ill-tempered. Getting a pleasant word from either of them was like pulling the back teeth from a charging lion. As soon as they saw her they had ushered her out and the older one would grumble about visitors not being allowed past the front gate and nosey women knowing their place.
The third man, the youngest of the three, looked to be in his early twenties. She had no idea what his name was. He was usually quiet and scruffy and dressed like he'd just rolled off the set of the reality show Survivor. Always unshaved, he wore a colorful scarf on his head and a sleeveless T-shirt and baggy shorts with sneakers. Luckily it was the youngest of the three men here today.
"Good afternoon," Cyanna said, walking up behind him as he continued fiddling with the rope in the water.
He jumped, turned and looked up at her. He stood, quickly stretching his tall, lanky body to its full height. Then he took an awkward step back, looking around anxiously. "What, waityou're not supposed to be back here," he said quickly.
"Oh, really?" Cyanna feigned innocence. "My mistake. Hi. I'm looking for"
He shook his head and frowned. "Yeah, yeah, I know who you're looking for. Man, you're definitely more persistent than the others. I give you that much. But no, sorry, I haven't seen him."
"Of course not," she muttered under her breath. "No one has."
"Excuse me?" he asked.
She smiled brightly again, something she did often when the occasion called for honey rather than vinegar and she wanted to get her way. "Nothing, it's just that I've been here for the past five days and I really need to"
"Yeah, yeah, I knowI've seen you. But like Jumper said those other times, we ain't seen him. He owns the place and he's not beholding to us about when he comes and goes."
"Yes, of course, and I do apologize for being a pest, but I really need to speak with him. It's important."
"I know, I know. It's always important."
"Look, I promise you I'm not some crazy stalker. I actually know Mikhail. He's a friend."
"Yeah, we get that a lot, too."
"Yes, I'm sure you do."
"I can't tell you anything," he said. "I understand," she said softly. "He's my boss."
"Yes, he is."
"It's my job if anybody even saw me talking to you right now."
She nodded sadly. "Then I'd better go. I don't want to get you in any trouble with the others," she said, seeing him beginning to weaken in his resolve. "Thank you. I appreciate your time." She turned to leave, and then, as expected, he called out to her.
"Hey, look, uh, you didn't hear it from me," he began, then looked around at the empty dock. "But I heard Jumper and Fannie talking last night. The boss is planning a long fishing trip in the next few days. That means he's got to come back here to get his boat. Now, I'm not promising anything, and I don't even know if he's really coming, but since you're so persistent I figure you got some important business with him, so you can come again later. He might be here or he might not."
She nodded her head and smiled. "Thank you for your help. What's your name?"
"Thank you, Luther. My name is Cyanna."
"Now, remember, I'm not promising you anything, so don't come back at me if he doesn't show up."
"I won't. I promise."
He glanced over her shoulder and saw Jumper walking down the dock. "Oh no, Jumper's coming. Damn, I'm fired."
"No, you're not. But I suggest you start yelling at me to leave," she whispered emphatically. "Like right now."
He caught on instantly and began yelling at her. She turned in a huff and started walking away quickly. "Okay, okay, I said I'm going. You don't have to yell." She hurried off toward the gate and watched Jumper walk down the dock toward them. "Why do your people have to be so mean? I said I was going. He didn't have to keep yelling like that."
Jumper smiled righteously. He was obviously proud of Luther's stern eviction. "He's absolutely right to yell. You shouldn't be back in this part of the dock anyway."
Jumper huffed proudly as they passed. He was a man of few words. He did, however, grumble a lot. Cyanna smiled as she continued to her rental car. She got in and pulled out of the lot. It was over; today was her last day there. She couldn't afford to waste any more time trying to chase Mikhail down. She needed to go back to New York and figure something else out. It was almost one o'clock in the afternoon. Her flight wasn't until eight. She had time to kill. Having shopped and browsed for the past few days, she wasn't in the mood to do more, so she just headed back to the Key West Gateway Hotel.
When she walked into her suite, she tossed her purse on the bed and stepped out onto the balcony. She had given it five days and now time was up. She walked back inside, pulled out her suitcases and called down to the front desk to make arrangements to check out.
All she had waiting for her in her apartment in New York was silence. She remembered the last time she'd played her violin. Her manager, Donna Van Kelp, had stood by her side in her studio. Donna's words still echoed in her mind.
"Cyanna, it'll come back. Trust meyou'll see. You can't just give up your career and walk away."
"I'm not just walking away, and I'm not giving up my career. I'm taking a break. I've been performing since I was eight years old. I need a break."
"Cyanna, look, I understand your pain. You lost your brother and you're still mourning. You've been going through emotional whiplash. I understand that, but listen to me. You can't just up and quit a tour. Your reputation will be ruined. I'm no lawyer, but I've dated enough of them to know that this may be a breach of contract. You could be blacklisted."
"Somehow I doubt that. And even if I am, I'll be okay."
"Fine, you won't be blacklisted, but you'll miss it."
"I know I will. And it's not forever. But I have to do this first, for me."
Now, months later, sadness still filled her heart. She had played and performed for over twenty years and now she had nothing. Her playing was off, and she couldn't fix it. No matter how hard she practiced, she didn't have it anymore. Few noticed, but she did. This was a waiting game, and she was losing.
There was a knock at her door. It was probably a bellman with the room charge she'd requested.
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