Ever since her return from school in England, Brittany St. James has done all she can to avoid any unwanted romantic entanglements. A beautiful, accomplished, successful, and wealthy businesswoman from one of Jamaica's richest families, she has the world at her feet. So why is she so angry? Depending on who is at the receiving end of her temper, she can be seen as simply volatile ... or purely wicked. Despite her popularity with the opposite sex, Brittany has vowed to only enjoy companionable relationships with men-earning her the dubious title of "Miss Platonic" by her frustrated friends. There is a sadness deep in her beautiful eyes, but she's not talking about what could have caused it.
New York businessman Benjamin Somerton is seduced by the beauty and potential of Jamaica. Handsome and successful, this playboy is on the island for a series of business meetings. Quite by accident, he over-hears a family squabble between Brittany and her uncle, the patriarch of her family. Now he's a bit obsessed with Brittany, one of Jamaica's true jewels. And even though this island girl isn't interested, he refuses to be stonewalled by her lack of interest. He quickly learns that there is more to Brittany than meets the eye, and if he hopes to win her (and her bodyguards) over, he needs to bring his "A" game.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By NINA-AKUA SHABAZZ
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Nina-Akua Shabazz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJamaica - six years later
The heat of the midday sun beat down on the head of the woman driving the red Mercedes convertible. The bright rays seemed to bounce off the strands of gold running through her deep auburn hair. The Mercedes ate up the winding country road at an alarming rate, the car hugging the curves in spite of the driver's seemingly recklessness. The savage control of her movements and the blaze in her amber eyes attested to a temper barely in control.
Taking the road through the mountains rather than the beautiful coastal road leading through Negril hadn't been a conscious decision. Reaching her uncle's office in Savanna-la-Mar by the quickest possible route, her anger at full boil was the conscious decision.
Brittany St. James was angry enough to spit nails. Her full sensuous lips tightened. Her nostrils flared at the smell of the cloying sweetness of the sugar cane on the wind.
She had grown up on the surrounding lands. She knew the winding road like her own backyard. Unconsciously, her mind registered an oncoming billboard. "Thanks for making it Jamaica, Message from the Jamaica Tourist Board and Pepsi." Changing gears, she viciously wondered if the tourist board had a governing body to punish people who harassed others until they were forced to pack up and leave the island.
This thought reminded her of the years she had spent abroad. She had returned to the island after an absence of several years and this time, she thought grimly, if her uncle didn't back off, she'd leave again. Not even the homesickness for the land of her birth and the only place she felt truly happy, would break her self-imposed exile. She loved the island and its people. No other place gave her the same feeling of belonging she felt on the island - even though she'd travelled extensively over the intervening years. She was truly an island girl.
Her ancestors had been owners of the land since Sir Henry Morgan, buccaneer, womaniser and admired by King Charles had been made Lieutenant-Governor of the island. He then "encouraged" his old cronies to become respectable landowners and merchants to ensure a more peaceful rule or else he would ensure they swung on the gallows. Rory "Nine Lives" St James was one of these cronies and Brittany's ancestor.
"Nine Lives'" son, Traherne St James had gained further respectability and wealth when he married, albeit a poor relation, into the British aristocracy, setting up properties in Britain and Jamaica. Not to be outdone in acquiring and maintaining the family wealth, a later descendant, Henry St James, lived openly in a form of marriage, with an African princess captured in a tribal war between her village and its enemies. He had fallen in love with her fierce pride and her will to live unbroken to enslavement. On his "marriage" he'd freed the African slaves making them free men and women. Both of these occurrences had caused consternation and embarrassment amongst the plantation class. Many had African women as mistresses and bore many children but they refused to dignify these women by freeing them. Some of these offsprings were sent overseas for their education but their mothers remained tied to the plantations.
The rising dissatisfaction of the enslaved population caused many plantation owners to sleep uneasily at nights. Unlike St James, they had refused to see the writing on the wall that emancipation for the slaves was imminent. In any event, whether his "marriage" was based on his love for his African wife or he was thumbing his nose at a society that was covertly hypocritical and overtly immoral, it served to prevent the slaves from burning all properties held by the St James family during the slave uprising.
A sharp whistle broke the air disturbing Brittany's inner thoughts.
"Hey Miss Britt, where's the fire?" yelled the old black man standing in the cane field bordering the road. His amused grin a white slash in his black face, a wicked looking machete cradled in his arm.
"Oh, it's you Nathan," smiling as she slowed down to greet the old man, she teased, "Get back to work, you lazy old reprobate. The fire will be under you if that slavedriver of a foreman catches you loafing."
Nathan chuckled and waved his machete as Brittany sped up once again. Her thoughts returned to the reason she was travelling in this infernal heat in the middle of the day, her blood as hot as the top of her head.
Brittany changed gears, slowing the momentum of the Mercedes as she turned into the driveway of the sprawling office and factory complex. She pulled into the parking lot, throwing a fierce glance at the dark green Jaguar parked in the reserved space. Savagely unhooking her seat belt, she took a deep breath to steady herself, pushed herself out of the seat and stepped out of the car.
She felt the sweat trickle between her breasts. Straightening her shoulders, she cursed for being forced to come on this journey. This was the hottest part of the day. She had left Montego Bay without her hat or sunglasses. Her physical discomfort made her even madder. She stalked toward the entrance of the building.
The man standing at the office window overlooking the driveway, watched as the Mercedes pulled up with a squeal of tires, gravel flying everywhere. His curiosity peaked when he saw the woman stepping out of the car. His attention was caught. As he watched her walk toward the building - he experienced a feeling of instant recognition ... or lust ... he wanted this woman.
He saw a woman of above average height, long golden legs continuing a long way to end in trim buttocks covered by khaki walking shorts and a jungle print raw silk shirt. He couldn't help but notice her breasts. They were full and thrusting in profile that he wondered if they were real. As he saw her face he forgot everything else. Peripherally, he picked up the anger in her body language; however, he was more aware of the sensuality of the woman. This was Eve, Earth Mother, Nefertiti and Lolita, all wrapped in one enticing package. Imagining this woman naked in his bed, her long golden legs entwined with his, breasts pressed up against his bare chest, his mouth nipping and licking the warm column of her neck was making his manhood harden uncomfortably.
He chuckled to himself, pitying the recipient of the angry sparkle he had glimpsed in her eyes as she had glared toward the building.
As she disappeared into the building, Benjamin Somerton turned from the window. Justin St. James had completed his call.
"How dare you?" The door banged open on a tightly controlled female voice.
Benjamin eased back into the shadows of the office as the woman from the parking lot strode toward Justin's desk. He now was in little doubt as to who was the victim.
"Who gave you the right to meddle in my affairs?" demanded Brittany, practically stabbing her uncle in the chest with her index finger. "I am twenty-four years old. When are you going to allow me to live my own life without your meddling?" Angry, amber eyes glared down at Justin.
"What have I done now?" Justin asked calmly, looking up at his niece. Justin St James hadn't gotten where he was today because he was a fool or easily rattled by friend or foe. And this was only his niece. He was a powerfully built man in prime physical condition, auburn hair identical to his niece. His eyes were a lighter shade than his niece's. His enemies liken him to the jungle lion and have said his eyes could glow then become flat and pitiless before he moves in for the kill.
Goaded further by his tone, Brittany's temper seemed to escalate to the point where a physical explosion seemed possible. Hands visibly shaking from her attempt at controlling her physical impulse, her voice tight, she demanded, "This time? This time? Is it your business whom I sleep with?"
"Don't "Brittany" me!" she ordered as she slammed her fist on the mahogany desk. "Meddling in my private life! Humiliating me! Snooping behind my back!"
"You know the family worries about you." Justin responded mildly, warily watching his niece. She had been known to demolish anything in her way when she got into a temper.
"They worry because I'm not living the life they choose or me!" yelled Brittany. Taking a deep breath, eyes narrowed, her voice deathly quiet, she said, "From now on, please butt out of my life. Because if you won't, I'll never speak to you again." Straightening to her full height, "Or my other alternative... I'll leave this island so fast you won't see me for my dust."
As Brittany spun away from her uncle, her eyes filled with tears. She thought she saw the outline of a man in the shadows, but dismissed it as shadows in the room. She closed the door quietly, walking swiftly through the outer office to the parking lot.
The room was silent, as both men simultaneously walked toward the window. They watched as Brittany came out of the building and headed toward her car. She fumbled a moment with the door handle, her hair swinging forward to hide her face. Finally the door opened under her efforts, and she slid in the driver's seat. Unexpectedly, her head slid forward to be cradled on her crossed arms on the steering wheel. A short time later, she composed herself. She started the car and drove out of the parking lot, a lot less gravel scattering with her departure.
"Well, you've met my niece, quite a girl, isn't she?" Justin remarked wryly, pantomiming wiping his sweating brow.
"Quite a woman, I would agree," Ben answered, watching as Justin started to massage his temples.
"You're right, she is a woman. She grew up before my eyes and I didn't realize it," Justin responded sadly.
"Do you want to talk about it?" encouraged Ben. His interest was not all due to altruistic feelings toward Justin. He was also interested in learning everything about the beautiful, volatile woman he'd just seen.
"Brittany has always been my favourite niece. She is the only child of my older brother, Jordan and his wife Caitlin. She takes after both her English and Afro-Jamaican grandmothers in temperament and looks. She can be so calm one minute and then, wham! She erupts! She was a delightful child, but what a temper! She had all the servants eating out of her hands because she was so loving and caring about everything that bothered them," grinned Justin, picturing a young Brittany. "Your father would've remembered her as a child. She used to sit on his lap and poke her finger in the dent in his chin. She told him she was looking for pennies."
"What was she going on about? You "snooping" in her life?"
Justin sighed, "She's seeing this man, Cody Gilmour, of whom I thoroughly disapprove."
"Why do you disapprove of him?" Ben settled himself more comfortably in his chair. He sensed that Justin was more upset than he appeared.
"Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Britt settled down with a bunch of kids and a loving husband. She deserves it ... for what she's been through in her life so far."
"Really? Like what? She struck me as a very self-assured young woman."
"Oh, she is. But she had some problems with a man in the past. Then her parents died in a boating accident a few years ago."
"So why do you disapprove of this man in her life?"
"Nothing specific. It's just a feeling I get when I see him. He breezes onto the island and then disappears. He lives expensively and hangs out at Nepenthe when he's around."
"That's Britt's pride and joy. It's the resort complex she owns and runs quite successfully, I might add. I never thought she'd spend so much time on the place or I wouldn't have supported her when she approached me about the idea. I thought she would treat it like a hobby and have a life outside the place. But she spends all her time there."
"Take my advice old friend, let it go. As she says, "butt out." Your darling niece may follow through on her threat and never speak to you again."
"Oh well," Justin laughed, "As to that, she always says that when she gets mad at me, although she has never threatened to leave the island before. She loves it here." With a sigh, Justin continued, "I guess I better leave Mr. Cody Gilmour alone ... for now," he growled the last two words under his breath.
Ben didn't hear Justin's last statement. His thoughts were being filled with the sensuously beautiful woman who had just exploded into his life.
"So how many millions are the Somertons adding to my bank account this time?" Justin asked Ben, putting his niece and her threats to the back of his mind.
With great effort, Ben brought his mind back to the business at hand.
Chapter TwoThe red Mercedes turned into the compound of the resort complex. The view was spectacular. The property spread over five acres of lush tropical land. It was skirted by powder fine white sand bordered by the blue, green and turquoise of the Caribbean Sea as it rode in toward the shore from the distant horizon.
Brittany paused to enjoy the scenery. She had a strong sense of belonging and ownership. Sculptured green was separated by a riotous kaleidoscope of colour. Pathways and secluded corners flowed in a well-planned fashion with the lush abundance of nature. Slowly descending, the setting sun gave the scene an all over blush of softness, not granted to any other time of day. It brought with it the feeling of Mother Nature ostentatiously preparing for a warm night of love, romance and mystery. Brittany could never get used to the impending night mystery. This also lent itself to a feeling of personal contentment.
This was the third year of her dream resort. From a business viewpoint, she considered herself quite successful. Her return to the island had found her determined to succeed on her own, not to do as many of her cousins had done, which was either having Uncle Justin, as head of the family, or their parents, find them a niche in the family organization.
Her maternal grandmother, Grandmother Norbrook had deeded the property, intending it to be part of her dowry. Brittany smiled thinking of Grandmother Norbrook turning in her grave at what she had done with the property. Grandmother Norbrook thought a woman in business was like a hen trying to be a rooster - not as God meant it to be.
Nepenthe Resort was located on the Jamaica's north coast, on a stretch of land that boasted some of the best tourist attractions in the Caribbean, both natural and man-made. Less than half an hour outside Montego Bay, it was convenient to several Great Houses and other beautiful residences.
More than a few years ago Montego Bay was the most "chic" city in the Caribbean, catering to the famous and the infamous. The city was well known for its unique architecture, its breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea and its championship golf course, the Tryall. It also provided amenities found in most cities catering to the idle rich and the not so rich. It was a rich blend of the exotic and the cosmopolitan. The area had been thoroughly taken over by larger hotels. Nepenthe and other smaller resorts and guest houses came in for a great deal of the less expensive and more exclusive tourist trade.
Brittany considered herself luckier than some of the other resort owners. Apart from owning her land free and clear, she had gotten some well-healed clients through Uncle Justin's business connections. Her dream had been to provide an idyllic setting perfect for the whole family, yet offering couples the luxury and seclusion to enjoy their vacation.
She was proud of her achievement. Her thoughts wandered to a few years ago when the idea was conceived. She'd chosen the name of her dream resort from an old English word she'd seen on her travels - "Nepenthe, something that brings forgetfulness of sorrow and suffering." Since conception, her resort surely had alleviated some of those feelings.
Nepenthe was her life and the people, her family. The complex consisted of fourteen guest cottages and four staff cottages for senior staff, interspersed between lush poinsettia and bougainvillaea bushes for maximum privacy. The craft shop and boutique was located to the right of the main driveway. Opposite, the gymnasium/health centre provided from tae-bo to Pilates to Zumba; tennis courts and the kidney-shaped swimming pool also added more activities. Toward the end of the driveway was the heart of the complex, The Pen. Brittany drove directly to this building.
She experienced a feeling of pride as her eyes adjusted to the dim interior of the building. The unassuming exterior hid an interior that could rival any décor in New York or London, but possessed its own unique island flavour. From the parking lot, the foyer ran almost the length of the building. The areas of the foyer and the lounge were done in muted shades of blues and greens; a beautiful grand piano served as the central focus of the room and second focus was the bar. Opposite to the lounge were the offices, toward the back was an elegantly arranged restaurant decorated in peach, white and exotic plants. Romance and mystery was the theme of the nightclub.
Each area possessed its own ?avour and ambiance. The lounge had a friendly ambiance; the restaurant elegantly comfortable, and the nightclub was the romantic, mysterious face of the night.
Excerpted from Brittany by NINA-AKUA SHABAZZ Copyright © 2012 by Nina-Akua Shabazz. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.