Hayley Bryant has changed a lot in the two years since her boss’s rejection sent her running. She’s travelled the world and is now a grown woman who knows just how to get what she wants. Coming face-to-face with her former boss shouldn’t affect her at all. Except it does. Mitchell still makes her burn as hot as ever. Good thing she’s brought her sexy friend with benefits, Ty, along as a plus one to a wedding on Bandicoot Cove Island.
Mitch Wood has always put business first, except for when he hired his little sister’s friend as an intern. Pushing Hayley away was the right thing to do at the time, but he can’t deny the attraction now. This time, he’ll have to come to Hayley, and her plus one might prove to be a bit of an obstacle. Fortunately, Mitch has never been one to shy away from a little competition.
Each book in the Bandicoot Cove series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Tropical Sin
Book #2 Paradise Found
Book #3 Island Idyll
Book #4 Sunlit Surrender
Book #5 Sunset Heat
Book #6 Moonlight Mirage
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Bandicoot Cove Series: a Novella
By Sami Lee, Heidi Shoham
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Sami Lee
All rights reserved.
See Aidan and McKenzie get married.
Dear Bianca Rogers,
Aidan and Mack would love to invite you and your "plus one" to bear witness to their wedding on Bandicoot Cove's main beach,
Saturday, four p.m.
Dress is completely casual as the atmosphere will be relaxed and full of laughter. No top hats, tuxedos or stilettos allowed.
Please come and share in Aidan and Mack's special day as they finally formalize what the rest of the world already knew: they were meant to be together from the start.
RSVP Kylie Sullivan
Bandicoot Cove Resort
Bilby Island, Australia
Mitchell Wood leaned on the bar at Bar Evoke and made eye contact with the bartender. The athletic-looking blond guy, whose nametag read Finn, approached. "What can I get you?"
"The resort manager. Is she in tonight?"
Finn's friendly expression cooled almost imperceptibly. Mitch might have missed it if he didn't spend so much time negotiating million-dollar deals with men practiced at hiding their emotions behind bland expressions. They always had a tell, though. Once Mitch figured out what it was he knew he had them.
"Is there a problem, sir?"
The inflection on the moniker bordered on insolent. For whatever reason, Finn the bartender was protective of Bandicoot Cove's resort manager. Loyalty. A valuable commodity for any person in a leadership position, one not all managers could educe in their staff. Mitch's resolve to talk to Kylie Sullivan solidified. "No problem at all. A business proposition."
Finn's countenance relaxed once more. "I'll see if she's around," he offered before he sauntered away.
"Tell me I didn't hear that right."
Mitch swung around to see his sister McKenzie standing behind him, her hands on her hips and a disgusted expression on her face.
Mitch raised a brow and feigned innocence. He was practiced at concealing his emotions behind bland expressions too. "Hear what?"
"You mention the word 'business' at my prewedding celebrations. You're supposed to be having fun."
Mitch proffered the red and orange cocktail his brother Mason had insisted he try. "I am having fun."
"That's why you're hunting down Kylie with business propositions. What are you going to do — offer her a job?"
The fact that the woman would prove a valuable asset to his hotel development and management company had occurred to Mitch. What was wrong with mixing a little business with the pleasure of attending his sister's wedding? "Why shouldn't I?"
Mack laughed. "She's not going anywhere, Mitch, believe me. She's committed."
"Contracts can always be broken."
"No, I mean ... Let's just say you can't give her what she's already got here."
The small smile playing on Mack's lips made Mitch think of the bartender again, and the pieces fell into place. "Ah."
"Yes, 'ah'. So why don't you come out on the floor and dance a jig with everyone else?"
"I can turn the occasional waltz, Mack," Mitch drawled. "But I'm pretty sure I've never jigged."
"It's better than standing there stiff as a board."
Her perfectly innocent statement reminded Mitch of Amanda and the fact it had been four months since she'd walked out of his life. Four months since he'd been able to relieve any of his stiffness in the time-honored manner. Amanda Donovan may not have been the most scintillating conversationalist nor destined to be his one and only, but she had been very accommodating in the ways that counted.
Realizing he was thinking about sex, or his recent lack thereof, with his sister not three feet away made Mitch shuffle his feet uncomfortably on the parquet floor. "I promise you, little sis, I'm having a great time."
"Uh-huh." Mack narrowed her eyes doubtfully. "Did you bring your laptop?"
"Of course I brought my laptop," Mitch admitted before he thought better of it. "This isn't Mars."
"No, but it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Promise me you'll open your eyes and take some of it in while you're here."
What did she think he'd been doing since he'd arrived this afternoon? He'd made it his mission to study every little detail that distinguished Bandicoot Cove's facilities from anything else in Australia. The tropical Queensland waters were home to numerous holiday destinations but nothing quite like the unique mix of eco-friendly construction and luxurious abundance that this place offered. It was no wonder the rich and famous sought out the tranquility and extravagance Bilby Island's exclusive resort had in spades.
Mack's friend Kylie had obviously done an excellent job of getting the place up to par, possessing exactly the kind of flair and attention to detail Mitch wanted on his next hotel project set to open in six months.
But apparently love stood in the way of Mitch snagging the talented manager for one of his own hotels. Damned inconvenient emotion. Inconvenient and wrenching and painful. As far as Mitch was concerned, love could take a long walk off a short pier.
"I will open my eyes and take in the glory, Mack," Mitch promised, affording his sister an indulgent smile and shoving thoughts of love and the one woman who had inspired it in him from his mind. Walking and talking and generally acting like he had it all together was so much easier when he didn't think about her.
"You'll leave your laptop in your room?" Mack pleaded. "Check emails only once a day?"
Once a day? Was she mad? Behind his back, Mitch crossed his fingers. A very childish thing for a man of thirty-four to do, he was well aware. "Agreed."
"And you'll have a massage."
"Jeez, Mack. Anything else?"
McKenzie relented with an impish grin. "That will cover it for now. Only because I'm in too good a mood to harangue you anymore. And I see Aidan over there making eyes at me."
Mitch rolled his eyes at the dreamy expression his sister wore as she looked past his shoulder to where her fiancé was obviously waiting for her. "Eww."
Mack stuck out her tongue. Then she jumped up and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks for coming, Mitch. It means a lot to me that everyone's here — all my family and friends in the place where I finally realized Aidan was the only man for me. Heck, even Hales came back from Indonesia. I'm so lucky."
Something in Mitch's gut clenched and the muscles around his heart squeezed tight. There goes walking and talking and generally acting like I have it all together. "Hales? Hayley Bryant?"
"Yes, Hayley Bryant, you doofus. Little Hayley, the girl I begged you to hire when she finished her degree so she could get some business experience." Mack squinted at him. "She worked for you for over a year, remember?"
Remember he did, in vivid detail. That year wasn't one Mitch had ever managed to forget, no matter how hard he'd tried over the past twenty-two months. Hayley Bryant. The sickening sense of loss that always swirled in his stomach at the thought of her made the strong rum-based cocktail nearly come back up the way it went down.
"She arrived just this afternoon, after you," Mack went on, apparently unaware that Mitch's throat had closed over, preventing him from contributing to the conversation. "She looks amazing. So different you'll hardly recognize her."
A picture of bouncy pale blonde curls framing a cherubic face and green eyes that sparkled with intelligence flashed in Mitch's mind. He wasn't sure he liked the idea of Hayley looking in any way different.
"She's back for a visit?" he finally managed to choke out. His voice sounded raspy, so he took a swig of the drink he'd forgotten he didn't like.
"For good, I think." For good. Mitch's heart started to palpitate. "It'll be great to have her on home soil. I always worried a little about her traveling the world on her own — force of habit to worry about Hales, I suppose. I still remember her as the shy twelve-year-old I mentored through her first year of high school when I was a senior. There is one thing I will miss though, and that's her postcards."
Mitch had never received a postcard. Not one in twenty-two months — but who was counting? She sent some to Mitch's headquarters in the Gold Coast because she'd made several friends there. The mementos came from America, Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia, but none had ever been addressed to him personally.
Not that he expected any, after what happened.
Memories raced through his mind before he could prepare for the effect they'd have on his body or his conscience. A sultry December night, a late meeting, boxes of Chinese takeaway laid out next to blueprints, and Hayley. Oh God, Hayley. Full of enthusiasm to impress the boss, and him behaving like every bad cliché about company CEOs and their cute, eager-to-please interns.
In his pocket, the electronic beep of Mitch's phone sounded, shattering his dark thoughts and drawing a scowl from Mack. "Don't. You. Dare. No business. Give me the phone."
Mitch froze with his hand halfway to his pocket. "You've got to be joking, Mack."
Brother and sister stared each other down, neither willing to back off. Mitch was reminded of Mack's fearlessness, conditioned through years of fending off the teasing delivered by six brothers. She wouldn't hesitate to tackle him just as though they were in their parents' backyard playing football instead of at a swanky resort.
Mitch's competitive streak reared. He might be five years his sister's senior, but he wasn't quite over the hill yet. No way can she catch me.
Mitch feinted left, then darted to the right. Mack wasn't fooled, nor was she on her own in this battle. She called to someone behind Mitch and a moment later Mitch's shoulder connected with something hard, and two arms banded his to his sides.
"Aidan." No one else Mitch knew had arms the size and firmness of tree trunks. "Let me go."
Mack pointed a finger at her fiancé. "Don't."
Mitch kept himself fit, but an insanely strong fireman who'd do anything for the woman he loved he could not match on physical terms. So he started doing what he did best — negotiating. "Aidan, think about what you're doing. I'm about to become your brother-in-law."
"Thinking tends to go out the window where your sister's concerned," Aidan drawled. "What exactly am I supposed to do with him, Mack?"
"Take the phone out of his pocket."
"I am not putting my hand in your brother's pocket. You do it."
"Eww. I'm not putting my hand in there either, certainly not while it's vibrating." Mack glared at Mitch. "Take the phone out and give it to me."
Mitch grinned. "In your dreams."
"Fine," Mack huffed. "I'll get backup."
Scanning the nearby crowd, Mack waved at someone and gestured for them to come over.
"Mack, this is ridiculous. It might not even be the office calling."
"Sure, and you wouldn't have that thing surgically attached to your body if you had the chance. They never leave you alone, Mitch."
"That's because I'm the boss."
"What seems to be the problem?"
Mitch's heart, which had already accelerated during the matchup against his sister and Aidan, moved into triple time. He knew that voice. It was a little richer than the last time he'd heard it, with a sardonic lilt that hadn't been there before. But the sound of Hayley Bryant's honeyed tones had haunted his sleep enough nights that he would have recognized them anywhere. With an unsettling mixture of reluctance and bone-deep anticipation, Mitch turned his head.
What he saw stopped his heart altogether.
She'd let her golden hair grow long, so long the ends curled over the very tips of her breasts, which looked absolutely dynamite in a low-cut green dress that perfectly matched the emerald sparkle of her eyes. Wedge heels made her slender frame appear taller than what Mitch knew was only five-foot-four. Hayley's head barely reached his collarbones. He remembered because she'd opened his shirt and placed a kiss right there that night almost two years ago, before she'd released every other button on the garment and ...
Mitch slammed his mind down on that memory because it made his cock twitch inside his pants. Aroused was not a state he wanted to find himself in with a six-foot-plus fireman plastered to his back. It would be better if Hayley Bryant got out of his sight right now so Mack wouldn't guess the impact her friend had on him.
But right now, drinking in the long-missed sight of her, Mitch couldn't have asked Hayley to walk away even if he still possessed the power of speech. He felt as though some maniacal hand had curled punishing fingers around his heart and squeezed. Love was not only a damned inconvenient emotion, it was an absolute killer. Oh, Hayley, how did I let you walk away from me? Why did you stay away so long?
Mitch's heart raced so fast when he heard his sister's next words, he thought he might suffer an infarction.
"Hales, I need you to frisk my brother."CHAPTER 2
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, why would Mack insist I feel up her brother in this one?
Hayley had been so sure of herself, so certain seeing him again would have virtually no impact on her. After all, she'd grown up in the last two years. She'd moved on. She barely ever thought about how he'd cut out her heart and left it bleeding on the floor of his office. He hardly ever entered her mind ... unless she was drifting off to sleep or waiting in line or in any way sitting still. Then she thought about him constantly. But other than that? She didn't think about him at all. Or much, anyway.
She was over him. So totally over him.
But damn, he still looks good.
Hayley tore her eyes from Mitch's intense blue stare and transferred her gaze to his sister, hating that it took a mammoth effort for her to do it. "Did you say 'frisk'?" "He promised he wouldn't work while he was here."
Mitch, not working? That would be a first.
"But his phone's in his pocket. Would you get it for me?" There had been a time Hayley would have jumped at the opportunity to get into Mitch Wood's pants. She would have happily leapt into his arms and licked him all over, like the excited little poodle she used to be.
Not so now.
Hayley returned her gaze to the man Aidan still held captive, carefully constructing an aloof veneer as she looked him over from head to toe. He still kept his sandy blond hair neatly trimmed, short at the back and sides with a little length on top to keep him from looking like an army drill sergeant. The lines of his face were as implacable as ever, his eyes that same ice blue that his business competitors found unnerving and she'd found as mesmerizing as a hypnotist's watch. His lips were ... Hayley skimmed her gaze quickly over them. She remembered the rugged outline of his lips well enough. She used to live for every rare moment they curved upward, especially the way they used to when he first saw her in the morning, when she brought him coffee or when she showed initiative around the office.
Business initiative. That other sort Mitch hadn't responded to quite as well.
"Forget it." Her brusque statement was a reminder to herself as well as an answer for Mack.
"Come on, Hales. I'm getting married in two days."
"How long are you going to keep milking that?" "For however long it works."
"Clearly, it's not working." Mitch sent his sister a self-satisfied smirk, the one he sported anytime he outmaneuvered a rival. He shrugged himself out of Aidan's hold, and this time the other man let him go. "Hayley is a sensible girl who knows better than to blindly follow your orders, Mack."
I know better than to hang on every word you say too, you arrogant shit. Who did he think he was, acting like he knew her? He hadn't seen her in two years. The girl he'd thought her was gone, replaced by a woman who knew her own worth and refused to let any man motivate her decisions. She'd been to Paris, for God's sake. She'd temped in London, waitressed in the ski resorts of Canada, journeyed from one side of the USA to the other on the back of a motorcycle. Hayley had lived every moment of the last twenty-two months.
And in the process, learned to live without Mitch Wood's approval.
As Mitch made to move away, Hayley stepped in front of him and placed a hand on his chest. Beneath his cotton shirt, his flesh was hot, hard and corded with strength. So? You've touched hot, hard men before, Hayley. No biggie. She raised her eyes to his and tried not to show how the proximity she'd created between them made her heart hammer. "Not so fast."
Excerpted from Moonlight Mirage by Sami Lee, Heidi Shoham. Copyright © 2012 Sami Lee. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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