Authors: Heather Huffman
Tags: #Romance, #free ebook, #Marriage, #Espionage, #International, #Spy, #wedding, #Human trafficking, #heather huffman
She felt completely unprepared for
paradoxical feelings that cluttered her mind as she lay there, not
quite touching him as she watched the sun sink lower in the
“Come on,” he finally stood and reached a
hand out to her. “My stomach’s growling. Let’s wash the sand off
and head back.”
“I think we should just move here. Send for
the dogs. We could live in a little hut where no one could find
“The idea has merit,” he played along.
“But I would miss shoe sales.”
“Ah, the opportunity cost.”
“And nonfat mochas.”
“I’m losing our island dream to shoes and
“A girl’s gotta have priorities,” she looked
at him apologetically.
“Good to know where I stand.”
“I’m honest,” she shrugged teasingly before
her smile faded briefly.
“I’m honest too,” he caught the look in her
eye. “Just not entirely forthcoming.”
“Is it an ‘I’d tell you but then I’d have to
kill you’ kind of thing?” she tried to rekindle the teasing
“In not so many words,” he stopped short and
turned to face her in all seriousness.
“I was kidding…,” fear fluttered through her
stomach for the briefest of moments.
Sadness tugged at his eyes as he seemed to
read her thoughts. But the sadness was quickly replaced by the
mischievous grin that flickered across his face.
“Don’t you dare…,” her protest turned into a
squeal when he scooped her into his arms and headed towards the
water. Even if she had been planning to swim, being chucked in
unceremoniously hadn’t been part of the design. “Richard Reid
Sinclair… you put me down right now.”
“Wow, the middle name. Pulling out the big
guns now, are we?”
With that, he tossed her. She went in
sputtering, but quickly dove deeper so she could pull his legs out
from under him. They both came up laughing. Rick wrapped his arms
around Veronica, pulling her back against his chest.
Then he stilled. She could sense the tension
in him without seeing his face and instinctively froze as well, her
heart racing as she tried to see what had caused the change in his
A soft whir reached her ears and she somehow
knew this is what he was tuned into, even as he began tugging her
towards the shore.
“Come on. We need to hurry.”
“It’s probably just another group of tourists
headed to the resort,” she frowned at his urgency.
“No. We flew in on a Sikorsky. This is a
Veronica knew enough to understand the
difference between a commercial bird like the S76-D they’d flown in
on and the smaller helicopters often referred to as loaches, like
the OH6 or Defender 500. But it took a trained ear to discern the
difference from sound alone.
“Why would a low observation helicopter be
approaching an exclusive resort island?” She struggled to keep up
with his long stride, barely making it into the jeep before it
roared to life.
“You know one use for the loach? You can load
them down with weapons. Soldiers ride on the skids and the chopper
brings them in close to drop them off. If I can hear it, they’re
already in our pocket.”
“And you really think a helicopter loaded
down with bad guys is headed this way?”
“I was really stupid to have brought you
here,” he ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “I don’t
know what I was thinking.”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Veronica sat back
in her seat and tried to process what he was saying.
A soft whine joined the whir of the rotors,
signaling that the chopper had drawn even nearer. Rick punched the
gas, barreling towards the resort with little regard to things like
staying on the road. By the time he wheeled into a parking space,
Veronica had a death grip on the car. She couldn’t hear the
helicopter anymore, but the look on Rick’s face told her that
wasn’t necessarily good news.
Veronica crawled out of the jeep on shaky
legs; Rick was already at her door. He twined his long fingers
through hers and intentionally slowed his pace. Aware of the other
guests within view, Veronica tried to match his unconcerned
appearance. Her heart was drumming so wildly out of control she was
surprised no one else could hear it.
“What’s going on?” She finally asked once
they were alone in their room.
“I think Marko had less patience than
Adrianna led me to believe. Maybe she held less sway than she
thought,” Rick moved from room to room as he spoke, gathering their
things and shoving them into bags.
“What are you doing?” Veronica felt like she
was watching events unfold through a haze. Her brain felt too thick
and sluggish to work properly.
“Packing. We have to leave here. Now.”
“But what if that helicopter had nothing to
do with you?”
“What if it has everything to do with me?” He
stopped mid-stride, his eyes unable to meet hers. “I’d never
forgive myself if something happened to you.”
Veronica took a deep breath, willing away the
fear and doubts that blew like a tornado through her mind. “Would
it be more helpful if I packed or secured a way off the
Rick paused, as if considering the option
that she could help for the first time. “Pack, and don’t let anyone
Veronica nodded, moving to take over the
chore of packing as Rick dressed. She tried to ignore the gun he
slid into the back of his jeans but couldn’t help wondering how
he’d managed to get it on the island, even if they had flown a
small private plane to San Juan before boarding the island’s
She moved into the bathroom, raking
toiletries into a plastic bag with little heed to order. Head down,
she ran right into him as she hurried back into the bedroom. He
wrapped his arms around her waist, both steadying her and pulling
her closer. She raised her eyes to his, not sure what to say or do.
He responded by claiming her lips with a ferocity she’d never
known. She fiercely but briefly kissed him back before stepping
“You’d better go,” she averted her gaze so he
wouldn’t see the emotion in her eyes.
“I’ll be right back,” he promised, grazing
her temple with a kiss. “Lock the door behind me.”
The room seemed hollow once he’d gone—hollow
and sad. It didn’t take Veronica long to finish packing their
things. She had the bags by the door before he’d returned. She took
another pass around the room to check for lost articles and donned
a pair of capris before sitting nervously on the edge of the bed.
She gazed at the ocean just outside. The sun was nearly gone now.
The water appeared inky, eerie. Veronica stared at it with such
intensity she jumped when Rick let himself back into the room.
“Good thing you’re a desk jockey,” he
smirked. “You’d make a lousy spy.”
“Very funny,” she made a face at him and, in
light of his snarky comment, restrained herself from rushing into
his arms. “Did you have any luck?”
“Yes. Remember the Jamisons?”
“The couple we had dinner with our first
He nodded. “They have a yacht and plan to
head to Tortola at first light.”
“So we have to stay the night here?”
“Not in this room.”
“There wasn’t anything else we could do?”
“No, it’s already too dark to convince the
helicopter pilot to take off and I don’t feel like trying to wiggle
out of felony theft charges.”
“Are you trying to tell me you could fly it
if you wanted to?”
“In a pinch,” he admitted.
“Anything else you’d like to share?”
“Not at the moment, not particularly.”
“You said ‘not in this room’… do you have any
idea where we will stay for the night?”
“I’m sorry—I thought I just heard you say we
were spending the night outside.”
“It’s safer than this room.”
“I’m going to tell myself this will be
romantic; like a scene from
“I’m way hotter than that doofy blonde kid,”
he informed her.
“You were supposed to say that I’m hotter
than Brooke Shields,” Veronica crossed her arms.
“That goes without saying,” he amended.
“So, are we taking our bags with us?”
“We’ll leave them here and come back for them
in the morning if we can. It would look too suspicious for us to
load them now.”
“If we can?”
“I will make every attempt to save your
things,” he assured her as he stuck his head into the hallway.
“Come on, let’s get moving.”
Veronica followed him down to the jeep,
glaring a hole in the back of his head as she did. Instinct told
her to follow Rick’s instructions if she wanted to get out of this
situation. Every other part of her was screaming for an
explanation—or revenge. First the wedding and now the honeymoon.
Apparently nothing was sacred anymore.
They drove the jeep to the other side of the
island and parked it, crisscrossing through the jungle for reasons
unbeknownst to Veronica. She hated feeling like an idle passenger
on this crazy ride but didn’t have a clue what other options were
available at the moment.
By the time Rick found what he considered a
suitable stopping place, the pitch black of night had enveloped
them. Veronica clutched Rick’s hand, sure she’d never find him
again if she lost contact with his fingers.
“Sorry we can’t have a fire,” he tried to
pull her close as they settled in under a rocky crag.
“I may not be a super spy, but I do
understand that fire means bright,” she bristled, pulling away from
him. “I’m warm enough, thanks.”
“I didn’t mean to insult you. Just
“Apology accepted,” she turned her back to
him and rested her chin on her knees. She hadn’t accepted his
apology and they both knew it.
“Come on now, love. You can’t stay angry
“I bet I could if I gave it a try.”
“Is that what you want?”
“I want my honeymoon back. I want an honest
husband. What I want apparently isn’t an option here.”
“We’ll talk when everything settles down,” he
promised; his voice was low, his breath brushed her ear. “Get some
sleep while you can,”
“I’m not tired.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be fine. I just want to keep an eye out
for a bit.”
“You don’t feel the least bit silly doing
this?” Veronica wondered aloud. Maybe it’s all just one big
misunderstanding. “I mean, what if they aren’t even here?”
“Who are they, anyway?”
“Not now, Ronnie.”
“Sure, sure,” she sighed, angry tears
brimming in her eyes. Her pulse pounded in her temple. How had she
been so stupid as to trust another man? Apparently they were all
pathological liars. At least Seth had never endangered her life.
“Will you at least give me answers once we get home?”
“Do you have any clue how much strain you are
putting on our marriage?” Veronica sniffed. Rick chuckled. She held
out little hope for sleep, but tried to calm herself nonetheless.
She must have found a way to doze off sitting straight up, because
she awoke with a start when a branch snapped about twenty feet from
Rick was there, pulling her closer to the
rocks that sheltered them. Before Veronica had time to process what
was happening, Rick had leaned over her and fired a shot, the
silencer lending to the surreal nature of the moment. The sound of
something heavy hitting the jungle floor said his bullet had found
Veronica worried that some hapless tourist
had just met their demise when a return shot sent a spray of dirt
in her face. She felt it more than heard it. They had obviously
silenced their own weapons as well. Rick fired again and another
body fell. This time, he was tugging her along after him.
She pulled free as they passed the first
body, stooping to pick up the weapon at her toe. He doubled back to
claim her hand again and the pair made their way silently through
the trees. Whatever Veronica was expecting next, it wasn’t to be
led back to their room.
“They wouldn’t have sent more than one crew
after us today,” Rick explained as he held the door open for her.
“At least, I don’t think they would have. Might as well get some
rest while we can. Another few hours and we’ll be meeting the
“Sure,” Veronica willed her hands to stop
trembling. Her groom had just killed two people. She stared down at
the 9 mm Makarov pistol still clutched in her fingers. She’d
grabbed it without thinking. Would she have been able to fire it
had there been more than two men? She wasn’t positive she could
She sank into an oversized chair, eyeing Rick
warily as he pried the gun from her fingers.
“I’m just going to set it here,” he promised
her, placing the weapon on a table within her grasp. “You don’t
want to doze off with that thing in your hands.”
“My daddy taught me how to handle a gun.”
“That doesn’t surprise me at all. Just the
same, I’d feel better with it over here. You know, if you want to
lie down, I’ll sit in the chair for a while.”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
He surprised her by settling into a chair
where he could still see her. They sat staring at each other—her
gaze filled with anger and confusion, his with… pain? Regret,
Whatever it was, it was the look that she
carried with her to her restless dreams.
It took a full two minutes for the anger to
settle over her in the morning. For the first sixty seconds, the
morning light cast a soft glow on his features and her heart was
bursting with love for him. Then sadness swept in with the memory
of what she hoped their marriage would be. Then came the
anger—right on the heels of remembering the night before.