Authors: Cyndi Raye
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
Key West Wild
Copyright © 2013 www.CyndiRaye.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
Dedicated to K.R.W.
A precious rose waiting to bloom.
You are beautiful and loved.
Joshua Eden took a long swig of Gentleman Jack, swirling the amber liquid in his mouth. It slid down his throat as his gaze wandered to a cab that stopped along the curb outside the bar. He relished this slow, laid back life right now. It was his way to rejuvenate and come back to the real world. What a relief not to be living on the edge, no drug dealers or gun runners or crime any more. A glass of expensive whiskey at his disposal was all he cared about.
The lazy days he spent at bars in Key West helped him unwind from the last ten years, at least it’s what he told himself. Life in paradise helped him to forget everything, although at times it wasn’t that simple. Josh realized old habits and trained skills kept him on edge.
The windows, which ran from the ceiling to the floor gave a perfect view of the most famous street in Key West. Along the side of the building were more large doorways and that’s what Josh liked best, a wide view along the city streets. Never sitting with his back to the door kept him from sudden surprises.
It was early afternoon, so most of the crowds walking down the famous street were tourists. A beautiful woman stepped from the cab. She began to walk towards him, or at least towards where he sat behind the glass window. Her right arm struggled with a set of chic luggage.
The thing he noticed most was the desperation that rang all over her face, even if she tried hard to hide it. Long legs in tight jeans stepped one foot in front of the other. She passed by the window, so close her misty blue eyes connected with his. A jolt went through him. It surprised him because here in the Keys beautiful women were everywhere. But this one he found intriguing for some reason. He hadn’t even met her, yet. He had a gut feeling it would happen.
She walked through the entrance, struggling to pull her fancy blue and white striped luggage behind her. After a few tugs, she looked up to him and jerked the suitcase over the bump. A slight smile curved her lips and her long legs took her one step closer to his table.
Josh locked his eyes on her. He swirled the liquid before downing the rest in one steady stream. “Tony,” he called out, dark eyes never leaving the woman’s face.
The man stepped away from the bar and took Joshua’s glass. “Can I get you something too?” Tony asked her.
At the bartender’s question, she pulled the stool out as if she were going to sit down with Joshua. She tucked her luggage under the table so it stood out of the way. “I would like a, hold on a moment,” she mumbled and set a matching leather tote on the table.
As she dug through her purse, Joshua observed how she parted her mouth and the tip of her tongue moved back and forth in the corner of her mouth.
She pulled out a card. “This is a Key West bar card and I’d like to use it for my drink purchase. I believe it’s a two for one deal. So I’ll have a rum runner this time.” She flashed the card towards the bartender as if it were a badge and placed it back inside of her bag. She turned to Josh. “Is this seat taken?”
His brow rose, he grinned and nodded for her to sit.
“Oh thank you!” she burst out. He just shook his head. What is she up to, he wondered?
Josh’s brow rose again as she sat down across from him. She removed her tote from the table, but first she pulled out her phone and a folded piece of paper. She opened it up and began to study the writing there.
He grunted, which made her look at him. She blinked and pushed her hair back from her face, her honey blonde waves falling across her shoulders. Her smile about knocked him off of the bar stool. When she smiled at him, the world disappeared, as if he were spinning in a vortex with no way out. Why did he want to pick her up and carry her off into the sunset?
“Hi. I’m Sara Rose Kelley.” She stretched out her hand and he took it, mesmerized by the silver bracelets dangling from a flawless wrist. Her soft, silky skin slid into his. He must have held it a bit longer than normal because she pulled back. He looked up into her eyes and saw them widen in surprise. The tongue came out again, and she began to rub it back and forth in the corner of her mouth. He gritted his teeth. Josh turned towards the bar, he needed his whiskey!
“You didn’t tell me your name,” Sara prodded.
She turned her head at a slight angle. “Well, it’s nice to meet you Joshua Eden. I’m sorry if I picked your table out from all the guests here, but I am in a bind. You look like the safest person in the bar.”
He shrugged. “How so? I may be a serial killer.”
She laughed out loud, followed by a giggle and a tiny breath of air. “When I looked through the glass window and our eyes connected, something told me you were the one to help me. It must be in the stars. Well,” she said, lowering her voice and leaning a bit closer, “I stood on the side walk, looked around and for a slight moment defeat overwhelmed me. So I said a quick prayer for God to send me someone and you looked right at me. A prayer answered and a new friend.”
Josh sat back and crossed his arms across his chest. “What do you want?”
She crossed her legs and her wedged sandal touched his shoe. Did she do that on purpose, he wondered? “I’m sorry,” she told him. “I didn't mean to hit your foot.”
From years of scrutinizing people and watching their reactions, he believed her. He always assumed people had an agenda.
Tom brought the drinks to the table and Sara began to dig in her purse. She pulled out a bill and handed it to the bartender. “Please, I’d like to pay for Joshua’s drink too,” she told him.
“That’s not necessary.”
“It is,” she smiled at Josh. “Because I do want something from you.” The bartender laughed out loud as he took the money. “Keep the change,” she told him and then laid her long manicured fingers across the unfolded sheet of paper.
Josh picked up his drink, holding it in his hand, his eyes on her as she again stared at the paper. “What do you want?” he asked again.
“You get right to the point.”
“Is there any other way?”
“Yes. Since I don’t have much time because I have to be somewhere when the sun sets, I will take your advice and get right to the point.”
Josh watched her bite her lip, lean over and place her mouth on the straw and take a deep drink. She closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying her drink. He swallowed.
“I lost my brother, or he’s missing. There’s something wrong here.”
“What makes you think he’s lost?”
She shrugged. “He’s my twin and we’re very close. He expected me on this flight and he promised to meet me at the airport, but he never showed.”
Josh shrugged. “Perhaps he got held up somewhere.”
She shook her head. “No, we spoke right before I got on the plane. I planned to stay at his place until I found an apartment. He would’ve been there.” She pointed to her folded piece of paper.
“What’s that?” He stretched his neck to see the paper.
“This is my itinerary.”
Josh laughed. “Itinerary! We’re in the Keys, there’s no such thing here.”
“I have a whole list of things that I planned out while I’m here.” She smiled, her sweetness drawing him in to her. He was in big trouble.
“Do whatever you want, but after you’re here awhile, you’ll understand.”
She took another sip of her drink. “Noted,” she told him. “Back to my brother. I waited at the airport for four hours this morning and he never showed. I got a cab and went to his apartment. He didn’t leave me a key or a note. So I get a text saying he’s sorry, his job sent him out of town and I should get a hotel room until he returns. He said not to call him on his phone, he’d contact me. It’s not like him. I called anyway, but his cell goes right into voice mail. Now, here I am stuck on the streets of Key West and there’s no rooms available anywhere on the island. I’ve called them all.”
Josh nodded. “This is a busy week because of the festival. You won’t find any rooms available.”
“I can’t fly back home. I gave up everything to come here.” For a moment he saw a flash of uncertainty cross her face. Her fingers tapped on the glass of the rum runner. Her sandal touched his foot as she swung it back and forth.
He was here to relax, to unwind, not start an investigation into the disappearance of someone’s sibling. But then he heard himself say, “Perhaps I can help. What’s your brother’s name?”
Josh sat back. Morgan worked for the agency. No doubt he got called away and couldn’t contact his sister. “What type of work does he do?” Josh asked, careful not to show any emotion. Her answer would tell him if she realized what her brother did for a living.
“Oh, he’s a computer geek. He works for a big New York City firm that relocated him here. I haven’t a clue how he does it, moving from place to place. He said he’ll be here for a few years and that’s why I decided to come too.”
That’s what Josh thought. What she wasn’t aware of is at any given time the government may need the help of Morgan’s top team of agents.
“What? Do you know Morgan?”
Her voice, now high pitched, shook Josh back into reality. “No,” he lied. Was he slipping? He masked his emotions like any expert in his field. How did she see right through him?
“Are you sure? There for a moment it seemed to me like you recognized the name.” She shook herself. “Perhaps not, I’m sorry. I’m so desperate I guess I’m grasping at straws.”
Josh sat back. Everything changed from this point on now that she was Morgan’s sister. Even though he may be almost retired from the business, he’d never be out of the game. “I’m staying at a nice, clean B&B right down the street. I can check if they have any rooms open.” Morgan’s assignment must have been an extreme emergency for him to run off without any warning, knowing he was expecting family, Josh thought.
Sarah smiled, looking in to his eyes, her blue orbs searing his soul. He pushed back the chair, needing fresh air. “I’m going outside to make a call.”
He hit the send button and held the cell at his ear. “Jake? Hey man, where are you?”
“Looking right at you, bud.” Josh looked across the street to the Irish bar. Maggie and Jake stood out front, holding hands and smiling. He flipped the phone shut and hurried across the street to join them, leaving Sara alone inside. He turned back and held up his hand to tell her he’d be right back, but she was staring down at her itinerary. It made him chuckle.
“Look at you,” Jake said, holding out his hand. “This is unusual, seeing a smile on your face.”
Josh grinned. “It’s good to see you.”
“Bull! You never smile.”
“When did you guys get here?” Josh asked, changing the subject. Jake and Maggie lived on No Name Key, about twenty miles away. The bed and breakfast belonged to Jake, a big time contractor. When Josh told him he’s heading to relax in Key West for a spell, Jake left the bed and breakfast at his disposal.
“Today. Seems our manager ran off with the housekeeper, who was the other housekeeper’s lover. I had three people leave their position. I hired two more housekeepers, but the managers position is not so easy to fill.”
“Does it come with a room?” Josh had an idea.
“What do you have in mind?” Jake said.
“There’s someone who needs a place to stay, more so than a job.” He told Jake and Maggie about the woman across the street.
Jake groaned. “I never hired someone from the streets.”
“This one you can. Her brother is an agent, a respected friend. I don’t think you have any worries. Besides, I’ll be there to keep an eye on things.”
Jake and Maggie looked at each other. “Bring her over to meet us in about an hour. Maggie wants to shop before we head back home. If this works out, I’ll thank you. This B&B is becoming more trouble than I expected it to be.”
Josh nodded, then shook Jake’s hand. “Thanks. I doubt you’ll regret hiring her. Let’s hope she says yes.” He headed back across the street to tell Sara the good news. As he walked in the bar, she was in deep conversation with a few ladies standing at their table.
Josh headed to the bar to order another drink. He overheard the conversation. “Go to my website on the card I gave you and you’ll be able to get started from there. Email me if you have questions, as I promise you will.” He ordered another drink for Sara too. Picking up the two glasses, he strolled over to the table as the others left. When he set her drink down, he noticed she already ordered her second two for one drink.