Dr Nancy Taylor, is contented with her lone conservationist role on a desert island. When Gareth Marrs lands his plane she wants him out of there. She craves isolation from the real world where she made a mistake so awful she cannot bear to return.
Owner of a luxury cruise line, Gareth plans to profit from her precious hideaway. He is less than honest with Nancy about his reasons for being there. When the island is attacked by Somalian pirates, Gareth not only protects Nancy but begins to understand why she has shut herself away. He is deeply attracted to the beautiful enigmatic scientist, so different from the shallow conquests in his city home. When he awakens the emotions she has hidden for so long, Gareth offers a chance of happiness. But Nancy discovers his real reason for invading her hidden paradise, incensed, she orders him out of her life forever. Gareth isn’t a man so easily brushed off. Besides he knows the only future he can contemplate lies with her if only he can get her to face up to her demons.
‘Your island, do you own it?’
‘Well, no.’ She bristled. Isle de Alfambra felt as if it was hers. She tended it, had sleepless nights worrying over it, had catalogued and studied it and its animal inhabitants twenty-four hours a day. ‘But I’m looking after it, investigating the flora and fauna for the Indian Ocean Island Foundation. I have a right to be here, unlike you.’
‘Good for you, but if I hadn’t crashed here, I’d have had to land in the sea. ‘Your island, unlike the others round here, at least has a stretch of unforested beach to land on. It’s just a pity the welcoming committee’s so rude.’
Nancy pursed her lips and kept on dabbing at his forehead. More softly this time as she was beginning to see he’d had little option. Besides he’d be gone soon. He had to, he was far too distracting and she had far too many important things to do. ‘Well I’m sure as soon as you’ve recovered sufficiently, you can get on that smart little radio you’ve got there and send out for some help.’ He didn’t look too badly hurt, and they were wasting precious time. She was desperate to go and check on the red-tailed tropicbirds which had been her main preoccupation the last few weeks. Many of their nests had already failed at egg or newborn chick stage due to predation by crabs. Goodness only knew what last night’s storm had done to the poor little things. Nancy liked to be busy, she needed to be busy – it was the only way she could forget the demons that haunted her. The things that made her remember …
He grabbed the T-shirt from her, looking exasperated, and she realised that she’d been doing a less-than-efficient nursing job while she’d been distracted by her own thoughts. ‘Believe me, there’s nothing I’d like to do more than call for help. I don’t want to be stuck here in this god-forsaken wilderness any more than you want me here, but I’m afraid I won’t be radioing for help any time soon.’
‘What?’ Her narrowed eyes locked with his.
At last, thought Gareth Marr with a tiny sense of triumph, he’d got the attention of this skinny, serious, ethereally beautiful woman. He wasn’t used to being ignored. If there was one thing being independently wealthy with a thriving business empire had got him, it was the right not to be ignored. Especially by a mere chit of a woman living like some crazy Robinson Crusoe in the middle of nowhere. ‘That won’t be possible. Not on that radio at least. When I crash landed – thanks to you I might say – the radio went completely dead. It’s disconnected, maybe one of the wires has been ripped out, or something’s come loose inside. I’m no engineer, and I might be able to fix it but it’ll take me some time.’
‘No idea I’m afraid. Could be hours, could be days, could be weeks.’ He threw up his hands nonchalantly.
‘B-but. I can’t … you can’t …’
What the? How could anyone be so locked into their own little world that they’d deny an injured man a refuge? Gareth Marr looked around, hands resting on his knees. What was this place anyway? Undeniably it was stunning. He’d been to some of the most desirable places on the planet but had never encountered a sea with quite that turquoise glow or sand that sparkled so freely, like diamond dust in the sun. It could have been paradise but it was so lonely. What’s more, it was inhabited by a she-devil. What was that Shakespearean monster who lived on an island, Caliban? True, she certainly wasn’t a monster standing opposite him with her berry-brown skin and tousled hair. But she wasn’t an angel either. Her brows knitted together, her brunette coils framed a faced that had skin too young and smooth to be so pinched and tense looking. He felt like an invader, a usurper, and yet she couldn’t have any idea why he was here, even though he was certain if she found out she’d be livid. He’d had to keep this latest business venture he was working on closely under wraps just because it would incense people exactly like her. Campaigners and wildlife do-gooders who couldn’t bear the idea of progress and wanted selfishly to keep places like this all to themselves.
‘Can’t what?’ he asked. ‘Can’t stay? I think I’m going to have to. Besides,’ Gareth stood up, felt the sky swim above him and saw her image fading like a mirage before him, ‘if I don’t get to lie down soon, I think I’m going to fall down.’ And with that, the last thing he saw was the ground rushing towards him before, crashing to the sand, he blacked out.