An amnesia victim found by the side of the road is befriended by Lillian, an older woman with early Alzheimer's. Lillian takes the victim, who they call Hallie, with her as a companion on a Caribbean cruise. Eric is an Interpol agent working on catching an international jewelry theft ring. He's undercover as the ship's doctor on the Caribbean cruise ship. Sparks fly when Hallie and Eric meet, but as the cruise progresses Eric’s thinking Hallie might be the thief stealing from the passengers. His reasoning is Hallie’s amnesia and Lillian’s Alzheimer's make a good cover. What’s the chance of two people traveling together having amnesia and Alzheimer’s? And then Lillian keeps coming up with pieces of jewelry passengers have dropped or lost.
To complicate everything someone is trying to kill Hallie and she has no idea why. Lillian finds an older cowboy who she's interested in and then there's the sleazy man who keeps hitting on Hallie. As the cruise progresses Hallie gradually starts to regain her memory. Eric decides she's not a thief, but has to find the real one and keep Hallie safe while their romance heats up.
Jack yanked her roughly against his chest and shoved her into a corner.
“No.” Hallie yanked one arm free and shot it at his jaw.
A shocked expression slashed across Jack’s face.
“There you are. I thought you promised to meet me for a drink?”
Jack dropped his hands. He spun around to face the speaker who approached them.
“What the hell...?”
Eric stretched his hand toward Hallie. “I don’t like being stood up. Shall we?”
“Yes, of-of course.” Hallie took his hand.
Eric slipped his hand around her waist and led her away.
Jack watched them depart, his eyes smoldered with anger, his chin jutted forward. “We’ll finish this later,” he hissed after her.
“Did we have a date, Dr. Peterson?” Hallie asked.
“No and call me Eric. I saw what he was doing. You didn’t appear to be enjoying it. My God, woman, don’t you have any idea how to handle a situation like that? And how the hell did you get yourself into that position in the first place? I didn’t take you for a stupid person.”
“I’m not stupid,” Hallie sniffed. “But you’re right. I feel pretty dumb right now. Jack out maneuvered me. It didn’t matter what I did, he wouldn’t give up.”
“I suggest you stay away from him in the future. I might not be around to save you next time. Are you sure you’re all right?” Eric stopped and looked down at her.
“Yes, I think so. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to let him anywhere near me again.”
“I kicked, scratched and even yelled at him to leave me alone. Nothing worked and no one paid any attention when I yelled. I-I think he was going to try and make love to me right here on the deck. Thank you for rescuing me.”
“You looked terrified. I couldn’t believe you’d let him grope you like that.” Eric snapped.
“I couldn’t stop him. I did punch him. I even managed to draw blood at one point,” she said.
“You need to learn to throw a better punch than that if you want to do any damage.”
“Maybe you could teach me?”
Eric shook his head, “We’ll saw you had no idea how to handle him--so Eric to the rescue. By the way, he wanted sex, he didn’t want to make love to you, trust me. There is a difference. Don’t you remember anything about relationships? Or appropriate behavior between men and women?”
“You can’t remember anything about how you reacted in the past?”
“How could I? I don’t remember my past. How would I know how I reacted? And maybe no one has ever tried to rape me before. I don’t know. Give me a break. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“Good. I hope so. You have no knowledge at all about what happens on a date?”
“No, not really; conversation, eating, maybe a movie, I guess. I’m going to have to learn that process all over again, except, it’s going to be harder because when you’re an adult you’re supposed to know what it’s all about. People expect that you know the games and the rules. Jack certainly thought I did. I feel like a child trying to play grown up games.”
“I guess I am going to have to give you lessons.” Eric warmed her with his smile. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“You don’t have to. I’m fine now.”
“You’re still shaking. Come on over here where it’s quiet.” Eric found a sheltered corner, away from most of the passengers. “Sit down, doctors’ orders. I’ll be right back with two drinks. You could use something to relax you. They have special sail-away drinks. You okay with that you?”
He slipped his uniform jacket off and draped it around her shoulders, over her shawl.
“Sounds great, but it’s not necessary.” She felt warmer in the jacket and his musky male scent enveloped her. It was pleasant and sexual. She knew didn’t react to all men’s scent this way. She looked up and noticed his lip curled slightly as he smiled.
“Yeah, it is. Keep the jacket on to help warm you up. I’ll be right back.”
Hallie sat on the edge of the chair. She forced herself to take deep, calming breaths. She relaxed slightly and leaned back. Eric’s jacket slipped from her shoulders to the deck. She bent to
pick it up when she felt rather than heard a buzzing sound, something like a mosquito, past her left ear.
She sat back up and twisted around to adjust Eric’s jacket. There was a hole in the back of the deck chair.
Funny, I don’t remember it being there before I picked up the jacket.
She ran her finger over the hole.
“Here we go.” Eric carried a couple of tall, red, orange and yellowed colored drinks topped off with parasols.
“What were you doing?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. There was a funny sound, like a mosquito, and I think this hole just appeared.”
“What the hell...?” Eric placed the drinks onto a nearby table. He ran his finger over the hole.
“It’s a bloody bullet hole.”
“A what? You’re kidding?”
“No, I’m not. Where were you when it happened?” Eric looked at the hole. He squinted back in the direction it would have come from.
“I guess that’s when I bent down to pick up your jacket.”
“My God, you could have been killed.” Eric pulled Hallie into his arms and squeezed her against his chest. “You’re sure you’re all right?”
“I think so. I mean, I wasn’t hit or anything. I can’t figure out what’s happening. This has to be one of the worst nights of my life.”
Very tense scene. Was he trying to rape her or kill her?
She’s facing problems everywhere she goes. I hope things work out for her!
Retweeted and shared on the fall/winter Roost Recommendations plus the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense pages.