Well it’s finally here. Release day for ALL THREE of the Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding books. Yahoo! Did you get your invitation? Are you coming down under to the beautiful tropical island off the North Queensland Coast? We hope so! Yesterday Lexxie got our party started off with a little tease from the first chapter of her book. Today I’m going to do the same:
Moonlight Mirage – Chapter One
See Aidan and McKenzie get married.
Dear Mitchell Wood,
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
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.