Dark Paradise

Dark Paradise by Sara Craven

Book: Dark Paradise by Sara Craven Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sara Craven
greens, because she imagined that if she managed to get through the lovers' lunch he had described, they would probably spend what remained of the afternoon on the beach.
    She couldn't find him right away, and she felt somewhat at a loss as she wandered through the reception area and the public rooms. One of them contained a bar, but it was deserted except for a lanky young man, hardly more than a boy, coiled moodily round a bar stool, staring into a drink.
    He cheered perceptibly when he saw Kate, smiling hopefully at her. He looked lonely and at a loose end, and under different circumstances, she might have stayed for a chat and a drink, even though he was younger than her by at least a couple of years.
    At last one of the smiling reception staff directed her to the terrace bar at the side of the hotel, overlooking the sea. Nearly everyone seemed to be there, sitting at the tables under the roof thatched with palm fronds, and Matt stood up as she appeared, and came across to her, taking her hand and bending to kiss her. She forced herself to remain passive under the swift, cold brush of his lips, although to any onlooker his greeting would have appeared tender in the extreme, she thought bitterly.
    He gave her a steely look as he straightened. 'Come and meet everyone,' he suggested.
    She was the cynosure of all eyes as she arrived at the table. Most of the smiles were friendly, she thought, as she returned greetings and listened to introductions, but a few of the women were giving her narrow-eyed looks as if they couldn't understand what a spectacular-looking man like Matt Lincoln was doing with an ordinary girl like her.
    Don't worry, she wanted to assure them. I don't understand it either—especially what almost happened not an hour ago.
    The least welcoming smile belonged to someone called Imogen who was dark, and as glossy and groomed as a magazine cover. She was with Robert who tended to be on the plump side, and Kate knew from a single exchange of glances that Imogen considered Matt a far more attractive proposition and was pardonably annoyed that he had company.
    A girl who had been introduced as Fran, fair and pretty, leaned forward. 'Is this your first time on the island? You'll love it. It's still quite unspoiled, the tourist boom hasn't quite got here yet, but there are some marvellous places to eat.'
    'You sound like a holiday brochure,' Imogen said sourly, her dark eyes pricing Kate's chainstore shift with probably total accuracy.
    Fran shrugged, unruffled. 'Who cares? I love the place, and I want everyone else to do the same.' She beamed at Kate. 'What made you come here?'
    Kate said feebly, 'It was Matt's choice. I—I didn't…'
    'Well, we're glad you did,' Fran interrupted gaily. She shot Matt an impish look. 'An actual celebrity— unless, of course, you count Mr Big,' she added carelessly.
    Kate swallowed. 'Mr Big?' She chanced a look at Matt, but his face was impassive. 'Who is that?'
    Fran shrugged again. 'No one seems to know—or they aren't telling. But he seems to be behind most of the development round here. We went to see one of the old sugar plantations yesterday—they have it working as it used to be, but it isn't always open to visitors, and when we asked why not, they just muttered something about the boss's orders. Apparently it's on part of his land and he values his privacy. But it's certainly worth a trip.'
    Then I'm sure it will be one place that we'll be visiting,' said Kate, the irony in her tone for Matt alone. She was half expecting someone in the group to say, 'Hey, you're in the media. Do you know who this man is?' but no one did. Matt was chatting easily to some of the other men about hiring a boat at the Anchorage, about scuba diving and fishing, as if relaxing and enjoying himself were the only things on his mind.
    'And tonight there's going to be a jump-up,' Fran went on, her eyes sparkling. 'That's local for party. There was one the other night, and it was super. A lot of

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