Authors: RG Alexander
Falling or Flying
Invitation to Eden Series
Falling or Flying
Copyright 2014 R.G. Alexander
Cover Design by
Edited by D.S. Editing
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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For Cookie-Love is the reason. For the wonderful authors of the Invitation to Eden series who have spent the year doing amazing things with the island and turning me into more of a fan than I was before--in particular my month's authors Joey W. Hill and Lauren Hawkeye, for rocking November and astounding me with their generosity. For Robin--I can't do anything without you. And most importantly, to my readers and the readers of The Eden Book Club! You've been so gracious with your time and so brilliant that I know I don't have to remind you of Rule #1...but I will anyway. Reading is Sexy. I hope you enjoy my fun romp through the wilds of Eden. Joely definitely did.
Table of Contents
Joely jogged toward the cliff on the far side of the island, her feet keeping time with the pounding of her heart. Her muscles ached from her earlier workout, but she forced herself to sprint, trying to burn off some of her anxiety and anger before she reached her destination.
Good luck with that.
The view wasn’t helping. The sun was still on its early morning climb, looking like some mischievous corpulent god who knew something she didn’t. She glanced around at the brightening sky suspiciously. Not a single cloud. Endless blue in every direction, the hue intensifying the longer she stared. Birds swooped and soared above her head, and she could still smell the sweet aroma of the frangipani she loved traveling on the light breeze that kissed the skin of her arms and neck. It had the makings of a perfect day in paradise.
She’d been a permanent resident on the island of Eden long enough to read the signs, but she was in no mood for them or what they might mean. Not today. “Damn it.”
The boss had a lot of explaining to do. Hopefully that explanation would be followed up by flat-out groveling, though she wouldn’t hold her breath. But whether he begged for forgiveness or gave her one of his infamous stick-up-the-rich-Greek’s-behind lectures on Eden protocol, Theodosius Vardalos was going to take back what he’d done before it was too late. He had to. If he didn’t she might resort to drastic measures. She might have to run away. She might have to quit.
The idea made her stomach clench, and her run slowed to a walk as she struggled to catch her breath. It wasn’t the first time it had crossed her mind that the other shoe—the one that had waited so many years to appear—might finally drop and take everything away from her again. But it had never seemed like an actual possibility until just now.
Resigning as the island’s pilot would mean leaving the peace she’d found here on Eden. It would mean going back to what she used to call reality—a barren and alien landscape with no magic, no fantasies, and no more happy endings like the ones she helped bring about as the “Master’s” Gal Friday and close right hand.
What she did here mattered. She made a difference, small though her contribution might be. She had a home. The mainland was full of people determined to break you down or break your heart. Dreams didn’t come true there, at least not in her experience. They were shoved in some dark corner to be forgotten, or ripped from your hands before you had a chance to grab hold.
Dreams drove away and left you behind.
There was nothing for her in that world. She didn’t exist there, beyond a few documents with the last name Jones—the name she’d borrowed in order to take exams and get her pilot’s license. No family, no past and no chance for a future. How could she go back to that? And how dare he—the one man she trusted above all others—put her in a position where she might have no other choice?
Joely was dragging her heels now as she closed in on his impressive manor. It wasn’t exactly a cozy island cottage, but she loved this house. There were stylistic elements of the resort’s castle in the molding, and like that edifice he’d had transported from Ireland to create his vision of Eden, his cliff-side mansion looked like something from another time—imposing and grand and eternal.
Inside, it had all the modern conveniences a wealthy resort owner could require, including an entertainment room she snuck into whenever possible and a sizeable swimming pool she’d been known to frequent. This house had a room for everything. A few of those rooms were locked to her, but she didn’t take it personally. Despite their long friendship, the boss liked his privacy. Sometimes too much.
His house was the perfect example of that. Anyone else gazing in this direction would see nothing but rocks and sea and sky.
The island knew what you needed, and Vardalos had needed a place where he didn’t feel compelled to hide his face in shadow, or behind a hood or mask. Eden had gifted him with this sanctuary, hiding what he’d built from prying, judgmental eyes. He could look out on the fantasy resort he’d envisioned for others to enjoy without anyone being the wiser.
It was all very Heathcliff-meets-the-Beast—broody and, in Joely’s opinion, unnecessary. When she’d first flown him to the island, she’d told him he should stop pretending to be a beast before he forgot it was an act. In some ways he’d taken her advice. But the pain was still there, right beneath the surface, even after all this time.
From the moment they met she’d understood him. Known him. Her gift wasn’t the only reason she’d offered to fly him here all those years ago. She’d recognized herself in the suffering, defiant man. They were so similar, two members of the walking wounded who’d survived to spite the world, and found solace in each other’s friendship. Her scars weren’t as obvious as his, but they were just as debilitating and her mask just as necessary for defense—though living in a tower suite in a castle full of people meant she rarely had a chance to take hers off, while Vardalos had this haven to escape to.
She wished he had someone to share it with, someone who could see the man he truly was. Once upon a drunken night, he’d shared enough of his first experience on the island for her to know his vision had revealed a paragon of feminine splendor. She was coming, he’d assured Joely—though she was taking her sweet time about it. When she finally got around to showing up, she’d have to answer to Joely for her tardiness… not to mention getting around that chip on his shoulder and finding this damn house the island had camouflaged.
The trick Eden had of hiding things in plain sight never worked on Joely. The visitors who came here saw whatever they needed to see, but for her, the island had drawn back the curtain, even when she would rather it stay closed. On more than one occasion she’d been forced to pretend she couldn’t see what was going on right in front of her nose—on the beach, against the side of the castle, in and around every building and shed, even on the dock that led to her puddle jumper. Joely couldn’t count the number of times she’d hidden her reactions so she wouldn’t embarrass the frolicking guests mid…frolic.
, she sighed. She could be crass and call it full-on fornication, flagrant fellatio or furious fucking. At the Eden resort most F words seemed to apply. This place adapted to suit the desires of its visitors and sometimes all she could do was marvel at the fertile and overactive imaginations the incoming guests were gifted with. Not that she had any room to judge in the fantasizing department. But then, that was all she had to hold onto lately. Dreams and extra batteries were all she allowed herself on Eden.
She did miss it—getting frolicked—more than she ever thought she would. It had been too long since she’d flown to the city without a list of supplies to acquire or a plane crowded with guests. Without an agenda other than a night on the town, where she’d allow some stranger to flirt and flatter her about how young she looked before she took him to the nearest hotel room to prove she was more than old enough.
Maybe it was time for a personal day. Past time. Working at a resort that catered to fantasies, most of them X-rated, made it impossible to ignore what was missing in her life. The three-letter word that was constantly being thrown in her face. S-e-x. Hard and dirty, slow and romantic—sex, in all its glory and colorful variety was being had somewhere on this island constantly, probably at this very minute. Toys and daydreams were no substitute for the real thing. That connection and release, however temporary, was never something the old Joely had shied away from.
But that was before she’d changed her life and moved to an isolated island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Now her options were limited—the only people here she was genuinely close to were Vardalos and Miranda, Eden’s pastry chef, and even if Miranda weren’t as taken as a girl could get, Joely would have no interest in either of them sexually. They were her friends. Besides, they’d both be more at home in a dungeon setting, and that wasn’t exactly her thing.
Not that she didn’t like kink, of course. She did. But the formal roles and rules and agreements that came with a dungeon made something simple and raw seem suddenly complicated. She wasn’t big on complications. To be fair, she’d never actually been to the island’s infamous BDSM buffet, but everyone else had, and people talked.
That talk was another reason she was forced to take her frustrations to the mainland. She maintained a certain amount of friendly distance with the Eden employees, and for the most part they returned the favor. Even the mechanic that she occasionally allowed to help with puddle jumper maintenance couldn’t relax around her. She was the eyes and ears of the big guy himself, and few of the island’s male population seemed ready to risk the best job they’d ever had by seriously hitting on her.
For her part, she wasn’t willing to deal with an island romance, not even if one of them had actually gotten up the nerve to approach her. It wasn’t like a one-night stand in the big city. Everyone here knew each other, saw each other every day. Gossiped about everything.
It would undermine her authority if Security knew how loudly she could scream when someone pulled her hair just right or bent her over and took her from behind.
It wasn’t worth the trouble. Wasn’t worth risking what she’d found here.
Her fist tightened on the paper in her hand, remembering what had prompted her run in the first place—risk and trouble.
Sunlight sparkled in the windows, blinding her as she approached the manor. Joely frowned. There it was again. Something was different about the light today. Eden was up to something. Plotting and scheming. She could feel it.
Islands don’t scheme.
This one did. This place that had been her home and sanctuary for years now was no ordinary island. She’d had dreams about it before she’d arrived. Had known she belonged from the instant she stepped onto the shore. For Joely, the island was alive and she had moods that could be sensed like weather patterns. She was also female and, obviously, a bit of a romantic. Eden was like no other place in the world.