Island Refuge (Wildflower B&B Romance Book 1)

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Island Refuge

Wildflower B&B Romance 1

 

Kimberly Rose Johnson

 

All rights reserved. Except for brief excerpts for review purposes, no part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the publisher.

 

The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Mountain Brook INK, nor do we vouch for their content.

 

This story is a work of fiction. All characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Public domain.

 

 

ISLAND REFUGE

Published by Mountain Brook INK

White Salmon, WA U.S.A.

 

© 2015 Kimberly R Johnson

 

The Team: Miralee Ferrell, Kathryn Davis, Lynnette Bonner, Laura Heritage, Judy VanDiver

Cover Design: Indie Cover Design/Lynnette Bonner

 

Mountain Brook INK is an inspirational publisher offering fiction you can believe in.

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition 2015

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

 

 

Wildflower B&B Romance Series

Island Refuge

Island Dreams

Island Christmas

Island Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to my mom,

who has always been there for me.

Thanks for being you.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

F
IRST AND FOREMOST
I’d like to thank my publisher, Miralee Ferrell, for believing in my writing and for being a friend, mentor and critique partner for close to a decade. Thanks to my other critique partners Margaret Daley and Vickie McDonough for all your feedback. This book would not be what it is without the three of you ladies. I appreciate all of you.

To my editor, Kathy Davis, who I have worked with on all my books, you rock! Thanks for all your hard work.

To my family, thank you for supporting and believing in me.

To you the reader, thank you for your support. I hope this book entertains and touches your heart in a special way.

CHAPTER ONE

 

D
R.
N
ICK
J
ACKSON SAT BEHIND THE
wheel of his Range Rover with the windows lowered, waiting to board the ferry from Wildflower Island, Washington. A red convertible exited the ferry, its top down and radio blaring. The woman behind the wheel ducked her head and swerved in his direction, nearly taking off his paint. He laid on his horn, and the car skidded to a stop.

The woman bolted upright, her vivid green eyes wide. “I’m so sorry!”

“No harm done.”

“I was reaching for my directions.”

Nick glanced forward and noticed traffic maneuvering around the woman’s car. “Perhaps I can help. I live here.” He’d only been on the island a week, but it was small so he felt safe offering assistance.

She waved a piece of paper. “No need. Again, I’m sorry for nearly hitting you. Maybe I’ll see you around. I start my new job today.” She flashed a nervous smile then eased back into the line of cars and drove off.

Her last words reverberated in his mind. What were the chances the blonde was his new cook and housekeeper at the Wildflower Bed-and-Breakfast? Nick shook his head. Very unlikely. The woman he’d hired was the executive chef of a five-star restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Surely the crazy driver wasn’t Zoe Griffin. Whoever she was, he hoped she’d be long gone by the time he returned on the ferry later tonight. Distracted drivers were a menace—attractive or not.

The last car finally drove off the ferry. Nick pulled on and parked.
Oh no.
He slapped the steering wheel, and then reached for his phone
.
He’d forgotten to leave a note for Zoe. Then it hit him—he didn’t know his new employee’s cell-phone number.
Great.
He punched in the number to the bed-and-breakfast. The voice mail clicked on, and he left a message. A lot of good it would do. Why would Zoe listen to the B&B’s messages?

Nothing could be done about it now. His brother was depending on him, and he couldn’t very well get off the ferry now.

 

****

 

Z
OE
G
RIFFIN PULLED
over, reread the directions Kat, her predecessor, had e-mailed, and took a moment to get her bearings. With a quick check in the rear and side-view mirrors, she pulled back onto the road. “I can do this. So what if I gave up a prestigious career to live on a tiny island and work at a measly bed-and-breakfast?”

She had to do this. After what happened, she couldn’t live in the same house or work in the same restaurant as her ex-best friend. Tara and Kyle’s betrayal still stung. To think those two were seeing each other the entire time she’d been engaged to Kyle, and now
they
were engaged to be married! Why hadn’t one of them spoken up? The humiliation of finding them in a lip lock still smarted.

She made a left at the road sign pointing to the Wildflower Bed-and-Breakfast, and caught her breath at the somewhat rundown mansion she would call home. Chipping paint exposed the clapboard siding. The roof looked a little the worse for wear, and the windows could use a good washing.

She parked and sat there staring out the windshield at the huge two-story Victorian house. It really was beautiful, in spite of needing a little TLC. The home’s sweeping wraparound porch welcomed her with a couple of rockers, a small table and assorted chairs.

Ah… home-sweet-home. At least she hoped it’d be sweet. She was ready for a drama-free environment. Yes, this quiet island was exactly what the doctor ordered. She grabbed her suitcase and climbed the stairs, stopping at the wide double doors. Should she knock? Not being a bed-and-breakfast kind of person, she had no idea. She made a fist and rapped on the wood—better safe than sorry. When no one answered, she pushed the door open. She wasn’t surprised the door was unlocked since the island was small and felt safe. Silence greeted her. The clock on the mantle ticked the seconds as she stood there taking in the old-fashioned décor.

What had she gotten herself into? Her heart hammered. Would the kitchen have the modern appliances she was accustomed to? Could she even prepare meals in an outdated facility? Her thoughts froze. She looked at all the wood and knick-knacks and groaned—she was responsible for dusting and polishing.

“Hello.” Her voice sounded loud in the quiet house. She took a few steps further in. “Hello!”

Was she alone? Where was the owner? She shifted her suitcase to her other hand and wandered around the first floor until she came to the kitchen. Whoa. A granite topped island filled the center of the ample space. Now this was more like it. She walked around the up-to-date room and admired the large stainless steel refrigerator, double oven and six-burner gas stove. This she could work with.
Whew
.

Now, where was her personal space? Based on Kat’s instructions, she assumed that the open door leading off the kitchen must be her bedroom. Her clogs clicked across the tiles until she reached the threshold. She peered into what was to be her room and sighed. More Victorian antiques. As they say, beggars can’t be choosers, but if she could, she’d toss the furnishings and replace them with clean-lined modern décor.

A wrought iron queen-size bed sat centered along a prominent wall covered in cedar paneling. A bombé chest sat opposite the bed. She hoisted her suitcase onto the bed and quickly unpacked. Good thing she didn’t have many clothes to hang, because the closet was almost non-existent.

At least she didn’t need to jump into work right away, since the only meal she was responsible for was breakfast. She tucked her suitcase under the bed, traded her clogs for sneakers, and grabbed her sunglasses. Today was too beautiful to be indoors. She headed through the kitchen and out the door that led to the rear of the house.

A breeze lifted her long hair. Birds chirped from their hiding places in the nearby fir trees. She strolled down the stairs and onto the recently cut grass. It would be an adjustment, but she could make this home. She sank into an Adirondack chair and put her feet up. Might as well relax while she had the chance. She closed her eyes and tilted her head against the chair. Sunshine warmed her. The sound of a lawn mower in the distance made her drowsy.

A car door slammed, disrupting the quiet. Funny she hadn’t heard an engine. She rose and followed a stone path around to the front of the house where she’d parked an hour ago.

A family stood stretching and looking around. Their lime-green car looked like an electric vehicle. No wonder she hadn’t heard it. She’d never get used to their quiet engines.

“Good morning.” Three sets of eyes turned in her direction.

The man waved, and the family altered their course. “Hi there, I’m Frank,” he said as he held out his hand. “This is my wife, Becca, and our son, Tony. Are you the proprietor? We stopped by earlier, but no one was here. My family and I don’t have reservations, but thought we’d see if there are any rooms available.”

Zoe bit her lip. “Well, to answer your first question, no, I am not the proprietor. However, I do work here. How about we take a look and see what’s available?”

With shaking legs, Zoe led the way through the front door and slid behind the reception desk, hoping she wasn’t overstepping her boundaries. A large spiral-bound book with
Reservations
printed across the front lay on the desktop.
Whew!
She took a calming breath and felt herself relax. She could do this. There was no reason to freak out simply because they had guests. She opened the book to the correct date and skimmed down the page, almost laughing at the room names—Orchid, Starflower, Daisy, and Poppy. Well, it went with the flower theme she’d seen all over the property. Each room had its own section with a description and the price.
Double whew.
It looked like the only occupied room was the Poppy Room, by a Rachel Narrelli.

She quickly skimmed the descriptions then looked up and met the guests’ eyes with a smile. “Our Orchid Room has a view of the Sound with a queen bed, a day bed and a private bath.” She quoted the price. “Will that work for you?”

They nodded. Five minutes later she handed over the keys and led the family up the stairs. “Breakfast is served in the dining room. Do you have a preference on the time you would like to eat?”

“We like to sleep in a little. Would eight-thirty work?”

“That sounds fine.” At least she hoped it was okay with her boss. There was no way to know for sure until he showed. “Any food allergies?” Upstairs, she stopped at the door with the name Orchid on an enameled plaque beside it.

“Nope.” Frank grinned. “We’re lucky. Tony is allergic to a million other things, but not to food.”

Zoe nodded, unsure how to respond to the mixed news. “Enjoy your stay.” She forced herself to walk, not run, down the stairs. Where was the owner? She pushed down panic. What if her boss had been in an accident and lay injured and bleeding somewhere?

What if Kat forgot to mention that she would be arriving today? What if he wasn’t expecting her and that’s why he wasn’t here? But no, that was ludicrous. Her predecessor wouldn’t hire her without consulting the owner.

Zoe stopped at the reception desk hoping for an idea as to what was going on, but only discovered two more guests would be arriving tomorrow afternoon. Maybe she’d better see if Kat left a note in the kitchen. Surely someone left instructions. She couldn’t run this place blind. Something smashed to the floor upstairs and a commotion followed.
Now what?

 

****

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