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Authors: Annette Broadrick

Provocative Peril

BOOK: Provocative Peril
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Provocative Peril
Annette Broadrick
Silhouette (1985)
RISKY BUSINESS
(SR #359)
Three weeks on the scenic Oregon coast at the Tropicana Royale was Carolyn Kenniwick's dream come true. It was time to leave her gift shop behind and make a change. New clothes, a new hairdo, and a new attitude were going to make for vacation fun that was long overdue.
It was also time for Kenneth Clay, the famous writer, to vacation. But registering at the Tropicana under his real name, Clay Kenniwick, found him with an unexpected roommate--Carolyn! Neither wanted to give up this vacation, so somehow they would work it out. . . . Maybe this provocative living arrangement was all the vacation they needed.

With All My Heart


     Annette Broadrick

Chapter 1

"I believe you're holding reservations for me," Carolyn stated with a radiant smile. "I'm Carolyn Kenniwick."

The registration clerk of the Tropicana Royale returned her smile. "One moment, Miss Kenniwick, and I'll pull your card." The young man turned away and started to flip through an index.

Carolyn glanced around the mammoth lobby of the luxury resort with satisfaction. After years of dreaming, one of her fantasies was about to come true—she would be spending the next three weeks at the most luxurious resort on the beautiful Oregon coast. August reservations were hard to come by, Carolyn had discovered last year, when her business began to pay enough to allow her a glamorous vacation, and she was thrilled that the Tropicana had found room for her.

A shiver of excitement ran through her body as she absorbed the riot of colors and the happy sounds of people enjoying themselves. Carolyn glanced down at her yellow sundress, its brightness harmonizing with the swirls of hot pinks, sparkling oranges and crimsons of the colorful kaftans and tennis and jogging outfits that adorned the crowd of people swarming in and out of the lobby. She absently noted a few business suits worn by fresh arrivals from the city. They looked as out of place to her as the gray sweatshirt.

Sweatshirt?

Carolyn's wandering gaze darted back to the figure who'd caught her attention. A man stood in the doorway of the restaurant taking in the bustling activity of the lobby.

She stared at him in disbelief. In the midst of all the finery he stood out like a crow in a cage full of colorful parrots. The man wore a pair of beat-up jeans that fit so snugly that she expected to hear a rip when he moved and a sweatshirt that had seen better days.

Her gaze slid down his length, coming to rest on a pair of well-worn moccasins, then rose to meet a pair of blue eyes dancing with mischief, acknowledging her inspection. She stared past him, embarrassed to be caught staring at him. Why, he hadn't even shaved! Her glance touched him once more. To be fair, the hair on his face could be considered a well-sculpted beard, although too short to do more than curve around a firm jawline. Thick golden hair that didn't look as though a comb had recently touched it swirled gently around his ears and blended into the bearded jawline.

She returned her curious gaze to the registration clerk, who handed her forms to fill out. As she accepted her key the clerk cheerfully remarked, "I certainly hope you enjoy your stay, Mrs. Kenniwick."

"It's Miss Kenniwick. You were right the first time."

"I beg your pardon?"

The man appeared disconcerted. There was nothing in the resort brochures stating that only married people were allowed. In a pleasant tone she said, "I'm not married."

The clerk glanced down at the reservation in his hand and frowned. "There must be a mistake. We have reservations for Clay and Carolyn Kenniwick."

"I don't know what you're talking about. There is no Clay Kenniwick—"

"Sure there is. I'm Clay Kenniwick. What's the problem?"

Carolyn heard a deep voice near her left ear and spun around. The man wearing the sweatshirt and moccasins stood directly behind her. In her highest heels, donned to overcome her lamentable lack of height, Carolyn was only a few inches shorter than the bearded bear. At least he looked like a bear at this close range—he appeared to be almost as broad as he was tall.

She attempted her most reasonable tone, the one she reserved for her difficult customers. "I'm afraid there's some confusion here, but nothing"—she smiled at both men impersonally—"I'm sure, that can't be worked out." She turned to the registration clerk. "I have reservations for a single. That's because I am a single. I don't even know this man."

She waved her hand in a negligent gesture, certain the clerk could understand the absurdity of the situation.

The nervous clerk excused himself and disappeared behind a door marked "Manager." Carolyn watched as the clerk and a distinguished-looking gentleman reappeared and began to go through the index file once more. She attempted to ignore the man who was leaning on the counter beside her, studying her with evident interest.

"You're Carolyn Kenniwick?" His admiring gaze ran over her petite form. His expression was that of a starving man looking at a juicy steak.

Determined not to let his blatant ogling cause her to lose her composure, Carolyn gave him one of her cool stares. "That's correct." She returned her attention to the hotel employees.

"Quite a coincidence, isn't it?" he went on, ignoring her frosty reaction to his overtures. "Kenniwick isn't that common a name." She remained silent, continuing to watch the two men across the counter from her as though by sheer concentration she could help them resolve the problem. "We might as well introduce ourselves," he added. "As you've discovered, I'm Clay Kenniwick."

Carolyn glanced down at the wide hand held in front of her, then stared into the smiling blue eyes with a polite, but very distant, expression. She admitted to herself that he had a very charming smile as it flashed beguilingly behind his golden beard, but she refused to encourage his friendliness. She shook his hand briefly, nodded, then returned her gaze to the other men.

"Uh, Miss Kenniwick." The manager approached, his face troubled. "I don't quite understand what happened, but we have you and Mr. Kenniwick booked in the same suite."

"I'm sorry, but that isn't acceptable. Will you please see that we're given separate rooms?" She was determined to hang on to her temper at all costs. In a few short moments the mix-up would be solved, and she would be able to luxuriate in one of the oversized tubs advertised in the brochures.

"There are no other rooms, Miss Kenniwick."

She heard what he said—she watched his lips move and she heard the sounds—but she couldn't seem to make sense out of his statement. "I don't understand," she heard herself say faintly.

The manager glanced at Clay, who was watching the scene with amused interest, then back at Carolyn. "I don't understand how we could have allowed this to happen. You see, Mr. Kenniwick reserves the same suite for the same time each year. Perhaps one of our new employees thought your reservation was a duplicate request."

Carolyn's dreams were beginning to fall apart right before her eyes. The manager seemed to understand, because he sounded quite sincere when he added, "I'm terribly sorry for the confusion, Miss Kenniwick. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do. We've been booked solid for several months."

Carolyn managed to nod and back away, trying to face the catastrophe without breaking down in public. She was crossing the lobby toward the front door when she felt a hand on her arm and heard a low voice say, "Excuse me." She paused and glanced around. It was Clay Kenniwick. She didn't need to be reminded of the man, not right at the moment, anyway. Granted, the mix-up hadn't been his fault, but she wouldn't be human if she didn't resent the Fates that had thrown them together.

"Yes?"

The engaging grin flashed behind the spun gold of his beard. "Look, why don't you let me buy you a drink and we can talk this over?"

She looked at the amiable man, then out the door toward the crowded parking lot. Her dark eyes mirrored her feelings. "I'm sorry. There really doesn't seem to be much to talk over, does there?" She caught her bottom lip between her teeth, determined not to let him see the quiver.

"I think there is. Why don't we"—he guided her to the door of a simulated tropical lounge—"sit down and get acquainted. Maybe we can work out some sort of arrangement."

Carolyn allowed herself to be seated on one side of the table in a private alcove, then watched the man seated across from her with suspicion. "What sort of an arrangement?"

The waitress arrived and took their orders. Carolyn was so distracted that she was unaware of her presence. Clay watched her, a slight smile hovering on his lips. "You've probably looked forward to this vacation at least as much as I have."

She glanced out the window, noticing for the first time the view of the ocean casting itself on the rocks just below their window. "Yes," was all she would allow herself. The sound of the surf lent a rhythmic cadence to their conversation. That particular stretch of coastline tantalized her with its beauty. No doubt she could find another place to stay, at least until she could decide what to do with the time she'd set aside for her vacation, but she knew that nothing else could compare to the location and multitude of facilities offered by the Tropicana Royale.

"Have you ever stayed here before?" he asked in a gentle voice.

"No." She still found it difficult to speak without the huskiness that betrayed her disappointment.

"Then you've never seen the rooms provided."

She shook her head.

The waitress returned and surprised Carolyn by placing in front of her a large rum drink with a fruit garden hanging around the rim of the glass. She stared at the drink for a moment, then glanced up at Clay with bewilderment. "Did I order this?"

He grinned at the expression on her face. "Actually, you nodded when I suggested it. It seems to go with the atmosphere of the place."

She took a tentative sip and discovered that she liked it. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it."

They sat there in silence watching the waves. The gulls gave a balletic performance in the sky, as though aware of their audience. Gradually the tension began to seep from Carolyn, and she settled back into the soft leather of her chair with a sigh of acceptance.

"I have a suggestion to make, Carolyn. I want you to hear me out before you start jumping to any conclusions."

She glanced at Clay, no longer harboring wishes for his early demise. It really wasn't his fault. As a matter of fact, he was being quite pleasant. At least he'd bought her a drink before she had to start looking for another room somewhere.

She smiled, and he caught his breath. He found her striking enough, with her creamy complexion framed by her ebony hair. Her expressive black eyes caused a definite skip in his pulse, but when she smiled, he found her devastating. He wanted very much to see her smile continue.

"All right." She folded her hands and waited. "What is your suggestion?"

He'd completely lost his train of thought. He shook his head as though clearing it and muttered, "Uh, yes. My suggestion." He paused, knowing he was going to have difficulty explaining his idea. "The suites are quite large here. They have an enormous loft with a king-sized bed, a kitchenette and a large living room which contains a queen-sized sleeping sofa." He paused, unsure how to proceed.

She waited, a little puzzled by the slight flush appearing on his cheeks.

"My idea is—and it's just a suggestion, of course —but we could share the suite so you could still have your vacation. ..." His voice faded as he saw the look of shock appear on her face.

"You mean stay here—together?" she asked in astonishment.

He glanced around hurriedly and said in a low voice. "You don't have to make it sound as though I've just made an indecent proposal. I told you not to jump to any conclusions. What I'm trying to tell you is that there's enough room for both of us to stay without the loss of too much privacy." He stared at her face and recognized the idiocy of the suggestion. "Oh, well, forget it. It was a crazy idea." He picked up his drink, swirling the liquid as he frowned into the glass.

"No, no, wait a minute. You just surprised me, that's all." She looked at him intently for a moment. "You mean, you'd be willing to share your room so that I could stay here for my vacation?" She was almost afraid to hear his answer. It was obvious that he*d already had second thoughts. What was she :r.;-.^-g of. even considering such an offer? But she held her breath as she waited for him to respond.

BOOK: Provocative Peril
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