Being the apple of Hollywood’s eye is great for an action/adventure hero, but Rex Ronin knows he needs to break out of his typecast roles if he hopes to have any longevity on the silver screen. A fresh new role by a new director, filmed on the deserted Hawaiian Island of Koho’olawe, will grant Rex decades of acting opportunities and maybe even make him feel like a true hero, like his father. But a tropical storm strands him at sea, and when he makes land, Rex is saved by a woman running a wildlife preserve—on the very land Rex’s agent is turning into a mega-resort, one that will ensure Rex’s fame and fortune for the next hundred years.
Taking care of living things is what Tori Jackson does best; after all, she knows what it’s like to be broken and discarded. A car accident has scarred her, both physically and emotionally, so living among nature and protecting everything on her reserve is all that matters to her. So when a scruffy, shipwrecked vagabond shows up on her doorstep, Tori has no compunction against helping him. The only problem is that her reserve didn’t get the land renewal in time, and now her beloved property is at risk of turning into a concrete tourist destination. With no money, no power, and a coalition intending to steal the land out from underneath her, Tori needs something extraordinary to save everything she holds dear.
Rex craves fame and fortune, while Tori nurtures her flora and fauna. Was their shipwrecked encounter a disaster, or simply their destiny?
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I joined a box set called “Shades of Desire 2” and we wanted to get as many new stories as possible in the set. I needed to come up with a story idea, pronto, so I got down to business.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The FedEx guy. True story. I thought he looked like a Hollywood actor and immediately knew I wanted to write a book about an action/adventure star, the hottest man in Hollywood, and the woman who would bring him to his knees. Since I had just contracted an exclusive story for the set, and my unnamed delivery man looked like a hero, I started plotting the who/what/when/where/why of the characters and the plot.
It was not every day that a half-naked castaway showed up at her door, Tori mused as she watched the shaggy mess stumble up her dirt pathway. Her old black Lab, Keola, KK for short, gave a soft woof and stared at the door, heavy tail slowly wagging. Grayness on his muzzle had progressed to his eyebrows over the last few months, but Tori knew his heart to be steadfast. She grabbed her sunhat and plopped it on her head and hid behind the curtains while she waited for the bum outside to draw nearer.
Her computer pinged with an incoming message, but Tori hurried over and closed the internet instead of reading it, then shut down her tower. If the next storm was going to be bad, she didn’t want to fry her tentative connection to the outside world.
The rain had started again; an unseasonable beast that began with a storm three days ago, punctuated with blazing sun for a few hours, only to repeat, leaving the air painfully thick and heavy and hard to breathe.
The rain now pelted the man, leaving reddish stains on his sunburned shoulders.
And then he collapsed.
Straight into the mud.
Tori gasped and yanked open her door, her hat flinging to the rug as she raced out to his side. Heavy raindrops blasted against her as she knelt beside him, tugging on his arm. She could see the salt where it had crusted on his skin, the dry patches on his lips, the tangled mats in his wild black hair and his unkempt mud-filled Neanderthal beard. He looked like he’d been lost at sea, something she’d been schooled on but never encountered. She frowned at the dried blood around his ear and wondered if he’d ruptured his eardrum. “Can you hear me?”
He sucked in his breath, his brown eyes wild. His hand clawed into her arm before he looked up at the sky. “No, storm shark, permit bad….”
“It’s okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe. Can you stand?”
Her words must have soothed him, because the man loosened his death grip on her arm and fumbled for help. She slung his arm over her shoulders and drew him close, surprised at his weight. He slumped against her as he stumbled drunkenly where she guided him.
No, not drunk. Dehydrated. Lost at sea, no fresh water. Similar symptoms. “I’m going to get you inside, okay?”
“Dead storm. Movie bomb, killer set.”
She’d seen far worse storms, but Tori couldn’t understand him and honestly didn’t think he knew what he was saying. He wore thick heavy boots, and his white linen shirt hung by the sleeves tied around his waist, a waist covered by pants so high they looked to be from a lost generation.
His skin burned under her palms, and she wondered if he had sun poisoning. A glance revealed giant blisters surging from his shoulders, and smaller ones erupted down his muscular arms. He shivered against her, but he felt and looked scorched.
The rain drove into them, making her patient slippery to hold onto. She hefted him against her hip and managed to get him up the three stairs into her home.
Keola sniffed the man, having more sense than Tori about going out in the rain, and her dog followed them into the back bedroom, where Tori lowered her guest onto the nearest of the three cots. He groaned and rolled to his back and shivered. Then he made retching noises, and Tori snatched the nearest wastepaper basket to hand to him.
He heaved into it, but nothing came out.
Which to her meant he hadn’t eaten in at least a day or two.
She watched her guest collapse into the cot, and she eased down to sit beside him. “It’s okay, you’re safe here.”
“Kapu Nahele Reserve.”
He promptly passed out.
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