Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Paradise Discovery

Jaci Burton


  An Ellora's Cave Publication, November 2003

  Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

  PO Box 787

  Hudson, OH 44236-0787

  ISBN MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-84360-701-8

  Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):

  Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), Mobipocket (PRC) & HTML


  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are productions of the authors' imagination and used fictitiously.

  Edited by BRIANA ST. JAMES

  Cover art by SCOTT CARPENTER.


  Passion In Paradise 3

  Jaci Burton


  To my editor, Briana St. James, for encouraging me to put onto paper the strange worlds that live in my head.

  To Mel, for always being around to listen and to brainstorm my wild ideas. You know I couldn't do this without you.

  To my Paradise group. You make me smile every day. Thank you for spending your time with me.

  To Tracey, and you know why. May your life always be a paradise.

  And to Charlie, whose love makes all my fantasies come true. I will always follow you to the ends of the earth and beyond.

  Chapter One

  The balmy breeze lifted her hair and blew it across Isabelle's cheek. She smiled and looked out over the turquoise water, happy to be in the Caribbean again.

  How long had it been since she'd stood with her toes buried in the warm sand, her gaze searching far into the horizon? Years, it seemed. The waters off Texas weren't the same as the sandy beaches of the Caribbean. The ocean not nearly as compelling or jewel-like.

  She inhaled the salty air and squinted, her eyes focusing on an object in the distance. Something bobbed in the water, but Isabelle couldn't tell what it was. Scenes from her childhood on the beach in Puerto Rico flashed before her. She must have been thirteen or fourteen years old at the time. Back then she'd seen something too. Only it hadn't been something, it had been someone.

  A very special someone. A man. She'd smiled at him, and he'd smiled back. He'd been the most beautiful man she'd ever seen, and she could have sworn she'd just seen him again.

  Of course, that was impossible.

  She lifted her hand to shield the setting sun from her eyes, but all she could make out was a glint of something on the ocean surface.

  As a marine biologist, she should know everything that lurked in the warm waters of the Caribbean. Whatever it was, it wasn't a man.

  It also wasn't a fish, that was for certain. Although she could swear it looked like a man's head. But that couldn't be since there were no boats nearby and it was too far out to be a swimmer.

  She rubbed her hand against her lower stomach, a twinge of pain on the right side annoying her again. For the past day she'd felt little stabs of pain in the lower right of her stomach, but cast it aside as indigestion from the new foods she'd been eating at Paradise Resort.

  It was nice of Morgan Marino, the owner, to let her occupy one of the bungalows on the far side of the island, considering she wasn't the least bit interested in the hedonistic activities that took place at the resort. She was here to do research, but certainly not the sexual kind.

  Shaking her head at the various activities outlined in the brochure she'd seen earlier in the day, she dismissed the thoughts of sex running rampant on the other side of the island right now, and concentrated instead on the object in the distance.

  It seemed to be watching her, but that was ridiculous. More likely it was a discarded piece of trash, maybe someone's beach ball or something, and in her weird mind she'd conjured up a man's head.

  She hadn't thought about that episode in Puerto Rico for years, although she'd never forgotten the way the man had smiled at her. Every now and then the memories crept into her thoughts, especially when she stood at the water's edge and looked out over the white-capped sea.

  Too bad she hadn't been close enough to really make out his face and features. She'd just known it was a man from the shape of the upper half of his body.

  "Ouch!" She reached for her abdomen and caressed the pain that had grown sharper by the hour. She should know better than to eat rich food.

  She pushed the discomfort aside as the object appeared again. The sun was now a bright orange glow, melting into the horizon and obstructing her vision of the mysterious object in the water.

  Too small for a dolphin or whale, but about the right size for a sea turtle.

  If she stepped into the bungalow to grab her dive gear she'd lose sight of it. She had to go into the water now and check it out. At least get closer so she could identify it.

  It had to be a turtle. It couldn't be him. He didn't exist except in her childhood imaginings.

  Shedding her wrap skirt, she walked into the water, thankful she practically lived in her swimsuit. The eighty-degree water soothed her aching muscles. That's what she got for lugging around suitcases filled with dive gear and instruments as well as her laptop. Good thing she didn't have much of a wardrobe.

  She sliced through the ocean in quick strokes, keeping her eyes on the object that hadn't seemed to change locations. It almost seemed like it wanted to stay put so she could find it.

  Ridiculous. Sea life wasn't that welcoming to humans. Even if it was a dolphin or a sea turtle, they'd swim in the other direction once they saw her coming, or at least change course.

  Another fifty yards and she'd be there. It still hadn't moved, appearing and disappearing with the roll of the waves. She could almost make out its shape now as she drew closer. How strange. If she didn't know better she could swear it was a--

  "Ow! Dammit to hell!" An unbelievable pain knifed through her side. Nausea bubbled up into her throat and she fought back the piercing stab that threatened to double her over.

  Not now. Not in the water. She stopped and treaded, circling around to search for the shore. Damn, what an idiot she was. The pain pierced her and she could barely stay afloat. Despite the body-cooling water, she broke out into a full body sweat and began to pant.

  Don't panic. Stay focused. She had to reach shore, had to get help. The pain seared hot and knife-like. She cried out, but no one heard her. No one could hear her. She was completely alone.

  Making her way back to shore wasn't going to be nearly as quick as her swim outward. In fact, she could no longer stretch her arms over her head to make the strokes. Her feet wouldn't work.

  Oh, God, all she wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and hold onto her side.

  Someone please help. She wasn't ready to die. Not like this. Even though the ocean was her love, she didn't want to be buried here.

  But she was already losing the fight, the agony too much for her conscious mind to bear. She slipped under the water, sucking in a quick breath and fighting her way back to the surface. It wouldn't do any good. Between the pain and the lightheadedness she was doomed.

  Too dizzy to even think clearly, she prayed for forgiveness for the sins she'd committed during her life and hoped that drowning was as pleasant an experience as she'd read about. She inhaled deeply and held her breath as she lost control and spiraled downward into the abyss.

  She wouldn't be able to hold her breath long. Her lungs expanded as she desperately tried to hang on, but failure was imminent. Her chest burned from the need to breathe. Opening her eyes, she took one last look at the rainbow of coral rising up to greet her. She sank into the depths and opened her mouth to inhale the water.

  Her eyes fluttered closed and it was almost the slow fade of falling asleep, that brief moment between consciousness and unconsciousness. Between life and death.

  Then, a sudden rush of water swirled around her. Instead of sucking in the salty ocean, a warm, full mouth covered hers and strong hands slipped under her arms, cradling her against a rock solid body. A man's body.

  Was that a kiss searing her lips? It was. A kiss that sent life-giving oxygen sliding down her throat. She gulped in as much of it as she could take.

  Maybe drowning really wasn't unpleasant. Maybe it was just like breathing. At least her mind registered that she was breathing air. The sensation of lips covering hers certainly wasn't unpleasant. It wasn't sexual, more of a soft, gentle layering of mouth over mouth. She'd never felt so protected, so cared for in her life. A strange, almost languorous feeling swept through her, as if everything was as it should be.

  Everything but the pain that still cut through her side. Funny how that hadn't left her body yet. Wasn't death pain free? It still hurt, bad. Why wouldn't the hurt go away? She'd give anything for that.

  A voice whispered in her mind. "Relax. I'll take the pain away."

  Who spoke to her? The body holding her? She couldn't open her eyes no matter how hard she tried. It was all she could do to linger on the fringes of consciousness.

  A hand palmed her lower stomach and a burning heat spread through her. She jerked upright, then relaxed immediately as the pain began to dissipate.

  She was dying, the pain was going away and she was finally, blissfully dying. Her world slipped away and faded to nothing.


  "You can't have her."

  "I know," Dax replied to the voice of Ronan, the guardian of all the sea people. Dax didn't turn around--Ronan wasn't there. But his consciousness found Dax, as always.

  "Then, why the interference?" Ronan asked. "You could have interfered in her destiny."

  Dax glanced down at the dark-haired beauty resting in his arms, instinctively wanting to pull her closer, to protect her. "It wasn't her destiny. She swam out because she saw me. If I hadn't been watching her, she'd have sought help for her pain instead of swimming toward me."

  Ronan laughed, a deep rumble that spread throughout the oceans. "You see only what you want to see. You are like so many of the other guardians. Why is it you're all so stubborn?"

  "Maybe because we take after you?"

  No response to that one. But Ronan was right. Dax shouldn't have watched her, shouldn't have lingered long enough for her to see him. But he'd known she was coming to the island, had felt her presence the moment she stepped foot on the sand. For someone who rarely approached land humans, this was a first for him. Despite the fact he knew he shouldn't get close, knew he shouldn't make his presence known, he couldn't stop himself.

  Because of him, she'd nearly died out here.

  What was he hoping would happen when she swam out to him? Was he even going to linger long enough to see her face to face?

  He was such an idiot.

  Once he realized she was in trouble, he'd made the swim in seconds, giving her the oxygen she'd so desperately needed. Then he felt her pain and removed it.

  Now she slept, nestled tight against him, and he wanted to hold her there, never let her go.

  But he couldn't do that. She was land and he was the sea.

  He stepped out of the water, cradling the woman's unconscious form close to his chest. He didn't even pause at the gritty sand clinging to the bottom of his feet despite the fact he rarely ventured onto land.

  The woman's even breathing and relaxed state led him to believe she'd recover from her ailment. Thankfully, he'd reached her the moment she took her first breath of ocean water.

  Laying his hands between her breasts, he felt the clear exchange of oxygen through her lungs. No water inside.

  "She'll be fine, Dax. Let her go. Walk away before she wakes and finds you."

  Sometimes, having Ronan in his head was more than a little annoying. He laid the woman down on the beach. "I should take her inside the bungalow."

  "No need for you to stay on land longer than necessary. Someone might see you."

  Dax was reluctant to leave. "There's no one for miles out here. All the activity takes place on the other side of the island."

  "You know too much about this place already. Your curiosity is not good. It takes away from your duties."

  Dax turned and glared at the moonlit sea. "I've never failed in my duties."

  "That's true, you haven't. But I worry about you. This attachment to a land human goes against everything we try to accomplish. You know there must be no contact."

  "This woman lives for our oceans, Ronan, and you know that as well as I do. The sea is her life's breath, her love. She could be of use to us."

  "We don't need land humans to help us. There are already too many that know of our existence. Don't make the mistake of thinking with your cock instead of your head, Dax. You desire the woman for yourself, for physical pleasure only. No wonder, considering how little contact you've had with the sea women here."

  Right. Like he wanted to talk about his sex life with Ronan. Sometimes he hated big brothers, and he had way too many of them. "I have plenty of contact."

  "Sex isn't enough contact, Dax, and you know very well what I'm talking about. You've lived nearly a century and still you don't have a life mate."

  "You're one to talk. You're the oldest, our leader. I don't see a woman at your side, either."

  Ronan paused before saying, "We're not talking about me today. We're talking about you."

  "I've been kind of busy." He threaded his hands through his hair and blew out a sigh, tired of having this same conversation.

  "It's time, Dax."

  "I'm not going to choose the first sea woman I run into and you know that."

  "I think the lure of the land humans blinds you to choosing a sea mate."

  "I am not lured to the land humans. I just haven't found the right sea woman, yet. Give me time."

  Ronan sighed, his thoughts disconnecting from Dax.


  Dax turned to the woman sleeping peacefully on the sand. Something about her called to him, compelled him to reach out to her even though he knew he shouldn't.

  Like he had time for a dalliance with any woman, let alone a land female. But this human was different. He'd seen this one before on one of the other islands, many years ago when she was just a child.

  The island they called Puerto Rico, he was certain he remembered right. She'd been no more a child of twelve or so Earth years, and he'd found her standing knee deep in the water, her mother watching behind her from the beach.

  She'd seen him then, and smiled, her eyes a golden amber sparkling in the sunlight, her sable hair flying behind her in the breeze. Her beauty and innocence had struck him immediately, as had her instant psychic connection with him.

  Then her mother had called her out of the ocean and she'd run off, but waved at him as she went.

  That had been over fourteen years ago, and he had never stopped thinking about the girl who had found him despite his camouflage. And tonight she'd seen him again.

  She'd grown into a beautiful woman. Her hair still shone like mink in the sunlight, and her eyes had widened like saucers when she'd spotted him. Had she felt it too? That connection like the sudden shock of an eel's charge?

  Dreaming. He was dreaming about things that couldn't be. He was sea and this woman was land, and he had no more business standing in her world than she had swimming in his.

  Besides, he had a job to do and he'd better get it done before Ronan jumped all over his ass.

  With a resigned sigh, Dax stepped into the water and disappeared into the surf.

  Chapter Two

  Isabelle was floating. Weightless, water surrounding her, warm hands caressing her body to a fevered pitch.

  She moaned and arched her breasts against greedy fingers that tweaked her nipples,
making them rise and beg for a heated mouth to cover them. When lips closed over one distended bud she gasped, slipping her hand between her legs to massage the ache that grew in intensity by the second.

  Desperately, she tried to open her eyes and see who touched her, who licked her, but she couldn't. It didn't matter, anyway. Abandoning her struggle to open her eyes, she immersed herself in the sensations of strong hands. A soft tongue licked at her breasts and slowly moved upwards toward her neck.

  "I've waited a lifetime for you, Isabelle," the strange masculine voice whispered in her ear, taking the lobe between his teeth and nibbling lightly. She shivered and groaned.

  Her pussy dampened, desperately needing release. She slipped her fingers between the moist folds and found the bud hidden there, lightly caressing it. Sparks of intense pleasure shot to her core. Spreading her legs, she slipped two fingers inside her pussy and thrust in and out, the delicious sensations making her shiver despite the heat surrounding her.

  Oh, why wasn't he fucking her? She needed his cock to fill her. Where was he?

  "I'm here, Isabelle," he murmured, his voice still no more than a faint whisper. His tongue bathed her nipples to hard peaks. "Touch yourself for me. I want to watch you come apart for me."

  Unable to stop herself, she picked up her movements and pressed her breasts against his mouth as she plunged her fingers deeper inside, her thumb frantically rubbing against her swollen clit.

  But still, she wanted more. Craved his cock inside her.

  "Soon, Isabelle, but not yet. Now make yourself come for me."

  At his command, she let go and moaned out her orgasm. A rush of juices soaked her fingers and she pumped repeatedly through her climax. When it was over, he kissed her lips softly, his tongue lightly teasing hers.

  Isabelle struggled to open her eyes, shielding them from the bright sun with her hand. She was lying on the beach. Her swimsuit had been pulled to the side, her fingers still buried inside her pussy. Remnants of her orgasm still pulsed against her fingers.

  Holy shit, she'd just made herself come in broad daylight!

  She withdrew her fingers and sat up, guiltily scanning the area around her. Thankfully, she was alone on the beach.

  A dream. She had dreamed the man with the husky voice coaxing her to touch herself. But she hadn't dreamed the orgasm she'd just had.