Rook’s Island #1
By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Releasing June 13, 2017
From NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller Mimi Jean Pamfiloff, Comes Part One of Mr. Rook’s Island, a Sexy, Dark, Romantic Suspense.
He’s Enigmatic, Dangerously Handsome, and COMPLETELY OFF-LIMITS…
The women who vacation on Mr. Rook’s exclusive island are looking for one thing and one thing only: to have their wildest romantic fantasies come to life. Pirates, cowboys, billionaires—there’s nothing Rook’s staff can’t deliver.
But when Stephanie Fitzgerald’s sister doesn’t return after her week in paradise, Stephanie will have to pose as a guest in order to dig for answers. Unfortunately, this means she’ll need to get close to the one thing on the island that’s not on the menu: the devastatingly handsome and intimidating Mr. Rook. And he’s not about to give the island’s secrets away.
FOLLOW THE TOUR!
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MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dream. Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
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Like its mysterious owner, Rook’s Island was practically an urban legend. No brochures. No real website. They advertised strictly by whisper of mouth. In other words, you had to know someone willing to tell you about it. Confidentially.
But from the bits and pieces I’d gathered off the Internet, I deduced it was an uncharted island somewhere west of the Bermuda Triangle in Bahaman waters, likely northwest of Highborne Cay among a cluster of unnamed isles. That said, no one could tell you exactly where it was, and if they knew, they’d never admit it. Even the employees of the Bahaman government had simply stared at me like I was a madwoman.
“There is nothing in those waters, ma’am, except fish,” one of the clerks from the Bahaman embassy in DC had said several months ago.
“Then why the hell did my sister have a goddamned plane ticket to the island?”
The man had simply shrugged. “I cannot say, ma’am. I have never heard of such a place, so perhaps your sister simply lied. People disappear on purpose all the time.”
What the fuck? Cici, my sister, was a goddamned saint, a kindergarten teacher who loved her life. She lived for those kids and was the kind of person who made everyone smile.
Unlike me. I used to be outgoing and optimistic, but now I’m just broken. I’m broken because I loved my big sister more than anything. She was my best friend, my blood, and my hero. She was there for me when my widowed father was too busy working and I was trying to grow up without a mother. Cici made us a family, and now she was gone. Just like that. A fact the police had little to say about since they had a video of her clearing out her safe deposit box.
“She did not abandon us, you piece of shit!” I had screamed at the embassy guy. “Now help me fucking find her!”
The rest of that moment—a blur, really—consisted of multiple expletives, resulting in my being arrested and banned from their embassy. Indefinitely. My father, an award-winning war correspondent, had to pull a few strings to get me out of jail that day.
“Stephanie, please don’t do this to me,” he’d said, his thinning gray hair its usual mess, his strong hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel of his Volvo—an old beige thing he’d purchased for my mother right before she died. God rest her beautiful soul. She had been a journalist like my dad when they met in Afghanistan, but they moved around a lot for work, eventually landing in New York right after I came along. Then one morning, she was out for a jog and dropped dead of a heart attack. Poof. Gone forever from our lives.
My poor father was never right in the head again, and until this day, he refused to let go of my mom or that Volvo. So while I never really knew her, I felt the painful void she’d left behind, which was why I couldn’t give up searching for Cici or accept that there was no island.
And look. There it is… I glanced out the tiny window of the plane, knowing I was one step closer to getting answers.
My heart hammered against my rib cage as the private jet’s outer door popped open. Okay, really, my heart hadn’t stopped hammering since I’d boarded. What kind of place doesn’t require a visa or passport? A shady place, that’s what.
“Ladies,” said the stewardess with dark brown hair matching my own, “the staff here at Mr. Rook’s island would like to welcome you to your dream vacation. As you exit the plane, please be careful descending the staircase. Of course,” she giggled, “if you do decide to fall, there will be a strong, handsome gentleman waiting to catch you.”
The female passengers, who’d been sipping fancy cocktails since we boarded at a private airfield south of Newark, started clapping and hooting.
“I’m definitely taking a dive, then!” barked out a redhead in her mid-forties, wearing an animal print blouse, white jeggings, and a heavy amount of gold jewelry around her neck. Her accent screamed Southerner, while her outfit screamed new money and that she liked borrowing clothes from her daughter—the one she’d been talking about nonstop to the other passenger directly behind me. Apparently, the redhead had just got divorced from her wealthy cheating husband and the daughter recently graduated from college. This vacation was her big indulgence after years of marital ugliness. The woman to her side, a timid little blonde thing, didn’t say much other than her sister had come to Rook’s Island over a decade ago and hadn’t stop talking about it since.
“I can’t wait to meet Mr. Rook,” said the redhead. “I hear he’s the most delicious thing on the island.”
“My sister only saw him once because he didn’t mingle much with the guests,” said the blonde lady.
“Well,” said the redhead with a sassy voice, “if he’s as good looking as my friends say, I’m changing my fantasy to a night with him.”
In the back of my mind, I tried to understand how these women could actually pay money to come all the way here and sleep with strange men in a weeklong, role-playing, fantasy vacation. It felt so strange to me.
“What’s your fantasy this week, sweetheart?” the redhead asked, staring at me with her mascara-caked eyes.
“Who, me?” I pointed to my chest.
“Yeah. You gonna do some pirate fantasy? Oh wait. I know. You look like the superhero kind.” She snapped her fingers. “Thor. You went for the Thor fantasy, didn’t ya? I heard he has the biggest hammer in the world.” She winked.
Nice. Real nice. And why had she made that assessment about me? My look didn’t scream cosplay-lover. It didn’t scream anything, really. Most men—my exes—would describe me as having classic beauty. I would describe myself as average. Average-length brown hair with average waves. Average brown eyes. Average five foot four height. Average ten pounds overweight. Average intelligence.
My special feature was my tenacity. Once I set out to do something, I achieved my goal no matter how difficult. For example, when I was eight and Cici was fourteen, I decided that our yard needed a treehouse. My father said he was too busy, so I put up a lemonade stand every weekend for five months until I raised enough money to hire a handyman. I got my damned treehouse.
I smiled politely at the redhead and mousy blonde who waited for my reply. “I, uh, really just want flowers, a candlelit dinner on a yacht, and cuddling by the fire—your basic romance,” I lied.
They looked at me like I was out of my soft skull for choosing something so tame. But I wasn’t here for wild. I was here to find Cici.
“Well, that’s cute,” said the redhead.
“I’m doing Tarzan,” said the blonde, staring at the floor.
I tried to keep a straight face. I couldn’t picture this shy little thing swinging through the trees in a suede bikini.
“Sounds…” I swallowed, “dangerous.”
“I knooow.” Her brown eyes lit with joy.
The line began to clear out of the cabin, so I grabbed my backpack and purse and faced forward.
“Well, enjoy your romantic candles…?” Redhead wanted to know my name.
I glanced over my shoulder. “Stephanie.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Meg,” she said and then jerked her head toward the blonde, “and she’s Emily.”
“Nice meeting you, too,” I replied politely.
“We’ll see you at the welcome dinner tonight!” Meg said. “I hear the dancers are amazing—ripped from head to toe and almost naked in those Hawaiian grass skirt things.”
“Mmmm. Can’t wait.” I didn’t give a crap about dancers or dinners. I wanted to find this Mr. Rook and start asking about Cici. I was ready to put a goddamned knife to his throat if that was what it took.
“Right this way, ladies!” said the overly peppy air stewardess.
One by one, we filed down the rollaway staircase. I immediately noticed the tropical summer heat, the never-ending stretch of lush green jungle, and the musty smell of moist dirt mixed with salty air.
My mind immediately jumped to my sister—her bright smile and big brown eyes. She had been right here on this island, on this very fucking staircase. What did they do to her?