Authors: Kendall Talbot
An adrenaline-packed new Treasured adventure from award-winning author Kendall Talbot.
When Rosalina discovers a devastating family secret, the world as she knows it is shattered and a madman from her past reappears.
Rosalina's love, Archer, finds a clue to a treasure stolen during World War IIâbut when Rosalina is kidnapped, he must either comply with Nox's demands that he find the treasure, or risk his life to save her. Archer, a man who knows what he wants, won't stop until Rosalina is back in his arms.
Everyone believed Nox was dead, but somehow he survived the latest attempt on his life. Now this dead man walking is out for revengeâand there are still so many on his list. Can true love conquer all, even a madman hell bent on revenge?
Kendall Talbot is an award-winning author, thrill seeker and hopeless romantic. She's travelled extensively, some thirty-six countries and counting and she's addicted to experiences that make her scream â¦ white-water rafting, scuba diving with sharks, and hang gliding are just a few. Her stories reflect her sense of adventure and her love affair with her very own hero. Kendall collects junky jewellery and expensive perfume. Her favourite night out is with great friends and a fabulous bottle of wine or two, and she rarely watches TV. She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her hubby, her two grown sons and her fluffy little dog, Josie McLuvin. Her romantic suspense novel
Lost in Kakadu
(Escape Publishing, 2013) is an Amazon bestseller and has received a clutch of award nominations and most notably won the exclusive title of Romantic Book of the Year, 2014. Drop into Kendall Talbot's website sometime:
, follow her tweets on
or check out her crazy life on her facebook page:
To my wonderful husbandâthank you for allowing me to dream.
To my sons, who I'm so very proud of.
To my sister and mum, who provide endless encouragement.
To my father and step-father, may you both rest in peace.
To my writing buddies who provide inspiration, hope and honest feedback.
To my readersâthank you for making this dream a reality.
Thank you all.
To my girlfriends and our long, long lunches where we solve all the problems in the world.
Rosalina didn't want to look at the bruises on her leg, but she couldn't help it. With each passing day the swelling had subsided, but the dark cloud still stained her skin from her toes to her knee. She was lucky though. Considering half a helicopter had landed upon her, it was a miracle she hadn't broken both her legs. It was impossible not to think about all the injuries she'd sustained since she'd started hunting for treasure with her fiancÃ©. This one was by far the worst. At night, when she closed her eyes, her dreams were filled with a scrambled concoction of glistening treasure and crazy mad men trying to steal it from them.
Archer took the crutches from her, rested them against the
's chrome railing and helped her lift her other leg onto the plush sun lounge. The plaster cast that ran from below her knee to the edge of her toes was heavy and she was sick of lugging it around. She'd painted her toenails that poked out of the cast in bright pink. At the time, she'd thought it would cheer her up. It hadn't.
Three more weeks until the cast came off, and it couldn't come soon enough.
âHow's that?' Archer knelt at her side and lifted her chin with his finger, drawing her eyes to his. âBetter?'
She nodded. âIt's good.' Her blood pounded against her swollen skin, throbbing out a painful pulse that was her constant companion. Now that her legs were elevated though, the agony should subside soon.
Archer tilted his head at her. It was one of her fiancÃ©'s signature moves and the angle he chose captured the sunlight in a way that had the golden halo of flecks circling his dark irises positively dancing. It was one of the first things that had attracted her to him. His eyes had a personality of their own. He ran his thumb over her chin and then, when he touched her lips she kissed his thumb.
Five weeks ago, while she'd lain on the dive deck below with half a mangled helicopter pinning her to the teak timber, she'd thought she'd lost him. He'd plummeted from the helicopter into the black water and vanished. With each ticking second, as black smoke had poured over her and she'd waited for Archer to resurface, her heart had crumbled to a thousand pieces and drifted away with the smoke-filled air.
Since that gut-wrenching moment, when she'd thought her new fiancÃ© had died, she'd been gripped with melancholy. Archer, on the other hand, had been stretching his creativeness to try to cheer her up. She had no doubt him bringing her back to
, the place where it all happened, was another one of his angles to help snap her out of it. Archer's multimillion dollar yacht was one of her favourite places in the world, so maybe he was right.
âYou stay right here,' he said. âI'll grab a few things and be right back.'
She nodded. He leant forward, kissed her lips, then rose to his feet and walked away. He was spectacular to watch. Light and shade alternated off his broad shoulders as he strode across the sunlit deck, and his perfectly toned bottom glided up and down with every step. He soon disappeared down the steps.
To avoid looking at her legs again, Rosalina flicked her long skirt over them. It took several attempts to cover them completely, and it was only once that was done that she looked around.
Over her left shoulder she had a perfect view across other magnificent yachts in Italy's Marina Di San Vencenzo. Most marinas could barely accommodate Archer's yacht, but here in Livorno's prestigious new yacht club,
was like a toy in comparison to the magnificent vessels they had moored up alongside.
It was morning and the sun, hung high in the sky, dripped dazzling stars onto all the shiny chrome surfaces on the surrounding vessels. The sparkle made Rosalina wish she'd remembered her sunglasses. Normally she'd never forget something like that, but ever since the helicopter crash a dark fog had shrouded her mind. She let out a slow breath as she turned her attention to the damaged part of the sun deck.
Archer, his best mate, Jimmy, and her long-time friend Alessandro had been working tirelessly to clear away as much of the crash remnants as they could, but the police forensics team had restricted their access. The image of the body covered by a white cloth flashed into her mind. The helicopter pilot had been beneath that sheet. Thankfully, Ignatius Montpellier, the ruthless thief, was the only person who'd died in that fiery crash.
She felt no remorse for him.
The damage from the crash was extensive. Most of the helicopter pad, which was one level up, had been crushed into the deck she was now sitting on. The narrow steps that had led up to the helicopter pad were a tangle of metal and plastic. One of the helicopter's blades must have struck the deck before ricocheting into the ocean, because a long jagged gash in the teak decking looked as if a great monster had sliced through the polished wood with a broadsword.
Rosalina heard laughter. Jimmy's deep, hearty belly laugh had her smiling. Archer and Jimmy were best mates. Despite the twenty or so years between them, their relationship was more solid than those many lifelong friends could boast. In reality, they had saved each other. Archer had saved Jimmy from a life of self-loathing after his wife had left him for a younger man, and Jimmy gave Archer a father figure that he hadn't had in his life since he was an eleven-year-old boy.
Their laughter grew louder and soon they stepped onto the sun deck. As usual, Jimmy wore no shirt, and the sun captured the greying chest hairs covering his leathery skin. With a smile on his face and a six-pack of beer clutched in his hand, he strode towards Rosalina with his signature prize-fighter swagger. He was light on his feet for such a solid man.
âHeya Rosa.' Jimmy's chin was a rough abrasion on her skin as he leaned over to brush his lips to her cheek.
, Jimmy how are you?'
âCouldn't be better. How about you? Getting used to those crutches yet?'
Rosa huffed. âNo. I don't think I ever will.'
He placed an antipasti platter on the table at her side, and as she eyed off the lovely selection of cured meats, cheeses and olives, she heard the distinct pop of a champagne cork.
âWhat's going on?' She suppressed a grin as she nodded at the champagne Archer had just opened. They usually didn't have a drink until at least midday.
âActually quite a few things,' Archer said, as he topped up the five crystal champagne glasses that he'd brought up with him.
âNot all of us have been lazing around on our arses since that wanker crashed his helicopter into us.' Jimmy's grin was getting ridiculous now. They were both itching to tell her something.
She refrained from pointing out that she would rather be doing anything but sitting around on her bottom. Archer held a glass towards her and she sat up to reach for it. âOkay, I'm ready. What is it?'
Archer eyeballed Jimmy. âShould we wait till Alessandro and Ginger get here?'
Jimmy opened a bottle of Peroni. âThat'd be the right thing to do.' His took a swig of his beer and his lip quivered as he attempted to keep a straight face.
âOkay then.' She could play this game too. âWho made the antipasti platter? It looks good.'
âI did.' Archer bit into a slice of cured meat that she guessed to be Bresaola. As he tugged it from his teeth, he turned to Jimmy. âMaybe we could tell Rosa some of the news.'
Jimmy's eyes switched from the salami he was about to devour to Archer, and he nodded with over-exaggerated emphasis.
Archer rubbed his hands together and then picked up a champagne glass for himself. âThe police have finished combing over this area so we're right to go ahead with the renovations.' Archer strode from her and stopped near the centre of the sun deck. âJimmy has suggested we put a Jacuzzi right here.' He indicated to his right. âAnd he was thinking a rooftop bar over this side.'