Chapter One-Captive Hearts by Margaret Daley
“You lost them?” Kate Remington spun about to face her brother in his office.
Thomas shrugged. “I’ve searched everywhere. They aren’t here.” He swept his arm wide to indicate the pile of papers, magazines, and books on his large mahogany desk.
“How would you know? This place could definitely use some organization.”
“And you’re the one to do it?” Thomas laughed, his frown replaced by a gleam of amusement in his eyes. “I hate to break the bad news to you, but you’re the worst of the Remingtons when it comes to organization. Passed down through the family and when it got to you, there was none left.”
Kate narrowed her green eyes. “At least I don’t lose my photographs.”
“You aren’t going to forget this, are you?”
“No. We’re supposed to have this tribute to our grandmother done by her ninetieth birthday, not her ninety-first. This book can’t be done overnight.”
Thomas walked to the picture window in his office to stare out over Miami. Rubbing the back of his neck, he shook his head. “I’m so busy, Kate. I don’t know when I’ll be able to find the time now. Maybe we should do it for her next year’s birthday.”
Kate slammed her hand down onto the top of his desk and sent some of his papers tumbling to the floor. “That’s just it. You would postpone it forever until one day Granny isn’t here to see our work. She’s going to be ninety, Thomas! You’re the one who suggested we do this book on growing old because of all her work with the senior citizen group. I thought you were committed to this project as much as I am when we discussed it Memorial Day.”
He turned. “I am, but—”
“But all of a sudden you’re just too booked up. No pun intended.”
“Short of being kidnapped, I have to commit my time to this magazine. You know how much work there is to putting out a weekly news magazine. A few months back things seemed to be easing up. Now they aren’t.”
“I need you, Thomas. I’m not good at writing. That’s your department. I take the photographs. You write the copy. There isn’t that much left to do. It can be finished in a week’s time.”
“Sorry. I’ve got the problem with that libel suit. I’ve got the union contracts coming up in a month. I’ve got—”
“Stop! There’s more to life than work. You need a break. This magazine will survive without you for one week. That’s all I’m asking of your time. Seven days.”
“Not this month. Maybe next month, Kate, when the union isn’t—”
“Or next year. I’ve certainly heard this before.” Exasperated, she walked toward the door, her strides long and purposeful. There was only one way to take care of the problem: go over her brother’s head to his boss.
Taking the elevator up to the top floor of the Remington Building, she entered her father’s office, greeting his secretary with a smile. “Is he busy?”
“Not for you. Go on in.”
Kate slipped into her father’s office while he was finishing up a phone conversation. “I want Mackenzie. I don’t care what you do. Just get him here to the office for a meeting.” He paused, listening. “Fine, if he can’t make it until then.”
When Robert Remington hung up, he looked toward his daughter and grinned. “When did you get into town?”
“About an hour ago. I came straight from the airport to see Thomas.” She was too restless to sit so she began to pace. “He makes me so angry. Don’t you Remington men realize there’s more to life than work?”
“What did Thomas do now?”
“He’s backing out on a promise to help with the book for Granny. He agreed two months ago to work with me, so I spent the last few months taking the photographs, getting just the right shot to convey
what we had discussed Memorial Day. Now he’s too busy.”
“Maybe next month—”
Kate stopped pacing to face her father. “Did you and Thomas get together on this?” She blew a breath of air out in a rush. “You know him as well as I do. There will be some other crisis next month that he must see to personally.”
Robert reclined back in his chair, lacing his fingers together to form a steeple. “What do you want me to do? I can tell you didn’t come up here to pass the time of day.”
“Make him take a week off.”
“I would love to, but your brother is his own man. Even if I tell him to take the time off, he’ll do what he wants. News Today is his magazine to run without any interference from me. That was our agreement.”
“Has he ever taken a vacation in the four years he’s been running the magazine?” Kate asked in a calm voice that disguised the tension she felt.
“Even you know when to take a break, Dad. It’s not good for him. Here it is the beginning of August and he’s pale as,” she picked up a piece of white paper from her father’s desk and waved it at him, “as this.”
“I know Thomas needs a break. I’ve tried to tell him that. But he’s the most stubborn person I know. He won’t listen.”
Kate sank down onto the chair before his desk. “I have to think of something.”
“Get someone else?”
“I want the best and Thomas is so good at writing. Before he became News Today’s publisher, he was the best writer working for you in your organization. And that’s not just family pride speaking. He did win the Pulitzer prize. Besides, who better to do the job than Granny’s own grandchildren?”
“You don’t have to convince me he’s the best. I’m still trying to fill his shoes at Remington Publications. But I can’t help you with Thomas. I wish I could.”
Short of being kidnapped, I have to commit my time to this magazine. Her brother’s words came back to mind, sparking an idea. Kate leaned forward in the chair, excitement on her face. “Dad, can the magazine get along without Thomas for a week?”
“Yes, of course, but I don’t think you’ll be able to convince him of that.”
“What if I don’t give him a choice?”
His brow knitted in confusion.
“What if I kidnap him and take him to our island in the Bahamas? There’s no way off it unless you want to swim for fifty miles in the Atlantic.”
“There’s the satellite cell phone.”
“I’ll have Walters take it back to the mainland when he takes me over to the island, then when Thomas is dropped off, I’ll tell him we’ll be picked up the following weekend and that will be the first and only outside contact.”
“He’ll be furious.”
“For about a day. He never could stay mad at me for long. And if I reassure him that you’re looking out for the magazine, he’ll relax and accept his fate. The important thing is that he’ll get a break from his high-pressured job and we’ll complete the book for Granny in a paradise setting. What better place to take a working vacation?”
The slow uplifting of the corners of her father’s mouth thrilled Kate. She knew he would support her in her scheme to whisk her brother away from everything. “You’ll help?” She almost couldn’t contain her excitement.
He laughed. “Of course.”
“Good.” She stood to leave.
“When’s this going to take place?”
“I don’t know that yet.”
“It sounds like you have a few details to work out.”
“A few. I must say I’ve never planned a kidnapping before. If in the next week Thomas doesn’t show up for work, you’ll know where he is if an emergency does arise.”
“And if he does show up?”
“Then you’ll know I couldn’t iron out the specifics.” She came around the desk and kissed her father good-bye. “I won’t bother you with the messy details since you’re so busy. I wouldn’t want you to let anything slip.”
“Remember Mom’s surprise birthday party two years ago?”
“Okay, I get the point. This conversation didn’t take place.”
“Wish me luck,” she called out as she strode toward the door.
Her father’s robust laughter filled the air. “You might need it. At least no one can say the Remingtons are conventional in dealing with their problems.”
* * *
Kate popped into her father’s office a few days later. “Just wanted to let you know this is D-day.”
“Ah, so you’re going through with it.” Her father sat behind his desk, looking every bit in command.
“Of course. Once I’ve set my mind to something, have you ever known me to deviate?”
“It would almost be worth taking a week off to see this,” her father
said with a chuckle.
Kate opened the door to leave. “Hopefully by this time next week everything will be taken care of.”
“Thanks. Like you said I might need it.” Kate closed the door and started toward the bank of elevators.
Halfway across the reception area Kate knew she wasn’t alone. She felt a pair of eyes on her and glanced toward the couch. There standing with his feet braced apart and his arms folded across a massive chest was a man with features of chiseled ruggedness, waves of black hair feathered back in negligent order and cobalt blue eyes, deep and compelling. A suggestion of tautness in his large frame indicated an air of vigilance as if any second he was prepared to defend himself.
His raking gaze made a swift study of her, his look all male. Her senses reeled from the frankly appreciative gleam in his eyes, and her heartbeat quickened.
At the elevator she pushed the down button, then found herself turning to face the stranger, as though those compelling eyes drew her back toward him. She wet her lips, the tip of her tongue running over them, but that did nothing to alleviate her parched mouth.
A spark of excitement quivered in the air between them as silence reigned, their gazes bound across the room. You interest me, his gaze conveyed before his expression became veiled behind hooded eyelids.
Countless moments later the elevator arrived, the swishing of the doors dissolving the moment like the blare of a phone. Kate hurriedly entered, selected the ground floor, then leaned back against the wall, her legs weak and her heart still beating fast.
As the doors closed, she again looked at him and saw a slow smile spreading across his face. She returned his smile, wishing she had more time to find out who the man was.
Nick Mackenzie watched the woman disappear as the elevator doors clapped shut. Her smile had entered his senses like a potent intoxicant, its heated effects still flowing through his veins. In his mind he could picture her as she stood against the wall, her hair—like diffused sunlight, bright, warm, satiny—a wild mane about her beautiful face. But what had held his interest the most were her eyes, the color of a forest in spring.
Determinedly Nick shook the image of the woman from his thoughts. He had much more important things to think about than a lady he would never see again. His future was in jeopardy, and he couldn’t allow anyone to divert him from the course he must take.
Glancing down at his watch, he noted he was early for his meeting with Robert Remington. Nick began to prowl about the reception area, too restless to sit and too wound up to wait calmly for the man. He had just started for Robert Remington’s door when it opened.
“The security guard called to tell me you were on the way up. Come in. Have a seat,” Robert said as he indicated a chair in front of his desk.
“No, thank you. I don’t intend to stay long.”
“But we have a lot to discuss. The terms of the buy out are–”
“No. I won’t accept your offer on any terms.” Nick had a difficult time controlling his temper as he faced Robert Remington across the expanse of his massive oak desk.
“You may not have a choice, Mr. Mackenzie. We have extended an offer to your partner for his shares in the Bluewater Guardian and radio stations. He promises to give me an answer in a week’s time. The offer is a generous one.”
“Three million. Do you have that kind of money?”
“I’m sure you know the answer,” Nick said, cynicism heavy in his voice. He had seen it all before: A big media conglomerate taking over a small media company, making it the mirror image of all its other papers and radio stations. That was one of the reasons he had given up working for a large newspaper in New York and come to Bluewater, Florida to buy the Guardian with the added bonus of two regional radio stations.
“I don’t want to alienate you. In fact, I want you to continue working for me. Frankly, your talents could best be used on the paper here in Miami or in the management area of Remington Publications. I not only want the Guardian, I want you, too.”
Nick shook his head, too angry to say anything.
“I’m prepared to offer you a substantial salary as well as a say in not only running the Guardian but other newspapers in the state. You’ll have a lot more power at Remington Publications.”
“I like having complete control over one newspaper, not a say in several.” Before now, Nick and his partner had worked great together. He had been left alone to run the newspaper while Richard had kept himself in the background, dealing with the radio stations, which was one of the reasons Nick had agreed to the partnership in the first place.
“You can accept the situation gracefully or you can find yourself out of a newspaper and a job,” Robert said in his uncompromising voice.
Nick headed for the door. “I have a week. I’ll find a way to stop you.”
Nick couldn’t resist the urge to slam the door behind him. He was glad that the only time he could meet with Robert Remington had been after hours. Nick didn’t like losing control, and he certainly didn’t want witnesses when he did. He had learned long ago the best way to handle a problem was with silence. It was hard to rant and rave at a person who didn’t rant and rave back.
He walked to the elevator and punched the down button, his thoughts churning. If Remington Publications took over the Bluewater Guardian, his lifelong dream would be destroyed. This was the thanks he got for turning a failing newspaper around and making it a success in three years’ time, especially in this day and time when a lot of papers were struggling. Even if he had one month, he didn’t know if he could raise that kind of cash.
Stepping onto the elevator, Nick tried to think of a way to raise the money for his partner’s controlling shares. He had one week to come up with three million dollars. He pounded his fist against the wall as the elevator doors swished open on the seventh floor.
Thomas Remington entered the elevator. “Dad told me you were meeting with him tonight.”
Nick nodded curtly, prepared to remain silent since he didn’t trust his composure at the moment. He and Thomas had known each other years before when they had both worked on rival newspapers in New York City. Nick had always respected Thomas, but right now all he saw was another Remington.
“It doesn’t look as though you two reached an agreement,” Thomas continued.
“No, not to my liking.” Nick’s shoulders ached from the tension of the meeting.
“But to my dad’s?”
“You got it.”
“I’m meeting my sister for dinner. Come with me and we can discuss this. I’m sure there’s a way to work this out more to your liking. My dad can be quite demanding at times, but Remington Publications is topnotch.”
“I need to get back to Bluewater.”
“A few hours of your time. Kate won’t mind. She’s used to me discussing business over dinner. Have you ever known me not to deal fairly?”
Nick didn’t have any answers to the problem. Maybe after talking with Thomas, one would come to mind. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to the man. “Fine. Where?”
“Kate keeps a condominium in Miami. She’s fixing me dinner there.” Thomas wrote down the address for Nick.
“She won’t mind an extra person?”
“My sister is one person who doesn’t let things like that bother her. She’s the most flexible person I know. Besides, I think it would be better for me if I took a third party along.”
At the ground floor, Nick left the elevator first. “Why?”
“She’s not too happy with me at the moment.”
“Mr. Remington, there’s a call for you,” the guard on duty in the lobby said as Thomas exited the elevator.
Thomas took the phone from the man, said a few words, then cupped the receiver. “This is important. Go on, Nick. I’ll call Kate and tell her you’re coming. Just introduce yourself to her. I’ll be a few minutes behind you.”
On the drive to Thomas’ sister’s place, Nick went over his options as far as the takeover was concerned. He thought he could raise a million at the bank, but he had no idea where he was going to come up with the other two million.
As he parked on the street near Kate Remington’s condominium, he began to wonder why he had accepted Thomas’ invitation to dinner. Walking up to the front door, he thought of turning around and leaving for Bluewater.
I might as well hear what Thomas has to say. Nick started to ring the front bell. A note attached to the door drew his attention instead.
He took his small pen-sized flashlight out to read the note because there was no light on. “Sorry. An emergency came up. Kate.”
Before Nick could turn to leave, hands grabbed him by the arms and pinned him back against a solid body. Someone slapped a smelly cloth over his nose and mouth. He twisted and tried to break the hold the man had on him, but his mind quickly became foggy, and everything went black.
* * *
“Walters, I can’t believe this. I was supposed to be on the island an hour ago.” She had planned to be waiting for Ted and Beau, two linebacker acquaintances she had persuaded to help her “kidnap” her brother. Instead, they were going to be waiting for her and wondering if they would have to handle her brother when he came to.
“It’s ready now. Just a minor adjustment,” Walters announced as he finished repairing the airplane.
“If I had known we were going to be delayed like this, I could have had Ted and Beau drive here and we could have gone in the same plane,” she muttered, more to herself than to Walters—who didn’t know the reason she wanted to be alone without any means of communication to the mainland or way to get off the island.
“Ted and Beau, Miss Remington?”
“Two friends. They’re going to meet me on the island. They’re coming from a different airport closer to their home,” she said, stretching the truth a bit.
Walters climbed into the cockpit, and Kate followed, sitting in the copilot’s seat. Finally, two hours behind schedule, she was on her way to the family island.
“When we get there, just drop me off and don’t forget to pick me up next Saturday morning.”
“Miss Remington, this is all highly irregular. Landing on the island at night. Me leaving you there alone. I don’t like this.”
“You need a vacation, Walters. I can take care of things for you.
Besides, I won’t be alone.” She would rather him think she was going
to have two male friends with her than have him know the truth. Walters was so proper and did everything by the book. Kidnapping her brother wasn’t proper in anyone’s book.
“Right,” Walters muttered, casting her a look of skepticism.
Kate knew Walters didn’t quite believe she would maroon herself on an island with one male let alone two. She hadn’t exactly dated scores of men over the past years. Suddenly unbidden, a picture of the man in her father’s office tantalized her with warm feminine sensations in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t believe her reaction to a perfect stranger. It had been such an uncharacteristic response that her cheeks had burned the whole way down to the ground floor. Thank goodness she would never see the man again.
Walters cleared his throat. “Miss Remington, I still don’t feel right about all this. Without a plane or boat to leave—what if something happens?”
“In all the times you’ve stayed on the island alone, has anything ever happened?”
“You see. I’ll be perfectly fine. Besides, Ted and Beau will have their
“And there is the satellite cell phone if you need anything.”
She didn’t say a word. She hated compounding the situation with half-truths and omissions. The phone was at her condominium. Ted and Beau had their plane, but they were leaving as soon as she got there. She didn’t want them around when Thomas came to.
In fact, she didn’t want to be around when Thomas came to. She was beginning to get cold feet now that she thought about what she was doing. Kate straightened in the seat as she spied the lights that indicated the runway on the island.
I’m committed now. There’s no turning back.
“Don’t get out, Walters. As you can see my friends have already arrived.” Kate climbed from the plane.
She waited at the landing strip until Walters had taken off. As she waved good-bye, Ted and Beau came up behind her.
“We put your brother in the first bedroom. Here’s your key.” Ted handed Kate the key to the house that she had given him earlier. “I think we’d better get moving. He’s going to wake up any minute, and I don’t want to be here.”
“Thank you both. Did you have any trouble? Did the snapshot help?”
“Yeah. He was there right at nine like you said.” Ted grinned. “Good luck, Kate.”
After the second plane took off, Kate walked up to the main house, going over what she would say to Thomas when he woke up. “You did tell me to kidnap you that day in the office. Remember? I think you were subconsciously telling me you needed a vacation, so being the devoted sister that I am, I did you a favor.” She snapped her fingers. “Yeah, that’s it.”
When she opened the front door and stepped into the house, she wasn’t prepared for the sight before her. There standing in the middle of the living room was the stranger, huge, angry, and rumpled. When his dark blue gaze riveted to hers, she gasped and backed away.