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Lokelani Nights

Nobody told her Hawaii would be like this. Newcomer Casey Ward hesitates before accepting an unusual temp assignment, to play half of a reconciling couple with her boss's nephew. Her temporary Significant Other is a handsome cop on the emotional and physical injured list, and Casey came to Hawaii to heal after her LAPD ex-fiance's infidelity and assault. But it's heads up when Kit Kahana's sky-blue eyes, mega dimples, and private detecting kick start Casey's zany personality and zest for life. Kit's mission, once he gets Casey in restraint mode, is to unmask a prankster among the guests and staff at a macadamia nut farm/cattle ranch on Lokelani, a private island off Kauai. Superstition and mystery involving Puhi, a restless shark god, surround the pranks. Kit and Casey watch together through some long Lokelani nights to expose those who would desecrate the tiny paradise. And on its lovely shores, they find a powerful, healing love.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release

Sharon K. Garner

     Sharon K. Garner enjoys writing stories about love and danger set in exotic locations. A former library cataloguer and newspaper proofreader, she keeps her hand in with freelance proofreading and copyediting for other writers. She lives in PA with her welder/EMT husband of many years, a man who no longer flinches when asked such questions as "How long does it take to bleed to death?" and "How can I disable a big piece of equipment?" One neurotic black cat completes the household. In her free time, the author reads English mysteries and regularly prances around the living room doing walk aerobics, all the while keeping an appreciative eye on her small collection of Tiffany-style lamps and her significantly larger collection of crystal figurines. Visit her athttp://www.sharonkgarner.com


4 Stars!

"This is a sweet romance, without any heavy-handed love scenes. Sharon Garner has crafted a novel that is a well written and fast paced story with believable characters and settings. Very enjoyable!"

Just Views

"The richly exotic setting of Lokelani Nights is the perfect backdrop for this intriguing romantic suspense. The plot moves along smoothly with a diverse cast of characters. Every guest on the farm is a suspect, and Ms. Garner does a terrific job delving into his or her lives. Casey's past and her attitude towards the police in general is real. The emotional aftermath will touch the heart of everyone who reads this book. Readers will empathize with her situation and understand the internal conflict she faces as she once again falls for a policeman. Sparks between Kit and Casey are fraught with sexual tension. Danger and romance are a dynamic combination and Lokelani Nights delivers both."

Romance Communications

4-1/2 Stars!

"Setting her book on the private island of Lokelani, Sharon Garner immediately creates an atmosphere conducive to suspense. With information that is impressively factual, she manages to weave together a story that will have the reader on the edge of her seat."

Word Museum

Chapter 1

"TWO WEEKS of work on Lokelani? With your nephew?" Casey Ward echoed her employer's words in a toneless voice. She hadn't lived in Hawaii long but she'd heard of the small, privately owned island.

Patty Kahana, a tiny woman with upswept salt and pepper hair and an hourglass figure, looked uneasy for just a moment. "Perhaps longer. All quite innocent and above board, I assure you. It's highly unusual, I know, but Christopher is a reliable family member who needs some rather unusual help right now. I've had a chance to study you these four months you've worked for me, Casey, and I think you're just the kind of woman Christopher described to me for this assignment."

And the only one you dare ask, I'll bet, she thought to herself. "And what kind was that?" she asked sweetly, her curiosity barely overcoming her anger at the man who had ordered up a woman, not an office temp.

"Attractive, sedate, level-headed, and not fanciful." A reassuring smile was tacked onto the words.

Casey thought about that for a moment. Should she at last tell Mrs. Kahana that she felt someone else had been living inside her skin since she moved to Hawaii four months ago? And that she was the least sedate person known to her friends on the mainland? Or that she was up for a good fairy tale or ghost story anytime? Or that being betrayed by her LAPD lieutenant fiancÚ, then physically assaulted by him, had made her lose the laughter in her life and she was desperate to find it again?

She looked at Mrs. Kahana's kind, hopeful face. Bad idea right now. "If these aren't executive secretarial duties, just what would I be doing?" she asked instead.

Patty Kahana got up and came around the desk. She always wore a holoku, the long, fitted Hawaiian dress but without the train, and a white hibiscus in her hair. Despite her small stature she managed to look regal.

Casey nearly fell out of her chair when the dignified woman hopped up onto the corner of her executive desk to sit. Confidence time, Casey silently warned herself. Oh heavens, what was wrong with this guy and did her boss expect her to fix it?

Mrs. Kahana sat on her precarious perch with her back ramrod straight. "Christopher took a leave of absence from the Honolulu Police Department after he was wounded for the second time in the line of duty. While he decides what he wants to do, he has agreed to quietly look into some incidents on the island for a family friend who owns most of it. Christopher thinks it's best if he blends in as a guest staying at Lokelani Farms. So, he asked me to find someone to pose as the other half of a troubled couple. Separate accommodations, of course. You'll be his 'cover' for snooping around the island. He assures me there's no danger involved or I would have refused our services." She looked at Casey expectantly.

Casey groaned inwardly. Just what she needed right now, a hot shot who'd been shot and was still hanging off the edge of law enforcement. After what Luke had put her through, it would serve this one right if she went disguised as a snag-toothed hag who called it a May/December marriage.

When Casey opened her mouth to refuse, Mrs. Kahana quietly added, "If you decide to accompany him, you'll be paid Kahana Temps' highest rate, plus a bonus because of the unorthodox nature of this assignment. And you'll have my deepest appreciation for helping me out in a difficult situation. You've already demonstrated your discretion and tact, Casey. Christopher and I will depend on your practicing both on this assignment."

'This assignment, should you choose to accept it...' Mission Improbable, Casey thought to herself. At least this job was different, and she needed a change. Again. Maybe this new place and new experiences would shake loose the nothingness inside her. Better to come back to life all over the boss's nephew than the boss.

"I'll take it, thank you, Mrs. Kahana," she said meekly.

Patty Kahana let out a sigh of relief that ruffled Casey's blonde hair. "Thank you, Casey," she said as she hopped off the desk and returned to the high-back leather chair behind it, all business again.

"Lokelani Farms is a working ranch and macadamia nut farm that takes a few paying guests at a time. The guests may help out in the grove, I understand, so you'll need mostly casual clothes and a few work clothes, as well as several evening outfits. They're not formal but they do change for dinner. Some sturdy boots wouldn't come amiss for riding and hiking. Christopher will pick you up at eight o'clock tomorrow morning at your apartment."

She had Casey's sharp, unwavering attention when she hesitated then spoke as if she had come to a decision. "Life has dealt my nephew some severe blows, but he continues to be a nice man. He'll take good care of you."

* * *

A PERSISTENT, heavy pounding on her apartment door the next morning dragged her up from the depths of dreamless sleep. She'd finally managed a few hours' rest near dawn. The ruffled elastic band she'd worn to bed had come out of her hair in the night, and she finger-combed the full, wavy, shoulder-blade length stuff out of her eyes as she tumbled out of bed. One glance at the clock told her she'd overslept. It was probably Christopher Kahana trying to break down her door.

Opening the door as far as the heavy-duty security chain permitted, she was immediately impaled by eyes the color of the Hawaiian sky. Their huge owner wore white cotton slacks and a muted aloha shirt in pale blues. With one big hand, he removed his wide-brimmed straw hat with its tapa cloth band, freeing a shock of thick, shining brown hair so dark that it was almost black.

While she gathered her thoughts and her excuses together, she waited for him to speak. Instead, he studied her face, eyes, and hair with quiet intensity. Gee, maybe he didn't like white-gold blondes who --

Oh heavens, she probably did look like a snag-toothed hag this morning. Her eyes, no doubt, resembled two blue-green marbles dropped into a can of spaghetti. There went her one chance to make a really good first impression. She studied him back and liked what she saw. He reminded her of someone she couldn't place.

He stared at her a moment longer then shook his head, as if to clear it. "Casey Ward," he finally said, accusing tones in his deep, soft voice. "I'm Christopher Kahana and it's eight o'clock." He consulted the watch on his wrist, a timepiece that looked complicated enough to run a small city.

She blinked and mentally snapped her fingers when she caught the resemblance that had eluded her. Christopher Kahana was a Hawaiian tiki god come to life.

His broad forehead, high cheek bones, and wide, expressive mouth might have been carved from warm, light brown hapa wood. He certainly wore the glower of a hapa wood tiki. However, a redeeming hint of dimples showed in each cheek, and this angry tiki was big, well-muscled all over, and tall with it, at least six feet four inches.

When she didn't answer him immediately, he inquired in an insulting tone, "You do speak?"

Casey shook herself out of her tiki fantasy and nodded. "Frequently. And I can tell time, too. But I can't sing a note," she explained, her voice soft with sleep. "I was up late packing and I must have gone back to sleep. I'm sorry."

Her old oversize LAPD T-shirt covered her to mid-thigh, but it wasn't nearly enough for the disturbing eyes of this stranger who was suddenly doing some looking. She pulled farther back, until nothing but her face showed, sideways, around the edge of the door. She felt her hair swing free. The tiki god's wide-set eyes followed its swaying mass.

Now, when he didn't answer her, she jumped into the gap. "I apologize, Mr. Kahana. I'll meet you in the lobby in fifteen minutes," she said hurriedly and tried to close the door.

He deftly slid one large white running shoe into the gap, and his soft-timbered, deep voice took on the patient tone of a keeper. "Open the door. I can brief you while you get ready."

He was using cop talk already. What a great start to this day, she thought to herself as her gaze skipped from his face to his foot. "Okay. If you'll remove your size twelve, I'll remove the chain. That's how this works." She mimicked his long-suffering tone perfectly. Then she added in a no-nonsense voice. "But first I want to see some ID, please."

His stormy look deepened, his mouth a thin line as he flipped open an ID wallet, sans badge. "By the way, it's a fourteen," he said and slid his foot out of the gap.

She bit her lip in frustration as she closed the door to undo the chain. By now he must have some opinion of her, his aunt's hand-picked choice for her own nephew's assignment. And now she'd smart-mouthed the man to boot. She got her face in order and opened the door wide. "Come in. I'm really sorry, Mr. Kahana. The late Casey Ward, that's me."