The Mysterious Stranger (Triple Trouble)

The Mysterious Stranger (Triple Trouble) by Susan Mallery Read Free Book Online

Book: The Mysterious Stranger (Triple Trouble) by Susan Mallery Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Mallery
have seen Ariel’s confusion. “My sister passed away a few weeks ago,” he added. “Anna Jane has been with me since then.”
    Ariel’s heart ached for the little girl. The loss of a parent was horrible. She might not know why she understood the pain, but she did. Impulsively, she reached across the table and took the child’s hand in hers.
    “I’m sorry,” she said, and squeezed her fingers.
    Anna Jane smiled gratefully. “I’m glad you’re here, Ariel. I’m glad I sent that note and you were the one to find it.”
    Ariel nodded as if she, too, were glad. But she wasn’t. If she hadn’t found the note and nearly drowned in the cove, she wouldn’t have lost her memory. Right now she would be back in her own life. Whatever and wherever that was.
    * * *
    Jarrett listened a couple more minutes, then thanked his hotel manager for the information. “I’ll talk to you in the morning,” he promised, and hung up.
    From where he was sitting, he could see his guest pacing in the hallway outside his office. She moved with an easy grace that brought to mind unwelcome images of long, slender legs and gold-blond hair tumbling free. He pushed the thoughts away, just as he pushed away the ridiculous notion that he was reluctant to tell her what he’d found out because he didn’t want to disappoint her.
    As if sensing his attention, Ariel turned toward him, her expression questioning. He motioned her forward. As her hips swayed sensuously and the movement tempted him, he reminded himself he wasn’t sure what her game was. Had she come to the island with a purpose and had finding the note been a lucky break, or had finding the note made her act impulsively? He told himself it didn’t matter. Either way, she was out for what she could get. No way in hell would he let her take advantage of him…or Anna Jane.
    But as she paused in front of his desk and shifted her weight nervously, he had to admit she was good. About the best he’d ever seen. From the confusion darkening her eyes to the color of jade, right down to the faint tremor in her hands, she was convincing in her performance. She belonged on the stage.
    “I’ve spoken with the hotel manager,” he said, motioning to the chair in front of her.
    She sank into it and stared at him. The corners of her mouth quivered. “I assume the news isn’t good.”
    “There isn’t any news. So far no one has reported a missing guest. Nor is there a single reservation. My staff has checked back as far as two weeks. This time of year we generally get couples and families. Most of the employees with direct guest contact have been questioned, but no one remembers a woman of your description.”
    Ariel looked as shocked as if he’d hit her. The color drained from her face and she clutched the chair arms. “No one is looking for me?” she asked quietly. “No one at all?”
    The pang of emotion was so unfamiliar, it took him a moment to identify it. Compassion. For her? He didn’t like that.
    “It’s possible there hasn’t been enough time. You only disappeared this morning. Perhaps they haven’t noticed.”
    She glanced at the beautiful antique grandfather clock in the corner of his office. “It’s nearly nine. Someone somewhere has to know I’m missing. I have to have family.”
    “Why?”
    “I—” She clamped her lips together. Her expression tightened as she obviously fought back tears. She stiffened, then leaned against the back of the chair. “There has to be someone in my life. I refuse to believe I’m completely alone.”
    “Many people are alone. Until you regain your memory…” He paused. Keeping the sarcasm out of his voice took a little effort. “Until that time, it’s pointless to assume anything about yourself.”
    “I would hate to think no one would miss me,” she said, more to herself than him.
    He thought about asking why. Being alone was hardly a curse. He’d spent much of his life that way. These days it was by choice. When alive, his

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