The Alpha's Search (The Craven Trilogy, #1)(2)

By: Natalie Shaw

“I'm taking my lunch now,” Sarah shouted. “Will you be okay on your own?”

I glanced around the deserted shop. “I think I'll manage.”

Dexter Travel insisted two people be on duty in the shop at all times, but that morning Candice had called in sick. We'd called head office who'd promised to organise a temp, but so far, no show.

The shop was located on a small retail park just out of town. It was ideal for me because it was only a few miles from my flat. To help pass the time, I'd decided to refill the brochure racks. I'd no sooner stepped into the stockroom than I heard the chime—a customer—at last. Before I stepped back into the shop, I glanced at the full length mirror that was attached to the back of the stockroom door. I hated the uniform which we were expected to wear. Red! Red blouse, red skirt, red shoes. Dexter Travel didn't do classy. They preferred an 'in-your-face' look which was why the skirts were an inch shorter than was comfortable, and why the blouses showed a little too much cleavage for my liking.

Strange. The shop was empty, but I was sure I'd heard the chime. I walked over to the main door and looked through the glass panel. Maybe someone had pushed the door open, but then changed their mind. There was no one within ten metres of the entrance, so I turned away from the door.

“Shit!” I'd said it before I could stop myself. Sitting at my desk, in the seat opposite mine, was a tall man with Jet black hair. “You made me jump.”

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you,” he said.

“I didn't see you come in.”

“You are open, aren't you?” He glanced around at the deserted shop.

“Errr. Yes, of course. It's been a quiet morning. How can I help you?”

I walked over to the desk and took my seat opposite him.

“Jackie?” He was staring at my name badge.

“Jackie Coleman.”

He nodded. “You don't look like a Jackie.”

“Oh?” I was beginning to wish Sarah hadn't left me alone. There was something about this guy. “Did you have anywhere in mind?”

“In mind?”

“For your holiday?”

“Not really. Where would you recommend?”

“Me? Errr. It depends. Will it be a family holiday?”

“No. Just me.” He hesitated for the briefest moment. “Maybe one other.” His gaze was fixed on my eyes, so I looked down at the computer screen.

It wasn't unusual to get customers, who had no fixed idea of where they wanted to go on holiday, so why was I so flustered?

“Where do you usually take your holidays?” I asked. When I looked up, I thought I saw a smile flit across his face, but then it was gone.

“I don't. This will be my first.”

“Never been on holiday?”

He shook his head. “What would you recommend?”

I glanced at the door—willing another customer to come into the shop.

“The States are always popular,” I said.

“Have you been there?”

“Yes, a couple of times. New York and L.A.”

“You must get to travel a lot,” he said.

I hated small talk. I already had him down as a time-waster.

“More than most, I guess.”

“What attracted you to this job?”

Most definitely a time-waster. Still, I had to appear polite.

“It was more by chance than anything else. I saw the job advertised and something about it appealed to me.”

“Did you travel a lot before you took this job?”

“Errr. I'm not sure.” The question had caught me off-guard.

He looked confused. I'd have to explain my non-answer.

“I have amnesia,” I said. “I don't remember anything before my accident.”

“Really? How interesting. Sorry—interesting is the wrong word—I didn't mean to sound flippant. It must be very difficult for you. You don't remember anything at all before then?”

“No.” I really didn't want to get into this discussion.

“How old were you happened?”

“I don't know for sure, but the doctors told me they thought I was somewhere between nineteen and twenty-one. I settled for twenty.”

“You don't look much older than that now.”

“It was five years ago. I'm twenty five, but thank you.”

“I thought memory loss was only temporary.”

“Sometimes it is. The doctors thought mine would return, but so far—nothing.”

“That must be very difficult. What happened to cause it?”

“No one knows.” I hated talking about my amnesia, so tried to get the conversation back on track. “We have a number of general brochures on holidays in the States. Maybe you'd like to make a start by looking at those?”

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