The bigger the alpha, the harder he falls
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Passion blooms on a Hawaiian beach… but danger lurks, hot and deadly.

Hawaiian Heroes, Book 1

Nawea Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is just the place Melia Carson needs to escape the chill of rejection. But she soon finds herself swept up in a tropical heat wave of attraction for a handsome local.

David ‘Malu' Ho'omalu is big, powerful, hot enough to melt her defenses—and when he isn't rescuing her from trouble, he's poking fun at her naivete. But she soon realizes he’s no ordinary man. How did he survive an injury that should have killed him… and why does she dream of him in traditional native finery and wreathed in flames?

Malu is out to find and destroy a cache of ‘Kona Kula' before the deadly, addictive drug can be sold to his people. Fending off amorous tourists is part of the job. But one look in Melia’s blue eyes, and he wants to claim her for his own… despite the centuries of family secrets he has sworn to conceal from outsiders.

As they surrender to the passion burning between them, she discovers a man who'll descend into the molten heart of the volcano to protect his island. And he discovers a brave woman who will entrust her heart to him… if he can keep her alive long enough.

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5 STARS I love Ms. Cade's books and this Hawaiian Heroes story is no exception. The description of Hawaii makes you feel as if you were there and the sexy hero makes me want to go and find one for myself. I love the funny dialogue as well and can't wait to read the next book in the series. A definite hit I highly recommend.
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Prologue

Monday, May 9th

He awoke in a rough bed, a roof of green moving above him. Through the icy talons of pain gripping his head and shoulders, he gathered enough strength to focus one eye. The other seemed to be swollen shut.

The shadows shifting overhead were huge ferns hanging from a steep bank. He turned his gaze the other way as much as he was able. The ground sloped off abruptly past black lava boulders.

Somewhere above him, the tropical sun burned fierce and bright, but only a little light filtered down through the layers of tropical rain forest. Warm, humid shadows enclosed him. The bed on which he lay was earth, fallen leaves and palm fronds. He was on Mauna Loa.

Not dead, then, but badly injured. Pain held him in its grip, making every breath an effort.

Shifting carefully, exerting his will over his leaden limbs, he discovered he could move both his hands and feet. Arms and legs worked too, although not without clawing from the pilikua nui, the monster that seemed to have him by the side of his head and neck. Slowly, he lifted a hand to touch his temple. It came away wet and sticky. Blood.

He remembered now—finding the woman, then hearing a noise behind him, and pain exploding in his head. He was a fool. He’d let his guard down, thinking he was superior to his opponent. This was his punishment.

Voices murmured in his head. The old ones. Somewhere, the Ho’omalu were chanting for him. That was good, for theirs were not the only voices he heard. His heart gave a great thump and began to race, urgency thrumming through his veins as a man called out just above him on the mountainside.

“Oh my God!” he exclaimed. “Is she dead?”

Footsteps pounded. Small lava rocks skittered down, bouncing past him. A gecko, startled by the motion, darted onto his chest, its tiny feet a familiar tickle. It ran down his belly, toward his hand. Something draped over his fingers.

Slowly, nearly groaning with the effort, he lifted his hand and squinted at the gecko’s gift. It was a small, knotted length of leather, broken in one place. His hand clenched around it. He’d last seen it only hours before—on someone’s wrist.

“She’s not dead—she’s alive,” said another man’s voice. “Get over here, help me lift her. Careful!”

“She looks terrible.”

“Of course she looks bad—beat up, then left lying here all night. Let’s get her on the stretcher.”

“Oh God. Who would do this to her?”

“What do you mean, who?” another man demanded. “Malu disappeared at the same time, didn’t he?”

At this new voice, the injured man tensed. His good eye narrowed to a slit as if his gaze could penetrate the ferns over his head. Rage roared through him, hot and fierce, a deep, primal rumble in his chest battling to erupt from his throat. Though he hadn’t seen who had clubbed him and beaten the woman into unconsciousness, he knew. The evidence lay in his fist.

He held himself still, sweating with the strain. He mustn’t move yet. The enemy was just above him, but so was the injured woman and her rescuers. He wouldn’t risk their safety. The only one who knew he was down here was his attacker, who no doubt thought him safely dead. Before that kepolo returned to check, he’d be gone.

“Malu did this?” one man asked. “But…he seemed so nice. Are you sure? Maybe he was attacked too.”

“I’ll worry about Malu. Right now, all of you help me get this girl out of here.”

The footsteps moved slowly away, down the trail. The voices of the rescuers faded. He listened, straining to hear if they were truly gone. Would one set of footsteps return in stealthy haste? No, all was quiet in the forest. The birds had begun to call again. They would warn him of an intruder.

The voices in his head continued, steady and rhythmic, soothing, encouraging. Spreading his hands flat on the warm earth, he drew on the power of his island. He let the chant take him, let healing flow into his battered body.

Deep beneath him, the island rumbled as Pele stirred, sighing in her sleep. She sent a stream of heat and healing up through her island to him.

He must rest, gather his strength. The blow that felled him would have killed a lesser man, but he belonged to Pele, patroness of these islands.

One of her warriors. One of her Ho’omalu—ancient protectors of Hawaii.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Melia’s Make It Fresh Blog

Recipe for fun—take one Hawaiian vacation and enjoy.

I’ll be away for a week, but when I get back, I hope to have lots of fun ideas for you. Fresh cooking with an island twist. Aloha!

 

Saturday, May 7th

Melia Carson climbed onto the Hawaiian Dive boat. As the shining white catamaran bobbed slightly under her feet, she grabbed the high railing for balance.

She couldn’t believe she was finally here in Kona, Hawaii, with palm trees swaying overhead and the tropical sun warming her clear to her toes. This was definitely an antidote to the chill of early spring in Washington State. Hopefully, it would warm the chill in her heart as well.

Hot, buttery sunlight poured down on the boats, the buildings lining the shore and the clustered palms. Two long canoes slid by, paddles flashing in unison as the teams propelled their crafts toward the mouth of Kailua Bay. On the other end of the pier, a big pontoon boat with a blue awning was also boarding passengers. Above them all, the mountains stood, mysterious and cloud-capped.

“Aloha.” The Hawaiian woman waiting on the boat smiled at Melia. She wore a white tank with the Hawaiian Dive emblem on it, her long, wavy black hair caught up under a baseball cap. “I’m Leilani. We leave for Nawea Bay in ten minutes. Help yourself to cold drinks.” She gestured to an open cooler of soda and bottled water in the sliver of shade from the tall mast.

“Hey, Melia, you made it.” A small group of people stood in the prow of the boat. One of them waved at her. The afternoon breeze coming in off the ocean tousled his streaked blond hair. “Come and meet everyone.”

“Hi, Dane.” She’d met Dane Gifford in the Kona Winds hotel lounge the first evening, and the next morning in the lobby, when she was poring over excursion pamphlets, deciding which snorkel trip to take. Discovering she was traveling alone, he’d asked her if she’d like to join a group of his friends on a three-day trip down the coast.

At first, her naturally cautious nature had made her hesitate, but on learning there would be other women along and that they’d be staying in a place with staff, she’d agreed. Now she was glad to see a familiar face, even such a recent acquaintance.

Dane was surrounded by the same people she’d seen him with in Kona—two men and two women, young, glossy and tanned. And someone new.

The stranger lounged against the rail like an ad for sexy Hawaiian vacations. He was big, Polynesian heritage clear in his build. He wore a pair of long, red swim trunks over one of the most impressive physiques she’d seen, Hawaiian from his golden skin and short black hair to the dark tattoos on one side of his broad, smooth chest and one huge shoulder. His white teeth flashed as he smiled at something one of the women said. Still smiling, he turned and looked at Melia.

Melia took one look into his dark eyes and felt a solid thunk in her middle, as if that dark, liquid gaze had reached clear inside her. A shiver of heat rocked her to her core, signaling the force of their collision. She’d never seen this man before, but in some visceral way, she felt as if she knew him. Her smile echoed the cautious joy blossoming inside her. She knew it was crazy—she was so not the type to fall for a guy, even one as drop-dead gorgeous as this one. Especially not one as gorgeous as this one—they were usually trouble with a capital T.

But as he looked into her eyes, his own smile disappeared, his heavy, dark brows drawing together, his mouth straightening into a grim line. Bewildered, feeling as if she’d been slapped, Melia looked away.

“Melia, meet Cherie and Jacquie.” Resolutely, she focused on Dane’s introductions to the rest of the group, hoping the heat of embarrassment didn’t show on her already sun-flushed face.

The two girls snuggled against the rail on either side of the big Hawaiian were in their twenties, like her. But they had artfully styled hair, one auburn, one brunette, with dangling earrings, jewel-toned nails and plenty of salon-tanned skin on display. Looking her over behind designer sunglasses, they murmured greetings. Jacquie smiled, showing small white teeth. Cherie didn’t bother.

Jealousy stung. Melia knew her advantages—her long, wavy hair was streaked with light and dark blonde. She was active, so her legs were toned, and she had a nice waist. Her eyes were green under arching, dark blonde brows, her mouth soft and bow-shaped in her oval face.

She also knew her faults—her bottom was bigger than she would’ve liked, but she wasn’t a dieter, so that wasn’t going to change. And although her breasts were high and firm, they were certainly not as big as Cherie’s or Jacquie’s.

And she had freckles. She could tan, but time in the sun also enhanced the light freckles that dappled her skin from head to toe. Her dad—from whom she’d inherited them—laughed and told her some guy was going to love them, but Melia envied girls with smooth tans. Today she hadn’t bothered with any makeup because it was hot, humid, and she was here to play in the water, not look chic. Now she wished her freckles were subdued, her eyes enhanced with smoky shadow, her lips glossed with the latest shade.

She also envied the two women their complete lack of self-consciousness in wearing bikinis to begin their trip. She had two new ones in her duffle bag, but today she wore tropical camo shorts and a tee with matching leaf print on one shoulder, purchased in Kona the day before, along with a floppy straw hat to ward off new freckles.

Clay and Jimmer, male equivalents of the girls, greeted her with lazy smiles, eyes hidden by their sunglasses.

The two guys, so alike Melia knew she was going to have trouble remembering who was who, wore necklaces made of shells and intricately tied twine. Clay, no, Jimmer, wore a bracelet of knotted leather.

“And this is Malu,” Dane said, grinning at the big Hawaiian.

His name was Malu. She managed to smile vaguely in Malu’s direction without meeting that brooding dark gaze again, then turned away, relieved, as Frank Lelua spoke behind them.

“All right, everybody, have a seat, and we’ll take off. Time for some fun in the sun.” The owner of Hawaiian Dive, a short, wiry Hawaiian with wavy salt-and-pepper hair, was clad in faded shorts and a white T-shirt with his dive emblem. Melia had confirmed her reservations with him the day before.

“Malu, get that forward tie-down, eh?” he asked, firing up the boat’s twin outboards. The motors rumbled to life, the non-skid floor vibrating.

Malu and Leilani unfastened the catamaran from the dock cleats, and the big boat moved slowly away from the dock, past the others moored in the small bay.

Melia found a seat away from the rest of the group, to the starboard side. Dane flopped into the seat beside her.

“You look dazed,” he teased. “Too many names and faces? Just say ‘Hey, you’—we’ll all answer to that.”

She laughed, relaxing as the boat moved away from the dock and out of the bay into the open sea.

 

Kona coast was beautiful from the water. Even after thirty-three years, Malu never failed to appreciate it. The blue ocean rimmed with white surf, the sun-faded buildings and glistening white boats along the shore, the palms swaying in the breeze, Mauna Loa rising majestic and foreboding behind them, a reminder this island had been built by Madame Pele’s fire. It was a scene that had been painted many times and photographed countless more.

Usually he enjoyed watching visitors’ first impression—their awe at the mighty bulk of Pele’s citadel soaring in emerald grandeur up into the misty clouds. Their pleasure at her lush skirts of palm and flowering trees, punctuated with black lava rock and splashing surf. Some simply sat and looked; some snapped photos as fast as they could.

This bunch wasn’t too interested. The two younger guys, whom he’d already silently dubbed the twins, disposed themselves in the sun and leaned back, their eyes closed. The party girls plopped into seats beside him. On a different trip, he’d have enjoyed the attention and the additions to the scenery.

Right now, though, he was royally pissed, no wela. He was on this trip for one reason—to watch someone. He could’ve dealt with these girls, flirted ’til the sun went down, even singled one of them out for some hot sex and still done what he came for.

He enjoyed women, their pretty faces, their curvy bodies and the sound of their voices. He respected their differences, took care with their fragility, and he liked to make them happy. There was nothing finer than a pretty woman crying out in ecstasy, especially with his cock buried in her sweet, hot depths.

But things had just gotten complicated. What he hadn’t planned for, on this of all trips, was that he’d look into a pair of big green eyes and feel a blow to his midriff as if he’d been sucker-punched. A pretty face under a big, floppy straw hat, nothing he didn’t see every day in Kona. But then this Melia looked into his eyes, and hers widened, those soft, guava pink lips curving up a smile, just for him. He felt as if he knew her, which was hupo, crazy—he’d never seen her before.

And it wasn’t that she was ripe for the picking, like the two on either side of him, one’s breasts brushing his arm, the other’s perfumed hair blowing across his shoulder.

Melia looked fresh and wholesome, the kind of girl who’d really come to snorkel or dive, not toke up and get laid. So why did he have the crazy urge to get her away from this crowd? He wanted to look into those green eyes, see if they were really as deep and mysterious as they seemed. Wanted to get that little shirt off of her and see the color her nipples were on those high, round breasts. He’d bet they were guava pink, like her lips.

He wanted to see how far those ridiculous freckles went. Did they spangle her breasts and her round ass as they did the skin exposed to the sun? They were an anomaly, like that blush as she’d looked away from him, lashes covering her eyes, soft mouth pursing primly. He was used to women who looked him over boldly and let him know they were available, like these two.

He wished they’d shut up. He wanted to listen to Melia’s soft, husky voice while she told him all about herself. He wanted her to ask him questions the way she was pretty-boy Dane and listen to him as if he were the most interesting guy on the island.

He hoped she wasn’t taken in by that fool. He hoped even more that she wasn’t involved with him. He was almost certain she didn’t know Gifford well.

He watched her, knowing his gaze was hidden behind his sunglasses. She was laughing at something Gifford was telling her, one hand holding her silly hat on while her hair blew out in long, tousled blonde curls, gleaming like silk in the bright sun. She sat with her slender, curvy legs crossed, one bare foot arched, her flip-flop hanging from her toes.

Damn it, why now? He moved his shoulders restlessly and then turned his face into the wind, trying to lose the sensation that a rope had just settled around his thick neck.

 

Nawea Bay was a forty-minute boat ride from Kona, south along the increasingly rugged coastline. Houses and small businesses sprinkled the green mountainside above the shore. It was thrilling scenery for Melia.

“Some of those houses are so high on the mountain,” she marveled. “Great view, but I’d want to live down here, by the beach.”

“Cooler up there,” Dane said. “These volcanoes are so tall the island has several climate zones. The locals live up there where it stays in the seventies. They let us crazy haoles have the coast. Plenty hot down here in full summer.”

“Have you lived here long?” He was deeply tanned, and although his hair was salon streaked, it had plenty of sun-bleach as well. A tattoo of a mako shark bared its teeth on the outside of his calf.

He shrugged. “Awhile. I’m from So-Cal. How about you?”

“I’m from Wenatchee, Washington, the heart of apple-growing country.” She grinned at the look he gave her. “I live in Portland, Oregon now.”

“Ah, now that I’ve heard of,” he said. “What do you do in Portland, Oregon?”

“I’m an assistant chef at Greenwood Café, in Portland’s arts district.”

“Whoa, a chef. Nice.”

“It’s hard work, but I love it.” She also had a cooking blog, which she considered a lot more exciting, but she doubted he wanted to hear about that.

Besides, the scenery was more interesting. She couldn’t get over the sheer size of the mountain towering over them, or the lushness of the forests spilling down to the sea. As they rounded a point, she could see a white statue shining in the morning sun.

“What’s that?” She pointed.

“That’s Captain Cook monument,” answered a deep voice. It was Malu, leaning forward. She was embarrassed to realize he’d been listening to her conversation with Dane. “Kealakekua Bay is where he died.”

She looked around at him, startled, her hair blowing across her face. “Did he drown?”

He shook his head, his wide, full mouth quirking in what looked like amusement, although his eyes were hidden now behind sunglasses. “Nope. The Hawaiians discovered he wasn’t the god they’d believed him, so they killed him.”

“Oh.” She stared at the white spire presiding over the bay, chilled by this grim fact. Every school kid had heard of the famous explorer, but she hadn’t realized he’d been killed here. The original Hawaiians must have been a fierce people.

Gazing at the wild bay, she saw a flash of silver in the water of the bay. Another flash, and another. “Look, what’s that?”

Dane turned to look, then shrugged. “Just dolphins.” He tipped his head back in the sun.

Nai’a, spinner dolphins,” answered Malu again. “They come into the bays to rest during the day.”

“Ooh, dolphins,” cried Cherie. “I heard you can swim with them.”

“Yes,” agreed Leilani, who was sitting near Melia. “Although you must be careful not to bother them. They are wild creatures. Still, if they like you, they’ll surface to breathe right next to you.”

“Hawaiians believe the nai’a a tribe equal to mankind,” Malu said. “They live and play together, even working as one to hunt. They have a language all their own.”

“Sounds like you communicate with them,” Dane joked. Although he was smiling, he lifted a challenging brow at Malu. “Maybe you can teach us how to speak dolphin.”

Melia turned back to Malu. His face gave nothing away. “Not me. Others do.”

His voice was calm, but a shiver ran over Melia’s skin. There was an odd note in his voice—a warning, perhaps?

“I’d be afraid, unless Malu was with me,” the redhead cooed.

He murmured something Melia couldn’t hear. His two acolytes giggled. Turning away, Melia rolled her eyes, then saw Leilani twisting her lips as if hiding a grin. Oops—she needed to keep her feelings to herself. Her hosts apparently knew Malu well if he helped them with the boat. He didn’t seem to be an employee, so that left friend or perhaps neighbor catching a ride.

Melia watched the dolphins until they were out of sight. They looked so happy and carefree. She continued to lean on the rail as they motored south, the sail snapping in the wind over her head. The colorful rainbow stripes rose against the clear azure sky like a flag of adventure.

South of the bay, a long, black streak ran down the mountainside, cutting through the verdant green. A recent lava flow. As they passed another point, she saw the flow had reached the sea, covering everything in its path. It was a harshly beautiful reminder that the island had been created in fire. Melia looked up to where the top of Mauna Loa hid in a cap of misty clouds and hunched her shoulders. Despite the heat of the day, she felt a nervous chill.

“Is the volcano still erupting?” she asked Leilani.

The other woman shook her head. “No, Kilauea is our active volcano, but she’s quiet now. The last eruption was several months ago. Are you nervous of Pele’s volcanoes?”

Melia grimaced. “A little, I guess. We have volcanoes back home, but they’re different. They don’t pour molten lava. And we can get away from them,” she added, trying turn her apprehension into a joke.

Leilani shrugged. “No lava flowing near here. All over on the other side of Kau Forest.” She gestured over the south end of the island toward which they were traveling. “Ka nani. Very beautiful.”

Melia smiled politely, but she eyed the mountain with caution through her tinted lenses. The lava might be flowing on the other side of the island now, but the black streak showed clearly that it had come this way in the recent past, and might again.

She shook herself mentally. Thousands of tourists visited here every year, and the Hawaiians lived on this mountain. They would certainly know if danger threatened.

The next bay held a lovely surprise, a flat, sandy point with a traditional village and heiau, or traditional place of worship. The blocky heiau, built of lava rock, rose dark among the steep-thatched roofs of the village. Wooden kii gods, faded to silver by the sun, scowled fiercely from the beach.

“The traditional home of the king,” Leilani told her. “Also known as Puuhonua o Honaunau, Place of Refuge. In the old days, if a Hawaiian broke kapu, the law, he would die unless he could reach this place safely; then he was pardoned of his crime. It’s a national historic park now, to protect the site.”

The black lava rocks around the other side of the bay were lined with sunbathers. A tour boat floated in the center of the bay, surrounded by small groups of snorkelers, bright snorkels poking up from the water.

“Some of the best snorkeling on the island here,” Frank called. “We can come back if you want.”

“Sounds great,” Dane answered genially. “Whatever my friends want to do.”

Melia wanted to tour the historical village too. She looked back wistfully as they passed. If only she had a month here instead of just a week.

After several more miles of increasingly rugged coastline with few signs of habitation, they rounded a point clustered with palm trees. Frank slowed and turned the boat into a small bay.

“Here we are,” he called. “Welcome to Nawea Bay.”

Melia caught her breath in delight. Palm trees framed an idyllic scene. Black lava rock rimmed the turquoise water of the little bay, punctuated by a small beach. Behind the beach, tables and chairs sat around a fire pit. A green lawn sloped up to a two-story yellow house with a deep roof and shady lanais set in masses of flowering shrubbery. Above loomed the mountain.

Frank guided the boat to the side of the cement dock on the left end of the bay, alongside another, much smaller boat with a single engine and enclosed cockpit. An array of fishing rods were secured upright along the back, and two large outriggers were folded neatly back along the sides.

“That your boat?” one of the twins asked Frank.

He nodded. “Fish out of her four or five days a week.”

Melia looked dubiously at the small boat bobbing on the waves generated by the catamaran’s slow approach. He took that out on the ocean? She had enjoyed the ride here on the cat, but the other boat looked more suited for Portland’s Willamette River.

A traditional thatched grass roof shaded most of the dock, with benches and wooden cupboards built into the corners. Malu helped Leilani tie the craft to the moorings, and everyone rose, ready to file off the boat.

The craft rocked under them. Startled, Melia turned to see a splash as Malu dove into the water. He cut through the water like a big, brown fish.

“Oh, me too,” squealed Cherie. Melia had to act fast to grasp the sunglasses and flowered beach bag thrust into her hands. The other woman crossed her arms protectively over her breasts and jumped into the water. She and Malu looked like a scene from a sexy movie as they swam through the clear, turquoise water. Melia wished that was where they both were—far from her.

Her fans will not be disappointed! Mixes a sensual romance with legends of Kilauea Volcano.
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