The Complete eBook bundle: The Salzburg Saga Trilogy Books 1-3
An exclusive eBook bundle only available here, direct from the author.
Book 1 Spiral
At the tender age of seventeen, Nina Bishop found herself thrust into the role of caregiver for her three younger siblings. Fast forward to the present, Nina, along with two friends, operates a successful law firm where she monetizes her problem-solving skills. When her prominent client, Parker Drayton, proposes a networking ski trip to Salzburg, Austria, Nina eagerly seizes the opportunity. However, a significant drawback emerges—Parker is bringing along his notoriously difficult adult sons, Justin and Hugh.
From the outset, tension crackles in the air between Parker and his sons, foreshadowing an impending storm. The situation takes a perilous turn when an inebriated Hugh triggers their private jet to crash, hurtling them into the unforgiving Austrian backcountry. The networking excursion transforms abruptly from a tension-filled journey into a harrowing nightmare of survival.
Book 2: Torn
Nina thought she knew those she had travelled to Salzburg with. But as survival tears at them, putting pressure on them both physically and mentally, all that seems to remain is a mountain of lies. Now, with nothing but snow and looming mountains surrounding them, they must band together in order to survive. But as fear and hunger escalates, long buried secrets begin to emerge. Those secrets shatter the fragile bond they had sought to build, leaving them unable to rely on those they can see, but on what they can't...
Book 3: Awaken
Nina thought she knew those she had travelled to Salzburg with. But as survival tears at them, putting pressure on them both physically and mentally, all that seems to remain is a mountain of lies.
Yet amidst this unforgiving environment, they must still find a way to work together in order to survive. But as fear and hunger escalates, long buried secrets begin to emerge. Those secrets shatter the fragile bond they had sought to build, leaving them unable to rely on those they can see, but on what they can't...
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Nina slipped her passport into her tan, leather cross-body bag and zipped up her roller bag. The sharp slide of the bag’s zip punctuated the tense silence of the living room. After a moment’s hesitation, she flicked a glance at the man sprawled on the long cream sofa three feet from her.
In ripped blue jeans and a skin-tight white polo shirt, his gray-socked feet hanging over the arm of the sofa, Alex Riley raised his light brown eyes from his latest issue of Classic Cars, his eyes clashing with hers.
They eyed each other for several seconds, their gazes locked. Alex eventually broke the stare, his eyes dropping resentfully to her luggage. “All ready then?”
Though her lips thinned at his tone, Nina nodded and buttoned her sky blue ski jacket over her red wool jumper. “Yes, but, Alex–” She broke off. No, she would not succumb to another argument about this trip.
“It doesn't bother you at all, does it?”
She tightened her dark brown ponytail. “I can’t let it bother me, Alex. Like I’ve said, this is a business networking trip. How could I ask to bring my boyfriend along?”
“You could have asked Neil.” Bitterness laced his words.
Her teeth ground together. “This isn’t Neil’s trip; it’s Parker Drayton’s. You know he’s our biggest client. Besides, you don't even like him or his two sons that are coming along.” In all honesty, she wasn't crazy about Justin and Hugh Drayton either, but Parker himself was fine. At ages twenty-nine and twenty-seven respectively, Justin and Hugh Drayton held senior positions within their father’s chain of hotels. As a solicitor and partner with the law practice she had set up with her two friends Angela Akura and Neil Vaska, Nina was proud that their firm gave legal expertise to well-known clients in the leisure industry such as Drayton Hotels. They had a good working relationship with Parker Drayton himself, but his sons Justin and Hugh? Not so much. For some reason both Justin and Hugh communicated poorly with their father. Whether there was a power struggle going on or a private family conflict she didn’t know, Justin and Hugh often failed to return her messages, get contracts and affidavits signed by Parker on time, and Hugh, whose struggle with alcohol was well known, was the worst. It often made for uncomfortable conversations with their father.
“Why must I like them?” Alex asked as he flipped a magazine page with a flick of his finger. “While you network, I can be on the slopes. You said Parker’s rented a ten-bedroom chalet. Good enough for me. I don’t have to talk to him or his idiot sons.”
Nina just looked at him. Typical. He’d fire insults behind someone’s back then take from them with a smile on his face. She glanced around her elegant living room. Located in Islington, it was the nicest place she’d ever lived in, and yet over the last six months, since Alex had moved in a year ago, it had become a hub of tension.
“You're happy in your little palace aren't you, princess?”
Her gaze whipped back to him. She hated it when he called her that. It wasn't a compliment. She knew it, and he knew that she knew it. “I work hard to keep us in this little palace, Alex.”
His face reddened. “How could I forget? Nina Bishop, hotshot solicitor.” His eyes were hard, his lips thin. “Everything's always been so easy for you.”
Easy for her? Nina almost laughed. He didn’t have a clue. And she hadn’t told him everything about her past because for some time she had realized he lacked the maturity to handle it. Turning away, she hefted her luggage onto her back. She understood how her being a partner in her own law firm, owning a nice flat, and driving a Mercedes looked as though it had come easily. Those things always appeared to look as though they came easily, when in most cases they came from hard work and determination. “You didn't complain when you moved in last year, Alex. It’s a marked improvement from where you were before.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she winced. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
Too late. His face had flushed a dull red, shooting into the hairline of his light brown spiky hair. Sitting up on the sofa, he stared straight ahead. “No need to remind me that I can't afford a place like this. As my girlfriend, you’re supposed to be supportive.”
“I am supportive.” On the rare occasions you do something worth supporting. “But I’m not responsible for you racking up a hundred thousand pounds in debt.” She spoke slowly now as if speaking to a cantankerous child. “I got you that position with Hayes and–”
“It’s a position inferior to yours.”
“I’m a solicitor, Alex, and you’re the barrister who hasn’t yet passed the Bar.” Anger blew up inside her, making her stomach muscles clench. “I busted a gut getting you that role.” She had called in several favours, and for what? He’d barely shown any gratitude. Alex had the brains to do well in law, but he lacked the motivation to follow through with things. This business trip she was taking would give them both the space they needed. And if she was completely honest with herself, it had been part of the reason she hadn't pushed to bring him along.
A car horn beeped outside. The flat was located on the ground floor, and when Nina crossed to open the large window and draw up the blinds, her sister Hazel stood only feet from her front entrance. Crisp February air prickled Nina’s skin as she smiled at her younger sister. Hazel waited at the front door, bundled in a royal blue wool coat with a white scarf around her neck, grinning at her. Wisps of pale blond hair poked out from under her baker-boy hat.
“I’m coming Haze,” Nina said. She snapped the window closed and turned to Alex. “Hazel is here,” she announced.
Her mouth tightened. “If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have a lift to the airport.”
“I’ve told you that the car needs servicing.”
“The wheels on your car have needed servicing for the last three months. You–” She stopped and proceed to let Hazel in, and with a relieved smile, Nina embraced her sister. When they pulled apart, Nina caught Hazel’s barely concealed disdain as her sister’s hazel gaze swept over Alex. “Alex.”
He didn't look up from his magazine. “Hazel.”
Hazel gestured to Nina’s large roller bag. “Just this?”
Nina nodded. “It's only a three-day trip, besides, Parker suggested we wear as much as possible in order to keep our luggage light.”
Hazel nodded at the ski jacket Nina wore. “Makes sense.”
“We better go. I don't want to keep the others waiting.”
“I’ll walk on ahead to the car.” Hazel struggled with the heavy roller bag and strode for the door. “Thanks for your help, Alex.”
He looked up then, face stiff with unconcealed annoyance. “Our flat is on the ground floor, Hazel, so you don't need a man to take your bag.”
Hazel stopped, glanced around the room, and frowned in confusion. “Man? I don't see any man.”
“Haze…” Nina gritted between clenched teeth. She knew there was little love lost between those two, and she didn’t want them to get into a row at this moment.
“I'll wait in the car,” Hazel muttered as she slung Nina’s roller bag on her back and then left.
Alex stared after her with resentful eyes.
Nina paused beside him. “Alex–”
“Have fun,” he said dismissively, rising from the sofa. He left the room without a backward glance.
On the balcony of his hotel suite, Parker Drayton’s gray brows had snapped together. “What do you mean a change of plan?” Taking a drag of his cigarette, he blew a stream of smoke out into the London skyline, watching as the wind prevented it from forming a perfect ring.
“Just a minor inconvenience; we have everything under control.” To appease them both, Frank Gwynne, owner of the company providing the air transportation for the trip, spoke in soothing tones. On a sun lounger under the tropical rays of the Caribbean sun – blissfully a thousand miles from the grim cold of London – Frank picked up his second phone and pulled up Jake Rush's number. He wouldn’t allow himself to consider the possibility that Jake might have gone abroad for his annual leave. He himself had barely begun his own holiday before this nightmare had landed in his lap. He thought of Buzz again and his jaw clenched.
“So who’s piloting our jet?” Parker asked.
“Another of our top pilots, Jake,” Gwynne answered smoothly. “He’ll meet your traveling group at Gatwick.” Please still be in London, Jake, he prayed silently. “He's preparing everything as we speak.” Yeah, right.
Parker tapped his cigarette on the balcony wall. Ashes fell to the cold cemented ground before disintegrating. “I assume he's good?”
Better than good, Gwynne thought, Jake Rush was his best pilot. “He’s a seasoned pro and knows the Challenger fleet like the back of his hand. With his copilot Ben, your party will be in excellent hands. You’ll also have our best air stewardess, Emily, on board, too.”
“Emily’s serving us?” Parker smiled, pleased. “She’s always very efficient.”
“Precisely. Just as a side note, Jake will be breaking his holiday to do this.”
“He is? That's kind of him.” At a sound behind him, Parker turned.
His eldest son, Justin, leaned negligently against the doorframe. He’d pulled on jeans, but his dark hair remained shaggy and uncombed. His muscled arms lay crossed over his bare chest.
“Hold on a second please, Gwynne,” Parker said. Stubbing out his cigarette, he flicked the stub over the balcony then covered the mouthpiece of the phone. “You plan on traveling like that?” he demanded to Justin.
Justin ignored the question, instead nodding at the phone Parker held in his hand. “Problem?”
“No. Where's Hugh?”
Justin arched an indignant brow. “When did I become my brother’s keeper?”
Parker raised the phone to his ear again, his eyes still on Justin. “Gwynne?”
“Still here.” Frank cleared his throat. “I’ll call you shortly when I have the timings confirmed.”
“Thanks.” Disconnecting from the phone call, Parker slipped the phone back into the pocket of his beige slacks.
“Who’s in charge of the hotels while we’re away?” Justin asked, clearly in no rush to get ready.
“Nick of course. He is our Chief of Staff after all. Now will you please go and get ready?”
“Nick?” Justin’s dark brows snapped together as he straightened abruptly from the doorframe. “Since when did Nick Egan become family? Hugh and I should’ve been your first choice.”
“You and Hugh are on this trip with me, remember?"
"We didn’t ask to be," Justin reminded him in a testy voice.
Parker sighed. "The three of us need to spend some quality time toget–”
“Quality time?” Justin laughed incredulously. “On a business trip with your lawyers?”
Parker held his son’s mocking gaze. “You and your brother have turned down every other suggestion I've thought of–”
“Because it’s too late to now start playing happy families,” Justin cut in. Without waiting for a reply, he spun on his heel and walked away.
Parker started to call him back then stopped. Justin would only ignore him. Instead, he left the balcony, closing the door behind him, and went in search of his youngest son, Hugh.
While he had attended a business dinner last night, his sons had left their shared hotel suite in a mess. Used cigarette butts, lipstick stained wineglasses, and soiled serviettes littered the rich wooden surfaces of the worktops. They hadn’t even used coasters, and consequently, glass rings had now stained the polished surfaces, making them appear dull and lifeless.
He rapped sharply on Hugh's door. “Hugh?”
When he received no answer, he knocked again, harder this time, and raised his voice.
A moment later, the door creaked open and Hugh stood there in nothing but a pair of navy shorts. Red-eyed with stubble on his chin, he peered at Parker owlishly. He had his phone pressed to his ear. “What?” he asked as he raised a brow to his father.
Grimacing at the alcohol on his son's breath, Parker slipped his hands into the pocket of his beige trousers; better there than around his son's neck. He looked pointedly at the shorts Hugh still wore. “Why aren't you ready?”
“Will be. Soon.” Turning away, Hugh returned to his phone conversation.
Parker stepped forward and swiped the phone from Hugh’s fingers.
“Hey!” Hugh stared at him in disbelief. “Are you crazy?” Wobbling a bit, he grabbed the door handle to keep himself steady.
Parker merely shot him a look as he lifted the phone back to his ear. The birdlike yapping that immediately assaulted his eardrum was enough to give him a headache. Another one of his son's idiotic girlfriends, he realized wearily. He disconnected the call and tossed the phone onto Hugh’s unmade bed. “Please hurry. We can’t be late for a business trip that we’re supposed to be hosting.”
Hugh’s bloodshot eyes narrowed in resentment. “I was talking to her.” He said the words slowly, and they still came out in a drunken slur. “She was about to give me her address. I didn't get it last night.”
“Count yourself lucky.” Officially having run out of patience, Parker stepped out of the room. He cast a quick glance over at Hugh’s open back pack. “Make sure you remember to bring–”
“You don’t need to tell me. I've been skiing before. And you weren’t there. As usual.” With that, Hugh slammed the door shut in Parker’s face.
Jake Rush groaned when his work phone rang. Not while I’m working out. And why in the heck didn’t I turn off my work phone? He was officially on annual leave after all. Bench press suspended in midair, he debated ignoring it, and then with a mutter at his own dedication to his job, dropped the weights and sat up. Snagging a towel, he wiped sweat from his face then grabbed the phone sitting on his latest issue of Plane and Pilot. When he saw the name flashing on the screen, he frowned and hit the answer button. “Frank?”
“Rush. Thank God you're home. Sorry to call on your annual leave.”
Jake’s dark brows drew together at his boss’ stressed tone. Frank Gwynne rarely became stressed. As the founder and CEO of Jets by Gwynne, Frank was a man of wealth, experience, and influence. He paid other people to get harassed for him.
Something – or someone – had seriously messed up.
Moving to sit on the edge of his unmade bed, Jake crossed his feet at the ankles. “Aren't you supposed to be on holiday too?” The wailing of a baby in the background answered Jake’s question before Frank did, and Jake smiled.
“I'm on holiday, yeah. Hold on a second.” Frank paused to say something to someone. A moment later the baby’s noise disappeared though Frank still sounded stressed. “We've got an emergency with our new number one, Rush.”
Jake’s mouth flattened. “You gave the new number one to Buzz.”
“Buzz is the problem.”
So what else is new? “You gave him the new number one,” Jake repeated.
Despite being thousands of miles away, Frank’s sigh came across loud and resigned, the guilt still clearly weighing on him. “I had to throw him a bone, Rush. He was whining about never doing any Challenger runs.”
“There’s a reason for that.”
“I know, I know, but we have a problem now, which involves a Challenger jet. I hate to ask you to break your annual leave…”
But you will anyway. Kissing his carefree day goodbye, Jake ran his fingers through his sweat-dampened black hair and let out a sigh. “What do you need me to do? But first, for my own morbid curiosity, what's Buzz done this time?”
Frank's words erupted like a volcano from his mouth. "Eloped with a member of the flight crew."
That would be Janine, Jake knew. So Buzz had made an honest woman of her. Walking to his wardrobe, Jake pulled out his pilot gear with his free hand.
“It means our client doesn’t have anyone to pilot the jet.” Frank spoke matter-of-factly now; he needed to take care of business and there was little time for pleasantries. “We need you to fly them to Salzburg. They have cars arranged to take them to Kitzbűhel, which is where they will be staying. I’ll email you the details. Once you’ve dropped them, you can fly right back and enjoy the rest of your annual leave. I’ll arrange another member of the team to pick them up. How soon can you get to Gatwick?”
Jake glanced at his bedside clock. “They'll have to wait a bit. I'll need to shift a few things around.”
“Naturally. Try to get those things shifted ASAP, won’t you? What can I tell the client?”
“That I’ll get there when I get there.” When Gwynne met that remark with stoic silence, Jake sighed and relented. “I’ll aim to get there in two hours.” He lived close to Gatwick, which was no doubt one of the reasons Gwynne had called him.
“Appreciate it. I've put Ben in front with you, and Emily in the back; you three always work well together.”
“You had this all worked out, didn't you?” Jake asked in amazement. “You've told the client I'll do the job?” With a resigned sigh, he headed for his small en suite bathroom.
A smile came into Frank's voice. “Absolutely. I can always rely on you, Rush.” He chuckled at Jake's answering grunt. “Speak to you when you get back.” Frank prepared to hang up.
“Wait a second, Frank.” Jake leaned against his bathroom door. “Who’s become our new number one?”
Jake took a deep breath. “Yeah…still here.”
“I know who he is and what he owns.” There was no escaping this. Taking a deep breath, Jake rolled his suddenly tense shoulders.
“Great. We’ll speak later.” Frank rang off.
Jake stared at the phone in his hand, six words in his head:
Be careful what you wish for.
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