AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / APPLE BOOKS
CHAPTER 1 + 2 of MR. FANTASY
believe the week is almost over.” Val groaned, then consoled herself with a
large gulp of the fruity cocktail sitting in front of her.
sadly, silently agreeing with her. Spring break needed to be a lot longer than
a week. Pretty soon, it would be back to work, back to classes… back to
when I gazed around this tropical resort and realized some people lived like
this all the time.
in paradise just isn’t enough,” I said out loud, playing with the pink umbrella
perched in the coconut drink I held. Rotating the barstool, I spun to face the
turquoise water of the ocean and pure-white sand beneath it.
umbrellas dotted the beach, and under them, people lounged and played. Beyond
the beach, people also played in the water, running around in skimpy bikinis
and golden tans.
off the ocean blew through the tangled strands of my blond hair, and sand clung
between my toes. Focusing past the shoreline, I gazed across the water, past
the floating cabanas, and out to a small island filled with palm trees.
to see the guy who owns that island just once while we’re here.” My voice was
wistful as I plucked the cherry out of my drink and popped it into my mouth.
from the fruit burst over my tongue as I stared.
Val made a
sound and slapped me on the shoulder. “Don’t even tell me that’s the reason you
haven’t had a fling yet!” she practically yelled.
swung in her direction. “Shh! God, Valerie, don’t announce our sex life to the
“At least I
have a sex life,” she muttered, fitting her straw into her mouth. “That’s what
spring break is for. Letting loose, having fun… no regrets.”
done that, too.”
She made a
rude sound. “You’ve turned down three guys since we got here.”
and looked back at the ocean. “I’m picky.”
to let him go, Nor,” Valerie said gently. Leaning in, she rested her cheek on
my shoulder. “I know you loved him, but Alan wasn’t good enough. And he hurt
Yeah. Yeah, he did.
I sucked on
the straw until it made that annoying slurping sound because my alcohol had
officially run out.
fling is the best way to get him out of your system. Let someone rock your
world for a night, and forget about him completely.”
“You think a one-night stand will erase a guy I dated for nearly a year?”
Val sat up
and wagged her eyebrows at me. “The right guy will.”
and she snagged the empty coconut out of my hand and held it over her head.
that.” My best friend pointed out toward the distant island. “Please tell me
you haven’t been holding out to see if Mr. Island shows up to rock your world.”
at her assumption.
it!” she yelled.
around us turned to look at her.
I smiled at
them, “Sorry. She’s a bit extra.”
still hung up on your cheating, scumbag ex, and now you’re hung up on some
faceless guy who might not even exist?” Val dropped her forehead into her hand.
“I’ve failed as a best friend.”
an arm around her shoulders. “You have not.”
A tap on my
shoulder made me turn, my eyes colliding with a set of piercing green ones.
“Oh,” I said, a little breathless.
is ready,” the bartender said, leaning over the bar, holding out my refill.
glanced down at the drink. “Thanks.”
gorgeous,” he quipped and winked.
spilled the drink in my lap right there. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and he had
the bronze tan of a local with an accent to match.
anything else, just wave.”
unable to reply.
said, putting her arm around me, bringing me back around. “This is exactly what
I’m talking about. You’re gorgeous. You could have any guy here you wanted.
Even the bartender. Yet you’re busy mooning over some guy who’s probably old
enough to be your grandpa.”
“I am not
mooning!” I insisted. Then I grimaced. “And ew… grandpa.”
expect some young, hot single to own that island over there?”
I shook my
head. “Not just the island… this entire resort.”
moaned. “That’s just a sexy rumor the staff here likes to tell women like us.
It makes us even more excited about this place.”
be true,” I murmured, staring out to sea. “He really could be some young, rich
computer genius who sold off an app and bought this place.”
And he has a hot body and the stamina to make you forget all about Awful Alan.”
accused, salty. “I didn’t judge you when your fantasy was to sleep with a yoga
instructor to see if they really were more flexible than other guys.”
giggled. “They are. They totally are.”
I rolled my
eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”
young, single, and being safe. What’s wrong with a little fun?”
some of my cocktail.
at least my fantasy was attainable. Yours is practically from the pages of some
cheesy romance novel.”
I sighed. This conversation was bringing down my buzz. “Finish your drink so we
can go lay on the beach.”
is running out.” She reminded me. “We’re going home tomorrow night. If you
don’t have a fling soon, you’re never going to get over Alan.”
enough of this conversation, and if she said my ex-boyfriend’s name one more
time, I was going to scream. I jumped down off the barstool and tripped on my
stammered as I fumbled forward. Seconds later, I collided into the back of a
chair, falling over the shoulder of whoever was sitting there and dumping my
drink down their chest.
shoulder under my waist stiffened, and I scrambled to leap back.
gosh, I am so sorry!” I exclaimed. Dumbly, I looked down at the drink in my
hand. It was empty.
I skittered around the chair as the person sitting in it stood, pushing it out
from beneath him.
collided and I tumbled back, but he caught my arm to keep me from falling.
Another apology formed on my lips, but the second I looked up, it dissipated.
tall. So tall I had to crane my neck back to look up at him. His shoulders were
wide, and his jaw was chiseled. His skin had the same deep bronzed look as all
the locals, and his hair was the color of midnight.
know if his mouth was just sexy as hell or if the way he pursed his lips as he
regarded me made them look pouty, but the effect was still the same.
inside me tightened and then went liquid, as though he’d melted me with just
moved, but no sounds came out. I was exceptionally aware of his large hand
wrapped around my upper arm. Even though we were sitting in the shade, his hand
felt warm like he’d been in the sun. Goose bumps erupted along my bare arms and
legs, and my scalp prickled with awareness.
down to where he held me, I couldn’t help but notice how his hand was so big it
wrapped around my arm completely. Involuntarily, I shivered as I thought about
what else his hands would completely cover.
I jerked away from his touch. His hand dropped beside him, and then I realized
the entire front of his shirt was completely soaked with my drink.
tossed aside the empty coconut and let my hands hover near him. “This is all my
fault,” I exclaimed. “Can I get some napkins over here?” I yelled. “Valerie!”
friend, who was standing there just as speechless as I was, burst into action
and turned toward the bar.
clumsy,” I told the guy. “I’m so sorry. I’ll buy you a new shirt,” I offered.
“And whatever you’re drinking today.”
he said. His voice was quiet but so commanding it didn’t need to be loud. “It’s
just a shirt.”
down at the ruined garment, I groaned again. It was blue silk. Probably cost
more than I made in an entire week. And because of the material and the fact
that it was soaked, it was plastered to his chest as if he’d been caught in the
thin… but imposing. Everything about him was.
a towel in front of my face, and I snatched it quickly. Rushing forward, I
didn’t even think twice about reaching out to try and dry the shirt.
material was saturated, and it seemed no matter how much I patted and wiped,
Above me, a
throat cleared. “Are you done?”
towel still pressed against his shirt, and looked up. His chin tilted down, and
our eyes met, pure desire sliding through me.
back, flushing. “Sorry, I was trying to…” What was I trying to do?
reached up, and unbuttoned the shirt to peel it off his body and drop it in the
sand. “I’m pretty sure it’s not savable.”
ran dry. I couldn’t look up from his tan, smooth chest.
later, he snapped in front of my face, making me lift my eyes. “You might want
to lay off the alcohol the rest of the day. I think you’ve had enough.”
nodded and held out the towel for him to take.
between me and the offered towel, then smiled. “I’m good,” he replied, then
turned around and walked away.
after him long after he was gone, still holding out the towel like a moron.
in front of me, eyes wide. “Oh my God!” she whispered. “That guy was hot!”
fell out of my hands, landing beside his forgotten shirt.
yelled toward the bar. “Who was that guy?”
him before,” one of the bartenders called back.
she muttered, then grabbed my hand. “C’mon, let’s go get some vitamin sea.”
exclaimed, pulling back before she could drag me away. Bending down, I picked
up the wet, sandy shirt he’d just discarded from his body.
and dragged me toward the beach. “First the island guy, and now this.” She
sighed. “You’re completely hopeless, Nora. Hopeless.”
As I stared
down at the shirt clutched in my hand, I couldn’t help thinking she might be
I sat there
listening to quite an amusing conversation going on behind me.
girl and one good… The bad trying to corrupt the good. I guess I could
understand the appeal. The good ones were always the best at being bad.
I never got
involved in guest affairs, even though all these scantily clad women were ripe
for the picking. It was too easy. Too boring.
I liked a
able to erase a man from the mind of a woman who couldn’t let go.
if the good girl behind me was as open to that kind of fling as she pretended
to be or if she clung to the rumors about a man on an island because she knew
he probably didn’t even exist.
holding on was easier than letting go because at least the pain of holding on
her drink spilled over my shoulder and across my chest, I wondered if it was my
karma for listening to their conversation or if there was something else here
between us were practically visible, and the way she shivered beneath my touch
excited me. Still, I pulled away, because sometimes being a mystery was better
than being real.
I felt her
eyes against my back the entire time I walked away. I pondered if I would ever
see her again, if I would be able to rise to her challenge.
The way my
life had turned out so far was all because of fate. So I decided to leave this
up to fate, too.