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One More On the Rocks

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One More On The Rocks

Copyright © 2015 by Ava Stone

Cover design by Covers By Lily

Smashwords Edition

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the authors.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without written permission.

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

For Julie Johnstone and Samantha Grace, my Summer 2015 cruise buddies ~

We’re going to use my diamond status ‘til it hurts!

~Ava

 

The hot guy across the pool deck was looking at me again. At least I thought he was. With the mirrored sunglasses he’d worn since the start of our spring break cruise, I couldn’t really be sure.

I glanced back down at the novel in my hands and hoped he didn’t see me looking at him. Or maybe I wished he would notice me looking at him and would walk across the deck and talk to me instead of just staring at me all week…or not staring at me…or whatever it was he was doing.

I turned the next page in A Scandalous Pursuit and sighed. I think things were easier two hundred years ago. At least Olivia Danbury knew the wicked Duke of Kelfield was pursing her. The duke didn’t leave much room for doubt.

“I think we should knock him unconscious and throw him into the Everglades.” My sister Kelly sat down on a chaise lounge beside mine and pushed a piña colada into my hands. Then she frowned as she noticed my book. “Shit, Kris. What are you trying to do? Scare off every single guy on the ship?”

I frowned at her. Though Kelly and I had the same parents, as unfortunate as that was for the both of us, we weren’t a thing alike. Other than our eyes, we didn’t even look a like, me with my darker coloring and her with her long blonde hair that caught the attention of every passing male on the ship whether he was 5 or 95.

“What am I doing wrong now?” I grumbled.

For some reason, Kelly had decided that during spring break she was going to focus all of her energies helping me come up with the perfect way to off my ex-boyfriend and alternately getting me laid so I could forget him. But a one-night stand or even a cruise boyfriend that I’d never see again didn’t interest me in the least. I wanted what Olivia Danbury had – a sexy duke who was madly in love with me. Ok, I’d settle for nice guy in this century who was madly in love with me. But the madly in love with me part wasn’t negotiable. I wasn’t Kelly. I couldn’t heal my broken heart by laughing and flirting with every guy in the vicinity. I just couldn’t. And I didn’t want to.

Kelly gestured to the book in my hands. “I mean really, Kristin? A romance novel?” She shook her head as if I was an idiot.

“It’s my favorite,” I protested. I’d read it at least three times already. And I was my vacation.

“Then read it once you’re home and not in the middle of the Caribbean.” She took a long sip from her piña colada. “When guys see you reading that, they think you’ve got unrealistic expectations. They’ll never measure up to the heroes in your books. They’re not hot enough. Their dick isn’t big enough. They’re not smart, rich, or funny enough.”

I frowned at her. “If some guy doesn’t like the fact that I’m literate, then he’s not the guy for me.”

“Most guys need encouragement,” she said. “Not barriers. And most guys aren’t assholes like Larry Walsh so stop being a chicken shit.”

The mention of Larry’s name made my stomach twist. I’d come on this cruise to try and not think about the fact that he’d broken up with me and then gotten engaged to someone else the next day. And spending time reading about the Duke of Kelfield was just what the doctor ordered. “Yeah?” I grumbled. “Are most of them assholes like Sean Anderson or Cade Bishop?”

Kelly winced and I suddenly felt like a bitch. Just because Larry had treated me like shit, didn’t mean I had to remind my sister that Sean had gotten some other girl pregnant. And that things hadn’t worked out with the drummer she’d hooked up with afterward. I got the feeling Cade had hurt her just as badly as Sean had, not that she ever talked about it. Kelly’s response to getting her heart broken was to go out and flirt with every guy in the vicinity until each and every one of them was falling at her feet. Mine was to crawl into bed with a book and cry my eyes out.

“Sorry,” I whispered. Then I pushed the piña colada back in her direction. “You know I can’t drink this.” I wouldn’t be twenty-one for almost a year. And if anyone with Blue Caribbean found out I was drinking underage, Mom could lose her job with the cruise line.

Kelly refused to take the drink back and shook her head. “Drink up, Kris. More than anyone I know, you need a drink.”

I took a sip, not really because she told me to but because it did look good. And I was still feeling kind of shitty for mentioning Sean and Cade.

Kelly smiled like she’d achieved a major victory. “Now put the book down and go have fun with living, breathing people. Take your drink and go get in the hot tub or something. Meet some guys. Mingle. Do something.”

“You’re not supposed to drink alcohol in hot tubs.”

She rolled her eyes. “How are we related?”

“I’m not sure.”

She gestured to the closest hot tub, which was nearly filled to the brim. “They all have drinks. You’ll stick out if you don’t have one. Go.”

So I went. It was easier to go than to argue with Kelly anyway. I glanced toward the hot guy with the mirrored sunglasses. Most guys need encouragement, huh? Kelly would know better than me. I’d been with Larry since my sophomore year in high school and he’d been a senior.

I guessed I could smile a little bit. Was that encouraging enough? I sucked up my bravery and started toward the closest hot tub near his chair, smiling slightly as I passed him. Then I grasped the railing of the hot tub with one hand, still gripping my piña colada with the other as I ascended the wooden steps.

I dipped my toe into the bubbling water. It was hot, but I went the rest of the way into the crowded tub anyway and lifted my drink in the air as I made my way to an empty-ish spot that overlooked the ocean passing beneath us. A couple guys made more space for me on either side, and one of them even smiled.

“Hi,” he said. A nice-looking guy with warm, hazel eyes and some sort of pirate tattoo on his shoulder.

Just a half-second later, the mirrored sunglasses guy stepped into the hot tub after me. Huh. Maybe all he’d needed was a little encouragement. It was so irritating when Kelly was right.

I’d noticed the pretty brunette the first night in the dining room. I’m not sure why. She’d seemed mousy beside her more confident friend. But there was something about her that spoke to me. Maybe it was her quiet poise, maybe it was her pretty blue eyes, maybe it was just that she looked kind. Of course, looks could be deceiving. I knew that better than most, but she did look kind.

Her black bikini was nice too. And I let my eyes linger on the twin scraps of black material that kept her nipples hidden from view as she carefully stepped into the tub and looked for a place to sit. I shifted a little in my spot, hoping she might come sit by me. Her tempting breasts bounced as she juggled her tropical drink in one hand and started for the spot beside me in the foamy water.

“Hi,” I said, making a bit more space for her.

She smiled at me and her light blue eyes crinkled at the corners, making her look just as kind as I’d originally thought the other night. Then she sat down and those pretty breasts disappeared beneath the bubbles in the hot tub.

Then some beefy guy, some weight-lifter sort with mirrored sunglasses followed her into the hot tub and squeezed in beside her on the other side. “Hey,” he said, draping his arm along the outer rim of the hot tub behind her.

Her boyfriend, maybe?

She slid fractionally away from him, closer to me, which made me think I’d been wrong. Not her boyfriend, not unless she was angry with him or frigid, but she didn’t look like she was either of those.

“Hey,” she said in return.

“Noticed you over there,” he said. “I’m Adam.”

“Kristin.” She smiled and I felt my chances with her slipping right away. The weight lifter wasn’t her boyfriend, but she was looking at him like she might let him apply for the job.

“Where you from?” he asked.

“Miami.”

That perked up my ears. “Yeah, me too,” I said. “What part?”

She looked from the weight lifter to me and her eyes widened just a bit. Good. She’d noticed me. “Northeast Coconut Grove.”

I grinned from ear to ear. “I’m near McFarlane and South Bayshore Drive.”

“Bay Heights Drive.”

Lots of historic houses on that street, some in better shape than others. I nodded. “I just finished a job on Bay Heights two weeks ago.”

“A job?” She turned even more toward me, away from the weight lifter, her pretty blue eyes focusing more intently on me.

“I’m a contractor,” I explained. “Gutted an old Spanish-style and started from scratch.” We’d worked on it for months. A shame I hadn’t seen her until now.

“Mr. Belmonte’s house?” A smile spread across her face as she took a sip of her drink.

“That’s the one.”

“Wow. Small world.” She sat back against the edge of the hot tub. “He showed the house off to my mom and me last week. You did all of that yourself?”

“Well, me and a few other guys,” I said, hoping I seemed a little humble even if I had been the architect for the whole project.

“The marble in the foyer,” she said, shaking her head. “So light, so pretty. It made me think of a grand entrance to an English manor house.”

“Thanks.” It had taken me a long time to talk Hector Belmonte into letting me do the white. But in the end, I think he was happy with what I’d done. “You know a lot about English manor houses?”

She looked uncomfortable all of a sudden. Shit. What did I say?

“Just from, you know, books.”

Well, that was cool. I didn’t really know any girls who read books on English manor houses. Of course, I didn’t think I knew any girls who were avid readers at all now that I thought about it. “Brian,” I said, gesturing to myself. “Brian Gilles.”

“Kristin Cooper.”

“I’m from Virginia Beach,” Adam, the weight lifter broke in. Of course, I’d broken into his conversation first. But that was really beside the point. I was doing just fine talking to Kristin Cooper all by myself and he could go somewhere else.

“Oh.” She looked back over at him. “My sister goes to school in Virginia.”

“Yeah? Where at?” I asked, refusing to give the weight lifter any further inroads.

“Wheston.” She smiled at me.

Wheston. Wow. Southern Ivy League. “And what about you? You out of school?”

She shook her head, the ends of her dark hair getting soaked by the hot tub bubbles. “Tuttle College.”

So she wasn’t out of state, but right in the middle of Miami. I couldn’t be any luckier. I grinned wider. “Well, I—”

“Holy shit!” My friend Emilio said from the edge of the hot tub, completely interrupting me. “Kristin, is that you, muñequita?”

Holy shit was right. Emilio knew the girl? That wasn’t the best news. I liked my chances better against the weight lifter than I did the smooth Latino electrician with more girlfriends than Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Oh my God, Emilio!” She sounded more than surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“My boy Brian and I just finished working a job and decided to get a little sun and sand before we have to start on a high rise job in South Beach next week. Actually, we were over by your mom’s place for the last few months.” Emilio climbed into the hot tub and made his way towards us, effectively squeezing in between Kristin and the weight lifter. “You know Brian?”

She shook her head and glanced over at me, briefly. “We just met.”

I shot Emilio a look. I mean, what the fuck? Clearly, I was trying to make my move. Of course, Emilio didn’t pay me one bit of attention. He was focused solely on Kristin, just like he was whenever a pretty girl was nearby.

“How’s your mom these days?”

“Working non-stop like always,” she said.

“And what about Kelly?” he asked. “I haven’t heard from her since she left for Virginia.”

“I’m from Virginia Beach,” the weight lifter tossed in, though the rest of us ignored him.

“Kelly’s here too,” she said. “We have the same Spring Break schedule this year.”

Emilio nodded then glanced down at her drink. “Don’t tell me you’re old enough to be drinking.”

She almost choked. “Oh, please don’t turn me in.”

He tossed back his head and laughed. “My brother’s the cop. Not me.”

Shit. She wasn’t old enough to drink? How old was she?

“Besides, I think you’re safe. We’re in international waters,” Emilio added.

“Doesn’t really mean anything,” she said. “We left from the US. So we’re bound by US laws.”

Really? I had no idea. Was she in law school or something? “How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

She looked back at me and smiled. “Twenty.”

So she wasn’t jailbait. Thank God.

“And how old are you?” she teased.

“Old enough to drink.” I winked at her. When she frowned, I added, “Twenty-Five.”

“And the best damn contractor in South Florida,” Emilio tossed in, finally helping me out. “Hey, where do you think Kelly is? I’d love to see her.”

Kristin pointed out toward the deck chairs. “She was sun bathing the last time I saw her.”

“You know, we should do one of those special restaurant things and all do dinner tonight,” Emilio suggested as he started back for the hot tub steps. Then he shot me a look that said Go for it.

“Ok,” she called after him. “We’re diamond members, so we can get in without reservations if you want to do that.”

“You’re twenty,” I said, moving a little closer to her now that Emilio was climbing from the hot tub. “How are you a diamond member?” I mean cruises were dirt-cheap out of South Florida. There were always local resident, last minute bargains to fill ships before they set sail. I’d gone a lot since moving to Miami a few years ago, but I wasn’t anywhere close to diamond status.

She smiled. “My mom works for Blue Caribbean. Every family vacation my whole life has been one of their ships. The employee discount makes it almost free.”

“Wow.” I grinned at her. “You must know every inch of this ship.”

“I know it pretty well. Most of the fleet too.”

“That how you knew about the international waters and alcohol laws thing?”

She looked uncomfortable all of a sudden. “Mom could lose her job if anyone found out.” She shrugged. “But my sister forced it on me anyway. She seems to think if she can keep me drunk…” Her voice trailed off as she looked down at the drink her hand and took a good long sip.

“You trying to forget something?” I asked.

“Someone,” she said it so softly I barely heard her over the hot tub jets.

She looked so sad, my heart squeezed a bit for her. Poor girl. I’d been there. “Hey, I get that.” I stole the cherry from the top of her drink. “I moved to Miami to forget someone. If it had only taken a couple of drinks though, I’d still be in Charlotte.” Then I plopped the cherry into my mouth and grinned.

She laughed and smiled up at me. “Thanks. Sorry for being so maudlin. I don’t mean to ruin your vacation.”

Maudlin? I’d never heard anyone use that word in conversation before. I remembered it from high school vocabulary, but no one I knew talked that way. “Kristin, honest to God, meeting you has been the best part of my vacation.”

I walked into our cabin, nearly floating in the clouds. Brian Gilles was awesome, at least he made me feel awesome. And I hadn’t felt that way in a while.

The water was running in the shower, so I took off my wet bikini and wrapped my towel around me while I waited for my sister to finish. I didn’t have to wait too long. Kelly stepped from the postage stamp bathroom into the cabin, wearing a towel with another wrapped around her hair.

“Oh!” She almost dropped the towel she was clutching to her chest. “I didn’t know you were back.”

“Yeah, I wanted to take my shower before dinner. Did you see Emilio Perez? He was looking for you.”

“Yep.” Her eyes sparkled. “We caught up. He said something about one of the specialty restaurants tonight.”

I nodded.

“And he said something else about a handsome friend of his that seemed really into you.”

“Well, I don’t know if he was really into me.” I hoped he was, but I didn’t necessarily want to say that to my sister. She’d get all pushy and obvious when we saw Brian for dinner and I didn’t want that. “But he seemed really nice,” I added.

“Emilio said he’s a great guy.” Kelly narrowed her eyes slightly on me as though she was trying to figure me out. “You want to do this dinner? You feel up to it?”

So she wasn’t going to be pushy. That was a relief, actually. I shrugged my response. “If you don’t mind having dinner with your ex.”

She laughed. “Please. We were over a million years ago. Still love him to death, though.” Then her eyes lit up. “Oh! He came up with some awesome ways to kill Larry, by the way.”

I groaned and my stomach plummeted. “You told Emilio about Larry?”

“He never liked him anyway,” she said, towing me toward her twin bed against the wall. “He said we could hook up a live wire to his testicles and it would only take a few amps.”

I was probably going to hell for laughing at that, but I laughed anyway. Larry did love his testicles. “That’s awful!” I half-heartedly protested.

Kelly nodded gleefully. “Well, he’s an electrician. It was the first thing that popped to his mind. Or he suggested cutting out Larry’s heart since he doesn’t need it anyway, or going old school and just scalping him.”

“Eww.” I cringed at the thought. “Is that all you did? Think up ways to kill Larry?”

“No.” She shook her head “We caught up on a lot of things. Miguel and Sandy have a kid. His dad’s retired down in Puerto Rico. Maria’s at Tuttle. Do you ever see her?”

“Uh-uh.” At least, I didn’t think so. But I didn’t really know Emilio’s family the way Kelly did.

“Anyway, it was good to see a friendly face.” She smiled then gestured to the bathroom. “Go shower so you can look your best for Brian the contractor.”

“Do not play match-maker,” I said to her.

“I can’t. You already met him, and he’s already into you. Nothing more for me to do.”

I pushed off the bed and started for the bathroom.

“Always good to have a guy who works with his hands,” she called after me. “They know how to…do things with them.”

When I glared at her over my shoulder, she just laughed.

“After five years, the pendejo breaks up with her and then gets engaged the next day to someone else,” Emilio confided as I buttoned up my shirt. “The next fucking day.”

“Shit,” I grumbled. That was much worse than what Lauren had done to me. Compared to that, I’d gotten off easy.

“Yeah.” He slid his jacket on. “And she’s the nicest girl. I don’t know how she put up with that douchebag as long as she did.”

“You knew him?” I asked. Not that Kristin’s life was any of my business, but I did like her and she had seemed so sad earlier, at least until I got her laughing. I’d kept her laughing the better part of the afternoon too. But knowing the reason she’d been sad made me want to pound the life out of Larry myself. After five years? Who did that to somebody?

“Back in school.” Emilio nodded. “Smug verga. Always acted like he was better than everyone else.”

“With a name like Larry?” I asked. I mean if my name was Larry, I wouldn’t be a smug verga, whatever that was. I’d be looking into changing my name.

“Lawrence Walsh the thiiiird,” Emilio said, trying to sound like some proper English butler or something.

I chuckled at his attempt. He sounded completely ridiculous. “All right, Jeeves,” I teased. “Where are we headed again? Not the dining room?” I’d only ever eaten in the dining room or the buffet if I didn’t want to sit through a whole dinner.

He shook his head. “One of the fancy restaurants where we can sit with whoever we want. Two Gentlemen of Verona, I think Kelly said. Italian place. It’s by the theatre on the Cobalt deck.”

“Yeah, ok. “

“And you gotta wear a tie and a jacket,” he said, looking me over.

Great. One of those places.

Why was I nervous now? I hadn’t been nervous earlier in the day, and all I’d had on was my swimsuit then. But as I waited with Kelly for Brian and Emilio to show up outside the beveled doors of the Italian restaurant, my hands started to tremble. Of course, I’d just been talking to a nice guy in the hot tub at the time. But since then, Kelly kept stressing that Brian was into me.

I wasn’t really sure what to do about that. I’d never casually dated. I’d been with Larry since I was almost fifteen. What was I even supposed to do? How was I supposed to act? What would Olivia Danbury do? That was easy, she’d be prim and proper like she was supposed to be two hundred years ago. But she hadn’t wanted the wicked Duke of Kelfield’s attention either. And I thought I did want Brian’s.

“For shit’s sake,” Kelly muttered under her breath. “You need another drink.”

“No,” I said firmly. “I shouldn’t have had the first one.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She shrugged. “Then I’ll get one and you can share it with me.”

That didn’t really solve the no underage drinking on the ship problem. I glared at her.

“You’re shaking like you’ve seen a ghost, Kris. You need something to calm your nerves. What do you want? Another piña colada? Something stronger?”

I felt someone behind me, and I glanced over my shoulder to find Brian standing there, a full six inches taller than me and looking amazingly attractive in a dark suit and tie. My breath caught in my throat and I barely managed to smile at him.

An easy smile spread across his face however. “Sunset Breeze,” he suggested. “Citron, Bacardi, lime, cherry. They make great ones onboard.”

“Excellent idea.” My sister grinned at him and then offered him her hand. “I’m Kelly, you must be Brian.”

“Nice to meet you.” Then his free hand landed on my shoulder and he squeezed lightly as he said to me, “Can I get you something to drink?”

I could barely think with his strong hand on my shoulder, making want and need course through me. I hadn’t felt that way in so long. Always good to have a guy who works with his hands. They know how to…do things with them. Damn Kelly for putting that thought in my head. “I-I’m not supposed to,” I choked out.

“We’ll say it’s mine if anyone asks.” He winked at me, making my stomach flip.

“Ok.” I nodded.

He flashed me another heart-stopping smile. “Be right back.”

As soon as he was gone, Kelly’s eyes grew wide and she pulled me close to her. “Do not let him get away,” she whispered in my ear. “He is fantastic.”

I just blinked at her. “I don’t know what to do.” She was so much more experienced in all of this than I was.

“Relax,” she softly advised. “The drink will help. But just…be yourself. He seems to really like you.”

I nodded quickly and was relieved when Brian returned with Emilio at his side, then a moment later the maître d’ finally led us to our table.

I have no idea what we talked about over dinner or if we even talked at all. I just remember sitting next to Kristin and smelling the soft floral scent of her perfume and the low cut of her neckline. I couldn’t keep my gaze from taking the plunge over and over, hoping for more just than a glimpse.

And when she smiled at me, my dick reacted in an instant. But I couldn’t do anything about that. Not yet, not so soon, not after what she’d been through. I didn’t want a one-night stand, and I didn’t want to be the rebound guy, but I didn’t want someone else to come in and sweep her up in the meantime either. I wasn’t quite sure how to play this.

“Uh, Brian,” Emilio said, pushing out of his chair after the table had been cleared. “You wanna come to the show?”

“Not if it’s another bad comedian.” I glanced over at Kristin to my side and found her pretty blue eyes focused on me. “You wanna go for a walk up on the Sky Deck instead?”

“Sure,” she said in a breathy way that made my dick twitch in response.

“We’ll catch up with you later, then,” Kelly said, linking her arm with Emilio’s.

And then it was just Kristin and me with a flickering golden candle in the middle of our table. “You don’t mind missing the show?” I asked, trying to give my damn dick enough time to bring itself back under control. I thought unhappy thoughts – icy water, paying taxes, my step-mother’s cooking. That did the trick.

“It’s a nice night.” Kristin shook her head. “I think a walk sounds better.”

Me too. I could have her all to myself on a walk. I pushed out of my chair and then offered her my hand. Her touch made my pulse go wild as I helped her from her chair. Her smile lifted my heart.

I know it sounds trite, but I just had a feeling that meeting her was supposed to happen. If I’d stayed in Charlotte, I’d have never met her. If that asshole Larry hadn’t treated her like shit, I’d have never met her. If Emilio hadn’t talked me into this cruise at the last minute, I’d have never met her.

But I had met her.

And I just knew deep in my heart that I was going to know her a very long time, like maybe the rest of my life.

I smiled back at her as we made our way to the glass elevator bank. We didn’t have to wait long, and within seconds we were shooting to the top deck of the ship, just the two of us.

The elevator doors opened and a brisk Caribbean wind rustled through my hair when we stepped out onto the Sky Deck. When I looked over at Brian, his hair was nearly standing straight up. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“What?” he asked, which only made me laugh harder.

Laughing was good. It had been so long since I’d felt like laughing. And he’d made me laugh almost all afternoon. I could actually feel the cobwebs around my heart begin to dissipate.

He narrowed those kind hazel eyes of his on me. “Are you laughing at my hair?”

All I could do was nod.

“And here I thought you were a nice girl.” He seemed to bite back a smile as he cupped my chin with his hand.

His touch was so warm and desire raced through me. God, he was going to kiss me. I could see it in the darkening of his eyes and the way his gaze dropped to my lips. His calloused thumb caressed the apple of my cheek as he lowered his lips to mine.

My eyes fluttered closed and I breathed him in, a heady mix of red wine, a soft spicy cologne and heaven. He smelled like heaven. He tasted like heaven. He was a heaven I hadn’t known existed.

His lips moved over mine and I think I would have melted at his feet if I hadn’t grasped onto his lapels to steady myself.

Brian lifted his head and his hazel eyes sparkled under the moonlight. “I’ve wanted to do that all day.”

“Me too,” I breathed out.

And then he kissed me again, deeper this time. His tongue swept between my lips to tangle with mine. Damn, he knew how to kiss, how to make electricity shoot every nerve ending I had and make me wish the night would never end.

I slid my hands up the expanse of his chest. Even beneath his jacket, I could feel his muscles flex in response to my touch.

God, I thought she was going to unman he right there on the top of the ship. I lifted my head and stared down at her. Kristin was so sweet, so incredibly sweet. I could just see it in her eyes.

And gorgeous. I swear to God, she was the prettiest girl on ship. So how the hell did I get so lucky to be in the right place at the right time today?

I slid her hand into mine and then started down the Sky Deck. There were a few people in the hot tubs below us on the Pool Deck, so I directed her to the railing overlooking the ocean instead. The water looked so dark at night, passing beneath us.

We stopped and stared out at the horizon and moonlight reflecting off the water. I slid my arm around Kristin’s shoulders and we stood there for the longest time, just the two of us. I think I could have stood there forever, but a crowd of people came out of nowhere, spilling onto the Sky Deck, and crowding us more than I liked.

“You wanna go down to the Crystal Bar?” I asked. It was one of the few bars on the ship that always seemed to be quiet.

“Are you gonna share a Sunset Breeze with me?” I swear to God, her smile lit up the night.

“I’ll share anything with you that you want, gorgeous.”

In no time, we found ourselves at a secluded table in the bar. One Sunset Breeze between us.

Kristin took a sip from the straw and I don’t know if I’d ever been so mesmerized before. “How long have you been in Miami?” she asked.

“Three years. Started off working for a company, but now I’m independent. Get to be my own boss.” Which really meant I worked more than I did when I worked for someone else.

“You like what you do? The building and fixing and…” her voice trailed off.

I shrugged. “I’ve always been good with my hands.”

For some reason that made her blush. Or she’d got a lot of sun today and I just now noticed.

“So,” I changed the subject, “what do you do for fun on dry land back at home?”

“I read.” She shrugged and looked a little self-conscious all of a sudden. “It’s my favorite thing to do. Get swept away to another time, another place. Fall in love over and over.”

“Cool,” I said and was rewarded with a giant smile. “I don’t think I’ve read anything since school, but I don’t think I was reading the right things.”

“Required reading?” I turned up my nose at the awful stuff we had to read in school. Beowulf would turn off almost anyone. And The Canterbury Tales was almost as awful. “I didn’t like most of that either. But reading for entertainment isn’t the same at all.”

“Yeah?” He seemed amused by that. “So what do you read?”

After the lecture from my sister, I was afraid to tell him. But he had asked, and I wasn’t going to lie. “Romance, mostly.” Then I waited for a dismissive look.

His eyes did get a little wide. “Yeah? The books with half-naked men on them?”

“Not all of them do.” And e-readers made it easier to hide some of the tackier covers. I sighed. “Kelly says most guys are afraid they’ll never measure up to romance heroes.”

Brian looked at me a little quizzically. “Your sister know a lot of insecure guys?”

She knew a lot more guys than I did, but I couldn’t speak to their security level. “She dated Emilio in high school.”

At that, a hearty laugh escaped him. “Oh, he’ll never hear the end of that.”

Crap. “No, no, no,” I pleaded. “That wasn’t what I meant. Don’t say anything to him. Please.”

For a second, he looked like a little boy whose favorite toy had just been taken away. “I can’t speak for him, Kristin, but I’m not worried about measuring up.”

Nor should he be. He was a nice guy, handsome, and could kiss like there was no tomorrow. “Neither am I.”

“Good.” He leaned forward in his chair and took my hand. Warmth spiraled through me at his touch. “I’ve really liked spending the day with you. And I’m hoping we can see more of each other once we get back to Miami. A lot more.”

Not a one night stand. Not a cruise boyfriend that I’d never see again. But a great guy who genuinely seemed interested in me. It was way too soon to know if Brian could ever be madly in love with me or me with him for that matter. Though if he kissed me like that again, I was pretty sure that I’d fall pretty fast.

“I’d like that a lot.”

We were definitely off to a good start.

 

WEEK AT THE BEACH

A Desolate Sun Short Story

*

Travis & Georgia

 

  • * *

 

LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT

A Desolate Sun Novel

*

Brody Campbell & Leah Willett

 

 

 

LIKE IT IS THE FIRST TIME

A Desolate Sun Novel

*

Jason Cole & Emery Reid

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Ava Stone has penned more than 20 Regency Historical novels before meeting the guys of Desolate Sun. She was so charmed by the band, that she decided their individual stories needed to be told.

 

You can find Ava’s New Adult romances featuring the guys from the band as well as Desolate Sun’s original music at www.desolatesun.com and updates from the band at www.twitter.com/DesolateSun

 

You can find Ava’s historical romances at www.avastoneauthor.com

You can keep in touch with Ava on Twitter www.twitter.com/Ava_Stone and on Facebook www.facebook.com/avastoneauthor

 


One More On the Rocks

  • ISBN: 9781310637414
  • Author: Ava Stone
  • Published: 2015-09-10 02:40:07
  • Words: 6105
One More On the Rocks One More On the Rocks