By Kelli Maine
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The man Rachael DeSalvo loves more than anything is suffering in silence. The grand opening of Turtle Tear Resort should be a time of celebration for Merrick Rocha. But he’s suddenly intent on selling off the business he built from the ground up-and Rachael’s hell-bent on finding out why. Only one man can give her the answers she seeks, but meeting with him would be the ultimate betrayal to Merrick. Merrick once asked Rachael to trust him against all odds . . . can he do the same?
Table of Contents
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Also by Kelli Maine
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The sun beats down on us. It's hot. Sauna hot. The kind that makes the air heavy and saturates your skin with a sheen of moisture.
I let my eyes roam over your tan, sculpted chest down to where your fingers thread together resting on your abs.
"Like what you see?" you ask. Smiling, you reach out and trace your finger along my cheek. I wish I could see your eyes behind your black sunglasses.
"You know I do."
You chuckle and link your hands again, relaxing on your lounge chair.
The pool water ripples in the breeze, sunlight glinting off its surface. Pinkish-purple bougainvillea twines up to the palm frond roof of the pool-side bar. How did we get here? Us together? There were so many obstacles between us.
Over the past few months, Turtle Tear has been transformed from ancient ruins to a luxury resort on a private island in the Everglades. In the distance, the work crew bangs and saws, finishing the last few rooms in the hotel.
"Let's cancel tomorrow," you say. "I don't want to share you."
"We've waited too long for this." Even though it's only been about six months for me, you've waited years for this day to come. Tomorrow is the grand opening of Turtle Tear Resort to our friends and family. After that… well, I haven't decided if I want to open it to the public, or keep it private. I guess I'm not ready to share this place or you with anyone else either. "After they're all gone, you can become a hermit."
You take my hand and kiss it. "At least you promised me we could stay in the tree house and not crowd in the hotel with everyone else."
I roll to my side and run a finger down your arm. "I love our little hideaway."
Footsteps sound from the covered walkway. I sit up and turn to see Riley, your new assistant, step out from the shade and into the pool courtyard. "Why are you wearing dress pants and a tie?" I ask him. "Are you insane? It's sweltering out here."
You sit up, and your knees bump against mine. "Riley likes to look professional." You grasp the left side of my red bikini top and tug it closed. "And you're a little too casual. More like falling out."
"No interest in sharing me with this assistant then?" I whisper.
You clench your jaw, but don't reply. I was teasing, but struck a nerve bringing up the reason I left you last time.
"Ms. DeSalvo," Riley interjects, spots of pink on his cheeks from either the heat or from overhearing my comment, "your mother and aunt are scheduled to arrive at ten a.m.. tomorrow morning. Do you have a preference of which rooms are reserved for them?"
I shade my eyes and glance up at him, wishing I hadn't forgotten my sunglasses back in the hotel. "No. I'm sure you'll pick very nice rooms for them. I trust your judgment. But can you do me a favor?"
He nods, eager to please. "Of course."
"Call me Rachael."
A sheepish grin spreads across his face. He's young, twenty-two at most, not that I'm much older. But his reserved manner and uncontrollable blushing make him seem a lot younger. "Can I get you another drink from the bar, Rachael?"
I pick up my empty mimosa glass from the small table beside my chair and hold it out to him. "That would be amazing of you. Thanks."
"Mr. Rocha?" he asks, taking my glass.
You pick up your half-full bottle of water and shake it in Riley's direction. "I'm good, thanks. But that reminds me, when's the domestic staff getting in?"
"Three this afternoon."
Riley trots off toward the bar on the opposite side of the pool and courtyard. "Someone has a crush," you say, squeezing my knees between yours.
The stubble on your face has grown to a soft beard that covers your chin, not quite as full as it was when we first met, but soft to the touch and sexy. I can't resist running my fingers over it. "You're right," I say. "But look at him. Those pressed oxford shirts he wears, the flop of dusty blond hair over his forehead and the way he always blushes when he looks at me. How can I not be crushing hard?"
You lower your sunglasses to the end of your nose and arch one brow over your blazing, dark eyes. "You're full of jabs today, aren't you? You know what I meant."
I stand between your legs and take your face between my hands skimming my fingers through your dark, wavy hair. "You know I'm kidding. Look at you." I let my hands run down your neck, across your broad shoulders, down over the bulging muscles of each arm. "Why would I ever want anyone else?"
Your hands find my hips and pull me closer, close enough to rest your cheek against my stomach. "I've already done everything you're just getting to do. I've reached my goals. You could have someone like him—like you. Someone driven, making his way up the ladder. I kicked my ladder down, Rachael."
Why do you think I care that you've decided to retire in your mid-thirties with billions in the bank? Somehow in your head that's a bad thing. "You told me your plan months ago. When we went fishing, remember?"
"The storm that day." You chuckle, sending vibrations through my skin. "I swear, you wrapped your wet little body around my back so tight when I carried you back to the hotel, I had obscene images running wild in my head."
"Every time lightning flashed, I thought we were going to die." I stroke the top of your head, twisting sun-warmed locks of hair around my fingers. "The fish you caught was good though."
You turn your head and rest your chin in my bellybutton. "Yeah? You hardly touched it."
"If you are a fan of Christian Gray, or Gideon Cross you will develop a fondness for [Merrick Rocha] as well. Broken, kind, lost, sexy as all get out, and a little dangerous..."
"I love the banter between Rachael and Merrick throughout the book..... some steamy scenes that will not leave you disappointed."
—The Indie Bookshelf
"...an interesting, exciting, heart-catching take, and certainly one I'll add to my "What to Read After Fifty Shades" list."
—Maryse's Book Blog, Maryse.net
- On Sale
- Dec 18, 2012
- Page Count
- 150 pages