By Robin Huber
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She could not make sense of the things that were meant for her, but she was drawn to it all, and when she was alone, she felt like the moon: terrified of the sky, but completely in love with the way it held the stars.
—R. M. Drake
Joe!" I shout from Sam's dressing room, praying that he isn't far.
"Lucy? What's the matter?" Joe asks, rushing into the room, but before I can answer, he sees me on the floor with Sam and runs over to us. "Sam," he calls, patting Sam's cheek, but he doesn't respond.
"What's going on?" Miles asks from the doorway.
"We need a doctor!" I say to him, keeping my eyes on Sam.
Seconds later, I hear Miles yelling down the hall outside the room.
"What's wrong with him?" I ask Joe, feeling the edges of panic seep across my skin.
"I don't know," he says calmly, but I can hear the underlying panic in his voice too. "Maybe a concussion. He took a lot of hits from Ackerman tonight."
"Okay, everybody, back up," the doctor says, following Miles into the room.
The doctor kneels down beside us, but I can't move.
"Come on, Lucy, let him work," Joe says, pulling me back by my elbow, but I stay on the floor and watch the doctor inspect Sam's eyes and ears, feeling each one of my heartbeats thump inside my tight chest as he examines Sam.
"Lucy," Miles says, but I ignore him.
I look up and see Sebastian leaning over me. He reaches for my hand and I let him pull me up into a hug.
"He's going to be okay. Just let the doctor work on him."
"What if he's not, Bas? What if…" I bury my face and cry quietly inside his arms.
"I just got him back, Bas."
"Sam, can you hear me?" the doctor asks him, and I quickly kneel down beside Sam again.
Sam opens and closes his eyes a few times, and I feel my breath catch. Finally, he nods and rasps, "Yeah." He tries to sit up, but the doctor holds his shoulders down.
"Don't move, Sam, we need to get you onto a stretcher."
I hold my hand to my mouth and try to push down the fear that's gripping me.
"Lucy," Sam mumbles, and I reach for his hand.
"I'm right here," I say, hovering over his battered face.
"Don't leave," he says quietly.
I shake my head softly and blink back tears. "I'm not going to leave you." I give Sebastian a knowing look and he gives me a subtle nod. We're going to be in Quebec longer than we planned. I look at Sam and say again, "I'm not going anywhere."
* * *
"How you feeling, champ?" Miles asks from across Sam's hospital room.
"Fine. Just ready to get hell out of this place."
"Sam, you need to rest," I urge, squeezing his hand. "You have a serious concussion and two broken ribs."
"She's right," his doctor says, entering the room.
Joe follows him in, and Sebastian lingers by the door.
"You need to rest, Sam," the doctor says to him. "You have a grade three concussion. Your brain needs time to heal. And so do your ribs."
"What's he need to do, doc?" Joe asks.
"Take a break. Rest. That's the only way to get better."
Joe nods firmly. "You got it."
"How long does he need?" Miles asks.
"At least three weeks."
"Three weeks?" Sam chides. "In this place?"
"No." The doctor smiles. "But somewhere you can relax and lie low for a while. Somewhere that doesn't have a gym."
"So, nothing then?" Miles says. "No conditioning? No running?"
"Well, maybe a slow jog in about a week, but other than that, no. No conditioning. Definitely no boxing."
Miles smirks at Sam. "Tristan's sure gonna have his work cut out for him when you get better."
"Tristan has enough on his plate right now," Joe says. "He could use the break too."
"Where is Tristan?" I ask, wondering why he didn't come to Quebec.
"He's back home in Atlanta," Sam answers. "He had to have the battery replaced in his pacemaker."
"Oh." I try to hide the alarm in my voice. He had heart surgery when we were kids, but I assumed he was better now. "Is he okay?"
"It's a minor procedure," Joe says casually, but I see the worry in his eyes.
Sam squeezes my hand and assures me, "He's okay."
"So the question is, where are you going on vacation?" Miles asks, lightening the conversation.
"Vacation?" Sam looks at him and laughs softly. "I just want to go home."
"Sam, there's literally a gym inside your apartment," Joe says. "No way you'll stay out of it for three weeks." He crosses his arms and shrugs. "I think a vacation might be good for you."
"It's not be a bad idea," the doctor says. "As long as it's somewhere you can relax."
"I've got the perfect place," Miles says, scrolling on his phone.
Sam looks up at him. "Yeah, where?"
Miles turns the screen around and shows him a picturesque scene with blue water and palm trees. "Exuma."
"What's Exuma?" I ask curiously.
Miles looks at me with wide eyes. "What's Exuma? Only home to some of the bluest water in the entire world, white sand beaches, and sunshine," he says exuberantly.
"It's in the Bahamas," Sam says to me.
"Oh." I frown softly at the thought of him being gone for three weeks.
Sam looks at me with smiling eyes and dimples that he can't hide. "What do you say? Want to disappear with me for a while?"
"What?" I laugh and shake my head. "Sam, I can't go on vacation with you. Not right now anyway. And especially not to the Bahamas. There'd be people everywhere." I think we've caused enough media frenzy for the time being.
"Not on a private island," Miles says, dropping his phone into his pocket.
"Private island?" The foreign thought clouds my head.
Sam smiles and pulls me down onto the bed next to him. "You're telling me you wouldn't want to spend three weeks on a tropical island…alone?"
I smile over the inviting thought. "Of course I would. But I can't." I shrug and say quietly to him, "I have to go home. I have to get the rest of my things from Drew's house. And I still have figure out what's going to happen with my studio."
"No you don't," Sebastian chimes in, inching his way into the room. "I can handle it for you while you're gone."
"See, that's why you have Sebastian," Sam says, rubbing his thumb over the back of my hand. "He can handle it for you."
"I don't have any clothes. And neither do you. We'd have to go home anyway."
"I can help with that too," Sebastian offers, giving me an enthusiastic grin.
"Go," Joe encourages, giving me an approving smile. "It'd be good for both of you."
I drop my head to my hands and laugh softly. "A private island?" I peek up at Sam between my hands.
"Come on, Lamb. Come away with me." He reaches for my face and says softly, "Let's go to paradise and leave everything else behind for a while. Catch up on the last ten years." He gives me a grin, and irresistible dimples.
I bite my lip and laugh again. "Three weeks?"
"Just you and me."
I smile wide and for the first time in my life, throw caution to the wind. "Okay…let's go."
I squeeze Sam's hand and close my eyes as our small seaplane skips and skids across the surface of the turquoise ocean, spraying the windows with saltwater. I feel Sam's warm breath against my cheek as his smooth, deep voice settles softly on my ears. "Open your eyes, Lamb."
I cautiously peek up at him with one eye, keeping the other closed. "When you said private island, I assumed it had a runway."
He chuckles quietly under his breath. "It's not that big."
"There's only one island in Exuma with a landing strip," our pilot says in a thick Bahamian accent, "and that island doesn't look like this."
Intrigued, I open both eyes and take in the view through the small window, unsure what is more breathtaking—the white sand beach and lush green that surrounds it or the contemporary mansion just beyond its shallow dunes.
"Wow," I say softly.
As we flew south over the Exuma Cays, the islands looked like tiny emeralds scattered across a canvas of blue, strung together by shifting sandbars and crystal clear water. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, but I couldn't have imagined this.
I look at Sam. "This is incredible."
He smiles and it crinkles his bruised eye. "It's been a rough few weeks. I think we deserve it."
I smile softly, recalling the tense weeks leading up to my impromptu trip to Quebec. And the following three days I spent in the hospital with Sam, while they monitored his concussion. I'm grateful that his injuries weren't worse, but I haven't been able to shake the unsettling feeling that it won't be the last time he gets hurt. I reach for his cheek and say, "I think maybe we both need a break."
The pilot gets out to unload our bags from the back of the plane, but Sam keeps his eyes on me. "It wasn't all bad, was it?"
"No." I smile and pull his face to mine. "In fact, I'd say there were some pretty incredible moments."
"Yeah?" He gives me a sexy grin. "Like what?"
"Well, there was the match in New York, when I saw you standing in the ring for the first time. I was so proud of you that night," I say softly, and he drops his forehead to mine. "And when you walked into my studio and turned my whole world upside down. I'll never forget that day."
"Neither will I," he says, making me smile again.
"And when you kissed me and you reminded me of everything we were and everything we could be again."
He reaches for my face and says quietly, "When we made love." His eyes burn into me with desire and anticipation.
"Yes," I whisper, because it's all I can manage through the fire he ignites that burns slowly across my skin. I press my eager lips to his and kiss him firmly.
The pilot clears his throat and I glance up at him from our kiss. He's standing on the dock smiling at us, waiting for us to exit the plane.
I give him an apologetic smile and reach for his extended hand, and he pulls me out of the plane into the thick island air that wraps around me. After nearly freezing to death in Quebec, this might take some time to get used to, but three weeks should be enough time to acclimate.
Three weeks in paradise with Sam.
The thought puts a smile on my face that I'm pretty sure will stay put until we're back in Atlanta. I try not to think about the clouded reality that awaits our return. Especially when I'm standing in front of the most magnificent house I've ever seen, on the most incredible beach, under a piercing blue sky that's filled with sunshine. The only thing I want to worry about right now is Sam.
As much as I'd like to use this impromptu vacation to make up for lost time, Sam's going to have to take it easy and get as much rest as possible. I take a contented breath of the warm island air and think, That sounds perfect.
Our pilot escorts us up the travertine steps to the white stucco house and I see an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. It's surrounded by large canopy beds and oversized planters that are spilling over with tropical plants. He sets our bags down and tips his straw fedora. "Mr. Cole, Miss Bennett. I hope you enjoy paradise. I'll see you in three weeks."
"Thank you," I say, gazing into the house through the giant glass doors. I see Sam tip him and shake his hand in the reflection, then he makes his way back down the steps.
"Ready?" Sam asks, pulling a key from his pocket.
I nod eagerly and watch him open the front door.
"After you," he says, pushing it open, and I'm greeted by a rush of cool air that escapes the house.
Air conditioning. Thank goodness.
I walk inside before him and take in the beautiful coastal space. "Wow," I whisper, walking through the foyer and into the living room, which, much like the living room in Sam's apartment, is surrounded by glass. Except that this view is a little different. Instead of the tall mirrored buildings that surround Sam's widows, all I see is blue, in every direction. I spin around in Sam's arms, which are suddenly wrapped around me. "Sam, this is beautiful. I couldn't have dreamt up a place like this."
He gazes into my eyes and says, "This is just the beginning, Lamb."
I smile over the nagging thought of how much it costs to rent a home like this for three weeks, on a private island no less. Or how much everything in Sam's life must cost.
It's a strange concept, Sam having so much money, one I haven't quite wrapped my head around yet.
"You know, you don't have to take me to places like this to make me happy, Sam."
His eyes narrow slightly.
"Don't get me wrong, I may never want to leave." I rest my chin on his chest. "I just mean, I'm yours, free of charge."
"I want to take you to places like this. It makes me happy." He rubs my bare arms and says thoughtfully, "I want to take you everywhere. I want to show you everything I've seen. And everything I haven't. I want to see the whole world with you, Lamb."
My heart stands at attention with a suitcase in each hand. "I hear it's pretty big. It might take a while."
"Hopefully the rest of our lives."
I press my smiling lips together and nod. "I like the sound of that."
He glances over my shoulder with a glint of excitement in his eyes. "For now, I'd like to show you the kitchen."
He lowers his hands to my waist and picks me up, and my sandals fall to the floor.
"Sam, put me down!" I scold as he carries me to the kitchen. "You're not supposed to be lifting anything heavy!"
"You're not heavy."
He deposits me on the white marble island in the middle of the open kitchen and tugs my hips forward so that I'm sitting on the edge of it with my legs slung over his hips. He rocks up against me and pushes my long skirt up my thighs.
"Sam, this isn't resting. You're supposed to be taking it easy."
He reaches for my face and pulls it to his. "I can't think of a better way to relax." He presses his lips to mine and kisses me slowly, stroking my tongue with his until I've completely melted in his arms. I'm at his mercy. He moves, I move. He pushes, I pull. The call to nurse him back to health is suddenly silenced by the overwhelming need to extinguish the fire that's consuming us. He tugs his shirt off, wincing when he raises his arms above his head, and the caretaker in me returns.
"Sam, stop, we shouldn't—"
He silences me once more with another passionate kiss and tugs my crop top down, exposing my bare breasts.
"Oh, my goodness, I'm so sorry," a delicate British accent says, and I shriek.
Sam curses under his breath and I scramble inside his arms to pull my top back up.
"I'll just be in the foyer," she says, spinning around quickly.
"Who was that?" I ask with wide eyes as I adjust my top and try to compose myself.
Sam pulls his shirt back on and shakes his head. "I don't know." He takes my hand and leads me into the foyer, where we're greeted by a graceful smile.
"Hello." The woman stretches her small manicured hand out to shake Sam's. "I'm Jacinda. I work for Paradise Properties." She smooths a few stray hairs that have worked their way out of her tight top knot and straightens her crisp white skirt. "I take it no one mentioned that I'd be here to familiarize you with the home and ensure you have everything you need for your stay with us." She gives an apologetic smile and I see the blush in her olive-colored cheeks.
"No," Sam says to her.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't hear you come in."
"That's okay," Sam says, unfazed by the interruption.
"Not to worry, though. This won't take long." She winks and the blood burns in my heated cheeks. "Shall we begin?"
I swallow the awkward lump in my throat. "Sure."
Sam gives me a sly grin and follows her into the living room, where she begins to run through a list of instructions for the amenities. Then she takes us on a tour of each room.
By the time we make our way back to the kitchen, I feel like I probably should have been taking notes.
"Per your request, the kitchen has been fully stocked," she says dutifully. "But your chef will arrive at these times to restock and prepare any meals you'd like." She hands Sam a printed schedule. "Your cleaning services will take place during these times," she taps the paper with her shiny fingernail.
I shoot Sam a worried look. "They'll be here with us?"
"Not to worry, Lucy," she says gently. "Your privacy is our utmost concern. You can relax here, I assure you."
"So, you won't say anything, then…about earlier?"
She gives me a warm smile and says softly, "Of course not."
"Now, if you need anything at all, my number's here. You're my top priority for the next three weeks, so please don't hesitate to call. My job is to make sure you leave here happy, well rested, and ready for your next big match." She winks at Sam.
He smiles and nods. "You spoke to Miles."
"Yes. He's gone to considerable lengths to ensure you're well taken care of here."
I smile at Sam and wrap my arm around his waist.
"You, as well, Lucy."
"Oh." I bob my head and smile graciously.
We follow her to the front door.
"Thanks for showing us around," Sam says to her. "I think we're going to settle in just fine," he adds, giving me a wink.
"My pleasure. Talk soon."
Sam closes the door behind her and flashes his unique eyes at me, and his dimples almost make me forget the embarrassment of being topless in front of our welcoming committee…almost.
I purse my lips over a smile. "I take it Miles forgot to tell you she'd be here to greet us?"
He pulls me into his arms. "Well, either that or I've taken one too many hits to the head."
"Sam, that's not funny. And since when does Miles care so much about my well-being?"
"Since your well-being is directly tied to my well-being. If you're not happy, neither am I."
I look up at him and exhale the worry I've been holding in for the last few days. "I'm really happy."
He drops his hands to my waist and lifts me up again.
He ignores me, wraps my legs around him, and hugs me tight. "I'm happy too," he says against my lips, before enveloping them in his.
"Let's go the bedroom," I mumble against his mouth.
"Lucy, there's no one here."
"You might have convinced me of that before Jacinda saw me topless. But I'm not likely to forget it anytime soon."
He puts me down. "Come on. Follow me." He takes my hand and leads me through the house, pushing the giant glass doors open and pulling me through them until we're standing outside next to the infinity pool that seems to disappear into the turquoise horizon. He stands behind me and puts his hands on my shoulders. "What do you see?"
I gaze out at the crystal blue ocean, searching for signs of life, but the only thing I see is the fading wake of a boat that must have been Jacinda's transport off the island.
I turn around in Sam's arms and say, "Okay, you've made your point. We're alone." I reach for his hand and spin around to go back inside, but he plants his feet and pulls me back to him, his lips landing on mine again.
He reaches for my skirt, gathering it around my waist, and groans against my neck. "I want you," he grumbles between his eager lips, which leave blazing trails on my heated skin. "It's been days. I can't wait any longer."
Sweat sheens my forehead and beads down the back of my neck, dampening the strands of hair sticking to it. It's so hot, I might melt before he has his way with me. "It's so hot out here."
"Mm-hmm," he murmurs, his sticky wet lips finding their way back to mine, and the way that his dewy skin rubs against me makes me forget that I care. I want to melt, if it means melting with him.
I reach behind him and run my hands under his shirt and over the thick muscles in his back until I've carefully removed his shirt over his head and pulled it down his tattooed arms. It falls to the travertine tiles at our feet. I run my hands over his round shoulders and across his broad chest, reflecting on the words tattooed beneath his collarbone: Pain Is Fleeting.
I smile softly and look up at him. "It really is, isn't it?"
His hungry eyes soften and he shows me his dimples, which are accentuated by the flush of the Caribbean heat in his rosy cheeks. "It's relative, but for the most part, yes."
"I guess it depends on the source of the pain."
He furrows his brow and drops his forehead to mine. "I've had broken ribs, countless black eyes, a broken hand and hundreds of cuts and bruises. I've been hit by some of the strongest men in the world. I've spent hours having my skin tattooed with a needle, repeatedly…" He lets out a soft breath that blows against my heated cheek. "But none of that compares to the pain of losing you."
"Sam." I close my eyes and swallow down the echo of the pain that used to hide in the far corners of my heart, hidden away from Drew and Janice and even Sebastian, but mostly from me. "You don't have to feel that way anymore. You never have to feel that pain again."
He gazes at me with his beautiful, strange eyes, the blue brightened by the reflection of the sky and the brown lit by the warm sun that reflects the shimmering layers of gold and amber, like the sand meeting the sea. "I'll never let myself forget what it was like to lose you. To pine for you. To see you with someone else. And to want you so badly I could hardly breathe." He reaches under my chin and vows, "I will never take you for granted."
I wrap my fingers around his wrist and promise, "I won't take you for granted, either."
The fire returns to his eyes and his lips return to mine.
His hands tangle in my skirt again, the gauzy material clinging to my legs as he fights to get it up around my waist, and I stumble backward onto a dark wicker canopy bed that's covered with a sheer mosquito net. He shoves it to the side and pushes me back against the creamy white pillows that line the circular bed, kissing my thighs as he moves my skirt out of the way.
I pull my long hair up and lay it over the pillows, giving my neck reprieve from the infringing heat, and relish the shaded cushions that cool me slightly.
Sam shrugs out of his shorts and closes the mosquito net around us, and it billows in the breeze, dappled with shadows that dance in the filtered sunlight.
"Stop." I hold my hand up and sit up a little on my elbow.
"Lucy, if there's a fucking spider on me, you better get it right now!"
I crinkle my eyes and laugh softly, remembering his fear of the little eight-legged creatures. "There's no spider, Mr. World Class Champion."
- "Captivating, sexy, emotional and deeply romantic. If you love second-chance romances, you do not want to miss this duet that delivers all the feels."—Frolic
- "Sexy, emotional, and heartfelt. I read this second chance love story in one sitting and eagerly anticipate A Story Like Ours!"—Mia Sheridan, New York Times bestselling author, on A Love Like Yours
- "A story that doesn't shy away from the complexities of tangled hearts. Achingly romantic."—K.A. Tucker, USA Today bestselling author, on A Love Like Yours
- "An emotional, captivating second-chance romance.... This moving, unforgettable journey will leave you begging for more."—Frolic on A Love Like Yours
- "A Love Like Yours has angst, heat, conflict, tension, and heart.... Fans of Meghan Quinn and Katy Evans will enjoy."—Harlequin Junkie
- "Robin Huber is a fantastic storyteller. A Love Like Yours is a breathtakingly romantic debut."—Melanie Harlow, USA Today bestselling author
- On Sale
- Jun 18, 2019
- Page Count
- 384 pages
- Forever Yours