Read Ensenada Escapade: Destination: Desire, Book 6 Online

Authors: Crystal Jordan

Tags: #contemporary romance;vacation romance;California;Baja;Mexico;Ensenada;road trip

Ensenada Escapade: Destination: Desire, Book 6

BOOK: Ensenada Escapade: Destination: Desire, Book 6
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On a road trip straight from hell, things take a wrong turn—straight to heaven.

Destination: Desire
, Book 6

Back in junior high, Ben Hudson tried the pull-the-girl’s-ponytail route to romance with Nora Kirby. It was the start of a decade and a half of mutual antagonism, which masks how desperately he’d like to get his hands on the grownup version of his boyhood crush.

Then he overhears Nora planning to drive to Ensenada, Mexico, to pick up her stranded younger sister. Oh,
hell
no. No way is she going alone, even if he has to resort to blackmail.

The last thing Nora needs on this trip is a pushy, antagonistic lawyer who’s been a thorn in her side for years. She’s a nurse—she can handle an emergency. But she’s not sure she can handle long hours within arm’s reach of the most attractive man she’s ever met.

Predictably, they spend much of the trip bickering. Then, somehow, kissing. And it’s mind-blowing. Desperate-for-more, knows-she-shouldn’t amazing. When the chips are down, they make a great team—but when the crisis is over, will they retreat to their respective corners?

Warning: Contains two stubborn people. A smooth-talking lawyer who knows when to play rough, and a no-nonsense nurse who doesn’t know whether to kiss him, or kick him. Naughty sex in all the best positions—up, down, upside down, and backwards.

Ensenada Escapade

Crystal Jordan

Dedication

I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about a person from whether or not you could survive a road trip together without wanting to kill them. So, this book is for my family, who are grand masters of the road trip (no one’s died yet, though we’ve had our close calls), and for the Professor Moriarty and Mad Madam M, two of my favorite people in the world to go for a drive with. I’d road trip with them any time, anywhere.

Chapter One

Half Moon Bay, California

“Nora!”

The call from her elderly neighbor drew Nora Kirby up short before she’d made it inside her house. Her shoulders sagged. It was only noon, but she was bone-weary from a long night shift at the local hospital. All the nurses had a 3x12 schedule—three days on for twelve hours—but this shift had been especially rough, with a patient flat-lining on her twice. The man had pulled through, but without a heart transplant, his prognosis wasn’t good. Sad, but there was little she could do except help keep him alive as long as possible. She’d been glad to hand him over to her replacement, was just as glad to be home, and even gladder she had four whole days to relax. She’d really been looking forward to collapsing on her couch and doing nothing for a while.

Instead, she turned back and pasted on a pleasant expression. “Hi, Mrs. Hernandez. What’s up?”

The other woman’s wrinkled face creased in a grin as she walked across the lawn holding a box. “The mailman dropped off a package for you on my doorstep by mistake. All the way from Thailand. Isn’t that strange?”

Considering Nora’s older sister was currently vacationing there with her husband and infant son, it was hardly a shocker. Anne liked to send gifts from all the exotic locales she visited. She and her husband made their living as outdoor guides, though this trip was more of a working holiday.

Hurrying to take the package in case it was heavy, Nora smiled. “Thanks for bringing this over. It’s from my sister.”

“Ah, yes. The oldest one,
verdad
? So many girls and no boys. Your poor mother.”

She shook her head at the familiar sentiment. Mrs. Hernandez was pretty old school about everyone preferring male children. Nora just let it slide. It wasn’t worth getting into a women’s lib argument with someone she rarely saw and would rather remain on good terms with.

“Four girls, actually. Anne, then me, Hazel and Camille. I don’t think my mom ever mentioned wishing for boys.”


Sí,
but your mother is
muy loca.”
Mrs. Hernandez winked and trundled back over to her own porch.

Well, there was no arguing the older woman’s point. Dinah Kirby
was
a level of drama queen that most people would see as batshit crazy, and that was putting it kindly. Nora pressed her lips together and marched into her house.

She set the box down on her kitchen table and dumped her purse next to it. Using the edge of one key, she opened the package. Almost a dozen flat tissue-wrapped bundles were nestled inside. A note sat on top, so she grabbed that and read it first.

Hey babe!

I just got back from a week in the Khorat Plateau where they hand-weave some of the most amazeballs silk you’ve ever seen in your life. I sent a silk scarf for each of my sister-friends. And, yes, there’s even one for Mom. Be a doll and give them out for me. The post office here is a pain, so I just tossed them all in one box and shipped it to you. I threw in an extra scarf as a bribe for you dealing with the drama llama mama delivery.

Gabe and the munchkin say hello. Or Gabe does. My boy mostly just gurgles and looks adorable. But he’d say hello if he knew how!

Love you muchly. See you next month!

Anne

Nora made a face at the note. “As if one scarf is going to be enough for dealing with Mom. Anne, dear, you owe me big time.”

She plucked out the two packages with her name on them and unwrapped the scarves. The colors and patterns were exquisite and she couldn’t help the little “ooh” that escaped her lips. One was pastel blue shot through with pale gold and the other was a rich navy, patterned in bold reds and pops of yellow. They both felt incredible under her palm as she stroked them.

Her cell rang, jolting her out of her lovefest with the silk. She fished her phone out of her purse and answered it. “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s Karen.”

One of Anne’s best friends in the world. She’d also babysat Nora, Hazel and Cami when they were young girls.

Nora tucked the phone between her shoulder and her ear. “Hi, hon. How’s it going?”

“Good, good. I was wondering if you had a sec to go over some stuff for the baby shower?”

Nora bit back a groan. How,
how
, had she gotten herself roped into planning a double baby shower for two of her older sister’s best friends? But she knew the answer—because Anne was in Thailand and couldn’t plan it herself, and Nora was a sucker for the people she loved. Anne’s friends had always been good to her, little pools of sanity and stability that helped keep her mother’s crazy at bay.

After digging around in the box, she came up with the scarf labeled for Karen. “You know what? Why don’t I come over and we can chat about it? I have a present here for you from Anne, and I will allow you to feed me lunch as a delivery fee.”

Karen laughed. “Well, I’m lolling around like a beached whale since I went on maternity leave, but the nice lady my husband hired to chase our son around and occasionally throw food at our family made some amazing Swedish meatballs last night. We’re having leftovers for lunch.”

“Sold,” Nora declared, heading for her room to change out of her scrubs. “I like any leftovers I didn’t have to cook in the first place. Be there in twenty minutes.”

“Great. I could use the company anyway.”

Exactly eighteen minutes later, Nora was knocking on Karen’s door. A sober-looking woman with iron-gray hair answered the door. “You must be Nora.”

“That’s right. And you must be the maker of amazing Swedish meatballs.”

A small smile cracked the woman’s façade. “They’re my specialty.”

“I can’t wait to taste them then.” Nora winked as she was waved into the house.

“Nora!” Karen sat in an easy chair by the fireplace, her feet propped on a stool. She held out her arms. “Forgive me if I don’t heave myself up. That takes all of Tate’s strength and a small crane.”

“I’m sure your hubby is up to the challenge.” Nora bent down for a hug, and felt the baby give a hard kick. “Are you sure we should have waited this long to hold the baby shower?”

“I’ll make it to the shower, don’t worry.” Karen waved that concern away. “Besides, Julie’s due date is a few weeks behind mine and it’s her first.”

Julie was another of Anne’s best friends, another of Nora’s childhood babysitters. It was nice to see her happily married and having a baby too.

After setting Karen’s present on her lap, Nora retreated to another chair and sat. “Open it. I want to see what you think.”

Without further urging, Karen shredded the tissue and pulled out the length of silk with a gasp.

“This is fantastic!” She wrapped the scarf around her neck, tying an artful knot. The light green on dark green was just the right combination to accent her emerald eyes.

“It’s beautiful,” Nora agreed. “Big sis picked great colors.”

“What’s beautiful?”

She tensed at the sound of that familiar, deep voice behind her. Ben Hudson, Karen’s younger brother, who had been in the same grade as Nora in school. Unlike their sisters, they hadn’t been close. At all.

“This.” Karen pointed to her gift. “Anne sent it from Thailand.”

“Hey, that is pretty awesome.” He was carrying three plates, two stacked on a single brawny arm. He handed a dish to his older sister and popped a kiss on her cheek. Then he hooked a foot around the footstool in front of Nora’s chair and pulled it away so he could sit on it. He handed her one of the remaining plates.

“Thanks.” Nora couldn’t help it if her tone was a bit grudging. Ben had been rubbing her the wrong way since junior high. Their older sisters had been best friends forever, so they were all thrown together at every family gathering. There was no real way for Ben and Nora to avoid seeing each other, but running into him unexpectedly wasn’t her idea of a good time, especially when she’d been hoping for a relaxing gab session.

He caught her gaze and gave her a cheeky wink, which just made her stiffen. The jackass felt a compulsion to needle her every damn time he was near, and she had to suppress the urge to deck him. She offered him a stony stare and turned her attention to her food. The meatballs were as delicious as promised, but she would have enjoyed them more if he hadn’t been there. His very presence bothered her.

Karen made a little humming noise of pleasure as she took a big bite of lunch. Ben glanced at his sister. “Your housekeeper-nanny lady needs a raise.”

The siblings grinned at each other before diving back into the food. There was a definite family resemblance between the two—same nose, same jaw line, same brilliant green eyes. They even had the same ears. His face was a masculine version of hers, but that was where the similarities ended. Karen was a blonde and Ben was brunette. She was short and had curves that could put Marilyn Monroe to shame. He was tall and broad and had a voice so deep it seemed to resonate.

Nora had always thought he sounded a bit like James Earl Jones. She remembered when he’d had the cracking squeak of a tween, but when he’d hit puberty…hello, Vin Diesel bass. His voice unsettled her. It reached into her and stirred something she didn’t want stirred.

She turned away, banishing those foolish thoughts. Ben Hudson had been a thorn in her side for over a decade. Thinking about his big body and deep voice changed nothing. Deep down, he was still the little jerk he had been all those years ago. Pushy, rude, obnoxious.

Setting her empty plate aside with a little groan, Karen rubbed her burgeoning belly.

Ben shook his head, staring with what looked like fascinated horror as her stomach rippled. “Man, you look so ready to pop. You’re huge.”

His sister blinked and Nora had to resist the urge to lean forward and smack him upside the head. Yep, still obnoxious and rude. “Oh my God, Ben. You have the sensitivity of a rock. You don’t say things like that to pregnant women.”

He waved an impatient hand. “Yes, let’s all lie to women just because they’re pregnant. That’s feminist.”

Karen snorted.

A clear memory of him in a “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt that clung to his muscular shoulders and pecs flashed through Nora’s mind, but she shoved that mental image away and snapped at him, “You’re lucky she’s not insanely hormonal or she’d be crying all over you. Then where would you be? Cleaning up a mess because you stepped in it, as usual.”

“She has a point,” Karen interjected. “Julie’s having more mood swings than a menopausal soccer mom.”

“Well, I didn’t say it to Julie, did I? And I note the most sensitive woman in the room isn’t pregnant.” He shoved to his feet, collected everyone’s dirty dishes and stalked back to the kitchen.

Karen—as was usual for everyone in Ben and Nora’s respective families—ignored the spat and changed the topic the moment his back was turned. She lifted a sheaf of paperwork from a side table next to her chair and pulled a piece of stationary out from under the pile. “Thanks so much for being willing to help plan the baby shower, Nora. Here’s a list of the people who’ve called me to RSVP instead of calling or emailing you like we asked on the invitations.”

“No problem.” Nora took the piece of paper, sat back and crossed her legs, trying to push aside her irritation with Ben. “I’m afraid it’ll be pretty tame. If Anne were planning it, she’d make it into a drinking game. Or hire strippers.”

“No kidding. I still have nightmares about my bachelorette party.” Karen shuddered.

Nora grinned, fondness flooding her. “She throws a good blow-out, doesn’t she?”

“No doubt. You might get arrested, but you’re going to have a damn good time first.” Karen’s laugh tinkled musically. “Anne promised to make it to the shower, and her son should keep Meg’s little guys entertained.”

Meg was the fourth in Anne’s quartet of best friends and had also taken her turn at babysitting duties along with Julie and Karen, so Nora thought of all of them as adopted big sisters. Meg and her husband had eighteen-month-old twin boys. Adorable, but they got into everything.

Shrugging, Nora offered, “Well, all of us who aren’t the moms-to-be can help ride herd on the other kids.”

Karen tilted her head. “Tate’s sister will be here too, though she’s six months preggo too, so she’s not helping chase down any unruly toddlers.”

Clearly overhearing the last part, Ben interjected as he resumed his seat on the ottoman, “That’s what husbands are for when the belly alien is nearly ready to hatch. Foot rubs and running to fetch things—toddlers, ice cream, pickled beets. Pickled beets on top of ice cream.”

Karen sniffed disdainfully. “That was one time, and I just wanted to see if tasted good.”

The idea was enough to make Nora’s belly cramp. Ew. “How was it?”

“Not even pregnancy cravings could make that work.” The other woman’s expression was somewhere between disgruntled and sheepish. “Though, technically, beets have some sweetness to them.”

“Pickled beets are swimming in vinegar.” Ben’s face twisted in disgust.

“I’m pregnant. Nothing I do or say has to make logical sense.” She flapped a dismissive hand. “Let it go.”

“The pregnancy defense.” He snapped his fingers. “No judge in his right mind would overrule that one.”

“Damn straight.” She grabbed his tie, pulled him forward and smacked a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks for dropping off the paperwork, little brother.”

“Paperwork?” Nora’s gaze went to the stack on the side table.

“Tate’s finalizing the trust fund we’re setting up for the new baby. His mom is itching to dump a load of cash into it.” Karen shrugged. “We probably would have waited until after our daughter was born, but…fine, if it makes the mother-in-law happy, we can speed up the process. I wanted to look over a few changes he made; he’s in court today, so I needed someone else to translate the more complicated legalese.”

“Happy to help,” Ben said. “And happy to be one step removed from Tate’s scary parents. His dad in particular is a special shade of asswipe.”

There was a visual Nora hadn’t needed. She kept her mouth shut this time. It was better not to engage, if possible. Maybe this time she’d escape an encounter with him without wanting to stab him with very pointy objects.

BOOK: Ensenada Escapade: Destination: Desire, Book 6
4.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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