Authors: Avery Hale
Tags: #romance sex, #romance and fun, #romance and adventure, #romance costa rica, #romance series, #romance exotic, #romance adult romance sex adult sex sexy romance, #romance first love, #explicit sex, #romance contemporary series sensual, #romance comedy, #new adult contemporary, #romance contemporary contemporary romance summer fling sexy romance falling in love love humor summer love, #romance adult fiction, #romance, #romance adult passion, #romance beach read, #romance and comedy, #romance abroad, #post college, #romance adult contempory, #romance and humor, #mature content, #romance 2013, #romance and betrayal, #romance action adventure love, #romance and drama, #explicit, #romance betrayal, #romance postcollege, #romance and attraction, #mature, #new adult, #romance new adult
Copyright 2013 Avery Hale
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
“Where the hell are our bags?” My best friend, Dez, craned her neck, as if it would enable her to see around the bend of the baggage carousel. Patience was not one of her virtues—something I learned very quickly when we were roommates at Iowa State.
I should’ve joined in on the neck craning. After all, we’d just traveled over two thousand miles from Chicago, where we lived since graduating college a year ago, to Costa Rica. This was my first time traveling outside the United States, and I imagined that being in a foreign country without your baggage warranted concern.
But to be honest, after what happened to me yesterday, I simply couldn’t get myself to give a shit about going a week without clean underwear.
I knew my apathy didn’t make much sense. I had saved up for over a year for this vacation. Lived on ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for most of that time to stretch my paltry salary as a legal assistant to make ends meet as I religiously added to my “Costa Rica-Or-Bust” fund every week.
As a kid, I’d always dreamed of traveling to exotic places and living the life of an adventurer like Carmen Sandiego. My dad used to say that nothing mattered more in life than chasing your dreams, and that if I wanted something badly enough, I should find a way to get it.
Funny how the things that used to matter became mere background noise when you were suffering a broken heart.
What my dad had failed to tell me was that some of the dreams you chased could look really different once you caught them. I used to dream about the man I would love—the one I was going to share my happily-ever-after life with.
Funny how dreams had a way of turning into nightmares without even the courtesy of a warning.
Oh God. There was that feeling again—the ache which started in the pit of my stomach and rose up my core like lava in a volcano. Soon, when it reached my chest, the feeling would erupt, melting my heart from the inside out, turning it into ash. You’d think, then, that that would be the end of it—the end of my heart…and the end of me. Ending this misery of mine would be an act of mercy. But no. My stubborn, stupid heart would pick up its beat again and come back to life, only to suffer the same cycle again and again.
I dropped my purse and sat on the floor. Hugging my arms around my legs, I rested my chin on my knees. The movement caught Dez’s attention.
“Don’t you shut down on me again, Phinegan Swift.” Dez put her hands on her curvy hips like my mom used to do when she scolded me. She tapped her platform Jimmy Choos, which must be killing her feet by now. In contrast to my tank top, jeans, and flip flops, which were the staples of my woefully practical wardrobe, Dez looked glamorous in her leopard-patterned leggings and halter top. “Tell me the rules.”
“Gimme a break, Dez, I don’t feel like—”
“Recite the rules right now or else I’m going to pull a P.D.E.”
Shit. Not the Public-Display-of-Embarrassment card. Knowing Dez, this could mean anything from shouting “penis” as loudly as she could in as many languages as she knew the equivalent word (twenty-seven, to be exact) to flashing the nearest unsuspecting bystander her double-Ds, which she’d nicknamed “Laverne” and “Shirley.” The latter was her favorite P.D.E. by far. On one occasion, her drive-by boobing victims included a thirty-man crew at a construction site in the Chicago Loop and a Catholic nun who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Spotting a group of teenage boys nearby and foreseeing a terrible death-by-stampede for myself if Dez’s bared boobs unleashed the horny beasts inside them, I reluctantly stood up and recited the rules for our trip.
“Rule number one: Thou shalt not be sad in Costa Rica. Rule number two: Thou shalt not shed another tear over Douglas—”
“Eh, eh, eh,” Dez interrupted by shaking her head and tsking disapprovingly.
“Sorry,” I said, “but I can’t call him
. He’s not Voldemort.”
“Fine. You may substitute with a moniker of your liking. How does ‘The Asshole Cheater’ sound?”
I sighed. “Tragically accurate.”
“Good,” Dez said with resolute cheerfulness, “let’s go with that. And the final, but most important rule?”
“Rule number three: Thou shalt not behave in such a way as to inhibit your fellow traveler from having the most fun possible on this trip.”
“And the most fun thing we could, or in your case
, do on this trip is…?”
“Zip-lining through the rainforest?” I said, despite know what answer Dez actually had in mind.
“Getting laid.” Dez corrected, licking her bee-stung lips. Her green eyes shined as she smiled devilishly. She had the look of a single, sexy, horny woman on a mission. “Hurricane Dez has arrived,” she announced to no one in particular and to the entire county in general, “and by the time I leave, Costa Rica isn’t going to know what hit it.”
It was times like these that reminded me of why Dez was my best friend. Her raw enthusiasm and no-holds-barred approach to life and all its pleasures were some of the things I loved most about her. Partly because I tended to take a more cautious approach…at least when it came to sex.
Not wanting to ruin Dez’s vacation, I tried my best to smile, but there was no feeling behind it. I was like one of those plastic dolls with painted faces and hollow insides. Maybe the reason the dolls could wear permanent smiles was because they had nothing inside them. No hearts that could bleed.
“Excuse me, ladies,” said a deep voice, “but I think I may have grabbed one of your suitcases by mistake.”
Dez and I both looked at the man who stood a few feet away, holding my suitcase. My peripheral vision caught Dez’s jaw drop open and her tongue rolling out of her mouth and onto the floor. Who could blame her? The guy was a ten on the Richter scale, a ten million on the Scoville scale, and the top of whatever other kind of scale there was.
He lifted the suitcase so that we could see it better. I don’t doubt that Dez noticed as much as I did how easily he handled the nearly fifty pound bag with one hand. As he did, the pink ribbon that I’d tied to the handle to easily identify it from other similar black suitcases fluttered.
The ribbon waved like a warning flag. Suddenly remembering that we were in a foreign country and should, therefore, keep our guards up, I narrowed my eyes at the handsome stranger.
“Why would you think this bag was yours?” I hardly masked my suspicion.
The guy seemed taken aback. “Pardon me?”
“Did you not see the pink ribbon, or does your suitcase happen to have a pink ribbon tied to it, too?” I realized I sounded a little like a jerk, but having just been screwed over by a man, I wasn’t above taking it out on his entire gender. Not while the pain was still so raw. Besides, I didn’t buy this guy’s story. Not for a second.
Dez shot me a look. Then, she turned to The Hottie and laughed pleasantly. “She’s just joking. We’re both exhausted from the flight. Right, Phin?” Dez shot me another look, but this one was different. With one eyebrow raised, Dez silently asked me a question that was a mere formality of Girl Code at this point. This scale-topper was not only much more up her ally than mine, he set off my “player” alert. And I had no interest in being played. On the other hand, Dez, who was a player and a man-eater to the tenth degree, was game.
“Yeah, sure.” I shrugged as I walked toward the guy to claim my bag. He set it down lightly and pulled the handle out for me.
Hmph. At least he had some manners.
Refusing to look at him or say thanks, since I was pretty sure he’d used my luggage as an excuse to hit on Dez, I took the handle and briskly wheeled the suitcase away. “I’m going to the currency exchange,” I tossed over my shoulder.
I didn’t have to turn around to know that as soon as I gave Dez the go-ahead, she pursed her lips into a perfect pout, drew back her shoulders to showcase her impressive rack, and tilted one side of her hip in a way that made her thin waist look even thinner and her curves even curvier. The girl deserved a PhD in the science of attraction.