Tristan Hurst is tired of running. He’s spent every day since he was 16 trying to escape the consequences of one inexplicable, horrible night. So when his cousin buys a Caribbean resort and offers him a job away from the family firm, Tristan jumps at the chance to leave behind his intolerable father and the life he barely lives.
Tessa Armstrong has a plan and moving to a tropical island isn’t part of it. But when she lands the position of head pastry chef at a luxury hotel, she can’t pass it up. A new country, a new kitchen. And a fresh start far away from the secrets that are becoming harder to ignore.
On an island where neither expected to end up, Tessa and Tristan discover something they’ve always wanted: a safe haven. And when friendship becomes something more, they think they’ve landed in paradise.
But there’s a storm coming, and the secrets they’ve worked so hard to escape aren’t far behind. And with them, a truth that has the power to wash away a love they never dreamed to find.
A standalone contemporary romance from the author of After the Island and After the Fall.
“What the fuck did you think you were doing?” Tristan let go of her hands and clenched his fists in the blanket, on either side of her hips. “Why the hell were you out there?”
Tessa opened her eyes, her fingertips digging into the corded muscles at the back of his neck. “I needed to find you.” She said it like it was the most obvious answer in the entire world.
“You didn’t,” Tristan growled. His shins ached against the rough floor of the cabin, his clothes were frozen to his chest and thighs. Tessa shifted closer, her bare knees bracketing his torso, the hollow between them offering the threat of salvation. The promise of damnation.
“I did,” she swore, eyes dark but certain.
Tristan wondered if she could feel it. The storm howling inside him. He was furious with her. Terrified that she could have been hurt, or worse. The reality of her alive and in one piece hadn’t sunk in. Tristan’s heart—that organ he’d thought had dried out and gone dark years ago—was, at that second, breaking at the mere idea he could have lost her.
Tessa wasn’t his. She didn’t belong to him in any way. He knew that. He could never ask it, not after the way he’d yelled at her, scared her. But she was there, with him. Her hands were deep in his hair, the strands slipping through her fingers as she cradled the back of his head. She held his body between her legs, the touch scalding.
Tristan squeezed his eyes shut. Looking at her was too much. It would never be enough.
“You’re hurt,” he managed to get out.
“It could’ve been so much worse.” Tristan shifted his grip from the bed to her waist, needing to feel her alive and breathing.
“You could’ve died.”
“You hate storms.” Tristan leaned towards her. He couldn’t stop himself.
“I do.” Tessa pressed a kiss, hot and soft, next to his ear. “But I realized something.”
Tristan’s fingers flexed into the lush curve of her hips. The back of his neck burned, the scar a phantom pain that would never go away. But he wasn’t letting go. It hurt. But not touching Tessa would hurt more.
She gave him another kiss, at the corner of his jaw. “Do you want to know what it was?”
Tristan’s voice was gone. He nodded, his eyes still closed.
“I realized,” Tessa whispered, “that I hated something else more.” She kissed his cheek, lingering. Waiting for him to ask the question.
“I realized,” Tessa said, dropping to his mouth, “I hated the idea of you out here alone more than I hated any storm.”
“That’s insane.” It was half whisper, half kiss.
Tristan felt her lips curve against his. A small smile.
“But it’s also the truth.”
She didn’t say anything else. Didn’t move. She was so still Tristan wasn’t sure she was breathing. He opened his eyes, instantly worried.
“I’m right here,” she said, answering his concerned stare. “I’m right here, Tristan. And I’m not going anywhere.”
Her attention fell to his mouth and Tristan gave up. Gave in. Lost every battle and silenced every argument. His hands were in her hair before he could think, wet strands clinging and twisting around his fingers. He pulled just enough so that her head tipped back, chin up, her bottom lip dropping in surprise. In anticipation.
“Don’t ever do that again,” he growled, before covering her mouth with his.
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About the Author
Katy Ames has spent most of her life on the East Coast and hopes to spend more of it in the UK. In part, so she can indulge in her serious plaid obsession. There isn’t a teenage drama on the CW or a period British TV show she hasn’t binge-watched at least twice. And she can be persuaded to do most things with the promise of bourbon, coffee, chocolate, or a nap, not necessarily in that order. Katy is mom to a small human who has an obscene amount of energy and a blissful ability to ignore swear words, and wife to a man whose reading habits are far too serious. Katy and her family reside in Washington, D.C., a city she where never planned to live and loves so much she’d be happy to talk about it for hours. Just ask.
Katy writes contemporary romances that feature heroes who are strong but not so silent, heroines who aren’t afraid to kick ass, and stories that get a little messy before they end happily ever after.