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From the Publisher"The hero and heroine heal in ways that anyone can relate to, making readers want to root for them."
-RT Book Reviews on MIDNIGHT KISSES
A tropical island. A sensual stranger. Passion in Paradise.
A job offer in Barbados is just what widowed nurse Aaliyah Carrington needs to heal and start over. But the rugged stranger she meets on the beach against a backdrop of crashing waves is something out of a Hollywood fantasy. One of "the Sexiest Men Alive," movie star Dominic Wolfe abruptly vanished from the spotlight. His brooding, aloof manner only makes Aaliyah more determined to ...
A tropical island. A sensual stranger. Passion in Paradise.
A job offer in Barbados is just what widowed nurse Aaliyah Carrington needs to heal and start over. But the rugged stranger she meets on the beach against a backdrop of crashing waves is something out of a Hollywood fantasy. One of "the Sexiest Men Alive," movie star Dominic Wolfe abruptly vanished from the spotlight. His brooding, aloof manner only makes Aaliyah more determined to help her injured patient who arouses such potent desire.
After walking through fire to save a little girl, Dominic knows he isn't the man he once was. He came home to the tropical island to retreat from the world, but Aaliyah is bringing him back to life with her soothing, erotic touch. Is he ready to let the past go and fight for their future—and a second chance at his own happy ending?
"She needs a makeover!" Cheryl observed as she inspected Aaliyah with the discerning eyes of a fashionista.
"I don't need any makeover," Aaliyah retorted, turning to face Cheryl, her sister's bubbly best friend. "I'm fine as I am!"
"I'm going to have to agree with Cheryl on this one," Eboni interjected, lowering herself onto the couch, her stomach protruding with the evidence of her seventh month of pregnancy. "We definitely need to do something about your style, or should I say lack thereof. It's almost as if you're deliberately trying to make yourself unattractive."
A wave of sadness washed over Aaliyah. She did not respond. Her sister's words were too close to the truth for comfort. Since the death of her husband, Andrew, almost three years ago, she'd tried to keep herself safe from the advances of her male colleagues. In the weeks following his death, she quickly learned that men seemed to think that widows and divorcees were easy targets.
She knew she was not bad looking, but at work she tried to play down that attractiveness, drawing attention from her natural beauty. Unfortunately, she'd allowed the frumpy look to overflow into other areas of her life. Maybe it was time to start living again. Maybe she should let Cheryl work her magic. She was on vacation anyway and wouldn't be back to work for another few weeks. When her break was over she could go back to being her prim, proper and very safe self.
"Come here," Cheryl said, pulling her toward the mirror. "Tell me what you see."
She lifted her head up and stared into the mirror. She wore no makeup now, but remembered when a touch of color and mascara would make her eyes wide and innocent. When a splash of her favorite lipstick would make her lips look soft and pouty. Her hair, thick and healthy looking, was confined to its usual bun. She cringed. She looked much older that she had three years ago. The wedding photo on the mantelpiece was clear evidence.
In the photo, she looked happy. She'd found something special on that day and it had been taken away from her too fast.
"So what do you think we should improve, Eboni?" Cheryl asked as she undid Aaliyah's bun.
Eboni cocked her head to the side and looked up at her sister. "She's beautiful even without makeup. I'd suggest we don't do anything too drastic. The foundation is good. Just a bit here and there to improve the exterior design. The woman has no sense of style whatsoever."
Aaliyah gasped. She couldn't believe they were talking about her as if she weren't standing there.
"Hello. I'm still here, you know."
"I'm sorry," Eboni apologized, laughter in her eyes, "but we are concerned for you. I know you are not totally happy."
"What do you mean?" Aaliyah asked.
"We know that you still miss Andrew. I can see it in your eyes whenever you think I'm not looking."
About to deny it, she paused. Lying to Eboni made no sense.
"Yes, I miss him. He was the love of my life. He took a broken girl without any family and taught her how to love and hope again. I won't ever find love like that again."
"You can't say that, Aaliyah," Eboni cautioned. "Maybe there is someone else out there for you. It's possible to find love again."
"Eboni, I know you've found your fairy-tale romance. I remember Mom reading those stories to us years ago, but there is fantasy and then there is reality. For a while I lived that happily ever after, but that soon came to an end. Yes, maybe I need to start living again, but I have no room in my life for love or fairy tales."
"I think you're wrong, but at least you know you need to move forward," Eboni replied.
"Well, while I like all this love talk," Cheryl injected, snorting loudly, "I think we need to get going if we want to have her transformed anytime soon."
"I'm all ready to go," Eboni said, slowly rising from the chair. "I just need to go upstairs to collect my handbag and purse. Have to make sure I have all my credit cards."
"I won't have you spending money on me. I can bring my own credit card. Andrew left me quite comfortable."
"That's fine, but let me do this," Eboni reasoned. "I haven't brought anything for you. I have years of birthday gifts to catch up on."
"Okay, but I'm still bringing mine along. I'm paying for half of whatever we buy."
"Well, since I'm not rich like you ladies, can I throw in a few outfits for myself?" Cheryl asked. "I saw this darling little dress at Macy's."
Ebony couldn't control her outburst of laughter.
"Cheryl, we know you're not deprived, but your birthday is coming up, so I'll pay for whatever you want."
"Good," Cheryl stated. "Since I'm hungry, can we do lunch first? We can spend the rest of the afternoon shopping."
"Within reason, please. Remember, I get tired easily," Eboni said.
"We know, momma-to-be," Cheryl said. "We know. Just imagine, in another two months, you'll be even more drained."
"Don't remind me. I'm looking forward to the babies, but the thought of the pain and sleepless nights scares the hell out of me."
She reached for her phone. "I'll just call Darren and let him know I'm on my way out."
Aaliyah looked at her sister and Cheryl. Despite what they were thinking, she'd changed some. Since reconciling with Eboni just over a year ago, she'd welcomed friendship with both her and Cheryl. They spent a lot of time together and of course, their girls' nights out every few weeks were welcomed.
"Okay, girls. Come, let's go," Aaliyah chirped, hoping she sounded genuine. The best thing to do would be to submit willingly and get it over. She did all she could to stifle a groan.
Dominic Wolfe limped slowly into the room. He knew what was coming, but he didn't particularly care to hear it.
He eased himself into the chair, his eyes still averted. He could almost image the look in his doctor's eyes. All he could think of was getting on the aircraft and heading back home.
He cleared his throat, willing his doctor and friend, Charles Graham, to look up. When he did, he did it slowly, glancing in Dominic's direction as if Dominic were a schoolboy about to be punished. In fact, Dominic felt like a young child under his probing gaze.
"So you've been giving trouble again." His tone was sharp.
"Don't blame me for that woman's incompetence. I should have fired her the day she arrived."
"Instead, it took you three days. A whole week longer than the last nurse."
"She was more interested in sucking up to me."
"Well, you are a celebrity!"
"Was! That's all in the past."
"You can regain the strength in your hand again."
"But not my leg. It's almost completely shattered. I may have to live with this limp," he grumbled.
"You saved that little girl's life."
"I know, but it doesn't stop me from being bitter at the world. I've earned the right to be." His honesty startled him.
"So what do you plan on doing?" Charles asked. "You need the therapy."
"I plan on leaving New York and visiting the island."
"Barbados?" Charles could not keep the surprise out of his voice. "You haven't visited the island in ages."
"I have a home there. I've been there weekends when I've wanted to get away."
"You have? You could have told me. I was under the impression that you didn't have any family there."
Dominic shrugged. "No, there is no one there. A few years ago, I was browsing through a real estate website and saw the house available. It's close to the village where I once lived."
"Going there may be a good thing. Maybe the fresh ocean breeze will help you to recover. However "
"I'm going to insist that for at least six months, you have a therapist. I know the perfect person. I know a nurse who completed her certification in physiotherapy a few months ago. She may only have a few months' experience, but she's good. I've seen her work with some of the kids in pediatrics."
"So.I'm a kid now," Dominic growled.
"Sometimes." Charles threw back his head and laughed out loud.
Dominic glared at him.
"All joking aside " Charles responded. His brow creased with worry. "I'm serious about the young lady coming to work with you. As long as she agrees."
"So I have no choice in the matter?" he mumbled.
"You do have a choice," Charles stated firmly. "But I'm sure you will agree with me when I tell you that you either comply to further therapy or your leg is going to get worse. You can be as stubborn as you want to be, but that's your reality," Charles snapped. "You make the choice. It's your damn leg."
"Are doctors supposed to talk to their patients like that?" Dominic challenged.
"I'm not just any doctor. I'm your doctor and I can talk to you any way I want. I've reached the stage when I'm tired of your childish behavior. So what if you've lost your career. Is that the measure you take to define yourself? The fact that your celebrity status is no more? When we were at school together, I admired your drive and determination. I knew you wanted more for yourself. I didn't realize that what you wanted had nothing to do with your talent, but how people see you and the number of groupies you could bed. That's not the man who was my best friend. You were a fighter then. What I see now is just a pale imitation of the man you wanted to be." Charles stared at him, his nostrils flaring with anger.
Dominic could feel the color drain from his face. He stood abruptly, knocking the cane down and stumbling. His leg flamed with pain and he fell to the floor. He lay still, feeling angry rather than embarrassed.
Footsteps sounded. He looked up and Charles looked down, his face unsmiling, unsympathetic. He shook his head slowly.
"I'm going to go get lunch. You can get yourself up since you seem to want to be helpless down there. I'll get Janice to come in a moment. You can tell her what you want to do. She'll tell me your decision."
With that, Charles walked out the room without a backward glance.
Inside, fury surged. Words he hadn't used for ages slipped from between his lips and sounded strange. His mother would have been shocked to hear them.
He raised himself slowly, his weight on one arm. He then tumbled awkwardly into the chair.
For a while he sat there. He couldn't believe that Charles had walked out, but by the time Janice walked into the office, he realized how silly he had been.
"You can let Charles know he can start making the arrangements," he said calmly. "I leave for Barbados tomorrow."
The phone produced its usual musical interlude. Aaliyah groaned, burrowing herself deeper into the covers, willing the sound to stop. She sighed in contentment when it did. The long afternoon had finally taken its toll on her body; her feet felt as if they would fall off. She grunted when the ringing started again.
She stretched a hand out and, with unexpected precision, grasped the retro phone, pulling it quickly to her ear.
"Hello," she greeted.
"Good evening, Aaliyah. It's Dr. Graham."
She sat up, immediately wondering if something was wrong with one of her patients. "Good evening, Dr. Graham. How can I help you?"
She'd only started working with him a few months ago in the physiotherapy department. He was a brilliant surgeon and she'd been delighted about the opportunity to learn from him.
"I'm calling you with a little proposal."
"How'd you like to go work in Barbados for a few months?"
"I have a client who needs a physiotherapist to work with him for the next few months. Would you be interested?"
"How long do I have to think about it?" she asked.
"I'll need an answer in the morning, in case I have to look for someone else. You don't have to worry about your job here. I'll make arrangements for your leave. When it's over you can return to your current position. You're the first person I thought about for this job. You've been doing great work. This would be good training."
"I'll definitely think about it. When would I be expected to start?"
"You'd be leaving a week from today."
"Yes, that soon. Just think about it overnight. You'd of course be compensated very well."
"How well?" she asked out of pure curiosity.
When she heard Doctor Graham state the figure, she almost fainted.
"You're sure that is what's being offered each month?"
He laughed. "Yes, Aaliyah. For as long as my client needs the treatment. He definitely needs the help. I'm worried about him. He's already gotten rid of two therapists."
"And you think I can handle him?"
"I know you can handle him. He needs a gentle hand but lots of firmness."
"I promise I'll consider it. Can I call you in the morning?"
"I was hoping I didn't have to wait so long, but I'll try to be patient."
"Good night, then, Doctor Graham. I'll speak with you soon."
"You have a good night, Aaliyah."
After the phone disconnected, she continued to stare at the handset before she eventually put it down, pulling the covers back over her.
She didn't need to think. Before she'd put her phone down, she'd made her decision. Too many life changes had happened today. It was almost as if fate were intervening.
She would go. She had to go. She needed a change, just as Eboni had said that afternoon. She wondered if the change of surroundings would heal her of the ache she felt each night as she lay in bed alone. She missed Andrew. Sometimes in the stillness of the night, the familiar hint of the Irish Spring soap he used wafted through the air.
She rose again, picked up the phone and dialed Eboni's number to share her plans.
Posted December 30, 2013
Posted December 30, 2013
Posted December 7, 2013
Loved the stories and the characters. You laughed, you cied, at times i wanted to shake Dominick and say, you can do this! Loved, loved, loved! Could not put this book down, had to read in one sitting. Looking forward to the other sisters stories.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.