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Authors: Jeanette Hornby

Candy's Man

BOOK: Candy's Man
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CANDY’S
MAN

A
Short Prelude

By

Jeanette Hornby

 
 

Copyright
© 2012 by Jeanette Hornby

 

Thank you for
downloading this
ebook
.
 
This remains the copyrighted property of the
author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial and
non-commercial purposes.
 
Thank you for
your support.

 

This book is a
work of fiction.
 
With the exception of
recognized historical figures, the characters in this novel are fictional.
 
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead,
is purely coincidental.

 
 
 

CHAPTER
ONE

 
 

Candy
inhaled the fresh salty air and watched the throng of people on the deck of the
cruise ship.
 
In a few minutes the ship
would leave the Port of Miami and tour the Caribbean.

The
ship’s horn sounded loudly and Candy put her hands over her ears.
 
A sudden breeze whipped the hat off her
head.
 
“My hat!” she yelled above the
din, as the hat swirled in the air.
 
She
saw several hands reach out but the hat soared upwards and over the crowd.
 
“No!”

She
pushed her way through the mass of people.
 
“Please!”
 

The
hat looked to be going overboard but a hand suddenly grasped it and her heart
skipped a beat.
 

For
several moments she lost sight of her precious hat.
 
But then, there it was.
 
She watched as the hat moved through the
horde.
 
Closer.
 
And then it stopped right before her.

It
was in large hands.

Candy
looked up over a muscular chest that was covered by a tight black t-shirt.
 
Her gaze moved to a strong, square, jawline
and an arresting masculine face.
 
Dark sunglasses
covered the man’s eyes but didn’t detract from his handsomeness.
 
He was all muscle and she felt a shiver
course down her spine.
 
“My hat,” she
stated, nervously.
  

A
small smile crossed the man’s mouth and he held it out to her.
 
“Thank you so much,” she gushed as she took
hold of her prized possession.
 
The man
merely nodded and stood there watching her.

The
strong spicy scent of his cologne filled the air despite the choppy
breeze.
 
She looked down and fumbled with
the hat in her hands.
 
She was so out of
practice.
 
What did one say to a
man?
 
Was he even single?

As far as she could tell, no ring.
 
Now what?
 
When his boot-covered foot began to tap, she knew she should say
something.
 
“Thank you,” she squeaked and
then cleared her throat
.
 

Pathetic.
 

He
raked a hand through his thick, dark hair and nodded again before he began to
walk away.

She
stared at him.
 
She couldn’t let him leave
like that but what else was there to say?
 
And then the moment was lost as his hulking figure became lost in the
crowd.
 

Damn!

“What
a hunk,” a voice said, and Candy turned to face the blonde woman beside
her.
 
“Did you catch his name?” she
asked.

“No,”
Candy replied.
 
“I...I was lost for
words.”

The
woman nodded in understanding.
 
“Yes, I
guess he could take your breath away.
 
I’ve never seen a man like that.”

Candy
chuckled.
 
“I know what you mean.”

“I’m
Susan,” the woman said, smiling.

“Candace,”
she replied.

“Are
you here alone?”

“Yes.”

“Divorced?”

“Is
it that obvious?”

“You
look like a little lost sheep,” Susan told her with a laugh and Candy
cringed.
 
“You’ll get over it,” Susan
assured her.

“Hopefully.”

“Look
over there,” Susan whispered, and Candy’s gaze moved to a group of men who were
watching them.

She
felt a flutter in her stomach and looked down.
 
Was she ever going to get used to being single again?
 

“They
seem okay,” Susan said quietly.
 
“The
blonde one is cute.”

Candy
briefly looked them over and felt the panic in her veins.
 
“I think I might go for a swim,” she
remarked, and noted the surprised look on Susan’s face.
 
“I need to relax.”

Susan
smiled.
 
“I could go with you.”

“Really?
 
I’d
like that.”

“Let’s
go and fetch our swimming gear,” Susan said, taking charge, and Candy was
grateful for Susan’s confidence.

They
reached Candy’s cabin.
 
 
“I’ll meet you back here.
 
My cabin’s a bit further up,” Susan said.

“Okay.”
 
Candy walked inside.

The
cabin was decorated in cream and gold and looked every bit the stateroom.
 
It wasn’t a big cabin but it seemed a world
away from her home in Sydney.
 

She
located her chocolate-brown ruffled bathers, quickly changed, and looked in the
mirror.
 
Not too bad.

She
ran a hand over her flat stomach.
 
In a
perfect world she would have had babies by now.
 
She frowned and shook her head.
 
She was here to enjoy herself.
  
She wasn’t going to think about what might have been.
     

One
tug and her black, patterned sarong
was
tied around
her hips.
 
There was a knock on the door
and she quickly opened it.
 
Susan stood
there.
 
“That was quick.”
 
She grabbed her things and closed the door
behind her.
 

“We
won’t get much sun if we dawdle too long,” Susan remarked, and Candy nodded in
agreement.

 
On deck, the huge pool was surrounded by
bright yellow umbrellas and blue-striped deck chairs, and there were people
everywhere.
    

The
wind swept Candy’s hair into the air and she thought of the man who had rescued
her hat.
 
‘Hunk’ was an understatement.
 

They
moved closer to the smaller pool that was more secluded and near the bar.

The
sun-bronzed, dark-haired barman smiled at her.
 
“Would you like a drink, Madam?”
 
His name tag said ‘Dominic’.
 
Definitely Latin.

“Ooh,
yes.
 
Two of those,” Susan said and
pointed to the cocktail glass of another passenger.
  

Was
it too early for alcohol?
 
Candy shrugged
and sat on a barstool.
 
She watched as
the barman concocted their drinks.
 
“He’s
got talent,” Susan remarked, giving her a nudge, and Candy smiled at her
exuberance.
  

“With
the ship’s compliments,” Dominic said smoothly, placing the drinks before
them.
 

Candy
smiled nervously and quickly took a sip.
 
The fruity cocktail tingled on her tongue and she watched the barman
serve another customer.
  

“He’s
cute,” Susan whispered.
 
Candy had to
agree.
 

Dominic
caught her looking at him and grinned.
 
She felt her stomach do a somersault.
 
Was he flirting with her?
 
He gave
her a wink.
 
Oh, God, she needed a few
more drinks before she could do this, and it was way too early for that.

“I
think he likes you,” Susan said.

Candy
gulped down her drink and placed the empty glass on the bar.
 
“I’m going for a swim.
 
I’ll see you later.”

Susan
looked stunned.
 
“Okay.”
 
She turned her attention to the man beside
her.

Candy
walked quickly away from the bar.
 

The
sun was low in the sky but still shone brilliantly.
 
She glanced briefly at Susan who appeared at ease
while conversing with a stranger, and she blew out a breath.
 
How was she ever going to meet anyone if she
couldn’t even speak?
 
She was an
intelligent woman.
 
A marketing consultant,
for goodness sake, and her job was all about talking to clients.
 
What the hell was wrong with her?
 
She sighed, knowing the answer to that.
 
Her failed marriage had devastated her and
erased her confidence.
 

Well,
she wasn’t going to sit around and waste her time on this glorious ship.
 
She untied her sarong, walked over to the
pool’s edge, and jumped in
.
 

Oh!
 

The
water was colder than she expected but it still felt wonderful on her
skin.
 
Exhilarating.
 

When
the sun dipped lower in the sky, Candy climbed out of the pool.
 
She squeezed her damp hair, made her way back
to her chair,
then
dried herself.

A
loud wolf-whistle resonated along the deck and she looked up to see a group of
men.
 
As one of the men started walking
in her direction, she quickly wrapped the towel around her.
 
What did he want?

He
moved closer.
 
He was about six-feet
tall, reasonably good-looking with blonde hair and light eyes.
 
“Excuse me,” he said, inching nearer.
 
      

She
took a step back.
 
“Can I help you?”
 
She held on tight to her towel.

“I
was wondering if you’d like to have a drink with me.”

Oh, God.

She
looked past him and saw his friends waiting and watching intently.
 
This had to be a set up.
 
She looked back toward the man and studied
him.
 
He had to be in his early
twenties.
 
“How old are you?” she asked,
frowning.

He
seemed taken aback by her question.
 
“Pardon?”

She
moved past him and pointed to his friends.
 
“Why are they waiting there for you, is this a joke?”

“What?”
 
His brow puckered.
 
“No, I wanted to have a drink with you and
they...they came with me for moral support.”

She
stared at him.
 
He looked serious.
 
“Oh.”
 

“Sorry,
I’ll leave you alone,” he told her, the disappointment evident on his
face.
 
He began to walk away.

Crap.

“Wait!”
she said against her better judgement.
 
“I’m
sorry.
 
Can we start again?”
 
The smile he gave her made her tremble
inside.
 
She smiled back shyly.
 

He
held out a hand.
 
“I’m Sean.”

“Candace,”
she replied, and quickly shook his hand.

“And
to answer your previous question, I’m twenty-six,” he said with a laugh.

A younger
man.

“Sorry.
 
I thought you were fooling around.”

“Why
would I do that?”

Because my own husband
didn’t want me, so why should you?
 

Her
voice was gone so she shrugged.

“Do
you want to have that drink now or later?” he asked, his eyes an intense blue.

“I’d
like to shower and change first,” she said, feeling nauseous.

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