Authors: Jennifer Haymore
“But even though he loved the girl, he still had his lifelong passion for growing his personal wealth. He wanted it all. The girl
the riches. But the Fates decided he couldn’t have it all. He had to choose.”
She stared at him, food forgotten.
“He was so greedy and selfish, this boy, that he tried to make the girl follow him. He tried to tempt her into his world of craving riches and wealth. What he didn’t comprehend was that the girl had her own dreams that were separate from his own.
“So he went away to pursue his dreams, and she went to pursue hers. Years went by, and the boy worked his ass off—” He paused when she snickered.
“‘Ass’ doesn’t fit with the tone of your story,” she said.
When he stared at her in confusion, she added, “I think it might end up being a fairy tale, but no one says ass in fairy tales unless they’re talking about donkeys.” Her tone was soft, even loving. And her eyes were a deep gray with a tinge of blue, and they shone with emotion.
“Fine.” He took a breath. “He worked his butt…no, he worked very, very hard to acquire those mountains of gold and jewels that he wanted so badly. But there was an aching hole deep inside him. He tried to fill it up…” He closed his eyes for a second, remembering Oksana…the others. Remembering clubbing, drinking, experimenting with women…and all the other shit that had done nothing for him. Remembering working until the early hours of the morning, thinking that work would ultimately sustain him.
“But no matter what he did,” Nate continued, pushing the words out through an emotion-clogged throat now, “he couldn’t fill the void. And then he came to a realization. He knew what he was missing, what had filled him with life and made him complete.”
She whispered, “The girl?”
“The girl.” He tore his gaze away from her. “He came to this conclusion two and a half years after they’d gone their separate ways. He knew that in a few months the girl would be going to a magical land. So he planned to find her in that place and win her back.”
“Two and a half years? That was…last fall. You realized this that long ago? Nathan…”
He shook his head, stopping her from continuing. “Once again, he thought he could have it all, and once again he failed to think of her dreams and her plans. He was…stupid.” He nearly choked on the last sentence. Because it was true—he had been so fucking stupid.
“So he went back to his empty life. And finally, after all those years and so much wasted time, he realized something: to be fulfilled in life, he didn’t need piles of gold and jewels. All he needed was her.”
A tear slipped down her cheek. But he couldn’t touch her. Not yet.
“He decided to go to her and tell her this. To finally make things right between them. He went to her cottage, but when he arrived, she wasn’t there. He had no idea where she could have disappeared to. But then he discovered that she’d come to him at the same time he’d decided to go to her. He rushed back home…”
“To his palace,” she whispered.
“…his stately home that he’d considered a stepping stone on his way to a palace,” he corrected. She made a cute little grumbling noise that made him want to kiss her.
Not yet. Not yet.
“And when he arrived, he found her, looking so sad and tired, all he cared about was holding her close until she smiled again.”
She gave him a wobbly smile.
“And once she started smiling, he planned to tell her how wrong he’d been. How he didn’t care about riches anymore. All he cared about was her.”
She blinked hard, and another tear rolled down her cheek.
“All he wanted was to abandon his stately home and go live in her cottage with her. He wanted to lie beside her at night again, like he had so long ago. He wanted to hold her, comfort her when she was sad, and laugh with her when she was happy. He realized that having it all didn’t mean having tangible objects like gems and gold and palaces. Having it all meant having her.”
He looked at her again, his own eyes stinging. “Zoey. I want you back. I…need you. I love you so much—never stopped loving you. Please… Will you have me?”
“I…” Her voice wavered, and she cleared her throat as she set the breakfast tray aside. “I would tell you a story too, Nathan. But all I have for you is truth. Kind of an…autobiography.”
“Tell me,” he said softly.
She stared down at her hands clenched in her lap. “I was so rigid in my thinking. So single-minded, I lost track of what was most important—being with the man who completed me. Who made me so…
. In my stupidity and stubbornness, I let him go. And then I saw him again. The way he made me feel… It was so good. And then I did the most idiotic thing ever—I let him go
. But this time I saw everything in a whole new light.
have it all. So I decided to quit my job, find a new job, and go to him, thinking maybe, just maybe, he’d take me back.”
why you’re here?” he breathed.
She nodded. “I want…I
that you’ll take me back. I was such an idiot to let you go, Nathan. To leave you in Sugar Cay…to not come with you to Stanford. I’ve wasted so much time. I love you. I always have.”
He opened his arms, and she lunged at him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him through her tears.
“I love you too, Zoey.” He squeezed her tight and closed his eyes for a moment as he kissed her back, his relief so palpable, he could taste it. And it tasted so sweet. It tasted like Zoey.
“I want to move here, to San Francisco,” she said against his mouth.
“No, Zo. I’m ready to move to DC. If your life is there, then so is mine.”
“Nathan.” She pulled back from him and looked him in the eyes. “I already applied for a job here. I’ve been hired to teach fifth grade at a school in the Mission District.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am,” she said. “Dead serious.”
He blinked at her. “Shit. I applied for a transfer to the DC office. It came through just last week.”
“Oh my God,” she whispered. “You didn’t.”
They stared wide-eyed at each other for several moments. Judging by the expression on her face, she was just as surprised by this revelation as he was.
And then he cupped her face between his palms and pressed her forehead to his. “There it is, then. Proof.”
“That this is right. That it’s going to work. We’re both ready for it now.”
“But what are we going to do?” she whispered, surprise and awe still filling her voice.
“We’ll figure something out,” he said softly, stroking her hair. “It’s not going to be a problem. It never really was—but we were younger then.”
She snorted. “We’re so much older and wiser now.”
“Old enough to have learned that relationships take concessions in order to work. And if you’re with the one you need to be with, then those concessions are worth it. Even if it means changing jobs or moving across the country.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Yeah, I do.”
She pulled back from him, tears pooling in her eyes. “We’re going to be all right, aren’t we?”
“We are. More than all right.” He tugged her down onto the bed, moved his body over hers, and kissed her, pouring all his desire and love for her into the kiss. This was what he wanted—who he wanted. For the rest of his life, if he had Zoey beside him, then he’d have more riches than a pile of gold could ever offer him. If she was with him, then everything else would fall into place.
“We’re going to be okay, Zo,” he whispered against her lips.
…And they were.
A Note from Jennifer
Thanks so much for reading
. Two more novellas in the Sugar Cay series,
(Matt Archer’s story) and
(Jake Montgomery’s story) are coming soon. I hope you enjoy them all!
Would you like to know when my next book is available? You can sign up for my newsletter at
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All reviews, whether positive or negative, help readers to find books, so if you would take the time to leave a review for this story, I would truly appreciate it.
If you’d like to read an excerpt from my standalone contemporary romance novel,
Never Let Me Go
, please turn the page.
Never Let Me Go
Sometimes following your ambitions means losing your heart...
When Celeste McMillan graduated from college, she hit the ground running, prepared to overcome every challenge and climb the corporate ladder at record-breaking speed. But then a client assaults her, and her boss forces her to take a ten-day “vacation” in Hawaii.
Kanoe Anakalea is intrigued when he meets the pale-skinned, redheaded haole on his favorite surfing beach. Celeste is intelligent and adventurous, sexy and sweet. Even though sun, sand and sexy surfers are as foreign to Celeste as the L.A. corporate world is to Kanoe, their sexual chemistry sizzles.
As they spend sun-warmed days and plumeria-scented nights in each other’s arms, they find themselves falling hard. Yet love is out of the question. Kanoe is rooted in his island home, and Celeste’s future beckons in L.A. As the clock ticks down, Celeste realizes that letting go might be the greatest challenge she’s ever had to face.
Enjoy the following excerpt from
Never Let Me Go
Feeling another ridiculous blush coming on, Celeste turned back to the path. Kanoe was right behind her, balancing the surfboards. Just looking at him made her feel hot and flustered all over…for more reasons than she cared to consider.
Straightening her spine, Celeste turned and opened the chain-link gate to the twisting path leading up to the house.
Kanoe was a nice guy, the kind of guy who surfed in the middle of a weekday. Definitely not a professional. Definitely not the kind of man she generally found attractive.
But she found him so, so damn attractive.
He couldn’t possibly have any other intentions when it came to her. She was a freakishly pale girl who didn’t understand his local lingo, who had to be rescued from treacherous riptides and was hopeless on a surfboard. More embarrassed by the ordeal than she’d thought possible, she clenched her fists at her sides and pressed on. All this was simply more proof that she was out of her element. At the office, she impressed people every day.
Here, she could hardly walk across a beach.
Her irritation with herself growing, Celeste marched up the mossy path to her rental. Why was she so embarrassed? Why did she wish, deep inside, that she could’ve impressed him out there? Why did it even matter?
Pausing in her step, she glanced back at him. Well, it was obvious. She remembered the smoldering way Kanoe had looked at her when they were out on the water, with his golden-brown eyes slightly narrowed, focused. As if he wanted more of her. The look had heightened sensation throughout her body and even out there, it had been hard to keep from touching him.
It meant nothing. A little chemistry never meant anything.
She sighed, thinking of how she’d been so giddy on the beach after that first time. Why hadn’t she controlled herself? First of all, nobody rode in all the way to the sand. Nobody jumped up and down afterward. Nobody laughed like a maniac.
Nobody but her, the white woman who liked to pretend she belonged but didn’t. What was she trying to prove? Celeste never lost control, never abandoned her cool reserve. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d behaved like that. It was amazing Kanoe hadn’t run for the hills hours ago. He must think she was a complete moron. Then that awful wipeout and her bleeding head sealed the deal. She was a moron.
She heaved a sigh. Well, she couldn’t do anything about it now. She might as well be herself—she had nothing to lose at this point.
Kanoe set the boards upright on the lanai and followed her inside. There, he sat her on the couch, then found a towel and wet a washcloth. He sat beside her and began to bathe her forehead with gentle strokes.
She gave him a rueful look. “This is becoming a habit. You helping me out, I mean. First with my gate and my luggage, and now with surfing and my stupid head injury. Maybe I should keep you around.”
“Maybe you should,” he said mildly.
Maybe I should.
There it was, the same dark gaze he’d given her out in the surf, before she’d made a complete idiot of herself. Maybe he hadn’t minded her behavior. Could he have liked her overexcited behavior? Could he get past her inexperienced klutziness?