Read Ultimate Escape Online

Authors: Lydia Rowan

Ultimate Escape (9 page)

BOOK: Ultimate Escape

wo Weeks

there were no armed men, and worse, no Cruz hiding in the cereal aisle, Nola pushed her cart forward as she debated which brand of granola to buy.

Being back home was surreal, and more than once, she’d halfway convinced herself the whole trip had been a dream. A glossy magazine cover caught her eye, and she paused, reading the front-page headline about the young American who’d been arrested in Vietnam for running an illegal wildlife trafficking ring and who now faced life in prison, maybe even death if he was convicted. Her gaze lingered on Sam’s picture, and she shook her head at the shame of it all. Sam had meant her harm, but she still felt for him. But he’d made his own bed.

Saint had said as much when she’d seen him last. He’d dropped by to assure her that everything was good and that the traffickers would not come after her again. And then Cruz had driven her back to Tan Son Nhat, and two days later she was home.


She hadn’t spoken to him since he’d left her at the airport, didn’t even know how to reach him, or if she should try. But she missed him, knew that she loved him. And getting over that would be the hardest thing.

“I told you I’d get you home safe.”

She’d replayed those words, the little smile on his face as he’d said them, the feeling of his lips against hers that last time. A final kiss with an unspoken but undeniable good-bye.

And then he was gone, out of her life as quickly as he’d entered it.


She turned at the sound of her name and saw Carl and Sidney walking toward her hand in hand. Her gaze lowered to their entwined fingers, and Carl let go. Considerate, Nola supposed, but entirely unnecessary. Having tasted real love with Cruz, she couldn’t begrudge them their happiness. And if nothing else, her time with Cruz had proven whatever she’d had with Carl, their friendship, the comfort between them, hadn’t been love.

“Hi,” she said when they stood in front of her.

“Hi,” they responded, speaking simultaneously.

“We heard about your trip. Was it fun?” Sidney finally said.

“It was the adventure of a lifetime,” Nola replied. She didn’t say anything more, figuring they didn’t need to know she’d almost gotten herself killed, more than once, and if that wasn’t enough, she had gone and gotten her fool heart broken in the process.

Carl nodded and Sidney smiled, but their awkwardness was palpable.

“Congratulations. I hope you two have a happy life,” Nola said, and then she turned and left.

The Nola who’d left town wasn’t the one who’d returned, and whatever anger and hurt Carl and Sidney may have caused was gone. Almost losing her life had put things in perspective, and so had experiencing real love with Cruz, not the imitation she’d let herself believe she’d felt for Carl.

Everything was different now, and Nola had to figure out what she was going to do.

But that would have to wait until she got her head examined. She’d finally lost it, had pined for Cruz so long, she was imagining him. What other explanation could there be for the scary-real hallucination that looked exactly like him sitting on her porch?

So she sat in her car, afraid if she moved, she’d have definitive proof she was gone. Or that the Cruz hallucination would leave, and she didn’t want that, not yet.

The dream Cruz got up and walked toward her car.

“You gonna stay in the car, Nola?”

She got out, but didn’t look at it, kept her eyes downcast when it curled tender fingers around her chin and tilted her head up. And when she met those amazing blue eyes, tears began to fall down her face.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“I’m just… I didn’t think I’d see you again,” she said. In fact, she’d been convinced she wouldn’t, had begun the process of trying to move on though her efforts so far had failed miserably.

“You didn’t think I’d just leave you, did you?” he asked.

“Well… Yeah, I did.”

His face darkened, and then he grabbed her hand.

“Come on,” he said.

He led her into the house. The first thing she saw was her sofa, the very one where she’d been struck by the crazy idea that had changed her life. Cruz’s hand on her shoulder drew her attention and she turned to him, met his stunning blue gaze. And when he cupped her cheek in his big hand, it was all Nola could do to keep from melting into his touch.

“Did you think I could just leave you?”

She nodded and was struck by the hurt that again crossed his face.

“Don’t you know?” he asked.

“Know what?” she said.

But rather than respond, he grasped her cheek tighter and then covered her lips with his.

At the first touch of his warm mouth, Nola released a deep breath that she only then realized she had been holding since she’d left him at the airport. And when he slipped his tongue into her mouth, stroking against hers with passion that matched her own, she thawed completely.

In that instant, the loss that had weighed on her since she’d seen him last faded away. Cruz was here, and nothing else mattered.

He broke the kiss and stared down at her, eyes alight.

“Nola,” he whispered, and then he kissed her again.

The trip to her bedroom was a haze, Cruz removing her clothing piece by piece as Nola did the same. And when he finally laid her on the bed and spread his big body out above her, her blood surged with need and desire. The passion in his eyes, his hardness pressing at the apex of her thighs told her he felt the same.

As he watched her, her need spiked, but rather than bringing them together, Cruz stroked her body in broad, sweeping caresses, his rough fingertips against her skin leaving her nearly breathless. And then, finally, when she didn’t think she could wait a moment longer, he pushed into her with one strong thrust, his cock filling her completely.

Once he was fully seated, he captured her gaze again, and they lay connected, body and, Nola thought, heart.

She clenched her walls around him, unable to stop her smile at the sound of his huffed-out breath. But then he moved and all thought fled.

He thrust over and over and over again until Nola could think of nothing but Cruz, the feeling of being with him again. And, her eyes locked with his, she held him tight as together they reached their climax.

Later, as she lay wrapped in his arms, he smiled down at her.

“What?” she said.

“I can’t believe you thought I wasn’t coming back. I’m back, Nola. For you. Because I love you,” he said.

“I love you too,” she replied on a low whisper, her heart stuttering with the emotion that filled her chest.

Then she kissed him with her entire heart and soul before she pulled back and stared into eyes that shined with love.

“Are you staying here?” she asked.

He smiled. “Actually, I heard Cambodia is nice in spring,” he said.

“My bags are already packed,” she replied.


Vientiane, Laos

Saint and Ace sat side by side at the bar, quiet among the noise that surrounded them, each man lost in thought.

“So where are you headed now?” Ace finally asked.

“Wherever the job takes me,” was Saint’s reply. “You?”

Ace looked around the bar and then settled his gaze on Saint.

“I think it might be time to go home.”


Find out what happens when Ace goes home in
What You Least Expect
, and see what Saint is up to in
Ultimate Capture
Both are coming soon, so sign up for my newsletter to find out when the books are out!
In the meantime,
Two Weeks in Geneva: Complete Series
Where You Least Expect
Who You Least Expect
When You Least Expect
are available now!

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