Jessica Stone has her life in perfect order until her perfectly boring boyfriend Brett puts things in perspective. So when she receives a call to action from her heartbroken best friend Cassie, she ditches her plans for Winter Break in gloomy Olympic Falls and sets off to Mexico for some fun in the sun.
Determined to use her oceanview to prep for her MCATS, she doesn't plan to run into anyone from Olympic State, least of all the cute communications prof she's been crushing on for a year. When he unexpectedly saves the day, the two are thrown together in a distinctly extracurricular activity.
Roman Markson doesn’t expect to run into anyone he knows from Olympic Falls while visiting his family in Puerto Vallarta, especially not a former student. Although Jess Stone has a way of catching men’s attention, a relationship with her is strictly off-limits. However, the rules feel less strict in Mexico, so they agree to a plan: one week in paradise and nothing more.
But avoiding each other back on campus is harder than they anticipated, especially when they can’t stay away from one another. Neither is sure what they have to learn—and lose—before life teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget.
everyone to Garrett’s and grabbed one of the two booths to wait. I was more
than a little nervous to be here with Roman—in public, particularly a college bar. We stuck to hanging out at my
place or his most of the time, but Jillian had begged us to go out for once. It
wasn’t as if
most people would think anything of seeing the two of us together. He wasn’t wildly
older than me and dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt he just looked like
another hot guy at the bar.
But I knew,
and couldn’t help but feel nervous.
“Stop fidgeting,” he whispered, taking my hand into his so that I couldn’t bite my
“What if the dean walks in or something?” I asked.
“I hear he hangs out here all the time,” he said wryly. “And even if he did, he has no clue who I am. I’m not a
tenured professor, remember? Just an instructor.”
right, but that fact did nothing to calm my racing heart. Without the others
here to distract me with stories and bad jokes, I had time to think and there
was only one thing on my mind—getting
caught. Although technically we were both students, I knew our relationship
existed in a grey area.
I was distracted from my analysis by the appearance of Cassie. She strutted to
the table, looking her usual fashionable self and then unleashed a string of
curses that would put a sailor to shame.
“Good day?” I asked,
already feeling more comfortable.
“Computer crashed, so I have to rewrite an entire paper
by Friday.” She waved
over Frank to place an order for the special: frozen pizza cooked in their
pizza oven. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was cheap and a tradition.
resident bartender, ambled over, scratching at his bushy eyebrow. “The usual?”
“You have a usual?” Roman asked under his breath.
have as much hair growing in his ears as on his head, but he caught it,
glancing at Roman with disapproval.
“Yeah, but double it,” Cassie said. “We brought the boys.”
“Where’s your boy?” Frank
“No more boys for me. Unless you’re available, Frank.” She batted
her eyelashes at him suggestively.
“I’m too old for you, hon. Thought I told you to stay out
of trouble this year.” His words
were gruff, but we all knew he was a teddy bear underneath his tough exterior.
shook her head, spilling dark locks of hair over her shoulders. “Boys my age are trouble.”
“Been telling you that for years,” Frank called over his shoulder as he headed back toward
perked up on hearing the familiar Scottish accent. Over the past year, I’d grown to
love Liam as much as Jillian. Having my whole, extended family here was enough
to put me instantly at ease. Within an hour, we’d polished
off both combo pizzas and the conversation was flowing as swiftly as the penny
“Any news?” I asked
Jillian as the men discussed soccer.
stiffened in her chair and took a long swig of her beer. She was on her second
of the night. I’d been counting, knowing I’d have to step in if she tried to have more or risk it
affecting her medication.
“No official news, but the student liaison’s office
says it doesn’t look good. Apparently every foreign exchange student wants to come to
from the tension ticking in her jaw as she finished speaking, she thought this
was unfair. “Why can’t we go to
school somewhere boring like Cleveland. I mean, Liam’s already
here. Why not let him stay?”
“You could marry him,” I said with a shrug.
turned fire truck red, but next to her, Liam laughed and leaned over to me. “Careful, now. You’re going to mess up my plans.”
“Shut up,” she said, turning even brighter red.
“Oh, chicken. Stop now, love.” He planted a kiss on her forehead. “That looks like painful embarrassment.”
why I loved him. He didn’t bat an eye at the idea of a long-term relationship
with Jillian, even though she had early-onset Parkinson’s. He was
in love with her and that was all that mattered.
“It’ll work out,”
I assured her.
“How?” She looked
at me with the familiar, searching eyes I knew so well. She hadn’t looked at
me that way in months. At some point, I’d stopped being the person she turned to for comfort and
advice. I suppose facing the prospect of losing Liam, she’d fallen
into old habits.
to Roman, understanding perfectly how subtly falling in love changed
relationships and not always in bad ways. “I just know it will.”
" I like coffee. A lot. Writing gives me time to go get a cup without my kids. I like books as much as I like coffee, but it is easier to read with children hanging on you than drink coffee due to the threat of third degree burns. That's why coffee gets top billing in my intro: its unattainability. I hold a Masters in English with a specialization in 18th century women's studies. While this is a highly marketable area of expertise, I stay home with my kids, which means my 3 year-old son uses correct grammar and doesn't burn down the house. I have a ridiculously supportive husband who dreams of being included on a book jacket: "The author lives in Kansas with her husband, two children, and a Tuesday cat." I'm represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media." "