Sunday, November 23, 2014

Something Amazing (Spin-off of Something Great Series)
January 11, 2015

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Something Amazing

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Prologue

Rachel

         “Hi Rachel. It’s good to hear from you.”
         “Hey, Becky,” I said softly, trying not to break down over the phone. It was the last thing I wanted to do. “Is Matthew with you?” I thought bringing up Matthew to divert her attention would help, but it didn’t.
         She chuckled lightly. “Sorry. Matthew was tickling me. He says hi.”
         “Tell him I said hi, too.”
         “Is everything okay? You’ve never called me this late before. I mean, its nine o’clock here, but it’s midnight in New York.”
         “I … it’s just that. I’m going to take a mini vacation.”
         “What happened?” My sister’s voice was concerned. I imagined her getting up, out of bed.
         I tried my best to maintain composure, but her big-sisterly voice—the one that always soothed me and gave me reassurance—made me utterly lose it. Tears burst forth, which she definitely heard. “We broke up.”
         “What? Why?” Her pitch rose higher.
         “It’s kind of Matthew’s fault.” My lips quivered as tears ran down my cheeks.
         I heard a slap and Matthew’s shout. “Ouch! What was that for? You better watch it, Becca, ‘cause you’re turning me on. I don’t care if it’s your baby sister on the phone. I’ll make you come big time. She’ll be hearing Matthew and Becca porn.”
         Oh my God! I let out a snort. That seemed to stop the tears for a bit. “Don’t hurt him. He didn’t do anything.”
         “I’ll be right back,” I heard her tell Matthew. “Okay, sorry about that, Rachel. What do you mean you and Greg broke up? What happened? Tell me everything.”
         Tell her everything? Where do you start when there is so much to tell? “I don’t love him anymore.”
         “Are you sure?”
         “Becky … remember when you told me about Jenna? How she was going out with a safe guy, but her heart wasn’t really there?”
         “Yes.”
         “I think that’s how it is with me. I just didn’t know it until I saw how Max and Matthew were. When you hear about it, it’s one thing, but when you see it with your own eyes it becomes real. My eyes were opened when I came to visit you. I had loved Greg for the past two years, but I don’t think he’s the one for me; the one I want forever with.”
         “As much as I really like Greg, I’m on your side. If you’re not happy with him, then it’s better that you found out sooner rather than later.”
         “I want to know what it feels like to love, and be loved, the way you and Matthew love each other. There’s so much respect, honesty, and … passion.” I was kind of shy saying that word, but sex was a big deal in a relationship.
         “Did you talk to Greg about this?”
         “I did. The problem is that he’s a great guy, but there’s ….” I couldn’t finish the sentence.
         “Well, look. Surely, you and Greg weren’t meant to be. You’re still so inexperienced, fresh out of college. You should date around.”
         I released a heavy sigh and sniffed. “I know. There’s a part of me that feels relief, and a part of me that’s hurting.” The tears that I’d tried to keep at bay escaped from the corners of my eyes.
         “I understand. I’m so sorry. Breaking up is hard. Especially when you’ve been together for so long. Want to come visit me?”
         “Actually, the reason I called was to let you know that I’m going to Kauai with Stacey.”
         “Your roommate, Stacey?”
         “Yes. Don’t worry. I’ll make it to your wedding rehearsal.”
         “Okay. Do Mom and Dad know?”
         “Yes. They know about the break up and my trip. I’m sure they’ll be calling you tomorrow.”
         “Thanks for the warning.”
         “What are sisters for? Anyway, I’ll let you go. Thanks for listening.”
         There was a silent pause. I knew Becky didn’t want to hang up because she was worried about me. The truth was, though I was hurting, I felt a sense of freedom. Was this a temporary thing? Had I made a mistake? I guessed time would let me know.
         “Any time, Rachel. Do me a favor?”
         “Anything. What is it?”
         “When you get there, don’t sulk. Forget Greg. Forget everything. Go out with hot surfer guys. Have a blast with Stacey. Be free and make out with lots of guys, but be responsible. Do what you were supposed to be doing for the past two years.”
         “Okay,” I said. I didn’t know about the hot surfer guys, but I would definitely leave all my worries behind and go to a peaceful place to help me clear my head. “Thank you. I’ll see you soon.”
         I heard Becky giggle and moan, even though she probably didn’t mean for me to hear. “Come to bed. It’s cold without you,” I heard Matthew’s voice murmur. I didn’t know if that was meant for me to hear either, but it made me smile. I loved how playful Matthew was. I meant it when I’d said it was Matthew’s fault. He’d made me see what type of man I wanted forever with. From all of the shuffling and steps on the other end of the line, I assumed that Matthew was carrying her to bed.
         “Call or text me to let me know you’re safe. Call me anytime. You’ll be three hours behind my time zone. And I’m really sorry about the breakup. It’s always hard, no matter the reason. Love ya.”
         “Love you, too. Bye, Becky. Say good-bye to Matthew for me.”
         “Bye, Rachel,” Matthew said. I was surprised to hear his voice. “Sorry about Greg. The one that’s meant for you will come when least expected. I’m talking from experience. When you get there, go to Poipu. My friend owns a restaurant on the beach, called Ocean Front. You can’t miss it. It’s the only one there. His name is Hendrix. I’ll give him a call. When do you leave for Kauai?”
“Next week. I haven’t made any reservations yet. Stacey and I decided spur of the moment.”
“Good. I won’t take no for an answer. I can set both of you up at Koloa Landing. I’ll call tomorrow. Have a great time and be safe. You’re my sister now, and I’m going to treat you like one, so guys better beware.” I heard a sweet, manly chuckle, half serious and half teasing. Being the type of person he was, I knew he spoke the truth.
“Thank you, Matthew.”
“By the way, you should be getting a phone call tomorrow. The photography department loved your work. The job is yours if you want it.”
“Are you serious?” I asked with elation. It was the first time I’d smiled that week. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say yes. Come and work for us. You don’t have to start right away.”
“Thanks, Matthew.” Although I had to think about the offer, that was one of the perks of having a connection and a great future brother-in-law. “You’re the best.”
Matthew chuckled. “She said I’m the best. She’s so smart.”
“Of course she would say that. You are the best.” I heard chuckling from my sister.
“I’m the best at everything, but mostly making Becca happy.”
There were more giggles. “Sorry, Rachel. Stop, Matthew.” More laughter rang through the phone. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Matthew. Bye, Becky,” I said, laughing, then hung up.


Chapter 1
Rachel

         “Wow! This place looks amazing.” Stacey dropped her suitcase and glanced around. “Look at the granite on the kitchen counter.” Her eyes grew wider. “Look at this refrigerator. It looks like it’s part of the cabinet.” She opened and closed it.
         Heading straight past the kitchen, I headed to the sliding glass door and opened it. The warm breeze tousled my hair as the smell of the ocean wafted through my nose. “Look at that ocean view,” I sighed, feeling all of my worries melt away.
Inhaling the breath of fresh air and taking in the beautiful scenario filled me with euphoria. One thing about Kauai, the wind blew a lot more than what I was used to. From the distance, I could see the palm trees swaying in the direction of the wind, dancing with the melody of Mother Nature. The thick clouds that looked like whipped cream seemed like they would be Heaven to touch. And something about being surrounded by nothing but plush greens and various colors of orchids that decorated the trees everywhere I looked, made me feel like I was in paradise.
I stepped outside onto the balcony, where there was outdoor furniture including a wooden dining table with seating for four. To my right I could see the swimming pools, and to my left was an empty lot. Looked like they were building, possibly a new complex.
         “You can take the bedroom with the view, and I’ll take the one by the kitchen,” Stacey said, breaking me out of my daze. She was standing halfway out the sliding glass door.
         “Are you sure?” I followed her inside and grabbed my suitcase from where I had dropped it next to hers when we entered.
         “Yes. I insist. We were planning to share one bedroom, but there are two. Plus, your future brother-in-law got this place for us just because he adores you. I seriously don’t know how you can stand to be in the same room and not drool over him. He looks edible in the pictures you showed me. I can only imagine how he would look in person.”
         “I have to admit that he’s good looking, but he’s going to be my brother-in-law. I think of Matthew as my older brother.”
         “Well, he’s not my future brother-in-law, so I’m allowed to drool over him. Next time you talk to him, tell him I thanked him. I mean, look at this place. It’s a two bedroom condo with a full kitchen.” She held up a menu and placed it down on the table. “We can order room service.” Stacey opened a door and closed it. “Laundry room.” She pointed. “A family room. Two bedrooms with our own bathrooms. This place must cost a fortune.”
         “Then let’s enjoy it.” I paused. “By the way, thank you for coming with me. Thank you for suggesting this. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
         Stacey gave me a tight squeeze. “I needed a vacation too. I’m so glad our schedules worked out.”
         “I know.” I let out a short laugh.
“How many times have we tried to plan trips together, but we could never find the time. Sometimes these spontaneous moments are the best. This was just meant to be.”
         “I agree. Let’s unpack and go to the pool. One thing I love about the time change, we just gained four hours.”
         “That’s right. Now if only we had twenty-eight hours a day. We could accomplish so much.” Stacey wiggled her eyebrows.
         “Or sleep more,” I added.
         “That, too, or party more.”
         “I agree to that. Since we ate on the plane, let’s skip lunch and have an early dinner.”
         “Sounds like a plan.”
         “Before we go, I need to call Becky. I promised her that I would.”
         “Okie dokey. I’ll be in my room unpacking.”
         “All right.” I headed to my bedroom with my suitcase. After taking my cell out of my purse, I called Becky.
         “Rachel. You arrived safely.” She sounded happy to hear from me.
         “Yes we did. Can you thank Matthew for us? Stacey and I love our place.”
         “I will.”
         “I forgot to ask you during our last conversation how Addison is doing?”
         “It’s okay. You were going through some hard times, but Addison is doing well. She’s only two, but she can do so many things she couldn’t before. She can say simple words, too.”
         “Really? I can’t wait to hear her.”
         “You can when you visit or stay permanently. Have you decided or thought about it?”
         Becky wanted me to take Matthew’s offer, which was a great opportunity for me. Anyone would jump at the chance. It was not that I didn’t appreciate Matthew going out of his way to get me the interview, but it was a huge decision, one that I would have to be sure of without a doubt. I would be working for my future brother-in-law in his company, and I didn’t know if that was a great idea. “I’m still thinking about it.”
         “Okay. That’s fine. I don’t want to push you. It’s your future, so you make the decision. I’ll stay out of it, but if you want any sisterly advice, you know what to do.”
         “Thanks. Oh … I forgot to ask about my dress.”
         “What about it? You had your fitting the last time you were here, so you’re fine.”
         “Okay. And you’re going to bring it with you?”
         “Yes, don’t worry.” Becky laughed softly. “I’m the one who should be worrying about all of the little details.”
         “I can’t believe you’re getting married in Paris.”
         “Me, either. Well … I can’t believe I’m going to marry Matthew Knight and that we have a daughter.”
         “It was just meant to be.”
         “Yes, it was.”
“Anyway, kiss Addison for me. I should hang up. Stacey and I are going to the pool.”
         “How’s the weather?”
         “It’s perfect.”
         “It’s always perfect there. Call me or text me later.”
         “Okay, gotta go. Bye.”
         I was so happy for Becky. She had been through so much growing up, especially with her kidney disease. Knowing that there was a huge possibility that she could never carry a child must have been devastating news at such a young age, but miracles do happen, and one did for my sister.
Becky and I weren’t always this close. We’d had our ups and downs like any normal siblings. There were days when we wouldn’t speak to each other, because we were both very stubborn, but no matter the reason for our fights, she was always there for me. She was definitely a role model, someone I looked up to.
**
         “Nice pool.” Stacey glanced around while I admired the manufactured soft waterfall. “Let’s park it right here.”
         “Sure.” I dropped my small bag and draped the towel over it to hold our spot, and Stacey did the same on the chair next to mine. I was glad we had decided to go to the “adults only” pool. There was hardly anyone there.
         Undressing ourselves, Stacey revealed a two piece red bikini, where I revealed a black one. We had both tied our hair back in a low ponytail.
         We stepped into the pool together. I bit my tongue at the cool water. Although it wasn’t that bad, I just didn’t like anything that would change the comfortable temperature in my body.
         “The water is perfect.” Stacey submerged herself up to her neck. “Just dive in. Your body will wear off the shock of the change in temperature faster that way.”
         Without answering, I dove under and came out right next to her. “Like this?” I tossed my hair from side to side rapidly like a dog that just came out of a bath.
         “Rachel!” Stacey squealed, splashing me, but stopped when a couple who were lying nearby on lounge chairs looked at us disapprovingly.
         “Shhh ….” I hushed Stacey, but I couldn’t help my lingering laugh. We were having a blast and acting like kids. Instead of swimming, we bounced in the water quietly.
         “So have you thought about it?”
         “Thought about what?” I had no clue what she was talking about. Her tone had become serious compared to a second ago.
         “Your job at the Knight Fashion Magazine.”
         I dunked under water to avoid the question and came out for air. To get the water to stop dripping down my face, I ran both of my hands back from my forehead. “If I take that job, I’ll have to leave New York, my current job, and you. I don’t know.”
         “Don’t worry about me, Rachel. You need to do what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is to work for the Knights.”
         “Have you ever heard people say ‘don’t ever do business with families’?”
         “I’ve heard people say it before, but this is different. Families that can’t work together are not professional. My uncle did a crappy job of my parents’ backyard. My dad said he would never hire him again, but he did anyway when we remodeled our kitchen.”
         “So you’re saying your uncle is not professional.”
         “Yup, that’s what my dad said.” She shrugged. Standing up near the four feet sign, she pushed through the water with her hands. “Anyway, I think you should take it. The job will probably be there for you any time, but now is your chance to have a fresh start. You broke up with Greg; you have nothing to hold you back. I mean … I’ll be sad, but I’ll come visit, and you’re always welcome to come visit me.”
         “I know, but I also like where I work now.” Leaning against the wall next to Stacey, I kicked my feet underwater the water as if I was swimming.
         “Yes, I know. You’re good at taking wedding and birthday pictures, but you’ll get to work for a big fashion company. Are you nuts?” She laughed, her tone teasing.
         In the back of my mind, a big part of me was saying yes, but I’d wanted to see how Stacey would feel. From what I was hearing, she would be happy for me. It would mean that she would have to find a new roommate, and we would be apart, but that was part of life. We grow, change, and expand our horizons, but sometimes such decisions are hard to make. I’d lived in New York for the past five years. Although San Francisco was where I grew up, I really did love New York.
         “I was thinking—” I started to say, but stopped when I saw Stacey’s mouth drop, her eyes dead locked on something. I followed her line of vision … holy goodness!
The guy was standing a slight distance away with his back toward us. When he took off his T-shirt, my stomach did a funny flip. I could tell he was the type that cared about his body. He was tanned, toned, and ripped in all of the right places. When he turned to head to the pool, I got a glimpse of his good-looking face. His beautiful chocolate eyes alone could make any woman crave him. Though his hair was slightly longer than I liked, he was sexy as hell, so I wouldn’t have minded if his hair was longer than mine. He was perfect. When he disappeared from my sight, I heard a splash.
         “Did you see him?” Stacey whispered as she continued to stare where he had just been.
         Not wanting to make it obvious, I dropped my eyes to the water. “Yes. Stop staring,” I whispered in reply. “If he comes back, he’ll think we’re desperate.”
         “I’m desperate. And he can’t see us anymore. I haven’t seen a guy that looked like him in a long time. Let’s swim over there.” Stacey started moving in his direction.
         “I’m staying here. Actually, I forgot to email a couple of my clients back. Let me take care of that.” Three was a crowd anyway. I stopped speaking after that. Stacey was already under the water, swimming to him. I shook my head and let out a small laugh. Stacey hadn’t been in a relationship for a while. Maybe it was time.
        


Chapter 2
Rachel

         “So, he just ignored you?” I asked, feeling stunned. In my opinion, Stacey was gorgeous. She had full, pouty lips with beautiful green eyes, not to mention a great body. Hers boobs alone could turn heads. As for me, I had a nice set, but they weren’t like Stacey’s.
         “No, he spoke to me. But he excused himself to do laps because he had to be somewhere soon. Then he ignored me to swim.”
         “Forget him. If he’d rather swim than hang out with you, then he’s not worth your time.” I paused. “Maybe he’s gay.”
         Stacey practically blew bubbles into her straw and pulled out to laugh. “Oh my God! Maybe … right? ‘Cause who could resist my red hair and these breasts?” She jiggled them slightly.
         She was right, though. Wearing a low-cut sundress, you could see she sure knew how to flaunt them. Since we were waiting at the bar to be seated for dinner, we had decided to order drinks. There was a long waiting list at Ocean Front restaurant-bar, and I could easily understand why. Topped with straw like roofing, it gave a casual feel to the atmosphere, not to mention the perfect picture view of the beach. Settled on the upper deck, it felt like we were drifting on the water since there were no walls, and soft Hawaiian instrumental music filled the air, making me relax with euphoria.
         “Ladies, your table is almost ready.” The hostess smiled. One thing about Kauai, everyone seemed so relaxed.     
“Thanks,” I replied.
She turned to wave at someone. “Hendrix, you taking the night shift?”
         The name caught my attention. I whipped around to see a tall man, perhaps in his late twenties. He had dark, curly hair, and was wearing a T-shirt and shorts just like the other waiters. He looked tired, but he seemed happy and in good spirits.
         “Yup. Dan got sick so I’m covering for him. That’s what happens when you own your own place. Work never ends.” He waved to the other customers, entered after opening the swinging door, and came straight for us. “Hello, beautiful ladies. What can I get for you?”
         “We’re fine, thank you.” I was excited to sort of know someone on this island. “Hendrix, do you know Matthew Knight?”
         Hendrix paused to examine me. “You must be the off limits future sister-in-law, Rachel Miller.” He offered his hand to shake, and after briefly gripping it, I let go.
         Huh? Off limits? “I’m Rachel, but I’m not off limits. Did Matthew say something to you?” I narrowed my eyes at him in disapproval, even though it was directed at Matthew. Poor Hendrix. That’s what he got for being in the middle.
         “I’m afraid so. It’s too bad.” He winked and picked up a towel to dry the glasses with. “He described you to a ‘T’ though. Pretty, light brown hair just past shoulder-length, about five-foot-five, beautiful hazel eyes.”
         I was pretty sure Matthew didn’t use the words pretty and beautiful. “Anyway. This is my friend, Stacey.” I needed to divert the attention away from my blushing face.
         “Stacey.” His eyes grew hungry, taking in her beauty and her body. He shook her hand and kissed it slowly … tenderly, as if almost making love to it. I think I saw Stacey shudder and heard her exhale a soft whimper.
         “Hi.” She lacked words, watching as he placed her hand down.
         “You’re not off limits, are you?” Hendrix asked with a flirtatious tone, leaning closer with his arms crossed on the counter.
         “No. Not at all.”
         “Good.”
         “So,” I broke in. It was getting awkward watching them stare at each other like they were secretly making out in their minds. “What else did Matthew say?”
         “I have to make sure you don’t date guys like me. I can be very naughty, but with the right woman, I can be very … damn … wicked.” His tone was smooth and seductive, but those words were not for me. His eyes were still pierced on Stacey’s. Hearing Stacey release a lustful sigh, I knew he had her hooked, reeling her in with his good looks and charm.
         “It’s raining,” Stacey said out loud all of sudden.        
Rain splashed on us, only it wasn’t rain.
“Did you see me, Hendrix?” a deep, manly voice asked, causing all sorts of tingles in me just from the sound of his voice.
         “Ugh.” Hendrix wiped his face and gave each of us a towel. “Must you flip your hair and shake like a dog? No, I didn’t see you.” He sounded annoyed, then softened his tone when he turned to us. “I was too busy staring at these two beautiful ladies in front of me. One that is off limits and the other one that needs a lot of hands on.”
         Stacey blushed and giggled like a schoolgirl. Since my back was to this stranger, my face didn’t get as wet as theirs, but when I peered up after I wiped myself off … holy shit! It was the guy from the swimming pool.
         Our eyes locked for the first time, but neither of us looked away. In fact, his dark chocolate eyes grew, and small dimples appeared on both of his cheeks when his lips curled wider. His stare was so strong and intense that he might as well have fucked me with it. All sorts of butterflies fluttered in my stomach and spread to every nerve in my body, sending electrifying tingles everywhere. And seeing stubble along his strong jawline produced another shudder within me.
         “Hi there.” His grin got wider and hotter. “Sorry about that.” He sounded sincere. When he leaned closer to my ear, my heart drummed faster, and I lost my breath. Heat infused through me, and I was trying really hard to compose myself. Before I could move away, he whispered slowly and sensually, “Did I make you wet? I can fix that for you.” His words came out hot and playful, intended only for me to hear, each word accentuated with warm puffs in my ear.
I wanted to say yes as my body gravitated toward him when he backed away. His words traveled down to my sex, where he had already made me wet from the first sight of him. I wanted more of this feeling, but quickly snapped out of the trance when a warm breeze took the place where he had stood.
         What the hell just happened? He did not ask me that question. Cocky! Knowing there was a double entendre behind those words, I shot my eyes down without answering … only to see him shirtless. That was a huge mistake. Droplets of water streamed down from his hair, falling to his tanned broad shoulders, to his ripped chest, down to his six-pack abs, and stopping at the low waistband of his black swim trunks. If his body looked like this, I wondered how hard and long he would be under the swim trunks. Continuous naughty thoughts filled my mind. Seeing such a sight was like peaking for an orgasm, but unable to reach it … mind boggling torture.
My insides twitched and my nipples hardened instantly. While my body gravitated toward him, my mind engaged in thoughts of how he could take me on the bar. My body wanted him, but I wasn’t going to be swooned by this arrogant stranger who was bold enough to ask me that question at our first meeting.
Holding a long surfboard with his left hand, the other extended for me to shake. That arm was tattooed with what appeared to be waves of the ocean. Thick black lines weaved up and down, coinciding with the second and third line. In fact, it was not the only tattoo. I was sure of that when I saw a glimpse of something near his waistband … the waistband my dirty mind imagined pulling down.
I had never dated a guy with a tattoo, but I had always been fascinated by guys that had them. When I had asked a few, there was always a special story to tell, so I wondered what his was.
“My name is Jackson, but some people call me Jax.”
I hated that even his name added another tremor to the depth of my core. “Rachel,” I murmured. However, I wasn’t sure he’d heard it. When I didn’t shake his hand, Stacey poked my thigh. What the hell? I finally offered him my hand.
Seizing it, his grip was strong and warm. It was a nice shake, but I snapped out of it when I realized he was holding it longer than a normal handshake. Darn it! I let him, and I enjoyed it.
         His eyes shifted to my friend. “Stacey, right?”
         “Yes. We ran into each other at the pool. Are you staying there?”
         “I spent the night there, but no, I’m not.” He said it casually, as if it was no big deal … maybe it wasn’t. A one-night stand? I wouldn’t mind a one-night stand with him, but I didn’t know how I would feel afterward since I was not the one-night stand type of girl.
         Hendrix came back after attending to a few customers. “Did you come here for something?” His question was directed toward Jax.
         Jax didn’t look at Hendrix when he replied; instead, his eyes were bored on mine. “I didn’t, but I found something I like.”
         “Then help your big bro out and work at the bar. We’re shorthanded today.”
         They were brothers? Now that I knew, I could see the resemblance.
         “Sure, why not? I think I’ll stick around.”
         “I have a T-shirt in the back room. Put it on.”
         “Yes, boss. But no T-shirt could get you more business … just saying.” Jax raised a brow.
         “I don’t need more business. Hurry up and dry off.” Hendrix’s tone was stern but you could feel the love between the brothers.
         “Jax, you’re working today?” The hostess smiled, the kind of smile where only a woman could tell she wanted to fuck him.
         “Hey, Liz. Yes I am. I found a reason to stay.” Jax’s eyes flashed to mine when he said the last sentence. Instead of smiling and gushing from his compliment, I looked away. I didn’t want to be that kind of girl, all fake and incoherent in front of a hot guy.
         Liz giggled, twirling her hair around her index finger, then snapped out of it when Hendrix cleared his throat.
         “Maybe you shouldn’t work here. You cause too much distraction.” Hendrix smacked Jax on his back to get him going, then looked over his shoulder to Stacey. “I’ll be right back.”
         “Oh.” Liz jerked, snapping out from a stupor. “Ladies, your table is ready.” She led the way.
         After a couple of steps, I was forced to turn to see who had tugged my elbow. Jax’s body was way too close to mine. It didn’t help that his chest was inches away from my hand. It took every ounce of my willpower not to wipe away the water droplets that were still streaming down his chest, but I was doing it in my mind. When I peered up to ask him why he’d stopped me, I couldn’t because my eyes had stopped at his lickable lips. “Yes?” I managed to finally breathe the one word out of my mouth.
         “Next time, don’t run away. You didn’t give me a chance to introduce myself at the pool.”
         He noticed me then? How could he have? We never once even met eye-to-eye. He was making it up, I was sure of it, so I decided to test him. “I wasn’t running away. You didn’t even see me.”
         “Yes I did. That black bikini suited you well. You were afraid of me so you left.”
         I let out a big, fake laugh and blushed at the same time. I was certain my cheeks turned red. “You’re full of yourself, aren’t you? Mister … Mister ….” Had he said his last name? Why couldn’t I remember? What could I call him? Then I said the first thing that popped in my mind, recalling his board. “Mr. Surfer.”
         “Mr. Surfer?” He laughed. Those cute dimples appeared again, taming my anger toward him just for a second. “Now, that’s a first.”
         “Maybe there will be a lot of firsts with me,” I challenged. Oh crap! I wanted to take back what I’d said.
         “Maybe, or maybe there will be a lot of firsts with me.”
         I raised a brow. “I doubt that.”
         “We can test that theory over dinner.”
         “No, thanks.”
         “Afraid again?”
         I wanted to be nice to him since he was Hendrix’s younger brother, but it wasn’t working. I didn’t care who he was. “No, not afraid. I just don’t like what I see.” I made it obvious that I was checking him out, and I was pretty sure I burst his ego when he arched his brows in surprise. As his grip on me loosened, I slid my arm down and walked away.
         When I heard a soft chuckle behind me, I knew he’d enjoyed my comment. That laugh told me not only did he find my words amusing, he might have seen it as a challenge. This was not over.



Chapter 3
Rachel

         “Jax is looking at you,” Stacey stated, taking a sip of her drink.
         I didn’t know why that made my cheeks burn and my insides hot, but it did. “No he’s not.” I shifted my focus back to the menu. “He’s probably looking at the women sitting at the table next to us. They all had eyes on him. He was probably flirting with them.”
         “I don’t think so.”
         “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care.”
         “Yes you do.” Stacey gave me a light laugh. “You know how I can tell that you care? You’ve been staring at the same page for the past couple of minutes. I bet you don’t even know what you want to order.”
Stacey knew me so well. Not only was she very observant, she was good at reading people. Stacey moved in when my roommate moved out. We had been roommates for the past several years. Ever since then, our friendship bloomed, and she had become more like a sister to me.
         “That’s not true.” I skimmed quickly, trying not to make it obvious that I had no idea what I was talking about. “I was debating between a seafood salad or the burger.” Most restaurant served salad and hamburgers. I assumed I was safe to say those two.
         “Uh hum. That’s funny, because I was craving the fish or the burger, but there’s no burger on the menu. Not for dinner, only for lunch.”
         My lips curled into a guilty smile. “I can’t.”
         “You can’t what?”
         “I don’t want to like him. I just got out of a relationship.”
         “Who said anything about a relationship? Don’t you remember what your sister told you to do? Well … there’s your hot surfer dude. We’re only staying for ten days. Have fun. I didn’t say anything about hooking up to have a steady relationship.”
         Our conversation broke when curiosity got the best of me from the loud, sexy whistle and sounds of laughter. I turned to see Jax, now wearing a T-shirt, throwing a bottle up in the air and catching it behind his back, then tossing it from side to side while he lifted a glass. With those two in his hands, he juggled them like a pro. Seeing his muscles flex and watching him bite his lower lip as he moved to his own rhythm was too appealing. Even with a T-shirt on, he looked amazing. Setting the glass on the table, he poured the liquid from the bottle into several shot glasses that were already lined up.
         The ladies eagerly waiting licked the palm of his hand—perhaps salt—and downed the shots, then slammed their glasses on the bar to see who had done it first. I hardly knew Jax, but I was a little bit jealous of all the attention he was getting from the women that surrounded him. Perhaps it was the fact that just five minutes ago he was coming on to me, and now he had a whole parade of women he could pick from. This was not my idea of relaxing and clearing my head. This was more of a headache, and not a great start to a fabulous vacation. I didn’t like this feeling at all. It was not going to happen.
         “Wow. He’s really good, and he looks damn hot doing it, too.”
         I ignored Stacey’s comment and answered her last question. “I don’t want to hook up just for fun. You know I’m not like that.” Trying to distract myself from glancing over again, I focused my eyes on Stacey. But it was difficult; the women were cheering and chanting his name out loud.
         “Sorry, Rachel. It seemed like you two couldn’t take your eyes off each other, kind of like Hendrix and me.” She beamed a smile.
         “Even if he’s interested, it’s not going to happen. He’s a big flirt and a player.” I took a sip of my mojito and glided the rim of the glass with my finger.  
         “How do you know? You just met him.”
         Without thinking, I turned to find Jax taking an order from a couple. I guessed the show had ended. I was just about to turn back when his eyes locked on mine. After giving me a warm smile, he winked. That was too freakin’ sexy. My heart skipped a beat, and my breath hitched as I looked away. I didn’t want to return a smile back. It would give him wrong vibes from me.
Jax was right; I was scared. Sadly, I had to admit I had used needing to email my clients as an excuse to get away from him. He was making me have emotions I wasn’t ready to feel. Since I was the one that had broken up with Greg, I felt guilty as well. But I couldn’t help the joy that took me away from reality just for a brief moment. “I know his type.”
         Stacey opened her mouth to speak, but she didn’t have a chance to retort. “Aloha,” our waitress greeted. “What can I get for you tonight?” Thank goodness the waitress came by and saved me.
         “Anyway,” Stacey started to say after the waitress left, “you should get to know a person before you judge.”
         “I know. It’s not like he asked me out and I turned him down.” I had the urge to turn to see Jax, but I stopped myself and fidgeted in my seat.
         “I have a feeling he will. He looks like the type of man that will go after what he wants.”
“It doesn’t matter. He lives here. I don’t do long distance relationships. It was the main reason Greg and I broke up.”
“Well … you just never know.”
         Our conversation was minimal as we enjoyed the music. A live band had set up just as the sun started to set, creating not just a joyful atmosphere, but a beautiful sight as well. Peeking through the pink and violet clouds, the sun shone for the last time that day. As it slowly started to fade away, the surrounding lights and the stars became brighter and more apparent.
After a while, our waitress placed our plates of food on the table. Glancing back at Jax, I saw that the crowd by the bar had died down.
         “The food is fantastic,” Stacey said, taking a sip of her drink. “This fish is so tender and fresh.”
         “My salad is good, too,” I added. “The shrimp is big and the crab,” I let out a soft moan, “is delicious.”
         “What’s your plan this week?” Hendrix asked, sliding into the booth next to Stacey. I jerked a little, surprised by his appearance. Thank goodness we were raving about how good the food tasted; otherwise, it would have been very embarrassing.
         “We just got here. What do you have in mind?” Stacey raised her brows, leaning in closer. Her attention was diverted from the cuisine to him.
         “There’s so much to do. Horse back riding, snorkeling, kayaking, helicopter ride—”
         “Helicopter ride,” Stacey repeated with excitement. “Let’s do that one.” She looked at me to confirm.
         I didn’t want to be the third wheel. “You know I’m afraid of heights. You two can go.” Hoping they would stop asking me questions if I had a full mouth, I took another bite of my salad.
         “You’re afraid of too many things,” a voice whispered in my ear, sending a jolt of shivers down my back.
         “I’m not afraid. I mean ….” I couldn’t speak when he sat right beside me. His leg touching mine almost made me choked on the shrimp I was chewing.
         “I’ll go with you,” Jax said, wrapping his arms behind my chair, leaning closer, and passing my comfort zone.        
“I’m not getting on that thing. You can go by yourself.” My tone was nice, but I couldn’t look at him. He made me feel so nervous. His presence alone made my heart thump faster, and I could feel dangerous heat flush through my body.
         “You have to go on it once to see the parts of the island you’ll never be able to see on a tour,” Hendrix informed.
         “It’s not just the heights. I get car sick, and I’m pretty sure I would get air sick, if there’s such a thing.” I didn’t mean to, but I turned to Jax when I heard him chuckle. When my eyes met his, blazing heat spread all over me, even down to my toes. I had to stop thinking what it would feel like to have a one-night stand with him. I could already feel his hands cupping my breasts and my ass just by his stare alone. It was so intense and deep that it was hard to look away.
         “You can take something for that.” I think that’s what Hendrix said. “Hey!”
         My body jerked from the loud snap from Hendrix. Was he mad? “Don’t look at her that way. She’s off limits,” Hendrix said to Jax. “She’s Matthew Knight’s future sister-in-law. And you know how Matthew can be.”
         “First of all, I don’t know Matthew that well. He’s your friend. Second, I’m not afraid of him. He can kiss my ass. If I see something I like, I take it.”
         Hendrix slid the palm of his hand down his face and shook his head, causing Stacey to giggle. “I was afraid you were going to say that. But seriously, hands off. And why are you here? You’re suppose to work the evening shift for me.”
         “Don’t worry, I just took a five-minute break. The real show is about to start now that the band is here.”
       Something Amazing (Spin-off of Something Great Series)

January 11, 2015

PRE-ORDER Something Amazing

Prologue

Rachel

         “Hi Rachel. It’s good to hear from you.”
         “Hey, Becky,” I said softly, trying not to break down over the phone. It was the last thing I wanted to do. “Is Matthew with you?” I thought bringing up Matthew to divert her attention would help, but it didn’t.
         She chuckled lightly. “Sorry. Matthew was tickling me. He says hi.”
         “Tell him I said hi, too.”
         “Is everything okay? You’ve never called me this late before. I mean, its nine o’clock here, but it’s midnight in New York.”
         “I … it’s just that. I’m going to take a mini vacation.”
         “What happened?” My sister’s voice was concerned. I imagined her getting up, out of bed.
         I tried my best to maintain composure, but her big-sisterly voice—the one that always soothed me and gave me reassurance—made me utterly lose it. Tears burst forth, which she definitely heard. “We broke up.”
         “What? Why?” Her pitch rose higher.
         “It’s kind of Matthew’s fault.” My lips quivered as tears ran down my cheeks.
         I heard a slap and Matthew’s shout. “Ouch! What was that for? You better watch it, Becca, ‘cause you’re turning me on. I don’t care if it’s your baby sister on the phone. I’ll make you come big time. She’ll be hearing Matthew and Becca porn.”
         Oh my God! I let out a snort. That seemed to stop the tears for a bit. “Don’t hurt him. He didn’t do anything.”
         “I’ll be right back,” I heard her tell Matthew. “Okay, sorry about that, Rachel. What do you mean you and Greg broke up? What happened? Tell me everything.”
         Tell her everything? Where do you start when there is so much to tell? “I don’t love him anymore.”
         “Are you sure?”
         “Becky … remember when you told me about Jenna? How she was going out with a safe guy, but her heart wasn’t really there?”
         “Yes.”
         “I think that’s how it is with me. I just didn’t know it until I saw how Max and Matthew were. When you hear about it, it’s one thing, but when you see it with your own eyes it becomes real. My eyes were opened when I came to visit you. I had loved Greg for the past two years, but I don’t think he’s the one for me; the one I want forever with.”
         “As much as I really like Greg, I’m on your side. If you’re not happy with him, then it’s better that you found out sooner rather than later.”
         “I want to know what it feels like to love, and be loved, the way you and Matthew love each other. There’s so much respect, honesty, and … passion.” I was kind of shy saying that word, but sex was a big deal in a relationship.
         “Did you talk to Greg about this?”
         “I did. The problem is that he’s a great guy, but there’s ….” I couldn’t finish the sentence.
         “Well, look. Surely, you and Greg weren’t meant to be. You’re still so inexperienced, fresh out of college. You should date around.”
         I released a heavy sigh and sniffed. “I know. There’s a part of me that feels relief, and a part of me that’s hurting.” The tears that I’d tried to keep at bay escaped from the corners of my eyes.
         “I understand. I’m so sorry. Breaking up is hard. Especially when you’ve been together for so long. Want to come visit me?”
         “Actually, the reason I called was to let you know that I’m going to Kauai with Stacey.”
         “Your roommate, Stacey?”
         “Yes. Don’t worry. I’ll make it to your wedding rehearsal.”
         “Okay. Do Mom and Dad know?”
         “Yes. They know about the break up and my trip. I’m sure they’ll be calling you tomorrow.”
         “Thanks for the warning.”
         “What are sisters for? Anyway, I’ll let you go. Thanks for listening.”
         There was a silent pause. I knew Becky didn’t want to hang up because she was worried about me. The truth was, though I was hurting, I felt a sense of freedom. Was this a temporary thing? Had I made a mistake? I guessed time would let me know.
         “Any time, Rachel. Do me a favor?”
         “Anything. What is it?”
         “When you get there, don’t sulk. Forget Greg. Forget everything. Go out with hot surfer guys. Have a blast with Stacey. Be free and make out with lots of guys, but be responsible. Do what you were supposed to be doing for the past two years.”
         “Okay,” I said. I didn’t know about the hot surfer guys, but I would definitely leave all my worries behind and go to a peaceful place to help me clear my head. “Thank you. I’ll see you soon.”
         I heard Becky giggle and moan, even though she probably didn’t mean for me to hear. “Come to bed. It’s cold without you,” I heard Matthew’s voice murmur. I didn’t know if that was meant for me to hear either, but it made me smile. I loved how playful Matthew was. I meant it when I’d said it was Matthew’s fault. He’d made me see what type of man I wanted forever with. From all of the shuffling and steps on the other end of the line, I assumed that Matthew was carrying her to bed.
         “Call or text me to let me know you’re safe. Call me anytime. You’ll be three hours behind my time zone. And I’m really sorry about the breakup. It’s always hard, no matter the reason. Love ya.”
         “Love you, too. Bye, Becky. Say good-bye to Matthew for me.”
         “Bye, Rachel,” Matthew said. I was surprised to hear his voice. “Sorry about Greg. The one that’s meant for you will come when least expected. I’m talking from experience. When you get there, go to Poipu. My friend owns a restaurant on the beach, called Ocean Front. You can’t miss it. It’s the only one there. His name is Hendrix. I’ll give him a call. When do you leave for Kauai?”
“Next week. I haven’t made any reservations yet. Stacey and I decided spur of the moment.”
“Good. I won’t take no for an answer. I can set both of you up at Koloa Landing. I’ll call tomorrow. Have a great time and be safe. You’re my sister now, and I’m going to treat you like one, so guys better beware.” I heard a sweet, manly chuckle, half serious and half teasing. Being the type of person he was, I knew he spoke the truth.
“Thank you, Matthew.”
“By the way, you should be getting a phone call tomorrow. The photography department loved your work. The job is yours if you want it.”
“Are you serious?” I asked with elation. It was the first time I’d smiled that week. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say yes. Come and work for us. You don’t have to start right away.”
“Thanks, Matthew.” Although I had to think about the offer, that was one of the perks of having a connection and a great future brother-in-law. “You’re the best.”
Matthew chuckled. “She said I’m the best. She’s so smart.”
“Of course she would say that. You are the best.” I heard chuckling from my sister.
“I’m the best at everything, but mostly making Becca happy.”
There were more giggles. “Sorry, Rachel. Stop, Matthew.” More laughter rang through the phone. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Matthew. Bye, Becky,” I said, laughing, then hung up.


Chapter 1
Rachel

         “Wow! This place looks amazing.” Stacey dropped her suitcase and glanced around. “Look at the granite on the kitchen counter.” Her eyes grew wider. “Look at this refrigerator. It looks like it’s part of the cabinet. How cool is that?” She opened and closed it.
         Heading straight past the kitchen, I headed to the sliding glass door and opened it. The warm breeze tousled my hair as the smell of the ocean wafted through my nose. “Wow. Just unbelievably amazing. Look at that ocean view,” I sighed, feeling all of my worries melt away.
Inhaling the breath of fresh air and taking in the beautiful scenario filled me with euphoria. One thing about Kauai, the wind blew a lot more than what I was used to. From the distance, I could see the palm trees swaying in the direction of the wind, dancing with the melody of Mother Nature. The thick clouds that looked like whipped cream seemed like they would be Heaven to touch. And something about being surrounded by nothing but plush greens and various colors of orchids that decorated the trees everywhere I looked, made me feel like I was in paradise.
I stepped outside onto the balcony, where there was outdoor furniture including a wooden dining table with seating for four. To my right I could see the swimming pools, and to my left was an empty lot. Looked like they were building, possibly a new complex.
         “You can take the bedroom with the view, and I’ll take the one by the kitchen,” Stacey said, breaking me out of my daze. She was standing halfway out the sliding glass door.
         “Are you sure?” I followed her inside and grabbed my suitcase from where I had dropped it next to hers when we entered.
         “Yes. I insist. We were planning to share one bedroom, but there are two. Plus, your future brother-in-law got this place for us just because he adores you. I seriously don’t know how you can stand to be in the same room and not drool over him. He looks edible in the pictures you showed me. I can only imagine how he would look in person.”
         “I have to admit that he’s good looking, but he’s going to be my brother-in-law. I think of Matthew as my older brother.”
         “Well, he’s not my future brother-in-law, so I’m allowed to drool over him. Next time you talk to him, tell him I thanked him. I mean, look at this place. It’s a two bedroom condo with a full kitchen.” She held up a menu and placed it down on the table. “We can order room service.” Stacey opened a door and closed it. “Laundry room.” She pointed. “A family room. Two bedrooms with our own bathrooms. This place must cost a fortune.”
         “Then let’s enjoy it.” I paused. “By the way, thank you for coming with me. Thank you for suggesting this. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
         Stacey gave me a tight squeeze. “I needed a vacation too. I’m so glad our schedules worked out.”
         “I know.” I let out a short laugh.
“How many times have we tried to plan trips together, but we could never find the time. Sometimes these spontaneous moments are the best. This was just meant to be.”
         “I agree. Let’s unpack and go to the pool. One thing I love about the time change, we just gained four hours.”
         “That’s right. Now if only we had twenty-eight hours a day. We could accomplish so much.” Stacey wiggled her eyebrows.
         “Or sleep more,” I added.
         “That, too, or party more.”
         “I agree to that. Since we ate on the plane, let’s skip lunch and have an early dinner.”
         “Sounds like a plan.”
         “Before we go, I need to call Becky. I promised her that I would.”
         “Okie dokey. I’ll be in my room unpacking.”
         “All right.” I headed to my bedroom with my suitcase. After taking my cell out of my purse, I called Becky.
         “Rachel. You arrived safely.” She sounded happy to hear from me.
         “Yes we did. Can you thank Matthew for us? Stacey and I love our place.”
         “I will.”
         “I forgot to ask you during our last conversation how Addison is doing?”
         “It’s okay. You were going through some hard times, but Addison is doing well. She’s only two, but she can do so many things she couldn’t before. She can say simple words, too.”
         “Really? I can’t wait to hear her.”
         “You can when you visit or stay permanently. Have you decided or thought about it?”
         Becky wanted me to take Matthew’s offer, which was a great opportunity for me. Anyone would jump at the chance. It was not that I didn’t appreciate Matthew going out of his way to get me the interview, but it was a huge decision, one that I would have to be sure of without a doubt. I would be working for my future brother-in-law in his company, and I didn’t know if that was a great idea. “I’m still thinking about it.”
         “Okay. That’s fine. I don’t want to push you. It’s your future, so you make the decision. I’ll stay out of it, but if you want any sisterly advice, you know what to do.”
         “Thanks. Oh … I forgot to ask about my dress.”
         “What about it? You had your fitting the last time you were here, so you’re fine.”
         “Okay. And you’re going to bring it with you?”
         “Yes, don’t worry.” Becky laughed softly. “I’m the one who should be worrying about all of the little details.”
         “I can’t believe you’re getting married in Paris.”
         “Me, either. Well … I can’t believe I’m going to marry Matthew Knight and that we have a daughter.”
         “It was just meant to be.”
         “Yes, it was.”
“Anyway, kiss Addison for me. I should hang up. Stacey and I are going to the pool.”
         “How’s the weather?”
         “It’s perfect.”
         “It’s always perfect there. Call me or text me later.”
         “Okay, gotta go. Bye.”
         I was so happy for Becky. She had been through so much growing up, especially with her kidney disease. Knowing that there was a huge possibility that she could never carry a child must have been devastating news at such a young age, but miracles do happen, and one did for my sister.
Becky and I weren’t always this close. We’d had our ups and downs like any normal siblings. There were days when we wouldn’t speak to each other, because we were both very stubborn, but no matter the reason for our fights, she was always there for me. She was definitely a role model, someone I looked up to.
**
         “Nice pool.” Stacey glanced around while I admired the manufactured soft waterfall. “Let’s park it right here.”
         “Sure.” I dropped my small bag and draped the towel over it to hold our spot, and Stacey did the same on the chair next to mine. I was glad we had decided to go to the “adults only” pool. There was hardly anyone there.
         Undressing ourselves, Stacey revealed a two piece red bikini, where I revealed a black one. We had both tied our hair back in a low ponytail.
         We stepped into the pool together. I bit my tongue at the cool water. Although it wasn’t that bad, I just didn’t like anything that would change the comfortable temperature in my body.
         “The water is perfect.” Stacey submerged herself up to her neck. “Just dive in. Your body will wear off the shock of the change in temperature faster that way.”
         Without answering, I dove under and came out right next to her. “Like this?” I tossed my hair from side to side rapidly like a dog that just came out of a bath.
         “Rachel!” Stacey squealed, splashing me, but stopped when a couple who were lying nearby on lounge chairs looked at us disapprovingly.
         “Shhh ….” I hushed Stacey, but I couldn’t help my lingering laugh. We were having a blast and acting like kids. Instead of swimming, we bounced in the water quietly.
         “So have you thought about it?”
         “Thought about what?” I had no clue what she was talking about. Her tone had become serious compared to a second ago.
         “Your job at the Knight Fashion Magazine.”
         I dunked under water to avoid the question and came out for air. To get the water to stop dripping down my face, I ran both of my hands back from my forehead. “If I take that job, I’ll have to leave New York, my current job, and you. I don’t know.”
         “Don’t worry about me, Rachel. You need to do what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is to work for the Knights.”
         “Have you ever heard people say ‘don’t ever do business with families’?”
         “I’ve heard people say it before, but this is different. Families that can’t work together are not professional. My uncle did a crappy job of my parents’ backyard. My dad said he would never hire him again, but he did anyway when we remodeled our kitchen.”
         “So you’re saying your uncle is not professional.”
         “Yup, that’s what my dad said.” She shrugged. Standing up near the four feet sign, she pushed through the water with her hands. “Anyway, I think you should take it. The job will probably be there for you any time, but now is your chance to have a fresh start. You broke up with Greg; you have nothing to hold you back. I mean … I’ll be sad, but I’ll come visit, and you’re always welcome to come visit me.”
         “I know, but I also like where I work now.” Leaning against the wall next to Stacey, I kicked my feet underwater the water as if I was swimming.
         “Yes, I know. You’re good at taking wedding and birthday pictures, but you’ll get to work for a big fashion company. Are you nuts?” She laughed, her tone teasing.
         In the back of my mind, a big part of me was saying yes, but I’d wanted to see how Stacey would feel. From what I was hearing, she would be happy for me. It would mean that she would have to find a new roommate, and we would be apart, but that was part of life. We grow, change, and expand our horizons, but sometimes such decisions are hard to make. I’d lived in New York for the past five years. Although San Francisco was where I grew up, I really did love New York.
         “I was thinking—” I started to say, but stopped when I saw Stacey’s mouth drop, her eyes dead locked on something. I followed her line of vision … holy goodness!
The guy was standing a slight distance away with his back toward us. When he took off his T-shirt, my stomach did a funny flip. I could tell he was the type that cared about his body. He was tanned, toned, and ripped in all of the right places. When he turned to head to the pool, I got a glimpse of his good-looking face. His beautiful chocolate eyes alone could make any woman crave him. Though his hair was slightly longer than I liked, he was sexy as hell, so I wouldn’t have minded if his hair was longer than mine. He was perfect. When he disappeared from my sight, I heard a splash.
         “Did you see him?” Stacey whispered as she continued to stare where he had just been.
         Not wanting to make it obvious, I dropped my eyes to the water. “Yes. Stop staring,” I whispered in reply. “If he comes back, he’ll think we’re desperate.”
         “I’m desperate. And he can’t see us anymore. I haven’t seen a guy that looked like him in a long time. Let’s swim over there.” Stacey started moving in his direction.
         “I’m staying here. Actually, I forgot to email a couple of my clients back. Let me take care of that.” Three was a crowd anyway. I stopped speaking after that. Stacey was already under the water, swimming to him. I shook my head and let out a small laugh. Stacey hadn’t been in a relationship for a while. Maybe it was time.
        


Chapter 2
Rachel

         “So, he just ignored you?” I asked, feeling stunned. In my opinion, Stacey was gorgeous. She had full, pouty lips with beautiful green eyes, not to mention a great body. Hers boobs alone could turn heads. As for me, I had a nice set, but they weren’t like Stacey’s.
         “No, he spoke to me. But he excused himself to do laps because he had to be somewhere soon. Then he ignored me to swim.”
         “Forget him. If he’d rather swim than hang out with you, then he’s not worth your time.” I paused. “Maybe he’s gay.”
         Stacey practically blew bubbles into her straw and pulled out to laugh. “Oh my God! Maybe … right? ‘Cause who could resist my red hair and these breasts?” She jiggled them slightly.
         She was right, though. Wearing a low-cut sundress, you could see she sure knew how to flaunt them. Since we were waiting at the bar to be seated for dinner, we had decided to order drinks. There was a long waiting list at Ocean Front restaurant-bar, and I could easily understand why. Topped with straw like roofing, it gave a casual feel to the atmosphere, not to mention the perfect picture view of the beach. Settled on the upper deck, it felt like we were drifting on the water since there were no walls, and soft Hawaiian instrumental music filled the air, making me relax with euphoria.
         “Ladies, your table is almost ready.” The hostess smiled. One thing about Kauai, everyone seemed so relaxed.     
“Thanks,” I replied.
She turned to wave at someone. “Hendrix, you taking the night shift?”
         The name caught my attention. I whipped around to see a tall man, perhaps in his late twenties. He had dark, curly hair, and was wearing a T-shirt and shorts just like the other waiters. He looked tired, but he seemed happy and in good spirits.
         “Yup. Dan got sick so I’m covering for him. That’s what happens when you own your own place. Work never ends.” He waved to the other customers, entered after opening the swinging door, and came straight for us. “Hello, beautiful ladies. What can I get for you?”
         “We’re fine, thank you.” I was excited to sort of know someone on this island. “Hendrix, do you know Matthew Knight?”
         Hendrix paused to examine me. “You must be the off limits future sister-in-law, Rachel Miller.” He offered his hand to shake, and after briefly gripping it, I let go.
         Huh? Off limits? “I’m Rachel, but I’m not off limits. Did Matthew say something to you?” I narrowed my eyes at him in disapproval, even though it was directed at Matthew. Poor Hendrix. That’s what he got for being in the middle.
         “I’m afraid so. It’s too bad.” He winked and picked up a towel to dry the glasses with. “He described you to a ‘T’ though. Pretty, light brown hair just past shoulder-length, about five-foot-five, beautiful hazel eyes.”
         I was pretty sure Matthew didn’t use the words pretty and beautiful. “Anyway. This is my friend, Stacey.” I needed to divert the attention away from my blushing face.
         “Stacey.” His eyes grew hungry, taking in her beauty and her body. He shook her hand and kissed it slowly … tenderly, as if almost making love to it. I think I saw Stacey shudder and heard her exhale a soft whimper.
         “Hi.” She lacked words, watching as he placed her hand down.
         “You’re not off limits, are you?” Hendrix asked with a flirtatious tone, leaning closer with his arms crossed on the counter.
         “No. Not at all.”
         “Good.”
         “So,” I broke in. It was getting awkward watching them stare at each other like they were secretly making out in their minds. “What else did Matthew say?”
         “I have to make sure you don’t date guys like me. I can be very naughty, but with the right woman, I can be very … damn … wicked.” His tone was smooth and seductive, but those words were not for me. His eyes were still pierced on Stacey’s. Hearing Stacey release a lustful sigh, I knew he had her hooked, reeling her in with his good looks and charm.
         “It’s raining,” Stacey said out loud all of sudden.        
Rain splashed on us, only it wasn’t rain.
“Did you see me, Hendrix?” a deep, manly voice asked, causing all sorts of tingles in me just from the sound of his voice.
         “Ugh.” Hendrix wiped his face and gave each of us a towel. “Must you flip your hair and shake like a dog? No, I didn’t see you.” He sounded annoyed, then softened his tone when he turned to us. “I was too busy staring at these two beautiful ladies in front of me. One that is off limits and the other one that needs a lot of hands on.”
         Stacey blushed and giggled like a schoolgirl. Since my back was to this stranger, my face didn’t get as wet as theirs, but when I peered up after I wiped myself off … holy shit! It was the guy from the swimming pool.
         Our eyes locked for the first time, but neither of us looked away. In fact, his dark chocolate eyes grew, and small dimples appeared on both of his cheeks when his lips curled wider. His stare was so strong and intense that he might as well have fucked me with it. All sorts of butterflies fluttered in my stomach and spread to every nerve in my body, sending electrifying tingles everywhere. And seeing stubble along his strong jawline produced another shudder within me.
         “Hi there.” His grin got wider and hotter. “Sorry about that.” He sounded sincere. When he leaned closer to my ear, my heart drummed faster, and I lost my breath. Heat infused through me, and I was trying really hard to compose myself. Before I could move away, he whispered slowly and sensually, “Did I make you wet? I can fix that for you.” His words came out hot and playful, intended only for me to hear, each word accentuated with warm puffs in my ear.
I wanted to say yes as my body gravitated toward him when he backed away. His words traveled down to my sex, where he had already made me wet from the first sight of him. I wanted more of this feeling, but quickly snapped out of the trance when a warm breeze took the place where he had stood.
         What the hell just happened? He did not ask me that question. Cocky! Knowing there was a double entendre behind those words, I shot my eyes down without answering … only to see him shirtless. That was a huge mistake. Droplets of water streamed down from his hair, falling to his tanned broad shoulders, to his ripped chest, down to his six-pack abs, and stopping at the low waistband of his black swim trunks. If his body looked like this, I wondered how hard and long he would be under the swim trunks. Continuous naughty thoughts filled my mind. Seeing such a sight was like peaking for an orgasm, but unable to reach it … mind boggling torture.
My insides twitched and my nipples hardened instantly. While my body gravitated toward him, my mind engaged in thoughts of how he could take me on the bar. My body wanted him, but I wasn’t going to be swooned by this arrogant stranger who was bold enough to ask me that question at our first meeting.
Holding a long surfboard with his left hand, the other extended for me to shake. That arm was tattooed with what appeared to be waves of the ocean. Thick black lines weaved up and down, coinciding with the second and third line. In fact, it was not the only tattoo. I was sure of that when I saw a glimpse of something near his waistband … the waistband my dirty mind imagined pulling down.
I had never dated a guy with a tattoo, but I had always been fascinated by guys that had them. When I had asked a few, there was always a special story to tell, so I wondered what his was.
“My name is Jackson, but some people call me Jax.”
I hated that even his name added another tremor to the depth of my core. “Rachel,” I murmured. However, I wasn’t sure he’d heard it. When I didn’t shake his hand, Stacey poked my thigh. What the hell? I finally offered him my hand.
Seizing it, his grip was strong and warm. It was a nice shake, but I snapped out of it when I realized he was holding it longer than a normal handshake. Darn it! I let him, and I enjoyed it.
         His eyes shifted to my friend. “Stacey, right?”
         “Yes. We ran into each other at the pool. Are you staying there?”
         “I spent the night there, but no, I’m not.” He said it casually, as if it was no big deal … maybe it wasn’t. A one-night stand? I wouldn’t mind a one-night stand with him, but I didn’t know how I would feel afterward since I was not the one-night stand type of girl.
         Hendrix came back after attending to a few customers. “Did you come here for something?” His question was directed toward Jax.
         Jax didn’t look at Hendrix when he replied; instead, his eyes were bored on mine. “I didn’t, but I found something I like.”
         “Then help your big bro out and work at the bar. We’re shorthanded today.”
         They were brothers? Now that I knew, I could see the resemblance.
         “Sure, why not? I think I’ll stick around.”
         “I have a T-shirt in the back room. Put it on.”
         “Yes, boss. But no T-shirt could get you more business … just saying.” Jax raised a brow.
         “I don’t need more business. Hurry up and dry off.” Hendrix’s tone was stern but you could feel the love between the brothers.
         “Jax, you’re working today?” The hostess smiled, the kind of smile where only a woman could tell she wanted to fuck him.
         “Hey, Liz. Yes I am. I found a reason to stay.” Jax’s eyes flashed to mine when he said the last sentence. Instead of smiling and gushing from his compliment, I looked away. I didn’t want to be that kind of girl, all fake and incoherent in front of a hot guy.
         Liz giggled, twirling her hair around her index finger, then snapped out of it when Hendrix cleared his throat.
         “Maybe you shouldn’t work here. You cause too much distraction.” Hendrix smacked Jax on his back to get him going, then looked over his shoulder to Stacey. “I’ll be right back.”
         “Oh.” Liz jerked, snapping out from a stupor. “Ladies, your table is ready.” She led the way.
         After a couple of steps, I was forced to turn to see who had tugged my elbow. Jax’s body was way too close to mine. It didn’t help that his chest was inches away from my hand. It took every ounce of my willpower not to wipe away the water droplets that were still streaming down his chest, but I was doing it in my mind. When I peered up to ask him why he’d stopped me, I couldn’t because my eyes had stopped at his lickable lips. “Yes?” I managed to finally breathe the one word out of my mouth.
         “Next time, don’t run away. You didn’t give me a chance to introduce myself at the pool.”
         He noticed me then? How could he have? We never once even met eye-to-eye. He was making it up, I was sure of it, so I decided to test him. “I wasn’t running away. You didn’t even see me.”
         “Yes I did. That black bikini suited you well. You were afraid of me so you left.”
         I let out a big, fake laugh and blushed at the same time. I was certain my cheeks turned red. “You’re full of yourself, aren’t you? Mister … Mister ….” Had he said his last name? Why couldn’t I remember? What could I call him? Then I said the first thing that popped in my mind, recalling his board. “Mr. Surfer.”
         “Mr. Surfer?” He laughed. Those cute dimples appeared again, taming my anger toward him just for a second. “Now, that’s a first.”
         “Maybe there will be a lot of firsts with me,” I challenged. Oh crap! I wanted to take back what I’d said.
         “Maybe, or maybe there will be a lot of firsts with me.”
         I raised a brow. “I doubt that.”
         “We can test that theory over dinner.”
         “No, thanks.”
         “Afraid again?”
         I wanted to be nice to him since he was Hendrix’s younger brother, but it wasn’t working. I didn’t care who he was. “No, not afraid. I just don’t like what I see.” I made it obvious that I was checking him out, and I was pretty sure I burst his ego when he arched his brows in surprise. As his grip on me loosened, I slid my arm down and walked away.
         When I heard a soft chuckle behind me, I knew he’d enjoyed my comment. That laugh told me not only did he find my words amusing, he might have seen it as a challenge. This was not over.



Chapter 3
Rachel

         “Jax is looking at you,” Stacey stated, taking a sip of her drink.
         I didn’t know why that made my cheeks burn and my insides hot, but it did. “No he’s not.” I shifted my focus back to the menu. “He’s probably looking at the women sitting at the table next to us. They all had eyes on him. He was probably flirting with them.”
         “I don’t think so.”
         “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care.”
         “Yes you do.” Stacey gave me a light laugh. “You know how I can tell that you care? You’ve been staring at the same page for the past couple of minutes. I bet you don’t even know what you want to order.”
Stacey knew me so well. Not only was she very observant, she was good at reading people. Stacey moved in when my roommate moved out. We had been roommates for the past several years. Ever since then, our friendship bloomed, and she had become more like a sister to me.
         “That’s not true.” I skimmed quickly, trying not to make it obvious that I had no idea what I was talking about. “I was debating between a seafood salad or the burger.” Most restaurant served salad and hamburgers. I assumed I was safe to say those two.
         “Uh hum. That’s funny, because I was craving the fish or the burger, but there’s no burger on the menu. Not for dinner, only for lunch.”
         My lips curled into a guilty smile. “I can’t.”
         “You can’t what?”
         “I don’t want to like him. I just got out of a relationship.”
         “Who said anything about a relationship? Don’t you remember what your sister told you to do? Well … there’s your hot surfer dude. We’re only staying for ten days. Have fun. I didn’t say anything about hooking up to have a steady relationship.”
         Our conversation broke when curiosity got the best of me from the loud, sexy whistle and sounds of laughter. I turned to see Jax, now wearing a T-shirt, throwing a bottle up in the air and catching it behind his back, then tossing it from side to side while he lifted a glass. With those two in his hands, he juggled them like a pro. Seeing his muscles flex and watching him bite his lower lip as he moved to his own rhythm was too appealing. Even with a T-shirt on, he looked amazing. Setting the glass on the table, he poured the liquid from the bottle into several shot glasses that were already lined up.
         The ladies eagerly waiting licked the palm of his hand—perhaps salt—and downed the shots, then slammed their glasses on the bar to see who had done it first. I hardly knew Jax, but I was a little bit jealous of all the attention he was getting from the women that surrounded him. Perhaps it was the fact that just five minutes ago he was coming on to me, and now he had a whole parade of women he could pick from. This was not my idea of relaxing and clearing my head. This was more of a headache, and not a great start to a fabulous vacation. I didn’t like this feeling at all. It was not going to happen.
         “Wow. He’s really good, and he looks damn hot doing it, too.”
         I ignored Stacey’s comment and answered her last question. “I don’t want to hook up just for fun. You know I’m not like that.” Trying to distract myself from glancing over again, I focused my eyes on Stacey. But it was difficult; the women were cheering and chanting his name out loud.
         “Sorry, Rachel. It seemed like you two couldn’t take your eyes off each other, kind of like Hendrix and me.” She beamed a smile.
         “Even if he’s interested, it’s not going to happen. He’s a big flirt and a player.” I took a sip of my mojito and glided the rim of the glass with my finger.  
         “How do you know? You just met him.”
         Without thinking, I turned to find Jax taking an order from a couple. I guessed the show had ended. I was just about to turn back when his eyes locked on mine. After giving me a warm smile, he winked. That was too freakin’ sexy. My heart skipped a beat, and my breath hitched as I looked away. I didn’t want to return a smile back. It would give him wrong vibes from me.
Jax was right; I was scared. Sadly, I had to admit I had used needing to email my clients as an excuse to get away from him. He was making me have emotions I wasn’t ready to feel. Since I was the one that had broken up with Greg, I felt guilty as well. But I couldn’t help the joy that took me away from reality just for a brief moment. “I know his type.”
         Stacey opened her mouth to speak, but she didn’t have a chance to retort. “Aloha,” our waitress greeted. “What can I get for you tonight?” Thank goodness the waitress came by and saved me.
         “Anyway,” Stacey started to say after the waitress left, “you should get to know a person before you judge.”
         “I know. It’s not like he asked me out and I turned him down.” I had the urge to turn to see Jax, but I stopped myself and fidgeted in my seat.
         “I have a feeling he will. He looks like the type of man that will go after what he wants.”
“It doesn’t matter. He lives here. I don’t do long distance relationships. It was the main reason Greg and I broke up.”
“Well … you just never know.”
         Our conversation was minimal as we enjoyed the music. A live band had set up just as the sun started to set, creating not just a joyful atmosphere, but a beautiful sight as well. Peeking through the pink and violet clouds, the sun shone for the last time that day. As it slowly started to fade away, the surrounding lights and the stars became brighter and more apparent.
After a while, our waitress placed our plates of food on the table. Glancing back at Jax, I saw that the crowd by the bar had died down.
         “The food is fantastic,” Stacey said, taking a sip of her drink. “This fish is so tender and fresh.”
         “My salad is good, too,” I added. “The shrimp is big and the crab,” I let out a soft moan, “is delicious.”
         “What’s your plan this week?” Hendrix asked, sliding into the booth next to Stacey. I jerked a little, surprised by his appearance. Thank goodness we were raving about how good the food tasted; otherwise, it would have been very embarrassing.
         “We just got here. What do you have in mind?” Stacey raised her brows, leaning in closer. Her attention was diverted from the cuisine to him.
         “There’s so much to do. Horse back riding, snorkeling, kayaking, helicopter ride—”
         “Helicopter ride,” Stacey repeated with excitement. “Let’s do that one.” She looked at me to confirm.
         I didn’t want to be the third wheel. “You know I’m afraid of heights. You two can go.” Hoping they would stop asking me questions if I had a full mouth, I took another bite of my salad.
         “You’re afraid of too many things,” a voice whispered in my ear, sending a jolt of shivers down my back.
         “I’m not afraid. I mean ….” I couldn’t speak when he sat right beside me. His leg touching mine almost made me choked on the shrimp I was chewing.
         “I’ll go with you,” Jax said, wrapping his arms behind my chair, leaning closer, and passing my comfort zone.        
“I’m not getting on that thing. You can go by yourself.” My tone was nice, but I couldn’t look at him. He made me feel so nervous. His presence alone made my heart thump faster, and I could feel dangerous heat flush through my body.
         “You have to go on it once to see the parts of the island you’ll never be able to see on a tour,” Hendrix informed.
         “It’s not just the heights. I get car sick, and I’m pretty sure I would get air sick, if there’s such a thing.” I didn’t mean to, but I turned to Jax when I heard him chuckle. When my eyes met his, blazing heat spread all over me, even down to my toes. I had to stop thinking what it would feel like to have a one-night stand with him. I could already feel his hands cupping my breasts and my ass just by his stare alone. It was so intense and deep that it was hard to look away.
         “You can take something for that.” I think that’s what Hendrix said. “Hey!”
         My body jerked from the loud snap from Hendrix. Was he mad? “Don’t look at her that way. She’s off limits,” Hendrix said to Jax. “She’s Matthew Knight’s future sister-in-law. And you know how Matthew can be.”
         “First of all, I don’t know Matthew that well. He’s your friend. Second, I’m not afraid of him. He can kiss my ass. If I see something I like, I take it.”
         Hendrix slid the palm of his hand down his face and shook his head, causing Stacey to giggle. “I was afraid you were going to say that. But seriously, hands off. And why are you here? You’re suppose to work the evening shift for me.”
         “Don’t worry, I just took a five-minute break. The real show is about to start now that the band is here.”
         “Don’t break any glasses. Glasses are to be used to drink from, not to be tossed in the air.”
         “Don’t worry.” Jax stood up and patted his brother on the back. “The best part of breaking glasses is that you can buy new ones. Anyway, duty calls.” He started to walk away, then turned after a few steps. “Hendrix, set up the helicopter ride for the four us in a couple of days.”
         “Why in couple of days?”
         “I can’t go tomorrow.”
         “Who says you’re invited?”
         “Rachel wants me there. She’s going to need me if she gets air sick.”
         I flashed my eyes at Jax, surprised by his words, and kept my smile at bay when he winked at me then headed to the bar, turning ladies’ heads on his way.
“He never listens.” Hendrix shrugged his shoulders. “Ladies, you’re good to meet on Wednesday? I’ll set everything up.”
“Sure,” Stacey said excitedly. She looked at me with begging eyes.
I arched my brows and started eating my unfinished salad. “Why not?” I grumbled.

  “Don’t break any glasses. Glasses are to be used to drink from, not to be tossed in the air.”
         “Don’t worry.” Jax stood up and patted his brother on the back. “The best part of breaking glasses is that you can buy new ones. Anyway, duty calls.” He started to walk away, then turned after a few steps. “Hendrix, set up the helicopter ride for the four us in a couple of days.”
         “Why in couple of days?”
         “I can’t go tomorrow.”
         “Who says you’re invited?”
         “Rachel wants me there. She’s going to need me if she gets air sick.”
         I flashed my eyes at Jax, surprised by his words, and kept my smile at bay when he winked at me then headed to the bar, turning ladies’ heads on his way.
“He never listens.” Hendrix shrugged his shoulders. “Ladies, you’re good to meet on Wednesday? I’ll set everything up.”
“Sure,” Stacey said excitedly. She looked at me with begging eyes.

I arched my brows and started eating my unfinished salad. “Why not?” I grumbled.