Yep, Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding released on Tuesday, and to celebrate, Lexxie Couper, Sami Lee and I are posting the first chapters of our books for your entertainment.
Today, it’s my turn. So here you go, the first chapter of Afternoon Rhapsody:
See Aidan and McKenzie get married.
Dear Bianca Rogers,
Aidan and Mack would love to invite you and your “plus one” to bear witness to their wedding on Bandicoot Cove’s main beach,
Saturday, four p.m.
Dress is completely casual as the atmosphere will be relaxed and full of laughter. No top hats, tuxedos or stilettos allowed.
Please come and share in Aidan and Mack’s special day as they finally formalize what the rest of the world already knew: they were meant to be together from the start.
RSVP Kylie Sullivan
Bandicoot Cove Resort
Bianca fingered the invitation with a sigh. “Plus one”. Damn if those words didn’t tear a hole through her heart. When had she ever needed a “plus one”?
Never, that’s when.
She and Rick had been together since school, for heaven’s sake. Since she was sixteen.
You’re too young, they’d been warned countless times. It’ll never last.
God, she hated those words.
At least wait until you’ve finished uni. Get your degrees.
They had gotten their degrees. Several years after their wedding.
She set the invitation on the glass table in the center of the luxurious living room. Maybe they should have waited. Maybe they had been too young. One thing was for sure. It hadn’t lasted. Not long enough, anyway.
Which was why Kylie had addressed the invitation to Bianca Rogers. Per Bee’s request, her married name had been dropped, and after ten years she’d reverted back to using her maiden name. Although the divorce wasn’t final yet. Not until she and Rick had added their initials and signatures to the papers.
She’d sign them just as soon as she got home. It was the top item on her to-do list. Not now, though. Not while she was on this glorious tropical island. Now was not the time to mull over her life or her failed marriage. Now was not the time for regrets. It was a time for celebration and joy.
Bee shoved her feet into a pair of Havaianas and headed for Oasis, the resort’s poolside bar. She had a meeting there in less than ten minutes with Mack—her sister-in-law-to-be, Kylie—Mack’s BFF and Bandicoot Cove’s manager, and the hotel photographer—Kennedy someone or other. If she didn’t move her arse, she’d be late.
So determined was she to get to the bar on time, Bee almost tripped over a man as she hurried from her beautiful beachside bungalow and made her way through the lush gardens.
“Whoa. Easy there.” Strong hands reached out to steady her.
Bee caught herself mid-stumble, grateful for the muscular arms that prevented her from falling. She looked up to say thank you and immediately lost her breath.
Try as she might, she could not remember the last time seeing a man had taken her breath away. But the second her gaze touched his face, there went her oxygen. Gone. Just like that.
“Are you okay?” His voice was soft, a whispered caress, although she was pretty sure that wasn’t how he’d intended it to come across. He looked at her with concern, not blinding, unexpected lust.
It was she who was blinded by unexpected lust.
Dear Lord, he was gorgeous. Sexy, in a knock-your-socks-off kind of a way. Not classically good-looking. His nose was a little too crooked for that. And his lower lip a little too plump. Good for nibbling on, but not so good in front of a camera.
But then Bee never carried a camera with her, so that point was irrelevant. She did, however, carry her mouth around at all times, so a little nibble—just the smallest taste of that lower lip—was a distinct possibility.
She knew just how it would taste too. Sweet. Soooo sweet. With a hint of something unknown, mysterious. All wrapped up with a little dusting of spice. For added flavor.
Her mouth watered.
His eyes were an odd color. Neither blue nor green. More like a mixture of the two, the exact shade of the ocean behind her. Crystal clear and utterly beautiful. She kind of fancied she could read his every thought in them. And just as soon as she’d decided she could, she decided not to try. Rather leave the mystery than try to understand him. Mystery was good.
Perhaps that was one of the problems between Rick and her. There’d been no mystery. They’d been together too long for that.
But if there’d been no mystery, how was it they’d become strangers?
She brought her attention back to the stranger standing before her. It was all Bee could do not to flip back the dark lock that fell over his forehead so endearingly. She wanted to run her fingers through his hair so badly, they actually itched.
His hands tightened around her arms. “Are you okay?” he repeated. “Winded?” Concern was replaced by worry. “Can you breathe?” He released one arm suddenly, holding her steady with the other, and brought his hand behind her back.
Dear Lord. Was he going to hug her?
A hug would be nice. Unexpected, but nice. Especially if she got to cuddle into that lovely chest of his. Big, but not too big. Solid and inviting…
That was what she’d always thought about Rick’s chest. Big, lovely, solid and inviting. Even when he was a teenager.
He tapped her firmly on the back.
Ah, so not a hug. More like a halfhearted attempt at the Heimlich maneuver.
“It’s okay,” she piped up, remembering she not only had a voice, but lungs too, and was perfectly capable of using both. “I’m okay. I can breathe just fine.”
He immediately dropped his hand. It took him a little longer to release her arm though, and when he did, Bee almost complained. She liked the feel of his grasp there.
“I’m sorry.” He offered an apologetic smile. “You had me worried. For a minute I thought you might be choking.”
“Nope. Not choking. Just surprised.” Very surprised. “I didn’t see you.” She wasn’t sure how she’d missed him—since he towered above her. In fact, standing in front of him, she couldn’t see anything else. He blocked her vision entirely.
She eyed him with speculation. Oh, he was sexy indeed. Sexy and gorgeous. He looked just like her ideal man.
On impulse—because wasn’t that just the way she always did things, on impulse?—she stuck out her hand. “I’m Bianca, by the way. Bianca…” She struggled with her last name. “Rogers.”
His jaw dropped.
His surprise kind of mirrored hers. Would it ever feel right using that name again? Introducing herself by it?
And then she couldn’t concentrate on her name at all anymore because with his mouth open like that, the urge to nibble on his full bottom lip was overwhelming. She wondered if he’d mind if she stood on tiptoes, pulled his head close to hers and helped herself to a taste.
He probably would. Better to keep talking. “My friends call me Bee, though.”
He stared at her for a long, silent minute.
Bee cleared her throat. “Uh, usually, at times like this, you’d introduce yourself. You know, tell me your name and all.” Flirting, Bee? Really?
He raised an eyebrow. “My name?”
“Yeah. You know. It’s the title your parents gave you when you were born. Helps other people to identify you.”
He blinked once, as though startled, and then nodded slowly. “Ah, yes. My name. It’s…Brody. Brody Evans.” He stuck out his hand, and she slipped hers in it, loving the way his fingers curled around hers as they shook. So formal. So…tempting.
“So, Mr. Evans, are you here on the island alone?” Shameful of her to ask, but there’d be no point taking this any further if he wasn’t.
Her heart shocked her then, racing overtime as she awaited his answer.
Er, yeah. Very. What if he is here with someone?
It would be crushing.