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The Island Escape - eBook

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Hey, I get it. Nothing to be sorry about. Life is busy, especially at this time of year.

Sometimes I’m super jazzed about a book, but I don’t get to reading it for a while. Sometimes it takes a friend or two to remind me why I WANT to read it. Sometimes just a reminder email, and I go, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got that book! Let me open it right now!”

🙂 This can be any of those for you. No matter what, I want it to be EASY to read my books. Easy to find them on a variety of retailers, including libraries. Easy to find them in your country. Easy to read them anywhere you read – your phone, an eReader, on an app, in your web browser.

So if you have a few minutes, keep reading for the first couple of chapters of THE ISLAND ESCAPE – that free book you got a few weeks ago!

If you can’t remember where you got it, you should be able to find it inside the BookFunnel app, or perhaps you had BookFunnel send it to your device… Or you got it from Kobo during our free Spring Break event…

Either way, enjoy this beachy, heartwarming romance between a rockstar and a wedding planner who feels left behind in her life…

The Island Escape - Chapter One:

The Island Escape - Chapter One:

Riley Randall leaned her head back as the plane touched down on the island of Getaway Bay. She loved visiting her family. She did. Honestly. But it had been a little bit much with all sixteen of them there, celebrating her parents fiftieth wedding anniversary.

With her four older siblings, her parents, and her six nieces and nephews, Riley had enjoyed a great week on Oahu. She really had.

But she was very happy to be home, in Getaway Bay, where she could eat whatever cereal she wanted in her little bungalow, sleep past six a.m., and have a moment—or two—of silence when she needed it.

She’d definitely felt left out this week, but she knew it wasn’t her siblings’ fault. They all had a spouse, and she didn’t. It was natural to pair up that way, but she’d often been left to herself to find someone to paddle board with, or someone to sit by at dinner, or someone to go with her up to the bathrooms from the beach.

Yes, she was definitely very happy to be home.

The seatbelt sign on the airplane turned off, and a flurry of activity started. She sat near the back of the plane, but she stood up anyway. Because of her petite frame, the top of her head barely touched the underside of the overhead compartment.

It seemed to take forever for the crowd to inch forward, get their bags down, collect their cell phones. Riley normally wasn’t impatient, but she needed to go to the bathroom, and she was simply peopled out.

When it was finally her turn, the people on her row moved into the aisle. “Yours is the pink one, right?” the man beside her said, and Riley nodded.

“Yes, thank you.”

He got her luggage down for her, and she followed him off the plane. How the flight attendants could still be smiling boggled her mind, and yet she smiled at them as she got off too. So it could be done.

After all, she worked in an industry that required an endless supply of smiles, even when there was nothing to smile about.

Riley sure had enjoyed her time away from Your Tidal Forever. The stress of making sure every appointment got scheduled correctly, with the right person, at the right time. Her boss was somewhat overbearing, but Riley had learned to love Hope. She loved all the people she’d worked with, even if some of them had gone on to get their own happily-ever-after too.

She just wanted one of her own. And you’ll get it, she told herself as the line in front of her stalled again just after she’d stepped off the plane. She sighed and looked down, her eye catching on something shiny on the jetway.

It was a watch, and she bent to pick it up. “Is this yours?” she asked the man in front of her. He turned and looked at it, shook his head, and moved when the line did.

Concerned, but unsure about what to do with the watch, Riley followed him. No one grabbed onto her arm or demanded she give them the watch. She slipped it into her purse, intending to find out whose it was and return it—right after she took a good, long nap.

* * *

Later that evening, Riley had slept, unpacked her bag, and put a load of laundry in the washing machine before she remembered the watch. She retrieved it from her purse and attempted to turn it on, but it wouldn’t power up.

She examined the charging plug, and she didn’t have anything that would fit it. But she knew who did—Shannon Bell, a co-worker at Your Tidal Forever. Riley had seen Shannon wear a watch similar to this one before, albeit in a shade of rosy pink and not this masculine black.

She pulled out her phone and tapped a message to Shannon. Can you charge this watch? She snapped a picture of the item and sent it along to Shannon.

Where did you get that?

I found it on the plane, Riley said, though that wasn’t technically true. If I can power it up, I might be able to see who it belongs to.

I’ll bring my charger to work tomorrow.

Work tomorrow.

Riley was tired just thinking about it.

But off to work she went the next day, as it was Monday, and she’d spent the last seven days on vacation. She didn’t think it was fair that vacation drained her so much, but she didn’t really have anyone to complain to about it.

“And that’s not even true,” she muttered to herself. After work today, she’d stop by the pet paradise and pick up her two cats, who had been boarded there while she celebrated the beginnings of her family.

So she could definitely complain to Marbles and Sunshine, detail everything for them about the trip, what her sister had said, and the secrets her brother had told her about their other brother.

She smiled just thinking of all of them, and she was glad she still loved them, even after spending so much time with them in such close proximity.

Riley always arrived before almost anyone else at the wedding planning business. She loved her job, and she was very good at it. Her desk felt like it wasn’t quite hers, and she took a half an hour while the rest of the consultants came in to get everything back where it should be.

Shannon finally arrived, her handsome husband continuing down the sidewalk to the building where he worked. Jeremiah was a doctor, and he and Shannon were a perfect fit for one another.

“I brought the charger,” Shannon said. “And it’s so good to see you.” She came around the desk and hugged Riley, and Riley let the feelings of love move through her. See, she didn’t need a man. She had girlfriends.

In her heart of hearts, though, Riley knew it wasn’t the same. “Thank you. What have I missed?”

“Oh my—holy cow.” Shannon covered her mouth. “So much has happened. Charlotte announced that she and Dawson are adopting a baby.”

Riley stalled in her movement to plug in the watch. “You’re kidding.”

“I am really not.” Shannon looked like she’d swallowed stars and they now shone in her eyes. “It was very exciting. Hope brought in cake and then she cried through the whole thing.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.” Riley’s spirits deflated. Hope and her husband Aiden had been trying to have kids for a while, and it just wasn’t working out.

Shannon’s phone rang, and she said, “We have to lunch today and get caught up,” before walking a few steps and answering the call.

Riley finished plugging in the watch, enjoying the little chimes it made as it powered on. Now, she’d just figure out who this device belonged to, and she’d have done her good deed for the day.

* * *

Four days later, Riley slipped into the bathroom to check her hair. She was meeting one Evan Garfield today to return the watch she’d found on the jetway. He’d confirmed a few things on the watch, so Riley was sure it was him, plus it had been his email address she’d sent the message to about finding the watch.

He’d apparently been on the island for a concert, and he was still in town. “So you don’t need to check your hair,” she muttered to her reflection. “He’s a tourist, Riley. You don’t date tourists.”

But she was seriously considering it, as it seemed like she’d been through all the eligible bachelors on the island that were permanent residents.

Still, some measure of hope bounced around in her chest as she exited the bathroom, grabbed the watch from her desk drawer, and headed out. She and Evan were meeting at Roasted on the other side of East Bay, and she opted to walk though the September sun would melt her makeup off her face after about five minutes.

She showed up early and scanned the place for someone who looked like an Evan. Almost scoffing at herself—because what did an Evan even look like?—she moved over to the counter and ordered a latte with cream.

Hardly anyone actually came inside Roasted, choosing instead to use their drive-through window, so she hadn’t thought to give the guy her physical description. It wasn’t like they were going on a blind date. She shook her head at her romantic ideas about passing off a lost item.

The bell on the door rang, and three men entered. They all wore beanies, which Riley found odd, and sunglasses, which fit the Hawaiian atmosphere. She watched them approach the counter, wondering if one of them could be Evan.

They all wore jeans and some version of a Georgia Panic T-shirt, which Riley found odd. Something jiggled in the back of her brain about the band, but she couldn’t put her finger on what. Then the barista set her latte down in front of her and turned to the men.

Distracted by the delicious coffee, Riley twisted away from them and sipped her hot caffeine. The stool next to her scraped, and a man said, “Is this seat taken?”

“It is by you,” Riley said with a smile in his general direction. The other two men stayed down by the register, and neither looked in her direction.

“You know that has a plastic straw in it, right?” He nodded to her drink.

Riley simply lifted the little red straw to her lips and sucked on her latte. The liquid was much too hot to take much into her mouth, but she did it anyway, never removing her eyes from the man next to her.

He had a sexy scruff going on, and if he’d take off those sunglasses, Riley would bet money she’d find a beautiful pair of dark eyes beneath those bushy brows. His hair was dark poking out of the beanie, with that beard to match.

“I’ll tie it in a knot before I throw it away,” she said.

“That doesn’t always work.” He plucked a napkin from the dispenser on the counter. “A lot of sea animals die from the plastic in the oceans.”

Riley had read all about it. “I’m surprised someone like you knows that,” she said, teasing him and hoping he could hear it. She’d never seen him or the men with him around the island, and she was probably flirting with a tourist.

But these guys didn’t seem like tourists. No board shorts. No flip flops. No long, blond hair. T-shirts and jeans really stood out on the island, and she wondered who they were and what they were doing in Getaway Bay.

“Someone like me?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “Someone so handsome and tall and obviously into the same coffee as me.” She nodded toward the cup as the barista set down another latte—with a little red, plastic straw in it.

The man chuckled, and Riley really wanted to get his name and number. She glanced toward the door, her thoughts about Evan somewhere way below this guy. She almost didn’t want him to show up.

“And your friends sat over there,” she said, pointing with that straw. “Did you guys have some sort of bro code or something?”

The man laughed again, his version of saying yes.

“Are you new on the island?” she asked.

“What gave it away?” he asked.

“The lack of swimming gear,” she said. “The jeans. The beanie in September. I don’t know. I just have a way of knowing.”

“Do you live here?”


“Raised here?”

“No, I grew up on Oahu, but I’ve lived in Getaway Bay for oh, let’s see. At least a decade now.” She reminded herself she was thirty-five years old now. So she’d been on the island for twelve years, not just ten. She didn’t correct herself though. Two years didn’t make a difference to this guy.

But two years made a lot of difference to Riley.

“So, you locals regularly get coffee in the middle of the day, when it’s super hot outside?” he asked.

“Oh, honey,” she said, playfully putting one of her immaculately manicured hands on his arm. “It’s not super hot right now. Maybe in July.” She twittered out a laugh she hoped would earn her his number and looked at him.

“So why are you here?” he asked, scanning her clothes. “Are you drinking coffee for lunch?”

“Today I am,” she said, taking another sip.

“Do you work around here?”

“Other side of the bay,” she said. “A wedding planning place.”

He nodded as if he knew the spot, but Riley knew he didn’t. She couldn’t help herself, though. Maybe she just wanted to prove she still had some game when it came to flirting with gorgeous men.

“What does a guy have to do to get your number?” he asked.

“Give me your phone.” She held out her palm, victory only breaths away. “My name’s Riley, by the way.”

He handed her his phone, and she started tapping on it to get to his contacts and put herself in them. She paused, realizing he hadn’t given her his name.

“Riley Randall?” he asked.

“Yeah.” An alarm sounded in her head as she cocked it. “Who are you?”

“I’m Evan Garfield. I think you have my watch.”

The Island Escape - Chapter Two:

The Island Escape - Chapter Two:

Evan could not believe the gorgeous brunette he’d just picked up in the coffee shop also had his watch. Those stunning green eyes rounded, and she dissolved into giggles. “Oh, wow. Let me get it for you.”

She started digging in her purse, and Evan decided he could let her use of plastic straws slide if she’d laugh for him again. “Here it is.” She pulled out the watch, said, “Oops,” and immediately dropped it.

A sharp crack sounded as the face of it met the concrete floor in the coffee shop, and Riley was off her barstool in a moment. “Oh, my goodness. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe this.” She picked up the watch, which sure enough, was now broken. She looked at him, pure panic in her eyes now. “I’ve taken such good care of it for four days.”

Evan absolutely did not care about the watch. In fact, he’d already replaced it, as it had been missing for over a week now. “It’s fine,” he said, covering her fingers with his. An electric spark flew up his arm, and he slowly dragged his hand back, taking the broken watch with him. “No big deal.”

“It is a big deal,” she said. “Let me replace it for you.”

“Sit down,” he said, indicating her barstool again. “Honestly, Riley, I don’t care about the watch.” He lifted his left wrist, where an identical one sat. “See?”

She blinked rapidly again. “You already have another one?”

“That’s right.” He didn’t want to tell her too much right now, as most people saw him differently once they knew who he really was. In fact, with his clothes and his brother’s tees, he was surprised she hadn’t put all the pieces together yet. If there were other people in this shop, he’d probably have been recognized by now.

Riley’s barstool scraped and his phone hit the countertop at the same time. “Excuse me,” she said, and before Evan could even move, she was out the door of the coffee shop.

“Wow,” Carl said, also watching the door close behind Riley. “She can run fast.” His youngest brother could sometimes point out the obvious, which only added to Evan’s irritation.

“What just happened?” Evan picked up his phone, and thankfully, the screen wasn’t broken. Riley also hadn’t put in her number. Desperation pulled through him, and he frowned as he looked at the door again.

“She didn’t even finish her latte,” Brett said as he came over. The middle brother, he almost always tried to get Evan and Carl to get along. “What did you say to her?”

“Nothing, I—” He shook his head. Her reaction was why he’d struck out with women more often than not. “Maybe she recognized me.”

“Why would that make her run?” Carl asked. “Besides the fact that you haven’t shaved in forever.”

Evan rolled his eyes as he stood up. “Can I get this to go?” he asked the barista.

She nodded and took his drink. When she handed it back to him in a paper cup, she said, “I saw your concert the other night. You guys are great.”

“Thanks,” Evan said, his easy-going, rockstar smile coming out. He couldn’t help it. Brett, as the band’s public relations front person, had programmed Southern kindness and cordiality into him. Into all the band members of Georgia Panic. Evan just happened to be the front guy, the one whose name everyone knew, the one on the covers of magazines, the one getting stupid “awards” like Sexiest Man Alive.

Okay, maybe that last one was pretty cool.

Hadn’t helped him get a woman worth keeping, though.

“Did you get her number?” Carl asked.

“No,” Evan said.

“But you got the watch back,” he pointed out.

“I don’t care about the watch.” Evan tossed it in the trashcan on the way out, trying to remember where she’d said she worked. “It’s broken now anyway. I was just going to give it to DJ.” His bass guitarist would be disappointed, but it wasn’t like he couldn’t afford his own smart watch.

Evan paused in the shade and pushed up his glasses. “Did either of you see which way she went?”

“You really liked her?” Carl asked.

“Yeah,” Evan said. “She was beautiful, and she flirted with me, and I was seconds away from getting her number.” He looked at his phone again, but the digits didn’t appear there. He wasn’t sure what about Riley had him all worked up, but there was something. A huge spark when she touched his arm. An intense attraction between them. He had to see her again.

“So you have her email,” Brett said, nudging him to get moving again. Neither of his brothers had wanted to come to the coffee shop on the beach. But Evan rarely went anywhere on his own, and he was going no matter what anyone said. So they’d come along too. “We have a meet-and-greet at City Hall in an hour. You’ll email her tonight, after the show.”

“All right,” Evan drawled, ready to be done with this tour. Thankfully, Getaway Bay was their last stop, and tonight would be their last show.

Then he wanted some of those board shorts Riley had mentioned. He wanted to ditch the street clothes and the beanies and the oversized sunglasses and lay on the beach. He needed to relax.

He’d earned a beach vacation, and he was going to take it—right after tonight’s concert. And right after he emailed Riley and figured out a way to see her again.

* * *

Three days. Three agonizingly long days, and Riley had not answered his email. He’d been lying on the beach. Tanning. Wearing those board shorts she’d mentioned and nothing else. But he had not been relaxing. He couldn’t, not without knowing that she’d gotten his message.

“Why would she be avoiding me?” he asked, looking over at DJ.

“This again?” the man asked, turning away from his girlfriend.

“You need to figure out where she works,” Lisa said. “I don’t get how you can’t remember. You talked to her for like, three minutes, and she told you very little.”

“Exactly,” Evan said, very near to snapping. “She told me very little.”

“She said she worked on the other side of the bay,” DJ said, wiping his hand over his shaved head. “What did she do?”

Evan closed his eyes and pictured Riley. Petite brunette, with long hair and long eyelashes. So perfectly perched on that barstool, swirling that plastic straw in her coffee. He was no stranger to lattes, and he’d known she was drinking one without having to get too close. So he’d ordered one too.

“Wedding planning,” he said, feeling the ghost of her fingers on his arm.

“Give me a sec,” Lisa said, her fingers already tapping on her phone. “There are a couple of wedding planning places on the island.”

“Send ‘im a list,” DJ said. “And maybe he’ll stop obsessing over this woman.”

Evan wanted to argue. Say he wasn’t obsessed. But he kind of was. He’d started a few songs about Riley, each one dying a few lyrics in. He’d come back to them, sure. He knew how his songwriting approach went by now.

His phone chimed, and he almost dove for it before realizing it was probably Lisa with the list of places. Riley hadn’t said which one, and she hadn’t used a work email. They’d corresponded several times about the watch, so he knew she checked her email on a regular basis.

So she’d chosen not to respond to him. A frown pulled at his eyebrows again, and he wondered if he should just let this woman go. She obviously wasn’t interested in him.

Then the roar of fireworks would fill his veins, and he knew he had to at least try. So he dialed the top name on the list and said, “Yes, hello. I’m looking for Riley Randall…she doesn’t? Okay, thanks.” He hung up, his heart pounding in his chest.

He got this same rush while standing up on the stage before a show, when all the lights were off, and the drums were beating, beating, beating.

No one knew he was there yet, but he knew. In those few moments, he breathed, and he reminded himself how grateful he was to be able to do what he did. Sing, and song-write, and entertain. He loved every minute of it.

Then the lights would come on, and the crowd would scream, and Evan could feed off that energy. Calling around, looking for Riley, felt like that.

“This has to be it,” he said as he finally got to the bottom of the list. The phone rang, and his heart swooped to the bottom of his stomach. What would he do if she wasn’t at this wedding planning place either?

“Your Tidal Forever,” a woman chirped, and the voice struck a chord in Evan’s brain.

“Yes, hi,” he said, changing tactics quickly. “I’m looking for the gorgeous brunette who ran away from me at the coffee shop. Do you happen to know when she takes her lunch?”

On the other end of the line, Riley sucked in a breath and said, “Hold, please.” A click immediately followed, and joy filled Evan from top to bottom.

He laughed, stood up, and said, “I’m going to Your Tidal Forever.”

“Tell Carl,” DJ yelled after him, but Evan didn’t even know where Carl was at the moment, and he could certainly go off on his own. He was forty-two years old, for crying out loud.

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