It's release day for me and all these fabulous authors! Today William and Harper get to share their story and I couldn't be more excited. So to get the fun started, scroll on down to read chapter 1!
William leaned back into the seat of the taxi, resting his head and stared at the ceiling. The flight from Boston to California had been long. He had never been big on flying and the distance didn’t help. He was exhausted, and because it was still light outside, his body didn’t understand the time change. He planned to get to his hotel, grab a drink then go to bed before he met up with his cousin Amber tomorrow.
Laguna Beach was as gorgeous as Amber had described it. He’d never seen anything like it and couldn’t wait to explore Amber’s hometown. He wasn’t sure how long he’d stay; that would be determined as time went on.
He squinted against the bright sun, frustrated that his sunglasses still sat on his counter at home. He wrinkled his nose at the stink that emanated from the seats of the taxi and he couldn’t wait to breathe some fresh air. The AC wasn’t working properly and the driver didn’t seem to be bothered one bit. He had a fan plugged in, pointed at himself, as he hummed along with some tune on the radio.
“We’re almost there,” the driver said as he flipped on his blinker.
William pulled his phone from his pocket and texted his cousin.
Almost to my hotel. See you and Tyler tomorrow.
She responded right away. Can. Not. Wait!
Amber had moved out here almost two years ago for a job and she’d fallen in love with Laguna Beach. And with Tyler. He could see why she fell in love with Laguna Beach. The town was set up in a way that just flowed. People walked from shop to shop, not something he saw often in Morgan, Massachusetts.
He tried not to think about home. The last year had not gone as planned and being away from Boston made him feel like he could breathe.
“We’re here.” The cab driver stopped the vehicle.
William handed him cash then climbed out of the car, grabbing his luggage he’d had in the backseat with him. He shielded his eyes with his hand to block the sun and took in the hotel he’d be staying at, The Mondrian Laguna Beach. He’d always loved reality TV—a guilty pleasure—and heard one of the stars from Laguna Nights worked here. If he was lucky, maybe he’d catch a glimpse of her. Then again, his luck had sucked recently, so there wasn’t much chance of that.
He walked inside the hotel and stood in the short line at the registration desk. Amber had told him this was a popular hotel, and she’d been right. He finally reached the desk, poised to give the desk clerk his name when the man excused himself and went into the back.
What the heck?
William waited patiently for a few minutes, but the man didn’t come back. He scanned the reception area, surprised at the absence of hotel personnel. It was his damn luck that as soon as it was his turn to check in, the clerk would up and what…quit? Go to the restroom? I can’t catch a break these days.
The door to the back swung open and William was ready to give whoever it was a piece of his mind, but his breath caught at the sight of the dark haired beauty who emerged.
“I’m sorry about that, sir.”
Her eyes were as green as the grass on a warm summer day. He’d never seen anything like it. “Are those contacts?”
“I’m sorry. Your eyes. They’re so green.”
She smiled and brushed her bangs from her eyes. “They’re all mine.”
“I’ve never seen a pair as beautiful as yours.”
Her cheeks went deep pink. He liked that he could make this beautiful woman blush. “Thank you. So, uh, are you checking in?”
“Yes.” He pulled his wallet from his back pocket. “William Springs.”
She typed on the computer then took his ID. “Do you have the credit card with you that you used to book the room?”
He handed it to her and a second later she gave it back.
“All set.” She grabbed a room key and wrote a room number on the envelope. “Room 417.” She pointed. “If you take that elevator, it’ll take you to your room. Enjoy your stay at Mondrian.”
“Thank you, and I will.” He let his gaze drop to her breast where her nametag read Harper Powell.
He grabbed his suitcase and wheeled it toward the elevator, strategizing when he might see her again. Her eyes captivated him—he could get lost in them for hours at a time. He took one last look over his shoulder, pleased that she still stood at the desk, watching as he walked away.
Shit, he didn’t have time to fall for a woman. Not after the last one he’d been so sure had liked him, only to find out she was still in love with her ex.
Harper clocked out, so glad the day was over. It had been a hell of a day. The hotel currently had limited occupancy due to renovations. Ever since the public had discovered the Madison Alcott worked there, star of Laguna Nights, this had been the place to stay. With the extra money, the hotel owner decided to start some of the renovations that had been put off, but unfortunately, the company they hired had quit mid-project.
People came by all day, trying to catch a glimpse of Madison. Harper loved Madison. She was the sweetest person she’d ever met and wanted nothing to do with the fame. She was very down to earth, but since having her child, she wasn’t around as much.
Harper wandered out onto the back patio and sat down in a lounge chair, staring out at the ocean. The skies were so gorgeous in the evenings the way the oranges, reds, and purples mixed to paint the horizon. She shivered as a cool breeze blew across her arms. She glanced over her shoulder, seeing a man sitting nearby, his eyes closed. She remembered him from when he’d checked in earlier. His accent led her to believe he was from the northeast. The weather forecasted rain showers over the next few hours, and she figured with the time change and jet lag, he might be out for a while.
She went over to him, touching his shoulder. “Excuse me, sir.” He didn’t stir, so she shook him. “Sir.”
His light eyes opened and he stared at her with confusion.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir. It’s going to rain soon and I didn’t want you to get wet.”
He rubbed his eyes. “Crap, I didn’t realize I fell asleep. I closed my eyes for just a second. Harper, right?”
He knew her name? Damn, someone had found her when she’d been trying to maintain a low profile. “Yes. How did you know?”
“I remembered it from earlier when I checked in. I read your name tag.”
“Oh.” She smiled, glad he knew her name for that reason, and not the one most people did.
“I’m William Springs. You probably don’t remember me.”
She moistened her lips. She did remember him. He’d taken her breath away when she’d first seen him. His hair had that shaggy look that fell just above his eyes and he could swoop it to the side. She wanted to run her nails through it to see if it was as soft as it looked. He was handsome and fit, with thick arms. Holy shit, he was toned.
“So, what brings you to Laguna Beach?”
He straightened the T-shirt that clung to his biceps. “My cousin is getting married.”
“Great place to get married. Is she holding it on the beach?”
“I think so. I didn’t really ask.”
She didn’t want to seem stalkerish, admitting that she might have checked his record when he checked in. “How long are you staying?”
He sighed with irritation. “Good question. I lost my job before I came out here. The company I worked for was downsizing and I got canned.”
“I know. I might take the much needed time off to enjoy myself here before heading back to Massachusetts. I have a scheduled flight back, but I may cancel it.”
“I love your accent. It’s adorable.”
He grinned. “Is it?”
Her cheeks warmed. “Yes. I like it.” Her gaze caught with his. “So, anyway, what did you do before losing your job?”
“Construction, but I specialized in remodels.”
She straightened. “Really?”
“Yes. Not the most glamorous job, but I enjoyed it. I applied for an open position with another company I worked for prior, but I doubt I’ll get the job.”
He grinned. “I used to date the owners wife. Well, she wasn’t married to him before. When we dated, I mean. Liam won her, but her heart was always with him. I didn’t stand a chance.”
“I hate to hear that.” She had her own experience being with a man whose heart belonged to someone else.
“It’s okay. It was a while ago. I’m over it.”
“Well, you’re timing is perfect. We’re renovating parts of the hotel, a bit at a time, and the current company quit. I’d love for you to look at some projects we have around the hotel, if you’re interested.”
“I wish I could help, but I don’t have a crew or anything.”
She hadn’t thought about that. “I understand.”
“I’d still have a look though. Maybe we could get dinner or lunch sometime…to discuss it.”
“I’d like that.” She couldn’t recall the last time she’d been on a date. He was handsome and from out of town, so she could fully let loose and have fun before he left. No strings, no attachment.
Maybe that was what she needed. William was sexy and seemed interested. He was perfect to help her dip her toes back into the water as she got over her own past and moved forward.
“Can I get your number?” he asked.
She told him and he typed it into his phone before sending her a text with a smiley face.
“I’ll call you,” he said, laughing and looking up as the rain drops started to fall. “I’m glad you woke me up.”
He stood and she tipped her head back to look up at him, not remembering him being quite so tall. “Well, you’re very welcome. But now we better get inside.”
They hurried inside before the sprinkles turned into a down pour, William holding the door for her as she hustled out of the rain. Now she just had to get to her car without getting soaked.
“You have a nice evening, William. I’m headed home. Enjoy your stay at the Mondrian.”
“It’s already been very pleasurable.”
She turned, hiking her purse up on her shoulder, and wandered toward the double doors of the hotel. She hoped he did call and wasn’t one of the many guys who claimed they’d call but never did.
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