Name: Marissa

Day/Time: Thursday, 4:07 AM

Current state of mind: Pleasantly buzzed and content

What are you wearing? Skirt and a tank top

What are you listening to? Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley & The Wailers

What are you drinking? Rum runner

Where are you? Veranda in the Caribbean

I’m living the dream. I never imagined I’d be spending my birthday weekend on some gorgeous tropical island with my closest family and friends. I never thought I’d finally get a break from the epic shit show that’s been my life. I’ve bitched and moaned about needing a vacation for years, and I finally got one, courtesy of Nick. Hell of a birthday gift, right? And this is one birthday trip I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

We spent most of the day hanging out on the white sand beach and soaking up the sun. The guys got a game of volleyball in before dinner. Normally, I would’ve joined them, but I just wanted to relax and enjoy the view, and I’m not just talking about the brilliant turquoise blue sea.

I know it’s weird to be lusting after my brother’s friend, but it’s hard not to notice Luke. He’s… noticeable—even when he’s not half-naked, and showing off his tall, toned, athletic body, and bronze tattooed skin. What can I say? I’m a sucker for sporty guys with brains, brawn, and tattoos. He’s totally my type, but totally off limits. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t admire him from a distance.

Apparently, I wasn’t being as discreet as I thought. Ash accused me of ogling Luke. I wasn’t ogling him. I was just captivated by his impressive… handling of the ball. She wasn’t buying what I was selling, but it was the truth, kind of. Besides, she had no room to talk. I caught her eyeing Ryan like an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet. She was practically salivating, so I handed her my drink napkin, just in case she needed to wipe the corners of her mouth. I’m a good friend like that.

After the guys wrapped up their game, we freshened up and hit up the local beach bar for some dinner and drinks. The place was packed, but Nick had reserved a table right on the beach with a first-class view of the sea.

The Caribbean sunset was as breathtaking as the man sitting across from me. The sun’s remaining rays glinted off his short dark blond hair, revealing the natural highlights in the neatly styled thickness. His resonant laugh was as genuine as it was infectious. And that smile, oh fucking gods, that smile melted me each time he flashed it.

I shouldn’t have been thinking about Luke. It was stupid and pointless. Nothing was gonna happen between us. It wasn’t worth destroying any friendships over. Not to mention, my feelings were one-sided. It was a crush. Nothing more. Luke had never shown any romantic interest in me. I needed to get him out of my sun-damaged head.

As soon as we finished eating, I dragged Kari, Ash, and Holly over to the bar. I know booze isn’t the best coping method, but rum runners are delicious, and if you drink enough of them, they make for one hell of a mind-eraser. I was on a mission, and no one was gonna stop me.

We were on round number two of shots and cocktails when the guys joined us. I found myself sandwiched between Luke and Ash. Do you know how hard it is to forget about someone when they’re right next to you? Luke was standing so close, the heat from his body seared into my skin. I wanted to drown myself in that citrusy ocean scent of his, while he wrapped me up in his arms and kissed me breathless. I wanted to taste him. I wanted to feel him. Hell, I just wanted him. My mission to forget had failed, and I was fucked.

Luke’s teal gaze flicked down to mine, his deep voice breaking through the lusty haze that shrouded my brain as he asked what I wanted to drink. I blinked up at him as my mind struggled to process his question. His eyes flashed with concern, asking if I was okay. I wasn’t. I mumbled some lame excuse and stumbled off onto the beach.

I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. I just knew that I needed some air. I shoved my way through the crowd, my mind spinning as I gathered my wits. What the fuck was wrong with me? I needed to get a grip. And fast. I shoved my hand through my messy waves and spun around, directly into Luke’s chest.

He gripped my arms and steadied me, his touch sparking a fire beneath my skin as my heart fluttered against my ribcage. His expression was a mix of bewilderment and worry as he asked me what was wrong. I told him it was nothing and that I just got overheated. He remained doubtful as he studied my face. He didn’t believe me, and I couldn’t blame him. I was a hot fucking mess.

Luke released me and told me to stay put. He said nothing else, just took off in the direction of the tiki bar. I wasn’t sure what he was up to, but I was curious. I sank down onto one of the nearby lounge chairs and gathered my thick hair, sweeping the heavy weight off my neck, the breeze cooling my skin.

Luke reappeared a few minutes later with a bottle of booze and two plastic cups filled with ice. I got to my feet and cocked my head up at him. He just shot me that signature smile of his and told me to follow him.

We veered away from the noisy crowd until we found a secluded spot on the beach. I plopped down onto the soft, white sand as Luke sat down next to me. He handed me a plastic cup, filling it to the top, before repeating the same action with his own glass. I took a sip of my drink, tasting the fruity rum infused notes.

I love rum runners, but Luke’s never been a big a fan of the fruity stuff. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I couldn’t contain my laughter as he attempted to choke down the sweet concoction. He feigned annoyance, but it was impossible to miss the amusement dancing in his bluish-green depths.

The balmy air dripped with unbridled tension as our eyes locked and my laughter died. My breath hitched, my heart hammering in my chest as Luke’s fingers grazed my cheek, tucking a loose curl behind my ear. Luke asked me what I wanted. My answer was as simple as it was blunt. Him. I wanted him.

Luke cupped the back of my head, brushing his lips against mine in a tender caress. He deepened the kiss, threading his fingers through my hair. His tongue slipped into my mouth as I wrapped my arms around his neck.

The sound of drunken shouting ruined the moment. Luke muttered a low curse as we pulled apart. He pressed his forehead against mine and we sat there, breathless and frustrated. After a minute or two, Luke swept his lips across my temple and pulled me to my feet.

As we strolled along the beach, I couldn’t help but wonder why my brother hadn’t sent a search party out after us. We weren’t gone that long, but long enough for Nick to notice our absence. As soon as we got back, my question was answered. Nick was dancing with Karina, the two of them completely lost in each other as they swayed to the music. Seeing him happy, seeing the two of them happy, made me smile.

Luke grabbed my hand and a beat later we were out on the dancefloor, our bodies moving to the sultry rhythm as one. We danced for a while, had a few drinks, and just enjoyed the rest of the night with our family and friends. It was a good birthday. Hell, I think it’s the best one I’ve ever had.

Well, I think I’m going to crash for the rest of the morning. I want to get some beach time in later. If you have any questions or comments, just drop them below.


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