Straining for the lyrics through the singer’s thick accent, I caught the verses.

When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it. I was blindfolded I’ll ne’er deny. Now at nights when I go to my bed of slumber, the thoughts of my true love run in my mind.


Another moment passed as the young man’s voice faded into the night. The song was a somber one, made light only by his passionate delivery. Like so much of life, the pain was what you made of it. He’d made something sad beautiful.

I sighed and settled against Blake’s chest. His body emanated warmth. His heartbeat was a steady reminder of his support, his love—a force that had saved me, changed me, and healed me in ways I’d never thought possible. He tipped my chin up, the glint in his eyes matching the passion in my heart. He parted his full lips, but hesitated, a wordless moment passing between us.

“I’m going to show you the whole world, Erica.”

“I can’t imagine enjoying a minute of it without you,” I whispered.

He stilled our slow dance, tracing a fingertip over my lips, his countenance now serious in a way that threatened my next breath.

“And I’m going to make you fall in love with me all over again. Every morning and every night. In every city and at the edge of every ocean. I’ll remind you why you’re mine and why I’ve always been yours.”

I drew an unsteady breath, feeling his promise all the way to my soul. Swallowing hard, I found my voice. “I think you’re on the right track.”

I arched toward him until our lips met. Soft and slow at first, the kiss went deeper, stealing every thought that didn’t revolve around his taste and touch.

We broke apart slightly when a gravelly voice interrupted us.

“Go make love to her, lad, before she changes her mind entirely.”

Behind us, the man who’d made his home for the night in the entryway of a high-end store offered an imperfect grin, pairing his words of wisdom with a friendly tip of his small bottle of liquor.

I smiled, and Blake, by the dark look in his eyes, seemed to immediately accept the stranger’s challenge.

“I plan to,” he murmured, his tone all velvet and delicious threat.

My skin tingled and he took my mouth again with a kiss that promised so much more.

CHAPTER TWO

BLAKE

I sat alone in the darkness, unable to quiet my thoughts. Outside the water lapped against the pillars that held our luxury bungalow safely above the crystal-clear ocean. The moon lit up the horizon and the waves rolled in uneven strips toward us. Then the inevitable crash of the salty sea meeting the shore. I could no more stop the motion than I could stop time.

The meditative rhythm of the sound should have soothed me, but I was far from soothed, far from sleep. Hours had turned to days, and somehow the days had melted into weeks. We hadn’t wasted a moment, but I couldn’t fight the unsettling feeling that hit my gut every time I thought about the honeymoon ending. In our busy lives, a month was an eternity. But somehow a month wasn’t enough, and now I resented that life in Boston would be calling us back in a matter of days.

We’d touched down in Malé a week ago, and almost instantly I’d sensed the shift. Maybe because we’d both seen it coming. Maybe because there was nothing but peace on the island. No bustling cities, no friends to meet. No sights to take in, nothing excessive to buy. Just our bodies and an easy silence between us set against the backdrop of this beautiful place. The silence was natural, comfortable, but also weighted by the reality back home that neither of us was ready to face.

I released a tired sigh and reached for my laptop, unable to shake an uneasy feeling. My screen lit up the nearly black night around me. As our honeymoon days dwindled, my thoughts had wandered further from the simple life we’d enjoyed here. More and more they circled around the life we were going back to.

In the bedroom, Erica slept and I hoped it was soundly. She’d been restless most of the night. I wasn’t sure if my restlessness was having the same effect on her, or if the same brand of anxiety riddled us both.

We’d promised to unplug, yet here I was, unable to ignore the reality that we both had enemies, and the most important responsibility I had as Erica’s husband was to protect her. Keeping her safe as we navigated halfway across the world was one thing. Keeping her safe back home was another.

I wanted to be the one to fight for her. For her safety and her happiness. Erica was young, but she’d survived more than anyone should ever have to. I may have tried to keep the upper hand between us, but I never doubted her strength for a moment. Still, I’d made a promise to protect her.

I skimmed my email, ignoring the instinct to start clearing out the list of things to do that had amassed over the past few weeks. The list was too long to consider at this late hour. No, work would have to wait.

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