Maddie Jacobs must be crazy. At least that’s what her mother thinks. Professionally, she’s confident and secure; personally, she’s a hot mess. Not even a marriage proposal from a man who adores her can quell her search for something more.
In need of an escape, Maddie flees to Key West’s most southern island, Bella Key, to rest and recharge at Casa Bonita. She almost gives up on weekend retreat when the Bed & Breakfast is closed for repairs until Sunny Rojas, the inn owner, extends an offer of friendship, sweet tea and a room. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime partner, Sunny is thankful for the diversion from her own broken heart.
The arrival of a fierce storm forces the women’s emotional journey to a head and leads them into each other’s arms. But can Maddie throw her hangups to the wind and go with her heart? The magic of Bella Key teaches her that passion cannot be placed neatly into boxes labeled right and wrong, because love knows no boundaries.
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Maddie stopped in the doorway, holding the knot of her towel to her chest. Wet strands of hair produced rivulets of water streaming down her shoulders and chest. “Like a new woman. Although, my northern skin can’t handle the tropical sun. Look at my shoulders!” Sunny’s gaze moved from one shoulder to another. Maddie was right, she was more than sun-kissed. Her shoulders practically glowed. “Oh, chica. That’s an angry burn you have there. I have some aloe —” Sunny picked up and put down five different bottles from her dressing table. “—ah, here it is. This’ll ease the pain and cut down on the peeling, too.”
Sunny flipped the top and squeezed a quarter-sized dab of the green gel into her palm. She nodded toward her bed, signaling Maddie to sit. Rubbing the aloe between her palms, she rested one knee on the bed beside her. Maddie gathered her wet hair and flipped it over her shoulder to allow Sunny access to the other. Her body shivered under Sunny’s hands.
“Sorry, this stuff’s cold. I tried to warm it up a little.”
Maddie closed her eyes and tilted her head to the side. “It’s not that. It feels good on the burn. You have a gentle touch.”
Sunny chuckled. “Scooch over a little so I can get your other side.”
Maddie shifted, lifting her feet onto the bed and tucking them under her legs Indian style. Sunny guided her head forward and massaged the aloe along the base of her neck to her shoulder blades, and down to the edge of the fluffy towel. She bent her knee, providing an anchor for Maddie to lean upon. Her inner thighs grazed the thick towel. Sunny closed her eyes and focused not only on Maddie’s sunburned skin, but also on loosening the muscles along her shoulders and upper back.
“I have a confession to make,” Maddie said quietly.
“Other than this is the best massage you’ve ever received?” Sunny snorted.
“Mmm. That too. I-I watched you last night.” Maddie went a few seconds without taking a breath.
Sunny didn’t waver. “I know you did. You were outside of my door.”
“You knew? Why didn’t you stop or say something?” Maddie kept her eyes closed but turned her head toward Sunny as she spoke.
Sunny added another dab of aloe to her palm. “I liked that you were watching me. It turned me on that you enjoyed it too.”
“Never in my life had I thought I’d be attracted, you know, sexually to a woman. It’s different with you. Many things are different with you.” Maddie’s hand trembled as she touched Sunny’s leg, tracing an imaginary line up and down her calf. The rapid rise and fall of Maddie’s back matched the pounding in Sunny’s chest.
Silence filled the room. Sunny had decided against bringing up the episode from the night before unless Maddie did. Now that it was out in the open, Sunny could find out how Maddie felt for sure. “Different, how?”
“You make me feel so focused and honest and alive. I’ve never had that with anyone else before.” Maddie turned and kneeled in front of Sunny. “Would it be forward if I asked you to kiss me?”
Sunny swallowed hard. “Yes, but I like forward,” she whispered as she cupped Maddie’s face with her palms. Dragging her thumb over Maddie’s bottom lip she realized how many times she wanted to taste her lips and explore her mouth over the past two days. Sunny lowered her face and brushed her lips once over Maddie’s. She drew back to study Maddie’s reaction.
“Again,” Maddie whispered, her eyes remained closed.
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