Setting: Onboard The Wanderlust as the sun sets behind the Florida Keys. The sea is calm. The only sounds are the waves lapping against the hull, some Springsteen tunes coming from below deck and ice jingling against the sides of our glasses.
Jon: Sailboat races every weekend in the Keys. She sailed like a bat out of hell. Reckless.
Grace: He likes to say I was reckless because Jerry and I kicked his ass every weekend. (she laughs) We used to have big bonfires on the beach after the races...celebrating our win, of course...and he and his brother Craig would show up.
Jon: Those were some amazing nights...we got down and dirty in the sand more often than not. She couldn't resist me.
Grace: It was the other way around...he followed me around like a lost puppy until I gave in.
Me: And you were each other's first loves?
Grace: (She looks toward the islands in the distance and rests her glass of rum punch on her bare knee.) Yeah, but what did we know about anything? We made plans to sail off together when we turned 18...I showed up with all the money I had, a passport and naive heart full of big dreams. It was raining...
Me: Did he show up?
Jon: Let's not talk about that. (He pulls a Miami Marlins baseball cap low over his eyes and stares into his drink.) It's not something we like to rehash.
Grace: Yeah, he showed up. He said running off with me would ruin his life...that I was too poor, too wrong for him, that we'd end up with a kid before we were 20...that it had all been a lie...some summer time fun and that's it. He left me standing on the dock like a fool.
Jon: She likes to revise...like I said. It was like it was...I was young and stupid...It was a long time ago. We're all grown up now with bigger problems than sailing off on some adventure.
Grace: You sailed anyway...alone. (She finishes off her drink before looking at him.) You're right, it doesn't matter. Happy endings are for fairy tales, I know that now.
Kiss Me Slowly book blub:
Trapped in a set-up that could have him in jail or dead by Monday, Jonathan Alexander trusts no one in his inner circle. It’s Saturday. His only hope is Grace Dupont, the best forensic accountant in Miami. But there’s a glitch with that idea. She's also his ex-girlfriend who would rather watch him drown than throw him a life vest. Going to her feels desperate...because he is.
Grace enjoys seeing Jonathan squirm. On your knees boy, she thinks as he pitches for her help. Always a sucker for the dark-haired-blue-eyed boys, she risks her precariously balanced life of secrets to help him. Helping him slaps a target on her back--she's the key to proving his innocence and that's a bad, bad thing.
Tangled up in whirlwind of conspiracy, murder, million dollar money trails and diamond smuggling, Jonathan and Grace flee to the sea to stall for time to prove his innocence. Romance sizzles beneath Florida Keys’ sunshine. Both scoff at happy endings. Both doubt justice. Both know each kiss could be their last.
An excerpt of Kiss Me Slowly
“I’ve thought about you over the years, too. Always wondered about you, hoped you were miserable and lonely.” She glanced up at the clouds dotting an otherwise flawless sky. “You were the first boy I ever went all the way with, in case you ever wondered.”
“Me, too.” He touched her shoulder, a light touch, but enough to burn her skin. “I had no idea what the hell I was doing.”
“Yeah, well, we were only seventeen. High school. What did we know about anything? Everything was so intense.” She looked over her shoulder at him.
The sea breeze had dried his hair in crazy disarray. The color of his eyes matched the sea. His various bandages, from his shoulder to his ripped up feet encased in water shoes, only made him more endearing. She refused to look at the scratches on his chest.
“It’s pretty intense right now, too,” he whispered. “I don’t give a damn about what’s right or wrong and I don’t think you really do either.”
“Sunday night when you kissed me—”
“We kissed each other.”
“Whatever. I can’t stop thinking about it. And then yesterday morning on the boat. I could have kissed you all day. Wish I would have.” His finger stroked a line down her bare back.
Her gaze focused on his mouth. Her skin shivered where his fingers touched. Sun warmed the back of her neck. And she decided to be honest.
“It would be so easy to say to hell with it all and wrap myself around you.”
“Easy. What a concept,” he said, his gaze locking with hers.
“There are things you don’t understand. Jerry—”
“What does Jerry have to do with whether or not we kiss each other? He’s not here.”
“No.” He put his finger over her lips. “Don’t call me Jonathan. Call me Jon Ryan or sailor boy. Don’t call me Jonathan.”
“You’re bad for me. Very bad for me.”
“You said we had a free day, so let’s just pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Just for today.” His hand curved over her hip, a finger strayed beneath the fabric of the bikini bottom. “And you always liked being bad. Still do, if I’m right.”
“Jon, don’t.” She smoothed her hands down his biceps.
“I know this is wrong. I know I shouldn’t want you so badly. I know we should be working, thinking, keeping our distance, feeling guilty for things out of our control”—his hands moved over the sides of her waist—“yet I cannot stop wanting to be inside you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“It’s true. You want me, too. Deny it.”
“Jon.” This wanting burned inside her chest like a hot branding iron. “I want you, too. I want you so badly, but this is insane.”
“What are you really afraid of?” He kissed her shoulder as he untied the strings of the top. “Me? Jerry? The smugglers chasing us? The cops looking for me? All of the above?”
“No.” She kissed the side of his face.
“Then what?” His mouth slid over hers.
Hands fisted in his hair, she opened her mouth to his. Hot. Moist. She knew it was wrong, realized she would miss him, understood they could never last beyond the next two days. Knowing all of that, she no longer gave a damn.
He pushed her to her back, one hand on her breast and the other propped above her head. Their mouths merged in a sweet dance of longing and savoring.
She needed his hands on her body, his mouth on her skin, and him inside of her. His mouth tugged on her breast. Teeth grazed her skin. Passion obliterated thought.