Dacey Happa-Hewitt had no idea that traveling to India with her fiancé would end in their break-up. Worst of all, her scumbag ex left her while she was suffering from a serious illness. Now recovered and back in Moonrise Beach, Dacey needs to muster up the courage to not only face her ex again but to also explain her newly single status to her overprotective father. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, her childhood crush, Greyson Blackbourn, comes back into her life, stirring up all kinds of emotions and desires she thought she’d long outgrown.
Tasked with rebuilding the deck at the Happa-Hewitt’s beach house, Greyson can’t seem to help his sidelong glances at Dacey. It’s obvious that he still holds a flame for her, but given their family pasts and her broken heart, he worries acting on his desires will damage their friendship forever.
A quick romp in the sheets might just be what Dacey needs to get over her heartbreak. But will a hot night in the arms of her childhood best friend be a mistake? Or will everlasting love finally be within reach?
Dacey lifted her head. Or at least she tried to. A sharp pain lanced through her temples as she tried to get up. Her skin was hot and tight, and her arms felt like they were made out of Jell-O. Hell, her entire body felt like her skeleton had melted away. She was as boneless as the jellyfish she’d encountered on the beaches back home, and for a moment, Dacey just allowed herself a moment to feel sorry for herself. How did she get herself in this position?
As she lay there helplessly, she tried thinking about her home and the California sun in Moonrise Beach to lift her spirits, but her brain just wasn’t working at full speed. Her head felt like it had been submerged into water, weighed down and soggy.
The door suddenly opened and a nurse stepped through. In her arms, she carried a tray filled with food. Again? she thought. She’d just eaten an hour ago.
As the nurse walked over to her, Dacey stopped herself from groaning out loud. She had no appetite to eat. In fact, her mouth felt like it had been sealed shut with tacky glue. The last thing she wanted to do was to start shoveling food into her mouth. As the nurse placed the tray of food before her, Dacey looked down at the plates and felt her stomach turn over in revolt.
She knew she needed the food. It would give her the strength she needed to fight this illness off, but right now she just wanted to lie in bed and not focus on this horrible feeling in her body.
When she had first started feeling ill, Adam had assured her that it was probably the heat getting to her. At first, she believed it and they went on, pretending as if nothing had happened. But when the fever set in and reached a dangerous height, Dacey knew it wasn’t just the heat anymore. Something was wrong.
Concerned for her health, Adam finally brought her to the hospital where she was asked to run some tests. From the results, the doctors were able to diagnose what the problem was.
She had typhoid fever.
Somehow, she had contracted the bacteria and Adam hadn’t and now she had no choice but to stay trapped in this hospital for who knew how long! All she knew was that she had to stay until the fever subsided and the antibiotics she was taking could knock out the bacteria that was inside of her.
Dacey’s lips thinned into a line. Adam wouldn’t be happy about staying here any longer than he was supposed to. They had tickets to return home to Moonrise Beach in just a few days and she knew he’d already been looking forward to returning home. But there was no way she was going to be able to walk out of this hospital with this fever still burning through her let alone be able to board a plane for a seventeen-hour flight. They’d just have to stay here a little bit longer until she got better.
The nurse came forward and glanced down at her untouched food. “Aren’t you going to eat?” It took so much of Dacey’s energy to shake her head but she really didn’t want it. Just thinking about eating made her stomach curl. “But you have to eat something,” the nurse argued. “You’re weak.”
As if to prove the nurse’s point, a wave of fatigue hit Dacey then. She groaned even as she shook her head. “I . . . I don’t want it.”
“I know you’re tired, but this food will help you gain some energy back. It will also help you fight the illness.”
No. It will only make me throw up, Dacey thought.
At her stubborn expression, the nurse introduced herself. “My name is Preeti and I’m a nurse, okay? I’m not in the business of making people feel worse. Trust me, you need to eat.”
Dacey managed a strained smile. “I’d say it’s nice to meet you, Preeti, but I’d rather not be here at all.”
“And that’s why you need to eat,” Preeti shot back. “Or you’ll never get out of here.” The nurse picked up a slice of bread from the plate and held it up to her mouth. But Dacey turned away, shaking her head.
As the nurse frowned, the door opened again. “Oh, Adam,” Dacey breathed as she caught sight of her lover. Everything is going to be okay now. Adam is here.
Her fiancé looked as handsome as ever in a navy-blue T-shirt and shorts. Smiling, Adam dropped down to kiss her on her sweaty forehead before sitting in the chair beside her. “How are you feeling today?” he asked her. A soft hand closed over hers, squeezing tightly. His other hand came to touch her sticky forehead. Could he feel the heat come off her in waves?
When she didn’t answer, Adam shot the nurse a look. With a roll of her eyes, Preeti left, closing the door behind her.
“I’m tired,” Dacey said once they were alone.
“Have you eaten something?” At the look of disgust she made, Adam laughed. A part of her heart melted. She’d always loved his laugh. It was so carefree and beautiful. She would’ve been a puddle on the floor if she weren’t already so boneless.
A small chime sounded and when Adam released her hand to check his phone, Dacey felt her smile disappear. Adam’s own smile waned as he read the words on the screen. “What’s wrong, Adam?” she asked.
Instead of answering, Adam tucked his phone away. He schooled his expression into one of nonchalance before he asked, “How much longer do you think it’ll be until you get better?”
“Uh . . . I don’t know.” If it were her choice, she wouldn’t have fallen ill in the first place. But according to the doctors, she would have to stay at least a week until she was sure her body had recovered.
Adam pursed his lips together. It looked like he wanted to say something but the nurse came in again, looking more determined to get her to eat than ever. Before Dacey could tell her to leave, Adam turned to her. “What’s her condition? Is she getting better?”
“Well, as you can see, she’s still very weak. If she would eat something, maybe—”
“So she wouldn’t be able to travel in this condition?”
“Of course not!” The nurse looked utterly mortified by the suggestion. “Look at her, she can barely hold herself up!”
The sigh Adam made had her turning her head in his direction. “Adam, what’s going on? Are you okay?” Something was clearly bothering him.
Adam let out a long sigh. “No, Dacey. I’m not okay.”
“I have to go.”
“What? Why?” Dacey shook her head, not understanding. “Are you sick?” Was that why he was acting strange? The more she looked at him, the more she realized he was a little on the pale side. “Why don’t you go back to the hotel and come back tomorrow when you’re feeling better.”
“No, Dacey. That’s not what I mean. I’m not sick but—” His fingers brushed through his hair in worry. Or was it frustration? What was going on?
“What’s wrong then?”
Her concern grew when he wouldn’t look at her in the eye. Someone please tell me what’s happening! “I’m leaving,” Adam finally said.
Dacey blinked. Wait a minute. Was it possible for her fever to make her hear things too? “I . . . I don’t understand.” How could he want to leave? He had to know that she wasn’t well enough to travel.
Adam let out a long sigh. “I can’t stay here, Dacey. I understand that you’re sick and can’t travel in your condition, but I can’t stay here any longer than I already have.” Pulling away, he rose to stand. “I’m sorry, Dacey, but I’m leaving here tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” What the hell? How could he do that? They’d come to this foreign country together and he thought to leave her here? Alone?
“Yeah, I booked a flight out of here.”
The words were a blow to Dacey’s already aching body.
What the hell? Was he messing with her? Was this some cruel joke?
“Why?” was all Dacey could manage in her state of shock. Her cheeks flared with heat, but it wasn’t because of the fever. She suddenly remembered that they weren’t alone.
Adam went on as if the nurse wasn’t there. “I hate this place. Coming here was a bad idea. I thought that maybe I could do it for you, but this isn’t me, Dacey. I’m not like you. This spiritual journey to find my”—he made air quotations with his fingers—“‘true essence’ is not me at all. I need to get back to Moonrise Beach. Back to my real life.”
Okay, so maybe she had already known that about him, but Dacey never expected that Adam would leave her while she was battling a serious illness.
They both worked for her father’s company and when she’d first decided to date him, she knew it would be a risk. But he’d just been so fun and caring that she felt that she could overlook their differences.
Dacey looked up at him now, searching for the man she fell in love with. Just a moment ago, she’d been so happy to see him. Now, she could hardly look at him in the eye. The Adam she loved would never even contemplate doing something like this. What had changed? “If you’re afraid that you’ll get sick too—”
“It’s not that,” he said over her, which pissed her off even more.
“Then what is it?” Her voice grew louder despite her weakened state. She was upset now, and the fever threatening to take over her life seemed so inconsequential to her now as her world fell apart.
“Being here has shown me how different our lifestyles actually are.” His voice sounded so callous and cold. “I’m not a yoga person. I hate eating organic all the time. And I don’t think I can stand another moment of this kumbaya shit.”
“Kumbaya shit?” Dacey frowned further.
“Sorry,” Adam said, but the smile he shot her didn’t look like he was sorry at all. “I know you can’t change who you are, but I’m starting to wonder if what all my friends say is true about us.”
“What do you mean? What have your friends been saying about us?”
“Never mind. Forget I said anything.”
“It’s too late for that. Tell me what they said.” She wanted answers. And she wanted them now.
The level of command in her voice had Adam crumbling. “That maybe I love the idea of you, but I don’t actually love—” He snapped his mouth shut before he could finish.
Dacey suddenly lost the ability to breathe. She was afraid that if she did, a sob would escape. “Me,” Dacey finally finished for him, a bitter tone tingeing her words. “You don’t actually love me.”
Adam stepped forward. “Dacey, I—”
She couldn’t believe this! Her anger erupted in a flare. The motherfucker!
“Go.” The word was a razor in the air, slicing between them. Dacey shifted in her bed, turning away from him. God, she hurt. “Go back to Moonrise, Adam.”
In the other corner of the room, Preeti fumbled with a clipboard and a pen clattered to the ground. Her face went red with embarrassment. “I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll just go—”
That was when Adam finally noticed the nurse and the color drained from his face. “Shit. Dacey, I’m so—”
“No. I want you to stay here,” Dacey demanded, her anger reaching its limit. If Adam was going to leave her, then she needed someone here to help her.
As if sensing this, Adam remained silent. Good. She wasn’t sure what she’d do if he opened that mouth of his again.
Dacey wanted to storm out, to scream and to fight, but she physically couldn’t. Her body wouldn’t allow it. All she could do instead was lie there and close her eyes, ignoring the sting of tears. Despite her efforts, a few tears slipped down her face and she angrily swiped them away.
“Leave, Adam. Go back home.” After repeating herself several more times, Adam finally moved to the doors, stopping to glance back at her one last time. Dacey, however, didn’t allow herself to look at him.
As the door closed behind him, Dacey felt her heart shatter and she started to sob. Preeti shifted her feet awkwardly, obviously not knowing how to handle the situation. She’d never been trained to nurse a patient with a broken heart.
Through her tears, their eyes met and the nurse came over to her side. “I’m so sorry,” she said quietly.
But Dacey shook off her words. On a deep breath, she wiped her tears and pushed herself up into a sitting position. “Give me my food,” she ordered, her voice now stronger than ever. The nurse jumped forward with a start.
She needed to eat if she ever wanted to recover and get out of this place.
Ana Jolene is the author of the Glory MC series and the Contemporary Romance series, Moonrise Beach.
Growing up as a rebellious kid didn’t allow for much reading time. It wasn’t until she was in university that she found her passion for books and has since then devoured every book placed before her. Ana holds a B.A. in Psychology and has worked in both IT and Administration. But she’s had the most fun in the bookish world, working as a reviewer, columnist and assistant to multiple sites and authors.
Ana currently lives in Toronto with her family and an extremely lazy Shih Tzu whom she adores. To learn more about Ana and her books, visit www.anajolene.com and subscribe to the newsletter to be notified of the hottest new releases and giveaways!