Today I have an excerpt from romance Blue Hawaiian.
The first rule of serving as the maid of honor at your perfect sister’s destination wedding?
No mistakes. The second rule? No drama.
For Jess Chavez, a week in Maui is hardly a dream vacation—not when her sister expects her to be the perfect maid of honor. Not only does Jess have to fake perfection, but she can’t let anyone know she’s unemployed and barely scraping by. Above all, she needs to steer clear of Connor Blackwood, the sexy groomsman who broke her heart five years ago.
A family wedding offers Connor the ideal opportunity to convince everyone he’s no longer an irresponsible playboy. If they see he’s changed, they might support his decision to leave the family winery and strike out on his own. With so much at stake, the last thing he needs is an alluring distraction like Jess.
When Jess and Connor end up together, exploring the island’s lush, tropical beauty, the sparks between them become impossible to ignore. Throwing caution to the wind, they decide to make their own rules.
Five days of passion. No strings. No tears. No promises.
What could possibly go wrong?
Former lovers Jess and Connor are stuck together in Maui for a family wedding. Though Jess still resents Connor for ghosting her after their breakup, she gives him another chance after he rescues her from a night of drunken debauchery. When she joins him the next day in exploring the island, the sparks between them heat up again.
The Road to Hana started from the town of Paia, an hour’s drive from the hotel. After picking up box lunches from a local deli, they set out, with Jess on map duty. On either side of them, the dense, tropical vegetation made her feel like they were driving through a leafy green tunnel. She looked up at the road ahead and stared in disbelief.
“Connor. Connor. Do you see that bridge?”
“What about it?”
“It’s one lane. How’s that supposed to work?”
He shrugged. “The bigger car gets the right-of-way?”
“We’re in a compact. You couldn’t have upgraded to an SUV?” As they approached the narrow bridge, she clenched her fists, worried another vehicle would speed around the blind corner and smack into them, but they passed over it without incident.
“Relax,” he said. “This time of day, everyone’s going to Hana. No one’s going in the other direction.”
“If you say so.” She unfolded the oversize map and tried to pinpoint their location based on the road markers. “I can’t believe you’re making me use a map. Like an old-time explorer.”
“The cell reception’s spotty here. Besides, I like maps.”
“I’m not the one who had a map of Middle Earth hanging up in my bedroom.”
An embarrassing memory, to be sure. But it was touching he remembered. “True, but when we did that Lord of the Rings marathon up at Big Bear, you made us watch the extended versions. The last one was, like, five hours long.”
He gave her a scornful look. “It was four. And totally worth it. It won the Oscar for Best Picture that year.”
She poked his shoulder. “See, you’re just as big a geek as I am.”
“Nope. Not possible.” He pointed to the map. “Get to work, missy.”
She flattened the map over her thigh. “What am I supposed to be looking for?”
“Upper Waikani Falls. Find the mile marker. We can’t park for long, but we can stop to take pictures.”
“Found it. Mile Marker 19. It’s coming up soon.” She set the map at her feet and took a drink from her water bottle. By now, the last remnants of her headache had faded away, turning the previous evening’s debacle into little more than a hazy memory.
Spotting a line of cars parked along the narrow road, she pointed ahead. “Up there. See? Where that red car’s pulling out. But it’s not a big space.”
“I can make it work. To think—you wanted me to rent an SUV.”
For that, he got another shoulder poke. “Fine. Enjoy your tiny car.”
“You know what they say—small car, big…” He grinned at her.
Warmth flooded her cheeks. Nope. Not going there.
Not when they were crammed together in a small vehicle. As he pulled into the spot, she rolled down her window and inhaled the humid, tropical air. Upper Waikani Falls wasn’t just one waterfall, but three tall streams running side by side, cascading over rocky cliffs. Bright sunlight shimmered off the mist, creating a faint rainbow. Even from a distance, the roar of rushing water was audible. After she took few photos, she motioned to Connor.
“Pass me your phone. I have a better angle than you do.”
As his hand brushed hers, the contact made her tingle. Though they’d been driving together for over an hour, she was suddenly aware of how close he was sitting. It would be far too easy to lean over and rest her hand on his muscular thigh. Or sneak in a quick kiss.
“Jess? We should get going. I think that convertible wants our spot.”
She shook off her wicked thoughts and focused on the waterfalls, taking a slew of pictures for Connor before returning his phone.
As he eased back onto the road, she wiped her forehead, feeling uncomfortably warm. Being alone in a cramped car with Connor was more tempting than she’d imagined.
Forget an SUV. She would have been safer if he’d rented a minivan.
Carla Luna writes contemporary romance with a dollop of humor and a pinch of spice. A former archaeologist, she still dreams of traveling to far-off places and channels that wanderlust into the settings of her stories. When she’s not writing, she works in a spice emporium where she gets paid to discuss food and share her favorite recipes. Her passions include Broadway musicals, baking, whimsical office supplies, and pop culture podcasts. Though she has roots in Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C., she currently resides in Wisconsin with her family and her spoiled Siberian cat.