Welcome to Fortune’s Island, where the only rule is to follow your heart.
Love is an extravagance Darcy Williams can’t afford. She prefers the simple life, which includes waitressing at The Love Shack on Fortune’s Island and avoiding temptation. But when a forbidden part of her past steps off the ferry, her safe, guarded existence is turned upside down.
Kincaid Foster has never gotten over his first love. When he sees the wild, beautiful blonde again, dancing her way around The Love Shack, the memories of Darcy’s soft skin, gentle touch, and heated kisses come rushing back. As the privileged son of a wealthy family, Kincaid was too young to stand up to his overbearing father when he and Darcy were together. Now, he’s back on the island—free of the family shackles—and the chiseled, big-time lawyer wants a second chance.
But, Darcy made a promise to keep a secret from Kincaid—a secret that is now a six-year-old girl who looks just like her daddy. If Kincaid finds out about their daughter, Darcy could lose everything. But, she can’t resist the man who stole her heart all those years ago. And it doesn’t take long before both of them realize that anything can happen at The Love Shack on a hot summer night.
EXCERPT FOR AND THEN FOREVER BY SHIRLEY JUMP –
Darcy called Nona and asked the older woman if she could stay the night with Emma. Not that Darcy had any plans with Kincaid beyond the one drink, but she thought it best to let Nona stay in the guest room just in case Darcy lingered too long. Yeah, that was her reason for it. Not because something had shifted inside her when he’d approached her on the deck. It was only because she was feeling a little vulnerable. Late night, pretty sky, good music.
Uh-huh. Exactly. Not the way he whispered in her ear and sent desire roaring through her body.
When the night was over and the customers were gone, Darcy did the cleanup, letting Jillian go home early this time. Her friend looked drained, and ready to cry. Darcy’s heart broke for her. It sucked to be on the outside of a couple breaking up, and unable to do anything but just be a listening ear.
“Do you want to talk?” Darcy asked.
“No. I just want to be alone. Drink too much wine and watch too much junk TV.” Jillian grinned, but the smile wavered. “Maybe even buy stuff I don’t need off of QVC.”
Darcy gathered Jillian into a hug. “Okay, but promise to call if you need me to come over. I’ll bring chocolate.”
“Now that’s a promise I’ll take you up on.” Jillian yawned. And though she looked tired, she looked a little better. Resigned to her decision. “Later. It’s been a long day and I just want some time to…decompress.”
“Okay. Call me in the morning.”
“I will.” Jillian returned the hug, then gestured toward the outside deck. “Seems someone is waiting for you.”
The thought of Kincaid waiting for her—anticipating her arrival—made her heart leap. She tried to tamp it down, but the excitement simmered in her all the same.
“I agreed to have one drink with him. Just one.” She reiterated the words for Jillian, and herself. It didn’t mean anything.
Jillian laughed. “We all know where one drink can lead. Have fun.”
“I’m not planning on having fun with him. Just…talking.”
“Uh-huh.” Jillian dug in her purse and came up with a foil lined package. She pressed it into Darcy’s palm. “For when you stop talking and start acting.”
“I’m not going to need this. In fact, I’m going to put it in my pocket and give it back to you tomorrow.” Darcy tucked the condom in her back pocket. But her mind thought about making love to Kincaid, how damned good that had always been, and how much she wanted him now.
“If you give that back to me tomorrow, I’m going to be mighty disappointed.” Jillian held up a finger before Darcy could protest. “It’s been a while since you’ve been on a date, and even longer since you’ve had sex that didn’t require batteries. You have a hot guy out there who has been looking at you like you’re the most delicious thing on the menu and he hasn’t eaten in a month.”
Darcy glanced at Kincaid. “I think he just wants to catch up. We broke up years ago—“
Jillian gave her a little nudge. “And if you delay any longer, the poor man is going to fall asleep. So go on out there.” Jillian reached over the bar, grabbed two shot glasses and the bottle of Jose Cuervo. “But don’t forget this.”
Darcy was still laughing as she left the main restaurant and headed out to the deck with the drinks. Inside, she saw Whit and Grace wave to her as they left for the night, their arms around their daughter, which Jillian gratefully accepted with a teary nod. That left Darcy alone with Kincaid.
Very, very alone. At one in the morning. With nothing but the dark night around them.
This was crazy. She should lock up and go home, skip the drinks and especially skip spending time with Kincaid. But then she caught his eye, and something went warm and needy in her gut, and she crossed over to his table, to the seat beside him, and laid the drinks on the table. She could have one drink with him and not end up in bed with him. “One,” she said. “No more.”
He took the bottle, poured the shots, then nudged one close to her. “One.”
She shook her head, a smile playing on her lips. “I’m going to regret this.”
He lifted his glass. She lifted hers, and he tapped the shot glasses together. “To old memories and new beginnings.”
She watched him as they each raised the shots to their lips, and then tipped them back at the same time. The tequila burned like fire going down her throat, lighting a warm path all the way to her belly. “Damn.”
Kincaid slammed the shot glass onto the circular wooden table. “Exactly what I was thinking.”
She settled on the chair beside him, and propped her chin on her hand. The ocean kept up its steady predictable whispering song, and the stars twinkled like smiley faces in the night sky. The tequila had already left her feeling a little warm. Maybe she should have eaten more tonight.
“I love it out here after everyone is gone.” She looked out at the dark night, at the hints of the sea she could glimpse in the moonlight. “This is my favorite time of day. When everything is asleep, and it’s just…peaceful.”
“It’s why I came back here,” Kincaid said. “I don’t get much of this in New York. There’s never a time when that city stops humming.”
“I’ve lived here for so long, I can’t even imagine a place like that anymore.” Darcy leaned back and stretched. Long hours on her feet, carrying heavy trays of drinks and food, had left her achy and tired. She rubbed at a knot in her left shoulder, but the pain stayed, stubborn, insistent.
“Let me,” Kincaid said. Before she could stop him, he had slid in behind her and was working magic with his hands on her shoulders, rubbing both at once, his thumbs impressing tiny, wonderful circles into all the tight and painful places.
“Oh my God. That is better than sex right now.” She closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, nearly moaning with his every movement.
Kincaid chuckled. “Better than sex? I don’t think anything is better than sex.”
“This is, trust me.” She shifted to the right, then the left, as he adjusted his touch to hit the rest of her shoulders, her neck, the top of her spine. It was just a back massage, she told herself. Not sex with Kincaid. Maybe letting him touch her was the wrong thing to do, or maybe…oh God, yes, right there…it was a very, very good idea. “I swear, you must have gone to school for this. You are way too good at massage.”
“I’m good at a lot of things,” he whispered in her ear, his voice low and dark and making her crave things she shouldn’t.
“What are we doing?” she asked. “This was just supposed to be one drink.”
“And it is. With the bonus of a shoulder rub.” He kept on rubbing, and she became putty in his hands. Every touch sent a delicious warmth through her. “Okay, since this is supposed to be our time to catch up…tell me about the last seven years.”
“There’s not much to tell. I’m still living here, though now I own a cottage on the beach, instead of renting a room from Whit and Grace. My house isn’t much, but it’s big enough for me. Kind of ironic that I became a homeowner and a regular resident. I always told my mother I was never going to do any of that.”
Kincaid chuckled. “We all grow up eventually.”
“I like to think I didn’t grow up. Just…got smarter.” She grinned. “Anyway, I love it here, and love my life.”
“Maybe living simpler is the answer,” Kincaid said. “I have this ridiculously huge apartment in New York, and I use maybe a tenth of it. But the house here, the one Whit is renting me, is just right. I doubt it’s more than a thousand square feet, but it’s a perfect size.”
“Then maybe you should downgrade the New York apartment to a cramped walkup studio on the tenth floor.”
He laughed. “I don’t know if I want to go that small. But yeah, I’d love to live in something less…pretentious.”
“Then why do you live there?” She leaned a little to the right and Kincaid’s thumb hit a knot. God, she wanted to keep his hands on her forever. He was an expert at massages. “Oh…yes.”
“Yes…oh, yes, please. Right there.”
“Your wish is my command, Darcy.” He rubbed until the knot eased, and her shoulders sank a little in relief. “The apartment was a perk for my job. All the partners at my father’s law firm get apartments. I didn’t ask for it; it just came with the position.”
“You’re already a partner? But you just graduated law school, right? I mean, you haven’t practiced that long.” Not that she should be too surprised. Kincaid was smart and driven.
“My father believes in solidifying the Foster position as quickly and efficiently as possible.” He moved a few inches south, rolling his thumb over the knobs of her spine. Oh my. Even better than the shoulders. “Or maybe it’s more a matter of making sure I am committed to the firm, right from the very start.”
“And are you?”
Kincaid stopped working her back and shoulders for a while. His hands rested there, but his mind was somewhere else. “No, not anymore. I have some hard choices ahead of me, choices that I’ve put on a back burner while I’m here. But choices that will have to be made, sooner rather than later. I’m not sure how long my sister will need me, or how that will impact the future.”
It was almost the same debate Kincaid had had with himself years ago. The man she’d met that summer had said he didn’t want to work for his father, didn’t even want to be a lawyer. At the same time, he didn’t see a way out of the life that had been planned for him since the day he was born. Yet, he’d also craved a relationship with his distant and workaholic father, and thought the only way to get that was to do what Edgar wanted.
As soon as they broke up, she’d heard that he had gone off to Harvard after all, and goose-stepped right into the plan Edgar Foster had laid out. Now, Kincaid said he wanted to throw that aside. Did he mean it? Or was this just another pipe dream she couldn’t rely on?
“Anyway, I’m here now, for a while,” Kincaid said. “My father won’t be happy, but then again, he’s never really happy.”
Darcy put a hand on top of Kincaid’s. A part of her wanted to lean into him, to tell him she understood parents who didn’t support their children. That she knew what it was like to hope that someday, a connection could be forged. For Darcy, her connection with her mother had come almost too late. It was only when her mother put the bottle aside and realized she had nearly lost her daughter and only grandchild that Darcy was given two years of her mother being a true part of her life. It had eased the wounds of the past, and though she missed her mother now and cursed the cirrhosis that had taken her too soon, Darcy would be forever grateful for that time. Her heart ached for Kincaid, because he didn’t have that and maybe never would. But saying that would be rebuilding the bridge from that summer, and she was only here for one drink. One. “Thanks for the shoulder massage. I should probably get home.”
He rose and came around in front of her, cocking a hip against the wooden table. That smile she loved played on his lips, flickered in his eyes. “I thought you promised me a dance.”
“The band already went home. And I don’t remember promising any dancing.” Her argument was about as strong as her resolve right now.
“We don’t need a band.” Kincaid fished his phone out of his pocket, opened the music app and turned it on. The strains of an old Queen song began to play through the tinny speakers. Kincaid put out a hand. “Ready?”
Oh, what the hell. It was only a dance. And she was feeling warm and happy from the shot and the shoulder massage. “Sure.” She took Kincaid’s hand, and let him lead her to the empty spot in the center of the deck.
He kept hold of one hand, rested the other loosely on her waist, and started to sway with her. She moved with him, in, out, left, right, their steps quick and light, and before she knew it, she was smiling and laughing. Kincaid spun her out, in, reeling her into his chest.
When Joey had done the same thing earlier tonight, Darcy had felt nothing. But when her back collided with Kincaid’s front, a cavalcade of fireworks exploded inside her. She wanted to stay there, to press harder against the length of him, to let him rest his head on her shoulder and fall in with him all over again. Instead, she spun out, away, distance giving her a little perspective. Just a little.
Before she knew it, they were pouring a second shot, and dancing to another fast song. They laughed and talked about the island, the things that had changed, the things that had stayed the same. The second drink of tequila loosened everything Darcy kept buttoned up, and she found herself slipping between Kincaid’s legs and dancing up against him. Hot, fast, insane.
She didn’t care. She wanted him. She always had. She always would.
The song ended, and a ballad began to play, slow and sweet. As if by mutual agreement, Kincaid took Darcy against him, and she slid into his arms, chest to chest, hips to hips. His hands slid along her back, resting on the curve of her ass, and she leaned into his shoulder and inhaled his cologne and had a brief moment of thinking, oh no, I’m falling for him again, before Kincaid leaned down and kissed her.
The kiss started slow and easy, like sliding into a pool. Then he tangled his hands in her hair, and that was all it took to strike a match to the embers already burning inside her. She reached up and grabbed his head and pulled him closer, tighter, and the kiss deepened. His tongue played with hers, her breath began to come in gasps, and the desire thundered so loud in her head, she heard no other coherent thoughts. She tugged at the hem of his T-shirt, wanting to feel his skin, wanting to feel him, wanting all that was familiar and wonderful and good.