When my best friend cons me into going on a cruise with him as his wingwoman, I didn’t expect a love at sea theme.
Add in speed dating, an insane scavenger hunt, and the sexy blind date he sets me up on and the entire trip becomes so much more than I’m ready for.
After experiencing what heartbreak can do to a person, falling in love is the last thing I want to do. Ever.
There’s just one tiny problem…
Avery is guilted into going on this Love themed cruise by her roommate Theo. Her best friend Evelyn is on this cruise as well, she’s brought her brother Colin along without telling him about the love theme. Theo and Evelyn have set this up so that Colin is Avery’s date for the cruise.
This is just one of my favorite scenes.
After an extremely filling meal of lobster with a side of king crab legs, I’m about ready to strip out of this dress and toss on some sweatpants. Colin wipes his mouth with his napkin then places it on the table next to the now empty bottle of a 2019 Chateau D’Esclans Rose white wine. It wasn’t the most expensive available, these crazy bastards had one worth over five grand, but it’s still a decent three hundred and fifty dollar wine.
We figured we wouldn’t bankrupt our friends, just teach them a slightly expensive lesson. Besides, I’m planning on paying Theo for our drinks later after he has a small heart attack at the receipt. I’m not that big of an ass. “So Colin, what are you doing on a love at sea themed cruise ship? You don’t seem the type to be interested in finding love on a gigantic floating boat.”
He snorts. “My sister guilted me into it. But in my defense, I had no idea it was a love at sea cruise.” He crosses his ankle over his knee and leans back comfortably, his piercing eyes watching me. “You don’t appear to be the type of person that willingly goes on one of these either. Was it Theodore who dragged you?”
I nod as I take another sip of my newest glass of amaretto sour. The alcohol numbs my tongue with each drink. The room seems quieter than it did when we first entered, like it’s just us in the room. “He did. Although I did know what type of cruise it was in advance, but he definitely used those stupid puppy dog eyes and the pleading best friend card to guilt me into it.”
His lip quirks up. “He has perfected that technique pretty well. He uses it frequently in my class when he forgets his assignments.”
My drink slides down my throat wrong causing me to sputter unladylike all over my dress. A cough wracks my body as I choke on the liquid.
Colin jumps out of his seat and rushes over to me, patting me roughly on the back. “This is going to sound strange but trust me. Put your arms up in the air. It will help open your lungs.”
I want to question him on his methods but instead I just follow his instructions. My lungs burn, but as soon as my arms are up in the air the spasming slows. “Thanks,” I say between coughs. “Theo’s in your class?” He set me up with his damn teacher? This is way worse than I expected.
“He is. He’s not exactly the highest academic student I have, but he leaves an impression all his own.” I bet he does. Theo will never hear the end of this. He holds out his hand. “Would you join me for a walk on the deck? The fresh air might help some.”
I place my hand in his, letting him guide me outside. He strides slowly beside me as I set the pace. My stomach flutters as he tucks my hand into his elbow pulling me closer to his body. I try to ignore the tingles across my skin where we are touching. It has to be the alcohol flowing through my veins because the urge to lean into his warmth is overwhelming. I barely know this man and I want to just rest my head on his shoulder. A yawn slips past my lips as the warm breeze flows around us.
“Sorry about him. He’s a good friend, but he tends to be over the top when he sets his mind on something.” The breeze is warm, but it sends a chill down my arms the more we walk. The air caressing my skin brings heightened awareness of how much of my body is currently exposed. No wonder Theo encouraged me to wear this low cut dress.
Colin slips off his suit jacket and sets it on my shoulders. He smells of mint and musk, the scent stronger on his jacket as I pull it close letting the heat envelop me. “He definitely is a tad over the top.” He slows and stands at the railing, the waves rushing past the ship below shimmer in the moonlight.
“This one time, Theo had this great idea that we needed to attend the New York fashion week. Tickets had been sold out for months, but he was determined to go. You know what he thought was a great idea?” I stand on my tip toes and glance down at the decks below. We’re only on deck 6, but it still seems so high up.
He turns sideways, leaning an elbow against the railing. “I can only imagine with him. He once tried to tell me that his thesis research for my class had been deleted off his entire computer in the middle of the night from a random upgrade and he hadn’t backed it up to the cloud. He wanted an extension for another month to redo all the work he lost. Who doesn’t backup their work to the cloud?”
I bite my lip and grimace. “Yeah I remember that, unfortunately that really did happen. He was so upset with his teacher that he plotted paying you back in some way with a prank. Instead, we stayed up all night working on his research together and piecing together the first required paper over the next forty hours without sleep.”
He blows out a breath. “Shit.”
I nod. “I wouldn’t hold my breath that he won’t pay you back one day for that one. I was even tempted to send you a bag of dicks in the mail. I just didn’t realize his teacher was you.” I once saw this small company on social media that will send a pack of miniature plastic dicks to anyone you request anonymously. It was a genius small business idea really. If I didn’t love making my jewelry so much, I would have done something like that for a side hustle. It would have been entertaining seeing the reasoning of why people want to send tiny dicks to others.
“Anyways, back to fashion week. He figured out the stage manager’s schedule and randomly bumped into him at the local coffee shop the man frequented daily. He literally stalked the man until he figured out the best place to randomly ‘bump’ into him. He hooked up with him and got him to take him as a plus one. He literally slept his way into fashion week.” I shake my head as I lean back against the railing. “He really is something else.”
He mumbles something under his breath I can’t quite make out but sounds like ‘so are you’. My pulse races as I glance towards his mouth. The space feels warm and I’m not sure if it’s still the alcohol causing these internal temperature spikes. I lean closer to him, my arm brushing his fingertips on the railing. His chest rises and falls, his lips parting as I move to face him. “I’m not an irrational person. One who jumps feet first into things without thinking of every possible outcome.”
His fingers brush against my skin. “Neither am I.”
Reaching out with my fingers, I fight the urge to touch him. My hand hanging in the air, only an inch from his face. “This isn’t me. But I can’t help this feeling.”
I watch as his smile falters, his face turns sideways as he plants a soft kiss against my palm before standing straight up and putting space between us. “Thank you Avery for the company at dinner and the gorgeous walk outside.”
My heartbeat slows as I take a deep breath allowing my walls to go back up around me. I didn’t come here with any intention of starting something serious. After seeing the heartbreak my father went through with my mother, losing love is not worth being with someone. This is for the best.
“I hope to see you soon,” he says.
“Have a goodnight Colin. Thank you, especially for making it interesting.” I smile as he bows slightly and heads towards the elevators. The further away he gets the more my head clears. It was for sure the alcohol causing me to almost fall into bed with a stranger.
T.L. Anderson. Ship Got Real (Kindle Locations 218-273). Kindle Edition
From speed dating,to river tubing, to a scavenger hunt on the ship this book is full of fun and laughter. Avery and Colin are on the road to romance without totally realizing it and things between them heat up significantly.
We see more of the snarky, fun loving more than a cougar Gertrude. I get such a kick out of her antics.
I can’t wait to see what’s next on this cruise!
5 Contented Purrs for T.L.!
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She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband, adventurous daughter, her baby boy, her two mischievous dogs, and her stubborn cat.
Since the age of 3, she has loved reading and writing her own stories. Now her passion has developed into a career. After earning a certificate from the Children’s Institute of Literature she decided it was time to put the multiple character’s in her head onto paper so she can share her stories with the world.
She has a slight obsession with doughnuts, coffee, and dinosaurs. When she’s not writing you can find her doing multiple activities such as working out, going on adventures with her family, and of course reading.
About The Love at Sea Series
Get ready to set sail through the Caribbean on Festival Cruises’ most alluring voyage with eight of your favorite authors – happily ever after guaranteed!
Experience everything the Love at Sea series has to offer. From speed dating to masquerades, guests are sure to enjoy the hot days and steamy nights. Explore hidden waterfalls, swim with dolphins, and watch as eight couples find their forever on the open ocean.
Each story features a brand new couple and a fun trope from our amazing line up of authors including: Kate Stacy, HM Thomas, Mari Sol, S.A. Clayton, T.L. Anderson, Karigan Hale, Susan Renee, and A.M. Williams.
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