The Resilient One by Cami Checketts
Alyssa Armsworth, a world-renowned photographer, has no intentions of honoring the Billionaire Bride Pact she made as a teenager to avoid getting her bra hung from the camp flagpole. Marriage is the last thing on her to-do list and when her father forces his wealthy friends on her, she runs to Maui.
She plans to lay low, take some great pictures, and eat fresh fish--until Beckham Taylor arrives. Stuck in the same hotel and spending days on the white sand with the handsome ex-NHL star wouldn't be all that bad except Alyssa's done something in the past that Beckham could never forgive. Before she can confess, her misdeeds are thrust onto the front cover of a well-known magazine. Alyssa must overcome her fears or live without Beckham.
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The Passionate One by Jeanette Lewis
As the creator of the Billionaire Bride Pact, Erin Parker is determined to see it through. And now that wealthy, gorgeous Brennan Avery has been cast as her costar in a play destined for Broadway, things couldn’t be better. But Erin’s best friend, Matt Walters, isn’t ready to give up on her. He has a plan to escape the friend zone and prove to Erin that there are more important things than money and fame.
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Excerpt from The Resilient One
“I promise you, Alyssa, this is the guy for…” Maryn’s voice trailed off. “He’s a super-nice guy. Don’t shut yourself off before you even talk to him. Be nice to him and get that date offer.”
Alyssa turned and Beckham Taylor stood at the bottom of the stairs on the other side of the courtyard, watching her like she was a cat who might leap and scratch his eyes out any minute. She sighed. This was going to be harder than Maryn could understand. She forced some gaiety into her voice. “Sounds great. I’ll talk to you later.”
“He’s right there? Oooh,” Maryn squealed. “This is going to be sweet. Ta-ta.”
Alyssa restrained from rolling her eyes and dropped her phone into her purse. She took a deep breath and tried to release the tension in her shoulders. He was still watching her. Go on the offensive and introduce herself? Tell him how amazing he was rescuing the little girl this morning? Or head for the food and hope he came to her? She glanced at his slightly-mussed dark hair and the hopeful expression in his impossibly blue eyes. His jaw line was firm, just like she liked, and from his build she could tell he’d probably been a fabulous hockey player. She darted toward the food. What a wimp.
Piling her plate with papaya, boiled eggs, and a bagel, she grabbed some POG juice and sat at one of the tables. Of course today would be the day the breakfast wasn’t busy. Only her and some famous, hot, rich man. Where was Jerry? Where was the cute elderly couple, Simon and Kendra, who always told her about their Maui adventures every morning? Maryn was exaggerating, this bed and breakfast wasn’t a dump, but still why would a super wealthy dude stay at one of the least expensive places on the west side of the island?
Beckham helped himself to food while she started eating. She tried not to watch him out of the corner of her eye. It was impossible not to look when he marched straight up to her table. “Is this seat taken?”
“All the other tables are full?”
His welcoming smile faded. He looked like she’d just busted his Lego creation.
“I’m just teasing. Please.” She gestured toward the seat. He settled his food on the bamboo table. As his juice tipped precariously to the side, they both reached out to steady it. His hand came around hers. The warmth of his rough fingers sent tremors up her arm. Their eyes met and neither of them moved. Awkwardness settled in quickly. “If you’ll let go, I can put your juice in a safer spot.”
He nodded but didn’t move his hand. “What if I don’t want to let go?”
She moved her hand quickly and he barely caught the juice before it spilt. Studying her plate, Alyssa forced herself to peel a boiled egg and hoped he couldn’t see how he was making her shake. Maryn was so dead.
“I apologize again about this morning. Did I hurt you?” His eyes lowered to her legs and she knew he’d noticed her limp.
“No. You did a great job of protecting me with your body.” Her face flamed red and she took a quick drink of her juice.
A slow grin appeared on Beck’s face. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
She nodded her acknowledgment, her stomach fluttering like it was full of fireflies. Oh, my, he looked good when he smiled like that. They ate in silence for several minutes. Alyssa didn’t know what to say to break the awkwardness that settled in again.
“So, um, I hear you’re a Maui veteran.” He forked a bite of eggs, sneaking a glance at her then focusing on his food.
“Where did you hear that from?” Alyssa realized there was too much bite in her voice. She couldn’t be herself around handsome, wealthy men. Maryn was going to have to find someone else to quote for her article and just deal with disappointment, Alyssa couldn’t handle this.
Beckham’s eyes widened and she was caught off guard studying the brightness of the blue. Caribbean blue, sky blue, or maybe almost aqua blue? She couldn’t quite decide and she couldn’t tear her gaze away from his. What she wouldn’t give to photograph him, for her private collection this time.
“Jerry,” he said.
“Oh.” She spread cream cheese on her bagel, wondering if the air was really crackling around them or if she was going nuts. He had this draw that was so exciting she wanted to either snuggle up next to him or hide in her room.
Beckham set his fork down and cleared his throat. “I don’t have anything planned the next couple of days. Would you be interested in… showing me around?”
Alyssa hated that she wondered if this would qualify as him asking her on a date. She wanted to meet his eyes and get lost in the blue again, but she just couldn’t do it. What if he was like Hugh? She couldn’t be alone with a man and risk being vulnerable. If she couldn’t escape from a wiry guy like Hugh how could she protect herself from someone built like Beckham? She could still feel Hugh’s manicured fingers trailing down her neck and then ripping her shirt off. Nausea rose in her throat.
She set her bagel down and mumbled, “Excuse me. I’m not feeling very well.” She pushed away from the table and Beckham hurried around to pull her chair out. He wrapped one hand around her elbow and the warmth of that touch made her already shaky legs turn to pudding. Her eyes were drawn to his.
“Thanks,” she murmured before withdrawing from his touch and those eyes and fleeing up the stairs.