Relapse in Paradise
by Roxanne Smith
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GENRE: Contemporary Romance
Still stinging from her recent divorce, Emily Buzzly heads to majestic Hawaii to soothe her wounds. But once she arrives on Oahu, Emily discovers that a man she assumes is a beach bum is in fact her personal tour guide, hired by her sister. With his long hair and tattoos, Boston Rondibett is everything Emily detests—despite his sun-kissed surfer body. And with her straight-laced, executive persona, Emily is everything Boston rebels against. But both have a lot to learn about making snap judgments…
As it turns out, Boston’s real job, the one he truly cares about, is running his soup kitchen and homeless shelter. Embarrassed by her assumptions, rather than lazy beach days, Emily soon finds herself feeding the hungry, and even involved in the search for an AWOL soldier. And to Boston’s surprise, she’s loving every minute of it—and he’s loving seeing her loosen her chignon and be the admirable, beautiful woman she is. As each works through the challenges of the past, these two very different people just might find their hearts are on the very same page…
Damn if it didn’t always come back to Jordan.
Hani, Thompson, and Akela stared at him. Boston guessed what had them so distraught. He kept his arms crossed. “You think I’m going to ruin everything because Jordan had another bad breakup? You can tell Phillip I appreciate his concern, but I already got Jordan’s message.”
Hani’s stare went from anxious to animal. He pointed a fat finger in Boston’s face and pitched his voice low. “You don’t get to act like it ain’t happened before. I’ve got every right to worry. We all do, because it ain’t just you, man. We’re tied to you like a damn fishing line. If you get yanked out of the water, we all fry.”
Akela put a hand over her brother’s arm. “Boston, she’s coming. It’s what she does. And if it were Jordan alone, we wouldn’t worry. But she has a way of—”
“Dunking your ass in a bottle. Let’s be straight.” Hani was never one to mince words.
Boston nodded and considered his friends. “You’re right. So, I won’t drink. Problem solved.”
Doubt clouded their faces like a spring storm.
Their reactions incensed him even as he understood them. “Guys, I’ve been sober for two years. I don’t even think about it anymore. That’s not lip service, Hani. You’d know if I’d been pining away for a drink this whole time.”
Hani tilted his head back and chewed his lip. “Maybe. But last time Jordan came sniffing around, you were sober and had a girlfriend. What’s different this time?”
“Last time I’d gone from homeless panhandler to business owner in the space of a few months and was seeing a woman for the first time since divorcing Jordan. Jordan spilled the beans about my past and convinced me this place would fail. It didn’t take a whole lot to talk me into a few shots of Jack, I admit it. But like I said—”
“Two years. I hear you, man.” The pity in Hani’s plaintive gaze got to Boston worse than any amount of anger. “But this is Jordan we’re talking about. She is your addiction.”
Boston shook his head and stepped back. Their lack of faith filled his mouth with the sour taste of the past. Like his parents saying he’d stayed in Honolulu after achieving sobriety was an excuse to fail, an excuse to stay within reach of the lifestyle, keep the toxic influence near at hand. In case. Like keeping a six pack in the fridge.
They’d been wrong. Like Hani was now. “I busted my ass for this life. I saved every penny I begged for and gave every last cent for this place. Since we opened, I’ve slipped up once. I let Jordan sabotage a frail relationship and used it as an easy excuse to indulge. She led me like a puppy on a string. How can you believe I’d let her do it again?” His arms fell to his sides, and he looked at each one of them in turn. “How can you have so little faith in me, guys? I work harder than anyone to keep us going. Hell, I’ve lied to my client.”
A few heads turned, and Boston remembered they weren’t alone.
He lowered his voice. “I turned into a common thief to help someone who needed it. I’ve taken every advantage of my situation, risked the very income that allows us to operate to help one guy. You’re right, though, Hani. If I go down, you’re going with me.”
“Like a damn ship.”
“Well, a storm’s coming. Batten down the hatches, splice the main brace!” He chuckled with more humor than the joke warranted. “Unfortunately, it’s too late to decide whether or not you trust the captain. But, hey, thanks for having my back. It means the damn world.”
Hani closed the distance between them with a dangerous gleam in his dark eyes. “I will always have your back. You did this and that, but you ain’t done a damn thing alone. You remember that. When Jordan wipes the floor with you because your pride won’t let us help, I’ll have my mop bucket ready, brother.”
Boston’s edged reply died in his throat.
Threatening, towering Hani and his promise to be there for Boston no matter what… What the hell could he say to such infuriating loyalty? There was beauty in knowing he could say anything and be forgiven. Maybe not trusted, but at least forgiven.
A Florida native, Roxanne Smith has called everywhere from Houston to Cheyenne home. Currently residing in Asheville, NC, she’s an avid reader of every genre, a cat lover, pit bull advocate, and semi-geek. She loves video games, Doctor Who, and her dashing husband. Her two kids are the light of her life.
Twitter handle: @thissmithrox
Roxanne will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn commenter.
The author is also hosting a “reader appreciation giveaway” on her blog.