What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas!
Tarra Blue found out the hard way that her Vegas annulment didn’t take, and now she’s hunting down her accidental husband to finish what they started ten years ago.
Ben Garcia left the corporate world behind when his business partner dropped dead of a heart attack, and he’s doing his best to embrace life as a beach bum. But running an umbrella stand isn’t quite enough. And he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
Until Tarra walks back into his life.
Suddenly, the wife he once didn’t want is everything he never wants to give up. But she comes with complications. BIG complications.
They’re already entangled.
Is she worth the fight?
Ben Garcia flipped his shades down, popped the top on a cold beer, and surveyed the wide street a block off the beach in Coconut Bay. Beach bums, locals, and tourists lined either side of the main drag. He could tell who’d been to the water parade before and who hadn’t based on the size of their Super Soakers and the flavor of their tan.
The women huddled half a block up with squirt guns the size of an ant, trying to hide behind a stop sign in front of Flip Flops Beach Emporium?
The frat guys dragging a flat wagon with two fifty-gallon drums of water and a stock of water cannons, pushing a family out of the way to claim a spot at the start of the bend in the road twenty feet away?
The old dudes hanging out on the roof of the deceptively run-down looking Janie Mae’s Oyster Bar, where none of the tourists had noticed them yet, making them relatively safe from early shots with the water cannons?
There’d be more locals coming on the floats that were behind the lead-off fire truck, which was also visible about four blocks down, because the locals always knew the best spot to enjoy the annual water parade.
Ben supposed he counted as a local. His mother had moved here five years ago, and he himself had been here an entire fifteen months. And three weeks and two days, but who was counting?
“Ben! Bennie! There you are!” Nikita Fleming bounced to a stop beside his old lawn chair, her assets jiggling in her pink bikini. Her hair was platinum, her tan a testament to her dedication to being ready for the June sun coming next week, her eyes hidden by sunglasses that ate half her face. She squatted beside him and flashed him a blinding smile, which was appropriate, considering she was the town’s only dentist. “Your mom said I’d find you here.”
He nodded to her and offered her a beer.
Her nose wrinkled. “That’s disgusting.”
He didn’t disagree. Tasted like watered down barley bubbles. But beach town festivities called for light beer in cans, and he was doing his part to embrace the beach lifestyle.
Plus, glass bottles were prohibited at the water parade. Too easily broken if the water fights got out of hand.
A teenager sprinted past firing a water cannon at them, and Nikita took a hit right in the chest, while Ben got a misty spray on his shoulder. She squealed, unearthed a Super Soaker, spun, and nailed the kid in the back.
How it went in the annual water fight.
“Here.” She reached into her turquoise-and-pink striped beach bag and pulled out three dripping water cannons. “You shouldn’t be out here unarmed. Remember last year? If they know you’re unarmed, they won’t stop.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said dryly.
Nikita swatted his arm. “Stop. You know I’m not your mom.”
He knew very well what Nikita wanted to be.
And he also knew very well that the point of the water parade was to get wet. Which was the more immediate situation to deal with.
He was embracing this. Dammit. He’d get wet, and he’d like it.
He spent just about every day on the beach himself.
Of course he’d get wet and like it.
“I’m not your mom either.” Chloe Ashley appeared at his other side. She was Nikita’s opposite—brown hair, pale skin, covered in not just a one-piece black swimsuit, but also wrapped in a colorful sarong, her arms covered with a see-through white button-down, her hair shielded with the biggest straw hat in Florida, and her eyes hidden by normal-size sunglasses with leopard-print rims. “But I brought you sunscreen and a jug of water for refills.”
The frat guys noticed Ben, Nikita, and Chloe, and turned loose sixteen water cannons, drenching all three of them.
Nikita fired back with her Super Soaker. Chloe hauled out the water cannon to end all water cannons, let out a high-pitched war screech, and unloaded on the frat guys until they turned their attention to easier targets.
Ben let the women take the lead in the battle and took another pull off his beer.
Once that threat had been neutralized, Chloe pulled out the promised gallon jug from her beach bag and plopped it at his feet, giving him a view of ample cleavage. She was a real estate agent by day, number two on his mother’s preferred list of women he should date by night.
Right in front of Nikita.
Whom his mother disapproved of on the grounds that she’d die of skin cancer before she was forty-five, most likely leaving him a single father who would once again need a parade of women to fill the void in his life. But Nikita stayed on the list, because at least Mom would get a good twelve or fifteen years of a break between matchmaker stints if Ben was able to successfully resist her attempts to match him with candidates one and two.
Which so far, he’d done spectacularly well.
Had to be good at something, didn’t he?
“Benji! Silly, why are you hiding back here?”
And there was his mother’s top candidate for Ben’s love life. Emmanuelle Genevieve Jones-Beaumont, heiress to the soft serve ice cream empire in Coconut Bay.
Emmanuelle—whom no one dared to call Emmy—came with an old-fashioned dowry that included three ice cream stands, a snack bar on the boardwalk, and a Victorian mansion on the only hill in Coconut Bay, which gave it the distinct advantage of also having the best view of the sunsets over the gulf.
Emmanuelle was a catch.
But Ben wasn’t fishing.
Not like his mother was.
Even if Emmanuelle’s black and white polka-dot two-piece with boy shorts showcased all of her curves nicely and left little to the imagination.
The body didn’t make up for the pitfalls.
And the number one pitfall was the voice in the back of Ben’s head whispering that he knew exactly how to turn Emmanuelle’s family’s ice cream franchise into a nationwide success with corporate offices in all quadrants of the country.
Didn’t matter how much that itch itched. He wasn’t selling his soul to corporate America again, and he wasn’t marrying a woman just to get back into business.