Abigail Garsson feels trapped in her safe, boring, conventional life. Desperate to escape, she signs up for an adventure vacation on the Portuguese island of São Miguel.
Santos Carregado enjoys introducing tourists to his tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic. At first he barely notices the unassuming Abigail. He soon finds her meek exterior hides a vibrant woman who teases his senses and ignites his passion.
Abigail is stunned to discover the handsome, confident Santos is attracted to her, but his fiery kisses and searing caresses convince her to accept a sensuous invitation.
Will the realities of life shatter Abigail's holiday daydream? Or can the shifting sands of a short-term fling become the rock on which a life-long relationship is built?
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Her fingers bumped gently across the globe. The surface was irregular, as if it truly was a miniature world―Everest shrunk to the height of a fingernail, the waves of the oceans smoothed to an infinitesimal roughness. Its high gloss finish glared where the light from the floor lamp struck it.
"Abigail?" Martin’s shoes clicked briskly across the hardwood floor.
"Your guests are wondering where you are." She kept her gaze on the globe. Guests? It was her mother’s funeral, for God’s sake, not a party. She wondered vaguely who had thought to put a globe in the serenity room of a funeral parlour.
"We’re already behind schedule." His voice was firm, no-nonsense. Usually his confident control made her feel safe. Today, it grated down her spine like claws on a granite cliff.
"It’s time you took your seat." She gripped the globe with the tips of her fingers and gave it a whirl. She couldn't blame her dizziness on the blurring world before her. The last few days she'd been lightheaded, disconnected, out of touch. Not that anyone would have noticed. She'd been careful to act her normal sedate, organized, earnest self. But inside she was screaming. Screaming so hard she couldn't hear herself think.
Impatience coloured Martin's voice. She turned her head. He stood at her shoulder, his well-cut, dark grey suit masking a desk-job belly, appropriately sober tie, his thinning blond hair brushed straight back from a high forehead.
"In a minute. I need another minute.
" What a lie. She needed more than a minute. She needed…she wasn’t sure. But she knew she had to figure it out. And soon.
"I’ve always wanted to travel. Just once, somewhere exotic, unusual." She swallowed a sob, guilt and grief rolling together.
"But I couldn’t leave Mom. She hated being alone." It had been more than a simple preference. It had been an illness, one her mother had struggled with for years. Abigail closed her eyes and stopped the globe with a finger. Squinting through her lashes, she was disappointed to see her finger well below the tip of Greenland, lost in the nothingness of the Atlantic. She spun the globe again.
"Tobias is out there alone. He needs you." She hunched her shoulders, the stiff taffeta collar of her black dress scratching her neck. Martin knew her weakness. She’d do anything for her younger brother.
"Tell him I’m coming." The coloured sphere revolved on its tilted axis, too fast for her eyes to follow.
"In one minute."
Martin’s disapproving huff fanned her cheek.
"One minute, Abigail, and that’s all."
His footsteps faded away.
The globe circled, slower and slower.
She closed her eyes once more, held out her finger.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed forward, and stopped it.
When she opened her eyes, her shoulders slumped in despair.
Again she'd stopped the spin in the middle of the Atlantic.
She'd been looking for a sign, and she had it. She was going nowhere. Tiny printing on the shiny surface caught her eye and she leaned forward. There, right next to her neatly rounded fingernail with its modest clear coat of polish, was the word "Azores" surrounded by small black blobs.
She paused, considering the nine tiny specs in the vast blueness, then straightened her shoulders and headed for the door. There'd be time to think in the weeks ahead. Too much time. Right now, she had to go to her mother's funeral.
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