Under the Stars
(Destiny Dunes, #6)
Publication date: April 19th, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Why is he making it so hard to hate him?
There are few things I enjoy more than messing with Taylor Palmer. She’s such a priss with her tight, corporate skirts and her high heels. Someone’s got to bring her down to Earth.
She glares at me and parades her dates into my bar like she thinks it’ll bother me. She’s on the hunt for a husband, but she’s doing it all wrong. She’s never going to be into one of these nerds. She really wants a man like me, but I’m not on the market.
I can help her find a guy she can stomach. And if she decides to break her celibacy streak with me in the meantime, good for her…and me. But she better not get attached. She also needs to quit making me feel things I don’t understand.
I’ll never forgive John Chapman for what he did to my best friend. I don’t care that she’s forgiven him, is close friends with him now, and even seems to be pushing me toward him. It’s because he and I are the last two single people in our friend group. All will be right in the world if he and I just connect. Forget it.
He fancies himself some kind of dating coach. He says he can find me the right guy. He certainly couldn’t do worse than I’ve been doing. I guess it won’t hurt to let him help.
The only problem is he won’t quit making his own moves on me, and they are working, impressively. I can’t fall for him. He’s made that crystal clear. But as we grow closer, I have to wonder if I’m chipping away at his cement walls, just a little bit.
Welcome to Destiny Dunes, where the only thing hotter than the Florida sun is the romance between this resort’s employees. Each book in this steamy series focuses on your favorite romance tropes. Once you enter the gates of Destiny Dunes, you’ll never want to leave!
“You ready to do this?” he asks.
“Take the picture.” He heads out of the store and I follow behind him.
“No, next May. Yes, right now.”
“I thought maybe I’d have time to settle into the idea of me in a two-piece plastered all over the Internet.”
He leads us through the open-air mall, past some kids playing in the sprinklers while their parents sip coffee in wrought-iron chairs. “Are we doing this thing or not?”
“We are,” I say.
“Then either you trust me or you don’t.”
“I definitely don’t.”
He comes to a halt and faces me. “Turn around.”
“Just turn around.”
I huff, but I do it.
“Now fall backwards.”
I turn back around and face him. “You are crazy.”
“Don’t look at me. Look straight forward.”
I let out a sigh and then turn away from him again.
“And you’re going to catch me?” I ask in a very doubtful tone.
“Of course I’m gonna catch you. I’m not going to let you fall to the ground and bust your head open.”
“What happens if some pretty girl walks by and you turn your head right when I’m getting ready to fall?”
“I don’t need to look at some pretty girl. I’m looking at you . . . your ass to be specific.”
“See, right away I don’t trust you. My ass isn’t what’s going to fall backward first. It’s my shoulders.”
“I’m watching your whole body.”
Two girls sipping iced coffees pause, watching us. I smile at them and they smile back. “We’re gathering a crowd,” I say through clenched teeth.
“If you would just hurry up and get this over with, we wouldn’t garner so much attention.”
I imagine myself falling backwards and my stomach goes for a loop. “Are you sure you can catch me?”
“Are you kidding? Have you seen me?”
“I know, but I’m a big girl.”
“This is insulting, Taylor. I work out every day. Have you seen me without a shirt on?”
I try to remember if I have, but I’m pretty sure I only have dreamed of his bare chest. “All right, I concede that you can probably catch me.”
“Probably? Come on. Just fall backwards.”
“Because this will do wonders for our relationship. If you can trust me to prevent a brain injury, surely you can trust me with your dating profile.”
“Okay,” I say, fiddling with the bag.
“Give me that,” he says. I pass it back to him and hear it drop on the ground. “Hold your arms out so I can get my arms around you.”
The idea of his arms on my body sends a flock of butterflies through my chest. Now I’m more invested. Because as much as I need to not think about these things, I want to know what his touch feels like. I turn my head. “How far back are you?”
“I’m the perfect amount.”
There are several groups of people watching us now. I cover my eyes. “I can’t believe I’m going to do this.”
“Do you want me to count off?”
“No, I’m going to do it . . . unless you need to count off because you’re looking away or something.”
“He hasn’t looked away from you this whole time,” one of the iced coffee girls says.
“Really?” I ask her.
“Oh yeah,” the other one says. “He is laser-focused on you. I think you can trust him.”
I purse my lips. “If you only knew him you wouldn’t say that.”
“I’d like to get to know him,” her friend says, and then they giggle together.
“Taylor,” Chapman says, and the sound of my name coming from his mouth sends a quiver through my belly.
“I’ve got you,” he says, his voice steady and serious. I close my eyes, my stomach in knots. I let out a breath and I say, “Okay.”
I allow myself to fall, and just when I think I’ve made a huge mistake and I’m going to have a concussion or end up in the hospital, he catches me as those big, capable arms wrap around me.
The groups around us whoop with applause. He sets me up on my feet, and I turn around to face him. He’s smiling at me, genuinely—not one of those cocky smiles like he’s gotten something over on me or that he knows I’m dying for his hot body in my bed and he’s just tempting me with it, but a real smile like we’re friends. “You caught me,” I say, sounding more surprised than I should.
“Of course I caught you.”
Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She has served as president for the Music City Romance Writers and is the author of the Love Along Hwy 30A series, the Before Forever series (YA), and Courting Carlyn (YA).
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