Title: Love Overboard
Author: Rachelle Paige Campbell
Genre: Sweet Romance, Contemporary Romance
Forced to share a stateroom with her ex-fiancé, Caitlyn fakes amnesia to stay on board her dream Alaskan cruise. Torn over deciding his future, Cruise Director Gregory tumbles into helping her. As they grow closer, unspoken secrets threaten to rip them apart, for good.
She slid the key into the lock and opened the door.
A man sat on the queen-sized bed, covering his head with his hands.
She stiffened, her shoulders creeping toward her ears and her stomach tightening. With one hand still on the door, she leaned out of the room into the hallway and glanced at the number on the door which displayed the correct stateroom. Frowning, she propped open the door with her carry-on and crossed her arms.
The man turned his head and met her gaze.
Adam. She held her breath. He looked as hangdog sad as the last day they spent together. On New Year’s Eve, someone asked about their upcoming wedding plans. Without a thought, she replied they didn’t have any and he left. She replayed the moment a thousand times but never changed her answer. They called off the engagement over the phone, she returned the ring via courier, and Steph let him in to pick up his things. Caitlyn hadn’t seen him in over seven months.
Once again, his face twisted in a grimace.
Her words caught in her throat. Until this moment, she avoided discussing the demise of their relationship. If she hadn’t been a coward, would her sister be on the ship? She gulped and forced down the lump of regret.
Adam jumped to his feet and approached.
His bloodshot, hazel eyes stared through her, and she shivered. At one time, his face mirrored their shared hopes and dreams for the future. She pressed a hand against her stomach to stop the flip-flopping. When she caught a whiff of the cologne she’d bought him two years ago, she recalled his embrace, and her skin goose pimpled. Two people could care about each other and still not be the right fit.
She wanted to be anywhere else. Disembarking was still possible. She crossed her arms and rubbed against the sudden chill tickling her skin through the thin jacket. The inevitable confrontation about their relationship’s demise had been delayed long enough. If he needed closure, she wouldn’t stop him. She’d listen, he’d leave, and then she could enjoy her vacation. She forced her mouth into a smile. “I think you must have the wrong room.”
“Hello to you, too, Caitlyn.” He shook his head.
His rigid posture and stoic expression were unlike any of his cues she knew. Her attempt at levity belly flopped. She gulped.
Running a hand along his chin, he met her gaze. “I paid for half of the room.”
She scrunched her nose. “I think you’re mistaken.” Dragging out the words for clarity, she grasped her understanding of their situation. He should have started blaming and berating her by now, not worrying about details of her vacation. She prepared for raised voices and an uncomfortable silence. Within the next ten minutes, he’d leave the ship and any discussion over payment was moot. She tightened her hands into fists and stood tall. “I reserved this cabin. You are standing in my stateroom. I’m taking this trip.”
Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he rocked back and forth on his heels several times.
“No. You’re not. I’d like to pay for your half of the room.”
She gasped. Why was he acting like he had an undeniable right to the trip? For years, she saved for her passage. Between the two of them, she should remain onboard.
Adam Benson wasn’t an unkind or thoughtless person, but at the moment, he bordered on cruel. Clarity chilled her bones, and she shook her head and studied the floor. Her sister couldn’t be added to the manifest because her cabin already had another occupant.
With an outstretched hand, he stepped closer. “My wife is ashore and waiting to board. I’ll cut you a check now. We can remove your name from the room, and she and I will then take our honeymoon. Just be reasonable, Caitlyn.”
She recoiled, drawing back her chin and crossing her arms.
He dropped his hand.
For the second time in as many minutes, he shot her a pitying look. She placed a hand against her swirling stomach and darted her gaze about the room at everything she stood to lose. He wanted to swap her for his wife. In the past seven months, he married someone else? Her brain refused to process his declaration. “I’m confused. I don’t even know who you are.”
Color drained from his face.
She caught her lower lip. She hadn’t intended to hit the target dead center with such force. Breathing through her nose, she swallowed the sharp taste filling her mouth. Her dream trip was over before the ship set sail. As she studied him, she frowned. He hadn't changed his short hair or his bland earth tone style, but he acted like a stranger. Perhaps, she should clarify the statement. I don’t even know who you are anymore.
As her fiancé, Adam was kind and thoughtful. He knew what the trip meant and wouldn’t dare ask her to leave. Instead of using the voyage as a chance to finally discuss what went wrong, however, he hijacked her trip. Disappointment coursed through her veins followed immediately by a surge of adrenaline and resolve. I’m not going anywhere.
In the usual way of poorly conceived solutions, the idea sprang into her mind fully formed. She was desperate and determined. Her hasty ruse had to work. Losing her dream trip was unfathomable. A sense of calm settled her stomach. She cocked her head to one side and studied him. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
At home, I love working on jigsaw puzzles. I have a table set in a sunny corner and retreat there for a nice, quiet break.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
We could all use a trip, why not escape with a heroine on her dream trip—an Alaskan cruise? Cruising is my very favorite type of vacation. Writing this novel was an escape for me, and I hope provides the same relief to readers.
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Rachelle Paige Campbell writes contemporary romance filled with heart and hope. No matter the location--big city, small town, or European kingdom--her feel-good stories always end with a happily ever after. She's grateful for the support of her family, her robot floor cleaner, and her reluctant writing partner (her dog).
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