An infuriatingly irresistible love story.
Michelle Anders is done with love. Done with the involuntary heart palpitations and suffocating in breathless moments. Done crying over a man who doesn’t deserve her. She’s determined to become a strong, independent woman, starting with focusing on what really matters. Herself.
The solitary week of relaxation she planned at a friend’s remote lake house turns unbearable when the man who broke her heart stumbles in on her. While she’s stark naked in the bathtub. With his pants around his ankles!
Drew Wright may be the NFL’s newest darling, but to Michelle the jock is nothing but a loud-mouthed, crass, country-boy brute. He doesn’t deserve a second of her time…but the things he can do to her body are irresistible.
When mother nature conspires to keep them locked up together, Michelle needs to figure out where lust ends and love begins.
General Release Date: 10th November 2020
Fuck love. That lying, cheating, no-good emotion can shrivel up and die for all I care. I’m done with the involuntary heart palpitations and suffocating in breathless moments. Done with the hoping and waiting and crying. Done with not being enough.
College is over. This trip, today, is the first day of my new life. A new me. Strong. Independent. And blissfully oh-so-single. I am the master of my own fate and so help me gawd, I will be happy.
I grab my Louis Vuitton bag, a graduation gift from my dad, and tumble out of my Mini Cooper. My body is stiff from the long drive and my heart is sore from its long journey.
I stretch out my arms and legs, taking in the unbelievable scenery around me. A city girl, I’d prefer a five-star hotel spa over the dirty wilderness. I’m with Dorothy—lions and tigers and bears are not my deal. But with the rolling mountains, a massive forest and the tranquil blue lake, I can’t deny how beautiful it is here. I can take a deep breath for the first time in months.
When Elizabeth said I could stay at her family’s summer place for the week, I was too eager for an escape to say no. I know Elizabeth is rich, but when she said ‘cabin by the lake’ I pictured a quaint, rustic house. Maybe a small dock with a rowboat. Nope.
The two-story lake house in front of me belongs in an architectural magazine. It’s beautiful, from its river rock columns and wood siding to its steep fairy-tale roof and many chimneys. Floor-to-ceiling windows make up the entire front, allowing for panoramic views of the majestic crystal-clear lake and tall redwood trees. A wide deck wraps around the first floor, opening up to a path down to the water. Perched on the edge of the lake isn’t a dock. It’s a full boat house that looks to hold an assortment of watercraft, ranging from canoes to a small yacht.
There’s no sign of another human being. No other homes along the lake. No sounds of cars or people, just the gentle hum of crickets. If I weren’t boycotting love, I could certainly fall for the magic of this place. It was well worth the six-hour drive, the last two on a private dirt road that was harrowing in the Mini. I’m pretty sure I lost my muffler about halfway up. But I was determined to get away.
I square my shoulders, stand up straight and march into the house. Dumping my suitcase and purse in the entryway, I pinch myself, looking around the beautiful space. The high ceilings and open floorplan make me feel nearly as tiny as the giant forest I just drove through. My entire college apartment could fit inside the living room, but the place still manages to feel homey. Natural colors and soft lighting make it sweetly country without being over-the-top kitschy. Yep. I could get used to this.
I pull out my phone to text Elizabeth, only to remember she said there wouldn’t be any cell service. Makes sense. I’m pretty far into the wilderness here. I dig out the paper she gave me and log in to the house’s wi-fi, thanking the internet gods that there are ways to communicate without cell service. I snap a few quick pictures of the place and email them to Elizabeth with a handful of emojis and OMGs. My phone chimes with a Facetime notification.
“You made it there safe, I see.” Elizabeth’s gentle smile lights up my screen.
“You weren’t kidding. That drive is no joke. But man, it was worth it. Lizbit, this place is amazing.” I hold my phone up so she can see the setting sun over the lake behind me. “It’s perfect. Thank you so much!”
“Have you seen the bathroom yet?” Elizabeth bites her lip.
“Down the hall, third door on the right.”
I inch down the hallway with hesitant steps. “I’m not going to find anything freaky in there like an iguana or something?”
“My uncle had one when I was little. It lived in the bathtub of his spare bedroom. Scared the crap out of me once. Literally.”
Her sweet laugh echoes down the long, empty hall. “No reptiles, I promise.”
With a light push, the bathroom door creaks open and I peer into the darkness. I fumble for the light switch on the wall, totally unable to find the stupid thing.
“It’s on the far wall,” Elizabeth tells me.
I groan. “Why would you put a light switch on the other side of the bathroom?” I grope along the wall until I feel the switch and flick it on, only to be blinded by the sight. I blink a few times before I’m able to take in the majesty in front of me. A huge claw-foot tub, big enough for three of me, sits in the middle of the far wall. A backsplash of river rock gives it a natural feel.
“There’s a remote on the wall next to the light switch.”
“The bathtub has a remote?”
Elizabeth shakes her head. “Not the bathtub, silly. It controls the entire bathroom,” she tells me, as if that somehow makes more sense. “Press the button that looks like a waterfall.” Excitement pours out of her.
I click the button, which sure enough looks like a waterfall. The rock wall behind the tub begins to pour water down its face, making a soothing sound that relaxes my whole body.
“Now press the fire button,” Elizabeth’s giddy voice calls out.
“The fire button? What about earth and air?” I tease, pressing the button as instructed, because, let’s be honest, I’m desperate to know what else this magical bathroom’s capable of. A panel slides open across from the tub and a fire lights up inside a small crevice.
My mouth drops open. “This. Place. Is. AMAZING!”
Elizabeth laughs at my bewilderment.
“I’m going to have to let you go, Lizbit. I’ve been consumed with a desperate need to get naked in your bathroom.”
“Bath balms are under the sink. Towels are in the closet down the hall. Liquor is in the cabinet next to the bookshelf in the living room and wine’s in the cellar. Enjoy yourself, Michelle. You deserve it, babe.”
I barely give her time to finish before I hang up and start running myself a bath.
Small amendment to the anti-love policy—inanimate objects, which are physically incapable of betraying me, are now allowed to be loved. Starting with this bathtub.
I settle into the hot soapy water and listen to the sound of rain pouring down as a summer storm breaks outside.
Amelia Kingston is many things, the most interesting of which are probably California girl, writer, traveler, and dog mom. She survives on chocolate, coffee, wine, and sarcasm. Not necessarily in that order.
She’s been blessed with a patient husband who’s embraced her nomad ways and traveled with her to over 30 countries across 5 continents (I’m coming for you next, Antarctica!). She’s also been cursed with an impatient (although admittedly adorable) terrier who pouts when her dinner is 5 minutes late.
She writes about strong, stubborn, flawed women and the men who can't help but love them. Her irreverent books aim to be silly and fun with the occasional storm cloud to remind us to appreciate the sunny days. As a hopeless romantic, her favorite stories are the ones that remind us all that while love is rarely perfect, it’s always worth chasing.
You can find Amelia at her website and follow her on Pinterest.