In Audrey O’Connor’s steamy, stormy follow-up novella to Lessons in Pure Life, sun-soaked days melt into restless nights for Diego and Lia, kept apart for weeks by long hours and miles of coastline. When an A-list wedding reunites them in Caramel Beach, the tension is higher than ever.
Over the course of an electric twenty-four hours filled with sugar, sex, and magic, the couple faces their share of personal demons, angels, and unlikely prophets. While Diego confronts his problems with the help of a surf champ and a bottle of whiskey, Lia stumbles into a bathroom-stall seduction and possibilities she never knew existed. Amid the chaos, Lia and Diego try to reconnect. What comes after is a life-altering odyssey into uncharted territory.
We meander back to the hostel in the wet sand, the surf to our left. The moon is full and bright, bouncing off the gentle waves that roll into the bay.
My first few months in Costa Rica were rich with the exhilaration of my new environment. I landed in the lap of a whole new life, just like that. After working all month in Pacifica without him, being with Diego again sends those early memories bobbing up to the surface. He’s got this sharp energy beneath the layers and layers that make up a man. Intimidation is what he inspires, followed closely by strange physical sensations that spell your undoing. He triggers an energy in me that could tear the hood off a car. And I’m sure as hell not on flakka.
He slides his arm around my waist like he can hear me. We walk a few steps before he stops and turns to face me.
“I wouldn’t hate it if you’d let me hold you.”
The waves crash endlessly behind us, a soaking wet heartbeat. I’m still strung up in his words when he closes the empty space between us.
“You’re on fire,” he tells me, hands making a ring behind my back so we’re suspended in some kind of stained glass embrace.
“You sure know how to put yourself together, gringa.”
“I’m not the only one.”
He sighs and I wait patiently. Indecision slows his expression, crystalizing in his delay.
Whatever it is goes away.
“Did you enjoy your time, you know, without me distracting you?” he asks.
“It was busy, but we got a lot done at the new school. I can’t complain.”
“I wish you would.” He pulls me in closer.
That one gets me. His slow kiss disappears everything around me before I’m even sure it’s happening. Lips softer than I remember, the light scrape of his chin on mine. A rugged feeling so welcome it can stay for dessert.
“You’re trouble,” he breathes.
“The best kind of it,” I reply.
“There’s nothing I can do about it, is there?”
“I doubt it.”
Bowing his head, he lowers his eyelids.
“I forgot what this is like,” he laughs tiredly, rubbing his cheek with his hand. “You still take me by surprise.” He tilts his head, considering me tenderly but wincing, like it hurts to admit it.
Watch and see my defenses lower to unprecedented depths.
I press against him, not sure whether I’m teasing him or me. His palm is warm on the back of my leg.
“How’d you get your skin so soft, anyway?” he whispers, stroking my thigh gently until it evolves into a grasp, the tips of his fingers pushing into my flesh.
I laugh, breathless. “So what do you wanna do?”
He pulls me in by the bottom with both hands. “Get to know you all over again.”
Copyright © 2017 by Audrey O’Connor
Audrey O’Connor is inspired by art, science, compassion, and rare moments of transcendence. She writes in Chelsea, Quebec, and enjoys river swims, woodsy gatherings, live music in Wakefield, and a deep, dark cabernet sauvignon.