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All the Romance Series Bundle (Ebook)

Original price was: $70.85.Current price is: $29.95.

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4 swoony and exciting romance series, a total of 15 books! Four complete series, including Chance Encounter as a bonus.

From a couple who meet on the beach, to a billionaire who picks up an injured woman on the side of the road, to a woman on the run from her husband, to a couple trying at a second chance at love, these four complete series will keep you turning the pages to discover if these heroes and heroines get their happily ever after.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ “Suspenseful and makes you want to keep reading. The characters are well thought out and relatable. You love some characters and others make your blood boil when they come back into the story.”  — Amazon Review

These books are different from the books in the Standalone romance bundles. The only book in this set that is also in the standalone set is Chance Encounter, which is both a standalone and follow-up to the Over You Duet.

Save 50% over buying the books individually.

Scroll down to read the first chapter of each series.

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ASHLEY’S BILLIONAIRE

Chapter 1

Thick snowflakes silently fell on Ashley’s windshield as she drove along the snow-covered highway. Determined to keep going, she glanced at her speedometer before concentrating on the treacherous road. Putting gentle pressure on the gas pedal, she practically held her breath as she waited to see if her tires would stay steady on the icy pavement. The wipers slid across the windshield as she gripped the steering wheel in the ten and two o’clock position. With virtually no experience driving in the snow it was just her luck that her drive from Las Vegas to Reno had coincided with the unusual, late spring snowstorm. 

It was early evening, but with the gray clouds hanging overhead and the steadily falling snow, it felt much later.

The GPS assured her that she was going the right way, but with the nearly whiteout conditions, she could’t tell for sure. She tried to convince herself that this was all part of the adventure—leave all that she knew and move to a new city to start a new life. Wasn’t that what most new college graduates wanted?

Ashley looked in her rearview mirror, but when she saw no headlights behind her, she felt very alone. What if she got stuck in a snowbank? How would she get out? Who would help her? She was a girl from Las Vegas. Why on earth had she thought she would like moving north where it snowed?

If she was honest with herself, she’d had a romanticized vision of this type of weather—curled up in front of a blazing fire reading a novel, and when she got chilly, a handsome man would tuck a soft blanket around her legs. And then he would fix her a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream on top.

At the thought of being chilly, Ashley realized that her feet were cold. Despite turning up the heat, only icy air blew out. It was like her car was protesting being out of the sunshine.

“Dang it.” She hit the dashboard like that would change her car’s mind and make it shape up.

Shape up or ship out. 

The words she’d learned from her dad jumped into her head, words that she’d said to her boyfriend the week before after she gotten tired of him treating her like dirt. He’d shipped out all right, dumping her without a second thought.

Frowning, she reminded herself that she was putting men out of her life while she focused on starting her career. No men equaled no distractions.

Wriggling her toes, she realized they’d gone numb. Grimacing, she turned the fan off—no point in speeding up the freezing process—and focused on the road.

When she began shivering, she came to the conclusion that as much as she wanted to make it to Reno that night, continuing driving in these conditions was a bad idea. Maybe there was a motel nearby where she could spend the night and wait out the storm. 

Peering into the whiteness that surrounded her, she couldn’t see much, but she could see that she was in the middle of nowhere. Not a house in sight. 

She had no choice but to continue driving.

The snow came down harder. It was starting to become difficult to tell where the road was. 

Panic built inside her but she told herself if she was careful she would be fine. 

Then her tires slipped. 

Her panic blossomed. Her heart thundered with terror. 

She was in trouble. Deep, deep trouble.

Desperate now, and anxious to see if her GPS could help, she glanced at her phone, which was mounted to her dashboard. It insisted that she continue on for another forty miles, and it didn’t show any approaching side streets.

Hardly daring to take her eyes from the road, she kept glancing at her phone as she tried to decide if she should risk making a call. She didn’t have Bluetooth so she would have to look away from the road for a moment to tap her screen. Of course, she could stop, but that presented problems of its own. Next to the road were deep snowbanks, so pulling off of the road wasn’t an option. And she didn’t think stopping in the middle of the road was a great idea either. With her luck, even though she couldn’t see anyone behind her just then, if she stopped, a semi was sure to come barreling down the highway and crush her like a gnat against its windshield.

No, she would have to do her best to keep driving while she dialed. With her gaze ricocheting between the road and her phone, she managed to punch in 911, but then she paused. If she completed the call, what would she say? Hi, my name is Ashley Spencer. I’m not from around here, but I’m scared of driving in the snow. And, oh yeah, the heater in my car is out and I’m getting really cold. Can you help me?

She wasn’t so desperate that she was willing to make herself look like an idiot. At least not yet.

Then the feeling of being in trouble settled over her and she knew she needed help. She pressed the Send key.

Nothing happened.

That was when she noticed that she had no service. Willing her phone to connect with a cell tower, she stared at the screen for a second. Not only did she not get service, but when she looked up a fence was racing toward her. Or maybe she was racing toward the fence. It was hard to tell in the state of sheer horror that swept over her.

* * *

OVER YOU

Chapter 1

“What now?” Jessica Stevens asked as her cell phone rang. She frowned as she read the name on the screen, then sighed before shutting off the ringer. “I don’t want to talk to you, Alex,” she said in a sing-song voice. Turning her focus back to her laptop, she continued working, but the cell phone drew her attention once again when it chimed.

Trying to ignore the fact that a message waited for her, she concentrated on the programming code she was writing, but found her eyes drifting away from the computer screen and toward the cell phone. “Fine. You win.” She grabbed the phone and punched in the number for voice mail, then frowned as she listened to the recording.

“Jessica, I know you don’t believe me, but I’m really sorry about everything.” The caller released a ragged breath as if trying to control his emotions. “I care about you so much. Please let me see you. I need to talk to you in person. I need to explain.” He paused, and when he spoke again, his voice cracked. “Just give me one more chance.” He paused again. “I hope to talk to you soon. Bye.”

Jessica deleted the message, set the phone down, and massaged her forehead. Leaning back in her chair, she stared at the ceiling as if the answer to her problems would somehow reveal themselves among the swirls of textured plaster. Something landed in her lap and she jumped, startled for a moment, until she locked eyes with her gray tabby, Hudson.

“Hey there. Are you trying to tell me it’s time for a break?” She scratched his chin and he purred as he nudged her hand toward his ears. “You like that, don’t you?” Glancing at the clock on her laptop, she lifted him from her lap and set him on the floor, then went into the nearby kitchen. He followed close behind, and when she opened his cat food with the can opener, he meowed. 

“I know, I know,” she said, dumping the cat food into his bowl. “I’m late with your dinner. Again. I’m sorry, big guy, but that’s one of the hazards of working from home.” Jessica set the bowl of cat food on the floor in front of him. “The work is always there, calling to me.” 

He ignored her as he devoured his meal.

Jessica smiled as she watched him, then went back to her desk and slid into her seat, trying to get back into the groove she’d been in before the cell phone had interrupted her. She reviewed the programming code she’d written, but the text on the screen faded as the phone message replayed in her head. She blinked several times, focusing on her work, but thoughts of Alex kept demanding her attention. A few minutes later Hudson returned, rubbing against her leg. Glad for the diversion, she picked him up and set him on her lap.

“What should I do, big guy? Alex wants to try to talk me out of breaking up with him.” She held Hudson up so they were eye to eye. “I know you liked him, but I don’t think he’s good for us.” Hudson stared back until Jessica set him on her lap. 

He jumped onto the desktop and walked on a small stack of papers, then lay down. 

“I might need those.” Jessica laughed and gave Hudson a gentle poke, which elicited instant purring.

Distracted from working now, she pulled up her personal email account and saw an email from her mother, inviting her to have dinner with her and Jessica’s dad the next evening. She immediately replied, accepting the invitation. When she returned to the email program, a new email had just arrived. She frowned when she saw the name of the sender. Alex Tyler.

She groaned, but opened the email and read the message. The gist of the email was the same as the voice message. She knew if she wanted to have him out of her life, she would need to meet with him face to face and end it, once and for all. Pressing Reply, she agreed to meet him for lunch the following day, then got back to work writing her programming code.

* * *

At the restaurant the next afternoon, Jessica parked her late model Honda Accord and took a deep breath, dreading the conversation with Alex. Even though she still cared about him, and even though they had begun to get serious, his lies had damaged her trust in him and she didn’t think she could be with him anymore. She climbed out of her car and entered the restaurant, stopping just inside the doorway. Looking around the crowded restaurant, she spotted him sitting at a table reading the menu. She watched him for a moment, considering what she was about to tell him. 

He ran his fingers through his thick black hair, an unconscious gesture she’d seen him do many times. Seeing him do it now, Jessica felt a measure of endearment towards him and momentarily wondered if breaking up with him was the right thing to do. Giving a slight shake of her head, she decided to press forward with her original plan and see where it led. She moved in his direction, her heart pounding in anticipation of telling him they were done.

Alex looked up as she approached, then stood, a bouquet of colorful flowers in one hand. “Jessica.” He smiled broadly and stepped toward her, moving in for a hug.

Taking a step back, she shook her head. “We need to talk.”

Alex frowned as he sat, and Jessica slid into the seat across from him. 

He held the flowers out. “These are for you.”

“Thank you.” She took them from him and lay them on the table, then picked up her menu and stared at the selections, trying to gather her thoughts. When she set the menu down, she found Alex watching her. He reached across the table to take her hand, but she moved her hands to her lap. “Look, there’s no point in dragging this out.” She watched his face closely, assessing his reaction. “Like I told you when I found out you’d . . . well . . . cheated on me, I can’t . . .” She shook her head and looked down at her lap before gazing directly at him. “It’s over.”

“Jessica, listen to me. This has all just been a big misunderstanding.” Alex’s eyes seemed to plead with her and she felt her resolve slipping. “Whatever your friend thought she saw was really nothing more than two old college friends getting together for dinner and catching up. I hadn’t seen Mikayla in more than two years. I hadn’t even planned on having dinner with her that night. She came to my office to meet with one of the other attorneys about a business matter, and I happened to see her. She didn’t even know I worked there.”

Hearing the name of the woman he’d been with, along with all of his denials, brought back the feelings she’d had when her friend Bethany had told her she’d seen Alex kissing another woman, and then saw them leave the restaurant hand in hand. Jessica had been devastated when she’d heard the report. Recently she had begun to think Alex could one day become her husband, but now that had all been wiped away.

When Bethany had told her how Alex had been practically giddy with this Mikayla woman at the restaurant, Jessica’s thoughts had gone back over Alex’s odd behavior the previous few weeks, and how preoccupied he had seemed. Suddenly everything had clicked into place. Though she believed his story that the woman had run in to him at his office, she didn’t believe that it had just happened on the day of the dinner. “Alex, tell me the truth. Did you date this Mikayla when you were in college?”

“We may have gone on a few dates, but mostly we were just good friends.”

“Good friends.” Jessica nodded. “I see.”

“What? What do you see? Do you see how much I care about you? Do you see that I don’t want this to come between us?”

“What you don’t seem to understand is that this has already come between us. It’s been between us for weeks now.”

“Weeks? This just happened a few days ago.”

Jessica looked at the earnest expression on Alex’s face and wondered if she was wrong. Maybe she had misunderstood his recent behavior. Maybe he really was as innocent as he claimed. She tried to recall the exact words Bethany had used to describe what she had seen. It wasn’t hard since the images they invoked were burned in her mind’s eye. He had his arms around her and he kept laughing as he kissed her. Finally they left the restaurant, and when they walked out they were holding hands and gazing at each other like long-lost lovers. 

It had been painful to hear Bethany’s vivid description, and it had felt as if someone had poured a bucket of ice water over her heart, but it left no doubt in Jessica’s mind that it was more than a friendly dinner.

No, she wasn’t mistaken. And she couldn’t let herself feel sorry for Alex now as he looked so pitiful and sad.

The waitress appeared at their table, but Jessica had lost her appetite. Ordering a small bowl of soup, she waited for their server to leave before facing Alex again. “Alex, all I want is for you to be honest with me. Tuesday wasn’t the first time you ran into Mikayla, was it?”

“I want to be honest with you, I do. But I know how you are, and you’re going to jump to conclusions no matter what I say.”

Did she? Did she jump to conclusions? She had to admit that sometimes she did, but that didn’t mean she was wrong in this instance. “Just tell me the truth. That’s all I’m asking.”

He looked at his lap, then off to the side, before looking at her. “You’re partially right. It was actually a few weeks ago that I ran into Mikayla.”

I knew it, Jessica thought in bitter triumph.

“But we’re just good friends. Nothing more.”

“How can you expect me to believe you when you lied about when you first saw her?”

Alex shook his head. “See what I mean? There you go, jumping to conclusions.”

“If you weren’t doing anything wrong, why did you find it necessary to lie to me about seeing her in the first place?” 

“Why are we even talking about this? We should be talking about our future together. That’s what’s really important.”

Jessica paused, considering his words for a moment, but then a thought came to her. “Alex, it seems to me that you really like this other woman.” Ignoring the sharp pain that those words brought to her heart, she continued. “If that’s true, then we don’t have a future. If you want to be with her, why are you wasting my time and yours, being with me?”

He frowned as he seemed to ponder her question. “As long as I’m being honest, I might as well tell you something. I do like Mikayla. I’ve had feelings for her since college. But nothing is going to come of it. I’ve had to move past it. I’m with you now, Jessica. You are the one I want to be with.”

Shocked to hear his admission, Jessica didn’t know what to say for a moment. Finally, she asked, “If you have feelings for her, what makes you so sure nothing will come of it? What assurances do I have that you won’t decide to act on those feelings and leave me?”

“Because,” Alex started, then stopped. He looked at his lap, then lifted his gaze to meet Jessica’s. “Because she’s married.”

“Married? And you were kissing her?” Startled by this revelation, Jessica was even more certain that she could never trust him. “So I suppose if she were to become available, you’d be the first in line to comfort her, right?”

He shook his head. “Not if I’m with you.”

“I’m sorry, Alex, but at this point any trust I may have had in you is gone.” The shock of the conversation numbed her feelings, allowing her to remain calm.

“Look, I know I made a mistake taking her to dinner. I let things get out of control. I never should have done more than say hello at the office. But I’ve learned my lesson. It won’t ever happen again. I promise. It’s you that I love, Jessica.”

Jessica shook her head. The damage had been done. She knew it was time to move on, and now she just wanted to get back to the sanctuary of her little apartment as soon as she could so she could mourn in private. 

The waitress appeared at the table, their food in her hands. An awkward silence ensued as they both waited for her to finish setting their dishes in front of them. The waitress left, and Jessica stared at the steaming bowl of soup, her appetite non-existent. 

Alex picked up his fork and began eating his meal.

“I really need to get back to work.” Jessica set her napkin on the table and lifted her purse from the back of her chair.

“So we’re good, right?” Alex took a large bite of his pasta salad.

She stared at him, stunned that he would believe things were possibly anywhere in the realm of good. “You’re kidding, right?”

He set his fork down. “No, of course not. Don’t you believe me when I say I made a mistake, and that it won’t happen again?”

“Oh, I know you made a mistake.” Jessica held her purse in her lap, ready to bolt as soon as she could. “But that doesn’t make everything okay. We’re done, Alex.” She stood, thinking that would convey the finality of her words.

He jumped up and came towards her. “Please, Jessica. Don’t do this. You’re making a mistake.”

Putting her purse over her shoulder, she put her hands out to stop his approach. “No, the mistake would be staying with you when I can’t trust if you’ll be faithful.” She paused, watching the words sink in. When it seemed he was finally getting it, she said, “Good bye, Alex.” Then she turned and walked out of the restaurant, and to her car.

As she slid behind the wheel she looked over her shoulder to make sure he hadn’t followed her. Relieved that he hadn’t, she felt tears form in her eyes as she pictured the fun times the two of them had enjoyed together. Forcing those thoughts away, she wiped at her eyes and started her car. Heading home, she wondered how she was going to tell her parents she’d broken up with Alex, the man they had hoped would become the son they’d never had.

* * *

LILY’S STORY

Chapter 1

It was my first day of college at the University of Nevada, Reno—the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Excited to discover what lay in store for me, and eager to begin my future, I walked down the crowded hall looking for my classroom. At twenty years old I was older than the average freshman, but that was okay. I felt just as young and inexperienced as any eighteen year old.

Not liking to draw attention to myself, I avoided eye contact with the other students. Worried I would be late for my first class, I hurried down the hall. It was hard enough to be alone in a new city—when I added my lack of familiarity with the campus and my poor sense of direction, the butterflies in my stomach became oversized moths.

Students sat on the floor of the hallway waiting for their classroom doors to open so they could flood in. Everyone seemed to know each other, which seemed to emphasize the fact that I didn’t know a soul. I pushed down the sudden feeling of panic and continued walking, reminding myself that even though I’d just come through a very difficult time in my life, a new phase was about to begin. I straightened my back against the weight of my bulky backpack and withdrew a printout of my schedule from the front pocket of my jeans so I could double-check the room number I needed to find. 

As I slowed my pace to scan my schedule, my long black hair fell into my face, and for the hundredth time I thought about chopping it all off. Just as I began tucking my hair behind my ear, I noticed a backpack lying in my path. Though I tried to avoid it, the strap seemed to wrap around my foot and I began falling. Trying to catch myself, I flung my arms out and slammed into the back of another student.

“Whoa!” the man said as he turned around. He caught me before I crashed to the floor. 

Blood rushed to my face and I thought I would die of embarrassment but I forced my eyes to meet his. “I am so sorry. I guess I should watch where I’m going.” He still held on to my arm—not that I minded—but I couldn’t help glancing at his hand. 

He let go. “Are you okay?” 

I nodded.

“Where were you going in such a hurry anyway?”

“I really wasn’t going that fast. I just, well, I was looking at my schedule . . . I wasn’t sure where my class was and I guess . . . I . .” My voice trailed off and I stopped talking before I made myself look like more of an idiot.

“That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

Relieved at his response, I smiled, and when he gazed at me, a blush rose on my cheeks. 

He cleared his throat and reached for the schedule I still held in my hand. “Maybe I can help you find your class.”

I let him take the piece of paper and watched him peruse my schedule, trying not to be distracted by his startling blue eyes.

“Well, what do you know?” He glanced up from the schedule, catching me staring. “We have a class together.” 

“We do?” I reached for the piece of paper, self-conscious that he knew I’d been checking him out. “Which one?”

“Sociology. At eleven.”

“That’s cool,” I said.

“What’s your name?” 

“Lily.”

“Lily, huh?” He grinned again. “I’m Trevor.”

“Hi,” I said stupidly. It had been so long since I’d been in this kind of social situation, I felt awkward and didn’t know the right thing to say. I finally said, “I’m still not sure where my next class is. Can you point me in the right direction?”

To my pleasure and dismay, he leaned close to me to look at the schedule I held in my hand. The subtle scent of his aftershave drifted into my nose, making me nearly flush again. 

Well, I have to breathe. I didn’t ask him to stand so close to me. 

When he stepped back slightly, I was mortified to realize I’d almost leaned toward him to get one more sniff of his cologne.  

“It looks like you’re almost there,” he said.

Trying to regain my composure, I nodded. “Okay.”

“Just go to the end of the hall and make a right.” He pointed in the direction I’d been heading. “Your class should be right around there.” He smiled at me. “Hey. I’ll save you a seat in our class.”

“That sounds great. Thanks.” Pleased to have some help, and by such an attractive man, I smiled again. “Bye.” I started in the direction Trevor had shown me, forcing myself not to turn around to see if he was watching me.

In my financial accounting class I had a hard time paying attention to the professor. My mind kept drifting back to Trevor and how much I’d enjoyed our brief contact. Even though I’d dated a few boys in high school, I hadn’t done any dating recently and knew the few flirting skills I’d possessed had become rusty. 

Visualizing how things would go with Trevor when I saw him later that morning, I imagined myself as one of the characters in the romance novels I loved to read. I pictured myself saying something witty, which would of course charm him and make him fall for me instantly and completely.

Fifty minutes later it was time for my next class but not yet time to see Trevor in sociology. After placing my notebook in my backpack, I checked my schedule to see where my next class would be, then reached into the depths of my backpack for the campus map. I dug around for a moment, then realized I must have left it on my desk in my apartment. “Crap,” I muttered under my breath.

“Is everything okay?” the girl sitting next to me asked.

Startled to realize someone had heard me, I stopped digging in my backpack. “I was looking for my campus map but I can’t find it. Maybe you can you tell me where this building is?”

She looked where I pointed on my schedule, then she unzipped a side pocket on her backpack and pulled out a campus map. She spread it out on the table and showed me where we were and where I needed to go.

“Thanks,” I said.

“You can keep the map.” She folded it and handed it to me. “I know my way around well enough that I don’t need it.” 

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.” 

I took it from her. “By the way, I’m Lily.”

“Alyssa,” she said.

I tucked the map into my backpack. “I appreciate your help.”

“No problem.” She smiled. “And don’t worry. By the end of the week you’ll know your way around really well.” 

We both stood and walked out the classroom door.

“I’ll see you later,” Alyssa said before walking away.

As my next class came to a close, I thought about Trevor, and when I remembered my romantic fantasies about him falling madly in love with me, my face burned with embarrassment.

What made me think he was interested in me that way? He’d just been trying to be helpful.

Eight minutes later I stood at the entrance to the sociology classroom. I didn’t see Trevor anywhere and wondered if I should wait for him before going inside so we could sit together. After a couple of minutes I wondered if he would even be coming. With a sinking heart, I admitted that when he’d promised he would save me a seat, he really had been just being kind. 

He might not even have the class with me. He’d probably been trying to make me feel better about nearly knocking him over.

I lifted my heavy backpack from the floor, slung it over my shoulders, then walked into the classroom.

* * *

SEARCHING FOR LOVE

Chapter 1

“Darn propane,” Reese Montgomery muttered when only cold water streamed out of the kitchen faucet in her RV. She gazed out the window over her tiny sink. “But look at that sunrise. My first in Malibu.” A smile of excitement curved her mouth as she forgot about the water. She grabbed her camera off the table and carried it down the two steps of her RV to the hard-packed ground outside her door. 

While looking for the perfect spot to take pictures, she gazed at the scene in front of her. From her vantage point on the cliff overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway, the crashing ocean was so close she could hear the hiss of the waves flowing over the sand—when the rush of cars ebbed for a few moments.

The oranges, reds, and yellows of the spectacular sunrise grabbed her attention and she began snapping photographs. Absorbed in her work, she barely noticed the cool ocean breeze that swept over her, although when goosebumps rose on her arms she vaguely wished she had thought to put on a sweater before coming outside.

When the sun had risen high enough to wash out the vivid colors, Reese browsed through the digital images on her camera with a concentrated frown.

One or two were worth keeping.

Pleased with her work, she smiled, then turned and looked at her twenty-two foot RV. It was old—over thirty years old—but she owned it outright. Trying to ignore the bits of rust, she smiled. Home sweet home. And maybe one of the sunrise photos would bring in some income.

Several months before, she had begun uploading her best work to a website that promoted the work of unknown artists. Since then she had sold a number of prints, which brought in a meager income. But her needs were minimal, and it had been enough to scrape by.

Back in her RV, she fixed herself a breakfast of cold cereal knowing she needed to refill her propane tanks if she wanted to use her stove—not to mention have hot water.

Later that morning, with her camera slung around her neck, she headed to the beach for a walk and a hunt for more interesting and unique photo opportunities. The late spring day was sunny and pleasant, and in addition to looking for interesting scenes to photograph, she was excited to dip her toes into the ocean.

From the Midwest, Reese was new to California and had never been in the ocean. The idea of actually going into the water and allowing the waves to flow past her both thrilled and terrified her.

It took only a few minutes to walk down to the Pacific Coast Highway, which was right below the RV park. Cars whizzed by, but when a wide gap opened in both directions of onrushing traffic, Reese dashed across the highway. 

Moments later her feet sunk into the sand. She kicked off her sandals—leaving them next to a rock—then made her way to the ocean’s edge, where she stopped. Closing her eyes and tilting her head back, she let the salty ocean breeze caress her face.

“Mmmm,” she murmured as the sun kissed her skin.

A few moments later she opened her eyes and gazed down the beach. A large sandy area surrounded her, but farther down the beach houses lined up side by side. A wide strip of sand lay between the houses and the ocean, and she decided to walk in that direction. Those houses would make good subjects for her lens.

Only a few other people walked along the ocean’s edge, and as Reese strolled along, her toes sunk into the damp sand. Occasionally she walked close enough to the incoming waves to allow the foaming sea to slide over her feet and up to her ankles. The cold water made her step back, but soon she grew used to the temperature and it didn’t seem cold at all. Maybe she would go for a dip later.

The thought brought a nervous smile to her mouth. Not a strong swimmer, and with zero experience swimming in the ocean, she wasn’t sure she was truly up to the challenge.

But that was what this was all about, right? Challenging herself. Figuring out where she fit in to this big, wide world.

Biting her lip, her gaze shot toward the blue-green water and the crashing waves. Maybe she wasn’t quite ready for that challenge.

With a shake of her head, she continued walking, stopping to take pictures when something interesting caught her eye. Before long the beach houses she  had seen from a distance loomed beside her. Each was two or three stories high with enormous pylons sunk into the ground to support them and keep them from being flooded when the high tide rolled in.

Glass-fronted balconies faced the ocean, and as Reese walked along, her gaze drifted toward the houses. She tried to imagine what it would be like to live in—or even visit—such a magnificent home. Who lived in those places? Who could even afford such a thing?

To her shock, the only person she saw on one of the balconies of the incredible beach houses was a woman—clearly a maid—pounding a rug that hung over a railing.

Where was everyone? 

With a nod, the answer came to her. At work. Making money to pay for those places.

Her gaze skimmed over the closest house.

Maybe she should get a job as a maid. Then she could get inside one of those houses.

Smiling ruefully at the thought, she looked away from the structures. She doubted she could even get hired as a maid. Who would hire her? An uneducated drifter living out of an RV? 

A frown pulled down the corners of her mouth. 

Especially if they knew her background.

Several small brown and white birds scurried away from the waves in front of her and she quickly snapped several photos, her morose thoughts forgotten. The sight of the birds’ tiny feet racing across the sand made her laugh.

Movement on the beach house side caught her eye, and when she looked in that direction, she saw a man stretched out on a lounge chair setting a glass on a table beside him. 

He didn’t look like a maid.

Not wanting to be caught staring, she looked toward the ocean as she passed the house and continued down the beach.

* * *

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