This Monday morning we’re jetting off on a summer adventure with our friends over at Mills & Boon and Georgia Toffolo! Read an extract of her latest novel Meet Me in Tahiti below and escape the every day for a little while.
Meet Me in Tahiti: Chapter One
She knew nothing was going to happen to her at the cocktail party. Nothing interesting, anyway. She’d been to so many of these events she could describe exactly how the evening would unfold. She’d dress up and do her hair and make-up. She’d drink champagne, eat canapes. Meet the resort manager if he/she was there, be schmoozed by the public relations executive who’d arranged her travel. She’d talk to as many people as she could, gathering information on the resort and the area’s most interesting attractions. And at the end of the evening she’d return to her room with Cristina and go immediately to bed to rest up for the always busy first day of action.
So boring maybe she should just skip it. After her recent travel-fest no one could blame her for preferring a quiet night in. Even when you were being flown Business Class (as she invariably was), air travel was exhausting, especially when you had to navigate airports in a wheelchair. And then, of course, she had jetlag to contend with, which could kick in at any moment, not to mention—
‘Oh. My. God!’ she exploded. ‘Listen to yourself. Sermonizing on the evils of travel. Who even are you?’
She sat up straighter. She wasn’t going to lie to herself by pretending she was too tired to go to a party when what she was actually suffering from was a guilty conscience over not telling her parents she was going out. Nor was she going to send a follow-up email mentioning the party.
What she was going to do was remind herself – visually, since she couldn’t trust the tortured inside of her head – that she was living the life she’d always dreamed of.
She pushed away from the desk and wheeled herself onto the sundeck of her bungalow, gazing at the endlessness of blue.
Blue was her favourite colour, and it didn’t get more beautiful than this, laid out in shades shifting seamlessly from crystal to powder to electric to azure to sapphire, all the way out to the horizon where the lagoon collided with a vivid cerulean sky. Her bungalow seemed to be suspended between two worlds – and in a way that was exactly what it was, perched on stilts over water, not earth. There were glass panels in the floor inside that allowed you to see the colourful fish darting freely below, but Zoe preferred this outdoor vantage point. In her soul she was soaring, skimming across the lagoon, rising into the air, flying straight up to the heavens.
This was why she’d fought so hard to not return home to Hawke’s Cove with her parents. This beauty, this freedom.
It had been worth every trade-off she’d negotiated – the apartment that had been bought for her off-plan before construction so modifications could be made for her wheelchair, the physiotherapist who came twice a week, the cleaning service, the detailed itineraries provided to her parents whenever she was travelling, Cristina’s assistance, the regular phone calls when she was at home, the barrage of emails when she was working, a hundred other inconsequential intrusions.
It had been a fight for her life . . . at the cost of her parents’ hope for a cure.
‘Fight your big battles to the death, but don’t sweat the scrappy skirmishes if you want to win the long war,’ she said again, looking out across the lagoon.
Once more she heard Finn saying those words. But now she could see him, too. His crooked smile with the tiny chip in his front tooth as he’d tucked a hank of her hair behind her ear. She’d looked into his too-blue eyes that day and seen more than a colour. She’d seen, so clearly, that Finn was mysteriously older than his eighteen years. His life had been nothing like her pampered existence – and yet he’d believed, he really had, that she was as strong as he was, capable of fighting for what she wanted, ready to do whatever she set her heart on.
What would he think of all those compromises she’d made to get where she was? Would he see her as a victor or would he say she was . . .
‘Lost,’ she said, and closed her eyes, trying to unblock the memory of the very last time she’d seen him.
As usual, only a snippet or two resurfaced, just enough to tell her it had been traumatic; the rest stayed safely buried.
She opened her eyes, stared out at the horizon, and saw again his eyes, the same colour as the French Polynesian sky.
She may not have the full memory of that night but she knew one thing: however Finn Doherty may have looked at her during thatCrab Shack year, his opinion had gone through a dramatic metamorphosis in the two years that followed.
And it didn’t matter. It really, truly didn’t.
She hadn’t seen him for ten years and she’d never see him again.
Which was just fine with her.
She had an article to finish, a party to go to, and a life to live.
Meet Me in Tahiti is available to pre-order now in paperback, eBook and audio here.