RAVEN HARBOR ROMANTIC SUSPENSE 2, OLIVIA
Amy Chanel brings you Summer Season, the much-anticipated erotic, romantic sequel to Spring Rush, Olivia’s first season of love….
Summer in Raven Harbor is known for hot days and steamy nights, and Olivia Sarlin is looking forward to both. But the man she loves, Daniel Beck, has left for parts unknown and time and distance has begun to chip away at her confidence that he’ll ever return.
The stakes suddenly change when Daniel’s deception comes to light and seductive Formula 1 racing driver, Antonio Testino, speeds into her path.
Should she hang onto her faith in Daniel and believe in his declaration of love and promise to return to her, or surrender to Antonio and let him sweep her off her feet?
Antonio's Latin passion is an addiction she can't resist. But when Olivia is jetted away against her will, can love save her in time?
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Cresting over the hill, the beach came into view and Olivia Sarlin shifted into fourth gear. Quickly picking up speed, the convertible Audi R8 headed south along the coast. Filled with the reckless abandon of Isadora Duncan—but with a shorter scarf wrapped around her hair—she tossed her head back and let out a hearty laugh as she pushed the pedal to the floor and sped past a silver Lamborghini. Her green eyes twinkled triumphantly behind vintage cat-eye sunglasses. The silver car wasn’t familiar, but she suspected the driver was an early—and obviously wealthy—summer arrival.
Olivia was taking gleeful advantage of the open road before summer season’s kick-off weekend hit and the full onslaught of the crowds rushed onto Mirren Island. She was thrilled that her best friend and business partner Kaley Bishop had left the car in her hands. Olivia’s mission today was to pick up the R8 from the parking garage under Kaley’s penthouse and take it to the mechanic. Overcome by the temptation and the sort of titillation a hot little red sports car could promise a girl, she decided to take it for a rather long detour around the island.
The mansions occupying some of the world’s most expensive real estate along Majic Beach were immaculately turned out, painted to perfection, their gardens manicured impeccably, their infinity pools gleaming Santorini cerulean. Olivia knew that their soon-to-arrive summer migrants would be bringing expectations of decked out cellars, over-brimming with rare and valuable wines.
Reaching the end of Dunes Rd and rounding the cul-de-sac at Eden Point Resort, her heart skipped wildly. This was the place where she’d first laid eyes on the man responsible for these palpitations. This was where she’d met Daniel Beck.
She’d quipped playfully once to a friend that it was hate-at-first-sight, but it was the last time she ever said that. The truth was that the very instant he’d grabbed her and saved her from sprawling head-long onto the pavement, was the exact instant she was reconnected to her destiny. It was the luckiest day of her life.
On the seat next to her she fondled a small, gray rock. Daniel had given it to her this spring, and she carried it like a talisman everywhere she went. She’d thrown it at him one summer when they were kids. He’d called her a little girl, but she’d just turned 16 and had taken an immediate dislike to his teasing and hit him with it. Daniel had saved it ever since.
But he’d disappeared at the end of that summer so long ago. To Olivia, it was fate that had brought them back together. What she couldn’t have imagined was that she would once more have to endure being without him. He’d gone away to help a friend in need he’d said, but she had no idea where that might be. He’d been absolutely secretive about it. She suspected it was Europe. But until Daniel came back and shared the details, she had no way of knowing for sure and no way of contacting him.
She admired his loyalty and knew that she was one of those people he would stand by in a crisis, but she couldn’t help but be annoyed that he’d chosen now of all times to go. It had only been months since they’d reunited. And the question whether that friend-in-need was male or female had pitted her in an ongoing battle against the jealous voice in her head. But she was going to have a chat with Daniel about his maddening altruistic philosophy when he returned.
On her cruise back along the beach toward Raven Harbor, the traffic was notably heavier. The first trickle of vacationers had begun arriving in their limos to their ocean-side summer stays. And on the ‘wrong’ side of the road away from the beach, the less expensive summer rentals would soon be filling as well. There, however, vacationers with lighter pocketbooks would pay considerably less for the inconvenience of having to cross the road to get to the ocean.
With Daniel and Kaley both out of reach, Olivia was lonely. Even screen goddess Jade Taylor, Olivia’s newest friend, was off on a movie shoot in the wilderness and not due back in town for another month. She was thinking she could really use someone to talk to, meet for coffee or go shopping with right about now.
The fifth anniversary of KO, the publicity and event planning business she and Kaley owned, was only two weeks away. She was throwing a small but festive party for the occasion as Kaley had encouraged her to do, but she’d been teetering at the edge of the festive tropics nearing the doldrums. A cloud of depression threatened to consume her every time she let herself think about having to throw the party without her best friend.
Yet this morning her mood had lightened. The spin in the R8 had pulled her away from the precipice and blown some wind back into her sails. The shiny glamour of the sexy red car had rubbed off, and she wasn’t ready to relinquish the buzz. There was still time before it was due at the mechanic’s, so Olivia took a quick left and another wee detour into Giffin Square. Precious few hours of peace remained until the mad onrush shot into town across the Dolphin Bay Bridge. And even though the full thronging sea of humanity hadn’t yet invaded, town was still abuzz with people and cars.
For decades, ‘Raven’—as the locals called it—had been the territory of the wealthy and established, the vacation retreat of the fuddy-duddy. Sure, there were young people who were part of this crowd, but they came with pedigrees and attitudes. They were overblown with their own hot air and as shallow as Dolphin Bay at low tide. Olivia had seen her fair share of summer’s glitterati and their swanky lifestyles, and the sparkle had long worn off.
It annoyed her to pay for the parking lot, so she was thrilled to find a spot on the street. Gearing down, the R8 purred to a stop in front of The Jonz, Raven Harbor’s trendiest coffee shop. Recognizing some of the parking valets from last year, she waved. It was a coveted job and the applicants actually had to send head shots and video, so naturally the valets were young and beautiful. She knew the tips were insanely lucrative and most of them also took shifts at the yacht club and various beaches, including the nude beach at Renfrew Bluff.
With a luscious mocha frappuccino-to-go, Olivia skipped out of the café and down the front stair, slightly sheepish that she was about to sip it in Kaley’s immaculate car. A self-pleased grin crossed her face as she gloated past the same silver Lamborghini she’d left in the dust along the beach, and carefully slid into the driver’s seat of the R8. Sure that she’d safely stored the frappuccino in the cup holder, she turned the ignition and the lovely car purred again. Signaling smugly, she checked the rearview mirror and put the car into gear. She was preparing to pull away from the curb when a sickening thud wiped the smile right off her face and introduced her to her latest nightmare. She and Kaley’s little red pride and joy had been rear-ended.
Stunned and in shock, followed quickly by fury, Olivia leapt out and stomped toward the car behind. “Freaking idiot! My dog can drive better than you!”
As the wing-like driver-side door of the Lamborghini opened, a dark-haired man in wrap-around sunglasses emerged from the car like a predatory cat and started toward her. It was then that a few important details took her attention hostage and gagged her mouth. He was hot, hot, capital HOT. His Elvis Presley lips parted into a dazzling smile over his cleft chin. When he removed his sunglasses that had heretofore safely obscured a pair of smoldering dark eyes, her instant impulse was to cover herself—as if those eyes had just torn aside her clothing. She fought through his spell, and her fury snapped her back to reality.
“This isn’t even my car! You are going to pay, Mister!” She already had her cell in hand and started to dial the police.
“Relájate, mi amor.” The man gently covered her hand with his to stop her as his soft Spanish accent disarmed her. His feathery-lashed stare was like voodoo. “It’s OK. I pay to get it fixed. I buy you a new one even.”
Olivia withdrew sharply from his touch and snorted. What a ludicrous thing to say. But when she looked past him at the Lamborghini her expression sobered. He probably could.
“But please don’t call the police. That will involve insurance companies and wasted time. It is just the beginning of vacation, so why put your nose joint out? We will take it to the shop and have it fixed. And in the meantime I will drive you anywhere you want, day and night.” The man’s gaze dropped slightly and Olivia pulled her hair scarf down to cover her chest.
“Not in a million years, bucko.”
With a mirthful wink, he reached his hand to her hair and she recoiled backward. “What—?”
“Relájate,” he said again. “Relax. Your beautiful blonde hair was sticking up and looking funny.”
“My hair. Not yours.” She set her jaw and looked away.
“Then let me pay for the repairs in cash. Take it to get it fixed anywhere you want.” His fat wallet was now open in his hand.
Her head swept back in his direction. “Nobody carries that much cash.”
“Except my bank.” He winked again, which riled her, again. “I will even lend you a car. What kind you like? I have cars to match your eyes.”
She snickered before she sneered.
“Corazón, I want to make you happy. Make you smile. Sí? I offer a car because you would make my car look even more beautiful.”
In spite of herself, Olivia was starting to thaw. Some of the things he was saying were ridiculous. Typical ‘Romeo’ type. She cursed the blush that came to her cheeks. “No, you don’t seem to understand. This car it isn’t even mine. It’s my best friend’s.”
“Well, I then I will buy your friend a new one.”
He really must be kidding. “Yeah right.”
“No. En serio. I mean it. It will be easy.”
“Yeah, so, I say yes and you disappear and I’m screwed.”
“I know you don’t know me, but I have ‘testaferos’. Um, como es?--I know people here who can testify for me.”
Olivia knew what he meant was that they could vouch for him, but his turn-of-phrase had further disarmed her anger and she laughed softly. “Well, whoever you are, I will not take a car from you. And here comes Raven’s Harbor’s finest now. The officer will sort this out.” The man raised open palms and stepped back in surrender.
A police cruiser had turned into Giffin Square. As it neared, she flagged the officer over and he pulled to a stop beside her. Jutting his head through the window, the policeman pushed up the brim of his cap and smiled.
“Good morning, Officer.” She put on a girlish grin and took a breath to begin her recount of the events.
Stepping out of the car, the officer’s expression turned serious. “Well, miss, you finally hit someone I see. I saw you speeding up the beach, but you got lucky when I got an emergency call and couldn’t go after you.”
“I’m sorry, Officer, but this man rear ended me.”
The policeman raised a skeptical eyebrow. Then as he turned to look at the dark-haired man, his face exploded into a smile.
“Antonio Testino! Oh my gosh!” The officer giggled like a teenage girl. “Mr. Testino, I’ve been following your career since day one—seen every single one of your races either in person or on TV. I went all the way to Montreal to see you drive, and I’ll never forget it. Even after you pitted with electrical problems late in the race you still took it. Wow. What a race! What a career!”
She rolled her eyes in disgust and the policeman rambled on. She was ashamed that an officer of the law, in uniform yet, would let himself become so undone. By the rate of his gushing, she had to assume this Antonio Testino was famous, apparently, but she had never heard his name and had no idea who he was.
“Hey. Take a picture of us.” The officer shoved his cell phone at her. He wasn’t asking. She obliged and then handed it back to him. “No. You have to take more than one in case you wrecked the first one.” Now displaying every pearly-white he owned, the officer had his arm around Antonio Testino’s shoulder, who had stooped down to his height. After she’d taken over a dozen shots he seemed satisfied, and she took her chance.
“Now, Officer… ”
“Oh, Mister Testino. I can’t believe it. My buddies will be so jealous. Even my wife!” The policeman was guffawing madly now, and she was embarrassed for him.
“Um, Officer. Sir,” she tried again, and he finally turned to her looking annoyed. “I would like to report an accident for insurance purposes. This man rear ended my car—well, my friend’s car.”
“Do you have insurance, miss?”
“Well, yeah. Of course.”
The officer shook his head officiously, and turned to Antonio with a conspiratorial grin before looking back at Olivia.
“License please. Then I’ll need the insurance papers.” As he scribbled on his pad, he continued smiling and laughing with Antonio. He was doing his job but was miles too deferential for her liking.
“You should be more careful, miss.”
“But he hit me!”
“Don’t raise your voice to an officer of the law, Miss…,” he paused, looking at his notepad as his brows knitted together, “…Sarlin, or you might get more trouble that you bargained for.” He added gruffly, “If there is evidence that you are negligent at all in this, young lady, you could well share the liability for damages.”
She took a deep in-breath as Antonio cut her off.
“No. The lady is correct, Officer,” Antonio admitted. “I did run into the little car. But when I saw her walk by me, I was distracted by her beauty.”
The officer looked at her and gave her a complete ‘once over’ without expression. Then she saw him smirk, followed by a wink directed at Antonio. Olivia was appalled but bit her tongue when she realized that he’d just done her a favor by cutting her outburst before it did any damage.
As the officer finished his report, he pointed to his chest with his pen. “This is my badge number, Mr. Testino. If you ever need anything, A-NY-THING, I would be honored if you would contact me.”
Olivia bristled. “May I have the number of your report please, Officer? I will need to file my claim.”
The policeman nodded blankly then shook his head as he wrote it on a card and handed it to her. “You will be able to pick it up at the station in a few days. I’d better not see you speeding again, young lady, because I won’t be so charming.”
Then changing like a traffic light, he was smiling again. He thrust his right hand at Antonio. “Good-bye Mr. Testino!” Olivia thought the policeman was never going to let go.
As the officer drove away she gritted her teeth and muttered under her breath. “Why does everyone in this town go so gaga over stupid so-called celebrities? So, freaking typical.”
“What do you mean by that?” Antonio looked offended.
She hadn’t meant to be heard. She stuttered, “O-oh, nothing. I just have things to do now.”
“I will call a service to tow you.”
“That’s not necessary. It is only a dent.”
“You know you have not called my name once.” He stepped closer. “I am Antonio. What is your name? I refuse to call my friends by their last name.”
Taken by surprise she bleated, “Olivia,” without meaning to.
“Olivia. Sí.” She offered a polite hand, but Antonio leaned in and kissed her cheek instead. “Encantado.” His hot whisper of the word in her ear sent a warm tingle shooting through her. She straightened her stance in an attempt to regain some self-composure only to be side-swiped by his smile. “And beautiful Olivia, where is your husband?”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not married.”
“Hm, then who takes care of you?”
For real? “I take care of me. I work in publicity and event planning.”
“You are a secretary? A waitress?” he guessed.
“No!” she scowled. “I run the business.” Chauvinist. Squaring her shoulders, she added, “And I have an animal rescue charity. Well, actually, we’re still looking for a building to house the rescue, but in the meantime the funds we raise go to help other shelters around the country.” Take that.
Antonio looked at her pensively, frowning slightly. After several seconds of silence he sharpened his focus at her and a sly smile reached his lips. “Hm. Well then I know you love to come out with me.”
“OK, Romeo,” she mocked. “Move onto the next girl because I don’t ‘love to come out with you’. Do you people really talk like that?”
His smile dazzled her once more as he moved a few inches closer. “Like I said before, Olivia, you need to relax more. You did not listen to what I say.”
She took another sharp breath in preparing to set him straight. Antonio cut her off with a wave.
“No, don’t talk. I want to help you. I invite you to a party. There will be people with a lot of money and a lot of them must be animal lovers because it is for the benefit of endangered animals. It is a benefit party. I will let you come with me.”
Olivia chose to ignore the way he’d said ‘let you’, because what he’d said was actually interesting her. “Really?”
Adrenalin shot through her system as the dawning realization of what he was talking about hit her. “What’s the catch?” Charity or no, it had to be a loaded offer.
“Are you always so ‘difícil’?” She stared at him suspiciously as he continued. “I make it simple. For the sake of your animals, you must come out with me Saturday night.”
She shifted uncomfortably. Daniel was away and she had just been asked out by another man. The thought of accepting made her feel uneasy, even if it was only for a good cause. “I can’t.”
“Because I have a boyfriend.”
Antonio threw his head back and laughed. “I am not trying to be your ‘boyfriend’, Oliviana,” he mocked. Part of her liked how he was playing with her name. “You are not being asked out on a date.” His eyes taunted her, but all the same, his gaze was as hot as the sun.
Embarrassed and confused, she stood mutely.
“All I need is someone to accompany me to the charity ‘baile’ Saturday night. My date cancelled at the last minute. And under the circumstances, it is the least I can do after crashing your car. And you would be helping me in the process.”
“So, you do mean the Black and White Ball, right?” It had to be a joke. When he nodded, her heart jumped. “You can do that?”
He nodded again and smiled.
“Gee, you know, I had looked into going, but then they told me the hefty ticket price and that put it out of my league.”
“Then come with me.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t.”
“Why not? Why are you still protesting for no reason?”
“Doesn’t everyone have to buy their way in, as in the ‘plate price’?”
“You don’t understand my word? You would be coming with me. I bought my date a ticket anyhow, so why do you want it to go to waste? It would be my pleasure, and it would make for a nice tax deduction.” He paused for her response. “Oliviana. Think about this. It would be a fantastic place to meet people you can ask for money.”
Her eyes widened. She was thrilled by the possibility of attending but still couldn’t believe he was actually inviting her to a 25 thousand dollar a plate dinner.
He fixed her with a stare that made her take a step back. “The only thing is this.”
Here it comes.
“If you cannot go,” Olivia drew back as he stepped closer, “then please call me and let me know.” He handed her his card. “I will in that case ask someone else.”
Her rapid-fire heart sent a hot flush to her cheeks. He really is serious. As more doubt trickled in, her mother’s voice was in her head telling her to never look a gift horse in the mouth. Her mother also often said there was free cheese in every mousetrap, but Olivia realized it was better advice to stare down that horse and snatched the card from him.
“Bien. Now, please, I need your phone number.” She observed him warily. “Oliviana, I trusted my card with you and I am famous.” He smirked devilishly.
Though still mistrustful, the prospect of it was weighing her heavily in the direction of: what have I got to lose? She handed over her card.
“This is your office?”
“Good. I will send the details there. Now, you say your car is still drivable, sí?”
Her feet landed back on the ground as she went back into business mode. There had been an accident, after all. “Yes. And don’t forget that the insurance company will be contacting you.”
“Oliviana. I can tell you need this party more than you know. I will teach you how to relax.” He kissed her cheek again and just as he’d spoken his last word he was back in his car and driving away, leaving her to fret about what he’d meant by ‘relax’.
But as cool as she’d tried to seem about it, inside she was over the moon. Her head was bursting with wild imaginings of what the party was going to be like. It wasn’t until a few minutes after he’d gone that the whole impact hit her.
What the hell just happened back there? She squealed aloud. “Oh my God! It’s THE Black and White Ball and I have nothing to wear!”
The wise idea would be to stop by Kaley’s apartment and see if maybe she had something suitable in her closet. She would work it out. She had to. The Black and White Ball could be the opportunity of a lifetime.