Hot in Aruba
by Marissa Campbell
Publication Date: December 1, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Vulnerability is Samantha Mackay’s kryptonite, and she keeps her emotions—and her men—at arm’s length. But when her good friend Carlos Naldini invites her on an all-expense-paid trip to Aruba, her resolve waivers.
Tired of being relegated to the friend zone, Carlos enacts his foolproof plan, inviting Samantha to join him in Aruba, hoping the trip to paradise will soften her reluctant heart.
Samantha agrees to Carlos’s proposal, giving him exactly ten days to prove he’s boyfriend material. After some wild Aruba nights and hot, sexy days, things appear to be progressing swimmingly, until Carlos’s ex-girlfriend arrives, exposing an intricate web of deception and betrayal. When news from home shatters Samantha’s hopes further, she leaves Aruba, giving up on her dreams of happily ever after. Devastated, Carlos is determined to do whatever it takes to bring Samantha back to Aruba and into his arms.
Secrets, lies, and heartbreak lurk in the shadows behind sunshiny days of sex on the beach, cocktails by the pool, laughter, and friends. It’s getting hot in Aruba—but the sparks might just consume them.
About Marissa Campbell
Marissa Campbell is the author of the Avelynn series and coauthor of the award-winning self-help book, Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America. An E-RYT hatha yoga instructor and studio owner, Campbell lives in Ontario, Canada, with her three amazing sons, dashingly handsome hubby, and adorable golden retriever, Razz.
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An Excerpt: Meet Mr. Lewiston, Samantha’s mentor and friend
“Every woman should feel appreciated and know that she’s loved.” He moved one of his red checker pieces.
We sat tucked away in the library at Meadows, rows of worn paperback books, their stories bereft, spines scored with decrepit wrinkles, surrounding us. It was a blistering summer’s day, but inside, the rush of cool air through the vents rasped in a constant hum, and the fog of disinfectant and decaying sickness seeped into your clothes.
I scoffed at the sentiment.
“Practical.” I studied the board. It never mattered how much I tried to plan or strategize, the man beat me every time.
“Don’t let the past influence your future. You never know who or what you might find, and one day, you might like someone reminding you how much you matter to them.”
“Not likely to happen.”
He hopped one of my pieces, removing it to his side of the board. I hadn’t even realized I’d left myself open.
“Catharine and I have been married almost sixty years. You don’t get that far without mutual respect and genuine affection. Young people these days are too quick to jump ship when the waters get choppy. There’s something to be said about loyalty.”
“I don’t need a lecture on relationships.”
He raised a bushy white eyebrow. “What about that iron worker…”
“Jesse? I’m over him. Moved on.”
“Every night, from the moment we were married, I placed a note on the bedside table. Some days, I’d write something I loved about her, or I’d thank her for something thoughtful she’d done that day. Other times, I’d point out how wonderful she made me feel. I wanted her to go to bed each night knowing how much I cherished her, knowing how grateful I was to have her in my life.” He scooped up two more of my men on a double hop. “None of these boyfriends of yours lift you up. They don’t offer you anything. You fall too easily for convenience. You need to stand on your own.”
“I do stand on my own. I’ve been on my own forever, doing just fine.”
Now both eyebrows inched up his forehead.
“I like having someone around. It’s lonely.” I leaned back, arms crossed, chest tight.
“It can be just as lonely in an empty, meaningless relationship.” He pointed to one of my pieces. “Probably want to move that one over there.”
I considered his advice. Shit. Sliding the plastic diagonally, I moved where he suggested.
An Excerpt: Samantha and Carlos on the dance floor
A slow, sexy reggae song thrummed from the speakers. Everyone crushed the dance floor and found a crotch to rub up against. He needed to keep the momentum going. He wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by.
He grabbed her hand. “Let’s dance.”
She remained still, her eyes flitting to the swarming mass of hormones.
He flashed her his best smile and crooked a finger. “Come on. Let me show you how a Spanish Romeo moves.” He’d grown up learning to salsa, meringue, and bachata. He knew the tango, the cha-cha, and the rumba. Born with rhythm, his hips didn’t lie.
She followed his lead, and he found a spot against the wall, wedging between two people who were jamming their tongues halfway down each other’s throats. He drew Samantha against him and swayed, encouraging her to meet his pace. She placed her hands on his forearms, and his fingers gripped the indents of her hips.
At first, her movements were slow and rigid, but as the music pulsed, she let go, and her dance became fluid and sensual. There was a cleft of air between them when they started, but by the time the third song played, her breasts pressed tight against his chest.
He was drunk. They both were. Maybe that made him bolder; maybe that made her soften. When he threaded his hands through her blonde waves and drew her lips to his, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back with an urgency that stole his breath.
When her tongue swept out and sought his, his resistance melted in the heat of her passion. He needed to find a way to make it work between them. Their friendship was effortless, their attraction undeniable; he wished she could see how wonderful they would be together.
“Samantha,” he breathed against her swollen lips. The strobe caught the deep, gray-blue of her eyes as they widened, and she froze.
A country song came on. She pushed away from him. The cleft of air returned, turning into a chasm.
“I’m sorry, Carlos. I can’t.”
He reached out, but her hand slipped from his, and she disappeared into the crowd.
An Excerpt: Life before Carlos
A pair of meaty hands and thick forearms grabbed me from behind. “Hey, baby.” Mark pressed his hips into my ass as I bent over.
I straightened and stepped into his embrace. “Hey, yourself.”
“That was a fine view.”
“Sunny side up?”
“Half-naked.” He grinned and lifted me, carrying me to the bed. He made quick work of removing my T-shirt, the only vestment I had on, and his own clothes landed in a pile on the floor. A moment later, I lay on my back, engaged in a riveting game of Mr. Wobbly hides his helmet. Despite my efforts to mix things up in the bedroom, Mark remained committed to the missionary position, which did little to aid my quest for an earth-shattering orgasm. I swore I was one of those women whose clit stretched miles away from their vagina.
“God, you’re so fucking hot, Samantha,” he grunted, pumping hard.
The draft from the single-pane window caused a shiver to race up my spine. I yanked on the duvet, trying to lift it up over Mark’s back, but it lodged under his knees and wouldn’t budge.
Teeth bared, his breath quickened, and he got that crinkled look on his face that meant he was about to blow. If I had any hope of reaching orgasm, I needed to focus. I quit fiddling with the covers and shifted a little, trying to stop the broken spring in the mattress from gouging into my tailbone. I closed my eyes, desperate to build the climax.
He let out a long wheeze and collapsed, half his weight on the mattress, the other on me. Both my hope and my clit shrivelled.
After a period of heavy breathing, he rolled onto his back and put his hands behind his head. “Did you go, baby?”
“No.” I flipped onto my stomach and drew circles with my nails on his smooth chest. I ran my fingertips over his six-pack, delighting in the dips and valleys, and traced the outline of a gothic tattoo that trailed across his pecs and up over his shoulder, before ending in a hot, muscled sleeve. “But maybe you could help me out with that.”
He stretched. “I’d love to, but I gotta get to work.”
I didn’t expect a lot, but a little effort would’ve been nice. Not that it would have mattered. I’d never been able to come during sex, and most guys I dated didn’t do foreplay. If I wanted an orgasm, I had to take matters into my own hands. I chocked it up to baggage from my past and daddy issues.
He kissed my forehead and hopped out of bed, heading to the bathroom, and I admired the indents in his sculpted backside until the door shut.
Past baggage or not, I needed a release. Cranked and revved up with nowhere to go, I stared at the ceiling. The paint bubbled and peeled in one spot, and a crack ran the length of the drywall seam. I needed to talk to the superintendent—it was only a matter of time before the whole thing collapsed.
The toilet flushed, and the shower door closed. With a final glance at the bathroom, I opened my nightstand and pulled out Bob, my faithful, battery-operated boyfriend, and waited. Once the water started running, I turned on my vibrator. It was old and sounded like a Hoover, but it never let me down.
An Excerpt: Carlos on stage
“Hey, you ready?” Leo, the owner of the bar, clasped him on the shoulder.
Carlos gave him the thumbs up. Leo nodded and disappeared through the heavy black velvet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special guest here tonight at the Bear. Carlos Naldini, known as Spanish Romeo by throngs of female worshipers, is here tonight to dazzle you with his honeyed voice and silky guitar. Ladies, keep your panties on, and put your hands together for Carlos Naldini!”
The crowd cheered. It helped having a stacked deck. He took a deep, centering breath and found his smile as he walked out on stage. He waved to the audience and then turned to give a salute to Zach, his percussionist.
Carlos took his seat on the high stool and adjusted the microphone. “Thank you for having me here tonight.” He played up a Spanish accent. It made the girls swoon.
He turned around and nodded to Zach, who struck up a sensuous rhythm on the bongos. He closed his eyes, and his fingers lighted upon the strings. It was a love song, slow and sexy, with a reggaeton beat. He sang as if he were making love to the crowd.
When he opened his eyes, they narrowed in on Samantha, leaning against the bar. She wore a low-cut satin black top that presented the cream of her breasts in sharp relief. Her jeans were tight, and they hugged the outline of her hips and contoured her legs all the way down to her black, high-heeled boots. Dios mío, she was beautiful.
The crowd slipped away, and he met her eyes. He smiled and sang just to her. He watched her hips move in a primal rhythm to his words. His cock bounced. Mierda. If he didn’t distract himself, he would get a hard-on in front of a hundred people. He blamed the adrenaline. It coursed through his system, making him bold and irrational. He needed to calm down. She had a boyfriend.
He closed his eyes again and focused on the sound of his voice, the thrum of the guitar, and the pulse of the drums. When the song ended without further incident, he moved into a faster set. He loved the way people gravitated toward the dance floor and everyone started moving. There was a press three deep of women, all young and beautiful, surrounding the stage. There would be at least one pair of panties tossed his way before the night finished. He caught Samantha out of the corner of his eye. If only she’d throw hers his way. He’d bet they would be a sexy, black lace thong. He adjusted himself on the stool.
When the final note reverberated in the air, he stretched out the sound, crooning and wrapping his voice around the note until his hand came down. For a heartbeat, there was only silence. Then, applause ripped through the room, and Carlos stood and bowed. He gestured to Zach, who nodded his head in acknowledgment. Carlos waved to the room, accepting their praise, milking it. He didn’t think he would ever get tired of that sound.
Once he floated off stage, Paul whacked him on the back. “That was awesome, dude. Did you see the chicks? The way they flocked around you?” He shook his head.
Carlos held out one of the panties he’d caught.
Paul’s grin stretched from ear to ear, and he took the proffered gift, tucking it in his jean’s pocket. “I gotta learn how to play the guitar.”