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A Change of Plans, #1

A Change of Plans, #1

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It was a relaxing vacation—until the pirates. And the shipwreck. And the falling in love.

In the midst of a South Pacific cruise meant to heal old wounds, schoolteacher Lyn North finds her resolve against romance tested by the charming, protective surgeon next door, Braedon Randolph. Their burgeoning connection faces the ultimate test when a snorkeling trip turns perilous, forcing them to confront not just external dangers, but the fears and feelings they've both been trying to escape.

Main Tropes

  • Adventure Romance
  • Shipwreck Romance
  • Sworn off Relationship

Synopsis

It was a relaxing vacation—until the pirates. And the shipwreck. And the falling in love.

Lyn North just wants to move past the anniversary of her heartbreak. Swearing off any romance, she embarks on a South Pacific cruise. But the handsome surgeon in the cabin next door revives emotions she’s tried to forget.

Braedon Randolph desperately needs this vacation to escape his workaholic life. He finds himself captivated by the beautiful schoolteacher next door. Unaware of the sensitive waters he navigates, he moves to take their relationship beyond friendship and is surprised when Lyn ghosts him—hard to do on a small ship. Yet the haunted look in her eyes draws him closer and awakens a need in him to protect her.

Then they're thrown together on a snorkeling excursion where paradise turns to piracy. With the man she rejected, Lyn must fight for survival through storms, sharks, and shipwreck—while her heart whispers she may have been wrong.

Intro Into Chapter One

The cruise ship I stared at represented the end of the worst twelve months of my life, and a shiver of anticipation ran through me. When the trip ended, I’d be ready to move on and put behind me the scars that cheating scumbag had given me a year ago. This last hurdle, and I’d be free.

It’d taken almost a year of saving on my high school teacher’s salary to pay for the vacation, but we were here. The clank of luggage and supplies being loaded intensified my excitement. Even the rare blue Seattle sky had to be a good omen.

Elle had been right. This trip would be just the diversion I needed. But I’d never admit it to her, or she’d keep trying to run my life like she had since kindergarten.

As she stretched on her tiptoes, scanning the crowded dock, I grinned at her.

“Looking for handsome pirates?”

“Oh, please,” she snorted. “Modern pirates aren’t cute like Jack Sparrow. Besides, there aren’t supposed to be any in the Pacific Ocean.”

“Johnny Depp might be a little tall for you, anyway.” I kept a straight face. “Maybe we can find you a handsome Hobbit in New Zealand.”

She shot me a mock glare and opened her mouth to retort, but something caught her eye and her reply died on her lips.

“What’s wrong?” Alarmed, I started to turn around.

Elle grabbed my arm to stop me. “Don’t look, but there’s a guy over there watching you.”

“Right. Are you sure he’s not watching you?” I tried not to peek in the direction she’d indicated.

“Girlfriend, I know when guys are watching me.”

That was true enough, and she wasn’t being arrogant to say it. She was a people-magnet. I’d been watching her work her magic for twenty years, ever since the cutest boy in our kindergarten class had come to her like a moth to a flame. Followed by the other kids in the class. Most people loved being around her. It didn’t hurt that she tended to turn every activity into a party. I was sure that, if not for her, I’d have turned into a hermit.
Which made me curious about this man she thought had been watching me. I couldn’t help but glance in his direction. He was part of a group who’d finished checking in. He was tall, like really tall. At nearly six feet myself, I paid attention when guys were taller than me.

We ended up next to him and his party as we made our way to the ship. I caught a whiff of pleasant cologne. I forced myself not to look at him, but Elle gave him a sidelong glance. Curiosity won, and I casually turned my face in his general direction. He was looking at me. When our eyes met, he glanced away and said something to a little girl whose hand he held.

“He’s cute,” Elle whispered.

Yeah, right. That’s what she said about every guy she tried to set me up with.

“Looks like he has a daughter.”

“I overheard them.” Elle shook her head, keeping her voice low. “The little girl called him uncle. She belongs to the couple he’s with.”

I let it go. She always had an answer for everything, and this cruise wasn’t about me dating. Not yet.

We slowly made our way up the gangway, and I squinted at the ship’s balconies, wondering which one might be ours. On the ship’s threshold, I paused and took a deep breath, wanting to capture this memory. The interior smelled like a hotel and not the engine stink I remembered from my single day-cruise experience.

Several feet ahead, Elle signaled for me to catch up. I hurried over, and we stepped inside one of the elevators. I turned to face the doors and met the gaze of the tall man in the elevator opposite ours. He nodded and didn’t break eye contact until the doors closed.

My face warmed, and I was glad Elle wasn’t looking at me. She’d be sure to make a big deal out of it. I remained silent as the elevator moved. I couldn’t help but wonder about the guy. He looked a few years older than me—

I stopped that train of thought. Elle would approve of me wondering about him. My curiosity already fit in with her nefarious plan to get me dating again. My plan for the cruise was to read a lot of books.

And get past the first anniversary of Jace’s death.

We rode to the lido deck, where we’d been instructed to eat and entertain ourselves while the ship’s staff took our luggage to our cabins. Elle went for the taco makings spread out on the buffet and reached for the tongs.

“You’re brave.” I moved behind her. “We have five days at sea before Hawaii.” I nodded toward the taco shell. “Won’t be as tasty coming up as it was going down.”

She glanced over her shoulder at me and winked. “All the more reason to enjoy it in at least one direction.”

The smell of broiling meat drew me to the grill. While I doctored my burger, Elle headed straight to a nearly full table of people our age. By the time I got there, she already had the ship’s schedule spread out for everyone to see.

Sighing, I slid into the chair beside her and turned my attention to my food. She shined in environments like this, surrounded by people and doing fun stuff. I’d often told her she needed to get a job as a party planner. By the end of the cruise, she’d have a collection of new friends.

The question was how many activities she’d pull me into. We’d agreed I’d have plenty of quiet time on this trip. If I had my way, all my time would be quiet time which she insisted wasn’t healthy for me. Deep down, I agreed with her, so I’d let her talk me into hanging out more than I’d normally choose for myself.

Elle immediately took control of the conversation, introducing us and pulling the others into the discussion. Her knack for managing any social situation was one I’d always envied, especially in high school. Eventually, we’d both come to accept that I was just more reserved than she was—and it was okay. Social butterfly Elle would let me know which events I needed to attend. We’d negotiate if necessary.

“I wonder if I’ll fit in my clothes after eating like this for four weeks.” I pushed away my tray.

Elle glanced up from the schedule and grinned. “I’ll worry about it then.”

“Right.” She liked her trim figure too much to overindulge too often. I stood. “I’ll look around.”

She considered me, wary. “Please don’t go signing me up for any tours. I won’t go with you to see the engine room.”

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