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Last resort, p.38
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       Last Resort, p.38

           Jill Sanders
Cassey was nervous. Even though she’d met Luke’s father on several occasions, this time mattered the most, somehow. Luke had been telling her how his father had changed, but she still had to see it herself before she believed it.

  She’d changed outfits three times before settling on a simple black and silver dress. The pearl choker and dangling pearl drops at her ears were simple yet elegant.

  She couldn’t believe she was thinking about settling down, something she told herself she’d never do. She’d never held a relationship longer than a few weeks, and now she was planning on getting married after dating Luke for only four months.

  Were they rushing it? she asked herself as she walked across the room to meet Luke’s family. But when he smiled, all doubt left her mind, and she knew there was no way she wanted to live without him. He was everything she’d ever dreamed of finding.

  “Evening.” She watched as Luke walked towards her with his parents.

  “Oh, isn’t this place nice,” Sophia said, looking around.

  Cassey felt the need to apologize for the place being almost empty at six on a Thursday. She looked over at Luke’s dad and held her tongue.

  “You have a real nice place here,” he said, shaking her hand firmly. Then he pulled closer and whispered. “And I’ll do everything in my power to make sure it stays yours. You’re family now.” He pulled back and winked at her and she felt her heart skip.

  The surprise must have shown on her face, because Luke pulled her closer and held onto her hand. When they walked over to their favorite booth, Luke whispered, “Crazy, huh?”

  All she could do was nod.

  “So, what do you suggest we have?” Jeffery asked, peeking over his menu.

  “The Mahi Mahi po’boy is the best around,” she suggested. “But I hear you’re on a strict diet.” She smiled. “The grilled shrimp salad is one of my favorites.”

  He chuckled. “I fear the days of eating what I want are long gone, but the salad sounds wonderful.” He set his menu down.

  Cassey noticed Sophia was smiling at her husband. “I think I’ll have one of those as well.”

  When the food came, Luke’s dad smiled. “Wow, this actually looks great. Here I was thinking it would be some leaves with grilled shrimp on top.”

  Cassey looked down at her salad and smiled. Sam had really outdone himself when he’d created this dish. The skewer of grilled shrimp was seasoned to perfection and sat on a plate of fresh lettuce, grilled red and green peppers, and slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, and pineapples. The seasoning and homemade zesty pineapple dressing were one of the reasons Cassey loved the dish so much.

  After the meal, Luke’s parents couldn’t stop talking about how great the food was, so she walked them back to the kitchen and introduced them to Sam and the staff.

  Luke’s parents shook their hands and his father talked to Sam about some alternative healthy dishes.

  After leaving the kitchen, Cassey suggested they walk along the boardwalk. She talked about her neighbors and the wonderful businesses along the beach.

  “Some of these businesses have been here as long as I can remember,” she said.

  “I remember the arcade place when we were in school. It used to have bumper cars and a roller skating ring,” Sophia said, reaching over and taking her husband’s arm. Then she sighed. “Oh, the fun we had back then.”

  As they walked along, Cassey noticed a few of the empty buildings. It was hard for her to see them, knowing that Luke’s father had had a hand in making them empty. But when they made it to the other end of the boardwalk, Luke’s father started talking about how he could help make the place boom again.

  “You know, I talked to my buddy down at city hall, and we’re all on board to have the shuttles start up again. It seems that without places like this to go to, bookings are down. Apparently people want this”—he motioned around—“and not just the beaches themselves.” Then he turned to his son. “Son, I’d like to help out with the place you’re building.”

  Luke looked at his father cautiously, so much so that his father laughed. “Off the books, I promise.”

  Luke nodded. “That would be great.”

  “You know,” he said, leaning one of his feet on the rung of the wood railings and looking out at the cold empty beach, “one of the main reasons I wanted to build here was all the great memories we had as kids.” He reached over and took his wife’s hand. “There’s a lot of happiness here.”

  “It should stay as it is,” Cassey piped in, causing everyone to look back at her.

  “Oh, I don’t know about that,” Luke’s father said. “I think there could still be some improvements here and there.”

  “We don’t need big hotels coming in and taking over.”

  Jeffery smiled. “I would agree with you now. A few days ago…” He shook his head. “I suppose it’s like everything else in my life. I wasn’t seeing how great things were, even if they were right in front of my face.” He winked at Luke and Cassey could see tears in his eyes.

  His parents decided to go for a stroll along the beach. It was nice seeing them walk hand in hand along the shore. Cassey and Luke headed in the opposite direction.

  “I like your dad,” she said after a while.

  He laughed. “I never thought I’d be able to say the same thing.” He turned to her and shook his head. “I don’t know what happened to him in physical therapy, but whatever it was, it was a blessing.”

  “You know, I was having second thoughts,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck.

  “Really? Because of my father?”

  She nodded. “You know what I came from.” When he nodded, she continued. “I didn’t want to put myself into a situation where I had to live with any kind of abuse again.”

  He pulled her closer. “I would never allow it to go that far.”

  “I know, but I didn’t want to be the reason for the rift between you and your family.”

  He shook his head. “The rift started long before you.” He ran his hand down her cheek.

  She smiled a little. “I like your new dad.”

  He chuckled. “So do I. I just hope he sticks around. But if he doesn’t, I’ll always be here.” He pulled her up and placed his warm mouth on hers. She felt the heat of the kiss all the way to her toes and at that moment, she knew that this is where she’d always been destined to be.


  Cassey stood on the crowded boardwalk and watched the grand opening of the remodeled building. Several of the old buildings were getting face-lifts, thanks to her brother’s business. Marcus had stayed busy in the last ten months working on remodeling the boardwalk and overseeing Luke’s hotel construction.

  Looking up and down the boardwalk now, you would never know that just a few months ago it had been on the verge of closing. She felt a hand in hers and looked over towards Luke.

  “The place looks good, huh?”

  She smiled. “Who would have thought that a little paint and some new windows would make such a big difference.” She laughed when Luke’s dad tried to cut the ribbon and it wouldn’t break.

  “If you had asked me a year ago if I believed my father would help me open an ice cream parlor, I would have laughed at you.”

  Actually, his father had helped finance three businesses along the boardwalk, thanks to the persistence of Luke and his mother.

  “He looks good.” She nodded towards his dad. “Happy and healthy.”

  He nodded. “The doctor says he’s on the path to making a full recovery. He’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him.”

  She sighed and leaned back against his shoulder. “He sure has changed a lot.” Cassey knew that Luke’s dad had cut back his work hours at Crystal Shores and was spending more time playing golf and tennis with his wife. They had even gone on two vacations in the last year and had taken Luke and her along to Maui just last month.

  When she looked up and down the boardwalk, she saw booming businesses packed with tourists.
Her place was back to its full potential thanks to Luke and his father’s new business plans and the return of the shuttles.

  “Next week we’ll cut the ribbon on Surf Breeze Resorts.” She turned in his arms and smiled. “Are you nervous?”

  He chuckled and kissed her nose. “Not as nervous as I am about getting married the month after.”

  She tilted her head. “We could always postpone.”

  He shook his head and smiled. “Not a chance. If it was up to me, we would have been married a year ago.”

  She laughed and looked up into his dark eyes. “Yes, so you’ve told me.”

  They stood on the boardwalk, holding each other as they looked around. Friends, family, and strangers were crowded onto the old boards enjoying the sun as the waves hit the white sands of the beaches.

  She’d come a long way from the little girl who had been found hiding in the forest. She’d never really allowed herself to trust someone as much as she trusted Luke now. He’d proven to her that he would do anything, including giving up his family, to ensure that she was happy. She’d never experienced that kind of love before, nor had she ever dreamed she’d love someone that much in return.

  “What do you say to letting me buy you some ice cream?” Luke asked.

  “I’d love some.” She smiled as he took her hand and they started walking down the boardwalk, together.

  Other books by Jill Sanders

  The Pride Series

  Finding Pride – Pride Series #1

  Discovering Pride – Pride Series #2

  Returning Pride – Pride Series #3

  Lasting Pride – Pride Series #4

  Serving Pride – Prequel to Pride Series #5

  Red Hot Christmas – A Pride Christmas #6

  My Sweet Valentine – Pride Series #7

  The Secret Series

  Secret Seduction – Secret Series #1

  Secret Pleasure – Secret Series #2

  Secret Guardian – Secret Series #3

  Secret Passions – Secret Series #4

  Secret Identity – Secret Series #5

  Secret Sauce – Secret Series #6

  The West Series

  Loving Lauren – West Series #1

  Taming Alex – West Series #2

  Holding Haley – West Series #3

  Missy’s Moment – West Series #4

  Breaking Travis - West Series #5

  Roping Ryan - West Series #6

  Wild Bride - West Series #7

  The Grayton Series

  Last Resort – Book #1

  For a complete list of books, visit

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  ISBN: 978-1-942896-00-5

  Copyright © 2014 Jill Sanders

  Copyeditor: Erica Ellis –

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  About the Author

  Jill Sanders is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pride Series, Secret Series and West Series romance novels. Having sold over 150,000 books within 6 months of her first release, she continues to lure new readers with her sweet and sexy stories. Her books are available in every English speaking country and are now being translated to 6 different languages, and recorded for audiobook.

  Born as an identical twin in a large family, she was raised in the Pacific Northwest. She later relocated to Colorado for college and a successful IT career before discovering her talent as a writer. She now makes her home in charming rural Florida where she enjoys the beach, swimming, hiking, wine tasting, and, of course, writing.

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