One Night to Risk It All

By: Maisey Yates


RACHEL HOLT’S FOCUS was pulled to the nightstand. To the ring glittering there in the bedside table light. She lifted her left hand and looked at the finger the ring had been on only a few hours ago.

Strange to see it bare after so much time wearing it.

But it hadn’t seemed right to wear it now.

She picked it up off the nightstand and held it up, watching it sparkle, then turned over and looked at the man sleeping next to her. His arm thrown up over his head, his eyes closed, dark curls falling into his face. He was like an angel. A wonderful fallen angel who’d shown her some deliciously sinful things.

But he wasn’t the man who’d given her the ring. He wasn’t the man she was supposed to marry next month.

That was a problem.

He was so beautiful, though, it was hard to think of him as a problem. Alex, with the beautiful deep blue eyes and golden-brown skin. Alex, whom she’d met that afternoon—oh, good Lord, she’d known him less than twenty-four hours—on the docks.

She looked at the clock. She’d known him for eight hours. Eight hours had been all it took for her to shed years of staid, respectable behavior. To shed her engagement ring, and follow her... She couldn’t say heart. It was hormones, clearly.

What had she been thinking? It hadn’t been anything like the way she normally behaved. Not at all. She knew better than this. Knew better than to let emotion or passion overcome common sense and decorum.

There had been no decorum tonight.

From the first moment she’d seen him, she’d been completely captivated by the way he moved. The way his muscles shifted as he worked at cleaning the deck.

She closed her eyes and went straight back there. And it was easy to remember what had made her lose her mind...and her clothes.

* * *

It was the most beautiful weather they’d had since they’d arrived in Corfu. Not too hot, a breeze blowing in off the sea. Rachel and Alana had just finished lunch, and her friend was headed to the airport to fly back to New York, while Rachel was staying on to represent the Holt family at a charity event.

This vacation was her last hurrah before her wedding next month. A sowing of oats, in a respectable manner of course, as anyone would want to do before they tied themselves, body and soul, to another person for the rest of their lives.

“More shoes?” Alana asked, gesturing to the little boutique shop that was just across the pale, stone street.

“I’m going to say no,” Rachel said, looking out across the water, at the ships, the yachts, that were tethered to the docks.

“Are you sick?”

She laughed and walked over to the seawall, bracing herself on it. “Maybe.”

“It’s the wedding, isn’t it?” Alana asked.

“It shouldn’t be. I’ve known it was coming for ages. We’ve had an understanding for six years and been engaged for a good portion of those years. The date for the wedding has been set for almost eleven months. So...”

“You’re allowed to change your mind,” Alana said.

“No. I’m not. I... Can you imagine? The wedding is the social event of the year. Jax is finally going to get Holt. My father will finally have him as a son, which we all know is what both of them want.”

“What about what you want?”

It had been so long since she’d asked herself that question, she honestly didn’t know the answer.

“ about Ajax.”

“Do you love him?”

Her eye caught movement out on one of the yachts— a man was on the deck cleaning. He was shirtless, a pair of loose, faded shorts clinging to lean hips. Aided by the sun, the light clinging to the ridges of muscle, the shadow settling in the hollows, she could clearly see the defined, cut lines of his body.

And he took her breath away.

In one moment she had all of the passion, all of the heat, all of the deep longing she’d been growing so certain she was missing—sucked out of her by that horrendous early heartbreak—sweep through her like a wave.

“No,” she said, her eyes never leaving the man on the yacht, “no, I don’t love him. Not—not like you mean. I’m not in love with him. I do love him, it’s just not...that kind.”

It wasn’t a revelation. But coming on the heels of that sudden rush of sensation, it was more disturbing than normal.

She’d sort of thought that maybe it was her fault. Not her and Ajax together, but just the way they were as people. Ajax wasn’t a passionate man, and he never demonstrated passion with her. Quite the contrary, he barely touched her. After all their years together he never went further than a kiss. A nice, deep kiss sometimes. Sometimes a kiss that lasted a long while on the couch in his penthouse. But no clothes were ever shed. The earth was never shattered. It was never hard to stop.

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