SELF-PUBLISHED Contemporary Romance
"If you had one opportunity to go back in time and relive your life, would you do it? Would you remember the very reasons why you chose a particular person to love?"
Olivia and Westin Saleen get a chance of a lifetime. One minute they’re on the road to divorce, the next their fate takes an astounding turn when they find a bottle washed ashore. Inside, a crumpled piece of paper grants them a chance to rekindle a shared love and reignite the hot passion they’d thought was lost.
Olivia Saleen stood transfixed as she stared out across the rolling sea. The water was a constant, the waves always nipping at the sandy shoreline whether the hot July sun brandished sparkles across its surface or if they crashed tempestuously as they did now. She shivered, wishing that warm summer rays heated her cheeks instead of October’s cold salty spray that dampened the air. The chilly wind of the impending winter whipped her hair into a frenzied mass of waves before calming a bit. She brushed aside strands from her cheeks with a heavy sigh.
Mentally shaking herself, she glanced over her shoulder and settled her gaze on her husband. Westin stood further down the beach facing the morning sun, his broad shoulders squared as the cold wind blew past him. How many times over the years had she seen him in this very stance when hurrying across the wet sand to join him as the sun rose higher and higher over the water?
Tossing the thought away, she turned to glance up at their home on the rise. The structure was a bulwark against the harshest storms of winter, a safe haven as the wind rattled the glass panes, a place to stay warm within her husband’s arms as he made passionate love to her. Well, it used to be, she thought as her misty eyes followed the roofline.
Great sadness welled in her chest.
She stood stalwart and waited for the grief to appear, expecting it to slash through her body to render her helpless with remorse as it had always done.
That wasn’t the case however. The emotion wasn’t as crippling as she was sure it would be. It was more a sadness created out of inevitability than futility. Her gaze moved back to Westin as water washed over his booted feet. Unmindful of his wife just yards down the beach, he bent to pick up a bottle tossed up on the shore by a particularly strong wave.
She sighed and stuffed her hands into jacket pockets. How does it happen that suddenly hopes and dreams are pushed aside only to be replaced by a sense of finality? At one time it was she and Westin against the world. Yet only moments ago they’d made a mutual decision to end it, to quit making one another miserable. After months of bickering and verbal assaults and finally the move into separate bedrooms, they’d actually bundled in warm coats earlier and walked the beach together.
Strange. The decision to walk this morning to decide their fate was the first time in a long time they’d actually agreed upon something without sniping at one another or pointing accusatory fingers. Her lips pursed and she mentally winced, trying to understand how they’d gotten to this point.
Her eyes narrowed against the sun’s rays when Westin turned and strode in her direction. The bottle he’d retrieved only moments earlier, hung loosely in his grasp. Some things never changed, she mused. Westin was always finding something or other on the beach for them to inspect together. It hit her that it had been months since they’d shared something like this.
She waited silently until he stopped before her, then struggled to at least appear interested. “Find another treasure?”
He had the grace to at least try and smile. Holding up the bottle, he shrugged. “Maybe it’s a genie who will grant us three wishes.”
Her gaze swept over his unshaven cheeks, wondering when just the sight of his square jaw had ceased to make her heart pound a bit harder. But she forced a smile anyway. “What would you wish for?”
He shrugged again, glanced out over the ocean with squinted green eyes and shook his head. “Too many things,” he sighed sullenly. “Three wishes would never be enough.”
She eyed the bottle closer in an effort to ignore the flippant tone of his voice. Leaning in closer, she tipped her head and glanced up at him. “There’s a piece of paper inside.” This wasn’t the first time the two had found something like this. “Amazing how people write things down then toss those thoughts into the ocean.”
“May as well take a look.” He used the corner of his sweatshirt to grasp the rusted cover and after two tries it loosened. Tipping the bottle upside down, he rapped it against his open palm until the paper slipped down the neck. Grasping the edge, he managed to slip it out.
Handing the bottle to Olivia, he unrolled the paper and silently read.
“What does it say?” she asked.
He let out a rueful chuckle. “This is your one chance…”
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