The final story in this sun-soaked series with Meredith Russell.
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Feuding families, unearthed secrets, and a violent storm threatens the Cay. Will the idyllic island with her cast of characters make it through unscathed? It’s time for the circle to close on the story of Sapphire Cay, and on the men who have lived and found love on her beaches.
Join characters old and new as we celebrate Dylan and Lucas’s wedding and delve into the history of Sapphire Cay.
Connor and Shaun are directly related to Peter and Alfie, a couple whose clandestine lover affair was overshadowed by old prejudices and a world war. Shaun Jamieson is a writer, a romantic and needs to pen the story of the affair’s final secrets; Connor French’s family wants to stop Shaun.
When the two men step onto the sands of Sapphire Cay, they find more than just the secrets of an old love. They find hope and comfort in each other. But with the past hanging over them, can they ever have what Peter and Alfie could not? Or are they just as ill-fated as their ancestors?
The Sapphire Cay series
Written with Meredith Russell
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“Okay, nobody panic.” Dylan stood very still and held out his hands indicating for everyone to do the same. He assessed the scene in the kitchen and felt the grip of foreshadowing in his chest. He tried to push the thought from his mind. This wasn’t any kind of omen. It was an accident. Today was going to be perfect. Well, almost perfect. “How did this happen? And for the love of God, please tell me Edward doesn’t know?”
Adam ran his hands back through his hair and cursed under his breath. “Edward’s going to kill us.”
“Bloody hell and bollocks.” Scott rested his hand on Adam’s shoulder and smirked.
Not impressed with Scott’s attempt to lighten the mood, Adam slapped away his hand. “Watch yourself or I’ll tell Edward this is your fault.” He pointed at the destroyed wedding cake.
Scott was quick to protest, “It’s not my fault.”
Adam didn’t look convinced.
“It’s nobody’s fault.” Dylan chewed on his lip. Or maybe it was his. Crap. He glanced at the cake, then at Adam and Scott. They could figure something out between them, right? Scott shrugged his shoulders and Adam looked flustered.
There was no time to deal with this. He was getting married in less than three hours.
“Scott, can you grab Mutt, please?”
Mutt lifted his head at the sound of his name. The dog’s face was covered in white frosting, and he twisted his head as he tried to lick the sugary goodness from his snout. Shaking his head, Mutt looked up at Dylan with wide innocent eyes, a trick Dylan was sure Lucas had a hand in teaching him for getting away with, in this case, cake murder. Scott reached for Mutt, grabbing the animal by his collar and pulling him away from what was quite the massacre.
“Can we save anything?”
“Half the bottom tier. Maybe,” Adam said. He nodded to what was left of the three tier cake sitting on the trolley. From the trail of evidence, Mutt had jumped up and started on the bottom layer of the cake before knocking the pillars, collapsing the top two tiers on top of himself.
Dylan eyed the square cake. They could totally cut off the section covered in dog drool, right? Nobody would know, and it wasn’t like they needed all three layers. They didn’t have that many guests, not really. “Okay. I guess we could try saving it.” Could they? Really? He eyed Mutt. Maybe it was best they scrapped the whole thing. If anyone was going to find a dog hair in their slice, it would be Edward. “Maybe we could…”
“What?” Adam asked.
He had no idea. “You’ll think of something.”
Enthusiastically, Scott suggested, “Cupcakes. We have time for those, right?”
Disbelief creased Adam’s brow. “I’m going to start with B, whereby to cook, cool, and frost, what? Fifty plus cupcakes? Is not as quick and easy as you think, not when I have everything else to organize.” Adam screwed his hands into fists as he spoke. “And let’s go back to A, more importantly, I still don’t have an oven.” He raised his voice.
Scott caught his balance as Mutt lurched forward. The man wore the reprimanded school boy look pretty damn well. “Can you not stick them in the microwave?”
Adam opened his mouth and quickly shut it. He tilted his head as if considering the option. “No. We’re not making microwave cakes.” He shuddered at the sacrilegious idea Scott had put forward.
“What about Dominiq?” someone said from behind Dylan.
Dylan looked over his shoulder at Jamie. Panic gripped his chest as he searched past Jamie for any sign of Edward. “Where’s Ed?”
“Checking strings of lights.” Jamie eyed the cake on the floor. “And no, I’m not telling him about this.”
Not even the super-calming effect of Edward’s boyfriend would stop the wedding planner going nuclear if he found out what had happened to his beautifully designed cake.
“So what about Dominiq?” Jamie suggested again. “He wouldn’t have left Marsh Harbor yet. If he hasn’t time to bake, he could probably buy something as a stand in.”
“Yeah, yeah. That could work.” Dylan nodded with each word. They had roughly three hours to the ceremony. The ride from Marsh Harbor to the Cay was around fifty minutes. There was still time to fix all this, somehow. “Okay, marine, you’re in charge of Operation Cake.” He looked firmly at Jamie. “I want you to get on the phone to Dominiq and fix this mess. Whatever it takes, whatever it ends up costing me. Once you’ve done that, you’re on Edward watch. Under no circumstances does he enter this kitchen.”
Jamie nodded, turned on his heel, and headed for the office to make the call.
“Adam, you do whatever the hell it is you do. Is there anything you need? Any more staff need sending through?”
With a smile, Adam assured him everything was fine, apart from the obvious. “Everything is running to plan. Well, everything else.” His gaze briefly fell to the destroyed cake. “I am so sorry.”
“We can all be sorry later.” Dylan flashed a smile and tried to ignore the nagging doubt he had over who was to blame. Was he supposed to have been watching Mutt?
“What about me?” Scott asked.
“You’re on cleanup. Mutt, then the kitchen. I don’t want Lucas finding out, so be sneaky, yeah?”
“Well, I’ll try. But you know what he’s like. He’s almost as bad as Edward when it comes to checking on things.”
That was true, and also scary. During the whole wedding organization, it was like Dylan had been seeing double and hearing everything in stereo. Dylan would happily have turned up in board shorts on the day, married on the beach, just the two of them, and lived happily ever after. But as Edward and Lucas had reminded him, they were only going to be doing this once. Lucas deserved to have the wedding he wanted, surrounded by people who loved him.
Lucas couldn’t find out about this. Not yet. He’d think it was some kind omen of doom for the rest of their day, for their future. No, today was going to be amazing and perfect and a day to remember only for good reasons. He knew what he had to do.
“It’s okay. I’ll just have to bring in the reinforcements,” he said.
Scott quirked an eyebrow.
* * * * *
There was a gentle knock, and Lucas smiled as Tasha slowly pushed open the door.
“Are you decent?” she asked and pushed the door a little farther. “Wow.” She stopped in the doorway and looked her brother up and down. “You look amazing.”
Lucas took a deep breath and turned to look in the full-length mirror. “You’ve seen me in suits before.” He had worn plenty during his years at Morgan Municipal.
“Never one on your wedding day.” A smile lit her face as she moved behind him, reaching around to straighten his tie.
She was dressed in blue. A deep shade to match that of his and Dylan’s ties. The short strapless dress hugged her high on her waist accentuating her full bust, then hung loose over her baby bump. Gently, she rested her hands on Lucas’s shoulders and met his eyes in the mirror.
“I’m so proud of you.”
Resting his hand on hers, Lucas turned around. “I can’t believe this is really happening.”
She squeezed her hand around his. “I never doubted it. Dylan would do anything for you. Even settle down and stay in one place.”
Lucas laughed and shook his head. “I didn’t mean him.”
Tasha gazed up at him. She studied his face as if looking for an answer to her unvoiced question.
“Just… a few years ago I never imagined any of this could be possible. I mean, I was working every hour of the day. That was my life. Not this.” He looked down onto the beach through the open window. A warm breeze caused the light material of the drapes to blow up and carried with it the smell of ocean. Something Lucas would always associate with all the best bits of Dylan; his strong arms, his warm embrace, his smile, and his kiss. How could he have ever imagined this life? It was so far away from anything he had been living back then.
“But you’re happy, right?”
With a smile, he said, “So happy.” He’d been in an office working late every night, barely had any time for himself, let alone for Tasha, or to think about dating, marriage, making a real home with someone. He hadn’t been living, not actually. Money and contracts had been his life, making other people rich. He had done it for Tasha and nearly worked himself into an early grave just to see her happy and financially secure. She had been his world, his everything, after their parents died. But now, she was starting her own family, had a husband who would give her the world if she asked for it. She didn’t need him, not the way she used to. Lucas would never stop worrying about his baby sister. Nor would he regret the years he put into Morgan Municipal to see her through school and into a job she loved. Anyway, now it was his turn to be looked after, by a man who loved him.
“I’m hungry.” Tasha rubbed her hand over her rounded stomach. She glanced at Lucas, clearly aware she had disturbed thoughts deeper than hers of food.
It wasn’t just the scent of the ocean riding in on the breeze. Every now and then the smoky scent of cooking meat permeated up to the hotel as fat hit heat. With the oven out of action, Edward had suggested a hog roast on the beach—pork, rolls, potato salad. If Lucas was honest, he preferred the roast to the four-course menu Edward had worked with Adam to create. Informal was better, more them, more Dylan.
What was going through Dylan’s head right then? Did he have the same butterflies in his stomach as Lucas?
In ninety minutes, he would be Mr. Madison-Gray. Or maybe Gray-Madison. Were they even doing that? The whole double-barrel thing? Or were they staying as they were? Maybe they should pick one surname. Lucas Gray. He chewed on his lip. Dylan Madison.
“Are you okay?”
Lucas nodded. He had to stop finding things to obsess over. He’d been banned from stalking staff around and checking in with Edward every five minutes. Apparently, today was his day and it wasn’t his job to worry about anything. Despite having been threatened with being locked inside his room, Lucas had snuck out to help set up the fire pit to cook the pig, then liaised with Scott over picking up guests coming into Marsh Harbor that morning. Guests including Dylan’s ex Mitch and his (Lucas thought they were official) boyfriend Isaac. Others like Dominiq and his family, and various people Dylan knew off the main island, who owned boats, were making their own way to Sapphire Cay throughout the day.
Everybody he had spoken to, before being shooed to his room to relax with a breakfast of fruits and a glass of champagne, had assured him everything was going like clockwork. He just couldn’t help but think that it was inevitable one of the cogs in said clock was going to wriggle itself free and cause chaos.
“Maybe I should go and make sure everyone’s okay.”
“Well, you know, they might need help with something.”
“Who?” Tasha stared at him.
Lucas shrugged. “Just, people.” He took her hand in his. “I want it to be perfect. I want everybody to have a good day.”
“And that’s what your lovely staff is here for.” She smiled encouragingly. “This isn’t just another wedding on the Cay. This is your wedding.”
“I guess.” He eyed the door. “It wouldn’t hurt to check though.” He pulled his hands from hers and headed for the door.
“Oh.” Tasha grabbed his elbow and nursed her stomach.
Panic gripped Lucas. “What? What is it? Are you okay? Is the baby okay?” When Tasha chuckled, his fears were allayed. “What?” He held her arm until she was seated comfortably at the end of the bed. He looked her up and down. She didn’t seem worried, but he stood in front of her, waiting to hear her say the words.
“I think it’s just gas.” She teased her lower lip between her teeth. “Come and sit down.” She patted space on the bed beside her.
Lucas glanced over his shoulder at the door, his chance for escape slipping away. With a sigh, he sat next to her. Warmth filled him as she bumped her shoulder against his, then lifted his hand into her lap.
“The last time we sat in this room together was on my wedding day. The day a certain gorgeous sun-kissed boat guy strolled into the room with a camera and stole your heart.”
That day felt so long ago, but he still remembered that first sight of Dylan at the pier herding Tasha’s wedding party from the airport and onto the Lady Liberty. “You looked beautiful.” The same pride he had felt then surged within him. He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Still do.”
Tasha grinned. “Even with swollen ankles and bags under my eyes?”
“Especially the swollen ankles.” He glanced down, light catching the diamanté jewels on the straps of her sandals.
“Not sure Liam thinks the same.” She massaged her bump. “He’s been amazing, listening to me complain all the time. Too hot, too cold, too fat, too swollen, too stiff. And God, the cravings.”
She looked at him. Love lit her eyes. Liam was a good husband, and they were happy. Idly, she ran her hand over her plaited hair, and gently straightened the large blue flower she wore in her hair. “I actually have something for you,” she said.
Lucas smiled in encouragement. She looked a little nervous.
“I was thinking about Mom and Dad and what today could have meant to them as well.” She reached into a bag he hadn’t spotted her bringing in and pulled out a wrapped rectangle.
He opened the wrapping gently and saw the smiling faces of his parents in a photo that was familiar to him; it had hung in his hallway as a kid for the longest time.
“Oh,” he said. “Where did you find that?”
“In a box of their stuff. I was looking for that soft blanket.” She smoothed a hand over her belly. “For the little one.”
Lucas pulled her close in an awkward sideways hug. “Thank you.”
“Do you think about them much?”
Lucas blinked, surprised by the question. “Sometimes.” Most recently when Dylan was in contact with his own father. Lucas was glad the two men had managed to reach some understanding. There were still some bridges to build between father and son, but things were better.
She pressed fingers against their dad’s face. “Do you think Dad would have walked you down the aisle?” Tasha pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I think he would have.” She stroked her other hand over the material of her dress. “Wish they’d have gotten to meet this little dude.”
“Or dudette,” she added. “We want it to be a surprise.”
Lucas wasn’t sure he could have resisted the urge to peek. “I suppose at your age you don’t get many surprises anymore.” He grinned when Tasha tapped his arm.
“You’re such a dick.”
Lucas wrapped his arm around her as she rested her chin against his shoulder. He hugged her close, narrowing his eyes as he stared at the back of the closed door. “So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“With what?” Tasha breathed in as she sat upright. She smiled sweetly at him.
“Gas? That was just an excuse to keep me in the room, right?”
There was no mistaking the guilt that flashed over her face.
“You are so busted.” He went to stand, but Tasha held onto his hand.
“Please. Dylan told me to make sure you stayed in your room. He didn’t want you worrying about anything. Not today.”
As sweet as that was of Dylan, now all Lucas could imagine was worst case scenarios, most involved the Lady Liberty sitting on the bottom of the ocean with their guests still on board.
“I had one job. God I suck.” She pouted.
“So are you going to tell me, or shall I go and ask Dylan?”
Tasha worried her lower lip. Eventually, she released his hand. “Fine. Sit down. You have to promise you won’t freak out.”
He wished he could. “I’ll promise I’ll try not to freak out.”
With a huffed breath, she agreed. “Fine.”
“Well.” She faced him. “It’s about your cake.”