Aaah! I’m so excited to share my newest series Blazing Islands with you! Wrecked is already one of my favorite stories I’ve ever told. It holds so much; angst, perseverance, strong heroines, panty melting alpha heroes, true friendship, banter, heart warming romance, toe curling hot scenes and a complete new world ready to come alive in our wildest fantasies.
Adela closed her eyes just in time before her face hit the abrasive sand. Another wave pulled at her soaked feet, the menacing force dragging her almost back into the raging Pacific Ocean.
Adela inhaled a wheezing breath. Salty droplets ran down her face into her mouth as she pushed forward. Her fingers clung to the heavy, wet sand as she crawled over the beach.
A welcome pause in the heavy rainfall made way for an unforgiving wind, sending shivers up her spine. She opened her heavy eyelids when two bloody knees hit the sand next to her body. A rippled, soaked hand brushed damp strands out of Adela’s face.
“Oh my God! Adela! You’ve made it! Let’s get you warm,” Adela’s best friend, Camilla, said while tugging on Adela’s arms to get her up.
Adela groaned, unable to work along since her limbs filled with lead after swimming hundreds of yards from the shipwreck.
“Raven and Liv? Hailey?” Adela croaked, hoping that their friends also had conquered the ferocious ocean against all odds.
Camilla’s crestfallen face turned white as a sheet. “I don’t know… I woke up a minute ago when Raven’s suitcase banged my head.”
Camilla pointed her thumb to three suitcases strewn over the deserted beach thirty feet away.
Adela watched the waves jostle one suitcase and immediately shot up. “We need to get them.”
She brought a hand to her forehead. “Ugh. I see stars…”
“Don’t sweat it. I’ll do it. I’ll be right back!”
Adela watched Camilla run away. It was a good thing those suitcases had drifted ashore because otherwise, Camilla had to walk around the island looking for help with one butt cheek hanging out from her torn, golden bikini.
Adela peered into the distance now that the wind had somewhat died down.
No ships at the horizon.
No debris floating around.
Camilla dragging the suitcases to the green foliage was the only sign of life on this beach.
Such a gorgeous island this close to civilization without any tourists soaking up the sun or surfing these perfect waves had to be privately owned. Or maybe the hotels were on the other side of the island?
They had been six hours away from Honolulu when the first bolts of lightning flashed last night. The raging storm had blown them hours off course, and she had no idea where the hell they were.
As she listened to the waves rolling upon the shore, the island made a deceptively serene picture with the abundant palm trees, the pearly white sand, and the azure sea as far as her eyes could see.
The calm after the storm didn’t fool Adela, however. She’d grown up on a boat, sailing around the world until her mother finally put her foot down and her parents made Honolulu their home four years ago.
Adela respected the ocean—and in some distorted way, even missed living on a thirty-foot long sailboat with little privacy. She belonged at sea, where she could submerge herself in the absolute nothingness as a tiny dot succumbing to the elements of nature.
Even though she’d endured Mother Nature’s brutal power countless of times, nothing trumped last night’s horrific waves.
At first, Adela figured she could handle it. She did everything by the book, just like her parents had taught her. Right until lightning struck and their catamaran caught fire and left them without working electronica devices or systems.
She pushed away flashbacks from last night where she frantically searched for ways to save her friends—for all the good it did.
Her friends had depended on Adela to bring them home safely from their fun weekend trip on their rented catamaran. She should have listened to that little voice in the back of her head and turned around the moment she noticed the weather change.
Adela and her four friends graduated last week and wanted to have a memorable farewell trip before Camilla and Raven would leave Hawaii.
She tipped her head back and silently prayed for her friends. On the brink of a mental breakdown, she cried in anger. How could she have been so stupid? Her friends had trusted her with their lives. She was supposed to know what the hell she was doing as the most experienced sailor of the group.
Now Raven, Liv and Hailey were nowhere to be found, and Camilla was stuck on this island—all because of her. She watched Camilla sit down in the shadow after pulling the three suitcases away from the shore.
Adela dropped her chin to her chest in shame. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she should make herself useful and help her friend. Adela pushed herself up from the sand; the exhaustion from swimming in a stormy ocean and away from the shipwreck slowing her down.
Adela placed one foot in front of the other, sluggishly making her way over to Camilla. She sat down on a gray suitcase in the shadows of the palm trees and tried to bring down her heart rate by taking deep breaths.
The wind blew the last remaining clouds away, giving the sun free rein to dry her wet jean shorts and black tank top above her black triangle bikini.
Camilla rapped her unmistakably yellow suitcase under her butt. “Okay, so we’ve got my suitcase, and that purple one is Raven’s… Is that gray one yours?”
“No. Liv’s,” Adela whispered.
Adela’s throat tightened while thinking about their friend. Liv had tried to back out of this weekend getaway on the very last second by sending a text in their group chat about not feeling well. But Camilla, being Camilla, wasn’t having it.
Camilla drove straight to Liv’s apartment, got into a huge fight with Liv’s on-again-off-again boyfriend—who apparently had it in his head to be on-again this weekend—and she’d whisked Liv away.
Camilla’s bottom lip trembled. “Liv should be sitting at home right now, sucking face with that jackass who doesn’t appreciate her. I should have left her alone to do her thing. She could be dead because of me!”
Adela couldn’t stand seeing her friend in pain and immediately pulled her in for a hug. “It’s not your fault, Cami. If anyone is to blame, it’s me.”
Camilla shook her head. “Nobody could have gotten us out of that storm with the boat still in one piece. That lightning strike on top of that storm would have taken anyone down. And it’s also not your fault that the life raft didn’t inflate. So what that the tough Adela Martinez couldn’t save our boat? You brought the boat close enough to swim to this island, where we can argue about who’s the absolute worst friend in the world. You saved my life, Adi.”
Adela still blamed herself, but she appreciated Camilla’s support. She hiccupped through her tears. “Thanks.”
Camilla kissed the top of her head. “Okay, I’m going to put on something else so we can go look for our girls. Those lucky bitches probably washed up on the good side of this island. I bet they’re drinking a Mai Tai in some luxury resort right now, waiting for our lazy asses to show up.”
Adela knew Camilla talked out of her ass, but for now, she would go along with this fantasy. Everything was better than to face the harsh reality of being stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with their best friends still missing.
Jack lifted the life raft’s orange canopy flap and peered out over the calm Pacific Ocean. Leaning back over the inflatable tubes, he stretched his sore limbs that had been tussled in the cramped raft for the past thirty hours.
Jack took in his five friends huddled together in the canopy while the sun beat down mercilessly on his bare neck.
It had taken Jack and Rodrigo months of preparation to get them all six together for a bachelor party getaway for Rodrigo’s twin brother.
For once, Jack’s irregular shifts as a wildland firefighter weren’t what made it hard to meet up. Everyone was just so fucking busy nowadays.
Fortunately, they left their responsibilities and stress behind the moment they met at LAX to catch their joint flight to Hawaii. The childhood friends since middle school slipped effortlessly into vacation mode, drinking beers and shooting the shit at an airport bar before takeoff.
The first day on their luxurious rented catamaran had been unforgettable. If it hadn’t been for that damn storm taking them by surprise, and even turning the catamaran turtle, things would have been perfect.
Now they were floating around the ocean in this rotten life raft. He was thankful at least Dominic and Reed knew what to do as experienced sailors. Dominic had inflated the life raft in no time and directed everyone to grab the things they needed to survive.
Jack rubbed his eyebrow, wondering how much longer they needed to endure this humid, smelly raft. He already had enough of being cooped up after just thirty hours. He’d hate to think about being stuck on this raft for thirty days. If they would even make it that far…
“Sorry,” Jack said to Reed when his knee bumped his.
“No problem.” Reed shifted, making a bit more room on Jack’s side while he bumped into Dominic on his other side, earning a grunt from him.
As a wildland firefighter, not much spooked Jack. His hotshot crew would seek out danger, traveling to fires where they would work for at least fourteen days straight.
Instead of facing danger head on and actively fight the elements of nature, Jack had to sit back and hope for the best since he could do shit to get them out of this predicament.
Jack took in the flat surface that surrounded them for miles and miles. The only thing left for them to do was to keep their watermakers up and running, and hopefully catch some fish with the three fishing poles Rodrigo had taken with him on the raft.
“Fuck! Did you hear that?” Reed hung over the yellow inflatable tubes while looking up into the sky.
“What is it?” Jack glanced up at the same blue sky, not finding anything but the harsh sunlight hurting his eyes. Jack couldn’t believe he’d once willingly soaked up this squelching heat just to get a nice tan.
“Shh! Listen!” Reed put a finger against his lips.
Jack shot a look over his shoulder inside the canopy, meeting the stoic gazes of Zane, Gabriel, Rodrigo, and Dominic. Reed exclaiming that he heard something—which turned out to be absolutely nothing—got old pretty fast after the twentieth time this past hour.
Their lack of response didn’t deter Reed, however. “Guys! I swear I heard—”
Dominic leaned forward and bumped his shoulder to Rodrigo, who shot him an irritated look from the side.
“You’ve got three seconds to stop this shit before I kick your ass overboard,” Dominic growled.
“Come on, guys. Let’s all cool off for a moment,” Gabriel said as he placed a hand on Dominic’s shoulder.
“Yeah, let’s cool Dom off. I’ll throw him headfirst into the ocean,” Reed said with a smirk. As an NFL star quarterback, Reed didn’t mind a little throw down, even with a former Navy SEAL.
The groom of their bachelor party getaway, Gabriel, once again tried to keep the peace and said, “That’s enough! It can take days before someone rescues us—weeks even! Surviving a shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is stressful enough without you two bickering like five-year-olds!”
“Amen…” his twin, Rodrigo, mumbled under his breath.
“Just shut the fuck up and listen!” Reed shouted as he waved his hands.
Jack strained his ears and listened for thirty seconds to the water lapping against their raft before he heard it: the unmistakable sound of a bird screeching in the distance.
“Well, I’ll be damned…” Dominic said before he lifted his side of the canopy.
“What am I missing here?” Zane arched a brow as his gaze met Jack’s.
“A bird needs land to nest. Hopefully, that bird isn’t one of those seabirds that fly out thousands of miles from shore,” Gabriel said.
“I couldn’t get a good look. Did you?” Dominic asked Reed.
“No. Looked like a seagull, but I’m not sure…”
“There are no seagulls around Hawaii….” Rodrigo said.
Reed arched a brow. “The storm could have drifted us far enough away—”
“Nope. It’s a Brown Booby.” Rodrigo pointed at the bird diving into the ocean at a shallow angle.
Jack snorted. “A what?”
“Brown Booby. That’s one of the most common seabirds around here. They nest on the ground and generally forage in near coastal waters.”
Of course Rodrigo knew what bird flew above their heads. The long-haired biker turned veterinarian knew all kinds of random stuff about most animals.
Dominic hummed. “Near coastal waters sound good to me…”
“There are even more over there!” Gabriel said.
Jack searched the water and saw about forty birds dive into the water.
“They all fly back in that direction,” Jack pointed north, the same direction as their raft floated in.
“Yep. They’ve already swallowed their prey before they come back up and bring the fish back to their nests. My guess is that if we follow them in that direction, we’ll find at least a rocky shore or perhaps even land,” Rodrigo said.
Reed chuckled. “You’ve got to be shitting me. The first sign we get that hopefully this all will be over soon is that we see a bird that’s named after a tit?”
Zane sat forward and mimicked holding two heavy breasts in front of his chest. “I bet there’s a coast close to here, scattered with brown boobies.”
Jack joined the laughter of his friends. Finding these birds after thirty hours of drifting at sea definitely lifted the group’s spirit.
“We’ll follow those titties so we can get the fuck out of here,” Dominic said.
The rest hummed in agreement.
“Talking about tits…. The first thing I’ll do when I get back is calling this new chick my dad hired. I bet she has some pretty cherry nipples to suck on,” Zane said and licked his lips.
Jack whistled low. “You mean that blonde I saw tagging along with your dad at that construction site?”
Zane nodded. “That’s the one. She’s been eyeing me for weeks now.”
Reed arched a brow. “When did you get so gun-shy?”
“She’s the sixth assistant my dad hired in the past ten months and he’s been busting my balls about not going anywhere near Tonia.”
Jack chuckled. “Your dad is just fed up picking up the pieces whenever his sons shit where they eat.”
Zane and his three brothers worked construction for their dad’s company. Zane once joked that the Miller boys worked hard, but that they fucked around even harder. It may not be the most poetic motto to live by, but Jack also swore by this lifestyle even before joining Zane’s family.
A horrific car crash instantly orphaned Jack at eighteen. If it hadn’t been for the Millers, he would surely have taken a wrong turn in life. Zane’s dad showed up at Jack’s crappy apartment one night and gave it to him straight. Pat Miller had enough of Jack fucking his life up by hanging out with lowlifes and partying all days of the week. Pat took Jack home with him that very night, even though he already had to take care of his four boys on his own.
Jack started working for Miller Construction and eventually got his act together. After working alongside Zane and his brothers for a few years, Jack even made his childhood dream come true in becoming a firefighter.
Rodrigo snickered. “Tonia? Is she the one with her boobs coming up to her ears?”
Reed rubbed his temples. “Stop talking about titties. I refuse to get hard on this shitty raft surrounded by five dudes.”
Jack took in his friends, shooting the shit like nothing happened. “I can’t believe after surviving a shipwreck and being adrift at sea for over a day, it still feels like we’re sitting at our table at O’Conner.”
Gabriel nodded. “That’s true friendship, man.”
Jack smiled. “Yeah. It is.”
“Let’s toast to our friendship,” Zane said as he unzipped the backpack stuck in between his legs.
Dominic’s square jaw ticked. “We’re not drinking anything. We rationed all the food and drinks. Who knows how long we’ll be stuck out here?”
Jack agreed. “We can’t drink anything else than what the watermakers produce or what we’ve already collected on rainwater.”
Zane pulled out the drinks anyway, but only Reed cheered while the rest groaned.
“I can’t believe out of everything to choose from while the boat was sinking; you grabbed a six-pack,” Jack grumbled.
Zane shrugged a shoulder while handing out the beers. “I also got some other stuff. Hey, at least I grabbed enough beer for everyone.”
Gabriel shook his head when Zane tried to hand him a beer. “No. Alcohol is a diuretic. It causes your body to remove fluids from your blood through your renal system. You can become dehydrated quickly and in this heat, it would be stupid to drink that unless it’s the very last thing we have.”
Jack caught Reed and Zane sharing a look that said that even though Gabriel might be right, he also needed to take that stick out of his ass. Soon.
Reed didn’t give a shit about Gabriel’s warning and opened his beer can with a loud pop, followed by the well-known hissing sound.
“If I’m going to die out here, then I’m going down on my own terms. We filled six gallons of water with rainwater in the past twenty-four hours and we’ve got three working watermakers on board. I think we can afford to have this beer.”
Zane pointed up to the sky, and added, “There’s a damn flock of titty birds up in the air, reminding us that there’s land not far from here. Let’s make most of this memorable moment, guys. One beer. To our friendship.”
Rodrigo opened his beer and lifted his can in the air. “Since this is still a fuckin’ bachelor party…”
Gabriel held his twin’s eyes for a moment before he sighed and accepted a beer. “All right, since we wouldn’t be in this predicament if it weren’t for me, I would like to say a few words…”
Jack nudged his friend’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault, Gabe.”
Gabriel shot him a watery smile. “We did everything we could to brave that storm and I just wanted to say how fuckin’ proud I am at every single one of us.”
It had been years since he’d heard Gabriel swear. Ever since Gabriel started dating the daughter of one of the founding partners at his law firm, he’d become a watered-down version of himself. It was something the group had wanted to talk to him about before he would go through with marrying Mary next week.
“May I add something?” Jack asked.
Gabriel nodded, and Jack raised his beer can in the air. “It’s good seeing the old Gabe slowly resurfacing, man. I just hope that when we do get back at our table at O’Conner, this old Gabe will still be around.”
Gabriel got this weird look in his eyes before he cleared his throat. “Eh, yeah. About that… I never got the chance to tell you guys that I called off the wedding…”
Rodrigo jumped up from his seat, jostling everyone in the already unstable raft.
“What? When? Why didn’t you fuckin’ tell me?”
Gabriel helped his twin sit down next to him. “I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you,” he glanced around the raft and added, “All of you.”
Rodrigo balled his fists, his tattooed knuckles turning white.
“So, we’re stuck on this damn raft for a pointless fuckin’ bachelor party since you cancelled your stupid-ass wedding with the wicked witch?” Rodrigo’s booming voice travelled over the flat water surrounding them.
As the brothers sat next to each other, the differences between the identical twins stood out even more. Rodrigo’s rage and darkness simmered just below the surface on a good day, but after the news of his clean-cut twin calling off the wedding, Rodrigo seemed seconds away from ripping Gabriel a new one.
Gabriel kept his shoulders straight and his voice calm as he said, “I wanted to tell you guys, but then I overheard you planning this trip with Jack, and I figured this trip was the only way to get us all six together for the entire weekend.”
Dominic slammed his fist on the inflatable tube next to him. “Fuckin’ hell!”
Jack understood how Dominic figured he could have been home right now instead of being stuck on the Pacific Ocean, but he also felt sorry for his friend, who must have had a reason to call off his wedding.
“What happened, Gabe?”
Gabriel sighed. “I caught her cheating on me with a girl from the golf club where our firm has this monthly thing. You all may hate Mary’s guts, but I loved her. I can’t believe she did this to me. I couldn’t stand to look at her and called off the wedding and quit working for her father that same day.”
“Fuck. Weren’t you up for a promotion soon?” Reed asked.
Gabriel nodded. “Yeah. I did everything expected of me to make partner while I slowly turned into an uptight fucker and unhappy as shit.”
“Well, at least something positive has come out of this trip; my brother finally found his balls back,” Rodrigo said as he pulled the tab of his beer can and clinked it against Reed and Zane’s beers.
Jack, Gabriel, and lastly Dominic followed suit. The lukewarm beer slipped into Jack’s throat as he closed his eyes and savored the malty taste.
Floating in a life raft without knowing where the fuck they were and if they would make it out alive would have been a lot shittier without his five best friends sitting next to him.
Even in their thirties, after everything they’d been through since that first day in middle school; parents getting divorced, losing family members, deployment overseas, pro-athlete careers, and even surviving a shipwreck; their bond proved unbreakable.
They celebrated they were still alive, even though they were far from safe.