Professor Caren Michelson, single mother of two, has a broken heart from her painful divorce. Having felt she failed at marriage, home and family, she immerses herself in work and her children. New dean, Dr. Chance Matthews is no stranger to pain himself after losing his young wife and unborn daughter in a car accident. Both, battered and bruised by loss, face a crucial choice when they each win a trip to Hawaii and meet. Can they cast the pain aside to find love again in each other’s arms or will they retreat into the safety and security of work? Can the heat of the tropical isles kindle a romance between them? Can they survive a second chance at love or are they dead in the water?
Head down to keep the icy wind out of her face, University of Michigan Professor, Caren Michaelson, slipped plowing headlong into a mountain of a man. Instinctively, she grabbed anything she could reach to stop herself. Unfortunately she latched onto the man causing him to fall, too. He dropped the folder he was holding in an effort to steady them both. The best he could manage was to catch her in a roll that landed her on top of him. In the melee, her hat, computer case, scarf — everything went flying, some of it entangling them.
"I got you," mountain man said trying to stand. Their papers blew around the vestibule. After some maneuvering they managed to get to their feet.
"I can see that," she mumbled.
"You didn't hurt yourself, did you?"
Still facing each other, he set about patting her body checking for injuries. Pushing him back she protested. "Stop. I'm fine. The only thing hurt is my pride."
He smiled at that. "Well, then. This is a fine mess you got me into." He plonked her hat back on her head.
"My bad." Faltering, she added, "Good catch. Thanks." She finally got a good look at him. He was drop dead gorgeous. Just kill me now.
"My pleasure. Care to try this one more time?" he asked looking at her scarf binding them.
"If you insist." With something like a dosado square dance step, they started to untangle themselves. She giggled when he waggled his eyebrows as they moved. Their hands touched. A bolt shot through her. Freed, he wound her scarf around her pulling her in again. She steadied herself. Recovering, she noticed their papers littering the floor. She snatched a sheet, read it. "This is yours." She handed it to him.
"What's left of my resume? Good thing it's just my copy. I'm here for an interview."
"Jeez, look at you." She moved closer to straighten his tie.
"Be careful," he warned, his gaze piercing hers.
"I may not be around next time."
She arched her brow. "Next time?"
He grinned. "Next time you fall."
"Afraid I might run into you again?"
"One can only hope. If this interview goes well, you very well might."
Their gaze met and locked. "Good luck to you then." With a quick wave, she left for home.
After popping a frozen pizza in the oven and feeding her children, she moved into the den to grade college freshmen essays, never an easy task. The insistent ringtone of the phone broke her concentration. Now what? She picked up. "Stop whatever you're doing. Get packing," her older sister, Nikki, ordered. "You're going to Hawaii. Before you say 'no’, I already said 'yes' for you."
"Hawaii?" Caren stared at the phone as if she had never seen one in her life. "You WHAT?" She dropped the phone. Scrambling to pick it up, she put the call on speaker.
"You mean 'thanks', don't you?" Nikki chided. "You're welcome. I made a bid in your name at the Silent Auction. It was accepted. It's not every day you get an all-expense trip for two, ya know."
"For two? There's no two anymore."
"The trip's booked through World Travel & Tours Single World Division."
"The kids need me." Caren shook her head in disbelief. "I can't just go gallivanting off to Hawaii."
"Sure you can. Didn't you say Rex was taking the kids to Disney World for Spring Break? Weren't you complaining you'd be all alone with too much time to brood?"
“I’m an emotional wreck from the divorce. I’m broken.”
“You sound like a sappy character in a bad romance novel,” Nikki said. “What’s the worst that can happen? You meet someone, big deal. Have a fling.”
"Yeah, right." Good grief! Who in their right mind would want a middle-aged single mother?
"I can't afford a trip." Caren stared at the mounting pile of bills on her desk. Her salary as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan didn't allow for tropical holidays-- especially one that might include lovey-dovey couples that would make her single status stand out like a sore thumb.
"What part of 'all-expense paid' don't you understand?"
"Not going to happen. I'm all about the kids and my career." Still, her skin heated just thinking of a fling. She reached for one of the bills and fanned herself.
"Okay, don't meet someone, just go. You know what they say about all work and no play…" Nikki said. "A getaway is a perfect cure for what ails ya."
Caren rolled her eyes. Her sister could be relentless when she got an idea into her head, and, clearly she thought Caren needed a man in her life.
"You don't fool me, you do want a man in your life, if only for sex."
"Well," she admitted," I may be up for a little wining and dining. Any more than that is highly doubtful."
"Mark my words, you are so not done." Nikki dropped it and said, "Did they select the new dean yet?"
"No. I'd go for it myself if I could."
"What's stopping you?"
"I don't have a doctorate degree."
"Maybe some hot guy will get it."
There was no way to get Nikki off the 'man- thingy'. Caren gave up, secretly agreed, and said, "Speaking of hot guys, guess who I ran into today?"
"A hot guy!" They laughed as Caren launched into her tale of her run-in with the 'mountain man'.
"Did you get his number?" Nikki asked.
"Bye-bye," Caren said dryly and ended the call. She closed her eyes and thought about him in Hawaii. Michigan was dark and dreary. Sick to death of the endless piles of dirty snow, she'd happily exchange it for sand between her toes. Come to think of it she was tired of being depressed, too.