The Cost of Honor by Diana Munoz Stewart

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Posted November 18, 2019 in Excerpt Reveal Tags:

He gave up everything to escape his family

The only male to be adopted into the notorious Parish family, Tony Parish always did right by his vigilante sisters. But when an attempt to protect one of them went horribly wrong, he had to fake his own death to escape his fanatical family. Tony set sail and ended up in Dominica—face to face with the woman of his dreams…

Now he must give up Honor to save her

After the death of her mother, Honor Silva moved to Dominica, where her family could help her heal and move on. But her activist mother left her more than money, she left her proof that could take down one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Tony gave up everything he thought he knew when he fled his family. But when a threat too dangerous for Tony and Honor to fight on their own closes in, he has no choice but to go to them for help. Problem is, they’ll demand something in return—something that could cost Tony not just Honor, but also the love that changed him forever.

Rain assaulted the thin, deserted strip of beach along Roseau, Dominica. Though rarely cold on the island, the lack of sun combined with the wild weather created a deep, nagging chill.

Tightening the straps on her jacket, drawing the slick red hood into an outline around her rain-drenched face, Honor pushed through the last brutal gusts of the retreating tropical storm.

Seaweed littered the sand. Stacked lounge chairs clacked, and striped cabanas snapped in the tempest.

It seemed the sky and heaven cried with her, tears of sadness and fury. Honor ducked her head and made her determined way around a large puddle on the sand. The indents from her sneakers created smaller puddles as she walked.

Had it really been two years today? Two years since she’d lost Mom and had run here looking for a new start, a life without the ache of missing her.

Hadn’t worked. Mom’s death had been so sudden that the punch of that wound, straight through her heart, still gaped wide open. There wasn’t a day when she didn’t feel bereft.

But today especially, the anniversary of her death. The media, reminded of her famous mother’s passing, had reached out through phone, email, and texts for quotes.

Unable to deal with them, she’d come to the beach looking for a distraction.

She’d found one.

A kiteboarder, rash and daring with a bright-yellow sail, glided across the rough ocean water. His dark hair flew back as his agile body, covered in a wetsuit, maneuvered with and against wind and waves.

A gust and the kiteboarder flew up and up. Her heart rose with him. Too high. He had too far to fall.

He slammed back down to the surf, angled his athletic body and skimmed the waves. He’d done it. She resisted the urge to clap. Mom would’ve loved watching him, another confident, courageous soul.

Unlike Honor.

Mom had stomped through puddles.

Honor hung back, worried about consequences.

Mom had gone boldly after love, spoken her desires aloud, and given her heart away again and again.

Honor secreted away her heart and her true desires. Mom had been like the kiteboarder. Sure and strong.

A thrill gripped her as the man launched skyward. A moment later, he hit the waves, leaned his body almost flat against the roaring ocean as the sail jerked his arms straight.

He rode the waves steadily for a beat, and then the wind turned, snapped his kite, and yanked him backward.

Honor froze. The wind tossed him up, then beat him down against a black outcrop of rock. His strong body, suddenly flimsy and fragile, slipped from the rocks and under the waves.

Faster than thought, she broke from stillness and raced toward the ocean. She flung off her shoes, ripped her rain slicker over her head. Knee-deep in water, she stopped. Where was he? The sail bobbled against the waves, but where was he? Where?

There.

His body, facedown. A wave rose up and crashed over him. He disappeared. She took two leaping steps and dove. Using muscles conditioned by years of swimming, she plunged under the beating waves and fought her way to him.

Salt water stung her nose, esophagus. Again and again, she felt the push, the ocean’s insistent, “Turn around.”

She kept going. Surfacing, she bobbed in the water, got her bearings. This was where she’d seen him go under.

Diving with her eyes open, she scanned. Green and gray, a surreal muted picture. Something dark, darker than the rest of the ocean. Him? Lungs burning, desperate for air, she swam closer and deeper.

No more death today. Please. Her ears muffled with pressure, she reached out and grasped the collar of his wetsuit, capturing a fistful of his hair in the process.

She pulled, arms straining. He came even with her, and she grasped under his armpits and kicked up. Her head angled as high as she could get it. Air. She needed to breathe.

The weight of him slowed her.

Let him go or die?

She couldn’t let go.

Wouldn’t.

The edges of her vision began to dim. Too far. Not going to make it. She kicked harder. The glassy ceiling drew nearer. Please. So close.

She broke the surface. The kiteboarder was silent against her, his head bobbing in the surf. Legs as insubstantial as seaweed, she rolled onto her back and kicked toward the shore.

When her butt hit the beach, she gave an exhausted cry. Sweeping her feet under her, she crouch-pulled the kiteboarder onto the sand. Waves rolled into them, pushing. He was heavy.

“Let me help,” someone said.

Gratefully, she looked up to find an older, bald man. Together, they dragged the kiteboarder out of the waves and dropped him onto the rain-soaked sand. She started CPR.

The bystander, hovering beside her, said he’d called emergency services and apologized for the inadequacy of his lungs. Asthma.

No air to respond, she pushed on the kiteboarder’s chest. Drops of water slid across his handsome, too-pale face, but not one muscle twitched.

Please, please, please, she silently begged. Her knees ground in the wet sand as she pinched his nose, put her mouth over his, and forced air through her aching throat into his lifeless body. Crying now, begging God for intervention, she pushed again on his chest.

He convulsed once, hard enough to look like he’d been hit with electric paddles, coughed, and spat out water.

She helped him onto his side. He spat out more water. After another moment, he rolled onto his back, eyes closed, breathing heavily.

Breathing.

The bystander ran up the beach, waving to the EMT.

She’d done it. She’d saved a man’s life. His eyes stayed closed, and she brushed the sand from his neatly trimmed goatee, cheekbones, and lips. Her fingers lingered against those full lips. The most perfect shape, perfect feel.

He was beyond handsome with a muscular build that filled out his wetsuit like a superhero. Her mother would’ve declared him “good enough to eat.”

Lord. What was wrong with her?

His eyes popped open, blinked. Caught. She went still as a stone.

Samantha
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