That’s what Olivia Langston needed. At twenty eight, she was given a rare opportunity at an internship in the rolling valleys of Crystal Falls in California wine country, far away from her small town roots in North Carolina. It was an unexpected journey she desperately needed after her ex-husband crushed her.
At DeVine Winery, she expected a fresh start in a new environment to help let go of her past. Instead, she found Daniel Black and a hell of a lot of sexual tension she wasn’t prepared for. He was gorgeous, modestly wealthy, irresistible, and just happened to be part owner of DeVine, one of the largest vineyards in the country.
If only she knew that before she kissed him her first night in town.
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We stood at the base of a Ferris wheel, third in line as we waited for our turn. I was about to have heart attack. At least I’ll look good when I die. A couple got off the wheel as another got on, putting us second in line. My heart raced remembering the last time I rode one while in college. I had a panic attack once the wheel had finally made it to the top.
“Why did we get all dressed up to come to a carnival? Are you sure we have to do this?” I questioned in panic.
“This is just a pit stop. I want you to see the view from the top.” He kissed the skin at the bend in my neck, sending the two teenage girls behind us in to a swooning fit.
“I can see the view from here just fine.” I huffed.
He chuckled as the couple in front of us boarded the next bucket on the wheel. “Trust me, Olivia. You’ll be fine,” he assured me.
I did trust him, but it didn’t stop my hands from shaking. And I felt dumb getting so worked up over a children’s ride. The next bucket came down, the ride operator lifted the metal bar across the riders’ laps, and they hopped out, exiting to the left. The operator motioned us forward, but I could hardly move. Daniel put his arm around my back, encouraging me forward. Once I was seated, he slipped my shoes from my feet and placed them next to me on the seat before whispering something to the ride operator. After he took his seat, the operator lowered the lap bar and walked towards the control panel. My anxiety kicked into gear. The bucket jolted forward and I gripped the bar, squeezing it as if my life depended on it. I gasped and squeezed my eyes shut.
“I don’t even know why there’s a bar here. Anyone could slip out underneath it. This can’t be safe at all.”
“Olivia, open your eyes.”
I shook my head lightly, scared that any movement would make us fall out and drop to our death. “Just tell me when it’s over,” I whispered.
His palm brushed over my bare shoulders in an attempt to soothe me when the bottom of our bucket shifted forward, causing the back to tip backwards. “Oh my God, stop moving. We’re going to fall. Please don’t move anymore.” I was on the verge of tears and frozen like stone. His palm pressed against my cheek and pulled my face in his direction.
“Open your eyes, baby. Just focus on me.”
I did as he asked, cracking my lids open and searching for the blue of his eyes. “I’m sorry. I want to enjoy this, I really do. But…”
“Have you always been afraid of heights?”
“Yes. It’s one of the reasons I drove to California.”
“I see.” He gazed out at our surroundings. “We are about to go around again until the operators get everyone off except us. He’s going to let us stay at the top for a while unless you want to get off now.”
“He’s going to let you do that?”
“Money talks just about anywhere. Can you handle thirty more minutes with me up there?”
“I’ll do my best. Talk to me. Keep me occupied. Just don’t move too much. Please.” I squeezed my eyes tight and leaned into his shoulder as we made another full rotation. It wasn’t so bad if we were steadily moving, but the stopping and starting and the swaying of the bucket was ripping my nerves apart. Despite the romantic situation Daniel had created, I was too scared to accept the moment for what it was.
“We’ve stopped, and we’ll be here for a while. Can you open your eyes now?”
I cracked them open, lifting my head slightly to peek out in front of me. There was nothing except the ocean and the great open sky coated in an array of bright oranges and pinks as the sun prepared to slip into the ocean for the night. I took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves and relax my tense body.
“It really is beautiful up here.” I marveled at the scenery. I peered in the opposite direction and could see the entire amusement park and the wooden boardwalk that stretched along the beach.
“Normally, I would agree.” Daniel slipped his fingers up the side of my neck, encouraging me to face him. “But I swear, nothing is more beautiful than you.”
“You’ll have to forgive me if I disagree.”
“You can disagree all you like; it won’t sway my opinion.”
Loni searches for the tiniest speck of romance in any story and is a firm believer in the happily-ever-after’s. She thrives off the sexual tension, and gets a kick out of taking her characters on a roller-coaster ride of drama-filled emotions. A romance that can soothe the soul is her number one priority.