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His Fantasy Girl (Things to do Before You Die… #1)

By:Nina Croft

His Fantasy Girl (Things to do Before You Die… #1)
Author: Nina Croft


Things to do before you die …

In the distance, the ship burned, listing in the water like the great bloated corpse of some sea monster. The sea had settled, the rage of the storm dying to nothing, and the lifeboat swayed gently in the ebb and flow. Back and forth …

"Oh, shit." Heat washed over him. Logan McCabe slapped his hand over his mouth and lurched to the side of the boat. There was nothing left in his stomach, and he hung there staring down at the dark, treacherous water below.

Never again.

Pushing himself back up, he sank onto the bench seat, eyes narrowing at the looks of amusement directed his way. "I fucking hate boats," he growled, swallowing the sour taste in his mouth. "I'm never going on a goddamn cruise again."

The man sitting to his left let out a short laugh. Vittorio D'Ascensio appeared amazingly cheerful considering it was his multimillion-dollar cruise ship rapidly sinking beneath the Mediterranean. But things could have been much worse. At least everyone was accounted for, and Vito hadn't wanted the ship anyway-he'd been in the process of trying to sell it to Logan when the storm had struck. That's what had brought Logan here. He wanted to expand his business out of nightclubs and had thought a cruise line might be an interesting addition.

Never going to happen.

Vito reached inside his orange life vest and pulled out a silver flask. He offered it to Logan. "I take it the deal's off?"

"Too damn right, the deal's off." Logan unscrewed the lid and took a swallow. The smooth scotch-double malt if he wasn't mistaken; nothing but the best for Vito-flowed down his throat, soothing his stomach. Then the boat rolled again and he clamped his lips closed to stop the scotch coming back. When he was sure he wasn't going to puke again, he took another swig and leaned his head back. "I feel like crap."

"And I thought you were a tough guy, McCabe." The man on his other side held out his hand. Logan handed him the flask and gave him a quick once-over. Josh's face was pale, lines of pain bracketing his mouth, his broken leg stretched out in front of him, held straight by the makeshift splint.

"Well, I was too busy carrying your sorry ass to safety to think about throwing up earlier," Logan replied.

"Yeah, thanks for that."

As head of security for the ship, Josh had found Vito in the chaos, meaning to ensure he got to safety, but the Sicilian had refused to leave until everyone else was away. Logan had battled side-by-side with the two men, directing the last of the passengers off the ship before nearly getting cut off by the flames.

Logan didn't make friends easily; he was a loner at heart, but something about facing death together forged a bond. Once the shock of near death, and the euphoria of actually surviving, had faded, they'd talked. And as they talked, something changed. What started as a joke-things to do before you die-took on a more serious tone. Everyone had regrets. Now, each of them vowed to choose the one big regret of their lives, and after this was over, they would go home and do something about it.

"Come on, McCabe, time to choose," Josh said. "We've told you ours." Josh had a wife he hadn't seen in over five years; he intended to change that.

"Now it's your turn," Vito added. Unlike Josh, Vito had no wife, because his bride-to-be had run out on him mere hours before their wedding. Vito planned on finding out why. "One thing you're going to go back and change."

Logan hugged the blanket around his shoulders and gazed across the sea. Far off to the east, the sun was finally rising, lighting the sky with the new day. The wind had dropped to nothing, and everything had an eerie stillness in the half-light.

Did he have any regrets?

It was so long since he'd seen her. In reality, anyway-even after all these years, she still visited his dreams. He closed his eyes and her image flashed up in his mind. Heart-shaped face, blue eyes, long, mahogany hair. His fantasy girl.

"I had this one-night stand," he started. "Eleven years ago. It was … good." It had been the hottest night of his life. "The next day I was arrested-long story. I spent a year in prison and never saw her again."

But the memory of that one night with her had kept him sane through the horror of prison. He'd thought he was a tough guy and could handle anything, but that first night, when the door clanged shut, locking him in that tiny cell, he'd really believed he might not be tough enough. So he'd pushed away reality and thought about her instead, her sweet mouth, her soft breasts, her tight, hot pussy wrapped around his dick. She'd got him through the worst year of his life.

"Every night for that whole year, I'd lie in my bunk, and I'd have these fucking fabulous fantasies about her. She kept me sane."

"You never looked her up?" Josh asked.

He shrugged. "What was the point? I reckoned she'd either be a disappointment or she wouldn't. And if she was as good as I remembered, what the fuck was I supposed to do? I wasn't ready to settle down." Probably never would be. "It was a lose-lose situation, so I didn't even look."

"And now?"

He thought about dying without ever seeing her again. "Now I'm going to go hunt down my fantasy girl. See how those fantasies compare to reality."

The muscles in his belly tightened, and he recognized that he was afraid.

There was no way any real woman could match up to his dreams.

He'd finally have to let her go.

And then what?

Chapter One

Abigail Parker smoothed down the skirt of her gray suit and slipped into her black, low-heeled pumps. A quick glance in the mirror showed she was ready to go. She didn't need to leave for work for an hour yet, but Jenny was due home from school any second and Abby wanted to spend some time with her before she had to go.

These moments were precious, and she always made sure they had some quality time together, whatever shift she was working. The last ten years had been difficult, but Abby was finally getting to where she wanted to be.

The doorbell rang and she headed out of the kitchen and down the hallway.

She opened the door and took an automatic step back. The man standing on the doorstep was tall, nearly a foot taller than her five-foot-four, so she had to crick her neck to look into his face.


She didn't know him … did she?

Surely she'd have remembered.

He was the most stunning man she had ever set eyes on, his midnight black hair pulled back into a ponytail, revealing sharp cheekbones and silver-gray eyes. The black and red ink of a tattoo edged out of the neckline of his T-shirt, and more snaked down the length of his right arm. He wore black jeans that clung to his long legs and he looked lean and mean and … vaguely familiar. Something about him tweaked at her memory, but she couldn't work out what. She returned her attention to his face. He still hadn't spoken, but was returning her scrutiny, a small frown pulling his brows together as though she wasn't who or what he'd expected.

Then he smiled; a tilt of his sensual lips, and flutters started in her belly. Most unexpected.

"Abigail Parker?" His voice was low and husky, the words a question.

Where had she seen him before? London was a big city, and she met lots of people through her work, but if she could concentrate for a moment it would come to her. At the same time, a little niggle of foreboding suggested perhaps she was better off not remembering. A smile like that could mean nothing but trouble. And she did not do trouble. She never did trouble. She was practical, sensible, and the few dates she did have were with nice men, not tattooed bad boys who only had to smile to melt the panties right off a good girl.

And why was she