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Swept Away by Max Hudson (1)

Chapter One


The light was blinding. The sun had never seemed so brilliant. In Seattle, Lucas Abbot never saw much of the sun anyway, so it may have been the absence of sunlight that made his heart grow fonder for it. His work in software technology development kept him tucked away in offices, and the moments spent outside were under overcast skies. However, out here in Fiji, the world seemed to be a new brilliant shade that Lucas never thought possible.

He imagined that while sleeping on the airplane someone had given him new eyes. The vibrant hues of the flowers and the lush greenery looked like they had come from someone else's dream. Lucas’ dreams were even in black and white, another drab facet of his life due to an old-fashioned childhood.

“Isn’t this stunning?” Sloane gushed behind him. “My sorority sister was right. This place actually does deserve all five of its stars!”

Sloane Pierpont, a New York City socialite by way of Paris and every other major city in the western world, was everything that all girls wanted to be. The long golden waves of hair she flipped over her shoulder were never out of place and never dirty. All her clothes were fit perfectly to her body and never out of style. Her smile gleamed when she bestowed her melodic laughter on anybody. When she stepped out of the airport limousine in her delicate cerulean silk dress, she squealed with excitement as she grabbed Lucas’ arm.

“Lucas, darling, this could be the perfect place for us to get married!”

“Maybe, Sloane,” Lucas absentmindedly answered with his usual smile.

When Lucas met Sloane in college, he could not believe his luck. Even now, Lucas could still not believe it sometimes.

Her rectangular diamond ring on its delicate platinum band that had once belonged to Lucas’ great-aunt shone even in the faintest of light. However, under the golden beams of the tropical sunshine it blinded Lucas as he looked down at it. It had been two weeks, but still he could not believe that he was marrying Sloane Marie Pierpoint. She was the catch everyone wanted, but somehow he was the chosen one. Like the rest of the world, Lucas could not bring himself to deny Sloane what she wanted.

Just like the rest of the world, Lucas was in awe of Sloane, but that did not change his lack of excitement. He had never been a very emotional or dramatic person, but it always seemed that when a day like this came along that he would be thrilled. He expected it would excite him, much like the rush when he was cracking the code for a new technological design, or when he was able to contribute to advances for his firm and the future of medical technology. That never changed.

He only wished his eagerness to marry Sloane could match that feeling.

“Come on, Lucas!” She laughed as she strolled into the main lobby of the resort.

Walking to the check-in counter, Sloane had no trouble handing over her platinum credit card to check into the best suite in the entire resort. She joked with the front desk receptionist as the young Polynesian woman typed away at the little screen under the glass. A bellhop was already loading their things onto the luggage trolley and taking it to their room for the four-day vacation in the South Pacific Ocean.

“It’s almost lunchtime here,” Sloane mused. “We should book a table for a meal as soon as we get to the room.”

Offering her his arm, Lucas smiled, “I will be happy to take care of that with the concierge.”

Following their suitcases, Lucas walked slowly as he listened to his fiancée prattle on about her brunch visit with her college friends. The gaggle of girls apparently were eager to meet him once they returned from this summer excursion, but Lucas was not nearly as excited to meet them. He knew enough about them to know that they were carbon copies of Sloane. On the surface, Sloane was nearly identical to all her closest friends, but natural charisma made her stick out just enough in the sea of prissy monotony.

One example was the purpose all her actions seemed to have, every turn of her hip had intention. Even walking through the resort to their luxury accommodations, she walked to catch the eyes of those she passed, while smiling at the people she deemed worthy. Lucas was just an accessory to her main event, but he did not worry about it. He was just eager to see the room they had travelled almost a whole day for. The bellhop let them in, and disappeared with a smile after Lucas gave him a tip in local money. Sloane began running around the place squealing, but he wanted to just take it in and savor the impression of the decadence around him.

The luxury resort was perched out on the edge of the enchanting fringing reef in the lagoon it was built around. It existed now as a protected marine sanctuary. The bungalows floated over the water, so as they stepped out they could look down at the tropical fish that lived amid the reef. Inside the suite, Lucas could see that the space had been signed with the traditional architecture of the island in mind. Materials unique to the region created artisanal detailing on the high ceiling’s wood beams, and the rich textiles of the bed and lounge furniture.

The spa bath was separate from the bedroom down a little covered walk over the water. As Lucas passed along the path, he spotted a plunge pool and private bathtub, plus the grand outdoor shower in what amounted to an entirely private courtyard surrounded by lush gardens. Lucas could already see Sloane admiring the extravagant bathtub that allowed its user to look out into a secluded corner of the water away from any prying eyes.

“I could spend our whole trip in this one room,” Sloane said in her soft breathy voice. “Oh Lucas, I think we have to get married here. I know we promised my parents we would look at that Tuscan Villa, but I just have to get married here. I might die if I don’t!”

“You won’t die, Sloane,” Lucas said negating her melodrama.

She sighed, “I know, but if we’re getting married I want to do it here.”

“Well, if it means that much to you… I am on board with the idea. We will just have your parents pick the time of day, so then we will look like we are being fair.”

“Yay!” Sloane giggled clapping her hands.

In her excitement, she teetered on the edge of the tub, and slipped into the wide porcelain basin. Sloane laughed harder as she fell backward. Startled, Lucas rushed to make sure she was all right, but she just kept smiling as she pulled herself easily out of the empty tub.

“I’m such a mess, Lucas. How do you put up with me?” Sloane said with a soft smile and a sparkle in her eye. She leaned toward Lucas, still smiling before she continued. “You’re just too good to me.”

Lucas smiled, and pulled her to her feet. He could not understand why a flash of disappointment had crossed her face, but she perked herself up with an idea.

“We should celebrate. We have a wedding destination, and we come right back to this suite for our honeymoon.”

“How?” Lucas answered, assuming she would want to have champagne with their lunch or take a special dinner at one of the nearby fine dining restaurants.

“Let’s throw a party!” Sloane exclaimed.


“Tonight, of course!”

Lucas shook his head as he laughed, “We don’t know anybody!”

“We can invite people here,” Sloan explained patiently, “It’s like a field of dreams, Lucas. Do you think I know all those people at my parties? I only ever invite a dozen or so. The rest just show up!”

Sloane was known for her parties, but Lucas had stopped attending them. He never saw her when partying as she floated about the room like a fanciful butterfly, but the last one he attended was at a rooftop bar that dangerously pushed fire marshal law. Local famous bands echoed across the city streets as champagne flowed into every glass. It had been a dazzling spectacle seen for miles around that did not stop even when a drizzling rain began just after midnight.

“Don’t you want to just enjoy each other’s company? We are going to be busy for the next year planning a wedding and meeting family. This trip might be the last time that we have for just us for this long,” Lucas implored as he looked down upon his bride-to-be.

“We’ll go to Italy together!” Sloane retorted.

Lucas shook his head as he reminded her, “Your parents have already invited themselves. They are the ones booking the house for the weekend.”

“Come on, Lucas,” Sloane whined. “It could be so much fun. Think of the story we’ll have if it all works out. Think of the hilarity of our tale if it doesn’t!”

Knowing there was no real debate, Lucas shrugged, “Make the calls. I know you need no help getting a party together.”

Sloane kissed his cheek before running off to find her new international phone in her bags. Lucas took the moment to book a table at the poolside restaurant on the northern end of the resort in one hour. Until they left for their lunch, Sloane was on the phone non-stop. She called the concierge, local party coordinators, the liquor store, and a slew of other people. She even was chatting with her friends for advice as she touched up her lipstick and face powder in the bathroom mirror. Lucas passed the time combing out his auburn curls into soft waves, and looked himself over as he changed out of his flight clothes.

Lucas always wished he could get a tan, but it never seemed to work out. Maybe it had something to do with his British roots and his steely gray eyes, but Lucas only ever got a shade darker than he usually was after a serious sunburn. The pain was never worth it. After spraying himself down with a suntan lotion, he pulled on his favorite indigo linen-blend walking shorts and a white cotton button-up shirt embroidered with little blue fish dotted all over the fabric. It was cooler and not as wrinkled, making Lucas feel better about himself as he escorted Sloane to the restaurant.

When they finally arrived, Sloane got to work finding her guests as the host made sure their lagoon-view table was ready. Led by the hand, Lucas followed her to the bar where groups of people were chatting and sipping potent umbrella drinks. The scene was a languid moment of luxury, and it welcomed Lucas in as he watched Sloane begin her hunt for the best party guests. Her eyes trained on a group of men who were sitting together laughing. It was clear they were Americans and proudly gay since two of the young men wore kaleidoscopic gay pride tee shirts, and one was specifically labeled with the Los Angeles annual parade.

Sloane smiled brightly as she flipped her hair and began her social seduction as she pulled all the men in with her beauty and warmth.

“Would any of you gentlemen have a drink suggestion for a girl who just got to the island?”

“This passionfruit mojito is pretty divine,” one of them told her. “I have had two already, and I just might get a third!”

“That sounds delightful. I’m Sloane by the way.”

She got each of their names as Lucas stood dutifully behind her. She perched on the free corner of their sectional lounging sofa. Lucas watched as she held out her ring as the men fawned over her. They were hooked, except one with dark eyes, messy black hair, and handsome Asian features. Truth be told, Lucas thought they were all much better looking than himself, but this one was strikingly different from the rest. He looked up at Lucas with a smile as everyone else made teasing comments about the weight of her vintage rock.

“Now gentlemen, I’m a bit of a party girl, and I was wanting to throw a party on the island just off the resort. I’m having a boat take us there, but I just need guests. Would you all like to come? If it helps, the bar will be wide open all night long, and I am lining up entertainment this afternoon.”

“A party in one day? How many people are you inviting?” The cocky-looking one interjected with a scoff.

Lucas did not appreciate the tone in his response. Sloane never let little comments like that even touch her skin. Like oil and water, the negativity rolled off her as she looked to him with her sweetest expression.

“My fingers are crossed for two hundred.”

One of the two men draped together leaned forward and took her hand, “We will be honored to attend your party Miss Sloane. If you need help recruiting other attendees, my husband and I are in your service.”

“I’m excited to see how this turns out!” The husband exclaimed.

All the men chattered with excitement as the restaurant’s hostess came looking for Sloane and Lucas. Lucas leaned down to get his fiancée’s attention.

“I think our table is ready, love.”

“Don’t let us keep you, go enjoy!” The passionfruit mojito drinker told her.

Sloane cooed, “I am in desperate need of one of those mojitos. It just sounds too delectable!”

Lucas smiled as he looked at all of them saying, “Thank you, gentlemen.”

After giving them a warm farewell and a single kiss blown into the air, Sloane took her leave. All the men except the handsome Asian man waved back. He looked to Lucas again, and the sparkle in his eyes took Lucas by surprise. A little voice in Lucas’ mind whispered at Lucas, imploring and begging that Lucas linger there with him. However, that was not possible, and it made no sense.

They followed the hostess, and were seated at a prime table on the edge of the dining area. They could look down and see the water just over the modern metal fence. Under the shade of a cheery yellow umbrella, they looked over the exquisite menu, but Sloane was the only one swelling with pride.

“What’s got you so pleased, Sloane?”

Sloane smiled, “It’s begun. I already know this party is going to be a smash.”

“You’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of you. Are you up to the task?”

Sloane scoffed, waving her hand as she answered, “I’ve already invited people. There is no question about me making it work no matter what happens this afternoon.”

“Well, it seems that I am going to need to get out of your hair.”

Sloane suggested to him, “You should go to the spa.”

“I hear they have a good gentleman’s facial,” Lucas said as he began warming to the idea.

“You can even get a haircut,” Sloane said as she held her lips to the water glass.

“Do I need one?” Lucas said laughing.

“It’s a smidge long,” Sloane admitted. “I like it when it’s tight. You get those pretty soft waves.”

“Okay then, if it makes you happy I will get a trim today. I should look my best for the party. Although, I do not think I will ever be able to meet your perfection, Sloane.”

She blushed, “Come on, pick your meal. I have a spectacle to plan and guests to find.”

Lucas picked up his menu as he answered, “Yes ma’am.”