***For readers 18 and up***
Virgin Island Delights by Annamaria Alba
For years, Chessa loved only one man, but she couldn’t make him love her back. To fill the emptiness, she goes into meaningless relationships until one night she realizes she can’t take it any more. Chessa escapes to the beautiful Hundred Islands chain on her own for some soul searching and a little adventure. What she finds there and whom she meets give her the shock of her life and the hottest adventure to last a lifetime.
“Ma’am? Ma’am Chessa!” Mang Lucio shouted over the noise of the engine, breaking her reverie. “That’s Horseshoe Island up ahead. Would you like to see it?”
She looked in the direction the old boatman was pointing, and shook her head. “No need for me to see anything else. Can you just take me to Virgin Island, please?”
“You’re missing a lot, Ma’am. There are so many sights to see here, you know.”
“I know. Thank you, Mang Lucio, but I’d really rather just go and set up camp.”
He grew quiet. After a long pause, the old man’s forehead wrinkled even more. “Ma’am, are you really serious about camping alone tonight?”
Chessa had already gone over this with Mang Lucio before leaving the wharf.
“This may be a national park, Ma’am,” he continued. “And it’s relatively safe, but you just never know. There are strangers over by Cuenco Island looking for some old Japanese treasure. They have firearms, Ma’am.”
“Is that anywhere near Virgin Island? No? Then I’m sure I’ll be fine. I have your cellphone number, anyway. I’ll call in case I run into trouble.” She smiled reassuringly. “Promise, I’ll be just fine.”
Mang Lucio looked far from convinced. “You already paid me a day’s worth of rental, Ma’am. You should at least tour the islands.”
Clearly, he thought she was out of her mind. Or strange, at the very least. A woman alone with no desire for sightseeing at a national park wanting to camp at a deserted island overnight? It did sound strange but she needed this. The incident with Roddy had jarred her to the core.
…I hope he loves you back as much as I loved you.
Digs was never going to love her the way she loved him. A decade too long of unrequited love and she’d had enough. Of crying, praying, hoping, whoring. Years of “replacement” boyfriends never did work. Also, by tomorrow, she’d have turned 25. It was time to make a change. For real.
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