Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WIP Wednesday: Christmas in Costa Rica

                                                     © Bru Baker
The view from the beach at our remote hotel in the
Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. 
Now that I've submitted it, I can give you a look into my Advent story, Home is Where Your Heart Is. It's a novelette set at a remote resort in Costa Rica, since that was my last sunny vacation. I had a great time basking in the sun knowing it was below zero (Fahrenheit) at home, and when the call went out for beachy Christmas romances I knew I wanted to write something against that backdrop.

                                                     © Bru Baker
Low tide at Matapalo Beach in
Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Meet Jared, who has been a travel manny for wealthy families for the last few years. He's in Costa Rica for a month with a family, though the parents keep themselves pretty secluded. He shares a bungalow with Lukas and Lia, seven-year-old twins from Switzerland who are equal parts adorable and annoying.

They all agree that Wes, one of the resort's chefs and the twins' surfing instructor, is awesome. He's a bit of a free spirit, but he's great with the kids and nice to look at, too.

Home Is Where Your Heart Is
by Bru Baker

“The kids asked if we could have a picnic for lunch today. I told them I’d have to check with you,” Wes said, wiping a wet lock of hair behind his ear. It was long enough to be pulled back into a small bun while he was surfing, which Jared thought was adorable.
He’d been making lunches at the bungalow and Jared mentally went through the contents of their refrigerator. He’d have to call Marcela or maybe order room service.
“I can do the cooking,” Wes offered. “I figured you might be tired of restaurant food by now.”
“You cook?” Jared said, cringing as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He was still sleep-stupid and being woken by a gorgeous man wasn’t helping.
Wes grinned. “Actually, that’s what I do here. I give surf lessons for fun since I love being out on the water. I’m one of the resort’s chefs. I run the kitchen at the seafood restaurant.”
Be still my heart, Jared thought. A beautiful man who is great with kids and cooks? He definitely needed to ask him out.
“I’d hate to make you cook on your time off,” Jared said.
“Oh, I don’t mind. I love playing around in the kitchen.”
Jared would love to play around in his kitchen, that was for sure.
He oofed out a breath when a soaking wet Lia pounced, landing on his diaphragm. “Can we please? Wes said he’d make rösti.”
Jared shifted her so her weight was on his stomach and he could breathe. “If Wes is willing to spend more time with you chickadees then I’m up for it.”
She cheered and launched herself at Wes, who caught her and swung her onto his back while Jared took inventory of his internal organs. Lia was definitely the more physical twin. Lukas was perched on a log a few feet away, watching with quiet amusement.
“Did you know rösti was invented as an easy meal to feed farmers in the fields? That makes it the perfect picnic food, don’t you think?” Wes asked, leaning his head back to look at Lia.
They made such a perfect domestic picture. Jared hadn’t really thought about whether or not he wanted kids, but right now he could see the appeal. He wrinkled his nose at the sappy thought and climbed out of his hammock with as much grace as he could muster.
“We’ve got lessons to do,” he reminded the kids, who both groaned dramatically. It was actually a good sign. They were comfortable enough with him to start pushing back on some of his rules, which meant they felt safe with him. Not that he was going to let them off the hook. “Nope, lessons and then lunch.”
He turned to Wes. “We usually eat around noon, does that work for you? If you need to eat earlier I can switch their day around a bit.”
Wes shook his head. “That will be perfect. How about we go on a little hike? There’s a great picnic spot that’s a pretty easy climb from here.”
He nodded toward a hill that probably had a killer view of the water.
“Sounds good. Anything I can do to tire them out during the day makes the evening easier.”
Wes dumped Lia on the chaise lounge on their patio, and she and Lukas obediently rinsed the sand off their feet and peeled their wetsuits off before running inside.
“Speaking of this evening,” Jared said, gathering up his courage, “it’s my night off. Any recommendations for what I should do?”
Okay, he’d chickened out there at the last minute.
“There’s a club down the hill, but it’s full of resort guests. I mean--” Wes flushed and rubbed his hand over his neck. “You’re a guest. That was--”
Jared laughed. “No, I get it. I have more in common with the people who work here than the guests.”
That just made Wes flush deeper. “I didn’t mean to insult you.”
Jared reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “You didn’t. I’m not really a guest here. This is my job. And you’re right, spending my night at a club with a bunch of spoiled teenagers and college students doesn’t sound like fun.”
“Do you like to kayak?” Wes blurted, then laughed and shook his head. “Sorry, that was random. It’s my night off as well, and I was planning to do a nighttime kayak because the moon is full. There’s a great inlet a few miles from here. Do you want to join me?”
Was this a date? Or just Wes feeling bad for his blunder?
“I could bring a bottle of wine and a blanket and we could make an evening of it,” Wes offered. “Bon fires are outlawed because of the turtles who nest on the shores along the Pacific Coast, but we could cuddle for warmth if it gets cold.”

That definitely sounded like a date. “Sounds perfect.”
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