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Read exclusive Mills & Boon story Sunburn — and then get more e-books for just 50p

LOVE Island might be cancelled but you can still enjoy some summer loving. The weather is sizzling so it’s the perfect time to escape with a red hot romance.

Here, in a Sun exclusive, Mills & Boon author JC Holloway shares her story Sunburn, about a pair of hot singletons, a sunshine break and some serious chemistry. And if this isn’t enough to get your pulse racing, take advantage of our brilliant Mills & Boon offer to download a selection of ebooks for just 50p each.


DAY ONE Lauren slid one foot from the sun lounger and dragged her toes through the hot sand, debating a cooling swim in the turquoise Mediterranean. She glanced at her three long-time friends — Jess, Kaya and Amber — who were all apparently asleep.

Their midnight arrival at Mallorca’s Palma airport last night, followed by the first-night dance party at a club, had left them a little the worse for wear
Looked like she’d be swimming alone.

Lauren sat up, adjusting her eyes to the intense glare of the Spanish sun. That’s when she spotted him.

The tall guy from the airport.

He and his group of friends — she’d named them the London Lads on hearing their accents — stood at the water’s edge, their skin glistening and hair slicked back as if they’d been for a swim and their body language speaking of high spirits.

A pang of excitement fluttered in her chest before she caught herself. The girls, who no longer lived in the same city, hence the bonding holiday, had agreed — no men!

Jess was recovering from a messy break- up, Kaya just wanted to party until she dropped every night, and Amber had sworn off men months ago.

And Lauren . . . What did she want? As the group agony aunt, the practical one, the others rarely asked. That didn’t mean she was a doormat. She just did her own thing.

Tall guy was different, too.

Where his friends seemed rowdy, he was quietly self-assured, uncaring if he was noticed. Quite something on a beach full of beautiful, single twenty-somethings.

Jess stirred beside Lauren. “Mmm, I feel like a dip. Want to join me?” She raised her sunglasses, winked at Lauren and stood from her own lounger, straightening the strap of her bikini top. Lauren knew that look, Jess had been leading her astray since they were six.

“Sure” said Lauren, her stomach pinching with nerves. Flirting wasn’t her strength, especially not alongside Jess.

“Good,” said her bestie, “You can be my wingwoman.” So they definitely weren’t going swimming.

“You don’t need a wingwoman,” said Lauren. “And what happened to no men?”

Shameful licks of jealousy pricked Lauren’s skin. Jess always got the guy she wanted, and if she wanted Mr Tall . . .

“Chatting is allowed. And I might not need a wingwoman, but you do,” said Jess, confidently heading for the shore.

Lauren raced to catch up. She should have spoken to him yesterday when she’d first noticed him. Her friends were always encouraging her to seize the day.

Hopefully Jess would flirt with the super-buff one boasting the loudest laugh.

Super-buff spotted them, turning to welcome an approaching Jess. It turned out they were from London, work colleagues.

Introductions made, Lauren positioned herself at the water’s edge, ran her foot through the warm shallows with longing, her eyes burning to look at him. The tall one. His name was Luke.

“Come and meet the rest of the Welsh Wenches,” said Jess, christening their group.

“Then we can get a drink.”

With the exception of Luke, the delighted lads jostled for position around Jess, although Super-buff, real name Dave, staked a clear claim.

Luke hung back with Lauren, distancing them from the extroverts. “The water is perfect — have you been in yet?’ he asked.

“No I was just about to take my first dip, but then . . .” She waved her hand at a retreating Jess in explanation.

“I saw you at the airport,” said Luke.

He had? Her? Not striking Kaya or bubbly Amber?

Lauren’s smile stretched. For once she felt like a lottery winner. Using the elation to bolster her courage, she said, “Do you want to go for another swim?” Her throat burned with trepidation.

“Yes,” he said. No hesitation. Lauren waded into the shallows, a smiling Luke at her side, feeling the warm, crystal clear water come alive with possibilities.

Day Seven: Luke ducked into the shadows at the side of the restaurant, tugging Lauren with him by the hand.

“They’ll see us,” she whispered, stepping into his arms. “I don’t care,” he said, sucking in the scent of her hair. “And I want you all to myself.”

They’d been sneaking secret moments like this since day one. Where Jess and Dave had already hooked up and were now pretending the other didn’t exist, he and Lauren had taken the time to get to know each other through moonlit strolls on the beach, watching the sun rise while everyone else slept and exploring the island on a moped, quickly discovering they had more in common than sunburn.

“Me too,” Lauren said, standing up on tiptoes to press her mouth against his in a way she wouldn’t have done in front of her friends. And he loved that about her.

Because it wasn’t for show or an impulse caused by the heady holiday euphoria of sunshine and exotic locations. It was real. So real, he closed his eyes and tried not to think about their flights home in two days.

“Would you come on a date with me — a real date. Just us?” he asked, questioning his motives. Could he really have developed feelings for her after just a week?

Her eyes gleamed in the twinkling lights wound into the trees. “Of course.”

“Not here.” He swallowed as evidence she’d grasped his meaning streaked over her face. This was the real test. Would they work back home in the drizzle? Could they juggle their jobs and a long-distance relationship? Would she even want to try?

They could never be alone the way he wanted here, surrounded by their friends.

They’d tried to break free. On the third day he’d suggested a trip to the castle, but they’d been joined by Amber and Rob. The sedate sailing trip he’d organised around the coast’s secluded coves should have been achingly romantic, but it had been hijacked by Jess, who’d been desperate to avoid her holiday mistake, Dave.

“I mean back home.” He held her tighter, wishing they could stay here for ever.

He saw the flicker of hope in her eyes, watched it rapidly quashed as common sense, or perhaps the statistics on holiday flings, prevailed.

“Cardiff is a long way from London,” she said, and rather than crush him, it gave him hope. Lauren glanced at the group. “We should get back.”

Luke grasped her hand, lifting it to his mouth so he could press a kiss there, determination building. He’d see her again if it meant visiting Cardiff every weekend. He needed to know if they’d work in the real world.

When they re-joined the group, a few minutes apart, talk turned to the inevitable end of the holiday.

“Let’s have a reunion,” suggested Kaya, who’d snared Will on day one, each of them bread-crumbing the other enough to string their fling along for the duration. But it wouldn’t last.

“A month from now — what do you say girls? Up for a trip to London?” Various cheers of agreement sounded, accompanied by the latest round of shots.

Luke looked at Lauren, finding her eyes on him. His heart thudded in his throat — could he wait a month to see her again? Was he being naïve? Insane?

One month later: “Well if Dave is there, you can give him this,” said Jess, holding up her middle finger then turning serious. “Are you sure you should do this?”

Lauren’s head already groaned under the weight of the doubts bouncing around without Jess’s pessimism.

True to his whispered parting words, and in spite of Lauren’s scepticism, Luke had texted, called or messaged her every day since they said goodbye at the airport.

It was insane to believe you knew someone after a week. To trust them. To begin to see a future with them. But those secret walks on the beach, the shared experiences and life-stories, had told her all she needed to know about the kind of man Luke was. That didn’t stop the nerves churning her stomach though.

“I’m sure. If he’s not there so be it. But I want to know if what we had has possibilities.”

“You’re a dark horse,” said Jess. “I knew you liked him, but I thought you were moving at your usual snail’s pace.”

“I was,” said Lauren.

“What? You didn’t sleep with him?” Jess’s gobsmacked expression should have been comical, but Lauren had never felt less like laughing as she contemplated the risk of catching the train to London only to find he hadn’t shown up.

“No. I was sharing a room with you. Luke was sharing with Rob. He didn’t want our first time to be behind a stack of sun loungers. I thought that was . . . romantic.”

Rather than laugh, Jess stared, shocking Lauren with her words. “Good for you. You’re right. You should go.”

When the train stopped at London, Lauren regretted her impulse to go alone, but she forced herself among the Friday evening commuters and headed for the barriers, checking with a trembling hand the location of the bar where they’d all agreed to meet back in Mallorca.

Then a sixth sense told her to look up.

Luke stood holding a bunch of slightly battered looking carnations, his suit a little rumpled as if he’d come from the office.

Lauren had never seen a sight more perfect — it hurt to look, to breathe.

Luke swam against the tide of bodies, reaching Lauren as she emerged from behind the barrier. “I couldn’t wait at the bar,” he said, but didn’t kiss her.

She swallowed her disappointment. “Thanks for meeting me.” He was familiar but still foreign, and Lauren experienced the same rush she’d had at Palma airport, the same rush that gave her courage on the beach on day one.

Luke reached for her hand and her stomach flipped. “Is anyone else with you?’ he asked, glancing over her shoulder.

“No. How about you?”

He shook his head, his grin wide as he handed her the flowers. ‘I’m sorry — they were the last bunch, and I know they’re your favourite.”

That he remembered some throwaway comment from a month ago, when she’d defended the humble carnation, settled her last reservation. Relationships involved commitment and compromise, and, with that, they had just as much chance as the next couple.

“So . . . “ His smile hovered on his lips and Lauren stepped closer.

“So . . . about that date?’ Her heart pounded.

“Exactly what I was going to say,” he whispered.

And then he kissed her.

This short story is written by Mills & Boon DARE author JC Harroway. Her latest novel Bad Business is available now in paperback and eBook. She has also written A Week To Be Wild, Her Dirty Little Secret, One Night Only and The Billionaire Bachelors series.

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