Title: Love On Ocean Drive
Series: Love On… #2
Author: Aubrey Parr
Genre: contemporary romance
There is a street that follows the water along the South Beach of Miami. Its name is Ocean Drive. Among the excitement of South Beach, Kate Olesen has the perfect weekend romance with a mysterious and sexy artist. Jaded from her time as a divorce attorney, Kate is not willing to look past the two days and she returns home to Chicago. However, she can’t deny that this man that has changed her forever. Can she find a way to forget him...or does she even want to? Dominic Price needs a woman that could see past his fame and fortune. He needs Kate. She's brilliant, gorgeous and an art lover as well. This Midwestern girl is everything he’s been waiting for. Can he convince her to stay with him?
You would think that Kate Olesen would be used to flying in a personal jet by now. But it still felt like a dream every time she walked into the luxurious cabin. Her best friend Nicole had been married to Derek Stone, a retired MMA fighter turned vacation property developer, for almost a year now. Due to his extensive travel commitments, Derek had a private jet. A jet he was only too happy to send to pick up his wife’s best friend. Kate had spent the better part of the year visiting the couple once a month in a multitude of different resorts. Usually the Stones were in Mexico, but not this time. This time, she didn’t need her passport.
Kate had just landed in Miami and was in a cab on her way to the Stones’ hotel. The driver seemed to be in an awful hurry, weaving in and out of traffic while they crossed the causeway to Miami Beach. It was making her sick. Even with the window down, the humidity took over, making the inside of the car feel like a million degrees. The driver was humming to salsa music that was playing far too loudly.
“Is it a far drive?” she yelled up to the cab driver, trying to sound pleasant.
“Oh, maybe another fifteen minutes. I can speed up if you like.”
Speed up? Kate thought. “No rush, just curious,” she answered back, hoping that he didn’t dare increase the already nauseating pace. She might lose her breakfast if he did.
Kate wondered how bitchy she would feel if she was still subjected to flying coach on a commercial flight. She smiled at her embarrassing conceit. Kate didn’t like it when she was crabby, and she knew full well why she was. Ethan again.
She and Ethan had worked in the same law office for the past few years, and he had immediately caught her attention. No matter how much she tried to ignore it, she had a thing for him, like a school girl with a crush. She didn’t like feeling that way. She knew he liked her. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the way she hoped. Somehow, Kate had pulled off the “acting casual” thing far too well with him; Ethan seemed to see her as just one of the guys.
Usually that was okay with her, though some days were harder than others. Being a divorce attorney had made her a little jaded about relationships and marriage. It wasn’t anything she was interested in at the moment, anyway. Her career was going great; she was on track to be a partner before she was forty. That was what was important right now. She was married to her job and, so far, it was a great husband.
She leaned her head back on the seat and tried not to breathe in the sickly stale stench of the cab. Maybe that was her problem. Maybe she’d be fine once she could get out of this little sweat box. There were a lot of maybes going through her mind at the moment. So, she tried to concentrate on the fact that soon she would be in Miami Beach with her best friend, and all would be right with the world. Although Kate had traveled far more lately than she ever had before, it still felt like she needed this weekend away.
By the time Kate opened her eyes, they were in the South Beach area on Ocean Drive. She checked out the hotels, each with outdoor restaurant seating in front. She could see endless couples and groups of friends, drinking and having lunch. It was a gorgeous day, the sun shining bright. It already had her feeling better.
Nicole had told her that the hotel was a block inland. She and Derek had stayed at a hotel on Ocean Drive during one of his investigative visits and had barely slept, what with the music playing till all hours of the morning. Derek knew his clients would not want that for their guests. The location he found was perfect: in the middle of South Beach, one block’s walk from the excitement, but far enough away to provide a quiet night’s sleep. Collins Avenue had far more stores than bars, and its hotels had smaller bars with coffee shops, rather than a party atmosphere.
The cab driver pulled up to the Ocean Azul Hotel, and Kate immediately relaxed. She grabbed her overnight bag (she had become an expert packer), stepped out onto the sidewalk, and looked up at the hotel.
It had a beachy chic look- stark white interrupted by scattered blocks of blue. “Ocean Azul” was written in a bright turquoise blue vertically down the front. There was a small bar and restaurant in front with tables on either side of the entryway. It was perfect, and Kate loved it.
She found Nicole and Derek sitting at the table closest to the door. They looked deep in conversation and didn’t appear to have notice she had arrived. Then again, they never did. That’s how it had been since they met. Their worlds started and ended with each other. Deep down, Kate hoped that one day she may be lucky enough to find a love like that.
She walked right up to the table and didn’t get their attention until she sat down next to Nicole. They screamed at each other and hugged, like they always did. Derek got up and gave her a welcoming hug as well. Nicole was relieved to finally have Kate there. She loved their monthly weekend visits, and she was excited for her to see the hotel.
“How was the flight?” Nicole asked.
“That part was wonderful, as usual. The cab ride smelled like shit, but I’m glad to finally be here.” Kate crunched her face at the memory and leaned back in her chair, excited for her mini-vacation to begin. Derek hailed the server and ordered Kate a dirty martini without even asking her. She loved that he knew her almost as well as his wife did.
“Thank you,” she smiled at him. She really had come to love him like a brother.
“I’m going to leave you two to catch up,” he returned the smile, before wandering inside the hotel.
“The place looks amazing, Nic,” Kate said, looking around.
“It is great. Wait till you see inside! What shall we do first?” Nicole asked, taking a drink of her wine. Just then, her martini arrived, and Kate was ready to savor it.
“I don’t think I’ve been here since college,” Kate confessed. “I’m not sure what to do.”
“Did you think about the tattoo idea? We could do that tonight.” Nicole loved tattoos, and Kate had always teetered on the edge of getting one. This time, she was prepared to do it.
“I decided…yes!” she smiled, waiting for Nicole’s response.
Nicole was ecstatic. “Yes, finally! You can’t back out now. What are you getting?”
“I’ll show you a picture.” Kate pulled out her phone and opened it to a screenshot of a tattoo, a simple drawing of a little girl reaching for a red heart-shaped balloon.
“You have this on the wall of your apartment. What is it?” Nicole took the phone from her to get a better look.
“It’s the Girl with Balloon stencil from Bansky, the street artist. I love that there can be so many interpretations. What does the balloon represent, and is she reaching for it or releasing it?” Kate mused. “Depending on my mood, I see it differently. I’m thinking of getting it on the inside of my wrist or the back of my shoulder. I have to think of work, after all.”
Nicole wasn’t surprised at Kate’s choice. Kate had been an art history major in college before she decided to change her major to pre-law. So a tattoo involving artwork made perfect sense.
“I love it,” Nicole said. “There’s a tattoo shop that Derek suggested just down the street.”
“Great. But first, I want to get into the room and take a quick shower and change.” After that cab ride, Kate was a bit concerned that she could still notice that weird smell on her.
The lobby was beautiful and inviting, decorated in the art deco style. Large lamps offered soft lighting that warmed the stark white space, while the turquoise front desk created a splash of color that echoed the blue sections of the hotel’s exterior. They didn’t need to stop at the desk. Nicole already had Kate’s key. At the Stones’ properties, Nicole always had a key ready for Kate, and the room was always excessive for one person.
This place was no different. The door opened into a sitting area with two comfortable chairs and a huge TV on the wall. There was a small wet bar with mini-fridge and microwave. (Nicole always made sure Kate had a stock of tiny bottles of alcohol with a martini glass, vermouth, and shaker tin. It was a personal touch that Kate always appreciated.) The sitting room opened up to a bedroom with a king bed, side tables, dresser, and another large TV. The entire exterior was wall-to-wall windows with sliding glass doors that accessed a balcony. The windows were already opened, and the sounds of people talking and eating drifted up from the sidewalk below.
Nicole grabbed the remote and sat down in a chair, saying, “I’ll wait for you to get ready.” Since Kate’s trips were always just weekends, Nicole already knew she wouldn’t want to waste time relaxing in the room.
Kate turned on the shower and stared at herself in the mirror while she waited for the water to heat up. She was about 5’5” tall, with striking black hair that angled toward the front, dark brown eyes, and a little button nose. Her mouth was big, with a wide smile that made everyone in a room want to know what she was so happy about. Her skin was fair enough that she always expected to return home from these weekends with a freckled nose.
She could see Nicole through the reflection in the mirror. Her friend was sitting sideways in the big chair, her long legs flung over the arm rest. Kate loved that woman like a sister, but they looked absolutely nothing alike. Nicole was tall and tan, with long blond hair. Kate had never wished she was a blonde, though. She honestly liked the way she looked.
That brought Ethan back to the front of her thoughts. Was that the problem? Was he into tall blondes? He seemed to genuinely like Kate, but maybe she wasn’t his physical type. They laughed at work and hung out and had drinks with everyone. She just seemed to be stuck in the friend zone, and she wasn’t sure why. She had never brought it up with him; the very idea made her cringe.
“Girl, you need to get laid,” she said to the reflection in the mirror.
“What, babe?” Nicole asked loudly from the next room.
“Oh, just telling myself I need to get laid this weekend,” Kate laughed. She could always tell Nicole anything. There was no reason to feel self-conscious with her.
Nicole practically spit out her drink of water. “We’ll get right on that, honey,” she called back.
Kate showered and put on some makeup. Being an attorney, she had to dress rather conservatively at work, so she used these visits to have some fun with her clothes. Nicole was wearing a bright orange summer dress, so Kate chose a green backless number that stopped just above the knee and tied around her neck in a halter-style, with a little bow at the base of her back. When she was ready, she came out and turned around to show Nicole.
“I love it,” Nicole smiled at her.
“I’m thinking about the tattoo as well. If I decide on my shoulder, I figured this gave good access.”
“Plus, you’re bound to get laid wearing it,” Nicole joked.
“Perfect. Let’s go.”