A MATCH MADE IN SPAIN
A small-town ASL teacher is reluctantly captivated by the Catalonian vintner determined to woo her across the Spanish countryside. Can a match made on a tour of Spain be a fairytale second chance for this grumpy/sunshine pair?
The ink on Cecilia’s divorce papers might be dry, but she’s in no hurry to connect with another traveling businessman, especially the spatially challenged one seated beside her on a crack-of-dawn flight from San Francisco to Madrid.
Felip should be on top of the world running his family’s cava empire, however life has left him feeling unfulfilled as of late. Good conversation and a hard-won smile from his seatmate—a grumpy but lovely American hearing-impaired teacher—have him wondering if maybe fairytales are possible—or if he’s lost his mind, especially when a series of mishaps lands him in the role of the substitute tour guide for her group.
Over the course of twelve days, Felip’s irresistible charm and lust for life break down Cecilia’s carefully constructed walls as he competes with needy teenagers and pulls off a daring rescue to show her they are a good match. Will Cecilia see that their worlds are closer together than she thinks, and that faith and compromise can give them a real happily ever after?
Perfect for fans of Shipped by Angie Hockman and People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. And those who miss the excitement of exploring a new place with a special someone by your side will appreciate the journey.
“You were going to tell me about playing guitar,” she reminded him.
“Sí, claro. I was a young boy, I do not remember how old, but my father played. I wanted to have special time with him, and since I was too small to be of much use to him in other ways, I thought if we could play together, we’d always have that. He agreed, and he began to teach me. It is quite a stereotypical Spanish thing to do, play guitar and sing.”
“You sing, too?”
He shrugged. “Sometimes.”
“Sometimes,” she repeated. “I’d like to hear you,” she said, feeling brave. They were nearing the hotel, and she could see the kids entering the building ahead of her.
“I’m happy to sing for you, cariño.” He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her hair. She couldn’t help how much she loved being this close to him, could she? Was it so wrong that she felt a bit like a princess, even though she didn’t believe in fairy tales?
Cecilia felt her phone buzzing in the pocket of her dress. She stopped walking to pull it out. Greg. Awesome.
“Do you need to answer that?”
She exhaled and hit the accept button. “You know I’m in Spain, Greg.”
“Uh, Cecilia? Is that you?”
“Who else would be answering my phone?”
Felip’s dramatic eyebrows raised and his eyes widened. She gave him the sign for ex-husband, but he probably didn’t know what that meant.
“I’m sorry. Is this a good time?”
Cecilia smiled and wished she could say, “Yeah, I’m walking down a dark street in Madrid, one of the most beautiful places in the world, with a gorgeous man who just serenaded me in front of a whole roomful of people. No, it’s not a good time,” but years of practice attempting to be a good communicator kept her from shoving that in his face.
“What do you want?”
Felip gestured that he could walk away from her if she needed privacy, and she shook her head. She grabbed the front of his shirt so he would completely understand that she wanted him near. He looked down at her hand and chuckled, removing it from his shirt and pressing a kiss to her palm.
“Well, we got an offer on the house.”
The news startled Cecilia. She moved out of the middle of the sidewalk, dragging Felip with her. “That was fast,” she answered him finally.
“It’s ten thousand over our asking price. I think it’s a good one.”
They’d been unsure how quickly their house would sell. She’d done so much to fix it up over the years that the realtor had been pleasantly surprised by its condition and felt they could sell it as-is. But Grass Valley wasn’t exactly a booming real estate market, part of the reason Greg had left in the first place.
“What does Nicki say?” Their realtor was an old friend of theirs from high school. It had been a bit awkward working with her since they were now a divorced couple, and everyone had assumed she and Greg would stay together forever.
“She thinks it’s good. She said we might could get more, but seeing as we’re in a hurry—”
“You mean you’re in a hurry. You and Carol.”
Felip leaned closer, and she assumed he could hear both sides of the conversation since she wasn’t using the Bluetooth function on her hearing aide. She didn’t much care if he heard.
“Well, yeah, honey. We talked about this. Carol and I need to find a place as soon as possible.”
“And, honey, that isn’t really my problem. You could always move back in with your parents. That’s what I did.”
Felip covered his mouth to smother a laugh. Cecilia winked at him. It was so nice to be free of Greg after two years of feeling like everything was her fault. She truly didn’t wish him any ill will, but his pushiness about this house business had bugged the shit out of her, especially because she knew it had more to do with Carol than with him.
She heard Greg exhale on the other end. “Cecilia, I’ve waited a long time to make this move permanent. I’m ready to get on with my life.”
His words chipped away at her buoyant mood but couldn’t demolish it. Having Felip beside her reminded her that she deserved better, and her brief stint with a therapist when they’d first agreed to get divorced had convinced her that she had every right to do what was best for her. She had gone just to make sure she wasn’t crazy for not feeling guilty or sad. It had been very much like dinner with a close girlfriend, and since her therapist happened to also know ASL, she’d been able to express herself in a way that had made those brief sessions a huge affirmation.
“Greg, you did move on with your life, and that’s fine. We’ve been over this. I’m not trying to hold you back. I had no choice about taking this trip, you know that. The paperwork will need to wait until I get back so I can look at everything.”
“I know,” Greg said, sounding defeated. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t mean to interfere with you having a good time. You deserve to have a good trip. Has it been good?”
Cecilia’s cheeks hurt, she smiled so wide. She gazed up into Felip’s handsome face and wished they were alone somewhere so they could kiss each other silly again. Feeling brave, she slid her hand around his back and pressed up against him, his smile matching hers in intensity.
“I’m having a wonderful time.” She ran the fingers of her other hand through the sliver of chest hair visible where his shirt was unbuttoned. “Spain is quite beautiful.” She smiled up at Felip, loving his lusty expression. His eyelids fluttered and he bent down to brush his lips against her forehead.
He suddenly turned his head toward the hotel, and she looked to see Gabrielle gesturing for them to come inside.
“I’ll see what she wants,” he said. “You take your time. I’ll be right back.”
He kissed her hair before trotting up the street. Cecilia watched him run with appreciation. He moved like a soccer player, as though running was effortless. She’d never understood that ability. She felt like a total clod when she tried to run.
“Are you still there? Who was that?”
“Hmm? Oh that? That was Felip.”
“He’s our tour guide, sort of.”
“Sort of? You sound funny. Are you alright?”
“I’m great, actually. Sorry. Just distracted. We were at a flamenco show. It was amazing! The dancers, the singers… The club was really cool, too, and—”
“A club? Didn’t the noise bother you?”
“It did, a little, until they started performing. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. They were so passionate, so full of emotion when they danced.”
Greg laughed, and she asked what was so funny.
“Nothing, you just sound so, I don’t know… Different. Happy. I haven’t heard you sound like this in a long time.”
“I haven’t felt like this in a long time.” She watched Gabrielle and Felip having a conversation outside the doors of the hotel and wasn’t even perturbed at the number of hair flicks Gabrielle made. They had no effect on Felip, and he likely didn’t notice them because he kept looking in her direction.
“Greg, if you think the offer is a good one, I’m okay with it. I don’t want to hold you back.”
He exhaled into the phone, sounding quite relieved. “Thank you, Cecilia. That means a lot. I’m sorry—”
“It’s fine. You and Carol go start your life.” Maybe I’m about to do the same.
“Thank you. I’ll have Nicki contact you by email for the official signature stuff if she needs it before you get back.”
“Sure. When I get back. I’m not signing anything until I return.” Felip returned and gave her a look to see if she was okay. She signed to him that she was fine, and he shook his head. He tried to mime something to her, and it looked so ridiculous she held up a finger to him.
“I gotta go, Greg. Take care.”
He said something else but she was done with her past. Cecilia clicked the end button and slid the phone back into the pocket of her dress. She held out her hand and Felip took it, allowing her to pull him close.
“You’re going to have to teach me sign language,” he said, slipping his arms around her waist.
“Mmmm, you do fine without words.”
She pushed up onto her toes, determined to take the lead this time, and the moment her lips touched his, he moaned softly and opened for her. His hands gripped her tightly, pulling her body flush with his, and the contact shut out the rest of the world. He whispered something against her lips she couldn’t quite make out, but then he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her so tight she forgot to breathe. All that mattered was this man standing before her, his kiss a promise of more passion and fun to come, if she simply took his hand.
He was right, she was silly to think they wouldn’t see each other. This wasn’t the dark ages. There were planes and FaceTime and Skype…
Oh, Lord she was in trouble. She’d scold herself, but then she knew it was too late. She was already involved.
If R.L. Merrill is your local hard rock/metal radio station, Rochelle is her Adult Contemporary alter ego. Spinning feel-good stories to make you laugh and swoon, Ro writes romance for grown-ups who use their words (mostly) and take care of business. She’s a mom and wife who’s on hiatus from a career in education while she explores the new terrain of mid-life adventures. You can catch her walking and gardening in her neighborhood by the Bay, spoiling her rescue pets, and dreaming of attending concerts and theaters again someday. Stay Tuned for more hits coming your way