In picturesque Barcelona on a beautiful summer day, two lovers are destined to find each other again…
English teacher Nita Jeffries is stuck. She can’t move on from a brief fling with a grieving widower and decides to forget him by making the trip of a lifetime to Spain. Who can be sad in Barcelona, between the amazing markets, the whimsical Gaudi architecture, and the fabulous beaches? When she finds the perfect rental, she packs her bags, intent on savoring every moment of her vacation… and finally getting over the beautiful man who could never fall in love with her.
Widowed more than a year ago, Thomas Hunt is still grieving his wife. For 25 years, she was the only one for him, and yet, only months after her death, he had a brief encounter with another woman. Suffocating in guilt, he ended it badly—but he can’t forget the woman who made him feel such passion.
Then, on a business trip in Barcelona, he sees Nita Jeffries again. And this time, he can’t walk away. They embark on a whirlwind exploration of southern Spain, while they spend the nights exploring each other.
Can a two-week holiday heal Thomas’s broken heart? Or is this love affair destined to end when their Spanish siesta is over?
Ride along on this captivating journey with Thomas Hunt from Wishing in Rome in a second chance holiday romance.
All books in the Once Again series are stand-alone stories. No cliffhangers! Although, for this story, reading Wishing in Rome first is a plus.
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Siesta in Spain
© 2022 Jennifer Skully
Nita Jeffries stepped out of the cab into the gentle Seattle rain, thinking of the old saying her mother had always liked. April showers bring May flowers. It was raining back home in California, too, so hopefully her spring bulbs would begin blooming in a few short weeks.
None of the conference attendees with whom she’d struck up conversations had wanted to brave the rain, all choosing to have dinner in the hotel. But this was the last night of the conference. She’d fly home tomorrow after final workshops in the morning, and Nita wanted to see something of Seattle, even if only a restaurant she’d read online was reputed to have the best fish and chips in the area.
Being midweek, she was disappointed to see the crowded foyer. She’d arrived early, hoping to beat any dinner rush. It was obvious, however, that a lot of people had read the same online review.
The cab’s taillights disappeared in the distance, giving her no other choice but to push her way up to the counter and put her name in. The diner didn’t take reservations. She should have guessedthat would be a problem.
“How long is the wait?” she asked the harried hostess.
Tendrils of hair had fallen from the woman’s bun. “How many in your party?” she said without looking up, the words barely more than a sigh from her lips.
“Just me.” Nita made an effort to sound upbeat.
The hostess scanned Nita’s coatdripping onto her slacks, her smile as tired as her blue eyes, though she couldn’t be more than thirty. At fifty-five, Nita knew what tiredness was, and this woman was too young for it.
“An hour and a half,” was her answer after a perusal of the wait list.
At Nita’s sigh of dismay, the woman glanced over her shoulder at a corner table. She lowered her voice, forcing Nita to lean close. “I just seated a single gentleman by the window. If you want, I can ask him if he’ll let you join him. Then I could seat you right away.” Her eyebrows rose hopefully.
Did she want to sit with someone she didn’t know? Then again, she couldn’t wait ninety minutes even for the best fish and chips in Seattle. “Yes, please. Ask if he’s willing.”
The woman scurried away, her hips swishing as she wended through the full and sometimes overpacked tables.
Nita watched, fingers crossed, as the man raised his head. The conversation wasn’t lengthy, and the hostess quickly made her way back, grabbing a menu off a stack. “You’re in luck. He says that’s fine. And he’s got one of best tables in the house, right by the water, although—” She shrugged. “—with the rain, you can’t see much.”
Giving herself no room for second thoughts, she trailed the woman to the corner table, wherethe man stood in a gesture of politeness that one rarely saw these days. With a flourish of his hand, he said, “I’d be happy if you joined me. I had to wait an hour. I wouldn’t feel right making you do the same when we can share.”
The hostess beamed at a job well done and raced back to the crowded entrance.
Still standing, he introduced himself. “I’m Thomas Hunt.”
She shook his hand, noting his crisp blue eyes, short blond hair, the tailored business suit, and how tall he was. She was above average at five foot eight, but this man towered over her.
“Anita Jeffries,” she said. “But everyone calls me Nita.”
“Nice to meet you, Nita.” He pulled out her chair. “Please, have a seat.”
She appreciated his politeness as much as his handsome features. Opening the menu, she studied him over the top. With gray streaking his templesand lines at his mouth and eyes, she guessed him to be early fifties. But he was still very attractive.
For a moment, she felt unworthy. She’d long ago accepted that she wasn’t a beauty. She did the best with what she had, a bit of makeup, teasing her short, curly blond hair for volume. Oddly, the gray that crept in gave her more curls than in her youth. But still, in anybody’s book, he was a catch, and she was… less than average.
But this wasn’t a date, and she wasn’t trying to impress him. “I read about this place online. It supposedly has the best fish and chips in Seattle.” She waved an arm to indicate the crowded restaurant. “By the looks of it, that must be true.”
He smiled, only slightly, not even revealing his teeth. “Or else they all read the same review.”
She wasn’t sure whether that was a rebuke or just conversation. But she closed her menu. “That’s what I’ll order,” she said with a wide smile.
He slid his menu onto the table. “Good idea. I will too.”
She looked out over the harbor. The rain was pelting down now, the boats bobbing on the water barely visible, and she was glad she’d arrived when she did.
Their waitress skidded to a stop at their table, looking just as harried as the hostess. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“I’d like a beer.” Thomas Hunt looked at Nita.
“A glass of house chardonnay, please,” she said, then added before the waitress could get away, “We’re ready to order. I’ll have the fish and chips.”
“Cod or haddock?”
Nita didn’t know, and Thomas piped up, “Get the haddock.” And when it was his turn, he said, “I’ll have the same.”
“They’re huge.” The waitress looked between the two of them. “You can probably share. I’ll throw on through extra fries and coleslaw.”
Thomas raised an eyebrow, looking at Nita for permission.
“Thanks for the heads up,” she said. “And for the extras. We’ll share.”
The woman smiled, albeit tiredly, and shoved her pad in her pocket before gliding to another table.
“I pity her if this is what it’s like all night long.” She looked at Thomas for confirmation.
He nodded, but when he didn’t say anything, she added, “I hope it doesn’t take too long to get our drinks.”
“She’s very attentive.” He picked up his water glass. “It’ll be fine.”
Thomas Hunt was right, and their waitress returned quickly with their drinks. After her departure, Nita raised her wineglass, “Thank you for allowing me to join you. The wait was too long for me.”
“You’re welcome.”He took a long swallow of his beer.
As silence descended between them, conversations at other tables seemed to grow louder, a woman’s piercing shriek of laughter, a man nearby talking as if he had a microphone. Even the drum of rain against the windows increased its intensity.
Nita didn’t like uncomfortable silences. Though she might be the only one feeling awkward, she had to say something. “Do you live in Seattle. Or are you from out of town?”
He turned his gaze from the window, his smile barely there and the shade of his blue eyes melancholy. “I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, an estate lawyer, here on business.”
Here was something she could grab onto. “I’m from California too. I’m a teacher in San Luis Obispo. It’s a college town on the central coast.”
The barely there smile didn’t change. “I know where San Luis is. A friend of mine has daughters at Cal Poly.”
Silence fell again. She didn’t want to become an annoying talker, ultimately getting on his nerves. But the silence was getting on her nerves. It might have been better to have climbed back in the cab and returned to the hotel.
But then she might always wonder what she’d missed.