Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.
After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.
Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
San Sebastián, Spain
THE PLANE landed with a reassuring thud, and Ed Hollingsworth released a shaky breath. He clutched the padded armrests, retaining a death grip on the faux leather as the plane careened down the short runway while the pilot slammed on the brakes and switched the engines to reverse thrust. The protesting roar filled the cabin until they finally lurched to an abrupt stop.
Made it. Thank fuck.
Blood rushed to his cheeks when he realized the flight attendant was watching him, eyebrows knitted in sympathy. A sheepish smile did nothing to dispel his embarrassment at being noticed while he was in the throes of another meltdown. It was astonishing that a man of his caliber—who purportedly had ice water running through his veins—turned into the world’s biggest pussy the moment he stepped foot on an airplane. The only thing that prevented him from having a full-blown panic attack before, during, and after boarding was the antianxiety tablet, and even that didn’t work unless he followed it up with a few shots of whiskey. He knew better than to mix booze and pills, but his fear of flying was completely irrational, and no amount of therapy could convince him that, statistically, he was more likely to be run over by a bus than die in a plane crash.
Nonetheless, putting his life in the hands of some random stranger, who might or might not be having a good day, was part of his phobia. Ed was used to being in charge, and he couldn’t do squat from where he sat. What in hell had he been thinking? Just because he’d spent the best summer of his life lying around the beaches in and around San Sebastián, that was no guarantee he’d be able to step back in time and get his mojo back.
Back in the summer of 1986, he was twenty-two, with a newly minted bachelor’s degree in science and poised to begin his first year of medical school at Harvard that fall. He and three good friends had embarked on a European holiday, intent on living it up before settling down to eight hellish years learning the ins and outs of human anatomy, pain management, and the repairing of broken and/or diseased bodies. They’d heard the horror stories from other med students and were certain they needed the trip to recharge their mental batteries before grueling schedules took over every waking moment.
They’d bought Eurail passes and began their tour in Sweden, intent on finding out firsthand if the gorgeous blondes featured in the latest edition of Playboy magazine were, in fact, truth and not illusions created by Hugh Hefner’s talented photographers. The women actually existed, and aside from being beautiful, they were fun-loving and free-spirited. They were happy to show Ed and his buddies the best time of their lives. The girls had even consented to accompany the group as they made their way toward the warmer Mediterranean countries.
Sounds of energetic sex coming from the four-berth couchette compartment became as commonplace as the rhythmic clacking of wheels while the train sped toward Spain. After several days in Madrid, the group headed toward Seville. The weeklong feria, so much a part of summer in the sun-drenched Iberian Peninsula, drew foreigners in droves, and Ed and his companions joined in the rowdy festivities. Soon the lazy days and boozy nights blended into each other, and he found himself distracted, searching for something so nebulous he couldn’t put his finger on it. Sex with Inga, his Swedish bedmate, had grown stale, disappointing them both. Although she was an inventive and eager lover, Ed found himself drifting off midway through their sessions. Frustrated, she’d suggested a three-way, and he nodded distractedly, expecting her to show up with a curvy brunette to complement her classic Nordic beauty.
The next evening, Inga came through, but instead of coaxing another female into their bed, she’d found a muscle-bound surfer named Javier. Ed’s brain leaked out his ears when the bearded stud walked through the door. The possibility he might be bisexual had never occurred to Ed, and he was as surprised as everyone else when his libido reacted positively to Inga’s new friend. After handshakes were exchanged, Ed reached for the booze, sucking down some cheap local wine to work up the courage he’d need to participate in this new arrangement. He had no idea how all the pieces were supposed to fit, but his cock figured things out long before the rest of him caught up. Soon it became apparent that Javier was the magical ingredient Ed needed to stay engaged.
What Inga probably hadn’t counted on was the possibility she’d end up a third wheel. Little by little, the attraction between Ed and Javi grabbed hold and Inga was shut out. Reluctantly, she opted to head home instead of getting in the way of a blooming romance.