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Kiss Me at Midnight

Kiss Me at Midnight

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 185+ 5-Star Ratings!

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  • 194 Pages
  • 4-5 Hours
  • 60K Words
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She’s a single mom holding on to her job. He’s a career man focused on his business. Can they put the past behind them in order to build a future together?

When Filipe Romano arrives at the beach resort, his newest acquisition, he plans to complete renovations quickly before moving on to his next property. But a stumbling block arises when he discovers Celeste, the sister of his deceased best friend, is an employee at the resort’s aquarium, which he intends to sell. To complicate matters more, he has unresolved feelings for Celeste and blames himself for the accident that killed her brother.

Celeste Ferreira, a stressed single mom, needs a miracle. Without any means to start over, she clings to the job she loves as aquarist at the SoliMar Aquarium. After she discovers the new owner is Filipe, an old family friend, their history makes it hard for Celeste to trust him, especially with her position in peril.

Though closing down the aquarium makes good financial sense, Filipe finds himself reluctant to disappoint Celeste and decides to help her with the repairs for the upcoming inspection. But is working side by side enough to forget the past and build a new future, or is the pain between them too deep to move on?

If you like sweet beach romances set in a small town with a billionaire, a single-mom and her adorable kid, you'll love this fresh twist on a classic second chance trope! Unforgettable stories of family, love, and learning where you belong. Discover Northern Portugal with the Romano cousins as they fall in love when they least expect it! Perfect for fans of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Virgin River, and Chesapeake Shores!

 

Main Tropes

  • second chance
  • small town beach
  • billionaire

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Synopsis

She’s a single mom holding on to her job. He’s a career man focused on his business. Can they put the past behind them in order to build a future together?

When Filipe Romano arrives at the beach resort, his newest acquisition, he plans to complete renovations quickly before moving on to his next property. But a stumbling block arises when he discovers Celeste, the sister of his deceased best friend, is an employee at the resort’s aquarium, which he intends to sell. To complicate matters more, he has unresolved feelings for Celeste and blames himself for the accident that killed her brother.

Celeste Ferreira, a stressed single mom, needs a miracle. Without any means to start over, she clings to the job she loves as aquarist at the SoliMar Aquarium. After she discovers the new owner is Filipe, an old family friend, their history makes it hard for Celeste to trust him, especially with her position in peril.

Though closing down the aquarium makes good financial sense, Filipe finds himself reluctant to disappoint Celeste and decides to help her with the repairs for the upcoming inspection. But is working side by side enough to forget the past and build a new future, or is the pain between them too deep to move on?

If you like sweet beach romances set in a small town with a billionaire, a single-mom and her adorable kid, you'll love this fresh twist on a classic second chance trope! Unforgettable stories of family, love, and learning where you belong. Discover Northern Portugal with the Romano cousins as they fall in love when they least expect it! Perfect for fans of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Virgin River, and Chesapeake Shores!

Intro into Chapter One

Celeste exited the staff entrance and closed the door to the aquarium behind her. The sun beat high, already too warm for a May morning. Summer would be another scorcher, for sure. Maybe on Sunday afternoon she could take Lucas to the park in town. Her five-year-old was too serious at times, and she enjoyed playing with him outside.
The phone rang in Celeste’s pocket, and she put down the bucket full of duck feed, then swiped at the screen.
Hugo. She groaned when she saw his name on the caller ID. Less and less, he had anything pleasant to say when he called. It couldn’t be good news if he was calling today, just a few hours before he was supposed to take Lucas.
“Hugo,” she answered, trying to keep her voice neutral.
“Olá, Celeste. How are you?” His smooth voice came over the speaker.
She closed her eyes and pinched her nose. And to think she used to love the sound of him. She’d fallen for Hugo Ferreira so fast and had brushed aside all the warning signs. How could she have had such lack of common sense and not seen him for what he was? “I’m fine. What’s going on?”
“You always do that.” His tone turned defensive. “Why do you always assume there’s something going on when I call?”
“Because you never call unless you have an excuse to avoid doing your responsibilities.” She’d learned that the hard way.
“Now you’re just attacking me for no reason,” he whined.
Celeste took a deep breath. “What can I do for you, Hugo?”
He sniffled. “Is Lucas around? I need to talk to him.”
“I’m still at work.” Where she usually was before lunchtime on weekdays, as he very well knew. “Lucas is at the daycare center. I can give him a message when I get home, or you can tell him yourself when you come to pick him up.” Lucas spent every other Friday night and Saturday with his dad. At least, he was supposed to as defined in the custody agreement.
“About that,” Hugo hedged. “My buddy Tony got tickets to watch The Kicks in a live concert in Lisbon. We’re leaving this afternoon and won’t be back until tomorrow night.” He paused as if waiting for Celeste, but she held back from making a comment. “I won’t be able to get Lucas this weekend. Will you tell him that?”
No, she didn’t want to tell her little boy that his father had found something else to do on the weekend they were supposed to spend together. “I think it’s best you call back at six and talk to him yourself. You haven’t seen him in two weeks, and he misses you.”
“I’ve been busy, Celeste. He knows that.” He let out a long sigh. “Fine. I’ll try to remember to call later.”
Which meant he’d probably forget and she’d be the one to pass the excuse to Lucas. “Can you stop on your way out of town and give me the child support check?” It was a desperate effort on her part, hoping she could get the money from Hugo before he spent it.
“Something came up. I’ll come by next week.”
He hung up before she had a chance to reply.
Typical Hugo. He had money for a trip to Lisbon to watch a popular band but not enough to support his son.
If regret could kill. But no, she couldn’t think that way. Despite all the pain Hugo had brought into her life, he’d also given her the best blessing, and she would never regret Lucas.
Celeste put the phone back into the apron pocket and retrieved the bucket, pushing the worry about Lucas’s disappointment to the back of her mind. She’d deal with it later.
A movement caught her eye. Across the bridge, on the other side of the pond, the same dark-haired man she’d seen earlier was still walking around, taking notes on his phone and pausing every now and then to tug at his beard as if deep in thought. She’d seen him talk to António Morais, the operations assistant manager, which meant the man wasn’t just a casual visitor poking his head in the closed aquarium. They did get curious people around from time to time, but they usually didn’t make it past the gate.
She reached a hand in the bucket and absently threw the feed over the water. Some of the ducks rushed to the area, and she counted the old ones, making sure they were present, noticing the older swan still lagged behind his mate. She should have brought her lunch to eat on the bridge. Without visitors, Fridays were slow days that left her with too much time to wonder about should-have-beens, and that was the last thing she wanted.
Her thoughts turned to the mysterious man. Could he be a potential buyer? Or was he the aquarium’s new owner already and nobody had told her?
Celeste wouldn’t be surprised if Alice, the assistant director, knew about it and hadn’t mentioned it, like last month when she’d forgotten to tell Celeste that Dr. Abarca was coming on Thursday instead of Tuesday. It hadn’t been accidental in the least, of course. Luckily, Joana, one of the assistant keepers, had mentioned it in passing, and Celeste had been able to adjust the schedule to accommodate the temporary change. Another time, Alice had put Celeste on the weekend schedule, despite Celeste’s request to the contrary. In the end, Heitor traded shifts with her, thank goodness.
Since the aquarium director’s death six months ago, Alice had been acting more belligerent toward Celeste. Without Senhor Xavier’s presence to act as a buffer between them, Alice continually let her true feelings come to the surface, making the work environment difficult for Celeste. Her coworkers commented on it, but what could she do? Did Alice want Celeste to quit? Alice’s motivations weren’t clear, a mix of jealousy and animosity that Celeste couldn’t comprehend. Some days were definitely a challenge, no matter how much Celeste loved working at the aquarium.
The radio clipped to her belt crackled. “All personnel to the workroom, please,” António said.
Celeste picked up the bucket, frowning. Personnel meetings always took place on Mondays. Why were they meeting so late in the week? With her curiosity piqued, Celeste hurried back to the building.
When she arrived, the other keepers were already there, as curious as she was.
“Did anyone see Alice today?” she asked.
They shook their heads. Nobody had seen her, which meant she had probably not come in. She’d done the same thing last Friday. It was true the aquarium didn’t need as much personnel as when they’d been open to the public. Before his death, Senhor Xavier had sold off some of their larger exhibits and had reduced the personnel as a consequence, which had helped stretch their reduced budget. But the assistant director should still be present during the week—whether or not they had visitors.
Celeste tried to hide her annoyance at Alice’s absence. As the head keeper, Celeste felt responsible for setting a good rapport with the other workers, and voicing her displeasure toward the assistant director didn’t set the kind of example she wanted to have at the workplace.
The door swung open, and António entered the room, followed by the man she’d seen earlier. Behind the full beard, she couldn’t tell the guy’s expression too well. He was dressed casually, in jeans and a short-sleeve T-shirt that showed his defined biceps without too much effort. From his tanned skin, it appeared that he either worked out in a gym and spray tanned or maybe did some kind of manual labor outdoors. Either way, he was more attractive up close than from the glance she’d had of him earlier.
His brown eyes scanned the room slowly, and his mouth twitched. Maybe that was a smile? Hard to tell, with all that facial hair. When he caught her watching him, Celeste looked away, not wanting to give him the wrong impression. After Hugo, she was done with men.
“Is this it today?” António asked, not really needing a reply. He turned to the man and gestured to the personnel. “Looks like this is everyone today. We have one head keeper and four assistant keepers.” He made quick introductions, and the guy nodded at each one of them, including her. “The assistant director is not available. Her name is Alice Vieira. I’m the operations assistant manager, as you know. The veterinarian, Dr. Abarca, comes on Tuesdays unless there’s a problem. Everyone, this is Filipe Romano, the SoliMar’s owner.”
Celeste’s breath caught, and her heart stopped for a beat. No, it couldn’t be him. But how many Filipe Romanos could there be?
The last time she’d seen Filipe Romano he was nineteen, and he had certainly not looked like this man in front of her. This version was all grown up and mature, and she’d just been thinking of how attractive he was. Her face flushed, and her body went rigid. But it was him, now that she took a better look. The same nose and brow, same gorgeous, healthy hair. He’d always had such great hair. How had she not recognized him?
She became vaguely aware of everyone around her talking as he asked questions. And she was next. He was coming over to talk to her, and he had obviously not recognized her, unaware they knew each other.
“Excuse me,” Celeste blurted, turning down the hallway. “I’ll be right back,” she said over her shoulder.
“Celeste, are you okay?” António asked.
She didn’t stop to reply. When she arrived at the small bathroom, she locked the door with shaking fingers, then turned on the faucet and let the cold water run over the back of her hands as she tried to wrap her brain around seeing Filipe again.
All these years, she’d worked so hard at keeping the memories buried of what had happened that fated night. Everything had changed after that—her family had changed, she’d changed, her life had never been the same. So much pain and heartache.
What was Filipe Romano doing in Peniche? How was he the resort’s owner? He could very well be. She didn’t know anything about him anymore—what he did, how he earned his living. Twelve years was long enough for a man to come into his own with any kind of career—as he apparently had, being the new owner of a beach resort in one of the most popular areas in the country.
Celeste splashed her face with water, then turned off the faucet. She reached for a paper towel and patted her skin dry, inhaling deeply a couple of times, trying to slow down her rapid heart and uneven breathing. Her reflection caught her eye, and she grimaced—the unmade face, the hair falling out of the ponytail, the dirty apron over a worn T-shirt. It didn’t matter. She didn’t need to worry about making an impression, least of all on Filipe.
They were probably waiting for her return to talk about the aquarium or whatever he was here for. It would be expected of her as the head keeper to join the discussion.
Why couldn’t she leave and keep pretending she’d never known Filipe Romano?
She walked back slowly, taking her time, putting off the inevitable for as long as she could. Back in the work room, Filipe stood at the front talking to her coworkers. She leaned against the wall, not knowing what to do or say. Her world had just flipped upside down and she was still trying to regain her footing. He glanced at her and frowned slightly, then returned his attention to the conversation.
A few minutes later, he wrapped up, and António called her over. “Celeste, I thought you could give Senhor Romano a tour of the tanks and grounds.”
“Call me Filipe,” he said.
The two men looked at her, and she averted her eyes from Filipe, not ready to deal with his scrutiny of her. Had he recognized her at all?
“Sure,” she replied. “Just follow me.”
Behind her, Filipe said something to António. She didn’t wait but turned out the door, anxious to be outside in the open, away from his presence so near her. All she needed was a good dose of fresh air and warm sun. And lots of distance between them. Then she’d be able to breathe and think and act normal again.
She could do this. She could give him a tour like the professional she was and go on with her life like he meant nothing to her. Because he didn’t. He hadn’t in a long time.
By the time he caught up, her breathing had slowed down, and her heart rate had regulated.
“Ready?” she asked in a bright voice. Maybe a little too bright.
“Celeste,” he said in reply. “It’s you, isn’t it?”

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