Prepare yourself for a swoon.
And keep reading for an excerpt from Missed: Rafael & Lisa by Tess Thompson

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BLURB:

Return to the beloved beach town of Cliffside Bay, where USA Today bestseller Tess Thompson spins another emotional, intriguing tale about overcoming adversity and finding strength in love in this standalone story about Lisa and Rafael.

After years of struggling as a starving actor, Lisa Perry’s dreams are finally coming true. Splitting her time between Los Angeles and Cliffside Bay, the young beauty has a successful television miniseries, her first movie role, and quality time with her best friends Maggie and Pepper. Everything is coming up roses until a single tragic moment changes Lisa forever.

Haunted by unshakable memories and near-crippling anxiety, Lisa must face a publicity tour full of crowds and interviews in order to move her budding career forward. And with the help of Rafael Soto, the head of security for Brody and Kara Mullen, she finally begins to relax. Though the pair are as different as night and day, something about her temporary bodyguard soothes the young actress, and soon their relationship turns from professional to passionate.

But what neither anticipates is that despite the obvious threats to a beautiful ingenue, it’s actually her protector who stands in harm’s way. Will Lisa and Rafael be able to face the danger awaiting him together, or are they destined to accept yet another tragedy they can’t stop?

USA Today bestselling author Tess Thompson welcomes you back to Cliffside Bay to explore the rich, heartwarming stories of the characters who brightened the original five novels in the series. Each book in the Cliffside Bay Series is intended to be read and enjoyed as a sweet standalone, but for maximum enjoyment read this binge-worthy series in order.

Lisa

“As much as I want to be with you, I can’t agree to setting myself up for the aftermath. Not now. The last thing I need is a broken heart. And you’re the man to give me one.”

“You said it didn’t have to mean anything,” he said. “Those were your words.”

“Even if I wanted that, it would be impossible. That’s not how I’m made. The more time I spend with you, the more I like you. I’m falling for you. All it would take is a nudge from you and I’m finished.”

“A nudge?” His eyes had softened from black to brown.

She spoke just above a whisper. The words slid from her tongue easily now. Truth unleashed at last. “Yes, a nudge. That’s the pitiful part. A few insincere hints of a future, or an empty promise, and I’d fall in love with you. I’d convince myself that you would eventually love me if I was good enough, or tried harder, like I’ve done too many times before. Tonight, I finally understand. I must love myself more than I want you. That means walking away from a man who warns me of the aftermath before he takes me to bed. Honestly, Rafael, getting involved with you—knowing you’ll break my heart in the end—is just stupid. I don’t want to be stupid any longer. I don’t want to apologize for my presence or beg you to love me. That’s what I’ve done since the moment I was born. I can’t do it any longer.” She uncurled her legs and leaped to her feet. “Thank you for helping me realize this. I should go to my room now.”

He stood and grabbed her hand. “You’re right about me. I’ve got a giant chip on my shoulder. I’m broke. Uneducated. I’ve done things in my past I’m ashamed of—that haunt me. I look at you and see everything good and I feel unworthy. You’re right, that’s on me. We’re the same, apologizing for even being here.”

“I told you we were the same,” she whispered.

“I know you did.” He cupped her face in his hands. “You would never have to beg me to notice you or do anything other than be exactly who you are for me to love you. I want to give you a feast every single day. Not scraps. Never scraps. This desire to give you the world is why I’ve been questioning whether I’m worthy of you.”

She almost gasped when she lifted her eyes to his. “I’ve never had anyone look at me the way you are right now. To me, that is a feast.” The insecurities and doubts that influenced his judgment were mirror images of her own. “I know what it is to feel not enough. But you’re enough for me just as you are.”

“I adore you. Plain and simple. Not because you’re all put together in a glossy package, but because of your heart. You’re right. I’m no better than those other guys who let you down because they weren’t man enough to be with a woman like you. I’m an idiot most of the time. My baggage is mighty. My demons are of the darkest kind. But if you want me—if you see past all that to the man I am—then I’m here. Not as a sex buddy, but a man who adores you and wants nothing more than to be in your presence for as long as you’ll have me.”

Hope rose from the depths of the dark pit where self-loathing ruled supreme. She imagined the ravenous mouths of her own demons grasping at the swells of love that coursed through her. They were too late. Hope and love and courage slashed their greedy mouths and stomped their black hearts. Hope would win today.

No matter how hard hatred worked, evil forces had never been able to squelch love. Even after death, love given and received remained, lingering in whispers of the sea breeze against skin, or in the scent of a wildflowers in a meadow, or the giggles of a baby.

Her thoughts turned to the families and friends who lost loved ones on that terrible day. She prayed silently that they could feel their loved ones near them, reassuring them that hope remained. That love won in the end.

She traced the faint lines near Rafael’s eyes that told the stories of a past that haunted him. “Let me love away your demons.”

“Yes, my angel,” he whispered. “Yes.”

He scooped her into his arms and carried her into the bedroom.

About Tess

Tess Thompson is a USA Today bestselling author of small-town romance and historical fiction, with nearly 20 titles across multiple series that focus on heartwarming journeys of triumph and humanity for colorful characters you’d love to be friends with in real life.

Tess holds a degree in theater from the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), and can be found most days poring over her latest manuscript at her desk in suburban Seattle, where she also makes her home with the hero of her own love story and their blended family of two sons, two daughters, and five cats.

Tess loves music, dancing, books, bubble baths, cooking, wine, movies, snuggling, Seahawks football, and hearing from her readers. Drop her a line at tess@tthompsonwrites.com.

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