Sneak Peeks

Salty air. Flowing margaritas. Beach sunsets … and one annoying holiday crasher. Read a sneak peek from All’s Fair in Love and Tequila by Gabriella Margo


Salty air. Flowing margaritas. Beach sunsets … and one annoying holiday crasher. Read a sneak peek from All’s Fair in Love and Tequila by Gabriella Margo

Salty air. Flowing margaritas. Beach sunsets … and one annoying holiday crasher.

Luisa Edmonds doesn’t have time for bad dates and guys who don’t take life seriously. And she certainly has no time for men like Ed Garcia, a womanising divorcé who parties too hard.

When Luisa is sent to a lavish, all-inclusive resort in Mexico on a marketing project, she’s ecstatic — until she finds out that Ed is the award-winning photographer who has been hand-picked to go with her.

But when she leaves the icy Melbourne winter behind, it’s not just her extremities that begin to thaw. Here, among the golden sands, tropical waters and salty air of Playa del Carmen, Luisa starts to get to know the real Ed — a sweet, animal-loving environmentalist who’s kept his crush on her a secret for years.

And in all honesty, he is damn sexy without a shirt on.

Unfortunately, their relationship would be bad news back in Australia, and Ed is a no-go for Luisa. But as his secrets are slowly uncovered, Luisa finds it harder and harder to ignore her feelings, and she is faced with an ultimatum. Will she jeopardise her future for a steamy, beach holiday fling?

Well, I’ll say this much for free: I wouldn’t touch Ed Garcia with a ten-foot pole. Not even if his life depended on it.

Actually, not even if my life depended on it.

The guy is a womanising party animal—that’s no secret. In fact, I still remember the look on his wife’s face the night I overheard her telling everyone he’d had an affair. Not only was it awkward, it was incredibly sad—the way her face crumpled; the rogue tear that rolled down her cheek that made me want to envelop her in a hug. But I hardly knew her, and it wasn’t my place.

And the only reason I generally have to put up with seeing his face more than absolutely necessary is purely due to one fact: Ed is my brother’s best mate—and has been since high school.

Brandon is my beloved (but highly annoying) younger brother. Younger—but twice my height and width, and probably more mature, despite the two extra years I have been on this earth.

And Ed is just so—

‘Um, hello. Louise. You with me?’ Kwan stood in front of my desk, clicking her shiny, red fingernails in my face and making me jump. She tapped a crocodile-print stiletto on the ground loudly, drawing attention to us from all around the office. Unlike me, she had no problem with being the centre of attention.

I wriggled my nose unconsciously—her perfume was particularly obnoxious today.

‘It’s Luisa,’ I muttered, feeling the need to sit taller in my designer chair, which was on point in our trendy office, but did nothing for my back. I looked up at her and blinked.

‘What?’ she snapped, her blood red lips in a snarl, contrasting with the pink neon letters on the wall behind her that spelled out Kwan in a Million. A ridiculous name for a creative agency, but there we were.

‘Nothing. Um. What did you say?’

An impatient sound escaped her mouth, one which I had got used to about four years ago but one which still unnerved me. This was a scary woman. ‘I said, you’re going on the Mexico marketing project. You can thank me later. Blair is going with you, and we also have a great photographer booked, Ed Garcia. And it’s an all-inclusive resort, so I don’t want you to—’

Her words evaporated into oblivion. I thought I’d heard her correctly the first time. My chest tightened, like the oxygen had been sucked out of me.

Ed Garcia.

How the hell did my boss know Ed Garcia?

I coughed, looking down at the sad cactus on my desk, realising Kwan had stopped talking. ‘Um—thank you, Kwan. I—I’m—thanks.’

She was frowning when my eyes met hers again. ‘I was kind of hoping for a bigger reaction to a free week in an all-inclusive resort. I mean …’ she swept an arm across the office, ‘I’m happy to send someone else if you want. Many other capable copywriters here.’

‘No!’ I shouted, then quickly lowered my voice once everyone in the office was staring at me again. ‘I mean, um, no … please don’t do that.’ My heart was racing thinking about the trip I’d just been offered; but the thought of losing it five seconds later almost sent me into cardiac arrest.

It didn’t help that whenever I spoke to my boss, I could see myself from above, like I was someone else looking down. I was intimidated, quiet, and never quite fast enough with my responses. I wasn’t quiet usually—just with her. Or, really, in any situation that was confrontational. And whenever Kwan looked at me, I just automatically clammed up; like I needed time to process information while she was always able to think on her feet. Not to mention, she was able to say exactly what she meant without tiptoeing around it.

I was jealous of people like that. And she was intimidating as hell.

I mean, for god’s sake, it’d been five years and she still couldn’t get my name right. Sure, it was a relatively big agency, but staff didn’t exactly stick around here for long. I shouldn’t have been that hard to remember, especially given that I sat at the desk closest to her office and could literally see her all day, every day. Besides, she always gave me the biggest clients. But clearly, my being the most senior copywriter made my name no less forgettable to her.

Kwan’s eyes narrowed, her lips in a thin line. Her new assistant stared at me from across the office through gold-framed glasses. I wanted to tell her to go away, but part of me felt sorry for the girl. I’d hate to be Kwan’s full-time assistant. Talk about a nightmare job.

‘It’s just …’ I stammered, trying to explain my response. ‘I, um, I know that photographer. The one who’s going on the Mexico holid—uh, project.’

‘You know Ed Garcia?’ Kwan frowned, or at least attempted to. Unlike her staff, her botoxed face didn’t move a whole lot these days.


She looked puzzled. ‘Okay, and? Is there a problem here? Because I’d be more than happy to—’

I shook my head and attempted to sit up in my chair again. I was going on this project, whether I had to lie through my teeth or not. I hated Ed after what he’d done to his ex. An insult to women everywhere. But he was not about to stop me from going on this trip. ‘No. No, not a problem. I’m—thank you for sending me. You won’t be disappointed.’

She smiled the most insincere smile I’d seen in a while, and that was saying something. ‘Good.’ Tapping her hideously long nails on my desk, she eyed my laptop for a moment. ‘You get the brief for the Meg’s Pegs campaign?’

I nodded, glancing at the screen myself. ‘Thanks for sending it through.’

She looked at me with an eyebrow slightly raised, as if studying my choice of outfit or working out if I was really a human being. ‘Good. The copywriting is due on the 17th.’

‘Of June?’

‘Yes.’ She paused. ‘This year, in case you were wondering.’

She spun on her heels and walked away, stilettos clicking on the hardwood floors as she marched back to her office, leaving me in a cloud of perfume I could just about see.

‘I’d offer to water your cactus while you’re away, babe, but I’m coming along too,’ Blair said, leaning across from his desk to get closer to mine. I looked at his choice of shirt today—bright blue with little white clouds all over it, sitting a bit too tight across his stomach, creating those slight waves between the buttons.

Relief flooded through me. I didn’t know Blair well outside of work, but I was glad he was coming along—so it wasn’t just Ed and me alone in Mexico. I grimaced just thinking about that scenario. I looked at my droopy cactus, then up at Blair, and smiled. ‘Hey. If this little guy can survive months of no love, it’ll be fine while I’m in Mexico for a week.’

You’ve survived for months with no love.’

Shooting him an unimpressed look, I got back to my work.

‘A whole week in an all-inclusive,’ he said. ‘Not bad. Not bad at all, Luisa. Just imagine all the cocktails, the swimming, the food—oh my god, and all tanned hotties by the pool!’

Being sent overseas for a project was the idea of heaven for me—and completely unprecedented. In fact, I never travelled for work at all, unlike all my friends who seemed to be jetting off to Sydney, Hong Kong, LA and Singapore for work all the time. I was only ever in my Melbourne office, fifteen minutes from my apartment. And that was door-to-door, in peak hour. I never got sent anywhere. So no, I did not want Kwan to send someone else.

My brain had gone on strike and switched off for the day. So instead of writing, I decided to spend the final hour of the day researching: a critical part of copywriting, and one that didn’t involve the same brain cells as actual writing did. But instead of researching anything related to work, I found myself picking up my phone, hiding it in my lap and typing ‘Ed Garcia’ into my Facebook search, lifting my eyes without moving my head to make sure nobody in the office was watching. My heart beat faster, and I felt like a primary school kid about to do something naughty like throw wet toilet paper on the ceiling.

I wasn’t even remotely surprised that Ed and I weren’t friends on Facebook. But his Instagram profile was public. I clicked on it, and like some seasoned stalker, I took a screenshot of his profile photo to be able to zoom in on it. It wasn’t even a clear photo of his annoying face—it was a logo. The words Ed Garcia, Landscape & Wildlife Photographer surrounded a silhouette of a man holding a camera to his face. The outline of his bicep was clear in the image. Ugh.

Ed’s most recent post was from almost two months ago. It was a photo of a fuzzy white animal that kind of looked like a fox. I scrolled further down, trying to see if I could get a glimpse of Ed, but there were no photos of him on there. There were only—

My desk phone rang, making me jump and sending my mobile flying. It dropped and clattered onto the ground, drawing everyone’s attention to me yet again. I squeezed my eyes shut and hoped the loud noise didn’t also mean a shattered screen—I could not afford a new phone right now. Picking up the receiver, I moved my chair back and bent down to pick up my mobile.

‘Louise.’ The sharp voice hissed down the line. ‘Do I pay you to sit on your phone in the office?’

Crap. Crap, crap, crap. I was busted. I glanced up from my desk, seeing Kwan’s office clearly, her door very much open. I muttered my apologies, but as usual, Kwan cut me off.

‘You’re flying on the 12th.’


‘Your flight to Mexico. It’ll be on the 12th. Open your ears.’

‘The 12th? I—’ I stopped myself as Kwan’s glare bore holes into me. ‘The 12th is great.’ I forced a smile, wondering what kind of person rings someone they are literally five metres from. She could’ve slightly raised her voice and I would have heard her.

‘Good. Tell what’s-her-name to book the flights. And don’t get too excited. You’re not going business class.’ The click of her phone followed.

I presumed ‘what’s-her-name’ was her new assistant, who was already looking over at me with wide eyes. I stood up, brushed some biscuit crumbs off my skirt and walked over to her, but she’d heard the conversation and was already onto it.

‘Thank you,’ I said as she relayed my flight details to me. ‘Um—also—please don’t put me in the window seat … if you can?’

Or anywhere near Ed Garcia, preferably.

Kwan’s eyes followed my movement as I walked back to my desk and opened my laptop again. ‘Jesus. Might wanna get a spray tan before you fly out to the North American summer, Louise.’

Looking down at myself, I frowned. I was wearing a long-sleeve top, a pencil skirt and stockings with boots. She could barely see my skin, although, admittedly, it was pretty pasty. I shivered just thinking about stripping off for a spray tan. Despite being born and bred in New York, I never ceased to be amazed by the Melbourne winter with its icy mornings and drizzle that felt like sheets of ice. I was always cold, even here in the office.

But it seemed that soon, I would be on a plane headed for the northern hemisphere summer, and I sure as hell was ready to thaw out. I closed my eyes, imagining the sun warming my face on a long stretch of beach somewhere. I couldn’t remember the last time I was even on a plane—let alone travelling overseas.

I thought about my parents in New York whom I hadn’t seen in years, swallowing a lump that had forced itself into my throat. It had been a long time since I had been able to go and see them due to the pandemic. And before that, it had been a long time since I’d had the guts to actually take my entitled leave.

I was a horrible daughter. But maybe I could swing a trip to New York if I was already going to be in Mexico. My breath caught in my throat.

I’m going to Mexico. And then, as quickly as it came, the feeling of excitement was drowned out by a more sinister one: pure dread.

I’m going to Mexico … and Ed Garcia is coming with me.

Release date: 2022-12-01

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