Ten minutes pass by. Then twenty. Before I know it, the timer on my phone dings and it’s time to roll over. I elbow Whit and she screeches, “Eh?”
I feel like a rotisserie chicken. Rolling and bronzing. Rolling and bronzing.
We roll over in unison and I set the timer for thirty minutes again. When it dings again, I’ll take a dip in the ocean. The water will cool me down and take a little bit of the sting out if I burn at all. I don’t usually use tanning beds, but I did a few times before we came to Paradise, just to get a base. The fried look is never sexy.
My mind wanders to Drake. I wonder where he is or what he’s doing. Then I make a mental note that if I see him I’m going to try and have a normal conversation with him. I’m not going to fumble my words. I’m going to be bold. I’m going to show him that I’m not a kid anymore.
And he shouldn’t treat me like one.
It doesn’t feel like thirty minutes have passed, but the timer dings on my phone. Yanking the ear bud’s out, I push my sunglasses on top of my head and tap Whit on the shoulder. “I’m going for a dip in the ocean. You wanna join?”
“Nah,” she moans and doesn’t move.
“I’ll be back in a few.”
Whit doesn’t reply and I stand, sauntering past the intense volleyball match, making my way to the water. I envision the cool water sliding over my skin and can’t wait to float in it. I can’t wait to feel the gentle caress of the slapping water as it puts out the fire on my skin.
But I don’t make it to the water.
I’m only a few steps away when a volleyball sails through the air and blasts me like a cannonball right in the back of the head.
Desire is a wicked emotion that blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s not.
Damn you, Whit. A brilliant idea indeed. I’m going to kill her when I get back to our spot.
I wince and rub the back of my head, searching the ground for the ball. At the moment, I wish I had a pin so I could deflate the freaking thing.
“Sorry about that!” a guy shouts. Sand swishing between toes throbs in my ears as someone jogs toward me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of white gleaming in the sun. I turn my attention to the ball a few paces to my right, pick it up, and spin around to face the person who came to retrieve it.
“You?” My mouth gapes open and I blink several times. “What are you doing here?”
Elliot, the same guy who whacked me in the head with a door on my college visit, raises an eye brow and crooks me a grin. “I’m spending the summer here with my brother. He’s actually a lifeguard here, but he’s off today. So we’re just playing a little beach volleyball with some of his frat brothers.” Elliot tilts his head to the side and licks his bottom lip. “What are you doing here?”
“My family vacations here every year.” I frown at him and chuck the ball at him with force. “What is it with you and hitting me in the head?” Elliot catches the ball and places it on his hip, holding it up with his forearm. “And where is this brother of yours?”
Elliot peeks over his shoulder. “That’s him coming over now.”
I glance around Elliot and my mouth damn near touches the sand. At the moment I feel sick and I can’t decide if it’s my nerves that are making me nauseous or the fact that Elliot’s brother just so happens to be Drake.
Drake jogs toward us, keeping his eyes on the sand. “Elliot, what’s taking so long?”
Drake lifts his gaze and when his cloudy pools of blue cut into my emerald green eyes I forget how to breathe. My lungs are electric and someone at the utility building has shut down my source of power. Drake narrows his eyes and runs a hand through his shaggy hair. “Wow. Kid! You—!”
“I know,” I say interrupting him. “I don’t look like a kid anymore.” Even though it rips me apart to look away from him, my eyes wander and I scan the packed beach. “I didn’t see Sydney. You two are usually joined at the hip.”
“We broke up.” His words are strained and he looks down at his feet. He purses his lips and exhales and I can tell from his mannerisms that his relationship with Sydney is a subject he’s rather not talk about.
And I can’t help but think how convenient, how marvelous, and how earth shattering the news of his break-up is.
A harmonious chorus of Hallelujah sounds off inside of my head and I try to keep the smug grin from crawling across my lips. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Wait…” Elliot cuts into the conversation, changing the subject, and relieving the tension of the previous topic. “You’re the famous, kid?” After he asks me the question I take notice in the fact that he’s staring at me like I’m the most appealing person he’s ever seen.