Frayed Page 42

’’I don\ doubt you will.’’

’’Tate is just such a micromanager that sometimes I feel like the clients know he\s babysitting me.’’

’’Tell him to go f**k himself.’’

She laughs. ’’I wish I could some days.’’

’’He\s such a kon***-wad, I wish you would.’’

She shakes her head. ’’You don\ even know him. Why do you dislike him so much?’’

’’I don\ have to know him. I don\ like the way he treats you or the sadness I see in your eyes when you get off the phone with him. And besides, he has the hots for you.’’

’’No, he doesn\ . We broke up over a year ago.’’

My eyes shoot out of my head and before I can stop myself I\m bolting out of the chair. ’’Are you f**king kidding me? You slept with him!’’

She squishes her lips together in displeasure. ’’No. Just because I date someone doesn\ mean I sleep with him.’’

My blood pressure is boiling. Yeah, I guess I already know that. I look up into the night and stare at the stars, taking deep calming breaths. ’’I should be going,’’ I say.

She grabs my wrist. ’’Don\ be mad. Don\ go. Isn\ it still early?’’

Her hand slides to my hand, but I don\ grab it. ’’Yeah, it is but I took tomorrow off and I\m hitting the surf at sunrise.’’

’’Really? I\d love to join you.’’ She takes my hand in hers since I wouldn\ take hers, and electricity jolts me.

I let my annoyance with the jackass go as best I can and grin at her. ’’Don\ you have Ivy\s release party?’’

’’Yes, but not until later.’’

’’Are you sure? You\ll have to get up really early.’’

She nods. ’’I\m sure. I\ll be there,’’ she says, standing up and staring at me for the longest time.

I kiss her on the cheek, letting my lips linger and start for the gate. I turn around. ’’The main beach at six thirty,’’ I say. ’’In the morning,’’ I clarify.

’’I know that,’’ she calls before reaching her top step and then disappearing around the corner.

I stay where I am, buzzing from the high of knowing the walls she\s erected between us are crumbling. She has never agreed to come to Laguna to come to me. Tomorrow should be a whole lot of fun.

•••

Breathe in. . . . now exhale. Feel it. Enjoy it. Don\ rush it. Prolong the awesomeness for as long as possible because while it\s happening you experience only one thing pure joy. It becomes an addiction . . . you can\ help wanting to do it over and over again. There\s no greater feeling in the world than being one with her. And in that single moment she becomes everything you want and everything you need rolled together. There\s a weightlessness that exists between us as I move quickly up and down, hovering over her. I gain speed and it\s thrilling, exhilarating, liberating even. I can feel her everywhere the salty, tangy taste she leaves in my mouth, the way my feet shift to accommodate her size, her cold spray on my body. I break through her ledge and position myself on her peak. She\s large and hollow and I have to move forcefully to stop from getting caught in her lip, but I do it and just like that I\m riding the best f**king wave.

The sun rises on this anniversary of sorts and there\s a haze hanging in the air as I enfold myself inside the wave\s whirl. I look ahead and can\ help thinking that for the first time in a long while I\m focused, I have no doubts, and I know where I\m going. It hasn\ been easy. It\s been a long road. I wince at the memories of how poorly I acted how badly I handled everything. Blinking my sad thoughts away, I look up as the swell emerges from more than one-hundred-foot depths and watch as the silver-tinted waves of the Pacific roll in at a lightning-fast rate. Then I ride her out like a master. When I know my time is up, I take a full breath, all the way from my stomach to my chest, tilt my head back to open my lungs, and take in more air until it happens the water cascades all around me and I\m completely submerged. Time stands still while I swim through the blur and toward the light. I reach the surface and blinking, I see the clear day that is beckoning on the horizon.

Chest to board, I paddle in and watch the shore come alive in the early morning hours. As I scan the beach, my eye catches a reflection of sorts in the sand. I strain to see what it is and that\s when I see her. Cupping the water faster, I pick up speed and hit shallow water. I can\ help grinning at the sight of her. Last night I was pissed as hell at her, but now seeing her it all just slides away because the se*y, sassy, and funny-as-hell girl that won\ let me call her mine is waiting for me. Waving a hand in the air, I shake the water from my hair and tuck my board under my arm.

’’You made it,’’ I yell as I emerge from the water.

’’I did,’’ she says, shading her eyes with her hand.

’’Where\s your board?’’

She shrugs. ’’I don\ have one.’’

’’All right, then it looks like we\ll be taking turns.’’

My gaze sweeps the length of her and once my body stops humming in desire, I curl my fingers over my mouth to stifle my laughter at what she wore to surf in a flowered green bikini with gold strings at the neck and hipbones, earrings, and even a necklace. She looks f**king beautiful, like Miss America. She\s even wearing sparkly sandals. And even though today isn\ about winning a beauty pageant, I can\ help approaching the unrivaled winner with a cheerful smirk.


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