Authors: Kimberly Fox
I spoke too soon.
The sight makes my pulse race and my breakfast crawl back up my throat. A skinny blond walks out of the lobby with her chin in the air.
I can’t believe she’s here.
Ethan and Chase’s cousin, Megan’s sister-in-law, Satan reincarnate herself. Stephanie is the worst human I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.
Her fiancee, and Tanya’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron is pulling all of the suitcases behind her with a sweaty forehead over his dead eyes. He looks like she broke him for good.
I gasp and try to hide behind a palm tree when she looks over here but it’s too late. She sees me.
“Hi Julia!” she says, waving as she struts over in her high heels.
“Hey Stephanie,” I say. “I’m Cynthia, remember?”
She cocks her head to the side and narrows her eyes. “Are you sure? I thought the pretty one was Cynthia.”
“Wow. It sure is nice to see you again, Stephanie,” I say sarcastically.
“I know, right?” she says, her face lighting up.
“To what do we owe this pleasure?” I ask crossing my arms and glaring at her. “It can’t be the wedding because I know that Tanya and Ethan specifically didn’t invite you. Ya know…because you’re such a bitch.”
She waves her hand as she laughs. “Oh, you’re so funny!”
Stephanie licks her lips and then leans in. “I’m here to get married,” she whispers and then claps her hands together quickly.
“Huh?” That can’t be what I just heard.
She pulls Aaron’s arm and yanks him over. A large suitcase tumbles over. “We’re getting married!”
Aaron is standing there looking like a shell-shocked soldier. His eyes are bloodshot and he looks whipped and abused like there’s no fire left inside him. One year with Stephanie and he’s a scared, empty shell of a man. I’d almost feel bad for him if he hadn’t been such a prick to Tanya when they were dating.
We had all traveled to Cancun with Tanya and the group for Megan and Lucas’ wedding last year. Tanya was dating Aaron at the time and had brought him along for the week. He ended up cheating on Tanya with Stephanie on the first night and that’s what led to Tanya and Ethan hitting it off. If that wasn’t enough, Stephanie and Aaron even tried to upstage Megan’s wedding when he drunkenly proposed to her in the middle of her wedding ceremony. Needless to say, I hate them both.
“You’re getting married?” I ask in shock.
“Isn’t that great?” she asks with a big smile.
“Are you high off your fucking hairspray or something?” I snap at her.
She cocks her head to the side in confusion. “Huh?”
Chase walks over in his bathing suit and flip flops. He’s naked from the waist up with a tank top draped over his wide shoulder. The dog tags around his neck swing from side to side as he walks. He looks even more muscular and ripped in the sunlight. The tattoos and scars on his ribs, arms and chest all add a level of sexiness that shoots him straight into the stratosphere. He’s such eye candy that I forget what we’re even talking about.
“Chasey!” Stephanie screams when she sees him. She runs over and wraps her arms around her cousin’s neck. His toned arms hang limp by his sides.
“Hey Steph,” he says, pushing her off him and keeping her at arms’ length. “I didn’t realize you were coming to the wedding.”
“Nobody did,” I say, walking over. “Because she wasn’t invited.”
Chase swallows hard as he looks me up and down in my shorts and tank top.
“I came for my own wedding!” she says, clapping her hands together. “I’m getting married!”
Aaron is still standing with the bags, looking more miserable than ever.
I turn to Chase with a fake smile. “She’s getting married at this resort!” I say with a tight jaw. “This week!”
Stephanie nods. “Thank you all for coming down for it.”
Chase looks at Aaron with sympathy. He makes a show of looking around. “Where are all of your guests?”
Stephanie touches her hand to her chest. “We just wanted a small wedding.”
“And nobody wanted to come,” I whisper.
Stephanie shoots me an evil glare.
Chase watches her curiously. “Does Ethan know about this?”
Stephanie shakes her head with a big stupid smile on her big stupid head. “I’ll surprise him later.”
“Can I be there when you do?” I ask. “Please!” I’d pay to see that.
“Definitely,” Stephanie says. “I’ll make a big scene.”
“Of course, you will,” I mutter under my breath.
She glances past me at the pool where the little girl is practicing her synchronized swimming with bent, crooked legs. “I need to get into that pool.” She snaps her fingers at Aaron. “Let’s go,” she commands without looking back at him. She struts away banging into my arm as she passes. Aaron follows with all of the heavy bags looking as dead inside as a zombie.
Chase steps closer to me as we watch them walk to their room. “You’ve met my cousin before?” he asks.
“She would make a great James Bond villain,” he says.
And you would make a great James Bond.
I smile. “Nah, she’s not smart enough.”
We both laugh and he grazes my arm with his. He looks at me with a grin. “Want to go-”
“I’m not going to have sex with you just because we shared a laugh,” I interrupt.
He steps back with his hands up in surrender. “I was going to say swimming in the ocean but I like where your dirty mind is.”
The ocean sounds nice. But watching a shirtless Chase get all wet sounds even better.
“Are you going to have a bathing suit on this time?” I ask.
“I’ll let you decide,” he says with a grin.
“Bathing suit,” I say, ignoring the voice in my head. “Definitely a bathing suit.”
“Deal,” he says, motioning me to follow him. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
I glance over my shoulder at the cute little girl in the pool. She gives me a thumbs up as we walk away. She approves. I give her a little wink and she smiles before diving back under the water.
We walk down to the beach chatting about his cousin, Stephanie. Apparently she was just as crazy as a teenager. She lit her poor first boyfriend’s car on fire once and spent the weekend in jail.
The beach is spectacular during the day. The palm trees are swaying lazily over the little tiki huts and beach chairs. The sand is hot under my feet and all you can hear is the gentle waves, the seagulls cawing and the German guy with the open book on his chest snoring like a bear hibernating in January.
There’s a volleyball court to the left with a yellow volleyball dug into the sand. It’s a bit early and everyone is still digesting their pancakes to play.
I’ll hit that up later.
Tanya’s parents have reserved a block of chairs for our group so we head over there. I dump my bag on a chair in the sun and Chase quickly claims the chair next to me by throwing his tank top on it.
He stands there grinning at me as he waits for me to take off my shorts and tank top. From the way his eyes are glued to me, there’s no point in fighting him. I’m a bit self-conscious getting down to my bikini in front of him but I play it cool. I’m sporty and work out regularly so I am pretty fit. Still, every girl has a list of imaginary flaws to worry about.
I pull off my tank top and Chase mutters a ‘Goddamn’ under his breath.
“What was that?” I ask, smiling on the inside.
“Huh?” he asks, too focused on my chest to have understood anything else.
“Yeah I thought so.”
He straightens up as I hook my fingers into my shorts to pull them down.
. I slide them down my legs and I hear a little groan escape from his throat as he watches.
“Suntan lotion?” I ask, offering him the bottle.
“Absolutely,” he says, jumping up. I squirt a glob onto his palm and he steps forward. “I should do your chest first,” he says, reaching towards my breasts. “They always burn first.”
“I meant for you, you dolt,” I say, slapping his hand away playfully.
His face drops like I’m his doctor and I just told him that he’s impotent. “Oh,” he mutters. “I already have some on.”
I slap his palm with mine, scratching off the suntan lotion with my hand. He gawks as he watches me spread it on my stomach.
“There’s a spectacular view of the ocean,” I say with a raised eyebrow. “Why don’t you look over there?”
He huffs. “The only way I’m looking over there is if you walk over there. The view here is too good.”
“You’re lucky I left my pepper spray up in my room,” I say, unable to hide my smile. It’s been too long since a man has looked at me the way he is right now. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like it.
“Ready?” he asks when I’m all suntan lotioned up. He waves his hand forward. “Ladies first.”
I step back and cross my arms. “So you can stare at my ass the whole way there?” I say with a furrowed brow. “I don’t think so. That’s such a male scam. Pretend to be a gentleman and let the woman walk through the door first but really you’re staring at her ass the entire time? I’m not falling for that.”
“Ha,” he laughs. “I’ve never thought of it that way but I guess you’re right.”
“Sure you didn’t,” I say sarcastically.
“Fine,” he says, stepping forward. “I’ll go first and you can stare at my ass.”
“In your dreams,” I say as he walks ahead of me but my eyes are glued to his board shorts over his hard ass. The naked image of it running to the balcony last night keeps replaying in my head. I’ve never cared about asses on guys but I have a feeling that Chase is going to change all of that. How can you not fall in love with those cheeks?
The water is just the right temperature. Cool enough to be refreshing in the hot sun but warm enough that you can stay in there all day, floating around with a slushy drink and a hot Navy SEAL.
The waves hit my knees and I dive in letting the cool water wash over my face and closed eyelids. That feeling right there is worth the price of the plane ticket.
We swim out a bit where there’s no one around us. Chase floats on his back with his eyes closed, breathing slowly. His abs are flexed and his wet bathing suit traces the long shape of his package.
“Do you know what I would have given for this feeling all of those months in the hot desert hiking in full battle gear?” he asks, breathing peacefully. “I would have emptied half my bank account for ten seconds of this.”
I watch his calm face admiring how handsome he is when he’s not grinning or smirking after saying a perverted comment. It’s so sexy that he’s a Navy SEAL but I forget what that actually means, what he actually goes through. I can’t imagine what he’s seen and the pain and terror that he must feel when he’s over there. He’s amazing to live through that and still be relatively normal. I’d be a crying mess.
“Is it bad over there?” I ask, gliding my hand on the surface of the water.
Chase sighs, keeping his eyes closed as he floats. “Just feel lucky that you were born where you were. Don’t take it for granted. Even a day. You have to treasure every day. Any of those people over there would do anything to have what you have.”
I take a deep breath, imagining what their horrible reality must be like. Constantly worried about their lives and the lives of their loved ones. “It must really put things into perspective for you.”
“Yeah,” he says, letting his feet sink down to the sandy bottom. “It makes me want to slap people. All of the time. America is a country of spoiled babies. We don’t realize what we have. Over there I met a six-year-old in an orphanage who lost his whole family in a rebel bombing. He lost an eye in the explosion and has scars all over the right side of his body. I made him a toy action figure out of some twine that I had in the truck and he was so happy.”
Thinking of the poor boy brings tears to my eyes but I hold them back for some reason. I hope he’s okay.
“So yeah,” he continues. “It really puts things into perspective when you walk into a coffee shop and see a middle aged baby freaking out because there’s not enough whipped cream on his eight dollar coffee.”
“I get it,” I say, thinking about his words. We float in silence for a while, letting the gentle waves lift us up every few seconds. “But come on,” I say, breaking the comfortable silence. “Not enough whipped cream on your coffee. That would get anyone angry.”
Chase laughs and the sound makes my heart pang. “What was I thinking?” he asks with a smile.
A family on a sailboat passes and the mother on board keeps glancing at Chase as they sail by. He waves to her and she breaks out into a wide, goofy smile.
“So what do you do when you’re not touring the world as a stunning model?” he asks.
. Just thinking of work makes me want to sink to the bottom of the ocean and not come back up. “I work in a law office.”
He jerks his head over and gives me a look. “You’re a lawyer?”
“No,” I say with a laugh. “I’m an underling that gets bossed around by the lawyers.”
I drop my head back, dipping my head into the ocean. My curly brown hair spreads out in the water around me. “If you like drowning in paperwork and getting yelled at by stressed out, overpaid attorneys than it’s great.”
“Sounds magical,” he says.
“Yeah,” I laugh. “It’s straight out of Hogwarts.”
“What?” he asks, looking confused.
“Harry Potter,” I answer flatly, unable to believe that someone on this planet doesn’t know about Hogwarts. “I’m guessing you don’t get a lot of American culture over in Iraq.”
Chase scratches his head. “Is that the dorky kid with the John Lennon glasses?”
My blood starts to boil as I shake my head. “You have a lot to learn.”
Something brushes up against my ankle and I jump up and scream.
“Look,” Chase says, his eyes fixated on something under the water.
A school of colorful fish swims by heading straight for him. Even the fish are attracted to this guy.
“Oh right,” he says, reaching into his pocket. “I forgot.”
He pulls out a handful of tortillas and the fish go crazy. They multiply, coming out of nowhere trying to get the pieces that he’s breaking off and tossing into the water. I glance around quickly making sure there’s no fin approaching.
Do sharks like tortillas?