Authors: Danielle Sibarium
First printing, 2015
Copyright © 2015 by Danielle Sibarium
Cover art copyright © by CT Cover Creations
Cover photograph copyright © by CT Cover Creation
Book design by Danielle Sibarium
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.
The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Published by: Platinum Crest Solutions, LLC
Publisher’s Note: The author and publisher have taken care in preparation of this book but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the use of the information contained herein.
Printed in the United States of America
Vanessa Grassi- a very special friend!
"You're kidding." He has to be joking. "Please tell me this is your lame attempt at humor." Cooper may be my best friend, but right now, if he was standing in front of me I'd put his head through a glass window.
"No, dude. I'm serious."
"I'm sorry, but I can't pass this shit up. It's a free trip. As in, I'm not paying for airfare or the hotel."
"That doesn't sound like 'Sorry, Noah, I'm just fucking with you.' Doesn't sound like it at all." I crumple a piece of paper on my desk and toss it at the trash can. I miss. Great. Another sign that this is going to be a fucking awesome day. Not.
Three months of planning-- talking to realtors and giving them our parameters to find the perfect rental-- down the drain. We had to act fast and jump on the deal when we found the house on the boardwalk. It's right off the beach. Not too close to any sort of activity so it affords us privacy, and not too far from it either so we could drink all we want and not have to worry about getting in a car to drive anywhere. And now what? My best friend is dicking me over for a last minute trip to Italy with his flavor of the month.
"It was a non-refundable deposit, and unlike you, I'm not fucking flight attendants that can whisk me off to Europe or some exotic country. I can't afford to flush a grand down the toilet."
I didn't like the idea of pre-paying and giving extra money up front for security, but we wanted to close the deal. It's a house, not a cheap piece of crap bungalow, or a shitty hotel room. This is a house complete with dishes, linens and nothing but a strip of boardwalk separating us from the sandy, New Jersey beach.
Now because my best friend is thinking with the wrong head, I'm looking at no vacation, and a substantial monetary loss. Bastard.
"You broke the code man, bro's before ho's."
"I didn't break the code. I'm just making the most of an opportunity. Besides if I don't go, I'll never hear from Selene again."
"And that's a problem? You barely even see this girl."
"That's exactly my point. She's thirty thousand feet in the air most of the time. She's gorgeous, with the hottest body I've ever seen, and I don't have to see her every day, or even every fucking week. That means no clinginess. No answering to her when I spend a night out with guys getting drunk."
"And getting laid."
"And getting laid," he parrots.
"And when we're out and you're doing your thing, you ever wonder what or who she's doing?"
"It doesn't matter, Noah. We have an open relationship which is a beautiful thing. We don't see each other enough to get on each other's nerves. There's no commitment. And it's the best sex of my life."
"Whatever. I'm letting you know you're putting a serious crimp in our friendship."
"I'm not leaving you totally high and dry. I found someone to share the house with you."
"Who? Marlena won't let Troy out of her sight, especially since the baby is due in two weeks. Mickey's so strapped for money he's selling his swimmers."
Cooper snickers on his end. "Whatever, dude. I think he just likes jerking off into a cup. But you're right, it's not the guys."
"A girl? Are you shitting me?" I lean forward against my desk. Now I'm interested. For the right girl I'd consider forgiving him. "A flight attendant? Is it one Selene's friends? She better be hot. Is she hot? 'Cause if she isn't you can forget . . ."
"Hey, hold on there. Yes, it's a girl. And no she's not hot."
Great. Way to let the air out of my sails.
"And even if she is, you wouldn't be seeing any action from her."
"Then what the fuck is the point?"
"The point is you still get your beach vacation. You have your distraction to help you forget the fact that Dina's getting married, and I get my money back."
Why does he have to keep bringing her up? I know she's getting married in two weeks. Why can't he let it go? "I keep telling you I don't give a shit about Dina getting married."
He snickers on the other end. "And I'm with Selene because she's got a big heart. Dude you've been hung up on that one since high school and she never so much as gave you the time of day."
"I'm not hung up on her. We're just friends. That's all we ever were. That's all we'll ever be."
"Friends. Great. You've been locked safely away in the friend zone for ten years. How's that working for you?"
I bounce the tip of my pen on a pile on a pile of papers on my desk. Sometimes I can't stand Cooper's jackass side, like right now. But I often find there's a hint of truth to what he says, like right now.
"I'm not hung up on her, and it's not like I haven't been with anyone in ten years. You've witnessed enough to know better. Dina and I are friends, and as her friend, I'm happy she found someone to share her life with. I think when you find the right person it could be a beautiful thing."
"Are you sure you're a guy?"
"Your problem is, you're looking for someone to share your life with, not someone that makes you want to live. Great for her, but what about you? I'm telling you, bring a hot piece of ass to the wedding, leave, get laid, and leave Dina where she belongs, in the rear view mirror. Go find a future, dude."
For a brief second, he sounds like he cares; like I mean more to him than someone to keep him company while he looks for his next conquest. Time to change the direction of this conversation before we end up on Dr. Phil.
"What do you need money for anyway Mr. free European vacation?"
"She's providing the hotel and ticket to get there, it's only right I pick up everything else."
"Whatever. Why don't you stop yanking me around and just tell me who the hell I'm stuck with?"
I let my head fall and hit my desk. "Your sister? You're saddling me down with your little sister. What the fuck man? What am I supposed to do? Play nurse maid? Drive her to her fucking playdates?"
"Don't be like that Noah. You know she's not a kid anymore."
"Yeah, I know."
"And she promised to stay out of your way."
"Still, I'll feel funny if I want to bring a chick back with me."
"Just go and have a good time. Pretend it's me there with you."
"Yeah, you with tits and braces."
"Okay man, don't hate on the braces. They've been off for years and she's got a beautiful smile. And as far as the tits go, that's my fucking sister you're talking about. No staring at her tits. Got it?"
"Yeah, I fucking got it."
I look out my office window at the dull grey clouds. It's not just going to rain, it's going to pour. I wish the sky would open up already and get it over with. Can't get to the clear blue skies without releasing a little bit of pent up, heavy duty rain.
My computer dings, signaling a new email. I don't recognize the address it came from.
Spoke with my brother. Just want to assure you I don't plan on cramping your style. You stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours. Oh yeah, and if girls are dumb enough to fall for the bullshit you lay at their feet, make sure they're fully dressed unless in your room with the door closed. I'll make sure my guys do the same.
What a bitch! Oh yeah, this is going to be fun all right.
Twenty minutes spent searching for a parking spot is twenty minutes of my life gone. Twenty unproductive minutes I'm not looking for a job, exercising, or improving my quality of life. Now that the car is parked I have to lug my things to the house. It's only two blocks away, but I'll have to make several trips. If Noah was a halfway decent guy, I'd ask him to help me. But he's not, so it's all on me. That's fine. I don't need a guy to open jars and lift heavy things for me. But I will admit, it would be nice to have a little extra muscle right about now.
I pull the key out of my pocket and stick it into the lock on the door. Good thing the realtor gets into the office early, or I'd be stuck out front waiting for Noah to let me in and save the day. I don't even know if he's here yet. I sent him an email that I wouldn't be arriving until sometime in the late afternoon. Not that he cares, but I thought I'd give him a heads up in case he has company of the female sort. Only he never bothered responding, so I didn't bother sending him another saying that I'd be here early.
I hope I made it here first. I want to claim the master bedroom. Cooper said it has its own bathroom attached. If I can hide in my room when we're here together it will make life easier. Easier because the less I see of playboy, party-boy, Noah, the better. I'm not even sure why I agreed to taking Coop's spot. I mean it's one thing if I came alone or with my best friend, Alli. But Noah? This is going to be a long fucking week.
The first thing I notice when I walk in is the bell attached to the wall. It has a pull string so you can make it chime when you walk in. I'm guessing that's so you warn people of your arrival. Screw that. I continue forward into the main living area. Warm sun rays splay across the living room floor. It's bright, but not to the point I want to gorge my eyes out from the strong sun. The muted earth tones shade the walls and keeps the feel of the room warm and just bright enough.
I walk straight ahead to the wall of windows, and look out. It's beautiful. Nothing but beach and water for as far as I can see. No-one's on the beach yet, at least not here. I'm sure there are already people gathering on the sand closer to where the action is. I pick up my bags and drag them up the steps toward where I'm assuming the bedrooms are.
My other bags can wait. Right now I want to throw these somewhere and change. I know it's not a private location, that there are houses full of people lining this part of the boardwalk, but the sand is calling out to me. I won't have to imagine I'm digging my toes into sand for a better grip, I'll be able to just do it.
When I get to the top of the steps the path forks with a door on either end. I turn to the right first and walk the five feet to the door. Damn. There's a suitcase on top of the king size bed. Fucker got here first. Curious, I look around the room, and check out his private bathroom. It's small with a stall shower. Maybe it's better that he have this room, then he might not be tempted to walk out of the shower half-dressed, and I won't be tempted to look.
I sigh and walk down to the other end of the hall. Before I get to the other room at the end, I see a second bathroom off to the right. At least it's only two feet away from the bedroom. Instead of unpacking my bags, or rushing back to my car for the other bags, I drop my things on the bed, same as Noah, and rummage through for some clothes to exercise in.
Sweat drips from every part of my body. I know June is a hot month, but the sun pounds on my head with super strength, especially for this early in the morning. Good thing my hair's up. Wish I had a water bottle with me so I could pour some over my head and cool off, but heat is good. In fact there's a whole branch of yoga dedicated to doing it in the heat.
One more set of sun salutations, then I'll call it a day, at least for now. I bring my hands to prayer position and release the air from my lungs. I'm about to dive down and fold over bringing my hands next to my feet when a noise breaks my concentration. It sounds like someone cleared their throat. I brush the thought away. It must be my imagination because I'm alone out here. I hear it again and can no longer ignore it.
Instead of continuing I turn and spot him standing off to the side, behind me. I don't miss how those blue-green eyes soak me in. They inch down my legs, and then back up. I don't miss how his lips part when he checks my tits out. His round eyes scrunch up and narrow as they meet mine. He looks as if he's trying to place me.
Really? Is he that dense?
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you. I saw you out here and thought you might like a bottle of water." His lips draw up in a smile showing off the holes in his cheeks. Stupid dimples.
I look at the plastic bottle he's offering up. It's cold. Sweat condensation rolls down the side. I'd love to take it, and down half the bottle. But I won't give him the satisfaction. Instead I shake him off and turn back around.
"I'm Noah, by the way." He says with more confidence than I can muster up in a lifetime. "I'm staying in the house behind us this week."
Is he hitting on me?
I can't believe he's hitting on me! The narcissistic, egomaniac doesn't even have a fucking clue who I am.
"I know who you are, party boy."
Noah's brows join together as he works on placing me. His head tilts slightly to the side while he looks me over once again and his lips curl up at the corners. I can't tell which is lighting the beach up more, Noah or the sun.
"Alexis?" He asks.
I shouldn't be surprised. The last time he saw me I was twenty pounds heavier. I still have a good ten pounds to lose. These last pounds have haunted me for years, but judging by the way his eyes keep looking me over, this new body of mine appears to be much more to his liking than my old one.
"Lexi. No one calls me Alexis."
"Maybe to you. He knows if he calls me that I'll knock him on his ass."
Noah's chest shakes as he laughs. I wish I could pull my eyes from him and get my mind back on my sun salutations instead of wondering what that chest of his would feel like beneath my hands.