I sat on a piece of driftwood, took off my shoes, and buried my toes in the sand. The waves lapped at the shore about fifteen feet in front of me, and I enjoyed the ambient sounds of the night. I sat quietly, staring at my toes in the sand for a few minutes, and listening to the water and the laughter floating across it.
Then I heard, “Can I join you?”
I didn’t need to look up to know Nick was standing behind me. His voice was soft and tentative.
I turned my head and said, “Of course.”
He had also put on a fleece jacket and a beanie cap, and looked entirely too huggable. He was wearing khaki pants and Keen sandals. He sat down next to me, took his sandals off, and buried his toes in the sand next to mine.
I put my hands on my knees and rested my chin on the backs of them. I looked at our feet and tilted my head a little so that I could see him. “It feels good doesn’t it? It’s so cold just a few inches down.”
The night and stars surrounded us, and the moment felt intimate. It felt like it was just the two of us here together, and I was resentful that I would eventually have to go back to the camp.
Reaching out, he put his right arm around me and pulled me to him. It felt strange to allow him to be so familiar, but it also felt right. I rested my cheek on his chest and closed my eyes. He felt so good and warm, and I wanted to stay there forever. It didn’t even occur to me that this was wrong.
“Jason seems to be having a good time.” He spoke, completely ruining the mood.
I sighed heavily and pulled out of his arms. I said, “Yeah, I guess so.” Our bubble had already deflated, so I continued, “Jackie does too.”
He laughed, and said, “Yeah, no, not so much now. She is going to be hurting tomorrow.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes, staring out at the bay. Each of us in our own thoughts, but our bodies close enough to touch.
“What’s your story, summer girl?” His voice was quiet, and the tone was lazy. It sounded to me like he would have leaned back, if he could have without falling off the log.
I was lounging on a couch with my back to the front door, and Julie and Shaye were across from me. “I think Ethan owes us dinner for all of this work we did today,” I announced as I dangled a diet Coke from my hand. I had one leg thrown over the arm of the couch.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t be opposed to that,” Shaye said. “I could go for a burger from the pub.”
“UGH! A burger after a pizza lunch? Gross!” Julie protested. “I need a salad. Maybe we can get him to take us to the Bay Café.”
I had closed my eyes, and spoke without opening them. “I don’t feel like getting cleaned up to go to dinner. I’m with Shaye.”
“Maybe Ethan likes a dirty girl,” Julie said archly.
“Oh, please, Julie, if I remember correctly, you didn’t even give him a second look.” I opened my eyes and saw the glint in hers.
“I wasn’t talking about me.”
“He works for my brother, Julie. It would be inappropriate. From what I remember, he was a very nice guy.” I had more heat in my voice than I intended, and Julie, sensing weakness, continued goading me.
“And from what I remember, he was a hunky, yummy man. You should totally try and climb that.”
Julie was starting to piss me off; I was tired of her innuendoes.
Doing my best to shock her, I said, “Oh, yes, I should totally climb that. I might sneak over one night and seduce him. Maybe I’ll put on a tiny black lace thong and a push-up bra, climb in bed with him, and whisper, ‘Ethan, you big hunk of a love-man, I’m gonna ride you like a quarter horse, and fuck you ‘til you can’t see straight.’ Then I’ll wait until he nods off, and do it all over again. Is that what you would do, Julie? Is that how it’s done?”
Both Shaye and Julie sat speechless on the couch in front of me.
“You could start with that, but at least let me take you to dinner first,” Ethan said.
I jumped up off the couch and almost spilled my soda all over me. Shaye and Julie both snickered behind me.
Shaye spoke first. “Hey, Ethan. You made it.” She was smiling at him.
From a young age, Julie Hunter had her whole life planned. She would inherit her parents’ vineyard and live happily ever with her childhood sweetheart, her first and forever love. When he dies, however, her dreams die with him. She retreats within herself, burying her wounds under a facade of hedonism and debauchery.
Over the years, her friends have come to accept her sometimes crass behavior. But as Julie matures, she tires of the act. When she inherits the vineyard, she decides to chase her dreams on her own and develop the property into a world class resort.
Enter Dax Bentley, a prominent Seattle investor. She finds herself drawn to his sleek, polished demeanor. But her construction manager, Riley Johnson, challenges her motives. He forces her to examine her feelings, and her true self.
Julie, Riley, and Dax find themselves grappling with a history of lost loves and past resentments. With the future of her resort at stake, Julie must learn that sometimes you have to let go of that which is most precious to get what your heart desires.
I turned to run up the dock as best I could in my wedges, trying to catch Riley before he made it to us.
Fortunately, Shaye had already stepped up into the plane, so I avoided a scene in front of her. Riley had a backpack over his shoulder, and a scowl on his face.
“Riley, I am so sorry.”
He was pissed. “I know you had a really important breakfast with your investor this morning, but at least answer your fucking phone.”
“I felt bad because I was already late. I thought it would be rude to interrupt our conversation.”
Hitching his backpack higher up on his shoulder, he glared at me. He ran his eyes down my body, resting on my feet and my blue painted toes.
When he brought his eyes back to mine, he said, “It was rude to take my truck and leave me stranded.”
His voice had softened, and I felt my insides warm. “I…I didn’t know you were going anywhere.”
“I need to go to Friday Harbor. I was going to drive, but now I’ll take my boat. I’ll be back in a few days and I’ll fix your truck then. You can use mine.”
Turning away from me, he continued his trek down the dock to his boat. My heels made it difficult to keep up with his long stride, so I waited until we reached his boat to continue the conversation.
“When are you coming back?”
He stepped into a forty-foot fishing boat and answered, “In a few days. My sister needs me to help her with the customer. They changed the scope of the project but not the budget. I think they thought that since we left her in charge, they could bulldoze her and take advantage. I just need to give her some support.”
Riley’s boat was so beautiful I found myself stepping in after him. It swayed and I grabbed his arm for support.
He laughed. “Are you coming with me?”
“This boat is gorgeous. What is it?”
He paused, as if he was gauging my motives, and then he said, “It’s a Scout 420.”
I wandered along the sides of the deck, admiring the caramel, faux leather seats.
“Does it have a cabin?”
He tilted his head to an entry way. I stepped carefully down into a cozy galley, with a sleeping berth and small dining area.
Following me down, he ducked his head and scooted past me to toss his backpack on the bed. It was difficult to maneuver around him, and I regretted my decision to step in.
Riley took a seat at the tiny table, his legs stretched out in front of him, watching me with amusement, and I had to step around him to leave.
He reached out a hand to steady me, and I inhaled sharply at the feel of his palm on my leg.
“I…I should get going.”
His voice was husky when he spoke. “You could come with me if you want. The lumber won’t be delivered until later this week. Not much is going to happen on site.”
He hadn’t shaved and I briefly imagined him kissing my inner thighs, the soft hairs tickling me. His eyes sparkled with humor, as if he knew what he was doing to me.
Abruptly, I pushed his leg to the side. “I really need to get back. Thank you for letting me use your truck. I’ll make sure I put gas in it. And text me when you get back, I’ll come get you.”
I’d scrambled to the boat deck and then out onto the dock before he reappeared from the cabin.
He shouted after me, “Don’t crash it Juliette!”
I gave him my middle finger.
Rie grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent her summers as a child in the San Juan Islands.
“Pavey Boulevard”, released in 2018, is the story of Shaye Richards & Nick Reid, and is the first in the Island Series. The second in the series, “On Island”, released in May, 2019, continues the saga with Evie Reid, the sister of Nick, and her love story with Ethan Archer.
Rie currently lives in Texas with her family and returns home to the Pacific Northwest as often as she can.