She’d come out on the other side a long time ago and now lived a normal life. Or at least as normal a life as she could have ever wished for.
And she loved it.
She loved it so much she was willing to lie to everyone she met to keep it.
The third text wasn’t any more a surprise than the first two.
Remember I spent my 17th bday in the bathroom @ my high school graduation kegger party having you Sharlyn—you owe me.
No, her mother hadn’t exactly been the classic mom-manager, but it wasn’t as if being a teenage mom from a farm in Kentucky had exactly prepared her for Hollywood.
The fourth and last text was from Jolyn, Olivia’s older sister by eleven months.
Fair warning, she wants her boobs done again.
Olivia jumped and set her phone down on the bench away from her.
Cole studied her for a beat, and she took the opportunity to do the same. He had glossy brown hair gone wild thanks to their impromptu swim. He was also sporting at least two days’ worth of scruff on a square jaw, and his ready smile was devastatingly contagious. And then there were his eyes, ocean blue and deep and…mesmerizing. They held as many secrets as hers did.
Clearing her throat, she shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong,” she said. Or everything, take your pick.
“Nothing’s why you’re frowning at your phone like you wish it’d gone into the drink along with your keys?” he asked with a healthy dose of get real in his tone.
Olivia shrugged and pulled the blanket in tighter around herself with a shiver.
Swearing softly, he covered her with two more blankets, pressing the wool closer against her, his hands thorough but carefully respectful.
And damn, she missed his body heat.
Apparently not versed in reading a woman’s mind, Cole moved to the stove in the kitchen. Galley, Olivia corrected. On a boat, it was called a galley. And it was a damn fine one, too. In fact, the entire boat was nice. Beautiful wood accents and cabinetry, state-of-the-art interior and electronics. It was huge, and extremely well taken care of.
“What were you doing on the dock so early?” he asked.
“At five thirty in the morning?” he asked.
“Best time to go.” She’d moved to Lucky Harbor about a year ago and had taken over the vintage shop from a proprietor who’d run it into the ground. Olivia had wanted to come here since she’d been a child and her on-set tutor, Mrs. Henderson, had told her about growing up in idyllic, quirky, beautiful Lucky Harbor. Olivia had turned Unique Boutique around, babying the place back to life. It was a love affair for her, making the old valuable in a new way, and for the first time in her life, she was proud of her occupation.
She didn’t open up for business until ten, but her body’s inner clock had never gotten the message and was set for Annoyingly Early. Having spent a good number of years in Los Angeles, she never got tired of taking in the gorgeous landscape that was Lucky Harbor. The place was cradled between the Olympic Mountains and the gorgeous Pacific Northwest rocky coast, and she loved walking here. “It’s peaceful,” she said. “Safe.”
“Not so much on the dock this morning.”
“No,” she agreed, taking in the way he smiled and how it caused her to as well.
“You took jumping my bones to a whole new level,” Cole said.
Before this morning, she’d never had the occasion to speak to him directly, nor had she ever given him much thought. He was just a guy she occasionally caught glimpses of, in his company T-shirt and his low-slung cargo shorts with all the pockets, usually with tools sticking out of them.
Liar, the devil on her left shoulder said. He’s big and built, and when you watch him work on the boat in those shorts where all his goodies aren’t necessarily relegated to his pockets, you give him plenty of thought…
It’s okay, the angel on her right shoulder said. He’s a really great guy. All techno-geek with some alpha mixed in. It’s natural to think about him.
Naked? the devil asked. Can we think about him naked?
“If it helps, I think my rescuing days are over,” Olivia told him, shoving aside her inner voices.
“Nah. You’d jump in again if you had to,” he said, sounding confident.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because you took a flying leap for me, a perfect stranger,” he said. “Without even thinking about it.” He was staring into the pot of water like it couldn’t boil fast enough for him, and a whole new layer of emotion hit her.
Olivia had a lot of experience with not being wanted. Too much. Suddenly antsy to go, to get away from the boat and that horrible feeling of déjà vu, she started to get up.
But Cole’s gaze lifted and pinned her in place with the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. “Stay still a few more minutes,” he said.
“It’s you who has a bump on your head,” she said.
“Trust me, I’ve had a lot worse.”
“And your shoulder?”
He ignored this. “Can you feel your fingers and toes?”
With him studying her carefully, she could feel every single inch, thank you very much, not to mention certain erogenous zones. “I can feel irritation at your bossiness,” she said. “Does that count?”
He grinned. “That’s a good start.”
She didn’t bother to roll her eyes. “You seem pretty at ease with a woman’s irritation,” she noted, curious about him, which was unusual in itself. Since moving to Lucky Harbor, she’d done a lot of keeping to herself, and other than making a habit of staring at Cole every chance she got, very little noticing of the opposite sex.