2nd Place, Salt Lake RWA Heart of the West Contest
3rd Place, Virginia RWA Fool For Love Contest
“I don’t remember my sister ever mentioning you, or that she was going to send someone to pick me up. Are you sure?”
“Sure as the sun is shining, Taylor Grant…attorney at law,” Cole says. He’s grinning, mocking me. But I don’t care. It’s not the worst thing a man has done. “Like I said, Paula is back at The Fish Shack waiting for you.” He reaches for my bag.
“Wait. Did you not hear what I said? I can’t go anywhere with you until I can at least confirm your identity and that you know my sister.”
Cole leaves my bag resting in the sand. “Sounds fair.” He peruses the beach, like he’s looking for someone. He waves at an old guy at a flower stand. “See that fella over there?” He points to the old guy. “He can vouch for me.”
I look, squinting into the sun, and the old guy waves in our direction. I lift a hand and give a halfhearted wave back.
“Are we good?” Cole asks.
“No. Absolutely not. The two of you could be in cahoots.”
I look at the old guy again, then at Cole. “Look, just because you got someone to wave at you doesn’t mean a thing. You could be anybody. You might not even know my sister.” But he did know her name. And he knew my name. Odds are he’s legit, and I’m just being paranoid. Still, I’m not ready to leave here with a stranger. “The two of you could be plotting something,” I say, standing my ground.
Cole laughs, big and hearty, like I’ve just told him the best joke ever, and then he crosses his arms over his chest. “What might me and that old fella be plotting, Taylor Grant, attorney at law?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Kidnapping…or rape.” I feel silly for even saying it.
Cole laughs again.
“What? You think women don’t get kidnapped while on vacation? It happens all the time.” I rattle off several cases in recent history to prove my point, but Cole doesn’t seem to be listening.
“I’m not sure why that old guy and me would want to kidnap you,” he says. “Seems like you might be a lot of trouble. And as mean as I might look, I’m not into rape. Women tend to join me in bed of their own free will.”
My forehead creases into a frown. “I don’t need details about your past. I need proof that you know my sister.”
Cole nudges his hat back an inch, exposing beads of perspiration. It’s getting hotter by the minute, standing here in the hot sun. “I don’t know what more I can do,” he tells me. “Seems like we’re at an impasse. You don’t want to take any chances, I get it. But trust me, Taylor Grant, your sister really did send me to get you. And I’m not a rapist…or a kidnapper. Tell you what, you wait here and think about what you want to do. But I need to get some wind on my face.” Then he grabs my bag and starts off across the sand.
I’m surprised at first, and then concerned. If I don’t stop him, there go all my clothes, as well as my female supplies—makeup, hair product, unmentionables.
“Wait!— Stop!” I shout at his back. But he doesn’t even break pace, so I spin around, arms wide, looking for anyone who might be witness to what’s just happened. But no one is paying any attention. It’s like I’m caught in one of those bizarre moments that make no sense—The Twilight Zone, that’s it—or I’m having one of those weird and really vivid dreams that I’ll eventually wake from and I’ll laugh in my relief. Only I don’t wake up. And something needs to happen. Fast! “Help!” I yell and I thrust a finger in Cole’s direction. “Stop that man! I’ve been robbed!”
Half a dozen people look to see what I’m shouting about, first at me, then Cole. The old man at the roadside flower stand tosses Cole another wave, and Cole waves back. Which is just great. I scan the beach looking for help from anyone else, but everyone has gone back to what they were doing before I broke into their afternoon with my hysterics. No one seems to care that a woman is being robbed in broad daylight.
“He took my bag!” I explain, incredulous at their indifference. But no one pays me any mind. I think I even see someone yawn. “He’s a thief!” I insist, looking at the old man at the flower stand. He turns to a customer who wants to buy flowers.
Suddenly, I feel alone. Alone in paradise.
“SUCH a cute story!…There was some humor, some drama, and some PG-13 romance. Definitely recommended!”—Ashley, Chiquitablogger.com
“Want fun in the sun? Read this book. It’s laugh out loud funny.”—Sheila Roberts, best-selling author of On Strike For Christmas
“A fun escape from reality…perfect for a beach vacation.”—Rachel Van Dyken, Books by the Glass