Beyond the Beach Teaser

Beyond the Beach - _0003_Title VerticleMasen Pelletier was living his life to the fullest, on a mission to surf every beach he could. He had his life ahead of him and there was nothing or no one he couldn’t have but what happens when he meets Zoe, someone who makes him work for it. Will he change who he is and find a way to live beyond the beach or will he always swim alone?

1 Inspiration

The crisp air blew outside the window, forcing small debris into the sky, lifting and lifting until it dropped somewhere Zoe couldn’t see. Her lip curled into a small smile as she imagined the scattered fragments drifting all the way to New York City, where it could join its brethren in the land of debris and chaos where she came from. A land where the sights and sounds, while exciting at times, were never tranquil or at peace.

Zoe couldn’t see the beach where she was standing but she could certainly sense its proximity. She had found that in the short time they had been on the island, the beach seemed to have a presence of its own. An awakening of mind and spirit when you were anywhere near its vicinity. How this could be, she wasn’t quite sure. She only knew that it made her happy and oddly at ease.

The smell of the salty water rose from the shore and into the small room they occupied at the top of Surfer’s Beach. They were staying in Governor’s Harbor on Eleuthera Island, one of the many islands that made up the Bahamas. Eleuthera was more of a local destination than the tourist spot that was Nassau, which was both good and bad. Good in the sense that there were less people, and bad, well, it had less people, leaving Zoe unsure of herself, unable to blend in with the millions.

She turned from the window and the cool, inviting breeze outside. The creaky floorboards of the room announced themselves as Zoe strode to the worn couch cloaked in its tropical colors. She plopped down unceremoniously, looking up at her excited best friend, Summer.

“I don’t want to go,” Zoe pouted from the couch.

“Zoe, the whole point of being in the Bahamas is to actually be in the Bahamas,” Summer exclaimed with an arch of her perfectly sculpted brow.

“I am happy being where I am. I have been out, a lot, but I need to finish this piece. I want it to be done before we get back. I won’t have another opportunity to relax and just… write once we get home.”

Summer rolled her eyes as she brought one sash against her waist and then the other as she fitted her sarong low on her hips. Summer was a small and petite woman, with long blonde hair and hazel eyes that caused jealousy amongst most women. She had a fiery spirit that often caused her to act without thinking, sometimes with dire consequences. Nevertheless, when she set her mind on something, she went for it, full steam ahead; which was the complete opposite of Zoe. Perhaps that was why they had become such good friends.

Zoe and Summer had known each other for five years. They had met when Zoe was hired as a receptionist for Webster, Inc., a large investment firm in New York City. Summer, being a seasoned employee, had been assigned to show her the ropes and how to maintain herself within the company. They became fast friends, taking lunch with each other every day. It was during the initial stage of their friendship that Zoe had learned two very important things about Summer. The first being that she lived for fashion. She actually allotted forty percent of her salary to be used specifically for clothes and shoes. It was something that Zoe couldn’t fathom. The second thing was that Summer was obsessed with Ethan Webster, who just so happened to be the CEO’s son and next in line to run the company. Ethan Webster did not work in their particular branch but came by often enough to send Summer into a tizzy.

When Zoe and Summer decided to cut expenses a few years after they began to work with each other and share an apartment, Zoe realized just how far Summer’s obsession went. Summer had a file of all the newspaper clippings that Ethan was in and talked relentlessly about his accomplishments in and out of the office. As far as Zoe could ascertain, Summer had never actually met him, which is what led them to the island in the first place. Zoe smiled as she thought back to Summer’s initial plea to go to the island.

“Zoe, please, oh my God, this could be good for both of us!” Summer pleaded.

Zoe looked up from the newspaper she was reading and eyed her friend speculatively. She set the New York Times down on their glass top coffee table and crossed her legs and then her arms. Summer had been going on for hours about how Ethan was going to the Bahamas and it just so happened to coincide with their vacation time. She saw it as destiny, the fates aligning for her and Ethan. Generally, Zoe ignored Summer when she got frenzied like this but there was something different about her right now. An urgency that was almost frightening.

“How on earth would us,” Zoe waved her hand between the two of them, “spending our hard-earned savings to go to the Bahamas on the off chance you will run into Ethan, be good for both of us?” Zoe questioned.

“I can feel it, this is it,” Summer whispered reverently as she sat down next to her on the couch and linked her fingers with Zoe’s. “Ethan and I are supposed to be together. I know this with every fiber of my being.” She brought Zoe’s hand to her heart, which was beating rapidly. “This is my chance, my opportunity to see him outside of the office, to let him see me, as me.”

Zoe was moved by her friend’s impassioned plea but was still a bit wary of the venture. “I don’t know, Summer. I was going to write that whole week.”

“What better place to find inspiration than here?” Summer exclaimed with unprecedented excitement as she tossed the newspaper aside and reached for one of the brochures that had been hidden underneath it, handing it to her friend.

Zoe took the brochure, letting her fingers run along the beautiful picture of a couple walking hand in hand along the ocean shore at sunset. Maybe a trip to the islands would be a good thing; something that could jump start inspiration on her part.

“Just change and come with me today. I have proof that he will be at Surfers Beach. It’s just down the way,” Summer exclaimed, bringing Zoe out of her memory.

Proof. Zoe’s eyes almost rolled to the back of her head at her best friend. Summer’s idea of proof was hearing from her ‘source’ that Ethan was going to be at this place or that place. So far, he hasn’t been at any of the locations she was told he would be at. She wondered at what point Summer would cross into becoming a stalker. With a slight sigh, she realized that perhaps she had already passed into it.

“Zoe, come on!”

Zoe glanced at her opened laptop on the coffee table and thought that maybe it would be best to get some fresh air and clear her head. Although she had a day job, her biggest desire was to write. She was working on her first novel but had hit a writer’s block of sorts. She looked back at Summer, who was smiling, already sensing that she had won this debate. With her inspiration waning, Zoe stood and went to the bedroom to change. Maybe Summer was right, maybe something at the beach would inspire her.

~*~

The wind blew Zoe’s chestnut colored hair to and fro until it was a wild and chaotic mess, framing her heart shaped face. Her large brown eyes were covered by a pair of hand-me-down Ray Bans she found at a second-hand store. As they parked, they could see many cars as the sounds of beach fun emerged from the shore. The girls quickly grabbed their things. Summer draped their towels and blanket over her arms as she scanned the perimeter in search of the elusive Mr. Webster. Glancing at Summer, Zoe shook her head before throwing their umbrella bag over her shoulder and picking up her ‘if you ain’t from the Big Apple you ain’t shit’ tote.

Noticing the tote, Summer sighed. She wished that Zoe was a little less hostile and abrasive. She worried about her friend. She had few relationships that seemed to last. Usually, she fell for unattainable men, men who had no desire to be faithful or settle down. It had been years since the last one, Darian, had broken her heart. Summer still remembered the day, six months after Zoe caught Darian with another woman that Zoe exclaimed triumphantly, that she was giving up on love and men. So far, Zoe had kept that promise to herself, in spite of Summer’s attempts at matchmaking.

Summer turned toward the shore again in an attempt to find the best spot, a spot where she could see the large groups of people milling about. She noticed a centralized patch of sand not far from the water and motioned her head toward it. Zoe nodded as they began their trek. The warm sand hit their feet and made the two young women move just a tad faster than they wanted.

Zoe was lost in thought as the hot sand burned the tender soles of her feet. She saw the look her friend gave her at the car and tried to dismiss it, but it was haunting her. She was not willing to have the ‘you need to get out and experience life’ discussion again but had a feeling that it was inevitable. When they reached the spot that Summer had selected, she stopped and noticed that Summer began to immediately rake her eyes over the beach, in an effort to find any sign of Ethan, Zoe imagined.

“You’re not going to ditch me, are you?” Zoe asked with a raised eyebrow, halting Summer’s search.

“Of course not, well, I mean…” Summer stuttered slightly.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Summer.” Zoe stopped, placing her hands on her hips angrily. “He’s just a man, no more, no less than any of them. A dime a dozen!”

Summer dropped their items on the sand and stared at her friend in disbelief. Not only was Ethan Webster New York’s most sought-after investment broker, he was beautiful to boot, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. His tall and slim body was accentuated perfectly in his tailored suits. But it wasn’t just his looks that Summer was entranced with. She also sensed that there was something deeper about him. She felt in her soul that they were connected but she would never know for sure until they actually spoke to one another.

“How could you say that!” Summer stated incensed.

Zoe expelled an exacerbated breath before reaching down and straightening out their blanket. She ignored her friend while she set up the umbrella in a way that ensured that it offered shade to most of the blanket. Tanning was one thing but burning quite the other.

“I’m sorry, Summer. I know it’s a big deal to you,” Zoe finally said, looking up to see Summer staring off in the distance. “What?” she asked her nearly comatose friend.

“Ethan,” she whispered reverently.

Zoe turned and put her hands on her hips, squinting into the sun. Sure enough, there he was, Ethan Webster, III in all his über rich glory. He was standing at a makeshift bar visiting with the bartender, a local man who was waving his arms in dramatic fashion as Ethan laughed in response. Zoe had never seen Ethan in anything but a suit, but today he was wearing a pair of board shorts with a light blue button-down shirt. Not bad!

Zoe thought back to New York and the fact that she had never actually talked to him before. She had seen him around the office a few times, but they had never interacted. He never seemed to pay attention to her, or Summer, for that matter. She was highly doubtful that he knew they existed. Why would he, they were clearly in a whole different social stratosphere than him. Plus, Zoe and Summer didn’t work on his father’s floor so unless Summer went into scary stalker mode there would be no reason for them to intermingle. Zoe placed her hand on Summer’s shoulder.

“What’s your plan, Mrs. W?” Zoe asked with a chuckle.

She always teased her about becoming the future Mrs. Webster but, in truth, she knew that was exactly what Summer wanted more than anything else in the world. Summer shrugged, unsure for a moment and then suddenly squared her shoulders and smoothed out her sarong. She then fluffed her hair and adjusted her boobs to maximize cleavage before she started to stroll in his direction. It was ‘do or die’ time. She convinced Zoe to take this trip with her and she needed to follow through with her plan, which consisted primarily of finding Ethan and making contact with him. She figured nature would take it from there. She casually walked to the bar, glancing at Ethan as his eyes shifted towards her.

“Can I have a Flirtini?” Summer asked, offering Ethan a smile.

He grinned at the beautiful woman before him, thinking that maybe this trip wasn’t a complete bust after all. She smiled at him, her eyes sparkling with mischief. Ethan breathed in deeply and turned to the bartender, with authority, instructing him to put her drink on his tab.

“Thank you,” Summer said, tilting her head slightly, trying desperately to control the desire she had to spring on him.

“My name’s Ethan,” he outstretched his hand to her.

She grabbed it and felt her heart leap with unbridled joy. Her hand was in his, right where she always knew it should be.

“Summer,” she replied, her voice coming out shaky and unsure.

“Nice to meet you, Summer,” he said with a smile.

Zoe watched their interaction and chuckled. She couldn’t believe that Summer was actually that close to him. For a brief moment, she wondered if she would make it through the conversation or if she would faint on the spot. When she saw her do her signature giggle while playfully tapping his chest, Zoe knew she had everything under control.

“That girl is nuts,” Zoe said to no one in particular as she watched her friend flirt shamelessly with the man of her dreams.

She shook her head and turned to check out the water. There were some nice waves and a lot of people surfing. Zoe smiled as wave after wave took people out and they got right back up again. It was amazing to watch. Some were definitely more skilled than others. She chuckled and took a seat on the blanket, figuring she would be there for a while, that is if Summer had anything to do with it. Just as she reached for her book, she saw a man stand up on his board.

“Oh, wow,” she muttered to herself.

He was looking toward the shore and Zoe tried to make out his distinct facial features but couldn’t from her distance. What she could decipher was the shape of his body. He was long and lean, wearing a pair of board shorts that were sticking to his wet legs, legs that appeared to be exceptionally fit. His hands brushed through his slick hair, which looked like it fell to the top of his shoulders.

She grinned widely. “He’s a total surfer!”

She couldn’t quite tell but she got the distinct impression that he might be smiling. Oh shit! She thought as she glanced to the ground, embarrassed that she was caught admiring him. When she brought her eyes back up, he was no longer looking in her direction. She watched as he balanced himself on the board, crouching slightly as his arms bent and angled to the right. He began maneuvering through the wave and Zoe was mesmerized.

2 Masen

“When will you be back?” The gruff voice on the other end of the speaker asked with clear frustration.

“I have a week here and then I’m off to Oahu for a couple of weeks,” Masen replied, staring at his frowning reflection in the mirror.

“Dammit, when are you going to take your life seriously? I have spent years waiting for you to get this,” the gruff voice paused, and Masen could almost picture the veins in his father’s neck pulsing. “This hobby of yours out of your system but unfortunately it hasn’t.” Another pause ensued, and Masen could no longer hold his tongue.

“This is not a hobby,” Masen stated with more bite than he intended.

He gripped the edge of the dresser, shaking his head and trying to control his anger. When he looked at his reflection again, he could see that he was failing miserably. His father’s voice continued to berate him.

“This is it, son, after this gig or whatever the hell you call it, you are coming home, and you are working for me. You have responsibilities that you have been neglecting and I expect you to start fulfilling them,” his father exclaimed angrily, right before hanging up.

“Screw you,” Masen muttered as the dial tone echoed in the silent room.

Masen ran his hands through his hair, pulling it all the way back, trying to imagine what he would look like with short hair, clean cut and business like. He struggled to picture it. Unfortunately for him, he may not have a choice in the matter. His father was accustomed to getting what he wanted and if he put his foot down, he could make it so that no one would hire him, unwilling to risk the wrath of Mr. Rodrigo Masen Pelletier. He sighed and dropped his hands, walking to the large picture window that overlooked the beach.

“You need to get laid, Masen. Get some sweet thing to distract you and take your mind off of all this nonsense,” he said to himself before washing his hands over the stubble on his face.

Masen glanced at his board near the door and walked over to it. He ran his hand along the smooth surface that he already waxed to perfection. His father underestimated the power the water had over him. Only on the water did he feel free, did he feel real. How could he give that up? With a heavy sigh, he headed to his bedroom to grab his beach towel before coming back to snatch his board.

The minute he stepped out of his cabin, a smile spread across his face. The wind was blowing nicely, which would make for great conditions on the water. The water! It called to him, beckoning his embrace. He had a good feeling about today. Something special was going to happen. It was inevitable.

~*~

Masen stepped out of his car and allowed his eyes to take in not only the ocean but the beach as well. He had been in Eleuthera for a week and had already gotten what he came here for. Now it was playtime. But, who would be his ‘playmate’ he wondered as he took in the beautiful women who lined the shore. Masen wasn’t necessarily picky about the type of girl he wanted. He had no preference as far as blonde, brunette, or red heads. He didn’t even care the nationality. He had been with most nationalities at one point or another. No, his criteria was more that they be a tourist seeking a good time just like him. He had made the mistake, many years ago, of getting involved with a local and it turned out poorly when it came time for Masen to leave, as her brothers were not keen on the relationship they had, feeling their sister had been used. This is what led to him developing his current regime.

Anytime Masen traveled, which was often, he picked one girl to hang out with and, of course, have sex with while he was in town. It saved him any potential problems with one-night stands on islands that were way too small to get away with, and he was always assured a good time. He knew he wouldn’t be staying long, which served as the perfect exit strategy for him, as well as the girls, because they knew what they were getting themselves into right from the start. He never hid the fact that what they had together would by no means be anything more than an island fling. It was a plan that had worked successfully for several years.

Not seeing anyone that immediately caught his attention, he turned to his convertible and tossed his shirt on the front seat before lifting his board out of the car and hoisting it under his arm. He rolled his shoulders and ran his free hand through his long, shaggy hair before turning back toward the beach and the waves that beckoned him.

“First things first,” he said to himself with a shrug before heading in the direction of the shoreline.

As he began making the trek across the sand, he noticed several women looking his way. This wasn’t unusual for Masen. He always drew attention, usually without even trying. He was an avid surfer, mountain climber, and all-around adventurer. He strayed as far away from his family as he possibly could. He never wanted to be tied to them in any way, although, his name ensured that he always would be linked to them. He offered a few smiles to some of the women who he happened to make eye contact with, but so far none of them piqued his interest other than for a quick roll in the sand, but Masen didn’t want that. He wanted someone he could spend the next five days with before flying to Hawaii. As he continued to stroll toward the shore, he slowed as his eyes caught sight of long chestnut hair with auburn highlights. It blew around her, which caused a smile to form on his face. She had a body that nearly stopped him in his tracks. This girl had her hands on her hips, accentuating her backside, which was a vision to behold. Not to mention her long legs that seemed to go on for days.

“Hmm, interest duly piqued,” he mumbled with an appreciative nod.

“Hey, Masen, you going to The Pit tonight?”

Masen turned to see Cory standing beside him. Cory was a fellow surfer whom he met when he arrived a week ago. He had learned that Cory and several other surfers had been here for most of the summer already, trying to prepare for a competition that would be happening later this month. They had rented a cabin not far from where Masen was currently staying and had befriended him immediately. It turned out that they had surfed many of the same beaches.

“Yeah, most likely,” Masen answered with a slight nod. He turned to the water and then back to Cory. “You been out yet?” Masen asked, motioning towards the waves.

“Hell yeah,” Cory answered enthusiastically. “It’s clean, man. I’m going back as soon as I get me some grub.”

Masen nodded and looked to the ocean. “I’ll catch ya later then,” he said, waving Cory off.

“See ya later, man.”

The conditions looked good. There was very little offshore wind, so the wave energy would be optimal for him. He made a cursory glance at the woman with the killer backside and then got down to business, jogging the rest of the way to shore. The water was cold against his skin as he began to paddle out into the swell. The foam continued to jump up and kiss his face. He brushed it off and rose on his board. His eyes were drawn toward the shore where he noticed that the woman from the beach was now looking in his direction.

“I’ll be damned,” he said with a smile.

He couldn’t see what her face looked like from his current distance, but he could most definitely distinguish the outline of her body, quickly coming to the conclusion that it seemed as if her front side was just as exquisite as her backside. Her head dropped slightly but he wasn’t focused on that. No, he was checking out this girl’s exceptional body. She had a small waist and flat stomach and from what he could tell from his position on his board, perfect breasts. They were just the right size for him to enjoy and he was willing to bet that they were real as well. Spending a lot of time on beaches, he learned to differentiate fake from real very quickly. Unlike some of his peers, he always preferred the real thing, even if that meant a smaller cup size. He closed his eyes for a moment and could almost imagine what this girl’s breasts would feel like.

“Quit thinking about boobs!” He scolded himself with a shake of his head.

 He ran his hands through his hair and got into position. As the wave took him, he made a decision. This girl would be it, she would be the one he spent the rest of the week with. She just didn’t know it yet.

3 Plan in Motion

“Zoe,” he muttered, his lips hovering above hers.

Her heart raced while her breath came out in short, uneven gasps. The hot sand scratched and tickled her skin, but Zoe didn’t mind as his lips finally made contact with hers. Her hands draped around his neck, pulling his body closer and feeling his wet skin against hers, his arousal evident.

“Zoe, what do you think of this one?” Summer asked, startling Zoe out of her daydream.

Blinking several times, Zoe tried to get her bearings. Rising from her lawn chair, she stared out across the patio, toward the walking path that led to the beach. Breathing in deeply, she tried in vain to erase her wanton thoughts of the unknown surfer, thoughts that were causing her skin to flush with desire. Feeling as if she were being watched, Zoe turned and noticed that Summer was now eyeing her suspiciously. Pushing her hair behind her ear, Zoe gave her friend the once over, checking out the ensemble she had picked out. It was a mint green skirt with matching stiletto heels and what Zoe liked to call an easy access blouse. She chuckled as she was unfortunately aware that Ethan’s favorite color was mint green. Summer was ensuring that he wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off her.

“Are you going to a club?”

Summer rolled her eyes as she flipped her off. “No, smart ass, we’re going to a restaurant, but I want to be prepared for anything.”

Zoe grinned and nodded before approaching her. Summer gazed upon her curiously just as Zoe let her finger slip into the crease of Summer’s shirt and laughed as the top button popped open, easy access, baby. She arched her brow at her friend who stepped back, fixing her shirt, and then proceeded to stick her tongue out.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” Summer asked disapprovingly.

Zoe looked down at her ensemble, which consisted of jean shorts and a baggy t-shirt. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Oh, Zoe, what am I going to do with you?” Summer asked, shaking her head. She had no sense of style, or how to flaunt the curves that she had been blessed with. “Come on,” she said taking her friends hand.

“Wonderful!” Zoe thought aloud.

She followed her friend into the bedroom area and to the pile of discarded clothes. Summer blissfully started moving items around, humming softly to herself as she selected a blouse and then wandered over to Zoe’s neatly stacked clothes trying to decide what the least offensive garment might be. Settling on a pair of skinny jeans, she snatched them up before perusing through Zoe’s unmentionables.

“Did you not bring any sexy lingerie?” Summer asked in a huff.

Zoe couldn’t contain the snort that emerged. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Summer shook her head and narrowed her eyes. She couldn’t believe the resistance that she was getting from her. Did Zoe not see that she was trying to help her? Zoe was one of the nicest people on the planet but her hard core, anti-relationship, anti-men stance was not going to help her have fun on the island. Isn’t that what they were here for? With a frustrated and exaggerated sigh, she shoved the clothes at her friend.

“Here, change. Now!”

“Yes, ma’am,” Zoe said in mock salute to the fashion dictator before her.

Summer once again flipped her off before pivoting and exiting the room. Zoe glanced at the clothes in her hand and frowned, tossing them back on the bed. She let her shorts drop to the floor and then pulled off her shirt. With her hands on her hips, she stood in her underwear, a pair of white boy shorts and a black bra, taking in her reflection in the mirror. She was never one to dress sexy, not even when she was in a relationship. She was more a ‘take me as I am or no way at all’ kind of gal. She didn’t feel like what she had on was so unattractive. She shrugged her shoulders and reluctantly reached for the Summer approved outfit for this evening.

“Well, I guess I better go do my hair and makeup before the head of the fashion police sends me to the stockade for some sort of style violation I’m committing,” she said to her mirrored self.

Zoe grinned as she snatched her makeup bag off the dresser. It never took her long to get ready for anything. She didn’t believe in wearing a lot of make up or really dolling herself up for anyone. She usually wore only base and a small amount of blush and mascara, but, since she was ‘going out’ she decided to kick it up a notch and dipped into her plum eye shadow, adding some eyeliner and breaking out the velvet rose lipstick. She was reluctant to do anything with her hair so instead just brushed it out and applied some hair spray to hold that messed up, fly away look that she generally liked. Once she felt she was duly ready to pass inspection, she headed over to check on her best friend, still slightly annoyed that she was being forced to get ‘made up’ for no one in particular.

Summer continued to primp and prod as she prepared for the evening. She and Ethan had visited for a long time at the beach and when it was time for him to go he had invited her out so that they could finish their conversation. This was Summer’s opportunity and she was leaving nothing to chance. She had convinced Zoe, albeit reluctantly, to go out for the evening as well, therefore leaving their shared room open and available should she and Ethan choose to make it an early evening. She glanced in the mirror to see Zoe standing in the doorway with her arms crossed.

“Zoe, come on, girl, don’t look at me like that.” Zoe didn’t change her stance. If anything, she became more determined. “You know what you need?” Summer asked teasingly.

Zoe snorted. “Please enlighten me, oh wise one.”

Summer rolled her eyes dramatically. “You need to get laid. How long’s it been?” Zoe scrunched her eyes and Summer pointed at her. “See, it’s been so long you don’t even remember.” She turned back to the mirror to finish applying her makeup. “Perhaps if you actually tried having sex it would be easier to write about it,” she finished nonchalantly.

Zoe loosened her stance, dropping her arms and leaning against the doorway. She wasn’t sure what was wrong with her. She had mentioned to Summer a month ago that she felt stuck in relation to her novel. She thought that the content of her story was good, the plot, the characters, all of it except the most important piece, the romance, basically the sex. She had been stopped at the intimacy. It wasn’t that she was naïve, far from it, but she had never had that just looking at him makes my body want to explode experience. And looking back to her last relationship did not help with the motivation.

“Maybe you could see it like that one old movie we watched a couple of weeks ago,” Summer offered, applying her eyeliner.

Zoe glanced her way, having been brought out of her thoughts. What is she talking about now? Zoe thought as she arched her brow in confusion.

Summer grinned. “How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Didn’t she go to Jamaica or something, hooked up with some hot island stud,” Summer said with a wag of her brows.

“For Christ’s sake, Summer, that woman was like in her forties going through a divorce. Is that what my love life equates to nowadays?” Zoe asked louder than she had intended.

Summer shrugged. “I’m just saying. You need to open yourself up to really experiencing the island. It’s not like we will ever be coming back or will ever see anyone again.” She smirked. “What happens in the Bahamas stays in the Bahamas.”

“That’s Vegas, ya weirdo,” Zoe said, unable to contain her smile.

“Same principle applies.”

Zoe shook her head and stepped away from the door. “I’m heading out, have fun tonight.”

“You too,” Zoe heard from the other room. “And get lucky!” Summer added with a boisterous laugh.

Zoe walked out of their room giggling and shaking her head. She loved Summer and her zest for living life to the fullest, but she never saw it as a lifestyle she could fully embrace. She was much too serious for that. She walked along the pathway outside their room toward the main lobby. It was a nice night and, without realizing it, she found herself looking toward the pathway to the beach a couple of times. For what, she wasn’t sure. She supposed maybe on a subconscious level she was waiting for the surfer to stride up and whisk her away like they did in those romance novels on all the shelves of the bookstores. She looked to the ground, kicking a small pebble out of the way.

“Jesus, Zoe, calm the hell down,” she mumbled to herself as she stepped into the foyer of the main lobby.

Her eyes moved around the room. Surfer’s Ridge was a nice place to stay, not very fancy, but it was close to the beach, which was a perk. She could see an older woman talking to a couple in their mid-forties. No, she didn’t want to go anywhere that she was directing them to. It was bad enough that Summer equated her love life to a woman in her forties, she didn’t want to make it a reality. She scanned further and saw a younger man, early twenties, if that, scrolling on his iPhone. Zoe smiled and approached him. She figured if she was going to go out then she might as well go somewhere unique and different. She had always found that the younger employees knew where the hot spots were, whereas the concierges often directed people to the tried and true tourist destinations. Not that that was a bad thing, mind you, but Zoe was not interested in the mainstream. She wanted something a bit off the beaten path so that she could do as Summer had told her and experience the island. She could at least take her advice on that.

“Ma’am,” the young man said with a bright smile.

The boy was clean cut and deeply tanned so she knew he likely spent a lot of time outside. She imagined him riding a wave or hang-gliding off a cliff. There was something about him that screamed I need to be outside doing something versus standing behind a stupid desk. She liked him immediately.

“My roommate has given me the boot for the evening,” Zoe began.

If possible, the young man’s smile grew wider. “Sorry to hear that, ma’am.”

“Yeah, well, it was expected, but anyway, I thought you might know of a cool place to hang out for the evening.”

The young man, whose name Zoe realized was Joaquin, nodded and looked around, checking to see if anyone was watching. He knew there was indeed a pretty big party going down this evening because he was heading over there after his shift ended in thirty minutes. DJ Nester was supposed to be there, which meant it would be jumping with ladies. More ladies than men, which was the way he liked it. He watched the woman before him and wondered. She was really hot and seemed kind of cool.

“Alright, you have the look of someone who knows something. Spill it!” Zoe said with a laugh, interrupting his train of thought.

“There is a thing going down tonight at The Pit, but,” he looked around again, hesitating.

“But what?” Zoe asked, looking around as well, unsure exactly what she was looking for.

“You can’t say how you found out, okay?”

Zoe grinned and tapped his hand that was on the counter. “Your secret’s safe with me, Joaquin.”

He expelled a breath and led her out to a taxi that was waiting in queue. Joaquin gave the driver the address and waved at Zoe as they pulled out. She smiled at him and then looked out the window as the driver started taking her to some mysterious place called The Pit. She hoped it would at least buy her some time for Summer to do whatever she thought she needed to do to land Mr. Webster, otherwise she was in for a very long evening.

“Have you been on the island long?” the cabbie asked.

“A couple of days,” Zoe replied casually, watching the sun setting over the horizon.

“You like it so far?” he asked, continuing with the small talk.

Zoe nodded. “So far it’s really nice.”

The cab driver rattled on about places she must visit. Zoe was from New York and she knew that the cabbies’ bread and butter fare was getting people excited about something, something that they could arrange to take them too. She gave him the cursory yes responses and wow, that sounds interesting statements, but, in reality, she was content reading at the beach or sitting on the porch at the hotel, writing. As they approached a large building with several cars outside, Zoe smiled.

“Let’s hope The Pit isn’t the pits,” she said to herself.

4 The Pit

Masen strolled into The Pit like a man who owned the place. He had a cocky assurance about him that was just shy of arrogance. People were drawn to him and he knew it. His skill at working a room was almost legendary, at least in his own mind. It was something he considered a welcome side effect of being raised as the only son of a very powerful man. He rolled his shoulders as he walked up to the bar.

“What can I get you?”

“I’ll take a Stella,” Masen replied and nodded as the bartender set it in front of him.

Masen leaned against the bar, sipping his beer, mentally kicking himself for earlier today. He had spent too much time showing off for the woman at the beach only to find that she had left sometime in between. That was an unusual situation for him, as he always had an audience. Mostly females, but there were men on occasion who appreciated his skill on the waves or who were simply trying to steal his moves. Either way, he had just finished shredding a particularly difficult wave when he realized the woman he was trying to impress was no longer there. Disheartened, he had approached the shore thinking that he might catch her, but he was bombarded by people once his feet hit the dry sand.

“So, where you going to after this?” Cory asked, bring him out of his thoughts.

Masen downed the rest of his beer and set it on the bar. “Two weeks in Oahu then back home for a bit.”

“That’s cool, man.”

Masen nodded, distracted as he scanned the growing crowd, hoping that maybe his mystery woman would stroll in. He was dressed casually in a pair of low-slung jeans that fell precariously on his hips and a simple white tank top, his bare feet covered only in a pair of Nike beach sandals. There were girls looking his way and some weren’t half bad, but he had his mind set on the dark-haired beauty from the beach. There was just something about her that kept his attention. He decided in that moment that he would hit the water tomorrow and see if she showed up and, if so, he would make his move.

“Can I have a seven and seven?”

A whiff of lavender floated in the air as a wave of long dark hair drifted past him. He looked at the woman next to him at the bar. She was wearing a pair of tight fitting jeans and a chiffon purple blouse over what looked like a silk camisole top. Masen smiled, realizing without a doubt that this fine rear belonged to the woman from the beach. He couldn’t believe his luck. The Gods were definitely smiling down on him tonight.

“Thanks,” he heard her say and looked up just as she glanced at him.

“I saw you on the beach today,” Masen said casually.

Zoe turned slightly so that she was facing him. She recognized him now. He was the surfer. He was sexier than she imagined. His golden hair was indeed long and came to his shoulders in waves while his eyes were a spectacular blue and sparkling with mischief. His broad shoulders and strong arms were magnificently accented by his choice of shirt and he had at least a couple of days’ worth of scruff on his face that she was dying to touch. She had never seen a man this handsome up close. He could be an actor or a model with his looks. She blew out a soft breath that she hoped he didn’t notice and steadied herself.

“Ahh, yes, I think I remember you,” Zoe finally said with a smile before taking a sip of her drink.

He leaned in slightly, bringing his bottom lip into his mouth. His eyes shifted down slightly, admiring her ample cleavage, before he made eye contact with her again. He could tell he had her right where he wanted her.

“Well, I am glad that I made an…” he licked his lips in a motion that immediately brought Zoe’s body to attention. “Impression.”

Swallowing thickly, Zoe responded. “I wasn’t quite sure if you were really good or simply showing off.”

Masen laughed and covered his heart. “I’m wounded.” He turned to the bartender and raised his empty beer bottle indicating he wanted another. Once he got it, he took a sip and smiled before winking at Zoe. “I was showing off a bit.”

“I knew it,” Zoe laughed.

“I wanted to introduce myself, but, unfortunately, when I got to shore you had disappeared,” he said, raising a questioning brow at her.

“Well, you had your fan club waiting for you, so I knew you were in good hands,” Zoe smiled and took another sip of her drink.

He tilted his head and grinned crookedly before taking a long swallow of his beer. He was excited with the realization that she had not only been there but had been watching him. That boded well for making her his. He made eye contact with her again and noticed she had the same look on her face that most women did when they were around him. Want, unbridled and carnal want.

“What’s your name?” he asked, tilting his beer in her direction.

“Zoe, and yours?”

“Masen.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Masen,” Zoe said as she outstretched her hand to him.

Masen looked down at it and couldn’t contain the smile on his face. He knew with certainty that she was going to be a lot of fun this week. It was time to pull out the old Pelletier charm, so they could get things rolling. He had already lost the whole day and he wasn’t about to lose the evening as well. He held on to her hand and allowed his thumb to gently caress her palm before he leaned close to her ear.

“Would you like to dance, Zoe?” he whispered, letting his mouth linger longer than necessary.

Masen’s hot breath close to her skin sent a current flowing through her and straight to her core, igniting a part of her that had lain dormant for far too long. Zoe drew her bottom lip into her mouth and nodded. He smiled victoriously as he pushed off the bar. Still gripping her hand tightly, he led her to the dance floor. The upbeat rhythm of Pitbull was blasting from the DJ’s stand and Zoe immediately started dancing.

Zoe was not much of a dancer, per se, but Summer drug her out ‘clubbing’ at least one Friday night a month and, truth be told, she enjoyed it greatly. Zoe wasn’t paying much attention to what Masen was doing as she worried that if she did she would probably be dry humping him on the dance floor. The man was lethal, and she knew it, but, more importantly, he knew it as well. She needed to keep some distance between them as she wasn’t certain she could resist his immense charisma. They danced to a couple of songs before it changed to something Zoe didn’t recognize, but the slow island beat begged for the gentle sway of one’s hips.

If Masen hadn’t already been turned on watching Zoe dance before, he certainly was now. Her eyes were closed as her hips moved sensually from side to side while her hands were working through her hair. Her head tilted to the side and her mouth parted just slightly. He needed to feel her body close to his, so in one swift move, his arm wrapped around her lower back as he pulled her against him. Her eyes opened to meet his as his mouth lowered to her neck, nestling his nose into her hair as he rotated his hips languidly to the rhythmic music circulating around them. Their dancing was intimate and erotic, sensual in a way that made people around them uneasy, yet they were unable to look away. When the song ended, Masen loosened his hold on her and brought his mouth close to hers, hovering dangerously close, close enough that Zoe could literally breathe him in. His tongue darted over his lips as Zoe’s mouth parted in anticipation. Instead of kissing her though, his mouth tilted up as his lips touched her forehead in a gentle manner. Zoe could feel his smile against her skin and knew her resolve was slowly crumbling away.

“Excuse me,” she said quickly and stepped back, scurrying toward what she hoped was the restroom.

Once inside, she quickly went to the sink and took several deep breaths. One hand went over her stomach while the other was positioned above her rapidly beating heart as she tried desperately to control her bodily reactions to him. She had never experienced anything like this level of… lust before. She could feel the heat radiating off her body, needing him to douse her flames. Zoe found her eyes closing as her body swayed slightly, still feeling his body pressed against hers.

“Get it together, Zoe!” Her eyes shot open and she looked around the small room. “I need some air!”

She quickly exited the restroom and could see Masen leaning against the bar, talking to the bartender. He was smiling as his lips touched the bottle of beer. Zoe’s heart raced again, and she had to fight the urge to run over there and kiss him soundly on those perfect, succulent lips of his. Instead, she snuck behind the DJ stand and made her way to the front of the bar. Seeing a line of cabs not far from her, she waved her arm frantically, looking back to make sure Masen wasn’t following her.

“Come on, come on,” she muttered just as a cab pulled up.

“Where to, ma’am?” the cabbie asked with a genuine smile.

“Surfer’s Ridge Hotel, quick please,” Zoe said urgently, looking back at the bar through the rear window.

“Are you okay?”

Zoe could hear his concern and nodded. “Yes, I’m just…” she stuttered slightly before blowing out a soft breath. “I’m fine,” she said stoically, allowing her memory of Darian to remind her why she couldn’t get attached to people.

Meanwhile, Masen was back at the bar waiting for Zoe to come out. His body was still buzzing from their dance. Zoe was beautiful and the way she moved against him let him know that they would be good together. He sipped his beer and watched as a few other girls went back to the restroom, but he never saw Zoe return. After twenty minutes, he became concerned and headed back to check on her, having surmised that she must be sick if she was still in there. He maneuvered his way to the door and waited until he saw a woman exiting the restroom.

“Hey, is there anyone else in there?” He asked, touching her arm. She shook her head and walked away, while he stood there dumbfounded. “Did she ditch me?” he wondered aloud.

He was stunned, unable to fathom that idea. No woman ditched him, especially after the forehead kiss. That move pretty much guaranteed at least a blow job by the end of the night, usually before they even made it out of the club, restaurant, wherever, it didn’t matter where they were. He placed his hands on his hips, unsure what he was supposed to do. He was in unfamiliar territory and he didn’t like it one single bit.

“I don’t freaking believe this!” Masen said, before turning abruptly.

“Hey, Masen,” a tall blonde purred as he walked past the dance floor.

He waved her off and approached the bar, setting both hands on the ledge. His brows furrowed as he looked down and closed his eyes. He breathed in deeply, the smell of lavender still circling the air around him. He shook his head slightly, confused by the situation. He had felt a spark between them and he sensed that she had felt it to, so why had she left? He was dismayed as he turned to face the dance floor. The blonde was looking his way and motioned for him. Normally, he would take her up on the offer of a good time, but tonight his body refused to move in her direction. Instead, it led him outside where he looked up and down the street on the off chance that she was still somewhere nearby.

“Zoe, where the hell did you go?”

“She left,” he heard from behind him.

He spun around to see Connie leaning against the wall. She was a voluptuous red head wearing a barely there mini skirt and a see through blouse. She was very beautiful to most men’s standards, Masen’s as well, but there was something about her that he didn’t like. She started walking stealthily toward him. She smiled as she stood before him, gently running her fingers up and down his chest. He frowned at her hand and she dropped it. Connie had made it clear from the beginning that she was interested in him, but she worked at one of the resorts, which made her a local in Masen’s mind, therefore off limits. Technically, he knew that he probably wouldn’t have the problems with her that he would if he were to get involved with one of the girls from the island, but he suspected that she would bring all sorts of ‘other’ problems with her.

“Who left?” he finally responded.

“The woman you were dancing with,” she said, stepping closer to him. “Why don’t we head out? Her loss is my gain,” she whispered seductively in his ear.

She tilted her face to him before planting her lips on his. Her tongue slipped into his mouth as she pressed her body close. Masen would be lying if he said his body wasn’t responsive to her, but his mind was somewhere else. He blinked a couple of times and stepped back, rubbing his fingers over his eyes as he tried to think what to say to her, and, more importantly, why he was hesitant. Was it simply because Connie gave off that stalker vibe or was it something more?

“Masen, I can take care of you,” she stated, as she moved her hand over his jeans.

“Connie, I already told you. I don’t get involved with locals.”

“Make an exception,” she stated simply before bringing her lips to his again. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

Masen closed his eyes, weighing the decision heavily. He knew he could use some relief, but as she kissed him once more, his decision was made. He stepped away from her and ran his hands through his hair. He couldn’t believe he was turning down sex with someone who would obviously put out for him right then and there, against the wall of the club if he liked, but turning it down was exactly what he was about to do.

“Go back inside, Connie. Enjoy your evening,” he said casually as he turned around and started walking toward his vehicle.

His mind was all over the place as he drove to his cabin. Once inside, he quickly stripped of his clothes and jumped in the shower. He couldn’t believe he had come home alone. His mind played over the entire exchange with Zoe trying to figure out what went wrong but nothing came to him, which left him perplexed.

to be continued in

Beyond the Beach

Out June 5, 2018