No Kissing Under the Boardwalk by Kate Angell
No Kissing Under the Boardwalk
by Kate Angell
Will a first love get a second chance?
Zane Cates has fallen in love twice—once with flying, and once with Tori Rollins, the girl who stole his heart in high school. For a brief, shining moment, their future looked bright. Then the offer of a place at the Air Force Academy got between Zane and his beautiful young wife, and he found his marriage over as abruptly as a wave washing back to sea. After taking comfort in the wide open skies, he’s ready to return to the sunlit beach town of Barefoot William—and the woman he never wanted to leave behind. Starting over with Tori is the plan—if only his stubborn ex will have him . . .
A vagabond childhood left Tori shy and withdrawn, but after her family arrived in the pretty resort town, she made the first real friend she ever had—Zane. Opening up to him was a risk she didn’t regret taking, but she never looked back once she decided to end their brief marriage. Seeing him again now is a startling shock—and an irresistible temptation. Can she let him back into her life—and finally find joy in their love?
No Kissing Under the Boardwalk
By Kate Angell
Barefoot William Beach, Fall 1999
“Oswald! That bikini top better have come from the lost and found at the lifeguard station.” Zane Cates’s words reached Tori Rollins across a wide expanse of sugar sand. His tone was stern, concerned, and directed toward a Dalmatian pup. She cringed. Scrunched her nose. She followed astrology. Mercury was in retrograde. She blamed life’s screw- ups, impacts, and aftershocks on the planet. Mercury could be a prankster. She’d been puppy- pranked.
A playful Oswald had tugged and stolen her polka- dot swimsuit top. She presently lay face-down on a beach towel on the smooth expanse of white sand. It was October, and the snowbirds had yet to flock south. She’d located a secluded spot and untied her top, not wanting tan lines. She hadn’t planned on falling asleep, but she had. Attending high school, then working the night shift at Zinotti’s Pizza, ate up her time, exhausting her. Saturday afternoon, and the warmth of the sun soothed. Had lulled her. One unexpected pull on her top from Ozzie, and it slid beneath her breasts before she could grab it. Gone.
Escaping puppy paws kicked sand on her Hawaiian Tropic– oiled arm. The roly-poly Dalmatian scampered off, with her top in tow. Tripping over the white on black polka- dot cups. Tumbling forward, nose in the sand, quickly recovering, then picking up speed.
Oswald. Zane’s sneaky pup. Spotted chaos. Notorious for his antics. Cute and conniving, Oz stole whatever he could wrap his little mouth around. Zane had yet to break him of the habit. Beachgoers lost Frisbees, flip-flops, paperback books, water bottles, whistles, and sunglasses to the scamp. Items Zane then apologetically returned to the owners. The Dalmatian had now gotten the best of Tori. Great, just great.
She desperately needed to cover herself. She hadn’t worn a T-shirt over her bikini top. So she grabbed a pair of cutoff shorts, white-seamed and fringed. She pressed them to her chest. Rolling onto her hip, she sat up. Wishing she’d come to the beach better prepared, she called after the pup, “Not funny, Ozzie. Stop!”
There was no stopping Oswald. The Dalmatian’s tail wagged as he scooted around the corner of the boardwalk. Disappearing. She sucked air. Set her jaw. Waited for Zane to appear. He did within seconds.
Zane Cates was a presence unto himself.
His reputation preceded him. A good-looking guy, clean- cut, smart, athletic, friendly, and outgoing. Whereas she was aloof. Always kept to herself. It was a protective measure, taken to hide the fact that she was an outsider. Always had been. Her parents had difficultly holding jobs, which forced the family to relocate each year. She’d abandoned friendships with every move. There’d be no future attachments in the resort town. She did alone just fine.
He walked toward her now. He was careful where he stepped. Rambunctious Oz ran circles around his feet, nipping at his ankles. She took him in. A solid six- foot, broad-shouldered, bared- chest, wearing black board shorts. He was mature for eighteen. Confident. He recognized his place in life. The Cates name was well-known. His ancestry, deep -rooted. His great-great-great grandfather had founded Barefoot William. Zane had three brothers and one sister. All equally popular.
He soon reached her. His toes touched the frayed, faded edges of her beach towel. He had big feet. He towered over her. Casting shade. He twirled one strap of her bikini top around his finger. “This belong to you?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“See anyone else topless?” Her tone was dry.
He glanced over her shoulder. “Only you. Dogs aren’t allowed on the boardwalk and beach. We were coming from the dog park when Ollie got rowdy and slipped his collar. He ran to you, scored your top.” His sincerity was soon lost to his smile, which was broad and teasing. “Sorry, Tori.”
He knew her name. Surprising. They hadn’t been introduced. She eyed her bikini top. Held out her hand. “Mine. Give.”
“Yours in a sec.” He gazed at her, his dark eyes probing. “You’re new in town.”
Small talk? He had to be kidding. She responded, if only to get her top back. “I’ve been here six weeks.” Since the start of the school year.
He nodded. “Yeah, I’ve seen you around. You’re in my Honors English and World History classes.”
He’d noticed her. Unexpected. She’d given him the discreet side-eye. Not something she’d admit. Girls in the senior class were hot for him. He got a lot of attention. Her appreciation would mean little.
She wiggled her fingers. “My top.”
He held back still. For whatever reason, he was prolonging her unease, taking advantage of her situation. “So who’s Tori Rollins?”
She was far from special. She heaved a sigh. “What you see is what you get.”
He lowered his gaze to her chest. Gave her a hot look. “You’re more than a nip slip,” he teased.
A nip slip. She startled. Pale, hard-tipped, her right nipple peeked at him through the denim fringe. She didn’t embarrass easily. She hated the heat in her cheeks now. She quickly adjusted her cutoffs. Then eyed his board shorts. Stared at his groin. A substantial bulge. She was a virgin, but big was big. Her nipple turned him on.
“I like what I saw.” No shame whatsoever from Zane. Full smile and single dimple. He shook out his legs. Shifted his stance. Actually laughed at himself, deep and masculine. “Some things are harder to hide than others.”
Her throat had gone dry. Her palms were now sweaty. “My top,” she said insistently. More a demand than a request.
He released it.
She caught it.
“Privacy?” she asked.
He didn’t move.
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