Authors: Brandy Walker
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Caught in the Moment
Copyright ©2013 Brandy Walker
Cover by Brandy Walker
Edited by Noel Varner
Couple © Hot Dam Stock
Skydiver © Can Stock Photo Inc./terdonal
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduces n any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Electronic Edition, July 2013
is over her embarrassing high school crush on
and even used the heartbreaking experience to get out from behind the lens of her camera. Ten years after graduation she is enjoying her dream job as a freelance photographer when her path crosses Quin again, only this time he’s the one hoping to catch more than a glimpse of her. He’s hoping she’ll forgive what a jerk he was and fall for the guy he is.
CAUGHT IN THE MOMENT is a Novella – 26,600 words
For my husband Todd.
Without you by my side I would be drifting through the air with no idea what to do. Love you to pieces!
I couldn’t do this without the help of Roz and Sheri. Your feedback pushed me to make this a better book. I also couldn’t have gotten everything just right without the help of my editor Noel.
Thank you to my family for being supportive in this adventure. I love being able to celebrate it with all of you.
HIGH SCHOOL 10 YEARS AGO…
Sitting high up in the bleachers Laurel Kane leaned back and lowered the camera to her lap. Sighing in delight, she watched the football team finish practice for the day. Players milled about looking exhausted and excited for the game the next night. A few were gathered around the coach for last minute instructions, while others hovered around the coolers pulling down long drinks of water before ripping off their jerseys and pads and heading back to the locker room. All of that male teenage muscle, sweaty and rippling, caused her to blush.
Looking through the viewfinder again, Laurel scanned the boys looking for the one that tripped her heart at every turn. She didn’t find him near the coach or water cooler, but had a good idea where he might be. Moving her gaze to the gaggle of girls on the sidelines, she finally saw him. Quinton Ferris. Jersey and pads flung over his broad shoulder and Marcy Pitt grinning up at him like a buffoon.
Marcy was your typical bubbly, big-breasted blond, head of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen and all around Princess of the school. Of course she would be all over Quin. He was hot, dangerous and so popular Laurel was sure even the outcasts of the school liked him. Every guy wanted to be him and every girl wanted to date him. The only exceptions to the general rule were his younger brothers Revlin and Kegen; twins who were a year younger than Quin and their own force to be reckoned with.
Ignoring the voice in her head telling her not to do it, she snapped a few pictures of Quin’s hot body before standing and making her way down the steps. She wanted to get back to the yearbook room and select the candid pictures for the six-page football section that still needed to be finished.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Laurel cast one last glance in Quin’s direction. Lifting the camera she snapped one more picture right as he turned her way, staring at her with his intense dark brown eyes. His dark hair fell across his forehead and a knowing smirk graced his lips “Hope you got a good one of me for the yearbook,
. Or was that for your personal collection? I heard you have a pretty extensive one of me.” Quin laughed, slinging his free arm over Marcy’s shoulders, the other girls surrounding him giggled and snickered along with him.
Laurel stiffened, the blood draining from her face before being replaced by the heat of embarrassment. She dropped the camera to hang around her neck, took one last look at Quin as her heart broke, and then spun away. She forced back the desire to run but couldn’t resist picking up her pace, walking as fast as she could without making a bigger fool of herself. She felt fat tears roll down her face and over her hot cheeks. It was silly to cry over what he’d said, but she couldn’t help it. The first time he’d said anything to her, ever really looked at her, and it had been to get a laugh at her expense.
A bit on the shy and nerdy side, Laurel had only a few friends and even less confidence. She liked to view the world from behind the lens of a camera where it was safe. She preferred to observe and capture defining moments on film. Interacting with people never really paid off in her experience.
Resisting the urge to look back, Laurel made it to the classroom near the field, never noticing Quin’s too aware gaze following her progress. She never saw the flash of regret that crossed his face as she slammed the door closed behind her.
The group of skydivers Laurel was with finally touched ground and her job for the day, for the assignment, was over. The jumpers walking toward her were brimming with excitement, as they should be. Today had been a big day for them all.
Lowering her camera, Laurel was overcome with a sudden sense of déjà vu as she scanned the group coming toward her. Standing out in the pack, just like he always had, was Quinton Ferris. A tall, thin woman with long blond hair was chatting a mile a minute next to him and grinning like an idiot. Seemed some things never changed.
Imagine her surprise the first time she came out with her friends and found the Ferris brothers, bigger and badder than ever. Of all the things in the world they could have done, they decided to open a skydiving business, a fairly successful one too. Not that she would ever admit to scouring the Internet to find out every last detail she could about them though. She spent a large amount of that time convincing herself it was purely research for the book she was putting together for one of the publishers she did freelance work for.
Raising the camera again, Laurel took a couple more candid shots before turning it off and setting it behind her on the picnic table. She hopped up on the tabletop, thankful to finally rest for a couple of minutes. She knew she had plenty of photos, and it was time to start sifting through them all. Before she could do that, however, she needed to load the SUV and endure the hour-long drive home.
The most random thought popped into her head as she gathered the stuff around her.
God, I hope all of the pictures aren’t just of Quin like in high school.
Even after that dreadful day in school, she still couldn’t tear her eyes from him or stop her heart from beating out of control when he was near. She had endured weeks of teasing and humiliation as every girl that ever had a crush on him used Laurel’s pain to feel better. They, at least, hadn’t been made fun of from the object of their affection.
Those damn cheerleaders spread it around the entire school that
was taking pictures of Quin and plastering them all over her bedroom. They even started a rumor about seeing her kissing and talking to a picture of him like he was her boyfriend.
As if I would ever have done that in public
Privately…when locked away in my room with no one around to hear…sure. I can admit to that.
Not once did Quin say he was sorry for ruining her life. Well, what she thought of as her life. He passed her in the hall without a glance, never a sign of guilt or regret. She went back to the ‘never existed’ category where he was concerned and, in a way, she was glad for it. At least that’s what she tried to convince herself was true. Secretly, she had been crushed. Her heart broken even though she knew, in reality, they would never be boyfriend and girlfriend. She wasn’t that delusional.
“Earth to Laurel. Where the hell are you?” A voice slowly broke into her thoughts.
Blinking rapidly, Laurel looked up into Sean Crutchfield’s twinkling eyes. “Hey Sean. Great jump. You guys looked fantastic up there.”
“You think so? Did you get all of the pictures you needed? We can probably go up again. Maybe try a formation or something.” Sean grinned. The excitement of what he had just done pouring off him.
“Hey numb-nuts, if you didn’t notice, Laurel put the camera away.” Monica sashayed up, wrapping her arm around Sean’s waist.
Sean looked down at his girlfriend. “Numb-nuts? No, I think they’re okay. Wanna check ‘em for me?” Sean winked as Monica punched him in the arm.
Laurel laughed at her friends’ antics. It was never a dull moment with them around. The rest of the group slowly joined them: Teri and Rick, Denise and Keith, and her cousin Jason heading up the rear with the instructors. Sliding her sunglasses on, Laurel watched as Quin, Blondie and Quin’s younger brother, she thought it was Kegen, walked past uttering great jump before heading inside the hanger.
With a sigh she stood, stretched her back out, then began gathering up her gear again. Her friends were staying for the celebration barbeque the Chute Shack crew was throwing in honor of the group earning their C licenses. They had all completed 200 jumps, finished their written and oral exams, and could now do open field demos and certain high altitude jumps. For as much time and energy as they all put into it, the celebration was definitely deserved. Unfortunately, she needed to get going so she could make some progress on the book. It certainly wasn’t going to pick out the right pictures and get the layouts and wording done on its own.
“Okay guys, I’m out.”
The group protested but she wouldn’t be swayed.
“You know I need to get to work. The deadline is coming up and I knew with your jump schedule I’d be cutting it close. I have to get this done. I’ll be starting my next assignment this coming week.”
Monica, the honorary mom of the group, spoke up. “Come on Laurel, can’t you stay for a little bit? Just a couple of hours—long enough for a burger or dog. Maybe you could get some pictures of the after party? You know, to wrap up the book.”
“I wish I could, but it’s a long drive home and I have at least five hours of work ahead of me. I haven’t even looked through the six hundred pictures I took today. Add that to the eight hundred from the previous two days and well….you get the idea. I’m thinking an all-nighter is in order.”
“Damn Laurel, think you got enough? You might want to take a few more just in case.” Jason chuckled as he gave her a quick hug and kiss on the head.
“Ha, ha! It’s better to have too many than not enough.”
“That’s what you always say. Give me a few minutes and I’ll help load your gear. I need to get out of this harness real quick.”
Jason jogged off, the rest of the group following him after saying quick goodbyes.
She was digging in her purse for her keys when a noise drew her attention to the hanger everyone had disappeared into. She was startled to find Quin staring back at her from a distance. His arms were crossed over his broad chest, head titled slightly to one side, and a contemplative look etched across his features.
Quin stood right inside the hanger waiting for the group to come in. They were saying goodbye to the photographer. There was something familiar about her that tugged at him, like he had met her before but didn’t know where. He snatched at a memory that flickered to life, but it vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Jason, the guy who coordinated the group’s training, sprinted into the hanger, slipped out of his harness and jogged back out to her as the rest of the group straggled in.
Quin couldn’t help but watch as Jason and the woman chatted while gathering up her gear and disappearing around the corner of the building with her. Seconds later he was walking back.
“You get your girl off okay?” Quin asked as soon as Jason was in earshot.
“Yeah, she’s got work to do and couldn’t hang out. Thanks for letting her photograph everything. I know the book is going to be great once she gets it done. It has a pretty quick turnaround and, once she’s done, it shouldn’t take too long to get into production. That should be great for you guys.”
Quin shrugged, “Rev said we would be mentioned in it so there wasn’t much to lose. And you’re right, the publicity will be great.” Quin was all about having the business get more publicity, especially with the next Boogie they were currently scheduling. The skydiving event was going to be the largest they ever held. Four days long with multiple Skydiving teams, various aircrafts, demos and more. It was going to be one giant skydiving party and would put them well above the other businesses in the area. If the book brought more buzz to the Chute Shack, then who was he to complain?
Quin followed Jason inside to see his crew pulling beers out of the fridge and rolling the barbeque grill out back. Jason sauntered over to Sami, flashing a million-watt smile. He guessed that with his girlfriend gone, Jason could play like he wanted.
What a prick
Quin might be a serial dater but he never two-timed a woman. Having it happen to him with someone he thought he loved had quickly solidified his stance on the whole thing. If something wasn’t working, he cut ties and moved on. There wasn’t a woman around who complained about his honesty when it came to relationships. The ones who didn’t like it moved on pretty fast, the others were content to let it die a natural death. He had yet to find the woman that would make him want to give her his forever.
Watching Jason with Sami, Quin became more and more annoyed. Jason moved forward into her personal space, brushing against her chest, then trailed his fingers down her back. He could see a shiver run through her from where he stood. Quin personally knew how Sami reacted when she was attracted and turned on. They’d spent five years together on and off before they both decided they made better friends than lovers.
Just because they both craved extreme sports, didn’t mean they were meant to be together. When they were alone and not having sex, they were fighting or just completely ignoring each other. Granted, the fighting led to great make up sex but in the end it didn’t make for a lasting relationship.
It looked to him that Jason and his friends were just using the girlfriend to get published in a book. Quin frowned and shook his head. The irritation crawling over his skin surprised him. It shouldn’t bother him this much that the woman was being cheated on. It wasn’t like he had a stake in the relationship with her. Some people just had no shame.
“What’s up with you big brother?” A glance over his shoulder he saw his younger brother Rev approaching him from behind. The big brother comment always made him laugh. Rev was just as big as he was and really not that much younger. Soon after he was born his mom became pregnant with Revlin and Kegen. They were Irish Twins, well Irish Triplets but not in the traditional sense, there were three babies all born in the same year. He wasn’t sure how his parents coped with it all then or now. They might be grown but he imagined their parents still thought they were a handful.
“Nothing’s up. Just taking it all in.”
“If it’s nothing, why are you giving J-Man the evil eye? You upset he’s hitting on Sami?”
They both looked in Sami and Jason’s direction. Jason was leaning over whispering into her ear. His right hand that earlier had trailed down her back, was now cupped firmly over her backside. Quin probed how he felt about it and came up with nothing. He didn’t feel any hints of jealousy, only irritation that the guy was cheating on his photographer girlfriend, or at least headed down that path.
“No, not mad that he’s hitting on her. We’ve been over for a while now, but he does have a girlfriend. You know how I feel about cheaters.”
“Yeah, I do know how you feel but he doesn’t have a girlfriend.” Rev looked confused, which in turn made Quin stop and think. Hadn’t anyone else noticed the brunette sitting at the picnic table taking pictures? Or when she was standing in the middle of the drop zone as they came down? It was all he could do to avoid landing on top of her when she suddenly moved into his landing spot. She had been completely oblivious to her surroundings and damn near got them both hurt.
“Didn’t you see the woman taking pictures? His girlfriend?”
Rev chuckled and popped him on the back. “That’s not his girlfriend bro, so there’s no need to get your panties in a wad and tick off one of our best customers. They’re talking about staying with us to get their D license. It wouldn’t hurt business to have a few more USPA instructors coming out of our place.”
“No shit? I just assumed when he was all over the photographer that they were together. He came in here and started flirting with Sami so my mind took off.”
“You are pretty good at jumping to conclusions. If you’d taken the time to actually get to know the group, and not hole yourself up in the office half the time, you’d have learned that Jason and Laurel are cousins. Laurel is a freelance photographer and when she got the look-book assignment Jason suggested she do it here since he was planning the jump weekend for his group.”
“Huh, well I
feel like an ass. At least I didn’t confront him on it.” Quin shook his head to clear it of the uncalled for anger. It wasn’t like him to get butt-hurt over a woman like that. “Come on, let’s grab some grub. Looks like Kegen is about done grilling.”
As they walked toward their brother, Quin glanced over his shoulder at Rev. “Hey, did the chick seem familiar to you?”
“The chick? You mean Laurel, the camera girl? Not really. But then, I didn’t pay that much attention to her. Was concentrating more on the clients and the job. Why?”
“No reason. Just thought there was something familiar about her. Couldn’t pin-point what though.”
“She isn’t one of your random exes is she?”
“No. I would have remembered her. She’s definitely not an
but definitely someone I knew once, I’m sure of it.” Now if he could remember how he knew her maybe he wouldn’t have this nagging thought that he’d messed up already.