Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1) (2 page)

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Here, read it,” she said. She held the heavy embossed cream-colored envelope up to him.

He took the thing from her trembling fingers. Before he made a move to open it, he studied the girl. She wasn’t conventionally beautiful. Not like Leanne Simmons. But there was something so
about her. Like she possessed a kind of bone-deep goodness, or maybe purity was the word for it. Hers was a sassy but uncomplicated optimism. He was drawn to that as well. There was no lurking darkness in her eyes. He’d never met anyone like her. She was unique.

Sunny’s long, honey hair was thick and shot through with shimmering streaks of gold. He saw this when the moonlight caressed the length of her braid. Those shimmers of color were something only the sun could provide. She wasn’t tall. In fact, the top of her head barely reached his chin. But her body was graceful and willowy. Her slight build perfectly fit her small stature. Her skin was tanned and smooth. It was as an arresting foil for her cat-tilted eyes. First, he’d thought they were blue. Now they looked as green as the depths of the ocean lapping up on the thirsty beach. Her mouth was almost too lush. It made him think of dark nights and satin sheets.

His eyes narrowed as he watched her bite her lower lip anxiously waiting for him to read her acceptance letter. He thought he might like to bite that full apricot lip. He’d like to bite that and a whole lot more. His body stirred. The chemistry between them was white-hot. She was too naive to recognize it. But he did.

He realized he wanted to do more than take a simple taste of the ripe peach that was Elizabeth Sumner Murphy. And the thought gutted him to his core. He was a man. He owned it. But she was a girl, years too young for someone like him. Even if she was eighteen, she was also very innocent, if his instincts were right. And they almost always were. Her first time shouldn’t be out on a public beach with a stranger. A stranger who’d never, not even once in his life, been considered innocent.

He didn’t like the protectiveness Sunny called out of him. He’d never felt it before. And he didn’t like it now. The new emotion was painful. So, even though he would have given both his soul and all his fortune to make her a woman right now, on this secluded beach, he didn’t. He did what he must, though his straining body damned him for it. He purposed to make her hate him. It was safer, better for her to run away. Fighting his rising arousal, his pragmatic mind held him in place.

Sunny started in fear when the man ripped the letter from her hand. She almost wept when he tore it open. She’d cherished it, like a priceless jewel. It was the promise of her whole shining future. Now its ruined envelope fluttered, torn and tattered to the sand. She watched as his perfect face twisted with an ugly leer. She wanted to cover her ears when he began to read it out loud. His words were harsh and mocking. Each one struck her with the force of her father’s belt.

“Upon reflection and decision, after viewing Miss Murphy’s audition tape, the Gulf Coast Ballet Company cordially invites her to join the ranks of their Resident Academy. Upon receipt of her first year’s tuition, Miss Murphy will be afforded the opportunity to live and study with the Corps de Ballet. Master classes and individual instruction are available from the faculty and visiting professionals for additional fees, listed below. Miss Murphy is advised that she, as are all students, will be assigned various tasks, chores, and work to be completed daily as part of the collegiality of the Ballet. Please advise the office as to your arrival date. Please send tuition payments early to avoid late fees. Below can be found a list of supplies all students must furnish upon their arrival. These include sheets, towels, cell phone, text books, pillow, laptop, and any other item deemed necessary for your personal comfort. Purchase of dancing accoutrements-toe shoes, tights, bandages, leotards, performance costumes, etc. shall all be deemed the financial responsibility of the student.”

He dropped the paper just low enough so she could see his mocking eyes. “This is a scam. You know that, right?”

No.” She shook her head. “You don’t understand. It’s an honor to be chosen. Not many are. My teacher Maude Evelyn told me. She was a prima ballerina in her day. I’ve been working for years at my family’s café to earn the first year’s tuition.”

“This teacher of yours, Maude what’s her name,” he sneered.

“Maude Evelyn.”

“Whatever…, if she was a prima ballerina, what’s she doing in Murphy’s Point? It’s not exactly a mecca of culture and artistic expression.”

Sunny knew he had a good point. She’d wondered about that very thing, more than once. Every time she’d asked, the old lady had sighed and given a very Gallic shrug. Almost as if the pain of remembering Maude Evelyn’s former glory was too much to articulate.

“I don’t know,” she admitted.

“What about all these extra fees? They’re pretty much going to charge you for breathing their rarefied air.”

Sunny had been concerned about those high fees, as well. The five thousand dollars she’d saved would barely cover the year’s basic cost. And that would be without any private instruction or master classes.

“I didn’t know about the fees when I applied,” she whispered. She flinched and stepped back as he glared at her. Suddenly she felt very much like an uneducated hayseed.

“You don’t know much of anything, do you?” John taunted. He recognized her involuntary defensive move. He knew exactly what it meant. She’d been hit, probably by a man. And probably more than once. He wanted to kill somebody.

His sharp words caused something to snap inside her. She rounded on him with challenging eyes. “I know what I want to do with my life. I know who I want to be. I know I don’t want to spend my life waiting tables at my daddy’s restaurant. I don’t want to bail my brother out of jail every weekend. I don’t want to stand alone at another graduation and search the crowd for my family. I don’t want to spend another birthday by myself because all the people who were supposed to care about me forgot the date. I don’t want to work two long hard shifts hauling heavy pitchers of beer and fried fish to smelly rednecks on the most important day of my life. I don’t want my mother’s life. I won’t be laying on my deathbed wishing I’d had the courage to take the leap. To try and change all that. Can you say the same?” Tears streamed down her face. They fell unheeded onto her faded tee shirt. Her hands balled up. They dug deep into the pockets of her tattered cutoffs.

John, JD, McIntyre, heartless corporate mogul and cold-blooded financial shark surrendered. He jerked her into his arms. He cradled her against his warmth. He rocked her from side to side, comforting her as best he could. He didn’t know why he did it. And he didn’t like it. But he did it all the same.

“Don’t cry Sunny. Please don’t cry,” he said into her hair. “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

With her face pressed against his hard warm chest, the girl inhaled his scent. It was not the clean aroma of a blue-collar working man, sweat and Ivory soap. It wasn’t even the stench of an unwashed homeless veteran. No, John smelled like money. He smelled like every sample of high-priced men’s cologne she’d ever sniffed in the way-over-her-budget department store in Pensacola.

She leaned back as far as she could within the confining circle of his arms. She cocked her head. She squinted her eyes and demanded, “Who are you?”

“It doesn’t matter,” his dark head lowered. His lips hovered an inch over her mouth.

He could no more stop what he was about to do than he could pull down one of the stars glittering overhead. His hard lips captured hers in a rush that stilled the breath in his body. Her mouth was as soft and intoxicating as the rest of her. His tongue swept the seam of her lips. Her soft sigh of surrender tangled his body into knots. It was obvious she knew nothing about intimacy. Her fingers left her pockets. They crept up to score the solid flesh of his chest. Their sharp heedless bite only intensified the wildfire raging through his blood. He plunged his hot tongue into the sweet depths of her mouth. He tenderly lapped and laved at her trembling lips.

He wanted to claim her, once and forever Something primitive and dark rose up within him. It clawed at his control like a ravening beast. One he’d never dared unleash. One he’d always known dwelt ugly and dormant inside him. It roared at him to push her down to the sand. To strip her out of her shabby clothes. To take her with brutality. To make her truly his, and his alone.

Sunny’s heart stuttered in her chest. She gasped for breath each time he tore his mouth away from hers. And she prayed he’d keep his open insistent mouth on hers and never allow her to gasp again. She was spiraling away from herself. She burned. Ever part of her burned. And she welcomed the fire. He was her anchor in the world. When his hand inched down to cover her breast, she felt a ravaging splendor race through her body. Her nipple beaded against his callused palm. She heard his groan in response, and answered it with a feverish whimper of her own.

She didn’t know who he was. She didn’t know who she was. And she didn’t care. She just ached with a pain only he could assuage. There was a hollow emptiness. It seared through her core. And there was an anticipation she couldn’t identify. She’d never felt its like before, but she wanted it.

JD felt her release building. And he wanted to give that glory to her. He wanted to watch sweet Sunny shatter in his arms. But he would not breach her. He would not steal what she should only give to a man she loved. He would not do that. No matter how great the temptation to claim her became.

One hand behind her head anchored her to his big taunt frame. Another gently and delicately teased its way from the tip of her swelling breast down her belly to the waistband of her loose cutoffs. He slipped a careful hand inside. He cupped her mound. Nothing in his vast experience prepared him for the agonizing sweetness he found giving her pleasure.

Sunny felt swept up in a maelstrom of flames and desire. John brought her right up to the ragged edge of a sensual cliff. With a few strokes, she leapt from the heights and flew straight into the sun.

His jaw clenched as he supported her jerking body. A fine sheen of sweat gathered on his face. His body ached as it hadn’t since he was an untried boy. He was still as hard as iron, but strangely satisfied in a way he hadn’t been earlier in the evening.

given her this. He’d given Sunny Murphy her first experience of true passion. And even though his body wanted more. Somehow, in a part of him that never saw the light of day, he felt he’d just had
. He gathered her back into his arms. He ran a soothing hand up and down her trembling back. He couldn’t seem to stop dropping tender comforting kisses along her tanned throat. Her tiny mews of satisfaction made him feel triumphant. Right now, if he could stop the world’s spinning, he would. Just so he could keep this aching sweetness forever between them.

“Really JD, I don’t know why we had to come to this backwater town in the first place. Your mama just called. She cancelled your sister’s credit cards. Believe me, the kid’s like any other rich, spoiled runaway. As soon as the money runs out, she’ll swallow her pride and call for a ride home.”

He pulled Sunny behind him. He recognized Leanne’s voice. She was out there somewhere in the dark. He would not have her venom taint what he’d just shared with the girl.

“I thought I told you to fly back to Dallas?” His words were just as cold and urbane as ever. Nothing he felt showed on the face he presented to the blonde snake.

“I know what you told me, JD,” she said with a drawl, as she sauntered up. “But I wondered if you might not be having second thoughts. There’s still another box of rubbers left.” She lifted her hand up and lazily twirled the little container to and fro. “I’m game if you are. Oh, you’re not alone,” she said as she got her first sight of Sunny. Leanne wasn’t a woman who liked competition. “JD send the little girl home. Then I’ll show you what a
woman can do for you.”

“JD?” the girl asked confused. Suddenly she remembered where she’d seen the tattoo. The same logo was emblazoned on the big construction sign in front of the building site at Sea Glass Towers. Somebody at the café had told her it was the McIntyre Ranch brand.

Sunny’s shocked gasp tore a ragged hole straight through to the heart he hadn’t known he possessed. The man turned to the girl who stood shivering and ashamed in the cool night air.

“Sunny let me explain.”

,” Leanne drawled. “Let him explain. Cause I find it hard to believe JD McIntrye was about to screw you, literally, and you’re so stupid you didn’t even know his name. Especially when he just left my bed. I’d like to hear his explanation. It ought to be good.”

“Stay out of this Leanne,” JD said through stiff lips.

“Or you’ll do what? Lead me on? Oh wait, you’ve already done that. Screw me senseless? You’ve done that too. If you’re holding out for a ring,
, you might as well give up. Better women than you have tried and failed.”

“Shut up, Leanne,” the man ground out. He turned to face the girl. “This is not what you think. Just let me explain.”

“Is she even legal? What’s the age of consent in this state?” Leanne taunted. “I didn’t know you liked then this young, JD. It’s kind of creepy, if you want to know the truth. Makes me rethink our whole relationship.”

no relationship. Just get your things and get on the jet.”

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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