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Authors: Rochelle Alers

Summer Magic

BOOK: Summer Magic
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She went completely still. There was only the sound of her breathing. She wanted to tell him she wanted him, she needed him, and that she did not want to be alone.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes.” She remained in the same spot as she heard him move off the bed. Then he was beside her, the heat from his body nearly suffocating her when he pulled her naked body against his.

Holding her gently in his strong embrace, Logan lowered his head and dropped a kiss over her ear. “I’m going back to bed,” he said softly. “And if you come with me, then I can’t promise you I won’t make love to you.”

Her fingertips inched up his bare chest to his lips. Rising on tiptoe, her mouth replaced her fingers and answered his challenge. “Then don’t promise,” she whispered….

Summer Magic

Rochelle Alers



© 1999 by Rochelle Alers

All rights reserved. The reproduction, transmission or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission. For permission please contact Kimani Press, Editorial Office, 233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279 U.S.A.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, and
nothing hidden that will not become known.

—Mathew 10:26

Chapter One

The sun reached its zenith at the same time Caryn Edwards steered her car onto the private road along Marble Island. The blinding rays fired salvos of near-ninety-degree heat, and she found it hard to believe that the sultry summer temperature had not abated even though she was near the ocean. Challenging the speed limit, it had taken her less than five hours to crisscross the state of North Carolina while it had taken nearly three weeks for her to agree to her best friends’ offer to use their beachfront home for a summer vacation.

Marcia Crawford taught art at the same high school where Caryn taught life and career skills, and the two of them had become fast friends from the first day they attended a faculty orientation together. Both women had been newlyweds, Marcia having married her architect husband within six months of her college graduation, Caryn marrying Thomas a week after her own graduation. The two couples bonded quickly, and most of their social events were planned around one another’s schedules. The foursome ended when Caryn left Thomas, but her close friendship with the Crawfords continued.

A bleached wooden marker along the side of the road pointed the way to Watermelon Patch Lane and the Crawfords’ beachfront home. Switching off the air-conditioning, Caryn rolled down the driver side window and inhaled a lungful of saltwater air.

Stress, anxiety, and fatigue flowed from her tense limbs as she anticipated spending two months in a house with the beach and an ocean as her backyard. Terrence and Marcia Crawford had used the house as their summer getaway for the past four years; but this summer they decided to vacation in Europe and offered her the opportunity to occupy their retreat for the months of July and August.

A glimmer of anticipation lit up her eyes behind the lenses of a pair of oversized sunglasses. As a high school life and career skills teacher, she never taught summer school classes, however, the months of July and August were usually divided between a trip to Philadelphia to visit her brother and his family and an annual sojourn to Atlanta to see her retired parents. This year would be the first time since her divorce that she would get to spend her entire vacation alone.

She’d married Thomas Duff at twenty-two and divorced him at twenty-six. Tom had made all of her decisions for her, and after the divorce her family pulled her to their bosoms, believing she had to be consoled because her “perfect” marriage had failed.

What they did not know was that the marriage had been less than perfect from the very beginning. Only Caryn chose not to admit it to herself until it was too late.

She had accepted the Crawfords’ offer to open the beach house because she needed to be alone to think—think of what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

Steering her four-year-old Toyota sedan over a narrow, sand-littered patch of ground, she parked in front of the last house on the dead-end road. She pushed open the door and stepped out into the oppressive southern heat.
She stared up at the Louisiana low-country house and smiled. It was perfect!

Walking up the steps to a spacious veranda, she noticed the house wore a recent coat of gleaming white paint. There was no evidence of peeling or cracking from the hot sun and salt water. The broad shaded porch with electric ceiling fans was noticeably cooler, and she knew it would be the perfect place to have her breakfast.

Returning to the car, she started it up again and drove around to the back of the house. Terrence Crawford had designed an exact replica of a Louisiana low-country plantation house, even down to a complex two-story double stairway at the rear.

She mentally ran down a list of things she had to do: air out the house, take a shower, then find the nearest grocer where she could buy enough food to get her through the next three days, knowing instinctively it would take her three days to settle in and feel comfortable in her temporary home.

She unlocked the front door and opened it slowly. The yawning entry opened out to a dining room and another the Crawfords had set up as their living room. A layer of dust had settled onto the exquisite pine floors, but she was grateful that all of the furnishings were concealed under dust covers.

To the left of the dining room was a modern state-of-the-art kitchen with a functional cooktop island, which served as a partition between it and the family room.

Making her way past the staircase for the upper level, she walked into the master bedroom. The expansive room was painted a pale pink, and here as in the other rooms in the raised plantation-style house, the tongue-and-groove plank ceiling was high enough to allow the heat to rise and escape through the many generous windows and French doors. The master bedroom on the house’s main level provided easy access to the veranda.

She was impressed with the design of the main level with the front of the house set up for formal entertaining and
dining, the rear with a family room/kitchen/eating area just off an outside porch, and the main-floor master bedroom suite.

Making her way to the second story, she felt the enveloping heat cloaking her like a blanket. A hall divided two large bedrooms with ample closet space from two other rooms the Crawfords elected to use as a library/sitting room and a storage area. The larger upper-level bedroom claimed an adjoining full bathroom while another full bath was situated near the top of the staircase.

Caryn turned on the faucets in the sinks and tubs until the water ran clear and the pipes stopped wheezing and groaning.

She also flipped wall switches in each room and checked that electricity flowed through the overhead light on the second-story hallway.

She returned to the first floor and checked the built-in refrigerator-freezer. Several containers of baking soda had kept the interiors odor-free. At least she wouldn’t have to give it a major cleaning before she went to the store to buy milk, eggs, butter, fresh fruits and vegetables. Plugging in the refrigerator, it, too, started up with a soft humming. Much to her delight, she discovered an area off the kitchen where a pantry was stocked with row upon row of canned foods.

Testing the wall phone in the kitchen, she smiled as a distinctive hum came through the line. Everything was in working order, and she decided to take the larger of the two bedrooms on the upper level.

It took three trips before she emptied all of the luggage from her car. She finally returned to the bedroom she had selected as her own during her stay with a small travel case and extracted bottles of shampoo, conditioners, lotions, and bath oils. It took only fifteen minutes for her to put her indelible trademark on the room she had decided to call the sunny garden.

The bedroom and adjoining bath were decorated in a soft lemon yellow, the wallpaper in the bathroom, a yellow
and white stripe, while the bedroom claimed a floral background with tiny purple flowers.

Stripping off her shorts, tank top, and underwear, she walked into the bathroom and stepped in a shower stall and turned on the water.

Undoing the thick, curling black plait falling down her back, she let the warm water sluice down her body. She turned her face into the spray, luxuriating in her good fortune. For the next two months she would not have to adhere to clocks, rush-hour traffic, or boisterous high school students, whose intention it was to test every teacher’s patience whenever they were given a fleeting opportunity. No more detention slips, no more lesson plans, and no more endless faculty meetings.

She showered and shampooed her hair, but before stepping out of the tub she realized she didn’t have a towel. Dripping water onto the bricked-tiled floor, she paddled over to a closet. Towels and facecloths were carefully stored in rectangular plastic containers filled with small cheesecloth sacks of dried spices and fruit peel. The fragrance of orange, lemon, and cinnamon wafted throughout the space.

Caryn had just wrapped her hair in a towel and secured a second one over her breasts when she heard a thumping sound. Going still, her large gold-green eyes widened. It sounded as if someone was walking around downstairs.

Cursing under her breath, she realized that she hadn’t unpacked her clothes. She couldn’t afford to waste time rummaging through her bags to find something to put on. There came another thump, then the distinctive sound of a man’s voice.

She raced down the hallway and leaned over the banister at the top of the staircase. Standing below her was a tall man with hair the color of a raven’s wing. Even from the distance she could see it was blacker than her own, which tended to pick up dark red highlights in the sun.

Holding the towel over her breasts in place with one hand, she took a step, her heart beating loudly in her ears.
Who was he? She thought she had locked the front door. And if she hadn’t, why had he just walked in?

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” she called out.

“Caryn Edwards?”

“How did you get in here?” she repeated, her voice rising slightly.

Caryn Edwards?” the man asked, not answering her question.

“Who’s asking?”


He started up the staircase and she retreated one step. How did he know her name? She’d been on Marble Island less than an hour and some man, a stranger, knew her name.

“I … I don’t know you, Mr. Logan.”

He continued his ascent, and Caryn’s eyes were wide and filled with fear.
The single word rendered her immobile. She’d been stalked in the past by a male student who had become obsessed with her. She had done nothing to encourage his attention. In fact, he hadn’t been in any of her classes. It had taken legal procedures to finally have the student removed from the school, but her fear never vanished completely.

The man stopped a step below her, and still he towered over her by four inches. The towel she held to her breasts almost slipped when she saw his face, and she sagged against the banister.

Her gaze examined his features one at a time: a wide, sensual mouth with a full lower lip; a strong straight nose; and a pair of black eyes, as black as his hair, burned her with their intensity. A stubble of an emerging beard darkened his lean ebony jaw, making him look even more sinister. His towering height and the unleashed power in his arms and large hands made her shrink further against the wooden banister. His tall, muscled body reminded her of a statue of a polished ebony African totem.

He was casually dressed in a white T-shirt, faded jeans,
and a pair of running shoes, and she wondered if he had just wandered onto the island. Marcia had related stories about most of the twenty-odd people who lived on Marble Island year-round, and she could not remember whether Marcia had mentioned a Logan. But, then, it was the summer and like herself many outsiders came and went until the Labor Day weekend signaled the end of another summer season.

“Marcia called you about me,” Logan said, his deep voice rich and caressing.

The towel cradling her wet hair fell to the floor, but Caryn ignored it, as curling black strands cascaded over her shoulders.

“When?” she questioned.

Logan, sensing her anxiety for the first time, smiled. The gesture transformed his face, softening the lines along his jaw and around his eyes and mouth.

“Did you check the answering machine?”

She shook her head. She had checked to see if the telephone was working, but she hadn’t looked for an answering machine.

“Marcia said she was going to leave a message on the answering machine to let you know I was coming.”

She noticed his gaze inching from her face and down to her chest, and in that instant anger overrode her fear. “Coming here for what!” she snapped.

Logan, watching the color rise in Caryn’s delicate khaki-brown face, was transfixed. She looked very young, too young to be twenty-eight. And there was no way she could stand in front of a classroom of high school boys and not have them try to come on to her.

She was average height and very slim, and he concluded that there wasn’t much of her hiding behind her towel. His gaze had taken in everything about Caryn Edwards in one sweep, but it came back to linger on her eyes. They were an odd shade of green-gold brown. Barely tilting his chin, he dismissed the notion that Caryn Edwards was cute; very, very cute.

“You and I are going to share this house for a few weeks.”

Her jaw dropped as she stared at him in disbelief. He was lying; he had to be lying.

“I spoke to Marcia before she and Terry left for Europe, and not once did they indicate that I would be sharing this place with anyone,” she protested.

“I spoke to her
she and Terrence arrived in England, and she said she would call you at home. She said if she didn’t reach you there, then she would leave a message on the answering machine here at the beach house,” Logan countered.

Caryn would not relent. She did not want to share the house with anyone, even a man as attractive as Mister-whatever-his-first name-was-Logan. “When did you talk to her?”

“Early this morning.”

“I left Asheville at six.”

“And I spoke to Marcia at six forty-five.”

Running a hand through her damp, naturally curly hair, she wagged her head. “I don’t believe this.”

All warmth in Logan’s black eyes vanished. “I’m going back downstairs to get my things. I suggest you check the answering machine to confirm what I’ve been telling you, then put some clothes on.”

Turning, he made his way down the stairs, leaving Caryn staring at the top of his midnight hair. He had ordered her about before dismissing her like an annoying child.

But if what he was telling her was the truth, then her time on Marble Island would not have the magic she had anticipated.

Fastening the towel around her body, she retreated to her bedroom and flung open bags. She finally found her underwear. After slipping into a pair of pale pink panties and a matching bra, she withdrew a crinkle-cotton sundress in a darker rose-pink and pulled it over her head. Not bothering with shoes, she raced down the staircase and into the master bedroom. A telephone on the bedside
table sat beside an answering machine, and Caryn noticed the flashing red light on the machine for the first time. Someone had left a message.

BOOK: Summer Magic
6.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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