Authors: Elle James
Text copyright ©2015 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Melissa Foster. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original The Remingtons remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Melissa Foster, or their affiliates or licensors.
For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds
A Remingtons Kindle Worlds Novella
Grieving software engineer,
, commemorating the two-year anniversary of the day he lived and his wife died, is dragged back into life by a riptide and a bartender he can’t get out of his thoughts. Plagued with survivor’s guilt, he’s reluctant to enter a new relationship, until he meets a feisty bartender with attitude and curves to go with it.
was the typical young teen in the city, happy, full of life and bulletproof, until she became the victim of a violent crime. Her mother moved her to Wellfleet on Cape Cod, away from the scene of her misfortune to start over. Fourteen years later, she’s still afraid to date and be intimate with a man, the scars of her past overriding the happiness she craves. Though she’s an independent owner of a thriving beach bar, she has yet to find success in love. Tides change when she witnesses a suicidal widower diving headfirst into a riptide.
Decker and Roxi struggle to stay afloat through the wreckage of their pasts and the storms of the present to sail into a future together.
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Thank you Melissa Foster and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing for allowing me to write in The Remingtons Kindle World. I enjoyed it tremendously and I hope our readers do, too!
(also writing as Myla Jackson)
HAT IS THE real reason for your visit to the cape, Kurt?” John Decker turned the glass of whiskey around in the pool of condensation on the bar and stared into the clear amber liquid. “And don’t give me some line that you needed the fresh sea air to inspire your writing.”
Kurt Remington sat beside him on a bar stool in the Dream Spinner Bar and Grill overlooking the beach. “You know why. I couldn’t let you celebrate your Alive Day alone.”
Decker’s chest tightened. Each year, he worked hard to make his heart numb to the so-called celebration of his Alive Day. The day his world had ended. “I keep telling you, I’d rather let the day pass. I’ve never felt like celebrating the day, and think it’s pretty damned insensitive of you to bring it up each year.” He lifted his glass, drained the last of his scotch and returned the glass to the bar with a little more force than necessary. Then he turned to face one of the only friends he had left. “What’s to celebrate, anyway? Allison died that day.”
“Decker, your Alive Day is the day you lived after an accident that very nearly took your life.” Kurt’s gaze captured Decker’s. “You’re alive.”
“And Allison is dead,” Decker repeated. “She died because of me.”
“You didn’t make the other driver crash into you.”
“No, but I could have reacted faster. I shouldn’t have been arguing with Allison over going to visit her mother. It’s my fault I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the oncoming traffic. If I had, I might have swerved in time to miss the other car.”
Kurt drummed his fingers on the counter, his jaw tightening. “Or you might have run off the road, flipped your car and landed upside down in a ditch filled with water from the recent rain, and you both would have been dead.”
“Sometimes I wish that had been the case,” Decker muttered. He leaned across the bar and motioned to Roxi, the bartender who was yet another reminder of his guilt. “Can I get another?”
Roxi Lanier smiled, her blue eyes twinkling. With a nod, her blond hair spilled over her shoulder in long luxurious waves. “Scotch on the rocks, coming in just a minute.” She tossed her head back, flinging her mane of hair behind her, exposing her light blue Dream Spinner tank top, the uniform of the bar she owned and operated.
Decker liked when Roxi smiled. It cheered him, when he was at his lowest.
He didn’t need another scotch. He rarely drank anymore. He’d only ordered it as a diversion from his conversation with Kurt. The diversion wouldn’t last long if he knew the man as well as he thought he did. A recluse by the nature of his occupation, Kurt rarely ventured out. But when he did, it was for a purpose. This time was to see Decker through the anniversary of his wife’s death.
The two friends met at Duke University where they’d completed their undergraduate degrees. Kurt in Journalism. Decker in software engineering.
When Kurt opened his mouth to say something, Decker raised a hand to stop him before he got started. “If you want to be a
friend, you won’t keep showing up on the anniversary of Allison’s death. It’s not like I don’t have enough reminders already.” His mother had called that morning to check on him. His married sister had taken the time out of her day to call that evening to make sure he wasn’t contemplating putting a gun to his head. “The thing to remember is that I’m fine.”
“Then why don’t you come back to the city?”
Decker shook his head. “I’m never going back to the city.”
“But you had a great job. You were advancing in your career and had a bright future.”
“Thanks to a friend who suggested I try life on Cape Cod, I’ve discovered the latent beach bum in me. I like it here and I don’t see any reason to return to the rat race when I can telecommute from paradise.”
Kurt snorted. “You’ve only been here for a summer. The winters can be pretty brutal on the cape.”
“I can handle anything the weather can throw at me. And despite what my mother and sister think, I’m not falling apart.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Kurt’s lips quirked. “Your mother is a power to be reckoned with. I’m surprised she didn’t come to the cape to supervise your Alive Day herself.”
“She had a date.”
Kurt’s brows rose. “Good for her.”
Decker shuddered. “Seems strange—my mother going out on a date.” His father’s death five years ago had left his mother spinning. Kind of like him when Allison died.
“She’s getting on with her life,” Kurt said. “Which is more than I can say for you.”
“I moved to the coast. How much more
getting on with my life
does everyone expect?”
“Since you’ve been here—no, since the accident—how many dates have you been on?” Kurt asked.
Decker glanced toward Roxi, hoping she’d come with his drink and give him an excuse not to answer the question. Concentrating on the pretty bartender was easier than dealing with his wreck of a life. “I’m not ready to date.” He wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready to date again. And not from the lack of available women who’d been all over the island during the summer months.
“You need to get back into the swing of things,” Kurt said. “You’re young, with your whole life ahead of you. Surely there were women swarming all over the cape this summer. Didn’t you find even one of them interesting?”
Since his house was right on the beach, every time he sat out on the deck, he’d had women in skimpy bikinis show up, asking for directions. Or they’d want to know whether or not he had any sunscreen he could smooth over their bodies, each in a blatant attempt to draw him out of the shadows and into a summer fling. He’d sent them on their way, not in the least interested in starting something he had no intention of finishing. Not one of the summer beach babes had inspired a pressing need to get closer, to establish intimacy. He’d been celibate so long, he wasn’t sure he was attracted to women anymore.
Except maybe one.
Roxi bent to retrieve a bottle from beneath the counter, her cutoff shorts rising up the backs of her thighs, exposing more than a little of the curve of her golden, tanned ass.
A spark of desire sent an electric jolt straight to his groin. Hell. He’d been having more of those lately, every time he came to the Dream Spinner, even when he told himself he was only there for the food and drink. He hated the lie he told himself and despised the fact he was even having those feelings for another woman when his wife was dead. He tried to tell himself he shouldn’t feel guilty for lusting after another woman. His wife had been gone for two years.
And why Roxi? She’s nothing like my wife.
The bartender wasn’t twig-thin and delicate like Allison. Roxi had curves. From the firm rise of her breasts beneath the tank top, to the narrow indentation of her waistline and the rounded swells of her hips, she was sexy, shapely and trim. The muscle tone bespoke a more active life than that of just a bartender. He’d seen her wind-surfing and paddle boarding in the water in front of his cottage.
At night when he couldn’t sleep, Decker sat on his porch overlooking the ocean. On many occasions he’d caught her walking or jogging along the beach late at night or in the early morning hours. She’d run by with her big, German Shepherd, her bare feet kicking up sand, long lithe legs glowing a silvery blue in the moonlight.
Decker tore his gaze away from Roxi’s backside and stared into his empty glass. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kurt’s gaze slide from Roxi and back to him. Damn, Kurt had caught him staring at the pretty bartender. Decker cringed. His friend was sure to make something of it.
Kurt’s eyes narrowed and his lips twisted. “Yeah, it’s about time you started dating again.”
“Just because you’ve found someone to love, doesn’t mean everyone needs the same. You were perfectly happy being a hermit until Leanna came along.”
A smile slid across Kurt’s face. “I was, wasn’t I? But then, I didn’t know what I was missing.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” Decker’s gaze slipped to Roxi again. “I like working from the comfort of my beach house. How many people in New York City do you know who would give their right arm to live my life?”
Kurt’s lips twisted. “You have a point. But I think I’d feel better about you throwing away your life if you were actually happy here. I guess because I’m happy, I like to see others around me as happy.”
“Well, set your mind at ease. I’m
with the way I’m living my life.” Decker repeated the same words he’d spoken to his mother, hoping the more he reiterated the sentiment, the more truth he’d find in it.
“Yeah.” Kurt’s eyes narrowed. “But it’s not lost on me that you didn’t say you were happy.”
Decker grunted. “Satisfied is as good a word as happy.”
Kurt shook his head. “You’re wrong on that count. When you’re happy, you’ll know the difference.” He clapped a hand on Decker’s shoulder. “But I’ll quit butting in on your self-proclaimed two-year-long wallowing. It’s your life.” He stood and stretched. “But I’ve got to tell you. You’re missing so much more.”
“We’re not all built the same,” Decker reminded his friend.
“True.” Kurt glanced at his watch and winced. “I obviously need more sleep than you do. I’m heading back to my cottage.”
Decker lifted his glass. “Say hello to Leanna for me.”
Kurt stood. “She would have come, but she was busy packing to go with me to the city.”
“I’m surprised you talked her into it. I thought she was a fixture on the cape.”
With a soft smile, Kurt said, “I have a book signing tour scheduled. She’s accompanying me.”
“What about her jam business?”
“She made up enough stock to last while we’re gone and hired an assistant to distribute the goods.”
“She’s making quite a name for Luscious Leanna’s Sweet Treats.”
Kurt’s smile widened. “I think Leanna’s products sell so well because of her personality.”
Decker snorted. “She’s as outgoing as you are introverted. I don’t know how you two get along.”
Kurt’s brows furrowed as he considered Decker’s comment. Finally, he said, “She balances me.”
“As for her personality selling her goods, I disagree. I’ve had some of the Strawberry-Mango. It was really good.”
Kurt stood and stretched. “If I wasn’t so tired—”
“—and if you didn’t have such a beautiful bed partner,” Decker interjected.
Kurt nodded. “—I’d stay and see you home.”
“I’m a big boy. I can get there on my own. I haven’t had that much to drink, besides, I’m walking.”
Kurt glanced at Roxi. “Don’t let him overindulge.”
She gave him a mock salute and set Decker’s drink on the bar in front of him. “I’ll keep an eye on him.” She followed with a wink at Decker that hit him straight in the gut.
Decker inhaled the scent of Roxi’s perfume, tempted to lean over the counter for a bigger whiff. Instead, he stood and faced his friend, clasping his hand. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there for me after the accident.”
Kurt tugged on Decker’s hand, pulling him into a bear hug. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done had the roles been reversed.”
Decker clapped him hard on the back before releasing him. “Thanks for coming all the way out here when you didn’t have to.”
“Promise me you’ll think about what I said,” Kurt threw some bills on the counter. “You deserve to be happy.”
“I’ll think about it,” he lied. Thinking about moving on was harder than wallowing in grief. It meant letting go, and he wasn’t sure he was ready to let go.
“Are you going back to your house?” Kurt asked.
Decker shook his head. “I think I’ll stay and finish my drink, since I’m not driving.”
“Take care, man.” Kurt left the bar.
Once his friend disappeared through the door, Decker resumed his seat at the bar and downed the scotch in one long swallow.
“Hey. Slow down there.” Roxi wiped her way across the bar toward him and sopped up the ring of condensation before he set down his glass. “You’re supposed to sip and savor the flavor.”
Decker stared down at the chunks of ice. “Don’t judge. I’m supposed to be celebrating.”
“Oh?” Roxi’s brows rose. “What are you celebrating? Maybe I’ll join you.” She ditched the rag under the counter and filled a glass with Miller Lite from the tap.
He laughed, the sound more of a snort. “Today is my Alive Day.”
She swallowed a healthy swig of her beer, her pretty light brown brows wrinkling before she asked, “What’s an Alive Day?” Roxi ran a hand through her thick hair lifting it off the back of her neck.
The scent of her shampoo wafted toward Decker and he inhaled, his eyes drifting closed. “Nothing. Never mind.” Forcing himself to open his eyes and remain unfazed, he held out his empty glass. “Hit me, again.”
She reached for the scotch and poured the liquid over the ice, the movements emphasizing the tautness of the muscles in her arms and the firmness of her breasts. For a brief moment, Decker considered Kurt’s words and almost asked Roxi if she wanted to have coffee with him sometime. He opened his mouth and closed it again.
Roxi set the bottle of scotch on the counter and raised her glass of beer.