Authors: E. L. Todd
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
Riding the Surf
(Derek and Paola)
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
ht © 2014 by E. L. Todd
All Rights Reserved
Riding the Surf
of the Hawaiian Crush Series
E. L. Todd
Derek sat inside the Tiki diner, sharing a meal with his older sister, Cheyenne.
She shoveled the potatoes into her mouth then wiped her face with a napkin. “How’s school?”
He shrugged. “Boring.”
“Then why are you there?”
“I need financial security.”
“What’s your major again?” she asked, dumping pepper onto her plate.
“What do you want to do with that?”
“I have no fucking idea. I picked science because it’s the best choice, economically, but I don’t care for it.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said, tucking a strand of brown hair behind her ear.
“What the hell are you doing with your life?” he snapped. He picked at his steak but didn’t eat it. He suddenly lost his appetite.
“I’m going to be a hair stylist.”
He rolled his eyes. “That sounds promising.”
“Hey. They make good money.”
“No, they make
money. You should do something better.”
“So I should pick a major I don’t even like?”
He stared at her. “Do you really want to do hair for the rest of your life?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll probably just be a housewife.”
Derek laughed. “You think that loser, Ryder, will ever be able to take care of you? He flips burgers for a living.”
“He’s going to school,” she snapped.
“Truck driving school isn’t school.”
She rolled her eyes. “Stop being an ass.”
“No. It’s my job to be an asshole.”
“No, it’s your job to be my brother.”
“Same thing,” he said as he twirled his fork in his fingers.
She sighed then lo
oked out the window. “You’re supposed to be supportive, Derek.”
“No, I’m supposed to look after you.”
“I’m older than you.”
“So?” he said. “I’m the man in your life. It doesn’t matter if I’m younger. I’ll always take care of you. And I think Ryder is a piece of shit and you deserve better. My sister doesn’t settle for less. You’re too beautiful and smart for that, Cheyenne.”
She turned back to him, her eyes softening. “You think I’m beautiful?”
“Don’t let it go to your head.”
“Derek, I appreciate your protection, but Ryder is a good guy.”
“I don’t think so.”
“He treats me well,” she said, pushing her plate away.
“How’s that? He still lives at home because he can’t afford to live on his own.”
“Well, you don’t even have a job.”
He leaned toward her. “I’m
a surfer. Yes, I have a job.”
She rolled her eyes. “A job that’ll go nowhere.”
“I just won the Oahu Championship.”
“One year, one time.”
“And I made ten grand off it.”
“Which will barely cover your living expenses for the year.”
He glared at her. “I’m going pro, Cheyenne. I already have scouts and agents lined up. And I’m competing in different competitions around the country, which are worth even more money.”
She raised her hand. “Okay, I’m not trying to argue with you. My point is, just
give Ryder a chance.”
“No. I don’t like him.”
“Derek, come on.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t lie and say I like the guy if I don’t. Let me hook you up with someone.”
“No thanks,” she said as she shook her head. “And you’re one to talk. I heard what you did to Nancy.”
He felt his heart fall. His horrific trea
tment of his best friend cut him to the bone. He was angry at himself and severely disappointed. There was no excuse for the way he acted. He had done a lot of stupid things in his life, but he regretted that the most. “I made a mistake.”
“Well, Ryder hasn’t made any mistakes.”
“I know an asshole when I see one,” he snapped.
“Because you are one?”
He kept his eyes glued to the table. “Yes,” he whispered. “I am.”
His sister stared at him for a moment, seeing the despair cover his face. She grabbed his hand across the table and held it. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
“Yes, you did.” He didn’t pull his hand away because he liked her touch. It was something that he didn’t anticipate. “And you’re right.”
“Derek, what happened with Nancy?”
“You said you already knew.”
“Tell me your side.”
“My side is her side.”
She rubbed his knuckles. “It helps to talk it out.”
He sighed then closed his eyes for a moment. “She and I slept together because we were both a little buzzed and crazy. I always thought she was hot and had a nice body. It happened and I enjoyed it. The sex was amazing. But afterwards, she was distant with me. I assumed she just wanted to get laid. After months of arguing and bickering, we finally got together, but being the stupid idiot that I was, I treated her like shit. I was the worst boyfriend ever. I didn’t listen to her, pull out her chair for her, or make her feel good about herself. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. Then I did the worst thing imaginable. I didn’t trust her, and as a result, I slept with someone else.”
She said nothing, just staring at him.
“And that isn’t the worst part.” He kept his eyes glued to the table, too ashamed to meet the gaze of his sister, someone he loved more than anything. “I lied to her and said it never happened. I fucking lied. Only when she found out did I admit the truth.” He pulled his hand away, not deserving her affection. “I fucked up everything.”
Cheyenne pulled her hand back and stared at him. She was unsure what to say. Everything her brother said was horrible. There was nothing that could erase the wrongs he committed. “I still love you.”
He looked at her. “Thanks. But I don’t deserve it.”
“You seem very contrite about it.”
“It was the worst mistake of my life,” he said with a sigh.
“Do you still love her?”
He shrugged. “She’s my best friend. I’ll always love her. But now she’s in love with someone else, a guy I really like. I can’t see her like that anymore. I had my chance with her and I blew it. I’ve let her go.”
Cheyenne nodded. “I think you’ve made up for your wrongs.”
He shook his head. “I hurt her so much. Thatcher has repaired the damage but I hate myself for what I did.”
“You learned from your mistakes. That’s what’s important. And you’ve never had a girlfriend before.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s basic knowledge that you shouldn’t cheat on your partner. My inexperience is a worthless excuse.”
She sighed. “You’re different now, right? Just let it go. When you find someone new, you’ll be the best boyfriend a girl could ask for.”
“I can’t see any girl taking a chance on me. At least one that I really want.”
“People make mistakes. It’s called being human. Stop beating yourself up over it.”
Derek grabbed the tab and slipped the money inside.
“You know what I think?”
“That you think my hair looks like the bottom of a broom?” he said with a smile.
“Well, it does when it’s wet.” She laughed, glancing at his hair. “But no, that wasn’t what I was going to say. Derek, I think you’re an amazing man and person. I don’t know how I would have survived with
out you. You’re my best friend, my everything. Maybe you fucked up a few times, but I know there’s a heart of gold inside that chest. Plus, I think you and Nancy just got off on the wrong foot. It was hard for you to cross the line from friend to girlfriend. You didn’t know how to act.”
“While I appreciate the praise, there’s nothing you can say to justify my behavior.”
“Well, just learn from your mistakes and move on, Derek.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“So, what are you doing now?”
“My friends are playing football on the beach.”
“No, you aren’t invited,” he
“Why? You talk about your friends all the time but I’ve never met them.”
“And that’s because you’ll embarrass me.”
She rolled her eyes. “I will not.”
“Yeah okay,” he said sarcastically.
“Come on, Derek.” She stared him down. “I don’t have any friends…”
“Then get your own.”
“Why can’t you just share? Nancy, Sydney, and Ren all sound really cool. I wo
uld love to have someone to hang out with.”
He sighed. “Would you stop making me feel bad for you?”
She pouted her lips and widened her eyes.
“Fine,” he said with a sigh.
She clapped her hands together. “Yes! I always win.”
“Only because I let you. I guess I’m a good brother after all.”
She walked out the door then grinned at him. “No, you’re still an asshole.”
When Derek got to the beach, the sun was starting to set. His friends were gathered around, drinking beer or chugging their water bottles.
“Hey,” Sydney said as she waved.
“Hey,” Derek said, walking alongside Cheyenne.
“Wow,” Coen said. “That was quick. You already got a new lady friend?”
Derek made a disgusted face. “Dude, she’s my sister.”
“Your sister?” Sydney asked. “I didn’t know you had one.”
“Well, I’ve never revealed my entire biography,” Derek said. “And I didn’t want to bring her along but she made me…because she’s an annoying brat.”
Cheyenne elbowed him in the stomach.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” Sydney said as she shook her hand. “And this is my husband, Coen.”
“It’s a pleasure,” Coen said with a nod.
Henry introduced himself then he pulled Ren to his side. “And this is my lady, Renee. But she likes to be called Ren because she’s actually a boy.”
Ren hit him in the side then glared at him. “What does that say about you?”
Henry shrugged. “I guess I’m into boys because I’m really into you.”
Ren rolled her eyes. “It’s nice to meet you, Cheyenne. Ignore my boyfriend.”
Cheyenne laughed. “That won’t be hard. I ignore my brother all the time.”
“And this is my brother, Bryce,” Henry said as he pulled him forward.
Bryce stared at her, his smile dropping and his eyes becoming serious. “Hello,” he said awkwardly.
“Hi,” Cheyenne said.
He extended his right hand to shake hers then changed hands quickly, realizing his mistake. “Hello.”
“You already said that,” Henry jabbed.
“I mean hi,” he said quickly.
Cheyenne nodded. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Totally,” Bryce said with an enthusiastic nod.
Derek raised an eyebrow while he watched Bryce, wondering why he was acting so odd.
“Hey,” Nancy said as she came forward, Thatcher’s arm securely around her waist. “You have a sister?”
“Yep,” Cheyenne said proudly. “I don’t know why he keeps me a secret.”
“You really can’t figure it out?” he said sarcastically.
She hit him on the arm.
“I’m just surprised,” Nancy said. “You never mentioned her.”
“Well, we didn’t do much talking in our relationship,” Derek blurted. When he looked at Thatcher, he suddenly felt stupid for saying that. Nancy looked awkward. “Because we were fighting,” he added quickly.
Thatcher nodded. “It’s okay, man.”
Derek breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t mean to let that slip.
Cheyenne shook Nancy’s hand. “I’m sorry that my brother was such a jerk to you. For what it’s worth, he seems really remorseful about it.”
Derek sighed. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want to bring you. Don’t talk about stuff like that.”
“What?” his sister said, offended. “It’s the truth.”
“She and I already worked everything out,” Derek said. “Don’t pick at old wounds.”
“Just calm down,” Cheyenne said.
Thatcher raised his hand. “I think Derek is a really great guy and I’m thankful Nancy has him as a friend. We both love him like family.”
Nancy nodded. “It’s forgotten, Derek. Don’t bring yourself down because of it.”
Cheyenne looked at Derek. “You’re lucky you have such awesome friends.”
“If only I had a sister that was just as cool,” Derek snapped.
She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Let’s skip the drama and play some ball,” Coen said as he stripped off his shirt.
Sydney’s eyes widened. “What the hell are you doing?”
He froze. “What? It’s hot and we’re about to run around.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
Coen rolled his eyes. “Seriously?”
“You won’t let me wear a bikini on the beach anymore.”
“It’s totally different. You have amazing tits and a hot ass. Not the same thing at all.”
Her eyes lit up in flames. “This is a two way street. I don’t want people looking at you either.”
Coen held up his ring finger. “It’s totally obvious I’m taken.”
She showed him her wedding ring. “So am I
, but that didn’t make a difference to you.” She stared him down, waiting for him to pick up his shirt from the ground.
Coen met her gaze, the annoyance burning in the air.
“I’m waiting,” she said, tapping her foot.
He sighed then pulled his shirt back on.
“That’s what I thought,” she snapped.
Henry laughed. “Wow. Your relationship has changed so much.”
Coen glared at him. “I already told you everything changes when you get married.”
Ren shook her head. “Henry doesn’t tell me what to do, and if he did, he wouldn’t get any for a week.”
“And neither is Coen,” Sydney said as she walked away.
Coen’s eyes widened in
panic. “Baby, I’m so sorry.” He chased after her, apologizing the whole way.
Cheyenne laughed. “They are so cute.”
“That wasn’t cute,” Derek said. “That’s a married couple fighting.”
“It was still cute,” she said.
“They call each other seahorse.”
Her eyes widened. “Now that’s too cute.”
Derek laughed. “I think it’s cheesy, but whatever.”
“And I call my girlfriend, Ren. A boy’s name,” Henry said.
“I’m so close to beating you up in front of all your friends,” Ren said, her hands on her hips.
Cheyenne laughed. “I like her.”
“Well, now you got one friend,” Derek said.
They walked onto the sand and prepared their teams. Bryce took off his shirt, revealing the muscles of his chest and stomach. He was the only one who stripped and Derek noticed it. He also noticed that Bryce kept glancing at his sister.
They formed the teams and began the game. Coen was the quarterback and kept throwing the ball to Ren, who was too fast for anyone to catch.
Derek sighed. “Henry, stop bringing your girlfriend. She’s too good.”
He shrugged. “Like she said, I don’t tell her what to do.”
“Well, she’s making the rest of us look bad,” Derek said.
Henry shrugged again.
They played the game for an hour until Coen’s team beat Derek’s.
Derek sighed. “That wasn’t fair. You had all the good players.”
“Stop being a poor sport,” Coen said, throwing the ball in the air.
“You got you, Ren, and Sydney.”
“So?” Coen said. “You had Thatcher.”
“He was too busy covering Nancy to pay attention to the game.”
Coen shrugged. “That’s not my problem.”
Cheyenne came back to Derek. “That was fun.”
“Yeah,” he said.
Bryce came up to her. “You are really good.”
Cheyenne raised an eyebrow. “I totally sucked.”
“Not from where I was standing,” he said with a smile.
Derek felt awkward. Bryce was clearly hitting on his sister. He never intervened with her love life, so he just walked away.
“Henry?” Derek said.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“What’s your brother like?”
an eyebrow. “Are you interested…?”
Derek glared at him. “I’m just curious.”
“Well, he works as a life guard and just started going back to school. He lives in an apartment…there’s nothing super interesting about him.”
Derek nodded. “Is he a good guy?
“My brother is the best,” Henry said automatically. “But then again, I’m pretty biased.” He walked away then grabbed Ren around the waist, kissing her hair. When Derek turned to Nancy, she was making out with Thatcher in the sand, oblivious to everything around her. Sydn
ey was still pissed at Coen, and he was desperately trying to talk her off the ledge. It was obvious he couldn’t live without sex. Derek understood why.
Derek grabbed a beer and sat in the sand. His friends joined him a moment later.
He turned to Nancy. “How is the new living situation going?”
“I love it,” she said with a smile. “We should have done it a long time ago.”
Thatcher rubbed his nose against hers. “I’m glad you like it.”
“Do you miss your bachelor pad?”
He shook his head. “It was never a bachelor pad. And I love having you around. You fuel my artistic abilities, inspire me to paint more.”
Sydney pulled her knees to her chest, not touching Coen. He had his hand on her thigh but she didn’t reciprocate the affection. “Are you combining your galleries?”
Thatcher nodded. “That’s the plan. There’s no point in separating them.”
“That’s so cute,” Sydney said.
“You’re cute,” Coen said.
She rolled her eyes and ignored him.
“So…is there going to be a wedding anytime soon?” Sydney asked.
Nancy felt her cheeks redden.
Thatcher held her hand. “There will be whenever she’s ready.”
Nancy shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s too soon. I’m ready but I don’t want anyone to judge us.”
“Who cares?” Sydney said. “Coen and I only knew each other for a few months before we got engaged. When you know, you know. And we are really happy together—for the most part.” She turned and glared at him before she turned back to Nancy.
Nancy nodded. “I guess that’s true.”
“Do it at your own pace,” Ren said. “Who cares what other people think. It’s so obvious that you two are meant to be together. Everyone knows it.”
Thatcher smiled then leaned close to Nancy. “I told you.”
Derek looked at Henry and noticed the smile on his face. Everyone knew he was proposing to Ren soon but no one made that fact obvious. Sydney looked at the ground and Coen stared at Sydney’s face.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” Coen said to her. “Please don’t be mad at me.”
“You aren’t sorry,” she snapped. “You just want to get laid.”
“Who are you kidding?” he snapped. “If I withheld sex from you, you would crawl on top of me and fuck me anyway. You can’t use sex as a weapon. You want me all the time and you know it. Two can play this game…”
“Is that a threat?” Sydney said.
“Ooh,” Derek said. “This just got interesting.”
“Hell yeah it is,” Coen said. “I said I was sorry and I meant it. But if you’re going to keep acting like this, then I’ll teach you a lesson.”
“Who wants to get a pool going?” Derek asked. “I’m in. Twenty bucks Coen cracks first.”
“I’ll take that bet,” Ren said. “Fifty bucks says Sydney caves.”
Derek nodded. “Fifty it is.”
“I want in on this,” Nancy said. “Fifty on Sydney.”
Sydney glared at Nancy. “Nancy!”
Nancy shrugged. “You told me about your entire relationship. I really don’t think you’re going to last. I’m sorry. I know I couldn’t last with Thatcher.”
Coen smiled triumphantly.
Sydney glared at her best friend then her husband.
Henry shook his head. “My money is on Coen.”
“To make it even, my money is on Coen too,” Thatcher said.
Derek rubbed his hands. “That’s a lot of money.”
“Well, some of you are about to get richer,” Coen said with a smile.
Sydney shook her head. “I’ll make you break down so quick.”
He shook his head. “My hand will hold me over until you beg me to make love to you.”
“All I have to do is wear slutty lingerie.”
“And all I have to do is close my eyes,” he said. “And you’re about to start your period. You know what happens then…”
Nancy raised an eyebrow. “What happens?”
Coen smiled. “My wife gets really, really horny.”
Sydney’s cheeks turned red. “Do we need to tell everyone that?”
“All I have to do is kiss you and your legs will be shaking for me,” Coen said. “I’m going to love watching you lose.”
“You’re going to be eating your own words,” Sydney said.
“Can we bet on ourselves?” Coen asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Derek said.
“Good. I have fifty dollar
s that Sydney breaks first,” Coen said.
“I’ll take that bet,” Sydney said.
“Baby, I don’t want to take your money,” Coen said.
Henry turned to Ren. “I never want to have a competition like this.”
“Why?” Ren asked.
“I would lose.”
Her eyes softened when she looked at him.
Nancy moved closer to Thatcher and kissed him gently. “I know I would lose too.”
He smiled but said nothing.