Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Devon Rhodes, T.A. Chase 2014. All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
He was back again.
From his vantage point on his tower, Matty spared a glance from his constant scanning of the bathers in the ocean to confirm that the man he’d dubbed ‘The Lone Hottie’ was alone again today.
Hottie had been down to Matty’s beach nearly every day this week. He was pure eye candy, but more than his stacked physique, what kept Matty watching him was the fact a man that good-looking never had anyone with him, even on the weekend, and didn’t seem inclined to meet anyone, either.
Matty loved working here, at what he considered the best of Melbourne’s beaches. It was a very social beach, and anyone would have been welcomed into the ever-changing flow of impromptu gatherings and volleyball games, or just to plain hang out.
But Hottie kept himself unapproachable and so far, no one had penetrated the wall of reserve he’d built around himself. It made Matty wonder what kept him coming back down. At that thought, he smiled wryly to himself. He’d never met or spoken to the man, but he instinctively knew from his orientation towards the water and regular presence that the ocean drew him in, that he took some sort of solace from the constancy of the sea meeting sand, water meeting sky.
Matty knew, because he felt the same damn way.
As soon as Hottie had settled himself on a towel, Matty resumed his watch of the public. His gaze drifted back across Hottie once or twice, but he was well-trained and vigilant enough that even such a tempting view wasn’t enough to truly distract him from his job.
From the time he’d been a small child, all he’d wanted to do was become a professional lifeguard. He’d joined a swim club and ended up competing in high school and college. As a teen he’d given swimming lessons and done stints as a lifeguard at a pool. He’d even been serious enough about it to get his degree in Sports Sciences while also becoming an EMT. Everything he’d done had been towards that end, and he’d never regretted it. He loved the water and the atmosphere at the beach, and working outdoors for a living was as close to perfect as you could get. But most of all, he loved helping people.
Which was why he couldn’t stop wondering what Hottie’s story was. He’d never been rude enough to use his binocs to see his expression, but his solitary form seemed to have a sad posture to it. And honestly, a guy that fit and attractive never having anyone with him was just strange. Unless… Maybe he’d had to leave someone he loved behind, or they’d moved to a different country? Maybe he’d been on the receiving end of a breakup or, God forbid, experienced the death of someone close to him?
Quit being so dramatic. You’re such a queen.
Okay, probably nothing that drastic, but Matty figured that Hottie had recently moved into the area. Or maybe he was here on holiday? Either way, he didn’t seem entirely happy about it, which tugged at Matty’s heartstrings. He wished he could go down and talk to him, ask if he was okay. He supposed next time he took a walk with his can, he could…
Or maybe not. It was one thing to go up to a group of celebrants and make his presence known, work the crowd, or check on a mum with tots, but quite another to make a point of going up to a solo visitor. Feeling vaguely protective, he didn’t want to draw obviously unwanted attention to Hottie. And Matty knew that eyes followed his every move when he descended from his tower. Part and parcel of being in uniform.
Case in point, he watched heads turn as his tower partner, Caroline, worked her way back up the beach. Since she was built similarly to him and was well-covered by red trunks and her yellow rash guard, he knew it was more because of her presence and the aura around their occupation than her figure.
Hottie had risen and was heading to the water. Interestingly, he glanced over as he and Caroline crossed paths, but that’s all it was. A glance. Hottie was also wearing a short-sleeved rash guard that clung to his torso, revealing impressive musculature. Whatever he did to keep fit, it was certainly working. His visible skin was tanned, but Matty had caught a glimpse of pale skin at mid-thigh as he rose. To get a tan line that defined, Hottie must spend a fair amount of time outside.
Matty left off his musings and glanced back at the clock. Yep, Caro was right on time. They traded off sitting and walking to keep their focus sharp. He was due for a break, too, this time round. He patted his bum bag, which had first aid items in it, and made sure he heard the jingle of his keys. He’d forgotten his cooler with his lunch in, leaving it in his car this morning, so instead of taking his break in the tower like he usually did, he’d go sit near his car in the shade.
Caro ascended the tower and gave him a nod. “Anything interesting?”
Just Hottie. “Nah. Quiet day for as busy as it is. Okay if I run to the car?”
“Forgot your cooler again, didn’t ya?”
“Yeah, well”—Matty shrugged with a grin—“we’re all not as sharp as you.” There was a great deal of truth behind his teasing. Caro was very smart and didn’t miss a trick.
“Don’t sell yourself short. Besides, no such thing as a stupid lifeguard, at least not a pro. Unlike the world of Baywatch, they don’t hire us for our looks. Though”—she gave him a quick once-over—“you probably woulda got hired either way.” She winked and pulled out some sunscreen. “Go ahead. Just stay within shouting distance.”
He knew she meant that figuratively, though with the lungs on her, he’d likely be able to hear her well past the parking area if she really let loose. “Thanks, Caro. Be back in a jif.”
Once he’d descended to the sand, he reflexively scanned his surroundings. He tried to work out which was Hottie’s head bobbing in the water but at that angle it was hard to do. So he turned and jogged towards his car and the sub sandwich in the cooler.
By the time he returned after his break, Hottie and his towel were gone.
Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.
He’d see him then.