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Bright California sun glinted off the Pacific Ocean and sent shards of light dancing in Ashley Bristol's eyes. She adjusted her sunglasses for the tenth time, surprised at the intensity of the November sun. Ignoring the hazy feeling swimming in her head, she dug her bare feet into the warm sand and leaned her head back on her small beach chair. Maybe if she relaxed and tried some breathing exercises, the oncoming headache would go away.
"This is the life," her best friend, Ellie Reynolds, muttered next to her. "A cliff-side mansion, the beach anytime you want it and perfect sunsets every day." Her sigh drifted with the breeze. "You're tempting me to move back to L.A., you know. Don't think I didn't notice."
Ashley smiled. "Yes, that's me...devious to the bone. I found an irresistible place, then waited until you got married and moved to Indiana before cunningly trying to lure you back. Genius to the core." She breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly.
Splayed next to her like a sun goddess in a pink bikini, Ellie chuckled.
Ashley suppressed a sigh. She didn't take her life for granted. Not anymore. On the contrary, she relished her new house and the picture-perfect scenery of the ocean and sand. Life should have been ideal. But, pretty soon, Ellie would go home and Ashley would be all alone with everything. And nothing. She'd been alone in this house for almost a year, careful to keep herself occupied with remodeling. Ellie's visit had been both a reprieve from the loneliness and a chance to feel human. She'd changed so much in the past two years that it was hard to come to grips with her new life. But now was not the time to dwell on this, not when her old roommate was in town. She took another deep breath and let it out.
Distraction. She needed a distraction.
"Finish telling me about the premiere last night," Ashley said. At least then she wouldn't have to think about her lack of a life or the feeling that these breathing exercises weren't doing a damn thing. "I want all the details. I read that every who's who in Tinseltown made an appearance."
Dangerous Race, an action/adventure/love story, had its Hollywood red-carpet debut. As the star's stunt double, Ellie had been invited to the movie's premiere. Though she'd relocated to Indiana a year ago with her new husband, Ellie used the premiere as a good excuse to visit.
"You should've been there," Ellie chided. "Everyone asked about you." She went on to list a half-dozen people that Ashley had met during the movie's production, including the couple the movie was based on. "They all thought you were coming with me since Quinn couldn't make it. Oh, by the way, Quinn says hi, too."
"How is your studly husband?"
"He's fine. Good. Gorgeous." The girl was all but purring.
"Stop gloating." Ashley chuckled, but she loved that Ellie was so deliriously happy. No one deserved it more. Ellie still lived in Newlywed Land and hadn't come off her honeymoon high. But who would have being married to a handsome, hunky, rich guy who also happened to worship the ground you walked on?
"He wants to know how his Honda is running," Ellie said.