As teenagers, Devon and Julian denied their feelings for one another by becoming fierce competitors and sworn enemies, even engaging in physical fights on occasion. After finishing school, Devon went to live and work in New York. Julian took his dreams of becoming a movie star to California and disappeared from view.
Now, years later, they’re both back home in Bayview and those old feelings are still very much alive and well. But Devon needs to focus all his efforts on bringing his family’s beach resort back to life. Julian has to decide what to do with his late grandfather’s house. Should he turn it into a B&B, or should he sell the property and move on?
It wasn’t the right time for them when they were in high school, and now, with problems to solve and decisions to make, the timing seems no better...
...I focused on the shadowy image by the fire. It appeared to be a man about the same size and height as me.
Someone on the run from the law? A druggie looking for a secluded spot to give himself a fix?
I doubted either one would risk attracting attention by lighting a fire outside an abandoned house in a populated area. They usually knew enough to keep their heads down and stay out of sight. But desperation sometimes drove people to do weird stuff. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d say it was some poor schmuck who’d been tossed out of his home or lost his job and had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Or an abused teen, or…
My resolve to mind my business weakened. Commonsense said not to get involved, but… I know what it’s like to lose your job and the difficulties of finding another. My severance package had been more than I’d expected, but it wouldn’t have kept me going indefinitely. If it wasn’t for The Bayview and the opportunity my parents handed me to restore the resort to its former glory, I, too, could be sitting around with my thumb up my ass. I could be living on the street by now and spending my nights in abandoned or burned-out buildings.
I started across the strip of beach that separated the cottages from the Hanes’ place. If I got told to fuck off, so be it.
“Hey, there,” I called out. If the guy wanted to run, this was his chance. “Everything okay? I know it’s none of my business, but this doesn’t strike me as the best night for a barbeque.”
The man held his ground. “You’re right, it’s not; it’s—” He took a sudden step toward me and then hesitated. “Oh, shit! Devon Lister as I live and breathe. I don’t believe this. I thought you were living the high life in New York. If I’d known you were here…”
I stopped abruptly and stared in shock, while a dozen different emotions rushed through my body and fought for supremacy in my head.
It couldn’t be. It just wasn’t possible.
I’d expected to find some down-and-out stranger, a rebellious kid, a runaway, or anyone other than the person I’d been thinking about less than a moment ago. But that’s who it was. The drop dead gorgeous, dark-haired, dark-eyed Julian Hanes, my boyhood nemesis in the flesh.
“Nice to see you, too,” I muttered, fighting to stay calm and keep my tone casual. “You’d have done what? Gone for a swim? Taken the next flight back to Lalaland?”
He ignored my questions and gestured toward the house. “You know who did this?”
“No idea. Some pyromaniac who wanted to have himself a little fun, I guess. By the time the fire department arrived, it was too late to do much. The fire had too strong a hold.”
“No kidding.” He pulled up the collar of what looked to be a thin cotton windbreaker and used a stick to poke at the dwindling fire. Julian had always been on the skinny side, but the way he looked now was more than fashionably thin. I got the distinct impression he hadn’t had what I’d call a decent meal in weeks.
“Didn’t the cops get in touch with you?”
“No, but I’ve been moving around a lot lately.”
Unable to contain my curiosity, I said, “Then how did you find out about it?”
“I knew Granddad was gone, but I didn’t know about this until a few minutes ago. I needed somewhere to stay temporarily. The property is mine, so I figured I could camp here for a few days while I figured out my next move.”
I couldn’t quite suppress the tiny twinge of satisfaction that came from knowing Julian’s plans hadn’t worked out any better than mine. Not very nice of me, but habit dies hard, even though I’m no longer a kid. “Not in this weather you can’t. Guess you’ll have to move on to plan B.”
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