Authors: Laura Ward
Tags: #Romance, #Coming of Age, #chick lit, #Contemporary Romance, #New Adult, #book boyfriend
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Copyright © 2014 by Laura Ward
Cover Design by: Regina Wamba of
Formatting and interior design by JT
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Without limiting the rights under copyright
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both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author
acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various
products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of
fiction, which have been used without permission. The
publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated
with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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This book is dedicated to my three
Riley, Mackenzie, and Braeden, my wish for
you is to always follow your heart.
Never give up on your dreams.
My dreams came true the minute I saw each of
TIGHTENING THE THIN rubber strap that reached
around the back of my head, I adjusted my goggles and stretched my
arms, palms up and fingers interlocked, to the sky. I rolled my
neck and shook my legs, one at a time, releasing the tension.
Stepping to the edge of the pool, I curled my toes over the header
and jumped, entering the water in a practiced, smooth glide.
I was in my happy place.
There was something so calming about diving into a
pool, cutting through the glass-like top layer, and moving down
into the deep chambers of the water. All sound was drowned out and
I felt separated from the rest of the world. I was weightless,
isolated, and in complete control of whether I chose to stay here
forever or come up for air. Teaching swimming lessons and then
lifeguarding had filled my summers for years because I loved this
feeling, and I loved to teach others to come to this place—this
serene, underwater nirvana. Only, I thought this summer would be
different, and I certainly didn’t think it would be spent at the
Country Club of Avon.
I had worked all day cleaning the guard house, my
“official”—but not in any way country club standard—office space,
and arranging schedules for the summer guards. I was hired to
manage the pool for the summer, and I was meeting with the crew
that evening to go over my expectations for their jobs.
Lingering in the momentum from my dive for just a
minute, I broke the surface and took a breath. Fresh, clean air
filled my lungs before I turned back into the water, lifting each
arm in a perfect cadence and kicking my legs.
This I could control.
Stroke, stroke, and breathe. Stroke, stroke, and
Glancing up at the clock a few minutes later, I
pulled off my goggles and lifted myself onto the pool deck. I
looked around for my towel, but it wasn’t on the bench where I left
it. Spinning around in confusion, I found a guy wearing a faded
blue baseball cap and a flirty smile, holding my towel as he leaned
against the brick wall.
. This was so not what I needed
“What’s up, sweetheart?” Mr. Cool handed me my towel,
and I wiped my face and dried my hair. His eyes raked down my body
with a heat that I could feel, and I was less than thrilled with
the decision to wear my pale yellow swimsuit. My almost threadbare,
now wet, swimsuit. I felt way too exposed.
“The pool is closed to everyone but employees. Can I
help you with something?” I snapped at him, irritated that the
rich, privileged, country club members were already trying to bend
“Oh, I know,” Mr. Cool replied with a smirk. “Name’s
Landon. I’ve been lifeguarding here for three years. Head guard.
And you are?”
“Your boss.” I rolled my eyes as I slipped on my
shorts and tank top. I started to walk to the guard house as Mr.
Cool, Landon, or whatever his preppy name was, pushed himself off
the wall to follow me.
“Do you have a name or do you prefer to go by boss
lady?” he asked, in an attempt to demonstrate his ability to be
“My name’s Emma Harris.” I begrudgingly shook hands
with him as I admitted to myself that it was good he had some
experience at the pool. “Are you a member as well?”
“Hell no, Emma. I’m not from Avon, and I’m certainly
not ‘club member’ material. These rich kids will drive you crazy,
but the pay is great, and the club isn’t a bad place to guard.
You’ll like it here.” As he spoke, I couldn’t help but notice Mr.
Cool’s size. He was easily over six feet tall with firm, cut
muscles in his arms and a broad chest that was evident underneath
his fitted T-shirt. His face was model handsome, and his expression
showed that he sure as hell knew it.
I nodded and motioned for him to sit. The guard house
was small, but it fit its purpose. There was an old, beat up desk
by the window that was mine. A sofa was pushed up along the wall,
and a circular table and chairs sat in the corner so the off duty
guards could eat and relax.
Eight other people showed up for orientation, most of
them many years younger than me. They were enthusiastic and
friendly, and, for the most part, they seemed like a nice group. I
went over the schedule, as well as guard rotations and cleaning
duties, while Mr. Cool made jokes and flirted shamelessly with the
girls. I purposefully ignored him, and I wasn’t sure if that amused
him or made him try harder. Either way, I wasn’t fazed.
After our meeting ended, I walked back down the hill
to the employee parking lot. A black Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck
was parked next to my faded, red Honda Accord. With tinted windows,
custom rims, and a lift-kit, this truck screamed,
to the driver. He thinks he’s hot shit.
’ Despite my annoyance
at anything frivolous, this was the sexiest truck I had ever seen.
And standing—possibly posing—next to it was Mr. Cool.
Not country club material? I call bullshit.
No one at his stage in life could afford a truck like
that. “I thought you were just a working class guy from Indy,
Landon. This is a mighty fancy truck for a poor lifeguard.” I
couldn’t keep the snark from my tone as I approached my car.
“I said I wasn’t country club material. I never said
I was poor.” Landon laughed and walked closer to me. I
instinctively crossed my arms over my chest and took a step back.
“My Dad helped me buy this, but I work for my insurance and the
endless gas she uses.”
I shook my head, knowing he was just another spoiled
boy. And spoiled boys were selfish boys. This I knew firsthand.
Turning to unlock my car, I slid inside.
Landon leaned into the open window. “Want to go get
something to eat? There’s a great spot down by the lake for a
picnic... or whatever.”