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Out of Bounds
Author:Lauren Blakely

Out of Bounds by Lauren Blakely

Chapter One


I’ll admit it. I’ve been ogling today in the ocean. I’ve been checking someone out in the water. But, in my defense, anyone would.

His body is to die for.

From my vantage point several waves away, it’s a mighty nice view.

Especially when the big, broad guy with the killer smile pops up on his board, bends his knees, and glides along a rolling crest in the Pacific Ocean.

Like he belongs there.

Well, this time.

Admittedly, he’s toppled into the waves a lot this afternoon, but we all land on our butts in the water now and then. Staying vertical on a longboard isn’t the easiest task in the universe.

Besides, who’s counting? Or gawking?

Oh wait. That’d be me, draped over my board, lolling in the water and enjoying the eye candy in between my own sessions on the waves.

When Eye Candy Surfer Guy gets up there, he looks damn good. Calm. In control.

Muscles rippling and glistening with ocean water.

Happy sigh.

I tilt my head, when I spot trouble in the form of another guy. A lanky dude on a battered orange board drops into Eye Candy’s wave, inserting himself exactly where he shouldn’t be.

There’s a rule in the ocean—you don’t stick yourself into someone else’s wave.

That’s when it happens.

The board shoots out from beneath the skinny dude, and in a blur of lanky limbs, he tumbles backward into the water, his body smacking the sea in a loud slap. His orange board skims the water on a fast track for Eye Candy. The former lifeguard in me springs to life, and as I paddle closer, I cup a hand over my mouth and shout, “Heads up!”

My warning is futile. The board is hell-bent on a mission—Eye Candy’s head—and as it connects with the back of his noggin, the man’s handsome face contorts. A thunk rings out above the crashing of the waves.

I wince as the guy with the killer grin goes kersplat. I’ve been there, done that, and it stings like hell. Poor guy.

He’s knocked into the sea, the leash on his leg keeping his own board afloat. We’re close to the shore and the waves aren’t huge, so I’m not worried he’s about to be swept out to the murky depths in a watery death. But I’m not about to hang here and ride the next swell while someone is drowning.

I paddle over, but not because I’ve been admiring his strong legs. Or his big, muscular arms. Or even his flat, sculpted, completely lickable abs, for that matter. I paddle over because I’m not an asshole. As I reach the scene of the head-whacking, the perpetrator of surfing rudeness pokes his head out and scans for his board. It’s bobbing a few feet away, and he swims off for it.

Two seconds later, the whacked one pops up, brushing a big hand along his face, then his wet hair.

“You okay?” I ask over the sound of the ocean. Venice Beach is home for beginner and intermediate surfers thanks to its mostly mellow waves. From the looks of it, Eye Candy hasn’t spent a ton of time hanging ten. I’m not a competitive surfer, either. I just do this for fun, and I head to the other beaches when I want bigger waves.

Blinking, the guy rubs the back of his head. His surfboard bobs near him, so I kick closer, reach out an arm, and push it to him. He grabs hold of it, his strong arms resting on it now.

Those arms.

They’re not my Kryptonite.

They’re not my Kryptonite.

They’re not my Kryptonite.

Fine, fine. They’re any woman’s Kryptonite.

“I think I’ll live,” he says, and I can tell he’s being sarcastic, but even so he looks like he should get out of the water. Even though I’m a world-class ogler, I’ve got a caretaker in me too.

So in my best gentle but firm voice, I say, “That’s excellent news. But maybe consider life on the shore for a few minutes.” I tip my head in the direction of the sand.

“I hear the sand has fewer flying objects,” he says, his lips twitching in a tiny grin.

Bingo. We have a sarcastic one on our hands. My favorite kind of man.

“That’s one of its many selling points.”

He shoots me a small smile, then follows my advice, paddling to the shore. He lugs his board out of the water and sinks next to it in the sand. I make my way out of the ocean too and plop down by his side. I’ve seen enough surfing mishaps over the years, and even though I don’t know this guy from Adam, I want to make sure he’s okay.

“That surfboard absolutely had it in for you. Vicious thing,” I say, leaning back to see if there’s blood pouring out of his head. Good news—his skull’s not leaking its contents. “I think you might have pissed it off.”

“Hmmm. Come to think of it, I did trash talk it when I was riding a wave before,” he deadpans, as he rubs the back of his head while staring off at the sea. His face is in profile, and something about his eyes feels familiar. Tickles a spot in my memory. But I can’t place him, so he must just look like someone I know.

Or someone I want to know.