New Point

By: Olivia Luck

To Zoli who is always in my heart.

One day was all it took to alter my life irrecoverably. It only took thirty minutes for the confident, independent young woman I was to be morphed into an unfamiliar shade of herself – a victim.

And maybe, hopefully, one day a survivor.

Nine months later

At first, balancing on the pale blond arm of an Adirondack chair to retrieve an extra set of house keys hiding above the sliding glass door on the deck seemed like my best shot at getting inside. Now, while my fingers blindly seek out the metal, I realize I’d be better off throwing a rock through the door and unlocking it from the outside, because there’s no way my short arms will find the key before I tumble to the ground. In an email the caretaker had mentioned an extra set up keys hidden up here, but they are nowhere to be found.

“New Point isn’t known for much breaking and entering, but I have to admit, this looks mighty suspicious,” an unmistakably Midwestern accent drawls from behind me, effectively scaring the sweat off my bare shoulders.

A shriek escapes from my lips as I teeter preciously on the wood chair and my hands lose their grip on the white doorframe. The rubber of my flip flop doesn’t provide much traction, and my body pitches sideways. In just a second I’ll crash against the deck floor and spend my summer recovering physically instead of gaining back my old–

Sturdy muscular arms slide around my waist and yank me against an equally firm chest. “Whoa, there. I didn’t mean to scare you.” The masculine voice has a smile behind it.

“Probably shouldn’t go sneaking up on someone then,” I mutter once I catch my breath and untangle myself from his grasp. He chuckles at my retort, a rich baritone that almost sends a shiver down my spine.

When I’m a step or two back, I’m nearly breathless again, but this time for completely different reasons.

Sturdy was one way to describe his muscular grasp, but now that I have a full frontal view of him, I see my mistake. He’s perfect. Thick arms with nicely defined muscles that don’t bulge too aggressively beneath his white t-shirt, a broad chest, and trim waist with low riding blue exercise shorts. And that’s just his body. Bright white teeth gleam at me from behind a broad smile. Thick, dark brown curly hair begs to have fingers run through it, and he has coffee-colored eyes framed by long lashes that most girls would envy.

He’s a combination of sultry sex appeal and mischievous intentions as displayed by the twist of his lips. Less than one minute in his presence and I’m practically swooning.

“Who are you?” I blurt out.

With a smirk, he crosses his arms across the planes of his chest. “Shouldn’t I be asking the questions, Ms. Breaking and Entering?”

“Is it breaking and entering if your family owns the home?” I wonder and take a few steps away from him to gain some much-needed distance. With him standing so close I can’t concentrate—all that raw masculinity is distracting. Suddenly I can’t remember what I’m even doing on the deck. Yes, he’s that hot.

When I reach the deck railing I lean against it, opting for the most casual stance possible. Meanwhile, my insides are knotted in a chaotic jumble. Unfortunately it’s not only because of the delectable male specimen before me. His surprise arrival ignited a riot of anxious sparklers in my stomach. I despise being snuck up on, to put it mildly.

I inhale a discreet breath through my nose, forcing my stomach to exhale with the calming skill. There. I’m okay enough to talk. “You should probably be the one explaining why you were lurking around my deck.”

“Lurking? I prefer keeping neighborhood watch.”

I raise a brow. “Really?”

“My sister was once the caretaker of this place,” he admits, closing the gap between us, but not standing close enough to be considered an invasion of personal space. Not that I would mind him crowding me… Shoot. He’s talking. I need to pay attention.

“She was the one who told me someone finally moved in a few days ago,” he gestures vaguely over my shoulder, probably in the direction of his place. “I was coming back from my run when I saw you from the beach and wanted to introduce myself. Obviously I botched that, but I’ve got a way to make it up to you.”

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