Can't Let Go GO PL(4)

By: Barbara Freethy

"I got laid off. There's no big story to tell. But I have an interview this coming week that looks promising. It's at an animation production company and they're looking for someone who wants to wear a lot of hats, bring an idea from seed to completion. They're looking to produce a superhero movie, so I'm trying to think of something that hasn't already been done."

"I'm sure you'll come up with something. You're incredibly creative. Do you need a loan to tide you over?"

"No. I have savings, and my sublet is costing me next to nothing. I'm also getting a paycheck from my teaching gig at the community college."

"I forgot about that. How's it going?"

"Not as bad as I thought." She'd agreed to substitute teach an introduction to animation class for a friend who had to go on maternity leave three months early. While she'd expected it to be boring and not at all her thing, she'd actually been surprised by how much she enjoyed introducing her world of art and animation to young, eager minds. Even though she was only twenty-eight, about to turn twenty-nine, she'd gotten cynical from her years in Los Angeles, and it felt good to be around optimistic energy and big dreams.

There was good in the world, and as her gaze drifted to the window, she thought about the surfer. He'd rescued her with no thought to his own safety. He could have just paddled to shore, but he hadn't done that. He also hadn't waited around for a thank-you, and she couldn't help wishing she knew more about him, but she didn't even know his name.

"Annie, are you still there?" Kate asked.

"Sorry, you got me thinking."

"In a good way?"

"Maybe."

"Then my work here is done. I should get going."

"Hold on. How are things going with you and Devin?"

"Will you hate me if I say perfect?"

She smiled at the happy tone in her sister's voice. "I'll be jealous, but I won't hate you. Any wedding plans?"

"Not yet. We've talked about it, but we're not in a rush. We're very happy as we are. Devin loves running his own investigation firm, and I love being an agent. We don't want to jinx it with wedding plans and me turning into a bridezilla."

"That would never happen. You don't care enough about dresses and flowers to be a bridezilla."

Kate laughed. "That's true. And Mom is thankfully distracted by Dylan and Ian deciding to have a double wedding in February that she's not bugging me at all."

"The way things are going, I'll be the last single Callaway standing."

"With Hunter still single, I don't think that will happen," Kate said dryly.

"True."

"I'll call you when I'm back in the States. Stay away from sharks."

"Don't worry. I am not going anywhere near the water. Talk to you soon." As her sister hung up, she set her phone on the table and then grabbed the sketch pad that had been sitting empty for the past month.

What she hadn't told Kate was that after her last job fell apart, she'd had a severe case of artist's block and a terrifying fear that all her creativity had somehow vanished.

Now she picked up her pen, the surfer's image dancing through her head. He had had strong features, a full, sexy mouth, and startling blue eyes, that had been both bright and shadowed at the same time. It was as if he'd seen too much of something…sun, life, heartbreak…

Her fingers flew across the page as she brought his features to life. For the first time in a long time, she felt inspired…





Two


Saturday morning, Annie woke up early, a new mission in mind. After spending half the night trying to capture her surfer hero's face on her sketch pad, she'd decided she needed to see him again. She told herself she wanted to thank him for saving her life, but in reality, she just felt a compelling need to connect with him again. Maybe it was because they'd shared a life-changing moment together, or perhaps it was because he had the most interesting blue eyes she'd ever seen. Whatever the reason, she was up and out of her apartment before eight, heading down the cliff steps to the beach below and following a path to the pier.

With yesterday's shark sightings, new signs had been put up on the beach, warning people to stay out of the water, and at the moment the surfers seemed to be obeying that directive. There were, however, a lot of people on the beach path, a mix of runners and leisurely strollers enjoying the still perfect weather and getting in a little exercise.