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Read, Write, Love at Seaside(2)

By:Addison Cole

“Pepper! Please, Pep! Come on, boy!” She tumbled back with the next wave and fell on her butt, then struggled to find her footing.

Come on. Really? This, he didn’t need. He watched her push through the crashing waves. She was shoulder deep. Kurt knew about the dangers of riptides and storms and wondered why she didn’t. She had no business being out in the water with a storm brewing.

Drops of water dampened Kurt’s arms. He swatted them away with a grimace, still watching the woman.

“Please come back, Pepper!”

The rain came in a heavy drizzle now. For the love of… Kurt spun around, gathered his computer and notes and brought them inside. He checked to see that he’d saved his file before pushing the laptop safely back from the edge of the counter, then turned back to the French doors. I could close the doors and go right back to work. He eyed his laptop.


She sounded farther away now. Maybe she’d moved on. He went back out on the deck to see if she’d come to her senses.

“Pep—” Another wave toppled her over. She was deeper now and seemed to be pulled by the current.

“Hey!” Kurt hollered in an effort to dissuade her from going out any deeper. She must not have heard him. He scanned the water again and saw a flash of something about thirty feet away from her. Your stupid dog. Dogs were smelly, they shed, and they needed time and attention. All reasons why Kurt was not a fan of the creatures.

The rain picked up with the gusty wind. Good grief. He grabbed a towel from inside and stomped down the steps, Dark Times begrudgingly pushed aside.

LEANNA BRAY WAS wet, cold, and floundering. Literally. She’d been floundering for twenty-eight years, so this was nothing new, but being pummeled by rain, wind, and waves, chasing a dog that never listened? That was new.

“Pepp—” A wave knocked her off her feet and she went under the water, taking a mouthful of saltwater along with her. She tumbled head down beneath the surface.

Now Pepper and I will both drown. Freaking perfect.

Something grabbed her arm, and she reflexively fought against it, sucking in another mouthful of salty water as she broke through the surface, arms flailing, choking, and pushing against the powerful hand that yanked her to her feet.

“You okay?” A deep, annoyed voice carried over the din of the crashing waves.

Cough. Cough. “Yeah. I—” Cough. Cough. “My dog.” She blinked and blinked, trying to clear the saltwater and rain from her eyes. The man’s mop of wet, dark hair came into focus. He held tightly to her arm while scanning the water in the direction of where she’d last seen Pepper. His clothes stuck to his body like a second skin, riding the ripples of his impressive chest and arms as he held her above the surface with one arm around her ribs.

“Come on.” She coughed as he plowed through the pounding surf with her clutched against his side. She slid down his body, and he lifted her easily into his arms, carrying her like he might carry a child, pressing her to his chest as he fought against the waves.

She pushed against his chest, feeling ridiculous and helpless…and maybe a little thankful, but she was ignoring that emotion in order to save Pepper.

“My dog! I need to get my dog!” she hollered.

Mr. Big, Tall, and Stoic didn’t say a word. He set her on the wet sand and tossed her a rain-soaked towel. “It was dry.” He pointed behind her to a wooden staircase. “Go up to the deck.”

She dropped the towel and plowed past him toward the water. “I gotta get my dog.”

He snagged her by the arm and glared at her with the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen—and a stare so dark she swallowed her voice.

“Go.” He pointed to the stairs again. “I’ll get your dog.” He took a step toward the water, and she pushed past him again.

“You don’t have t—”

He scooped her into his arms again and carried her to the stairs. “If you fight me, your dog will drown. He won’t last in this much longer.”

She pushed at his chest again. “Let me go!”

He set her down on the stairs. “The waves will pull you under. I’ll get your dog. Please stay here.”

Her heart thundered against her ribs as she watched him stalk off and plow through the waves as if he were indestructible. She stood in the rain on the bottom stair, huddled beneath the wet towel, squinting to see him through the driving rain. She finally spotted him deep in the sea, wrapping his arms around Pepper—the dog who never let anyone carry him. He rounded his shoulders, shielding Pepper as he made his way back through the wild waves.

She ran to the edge of the water, shivering, tears in her eyes. “Thank you!” She reached for Pepper and the dog whined, pressing his trembling body closer to the guy.