Page 13


“Morning, honey,” Jack says from his spot at the table.
“Hey Jack.”
“Sleep well?”
I yawn and stretch. “God yes.”
I avoid the eyes I can feel burning into my side and walk into the kitchen.
“Yo, Ari, help me out here,” Ripley calls.
“You’re on your own, buddy.” I laugh.
I duck as Mel throws a handful of batter at Ripley. It hits the pan with a splat.
“Kids,” Jack calls, “Nancy is going to have a fit if she comes back and sees what you’ve done to her pancake batter.”
“Fun spoiler,” Ripley calls.
“Truce?” Melanie says.
“Yeah,” Ripley says, dropping the pan. “For now.”
The moment he places it down she lunges for him, smudging a big blob of batter across his face. He yells loudly and they both skid out of the kitchen. I see Melanie has fit in just fine. I busy myself cleaning up the batter, then I call out to Jack, “Where’s Mom?”
“Out grabbing some strawberries and cream. Said it was your favorite.”
I smile.
“Princess gets what Princess needs,” Blade says from his spot on the couch.
I glare at him. “I didn’t ask her to go and get them.”
“No, Tulip, course you didn’t.”
My cheeks burn and my body tightens.
“Enough,” Jack warns. “Go and find Brody. Tell him to help me get these fishing poles ready.”
Blade stands, shooting a glare at me before disappearing out the front door.
“You two got a problem?” Jack asks.
I blink. “What? No.”
“Right,” he mutters, eyeing me suspiciously.
I turn away quickly, muttering, “I’m going to make these pancakes for Mom.”
I busy myself pouring the hot batter down, flipping them and piling them onto plates.
When Mom gets back, they’re all done. We slice the strawberries, grab a tub of butter and all sit around outside, loading our pancakes with strawberries and cream. Blade only has butter, the girl, and Brody just piles his eight miles high with cream. When we’re done, I turn to Melanie.
“Water-skiing?” I ask, hopefully.
“Hell yeah, Bryce is hot! I’m all over the water-skiing.”
“Who’s Bryce?” Mom asks.
“A guy we met last night. He invited us water-skiing on the lake today.”
“Sounds fun.” She beams. That’s my mom; she isn’t the over-protective, crazy type, even though she had every right to be. She’s loving and nurturing, and if she’s worried she’ll tell me, but she trusts me and I love that.
“It will be,” Mel says, rubbing her hands together. “Come and help me find my bikini.”
We both get up and rush down the halls. Ten minutes later, my bed is covered in clothes and we’re both debating what to wear. I brought three pairs of bikinis, Mel brought four. We’re on a lake. It’s essential.
I’m eyeing off a pair of baby blue bikinis with a gorgeous shell lining around the bust and pelvic region. Melanie is begging me to wear the red ones that I think she should wear. It’s a damned disaster.
“Okay, I’m putting them behind my back,” I say, taking both pairs and putting them behind my back.
“That’s cheating,” she cries. “You know which pair is which.”
“It’s true,” she huffs, crossing her arms.
“Allow me,” Ripley says, gliding into the room. He snatches the bikinis from my hands and throws them behind his back.
“Are you being a peeping tom?” I question, narrowing my eyes.
He scoffs. “Don’t flatter yourself. Now come on, pick.”
I sigh and close my eyes, waving my finger from side to side before pointing to his left hand. He reveals the blue bikini and I laugh happily, clapping my hands.
“You suck,” Melanie yells as I disappear towards the bathroom.
I’m rushing down the hall, and I don’t think to knock. I swing the bathroom door open and gasp when I see Blade, wearing nothing, facing the mirror. I squeal and he looks up at me through the mirror. A slow, sexy smile spreads across his face. “Something you need, Tulip?”
“I . . . you . . .” I stammer.
I can’t help my eyes as they take a wander down his body, over his broad shoulders, down his narrow back and to an ass that should be illegal it’s so damned fine. He starts to turn and my cheeks burn. “Sorry,” I squeak, scurrying out before he’s fully turned around.
“Oh my god, did you just walk in on Blade?” Ripley laughs from the end of the hall.
“Fuck you, Ripley.”
“Ohhhh.” He chuckles. “Are your cheeks red?”
I flip him the bird and rush back into the room, slamming the door. Melanie has just pulled on her bikini and spins around with a squeal. “Dude, what are you doing?”
I cross my arms. “I just walked in on Blade in the shower.”
“Oh my god,” she squeaks. “Was he naked?”
I nod.
She rushes towards the door. “Ohhh, so fun. My turn.”
I grab her arm, pulling her back. “Don’t be a turd, Mel.”
She laughs loudly. “Did you just call me a turd?”
“Yes.” I grin. “I did.”
“Because I want a chance to barge in on what’s-his-face while he’s naked?”