Blair is determined to stay on course. Her reporting career is waiting for her if she can just make it through summer on the island.
Justyn knows not to get attached to tourist girls breezing through town for only a season.
Maggie wants to cherish her last few months of summer freedom. So what if she has to keep a tiny secret to make sure everyone around her stays happy?
Reid doesn’t have time for romance. His new business must succeed, no matter the cost.
This summer everything is about to change. All those carefully laid plans might shift faster than the tides. When these four start spending time together, the island nights get hotter than the sun-drenched days. Trying to stay untangled and unattached is easier said than done when the one thing you want is standing right in front of you.
Blair was digging through Maggie’s armoire, tossing aside sundress after sundress. “No, this won’t do. You need to make more of a statement,” she said, tossing aside Maggie’s favorite pink striped tank dress.
“What kind of statement am I looking to make?” Maggie asked.
“You’re going to march over there, rip Reid from his computer, and seduce him before he knows what hit him in the spreadsheet,” Blair said.
“But clearly he doesn’t want to be bothered,” Maggie said. “He hasn’t texted or called since Saturday. He’s got more important things to think about. You heard what Justyn said about the business meeting and the investors.”
“Never mind that right now,” Blair said, moving over to the chest of drawers. “We have to find the perfect rainy day Tuesday, come-hither outfit. Wait, what is this?” She grabbed a piece of bright red lace poking out from under a heap of tank tops.
“Remember, I bought this at the beginning of last semester,” Maggie blushed as she tried to grab the candy apple red bra from Blair’s hand. “But you know what a disaster that turned out to be. Ungrateful college boys.”
“So you saved it for the perfect occasion?” Blair asked. She poked around in the drawer some more. “Aha! Here it is. The matching bottom,” she exclaimed, waving around the accompanying lacy bikini over her head and beginning a victory dance.
Maggie started toward her in an attempt to grab the garment from her hand, but Blair proved faster as she dashed left for the bed.
“This little ensemble and your khaki London Fog raincoat, and you are good to go. Mr. Frustrated-by-numbers will be speechless and drooling. He’ll be putty in your hands.”
“Absolutely not,” Maggie said. “First of all, I’m not going along with this preposterous plan of yours, and even if I was considering it, I would wear something … more … something more … You know … with clothes. But cute, of course,” she squeaked out.
“See? You are considering it. Now, hear me out. You said the morning on the pier was great, right? Hot?” There had to be a way to convince Maggie to do this.
“And you definitely want more? Aren’t you always beating yourself up about not taking the bull by the horns and living life? Isn’t that what this summer is supposed to be about? Fun on the island?”
“No entanglements,” they said in unison.
Maggie giggled. “Ok, say I was going to go along with this plan of yours. Do I just show up on his doorstep in my raincoat, bra, and panties, and say, what?”
“You really don’t have to say anything.” She winked. “Just open up the coat. Have you seen yourself this summer? The tan and running agrees with you. The boy won’t know what hit him.”
“I don’t know,” Maggie said. “The payoff’s tempting, but I’ve never done anything like this. It’s crazy.”
She looked at Maggie and raised one knowing eyebrow.
“We need a second opinion. Justyn!” she yelled downstairs. “Get up here. We need the guy’s perspective, Mr. Perceptive.”
“Blair, no!” Maggie said. “We are most definitely not going to let him in on this.”
“In on what?” Justyn asked as he propped himself in the doorframe of Maggie’s bedroom. He crossed his feet at the ankles and shot her a quizzical look. Blair eased herself onto the bed next to Maggie.
“So you say Reid needs some type of physical activity to get out his frustrations, right? And you want to know what went down at the meeting, but being a good friend and partner you know not to ask until he’s ready to talk?”
“Yeah,” Justyn said. “But it’s no big deal. The rain will stop, and he’ll get back to the water and then wham! He’ll feel better after a few hours of exercise.”
“But the weatherman said we’re in for at least another day and a half of rain with the front stuck off the coast,” Blair said. “Don’t you want to know what happened?”
“You’ve got a point there,” Justyn said. “Too bad we don’t have an indoor pool on the island, and he could swim.”
She stood and pulled Maggie by the arms until her petite friend was on her feet, standing right in front of Justyn.
“I give you my cute friend, Maggie, the perfect physical activity substitute,” she said. “Plus, she looks much better than some smelly old swimming pool.”
Justyn shot them both a questioning look.
“What do you think about Maggie showing up at Reid’s door in her raincoat and well, you know, a cute set of under garments?” She said.
“Under what?” Justyn asked.
She casually waved the balled up lace in her hands.
“Oh!” Justyn said. “Actually, not a bad idea. Not bad at all.”
“See?” Blair said, pushing Maggie to the bathroom door. “Now change. We have guy approval. It’s time to get going.” She stuffed the red bra and panties in Maggie’s arms and threw a robe her way. If she could just get Maggie started, the rest would fall into place. “I’m going to dig out that coat now. Thanks for the input, babe. Now, go cue up the movie, and I’ll be downstairs in a few.”
“What, you’re already done with me? I was starting to feel like one of the girls.”
“I think we can take it from here.” She turned and kissed him full on the mouth before gently shoving all 6’2” of him out of the frame and closing the door in his face.
“Maggie! Use a little dab of my bronzer on your cheeks. Mascara and lip gloss. Nothing else. Think natural. Just ran through the rain. Wait, I’ve got it. You should walk over there. You’ll look all dewy and windswept. And if the storm gets worse, you’ll be stuck there. Just like Jane in Pride and Prejudice. Your Mr. Bingley won’t be able to resist.”
“And do you realize you’re casting yourself as Mrs. Bennet in this scenario?” Maggie yelled through the bathroom door.
“No, I would like to think of myself as a slightly more attractive and much more modern Lizzie,” she said. “Now, let’s see you. Justyn went downstairs, so don’t worry. Open the door.”
Maggie swung the bathroom door, first revealing one long sun-kissed leg and then the other. The red lace complemented her golden-hued skin. Blair surveyed her from head to toe, and let out a slow whistle.
“That boy won’t be ready to leave the house for at least two days. You’ll make him forget all about the rain and the numbers.”
“Now here’s your coat,” Blair said, handing Maggie the calf-length London Fog trench. “And we need to pick the perfect shoes. Normally, I’d say you need a black or red high heel, but if you’re going to pull a Jane Bennett, we don’t want you to fall down in the mud or ruin a perfectly good pair of heels.”
Maggie finished tying the coat’s belt and walked over to her closet. She bent down to the shoe rack on the left side. “Maybe these? Not exactly sexy, but they match. Kinda cute?” She held up her red Keds. “Red shoes do always make me happy. If you and Justyn are right about this crazy plan, maybe these will be my lucky charm today.”
“That works,” Blair agreed. “Get going, girl. You have an important ambush seduction to begin.”
“Blair, I don’t know,” Maggie said. “This is ridiculous. What if he says no? What if he doesn’t want me?”
“What’s ridiculous is that you would even think that,” she told her friend. “Did you see yourself in that red lace? You are a hottie.” She winked.
“But what if he says no?” Maggie insisted.
“You’ll be no worse off than you have been the last three days, right?”
“True,” Maggie said. “Wait, I need something if I’m actually going to do this.”
Blair followed Maggie downstairs and to the kitchen. She watched as her friend pulled a bottle of vodka from the cabinet and a shot glass. A steady stream of vodka filled the glass before Maggie tipped the drink back.
“Wow, you really do need some reinforcement,” Blair teased.
“Not a word.” Maggie shot Blair a look, and pulled the ties tighter on the coat. She walked toward the door.
“Let’s do this,” Maggie called back to her friends. “Jane Bennett, Mr. Bingley, eat your heart out. Jane Austen would roll over in her grave, by the way.”
T.A. Foster is Southern girl whose heart and spirit are connected to the beach. She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos.
She has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University.
Mary-Kathryn Craft spent her childhood summers vacationing on Harkers Island, North Carolina. There she fell in love with the Cape Lookout beaches and learned about the power of a good story from the island old-timers.
With degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina, she now works in public relations in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband, daughter, and shiba inu.