Brody swung, hitting Cam across the jaw, and his head snapped back. I got to my feet, looking for something else I could use as a weapon, and Cam and Brody went after each other like savages.
The sickening thuds of their fists would likely haunt my dreams for weeks. Cam delivered a series of blows right to Brody’s face and blood spurted from his nose. Then Brody ducked low and ran at him, literally driving the top of his head into Cam’s abdomen and bulldozing him into the wall.
“Cam!” I screamed and grabbed up the lamp on a nearby table. The cord ripped from the wall as I ran, and I brought it up, quickly swinging it down and hitting Brody solidly in the back of his head.
He crumpled to the floor, landing in a heap of arms and legs.
Cam bent down and looked at him. He was out cold so he felt around for a pulse.
Please, God, don’t let him dead. I hadn’t wanted to kill him. I just wanted him to stop.
“He’s alive,” Cam said, and a sob ripped from my throat.
Police sirens rang out in the distance.
Cam pulled the shirt over his head and pressed it to the cut on my neck. “What the hell did he do to you, baby?”
The gentle tone of his voice was my undoing and the dam broke, bringing forth a tidal wave of tears. He pulled me against his chest, holding me tightly to him and whispering words of love into my hair. “It’s over now, sweetheart. He’s not going to hurt you ever again.”
I pulled back. “It’s my ex-boyfriend from high school. I started a rumor about him years ago and he found out. He was here to—” My voice broke.
“Shhh, it’s all right now. I know why he was here. He’s lucky he’s still alive.”
Police cars screeched to a stop near the sidewalk and shouts rang from below. I could hear the officers pounding up the stairs, and then I heard Roxie and Adam screaming my name from across the parking lot.
I glanced back down at Brody, who was still unconscious on the floor. I felt guilty that he suffered over my lie. I felt guilty that I never thought about how he might feel. But still, breaking into my house, stealing my barrette, attacking Roxie, coming to the club, and then ultimately trying to rape me (and freaking recording it!) was not okay.
I prayed he got the help he needed and that he was locked away while he got it.
Cam looked down at me, his eyes searching my face. “I shouldn’t have left here this morning.”
“You’re a lot earlier than I thought you would be.”
“I cut the lesson short. I had this… bad feeling.” He glanced at Brody. “Now I know why.”
“I was afraid you didn’t get my signal. I thought you left.”
“I understood perfectly. You did good; you did real good.”
The police stormed inside, taking in the damage and my bloodied, ripped clothes. They moved into action, cuffing Brody and studying the scene.
“Thank you for coming back,” I told Cam, looking up to stare into his Hershey-colored eyes.
“I got you,” he whispered, pulling me close once more. “And I’m not ever letting you go.”
Four years later…
I pulled into the little parking lot and grinned at the sight of Cam’s bike parked beside the white building. I rushed inside the surfboard shop only to find the space behind the counter empty, so I hurried through into the tiny office in the back. It was empty too.
“Cam?” I called out.
I pondered all the custom surfboards hanging on the wall as I waited for him to appear. He was so incredibly talented. Every board was unique and every one had a personality of its own.
I spun in a little circle, taking in the freshly painted walls and neatly organized display of wetsuits. He was finally living his dream. Pura Vida Board Shop was already a success, and I knew it would just keep on growing.
“Cam!” I called out again, impatient to feel his lips on mine.
When he still didn’t respond, I gazed out the large front window and across the street toward the public access stretch of beach.
I grinned and raced out of the shop and across the pavement, tearing up the wooden steps and onto the walkway that led to the sand. The wind pulled at my shirt and I spotted him out in the water, sitting on his favorite surfboard, with a student beside him.
I rolled up my jeans, kicked off my flip-flops, and pushed my toes into the sun-heated sand. I felt his eyes the minute he saw me, and I lifted my hand and waved. He grinned and leaned into the guy who was with him, and I saw his mouth moving.
I watched as he expertly caught the next wave and rode it all the way in, jumping into the ankle-deep water beside me as his board washed up on shore.
“Hey,” he said, hooking me around the waist and pulling me right up against his soaked chest.
I squealed and pressed myself closer. “You look good out there.”
“You look good in my arms.”
I giggled. “I went in the shop first. You need to hire someone to sit behind the counter.”
He sighed and nuzzled my cheek with his nose. Wet strands of his hair clung to my skin and I wiggled around in his hold. “Replacing the girl who used to do it is impossible.” He sighed.
Up until several days ago, I’d been the girl behind the counter of his shop. I loved working there, being by the beach all day, making out with my boss on my lunch break, and watching him make the most beautiful surfboards I’d ever seen.
Even though I loved it, I had my own dreams to follow.
“I start my new job on Monday,” I said, excitement unfurling inside me.
He pulled back and grinned down at me. “Your office is going to be packed with a bunch of young college guys who just can’t decide what to do with their lives,” he said, pressing a hand to his chest and talking all dramatically.
I smacked him in his very toned stomach. “I doubt it.”
He snorted. “You’re the hottest career planner I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah?” I murmured, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Well, I’m taken.”
He reached up and pulled my left hand down to look at the incredibly sparkly diamond gracing my finger. I still pinched myself whenever I looked at it. I was so unbelievably lucky to have someone like him.
“I can’t wait to make you my wife,” he said as he pressed a kiss to the ring he placed there just a few months before.
“Not much longer now.” I sighed. We were going to have a wedding right here on the beach at sunset. I was going to wear white and no shoes, and Cam was going to wear a suit with an ocean-blue tie. In just two short weeks, I would be Mrs. Cameron Malone.