A Taste of Summer(2)

By: Beverly Preston


An ice cold tickle ascended up her spine raising the hair on the back of her neck. Her head snapped, glancing over her shoulder, colliding with a pair of rich amber eyes from her past. Without breaking eye contact, Ryan Summer strolled right into her personal space sporting athletic shorts, a fitted muscle shirt and a killer smile.

Nowadays, most people knew the Hollywood heartthrob as Ryan. Just Ryan. No last name needed. But after nearly a decade of blockbuster hits and infamous relationships that skyrocketed his success into superstardom, to Carrie Ann, he was still just Summer. Her old college flame.

“Funny, I could say the same about you,” she countered his jab, marshaling a bit of annoyance in her tone to combat the rush of heat spreading to her already pink cheeks.

A sexy smile caught the curve of his wide, firm mouth. “Hello, Red.”

“Hello, Summer.” Carrie Ann tossed a trivial nod toward the teenager. “Who’s this? Your new apprentice?”

“Apprentice?” Moving a step closer, he dragged his fingers through the short cropped layers of sandy blond hair. “This is Mark’s boy. Do you remember my nephew, Drew?”

“Your brother’s boy?” she questioned in surprise. Avoiding the view of his bicep curling into the size of a softball, Carrie Ann ran a quick scan over the young man at his side. “Whoa, you had to be four or five years old the last time I saw you.”

“I don’t remember meeting you.” Drew’s eyes flickered with bemusement and optimism.

She extended her hand. “I’m Carrie Ann. I knew you when you were—”

“You’re Carrie Ann? The Carrie Ann?” The boy spun toward his uncle, his blue eyes broadened in disbelief. “The One?”

Her stomach twisted hearing the title. A flash of perspiration instantaneously flooded her palms. Before she had time to renege on the clammy greeting, Drew clasped her hand, giving it a polite shake.

A low rumble of laughter simmered in Summer’s chest and a rosy shade of red burnished high on the bridge of his nose. He nodded, “This is The Carrie Ann. The One who got away.”

No matter how many years had passed, it never got any easier to see him. Each time she did, she suddenly found it harder to breath.

The pounding of her heart quickened as her gaze slipped over his rugged well-defined features. A three day scruff accentuated the slight dimple at the bottom of his chin. The disheveled layers of hair were wet from exertion near his temple and nape. Time had been very good to him.

She felt the warmth of Summer’s hand close around the back of her bare arm. The early morning stubble of his beard brushed against her cheek as he leaned closer pressing a small kiss near her temple. Carrie Ann squirmed at his nearness, ducking to the side attempting to put some space between them.

“I’m…I’m all sweaty,” she insisted breathily.

“It’s okay,” he murmured softly in her ear. The heat of his breath brought chill bumps to the damp skin near her neck. “I remember enjoying you all sweaty.”

Ryan’s golden eyes locked onto hers, anchoring her feet to the floor. The penetration of his stare momentarily tied her tongue in a knot, turning the awkward moment even more difficult. Carrie Ann hadn’t bumped into Ryan in at least three years and she hadn’t seen him covered in sweat in ten. An image of him, gloriously naked, flashed in her mind and her thighs. Frustration mounted as her body willingly betrayed her.

Carrie Ann’s jaw set rigid contemplating the idea of flipping off her hooha for its insubordination.

“That was a long time ago,” she snipped abruptly.

“Seems like only yesterday to me.” His voice so faint the words were nearly inaudible.

She returned her attention to Drew. “I’m sure I’m just one of many women who’ve made your uncle’s list.” Her tone came out a bit sharper than intended filling her with a strange pang of guilt.

The boy, oblivious to her insolence, gave a doubtful shake of his head. “I don’t think so. He still—”

“No matter how many years go by, Carrie Ann,” a rogue smile tipped the corner of Summer’s lip, “you’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.”

Carrie Ann tossed him a sardonic one-shoulder shrug of appreciation for the compliment. A compliment she suspected he used on all of his old girlfriends. Desperate to change the direction of their conversation, she chided, “Drew was just showing off his greatest pick-up lines. Is that seriously the best you can teach him?”

“Blame that on his dad, not me,” he joked.

Her eyes scanned beyond rows of sports equipment toward the exit, mentally visualizing walking out the front door, before settling her gaze back on Ryan’s handsome face.