A Taste of Summer(4)

By: Beverly Preston


“You definitely should,” Shayla joked with a clink of their wine glasses.

“Seriously!” Carrie Ann nodded hotly, bolting to her feet, the wheels in her head spinning at full throttle. “I should create a calendar with LA’s finest eye candy.”

“I’d buy it.”

“Do you think Tommy would do it?”

“You just ruined the yummy visual I had going.” Shayla cast a deplorable eye roll. Her uncle was voted sexiest man alive by People magazine. “You’re not really going to ask me to ask my uncle to strip naked for a calendar?”

“No, of course not. I’ll ask him.”

And just like that, the Have a Heart ~ Bare Your Soul campaign sprang to life. Ultimately, Tommy Clemmins turned down the offer to bare it all, but gladly offered a long list of people who would. What started as a calendar filled with celebrities posing nude, with the exception of a red heart shaped pillow covering their private parts, rapidly turned into a nationwide phenomenon.

After a few years of very impressive, not to mention record breaking, source of revenue, the heart logo adorned everything from boxers to pro sport uniforms, including the recent addition of its very own brand of lingerie targeting women over the age of forty. The Bare Your Soul campaign sparked new life into the HAH Foundation, raising tens of millions of dollars and awareness for heart disease.

Carrie Ann’s career flourished, shining brighter than she could’ve ever imagined in her wildest dreams. And so did Summer’s. Eight months after their breakup, while attending a New York fashion show with his then would-be girlfriend, Summer took to the catwalk on a dare. He half strutted, half staggered, down the runway in scant white briefs and a plush floor length white fur robe. Hitting home on all points, he carried a football in one hand and a rock glass in the other with the neck of a whiskey bottle protruding from his pocket.

Bam!

The salacious move earned him the cover of a dozen magazines and instant fame. A few months later he signed his first movie role. The sci-fi action flick turned into a trilogy and his career skyrocketed. Ryan was a natural. He toppled the silver screen for nearly a decade and, at one point, three of the top six box-offices branded his name.

Thirty came and went. Men came and went. But, the lasting image of their breakup left more than a profound rift in her heart. It crushed her. She never got over it. She never got over him. He’d tried to contact her a few times over the years, but she didn’t believe in second chances.

Not even for him.

No matter how much it hurt.

Sitting in her car outside the gym, Carrie Ann ripped the elastic band from her hair and shoved her trembling fingers through her long dark mane. Her nose and lips burned as unshed tears blurred her vision.

Crying over ex-lovers was for pussies.

And Carrie Ann Lowell was no pussy.

Anger and irritation forged its way to the forefront throttling the memories that threatened to rise to the surface. She kicked out of her cycle shoes and tossed them into her gym bag, opting to drive home barefoot. It took minutes for her pulse to settle into its normal rhythm as she headed for home along Highway 1.

The ring of her cell phone streamed through the speakers of her Cadillac CTS-V. Seeing her best friends name flash across the dash, brought relief to her scattered thoughts. Carrie Ann pressed the call button on steering wheel. “Hey, Shayla. What’s going on? Please tell me you’re here?”

“Hi, chica! We just got in. We’re unpacked and ready to hit the beach. Are you home?”

“Actually, I just left the gym and I’m one exit away from you. Let me stop at home—”

“Just swing by on your way home. The boys are dying to see you. Unless you want to go home, grab your swimsuit and spend the day with us at the beach?”

“Can’t,” she said regretfully. “I really wish I could, but I’ve got to get the final headcount approved by the Bare Your Soul committee for the Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction. I’ll stop by, but I only have an hour.”

Carrie Ann heard Shayla’s twins in the background. “Who’s coming over?”

“Aunt Carrie Ann will be here in a few minutes,” Shayla boasted.

Shrieks of excitement filled the quiet interior of her car bringing a big smile to her face.

“Go watch out the window so you can enter the gate code when she gets here.”





Chapter Two







Massive black wrought iron gates parted as Carrie Ann pulled into Tommy Clemmins’ driveway. Shayla sold her home in Malibu and moved to Las Vegas after marrying her husband, John Mathews. She visited Malibu often, spending the holidays and summer months at her uncle’s estate, nestled into the rocky cliff side.