I was at a loss for what to do at first. Join the military, finish high school, start working—I was officially clueless.
Until the Blisswood family came into my life.
They gave me a job, Grayson paid for my community college courses, and they welcomed me into their family.
Arriving at Olive Owl, I still appreciate the beauty of this place. It’s chic, with well-manicured landscape around the farmhouse that is modern yet has classic detailing. It’s both a home to Knox and a few rooms upstairs for the bed-and-breakfast. Normally, there are guests if they come for a wine tasting, but not this weekend.
I put in the code for the security system by the back door and immediately I hear the sound of big paws padding against the kitchen floor. I open the door a crack, and sure enough, I’m greeted by a giant ball of white, brown, and black fur. A Bernese mountain dog that is Knox and Madison’s child.
“Hey, buddy.” I pat his head and try to calm his excitement, as one little hop with his paws brings him nearly up to my shoulders. Pretzel whimpers a sound. “I know. Want to go outside for a bit?”
As I open the door, he runs out and directly to a bed of flowers to sniff.
I shake my head, amused, before grabbing an extra can of dog food and a bowl to take home with me, plus his leash. Then I decide that since I’m here, I’ll check on the wine barrels in the barn and the sprinkler system for the fields, as we aren’t expecting rain for a few days. Even though I know Bennett—the middle Blisswood brother—has it always under control, he’s also been busy with his two kids.
It must be forty-five minutes later when I return to the back patio to look for Pretzel. Calling out his name, I get no answer. I’m not worried, though; he normally has the run of the place and always returns.
Still, I head down the stone path through the garden and down by the willow tree. It’s next to the pond, and when I see Pretzel sitting at attention with his tail wagging, I notice he’s staring at something—or rather someone.
I follow his line of sight to land on the woman swimming in the pond. The water is clean enough, but not always warm. Either way, I’m not sure anyone really swims here except Knox and Madison when they get a little wild, skinny-dipping and all—I walked in on that once. Quickly, I scan back to the bank and notice the pile of clothes on the big rock where the water is ankle-deep.
Squinting so my sight can focus, I survey the person who is swimming. But my heart already began to thrum a few seconds ago, so loud that the sound buzzes in my ears.
My body already feels the answer.
The woman swimming is no stranger. She isn’t even trespassing. This is her land too.
She must have noticed I’m watching, as she swims back to shallow water.
Swallowing, I try to get a grip on this unexpected surprise.
To everyone else, Lucy and I are friends. For the most part, that is true. Except sometimes you have an unspoken connection with someone, and it haunts you some days because the bond runs so deep.
But as she emerges from the water, the sun is nearly blinding me, causing me to see only the outline of her mostly naked body—a perfect hourglass curve, her long legs disappearing into her skimpy underwear, her bra well filled, and her tits perky. Yes, my mind notices, because she is no longer a teenager. She’s twenty-one, still snarky and frustratingly persistent.
Water droplets drip down her body. Her long hair is darker than before, and the smirk playing on her lips is admittedly tantalizing.
“Drew,” she says my name, and I fight hard to stay composed.
“Lucy,” I answer, and my eyes stay fixed on her, as if I am a man possessed and someone would have to pull me away to stop this locked gaze that I have on her.
She takes a moment to assess me from head to toe before she grabs hold of her hair to wring out the water. When she pulls it up over her head, it causes her chest to push out, and her entire body arches into a posture from any man’s fantasy.
Ten seconds in and she is already taunting me.
“I didn’t know you were back.” I try to stay on track and remain fucking unaffected.
Her hair falls as she grabs her clothes. “It’s a surprise. I texted Grayson only a half-hour ago. I needed to clear my head, so I thought I would come here. I’m back for the summer.”
Fuck. She could say an hour and that would be too long. But a whole summer?
A thought in the back of my mind has me feeling suspicious that something isn’t right. Ever since Lucy went off to college, she’s never came back for the full summer only little breaks. With one year to go until graduation, I’m not sure why she feels the need to end that tradition now.
She flashes me a sly smirk, before turning so her back faces me. I bring my closed fist to my mouth to bite the moment she unclasps her bra and throws it to the side.
Looking to the sky, I pray for a miracle to end this scene.
Lucy pulls her dry t-shirt over her body, which doesn’t fucking help, as it’s white cotton. She glances over her shoulder, giving me a warning grimace, and that’s my cue to look away.
Shaking my head, I turn around and look down at Pretzel whose head is cocked to the side—lucky bastard, he gets to watch.
Soaking-wet black panties land on the grass by my feet which indicates that Lucy took them off.
Hell is looking like a good option right now; I’m already being tortured.
Lucy clears her throat to give me the all-clear. I pivot slowly back around to find her now in jean shorts, which means she has nothing on underneath—not helpful.
Her hands find her back pockets as she stands there.
For a thick few seconds, we stare at one another. Jesus, why does she get more beautiful every time I see her? And that’s not the worst part. Why does she have to be the one who saved me in ways she will never understand?
Friends are what we should be.
She deserves to be with Bluetop royalty, someone from a good family, who will give her a great life with all the creature comforts she grew up with—horse included.
But her look is enough to make me want to offer her the world if I could.
Except I won’t.
Because Lucy has three older brothers who I owe my life to, and the last thing they would ever want is for me to lay a finger on their younger sister.
And if they knew what thoughts run wild in my head, then I would already be a dead man.
Life has thrown me hardships, but I would live them all over again if it would mean, in another life, I could have a chance with Lucy Blisswood.
But we only live one life, with my current situation being the one I got.
And I have to figure out a way to cope.
Because Lucy just stepped closer to me, her tongue darting to the corner of her mouth, and her look is a promise that I won’t be able to walk away.