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Lifeguardby James Patterson and Andrew Gross
Chapter 1 "DON?T MOVE," I said to Tess, sweaty and out of breath. "Don?t even blink. If you so much as breathe, I know I?m gonna wake up, and I?ll be back lugging chaise longues at poolside, staring at this gorgeous girl that I know something incredible could happen with. This will all have been a dream."
Tess McAuliffe smiled, and in those deep blue eyes I saw what I found so irresistible about her. It wasn?t just that she was the proverbial ten and a half. She was more than beautiful. She was lean and athletic with thick auburn hair plaited into a long French braid, and a laugh that made you want to laugh, too. We liked the same movies, Memento, The Royal Tenenbaums, Casablanca. We pretty much laughed at the same jokes. Since I?d met her I?d been unable to think about anything else.
Sympathy appeared in Tess?s eyes. "Sorry about the fantasy, Ned, but we?ll have to take that chance. You?re crushing my arm."
She pushed me, and I rolled onto my back. The sleek cotton sheets in her fancy hotel suite were tousled and wet. My jeans, her leopard-print sarong, and a black bikini bottom were somewhere on the floor. Only half an hour earlier, we had been sitting across from each other at Palm Beach?s tony Café Boulud, picking at DB burgers — $30 apiece — ground sirloin stuffed with foie gras and truffles.
At some point her leg brushed against mine. We just made it to the bed.
"Aahhh," Tess sighed, rolling up onto her elbow, "that feels better." Three gold Cartier bracelets jangled loosely on her wrist. "And look who?s still here."
I took a breath. I patted the sheets around me. I slapped at my chest and legs, as if to make sure. "Yeah," I said, grinning.
The afternoon sun slanted across the Bogart Suite at the Brazilian Court hotel, a place I could barely have afforded a drink at, forget about the two lavishly appointed rooms overlooking the courtyard that Tess had rented for the past two months.
"I hope you know, Ned, this sort of thing doesn?t happen very often," Tess said, a little embarrassed, her chin resting on my chest.
"What sort of thing is that?" I stared into those blue eyes of hers.
"Oh, whatever could I mean? Agreeing to meet someone I?d seen just twice on the beach, for lunch. Coming here with him in the middle of the day."
"Oh, that . . ." I shrugged. "Seems to happen to me at least once a week."
"It does, huh?" She dug her chin sharply into my ribs.
We kissed, and I felt something between us begin to rise again. The sweat was warm on Tess?s breasts, and delicious, and my palm traveled up her long, smooth legs and over her bottom. Something magical was happening here. I couldn?t stop touching Tess. I?d almost forgotten what it was like to feel this way.
Split aces, they call it, back where I?m from. South of Boston, Brockton actually. Taking a doubleheader from the Yankees. Finding a forgotten hundred-dollar bill in an old pair of jeans. Hitting the lottery.
The perfect score.
"You?re smiling." Tess looked at me, propped up on an elbow. "Want to let me in on it?"
"It?s nothing. Just being here with you. You know what they say: for a while now, the only luck I?ve had has been bad luck."
Tess rocked her hips ever so slightly, and as if we had done this countless times, I found myself smoothly inside her again. I just stared into those baby blues for a second, in this posh suite, in the middle of the day, with this incredible woman who only a few days before hadn?t been conceivable in my life.
"Well, congratulations, Ned Kelly." Tess put a finger to my lips. "I think your luck?s beginning to change."
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