“They just left him?” I ask, trying my best to mask my annoyance.
“They all learned far too early from Uncle Jase and Abe to actually know how to do that. And let’s be honest, they have zero patience. Plus, they’re not teachers.” She sits up on her board, straddling it like I am mine, as I wait for my next wave. “Why don’t you offer to teach him?”
It’s not like I hadn’t considered doing just that, and as chill as Dad has been since he realized that “where there’s a will, there’s a way” after Bella and Tags got together, I’m not throwing caution to the wind and chancing … tonight being foiled.
“Why don’t you?” I retort.
Truth, being … Truth, shrugs as she pops two fingers in her mouth and whistles loudly. Brand looks toward us, and she waves him over. He lifts his chin, lies on his board, and starts to paddle toward us.
Hot damn, that cowboy can even ride a board and look amazing doing so.
Truth giggles, and I look at her. “What?”
“Could have just asked for a wing girl, Kiki.” She winks. “I got you.”
“That’s not what—”
“What’s my name?” she interrupts.
I roll my eyes and shake my head.
“What’s my name?” She pretends to crack her knuckles as she rolls her neck, faking badass.
I cave, “Truth.”
“Then don’t give me anything but.” She winks.
I look away from her and toward Brand. With each stroke of his arms, I watch, mesmerized by the way his muscles work together. Heat resonates through my body at a ridiculous rate as I think about how his hands took hold of my face, tilted my head back, licked his lips, and then pressed them against mine. The closer he gets to me, the more my core burns.
When his eyes connect with mine, the smile in them falters, and he swallows hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing, and that seems to turn me on even further.
Truth kicks me under the water, and I turn in the opposite direction, not wanting her to see my face, as I’m sure it’s flushed.
As luck would have it, I see a bomb coming in.
“That’s mine,” I say as I quickly maneuver my body on my board and charge the wave. I paddle faster as the wave builds higher and higher.
“No fucking way!” I hear Max yell from a distance as I pop up and the wave begins to barrel.
“You got this, Katy girl.” I hear my dad’s voice and his loud laugh as I enter the tube.
I almost feel bad for Max, I think as walls of water form around me. This is one of those moments every surfer lives for.
Now totally surrounded by water, I hear Dad’s voice in my head as clear as if he were standing right beside me, “Plant your feet, crouch down, center your body weight, keep your shoulders square, your eyes on the exit, just ride it out.”
Those words were always for Max, because this was never my thing, but my God how beautiful is this moment.
My heart is beating rapidly, but there is a calm hold to its hurried pace. I reach out, steadying myself as rolling water pushes me through.
The ultimate goal, of course, is coming out at the end of the tube, feet still planted, but at this moment, I really don’t care if I do or not. This could be a once in a lifetime happening, and if it is, that’s fine with me.
Nearing the end, I crouch lower and lower as the space becomes smaller and smaller. When I emerge out of the end, I hear them all cheering as I stand on my board. Smiling to myself, I simply hold up my hand, pinky and thumb extended, and give it a slight shake—shaka.
Dad throws his hands in the air, laughing as he claps, while I glide easily toward shore.
I look out of the corner of my eye at Brand and catch him with a soft smile on his full lips as he shakes his head very slowly back and forth. Then he raises his hand and gives me a very discreet shaka.
He can sing, dance, and owns whatever stage he’s “performing” on.
His looks make him a triple threat.
And he’s gone viral.
He is the Country Music Artist of the Year.
Which means that face, those eyes, that hair, that body, and his voice are every-freaking-where.
He’s America’s newest country sensation, and he can do no wrong.Except, he did.
He totally did.
And he did it to me.
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