Mocha ran over. Ellie wrestled the stick away, growling back when Mocha growled. Mocha’s eyebrows lifted in surprise and she released the stick. Ellie tossed it toward the waves. Mocha considered, then bounded after it.
“Really?” Noah’s word was more statement than question, and tinged with surprise. “You’d stay with Coach because of what people think?”
She’d stayed this long. “You've heard what they're saying.”
He drew in a sharp breath. “I didn't think you had.”
Of course she'd heard the whispers about her mother, about not knowing when she had it good, for wanting too much out of life. She'd thought the same thing about her mother, but hearing it about herself, now, gave her a different perspective. She did want more. She deserved more.
But she would never leave three children behind to find it. Instead of voicing the thought, she turned her attention to the ocean, where Mocha splashed in the waves.
“Gonna need to bathe her,” Noah grumbled. “Ah, hell.” He scrambled to his feet, grabbed Ellie’s arm, dragged her to her feet and ducked his head over hers just as Mocha shook the water from her fur--all over them.
Ellie shrieked and pressed her face into his chest, squeezing her eyes shut. Just that contact made her aware of his body, firm, broad, strong, his scent--ocean, soap, and something indefinable but definitely male, definitely sexy.
The realization scared her. She stepped away, onto a piece of driftwood which dug into the arch of her foot. She stumbled and grabbed the front of his jacket for balance. He gripped her hips as she hopped, lifting her foot to inspect it.
“Here, hang on.” He lowered her to the sand. “Let me look. Did you break the skin?”
He knelt and pulled her injured left foot onto his lap, his jean-clad thigh rough beneath her skin. Mocha nosed between them but Noah nudged her aside with his shoulder. He ran a callused thumb down Ellie's instep and squinted at the bottom of her foot.
“You’ve got a pretty good gash here. Where are your shoes?”
“At the bottom of the path.”
He huffed, then shoved to his feet and trotted over to get them. He returned, dusting them off with broad strokes, then beating them against his thigh before crouching again, her rugged Prince Charming. “This’ll keep the sand out. I’d carry you…” He looked at the path and frowned. “No way.”
Her heart rolled over at the image as she slipped on her shoes. She winced as the insole touched torn flesh. “I can make it.” If she went slow.
“Come on.” He reached out.
She took his hand, which enfolded hers, strong and hard. Her fingertips brushed the dark hair on the back of his hand. So male.
How could she be thinking this, feeling this so soon after ending her relationship with Trey? What kind of person was she? She almost savored the pain that chased away her emotions when she stood.
Noah took her elbow to guide her to the path. Okay, maybe she didn’t want the pain. He slipped a hand around her waist, pulled her against his side for further support. The path wasn’t wide enough for both of them, so Noah urged Mocha ahead, then Ellie. Ellie was hyper-conscious of him behind her, eyes level with her ass.
© M.J. Fredrick
Something To Talk About
Author: M.J. Fredrick
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Taking chances is never easy--especially when the whole town is watching.
Ellie Morgan is trying to stay below the radar in a small town. Her break-up with her football coach boyfriend and growing interest in her best friend's
widower are grist to the local gossip mill. Her friendship with the local psychic and the return of her prodigal mother are the cherries on the cake.
Add a meddling preacher, a water-loving dog and a man trying to shake off his past, and Ellie's got more than enough on her plate in her quest for love.