Mia's Heart

Page 4

Today is no different.

“Sure thing,” I tell him. “I’ll meet you at the pier in half an hour.”

Which might be tricky since I’m supposed to be grounded for mouthing off to my mother the other day about my stupid nose ring.

Hmm. Quandary.

I’ll have to put some thought into this.

But then I give up thinking about it and just leave.

What are they going to do to me? Take my birthday away?

I think not.

As I speed toward the beach, I do ponder the fact that I’ve been such a bitch lately. And for just a moment, I feel bad for my mom. She’s left alone most of the time, trying to fulfill the duties of a political wife. I might sit down and have a talk with her when I get back.


If she doesn’t kill me for leaving the house.

Which is unlikely.

So if I’m still alive when I get back, I might talk to her.

I nose my car into a parking spot and grab my gear. I’m so looking forward to this. There is nothing better for forgetting all of your problems than sinking below the surface of the sea where there is nothing but blue and solitude.

As I cross the boardwalk pier, I spot Gavin pulling on his wetsuit on the stern of his small boat, The Shining. The large motorboat was a sixteenth birthday gift to him from his parents and he named it because of his weird obsession with an old American movie of the same name.

I can still remember popping popcorn and watching it with him over and over when we were in junior high. I’ll never forget Jack Nicholson’s creepy face as he peeked in the door of the creepy hotel. Ugh. I had nightmares for weeks.

Gavin might have issues buried behind his ever-present grin.

Who else would be that obsessed with such a strange movie?

I smile at him though and hop aboard, dropping my bag on the seat next to him.

He gives me a quick hug and the rubber of his suit sticks to my skin.

“Hey, Mi,” he says easily. “Check out the current today.”

I glance at the horizon and the waves are pretty tall, at least two to three feet.

“Is there a wind advisory?” I ask, not worried, but curious.

He shakes his head. “Not yet,” he tells me. “But we’d better hurry up and get out of the bay before there is.”

I have to smile. He wants to hurry up and get out of the bay before the harbor master can tell him that it’s too dangerous to go out today. Seriously, Gavin has no fear. He always just assumes that things will be okay. And I guess that’s something that he and I share.

I usually feel the same way.

Things will always turn out okay because they always have.

Even this summer, when there was an assassination attempt on Dante’s father and Dante himself was caught up in the same mess, everything turned out okay. And if something like that can work itself out, then pretty much anything else can work out too.

I know.

Skewed logic.

“Well, let’s hurry up then,” I tell Gavin.

He grins his ornery grin. “Just as soon as our guest arrives,” he answers, glancing at his watch. “He should be here any minute.”

“Guest?” I raise an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Gavin answers. “The new guy. I felt sorry for him- he doesn’t know anyone here.”

“Oh.” I feel like somebody kicked me in the stomach and I don’t know why. “Reece’s friend.”

I have undefined feelings for this guy. I can’t decide if I like that he gets my heart going or if I hate it. So right now, I’m reserving the right to decide later. Honestly, that’s better than my usual gut instinct to hate everything.

And in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy looking at him.

“Right,” Gavin nods. “Reece’s friend. He seems nice enough.”

“Well, Reece always says that people from the American Midwest are the friendliest in the world,” I answer absently. My eyes are glued to the pier, watching for Quinn.

Gavin notices.

“Do you mind that I invited him?”

I don’t know why he sounds surprised. I’m not exactly what you would call a people person. It usually takes me a little while to warm up to someone.

“No, of course not,” I say anyway. “It’s your boat. You can invite anyone you’d like. Except Elena, of course.”

Gavin laughs at this. Elena Kontou is the notorious Mean Queen of our class. Her mother is in Dimitri Giliberti’s Cabinet which has always put her into our select little group. But she’s mean as a snake even though she has a perfect face.

Actually, make that had a perfect face.

Her cheek was scarred in the same yacht explosion that injured Dimitri Giliberti this past summer. She’s had a couple of surgeries to correct it, but you can still see it. And she sort of blames me, because my sort-of-boyfriend at the time, Vincent, was the one who rigged the yacht to explode.

Have I mentioned that my life is complicated?


It is.

But now Vincent is waiting for his trial and Elena’s face is still scarred. And she has to have someone to blame. And I’m it.

Lucky me.

“Okay,” Gavin agrees. “I will never invite Elena when you’re here.”

“You’d invite her otherwise?”

I am shocked by this notion.

“She’s a snake, Gav. And she can’t swim. You shouldn’t take her out on the water with you.”

He starts to say something, but we’re interrupted by an American drawl.

“I’m not a snake, but I can’t swim either. Is that a problem?”

I look up to find the tips of two battered cowboy boots poking over the edge of the pier.

Quinn’s gaze meets mine and I find that he is completely unembarrassed by this.

“You seriously can’t swim?” I ask, sure that he is kidding. “Everyone can swim.”

“No, they can’t,” he answers easily as he hops into the boat. “Apparently, the snake and I can’t. Hey, dude,” he greets Gavin. “Thank you again for the invite. I was going crazy at Giliberti House. I was starting to talk to myself.”

“No problem,” Gavin slaps his shoulder and hands him a life jacket. “You’d better wear this if you really can’t swim.”

Quinn takes off his shirt and I am instantly distracted by this.


What do they feed the boys in Kansas?

This guy is built like a lean brick house. I can easily count his ab muscles and they ripple every time he moves.

Holy. Cow.

He straps on the bright orange life jacket and looks down at me.

“See something you like?”

And now he’s cocky.

And I like it.

What is wrong with me that I like cockiness as a character trait?

I shake my head and lie. “Nope. Nothing in particular.”

He grins, unabashed. “Whatever you say.”

His expression is knowing. And annoying.

“Look, farmboy. I know that you’re Mr. Hometown Football Hero back home, but here, you’re not. So, you should start out your relationships with a little less ego. People will like you more.”

“Hmm,” he says, staring at me thoughtfully. “Kitten has claws.”

Gavin is staring me in complete and utter surprise. I’m not usually so bitchy and to be honest, I don’t know what came over me. I shake my head and look away from both of them. Gavin takes the wheel and we’re gliding our way out onto open water. Only now, the silence is sort of uncomfortable.

And it’s my fault.

“Look,” I turn to Quinn. “I’m sorry. I’m not that good with new people.”

“Really?” he answers innocently with that lopsided grin. “I hadn’t noticed.”

Gavin busts out laughing and I have to laugh too.

“I’m really sorry,” I say again. “I guess I have trust issues with new people. It seems like so often they just want something from me. But I know that’s not the case with you.”

He eyes me up and down. And then leans in to murmur into my ear.

“Don’t be so sure.”

And my cheeks are instantly flushed.


Did he really just mean what I think he meant?

My eyes meet his and he nods, as if he could hear my unspoken question.

I’m starting to feel like he can read my freaking mind.

And I’m still blushing.

So I ignore him.

And my racing heart.

Good lord.

We race from the bay and out into open water while the waves toss The Shining about. We probably shouldn’t be out here, but the dangerousness of it gives it a more exciting edge.

We’re probably insane.

Gav looks at me. “Do you want to go out to the wrecks or stick to the reef?”

Either way, we’d be insane. The wrecks, a collection of old sunken ships, are quite a ways from the bay and the waves will be crazy big there today. And the reef… well, let’s just say that sharks enjoy the reef. A lot.

“Wrecks,” I say.

“Done,” he grins.

He turns the boat into that direction and the wind blows my hair from my face.

I notice that Quinn is gripping the side pretty hard. So hard, in fact, that his fingers are white. Interesting. Is the Hometown Hero afraid of boats?

And then I feel bad for thinking of him as Hometown Hero. I decide that I will ask Reece about that before I do it again. I might be way off base, but I doubt it.

I turn my attention away from both of the guys onboard and instead, stare out at the water. I was right. The waves here are huge. No wonder Quinn is nervous. He’s not used to the sea at all. And he can’t swim. And since that’s the case, I decide that he must be pretty brave to come out onto the sea in these waves in a little motorboat.

Or maybe stupid. I haven’t decided yet.

I lean over and put my hand on his arm for a minute.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him with a grin. “I won’t let you drown.”

He raises an eyebrow.

“How would you save me, Tiny Tot? You’re half my size.”

And that is a true statement.

I eye him, at the way he is once again sprawled out, casually fitting himself into the boat seat.

“How tall are you, anyway?” I ask.

“6’6,” he answers. “I ate my spinach when I was growing up.”

Holy crap. I practically am half his size. He’s gigantic.

He leans over to me.

“And I wear size 14 shoe. Do you know what they say about the size of a man’s foot?”

My cheeks flare into color.

Yes, I’ve heard of the saying.

The size of a man’s foot is supposed to be directly parallel to the size of his… um, male unit.

I can’t even help myself.

I eye his foot.

And it is gigantic.

My eyes fly to his face and find that he is nodding again. And then he laughs.

Gavin is shaking his head. He’s never seen me blush so much. That much is true. I’m usually unflappable. But this guy. He gets to me.

And I’ve almost decided that I hate it.

But the verdict is still out.

Because I might like it.

Gavin drops anchor and the waves really are crazy. The boat is rolling on top of them and I have a brief sense of hesitation.

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