The morning after the class bonfire and all the drama that ensued, the boys decided to distract us from our Vanessa Arillat rage by taking us down to the beach and trying to teach us how to surf. Bless their souls; they’ve got a lot of faith.
“Hart, there is no way I’m going to be able to stand up on that thing,” I said, eyeing the surfboard warily.
Chace and Nate chuckled. I glared at them effectively making them look away innocently. Ari and Victoria looked just as apprehensive as I did about our prospective surfing.
“Lia, I’m not going to let you drown. Just do everything I say and you’ll be okay,” Hart said, a playful smile on his face.
“Can’t we just stay on the shore and watch you?” Docia said, looking at Sean.
I had no objections to that. In fact, I thought it was a great idea. The boys and their sexy bodies could surf until they were sore if they wanted, so long as we stayed right where we were.
“Oh, come on, girls! This is going to be fun!” Claire exclaimed.
Her eyes were locked on Jacob’s torso and I knew she was looking forward to being pressed up against him in the water and having him show her the basics of surfing.
“What I want to know is how guys born and raised in New York City know anything about surfing,” Summer chimed in.
“Exactly!” I said, giving Summer a discreet thumbs up.
“Girls, we’ve all been to beach to surf enough times, trust us,” Charles said his arm around Letty’s waist to keep her from running away back to the hotel.
“Seriously, we’re not going to let you die,” Ethan said, already leading Lilly to the edge of the water.
We weren’t going to get out of this. The boys seemed to notice we were out of arguments, triumphant little smiles forming on their faces. Hart placed a reassuring kiss on my lips and smiled my special smile.
“Relax, Lia. I promise you’re going to have fun.”
I didn’t say anything as I watched as he and the rest of the guys set up the surfboards on the sand facing the ocean. Once he was satisfied, he grabbed my hand and helped me onto the slab of polished wood.
“Okay, babe, lie down on the board,” Hart said.
I raised my eyebrow at him. Was he kidding?
He chuckled. “Oh come on, Lia, you’re wearing a bathing suit; a little sand isn’t going to kill you.”
“You know, you’re the only man who can get away with talking to me like that,” I said smiling.
“Ah the perks of having Amelia Stark fall in love with me,” he joked. “Lie down.”
I sighed and looked around. The rest of the girls were already laying on their stomachs on their boards, the boys instructing them on how to paddle in the water. I laid down making sure to throw a playful glare at Hart before doing so.
“This is so not fun,” I grumbled.
“You’ve done one thing, Miss Grinch,” Hart teased, squatting down. “Now throw your arms out and pretend your paddling yourself to where the wave is.”
I did as he said, all the while feeling a bit silly. The rest of the girls seemed to be having fun, Letty specially kept squealing with delight.
“Good, Lia! Now position yourself like this,” Hart instructed, showing me what he meant. “And pop up so that you’re standing on the board.”
I popped up only to fall off the board and into Hart’s chest. His chuckle shook his torso.
“Try again,” he said, kissing me on the forehead.
***Two hours later***
“Admit it, girls, you had fun,” Sean said as we headed back up to the hotel for lunch.
“Okay, okay, we had fun,” Docia said, giggling along with the rest of us.
It had taken us a while to get the hang of it, but by the end each of us had managed to stand up on our boards. Even the embarrassing falls into the salty water had caused us to laugh with joy rather than dampen our spirits.
The high-noon sun beamed down on us as we stepped onto the paved path through one of the gardens. One of the bigger bushes rustled as Ari and Chace passed it ahead of Hart and me. I was ready to pass it off as a scurrying animal until I noticed a very human foot under the bush. It rustled a bit again as Chace bent down to give Ari a piggyback ride and Ari placed kisses on his shoulders. I stopped in front of the bush, ready to surprise whoever was hiding it, but Hart pulled me forward.
“Monkey! What’s the hurry?”
“Your boyfriend is starving, no dawdling,” he said, his face split into a goofy grin.
I laughed aloud and allowed him to pull me away from the bush. I distinctly heard a sigh of relief coming from the plant, but decided to leave it until I could tell the rest of the girls.