Out of Bounds(2) read online by Lauren Blakely
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Out of Bounds(2)
Author: Lauren Blakely

I just wasn’t expecting today’s eye-candy surfer boy to be . . . the quarterback.

That’s why he said he gets hit all the time. Because he gets slammed when his linemen fail to protect him—and for the last few years, they’ve been doing exactly that. He’s Drew Erickson, a rising star in the league, and he plays for the other local pro team, the Anaheim Devil Sharks.

What were the chances that he’d be at this beach? As quickly as the question lands in my head, I answer it for myself. The chances aren’t that slim. He lives in the Los Angeles area, he’s athletic, and the beach is the most wonderful thing ever created.

“By the way,” he says, gesturing to the vast expanse of water, the waves choppier as the afternoon tide tugs at the shore. “I appreciate you making sure I was okay. That was cool of you.” He offers a hand. “I’m Andrew.”

I blink, but say nothing at first.

That’s quite an interesting introduction. No one calls him Andrew. He’s only ever been referred to as Drew. Call me Einstein, but I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the Surfing Quarterback doesn’t want to be recognized. Fine, I can play that game.

“I’m Dani,” I say taking his hand. His larger paw engulfs mine, and of course he has big hands. Of course he has beautiful arms. His right arm delivered some impressive work in recent months. His quarterback rating put him in the top ten in the league last year, and that was coming off the bench to replace his team’s starter midway. He had one of those “where the hell did you come from” seasons that surprised a lot of folks. Especially since he was a fifth-round draft pick, and he rode the bench his first few seasons, but last year he had a chance to show his mettle for his team. And let me tell you, this man possesses some serious mettle to the tune of having thrown only one interception last season.

Look, I happen to be in a long-term love affair with stats. I’ve gone to bed most nights with numbers on my brain. And I’m ridiculously good with details.

But I’m not very good at letting go of his hand. I’m still holding it. Not because I’m star struck, but because this man won’t drop my hand either.

“Thank you, surf angel Dani.” He shoots me that smile again, and it’s like a secret weapon he can use on women. A ray of heat bursts inside me. My chest flutters. And I’m officially weak in the knees.

That smile.

His weapon is working. Oh, it’s mostly definitely working, and it’s a good thing I’m already sitting. Because that smile would knock me on my rear, it’s so goddamn swoonworthy.

He lets go of my hand, and I nearly whimper at the end of the best handshake ever.

“I hardly did anything,” I say, making light of my impromptu lifeguard moment.

He shakes his head adamantly. “You shouted heads up.”

“Well, that was my idiot alert, of course,” I say dryly. “The guy dropping into your wave was an idiot to do that.”

But Andrew will have none of my self-deprecation. He’s intent on complimenting me, it seems. “Then you swam over to me, and you escorted me to shore. After that, you conducted a full and thorough visual inspection of my head. Now you’re looking out for me to make sure I’m not either, one, slurring, or two, foaming at the mouth.” He lets his jaw hang open and adopts a crazed, rabid look in his eyes, and I laugh. “It’s like I’m on an episode of Baywatch,” he says, with a little twinkle in his eye.

I jut up a shoulder. “Ha. Yes, just think of me as the Venice Beach lifeguard.”

Then he’s not so thankful. Nor so goofy. He’s something else entirely as he roams his eyes up and down my body, and that little flutter in my chest turns into a full-blown swoop. He checks me out, and he’s not shy about it—his eyes linger on my chest, then my belly, and now my legs. And I don’t mind being the object of his ocular attention, even in my royal-blue bikini with the seashell pattern. “Maybe I’ll go back in the water and pray to get hit again,” he says, his tone flirty.

Holy smokes. Drew Erickson is flirting with me. And I don’t think he has a clue that I know who he is. If I were a betting woman, I’d say he’s enjoying not being known right now. He’s digging being just a dude on a beach.

Let’s give the man what he wants then, because this has all the makings to be fun.

“Now, Andrew,” I say, chiding. “We don’t want to tempt fate, and have you get hit again by wild surfboards. They’re mating this time of year, so you can never be too careful.”

He arches an eyebrow as he rubs his hand against the back of his head again. “Mating? These boards are just flinging themselves at each other?”

I nod, a serious expression on my face. “They do it with abandon, gleefully humping other boards as frequently as they can. Best to be safe.”

“Screwing surfboards,” he says, cracking up. Then he winces.

I let go of the joking. “Does your head still hurt?” I ask softly, the caretaker popping back up.

“Nah,” he says, but it’s the tough-guy answer.

“Let me take another look, okay?”

“Sure.”

I kneel and move closer to him, raising my hand. Then I touch his head. It’s kind of awesome, and weird at the same time. I’m touching a stranger’s skull, but he’s not entirely a stranger.

“How’s my head?”

“It’s rather bumpy.”

He snaps his gaze at me. “It is?”

“Have you ever felt your own skull?” I ask, peering at him with narrowed eyes.

“Sure. I’m well aware of the shape.”

I rub my hand along the spot where he was hit. “I hate to be the one to break this to you, but your head has got a funky shape.”

“Gee, thanks,” he says, laughing as the sun ducks behind a stray cloud. “Really appreciate the compliments.”

“Look, I’m sorry.” I run my palm up and down the back of his head. He leans into my palm, rubbing like a cat. “You’re probably used to women complimenting the shape of your skull. Draping extravagant praise on it, and then you meet me, and I inform you it’s odd. I get it. You want to toss me into the ocean.”

Glancing up at me, he smiles. “I do not want to toss you into the ocean.” He takes a beat. Raises a finger. “However, I’d consider dunking you if you were already in it.”

“Ha. Fair enough,” I say, as the sun reemerges, casting its warm, bright glow across the vast expanse of sea. Near the shore, a menagerie of women in skimpy bikinis hop onto boards. Drew doesn’t seem to notice.

I like his lack of interest. A lot.

I sit down again in the sand. “Anyway, you have very nice hair. I mean, it’s wet. But it’s still quite nice.”

Shaking his head, he laughs. “You’re a real ballbuster.”

I shrug as if it’s no big deal to give a man a hard time. “I’ve been called that before.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but I’m an attorney, so it comes with the territory.”

“Personal injury? If so, I’d like to sue that board.”

“No, I practice law for—” I’m about to tell him I do contracts and deals for the Knights and its vendors, reading and writing the fine print on nearly everything except player contracts. Instead, I sidestep. If he’s avoided the details, I can too. “I practice corporate law. But in my free time, I conduct assessments on skull shape, and I’m here to make a pronouncement.”

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