Shelly writes a romance novel based on a long-ago affair with nomadic surfer Jason—who turns up, still hot and in trouble.
She’ll save him from gangsters, bond with her fans, not get killed, and let herself fall in love again💕
Barnes & Noble, Vancouver, Canada
“You made me a terrorist?” A pair of sapphire eyes conjured the memory
of a young man in the final huff of an orgasm—head back, eyes closed, mouth
open. His eyes had flown open with the deepest indecipherable emotion,
luscious pools of blue crashing into my soul, wrecking me, just like now.
All the air stuck in my lungs. I might never breathe again. I might
suffocate in a sea of killer blue eyes.
“Jake isn’t a terrorist,” I said, “and he’s not you.”
Any attempt to maintain composure in the presence of this godly man took
every ounce of strength.
He straightened his magnificent six-foot frame, still broad and fit, still
gorgeous—unlike me. His expression conveyed both pain and hurt. “You and I
both know the truth, Michelle. Or should I call you M.R. Taylor?” He glared at
me. “Maybe I’ll sue you.”
I laughed, hoping my voice didn’t reflect the shaking throughout my entire
Kenny, my PR manager, who arranged this book signing, leaned in. “Sir, if
you’re not here for an autograph, please stand aside for the others.”
“You’re done here in ten minutes.” Jason glanced at his phone. “I’ll be
waiting to discuss this.” He walked over to the café and sat at a table. It’s a crime
against all mankind how amazing he looked. He must’ve sold his soul to the
I looked around. Did the line of women waiting for my signature have any
idea the swoony love interest from my book—yes, the one whom I had just told
was not the inspiration for—was in fact sitting thirty feet away?
I shook out the cramp in my hand from clenching my black Sharpie at his
unexpected appearance. What’s he doing here?
“Whoa.” Kenny huffed. “He’s not messing around. Who is he?”
“Jason Mattis.” I sighed. “The Zen Shredder.”
Three-time world surf champion, legend, international cover model…and
the elusive man from my past who never truly belonged to me. His girlfriend
was a Brazilian supermodel, he’d had liaisons all over the world, and I was justhis former “Huntington Hook-Up.”
The real man still had a powerful effect on me, and now my years of
therapy were in jeopardy.
Fifteen minutes later, Kenny encouraged me to go over the allotted time of
the book signing to ensure I’d accommodated all the ladies in line.
I tapped my foot, and my hand sweated around the Sharpie. My mind flip-
flopped between dreading the end of my book signing and excitement at talking
to Jason. He and I had the most entertaining and sexy banter…a long time ago.
Why was he here? Did he live in Vancouver? No, he lived in Brazil. Anxiety
struck. Why show up after all this time?
He looked up from his phone, and our eyes met. I averted my gaze to
diffuse the sexual chemistry that still flared between us.
After the last fan left, I stood, smoothed my skirt, and adjusted my belt. I
popped the cap of the Sharpie on and off like it was the only thing keeping my
sanity, as I walked over to him. My current middle-aged state of chubby,
thinning hair and veiny hands invoked waves of humiliation since he still looked
Insecurities swarmed like killer bees. How did he think I looked now,
twenty-five years later? Did he still see the cute blonde I used to be?
Damn it, I was cute, confident, and a real pistol back then. I smoked
cigarettes in social situations and observed people, gauged their intent like a
character in one of my beloved spy novels. But the Marlboro-lite was also
employed as a smoke screen to hide behind, masking some deep social anxiety.
Jason saw through that the first time I’d met him.
I’d just graduated on the Dean’s List from UC Irvine, had a great job as a
legal assistant for a law firm representing antiquities collectors, and I was
starting law school in the fall. My life was set.
But the beautiful surfer who pierced my soul with his intense stare almost
wrecked my plans. His deep blue and bloodshot eyes stared at me for longer than
should have been comfortable across the Tennent Surf Company sponsor tent all
those years ago.
I’d looked behind me to see if there was a model or bikini he was really
staring at. No one. Okay. I smoothed my hair. Maybe I had some weird flyaway?
No. All smooth. Looked down at my shirt. Did I slip a nip? Spill something? No
and no. I met his eyes again. He smiled, and a bolt of lightning shot across that, hitting me square in the crotch. That bothered me.I raised my palms in the air and mouthed “what?” to him.
He side-eyed me, still smiling, then shook his head and mouthed
“nothing.” That sweet smile reached his eyes, and I couldn’t move. He was the
most amazing thing I’d ever seen in the flesh. I forgot to breathe. What’s your
story, blue eyes? Are you a deep thinker, maybe an avid reader? A
philosophizer? A poet?
A tall man in a large, straw, Japanese gardening hat whispered to my guy,
and they went to the far side of the tent and around the back.
I padded to the edge and peeked around to see him pull his shirt off. Bless
the sheer humanity of him standing in all his rock-hard-stomach, tanned glory. I
wanted to play him like a washboard in a jug band. This man was a god. His
body put marble Italian deities to shame.
He zipped into his wetsuit, covering his miraculous body, picked up his
surfboard, and trotted past me. “See ya.” He glanced back over his shoulder at
Yup, Jason Mattis disrupted my well-laid plans that day.
“Since when do you write romance novels?” His words dripped disdain as
I sat across from him.
“Since when do you read romance novels?” I shot back.
Just like that, we’re back to our regular banter. Our sarcastic back and
forth was like foreplay and usually ended up with us naked. His voice made my
sex clench and pulsate. It hadn’t done that in years. Oh, what this man still did to
“You read it?” I sat back, pushing my belt tie down again so my belly
He nodded and stared at me. “That’s how I knew it was me. You wrote it
word for word, Michelle.”
“I did not. Jake’s a pilot, not a surfer.”
He shook his gorgeous head. “Word for word, Michelle.”
Gazing at his soft, full, pink lips, I remembered how they’d felt on my
wrists, and other places, that first night.
“It was a good story. It should be told.” I fiddled with the napkin
dispenser, pulling a few out to fold in front of me.
He smirked at my nervous compulsion. “What are you going to do with
those now that you’ve refolded them?”
I slid them across the table and gazed up at him.
He slumped in his chair, looking down at my gift like he was relieved I
wasn’t angry with him. He placed his hand on the napkins and curled his fingersinto a stack. “The book’s a success. Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” I sighed. “I’ve been working on it for years.” I glanced at his
left hand resting on the napkins. No ring. “Are you married?” I regretted asking
the moment the words left my mouth.
“Not for a long time.” He shifted, and his seat creaked.
I nodded, deciding not to press the subject.
“How about you?” he asked.
Surely he knew the answer to that. Everyone knew. My People Magazine
interview had covered my husband’s long terminal battle with cancer, my grown
kids, nineteen and twenty-one, and even my two cats, Thor and Loki. My sons
named them. It’s all over the internet, my Google profile, Wikipedia, and my
“Not anymore.” I shrugged.
“Right, I did read that somewhere. I’m sorry.”
“People Magazine.” I squinted at him. “You’re reading People Magazine
and romance novels, Jason. Who are you?”
I’d missed that laugh, low and husky and with his whole body.
“Oh, Shelly.” He fiddled with his phone. “You made me laugh at myself.
Like no one else.”
“Stop doing stupid shit, and I won’t have any ammunition.” I blushed and
pulled more napkins from the dispenser. “I admit I’ve been stalking you a bit
“Okay, I’m not stalking you.” He still smiled, watching me.
“You sure about that?”
His grin tightened to a straight line.
Neither of us was stalking the other. Mine was research. I don’t know
what his was.
“I Googled you and saw you’d sold your private jet company,” I told him.
“That seemed serendipitous for my story since Jake’s a pilot.”
“I thought I wasn’t Jake.”
“Okay, maybe now that you’ve been so pertinacious about it, it may’ve
been in my subconscious to write him similar to you.”
“Pertinacious. What’s that word?” His face lit up, and he snagged his
phone. “Per-tin-a-cious. Adjective, meaning resolute, persevering, constant,
steady.” He showed me his phone screen. “Good one, wordsmith.”
I giggled. I’d forgotten his fascination with words, how they’d turned himon. Another thing I’d missed about him.
“Give me a word.”
“Salacious.” I straddled Jason’s lap fully clothed.
He squirmed beneath me and grabbed my hips, pulling me onto him. “Oh
I liked this game. His reaction made me want to grind hard on him.
His smile set me on fire. I circled my core over his erection.
“Hell, yeah! How many syllables is that?” He threw his head back.
I counted on my fingers. “Four.”
‘What does that mean?”
“Oh, pones cachondo.”
“What’s that?” My thoughts spun as he lifted his hips, hitting me in the
right spot and making me lightheaded.
“It’s Spanish for ‘you turn me on.’”
“You speak Spanish too?” I kissed him hard. “God, that’s hot.”
“Spanish, French, Japanese…”
“Oh, say something in French.” My body flamed from the friction between
my legs, and I moaned.
“Broyer mon amour. Grind, my love.”
“Shit, Jason.” I huffed. So close…
“Eu precesio de você.” He panted as he lifted his hips again and grabbed
the back of my head.
My heart was pounding for the oncoming orgasm, so I’d barely heard
what he’d said.
“What language is that?”
“What does it mean?”
He shook his head “I can’t tell you.”
“Your book was well written. I was impressed and not at all surprised.”
“Are you going to sue me?” I pulled the hair off my neck. All hot and bothered from the memory, a hot flash, or just Jason’s proximity?
“You tell me, Counselor,” he said. “Should I?”
”J, I wasn’t that kind of lawyer.”
It’s pretty simple. Defamation of character, maybe?” He was goading me,
and I wasn’t going to lose my argument.
“Defamation? You’re the fantasy of millions of women all over the world
and voted Best Book Boyfriend by Romance Reads, for Christ’s sake.”
“What a fucking honor. Do I get any prize money?”
Oh Jason, sharp as always. God, I’d missed him.
“Jake isn’t you,” I repeated. “There’s a disclaimer.”
“Yes. The characters in this book do not reflect anyone living or dead and
any similarities are coincidental.”
“Oh, really? Who else throws up when they have a fever because of a rare
heart condition? How many people have you known?”
As I lay on his chest listening to his purr snore. We’d just met that day and
he wanted to cuddle. Jason Mattis, the legend, the superstar, was a cuddler. His
body was on fire but he didn’t let me go. Jason started to shake, his teeth
chattering. His skin radiated heat, getting clammy. Perspiration made his skin
glow. His head thrashed side-to-side.
I sat up. “Jason.” I shook him awake. “Jason, do you have the flu?”
He rolled his eyes and continued to tremble.
“Oh shit, you’re burning up.” I palmed his forehead and the back of his
neck. “Come on, let’s get you in the shower.” I pulled his arms.
He got up on his own. I couldn’t support his entire weight.
I put his arm over my shoulders and helped his slumping, burning body
into the bathroom, where I turned on the faucet. I adjusted for cool, not too cold,
got in first, and guided him in.
“Burning!” he shouted. “No, no. It’s fucking freezing! Fuck, make it
“We have to lower your temperature.” I held his naked body under the
He slinked his arms around my waist and hugged me. “Okay, Shelly.
Resting his head in the crook of my neck, he took deep breaths. Quite a
few loud heartbeats passed. “I have to get my heart rate down and holding on to you naked isn’t helping.”
“You sound better.”
“Yeah, now that you’ve scorched my skin.”
“Okay, now you sound like you.”
“Get out!” he shouted. “Get out of the shower now!”
I jumped out just as he’d leaned forward and retched, yellow bile spewing
from his mouth. He panted and held onto the side of the tub.
“What can I do, Jason? Tell me.”
He just held his hand up to me and retched again. He bent forward,
pressed his arm across his stomach, then spat. “Damn it!”
I took a towel from the back of the door and held it, not drying myself.
Jason turned off the faucet and got out. I handed him the towel. He looked
up at me with fear and humility in his big eyes, then took the towel from me and
draped it around my shoulders. He pulled another one from the back of the door,
threw it over his head, and stumbled out of the bathroom, falling onto the bed
“Do you have ibuprofen?” I asked.
“I can’t take it. There’s aspirin in the drawer.” He pointed.
I opened the drawer on the nightstand to three empty aspirin bottles. A
fourth had two tablets left. “You’re going to need some more.”
He held out his palm, and I handed him the pills. His stunning rear end
stared at me. The cream color contrasted with the line across his hips, breaking
to a golden tan.
“Your skin looks much better,” I said.
“You’re looking at my ass,” he mumbled into the bed.
“Yes. I want to bite it.”
He jiggled from laughter. “Where are you?”
“I’m still ogling your ass.”
I lay down on my stomach, turning my head to face him.
“What happened?” I asked. “You just have a fever.”
“I have a heart condition, kind of a flutter. Fever could send me into
What? My stomach clenched.
“You did the right thing. Sorry for yelling at you.”
“You acted like a big baby,” I teased him.
He didn’t laugh.
“Jason, you can’t compete today.”
He buried his face again. “I have to.” He eased himself up.
“You need to see a doctor.”
“Are you a doctor?” He went into the bathroom, took a swig of mouthwash, swished it around and spit it out in the sink.
“What? No, you crazy person.”
“I only want to see you right now.” He took my hand as he crawled back
onto the bed and pulled me close to him.
“You’re impossible.” I rested my head on his chest, resuming the exact
position from before the episode. I’d just become his biggest fan. Before I could
say another word, he was asleep.
Jason looked at his watch and stood. “I have to go.”
“You’re not going to sue me?”
“There are so many things I want to do to you, Shelly.”
“Yeah? To my fat ass,” I mumbled.
“Yeah.” He glared at me, serious as a heart attack. “Especially that.”
I swallowed hard in shock. “I don’t understand.”
“Yes, you do.” He closed his eyes and hung his head, as if willing me to
read his thoughts.
I imagined some dirty ones, for sure.
“Where are you staying?”
His question surprised me. “The Fairmont downtown until tomorrow.”
“Have dinner with me.”
“I can’t. I’m dining with my publisher.” I took my phone out and saw the
dinner notification. “You want to come?”
“Do I need a tux?”
“No, Nutball.” I chuckled. “Although I’d love to see you in a tux, no.
We’re just having dinner at the hotel.”
“That’s easy. I’m staying there too.”
“Are you here on business?”
“You’re my business today.”
“You just flew up here to see me?”
“I have planes. I can go anywhere.” He turned to leave.
“Jason?” I called after him. “Jake’s not a terrorist.”
“Good. Cause neither am I.”
What did that even mean?