Australian country boy Dean West grew up on a farm and as a result, he’s never had a Valentine. He hates secluded land and craves the freedom he has dreamed of - surfing and living on the coast - ever since his first visit at age eleven on one of his parent’s rare getaway holidays.
When his parents decide to holiday on the North Coast again, Dean decides to make the most of it by making some of his dreams, albeit temporarily, come true. First, he takes a dawn run along the beach and that’s where he meets Riley, a pro surfer who he feels instantly drawn to.
Sharing their mutual love of surfing, Dean and Riley begin to explore the attraction between them, but what will happen when the trip is cut short and Dean has to go home early? Will he spend another Valentine’s Day alone and unhappy, or will another one of his dreams come true?
I adjusted my gaze from the watery depths to the surface. My dark hair was cut short for the summer heat. My face was thin and my lips pouted even with a gentle smile. My skin was light and my eyes were also dark.
From the corner of my eye, sudden movement and colour in the waves caught my attention. I looked up and saw some guy was out there, wearing a red and black wetsuit while catching waves on his surf board. That was something I wanted to try. Surfing. I couldn’t imagine the adrenaline rush it’d provide as you moved along the waves like the board was a part of your body while wondering when the next wave would hit and force you under.
I turned to see a sandy haired teenage boy in a black wetsuit, jogging up towards me with a surfboard under his arm. “Hey,” I called back.
“You checkin’ out my bro?” He grinned.
“He’s your brother?” I nodded towards the guy still catching the waves.
“Yeah.” He nodded. “So what are ya? Sports gear sponsor, photographer?”
I smirked and as the sun slowly rose over the ocean horizon, the sun hit me in the eyes, I squinted back its powerful rays. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t let my brother bother you. He’s just trying to get a sponsor while loving that he’s embarrassing me.” Hearing the new, deeper and older voice, I looked up and saw the guy who had been surfing, now walking up the beach a few yards from me. His wetsuit clung to his frame and the red of the suit revealed his strong, built arms and shoulders. My heart gave an unfamiliar lurch seeing him. Everything that had yearned—pulled me—me to the coast, was now radiating from him. It was like he had been the source who had me yearning to come back here and stay. But that couldn’t be possible, could it? I’d only been eleven at the time of our first visit.
“He’s okay. We were just talking,” I said quickly, covering my long pause while taking him all in.
His dark and wet, shaggy hair covered the tops of his ears. His steel-blue eyes shone brightly as he offered me a lopsided smile. His wetsuit clung to his lean frame and curved out each and every muscle of his torso. Damn, he even had a six-pack. I tried to stop my eyes from moving south but I couldn’t help but take a quick peek. I dragged my teeth over my lower lip. He was definitely sporting a bulge.
The kid beside me rolled his eyes and stood. As he stalked off, he muttered something under his breath. His brother caught his wrist. “Earn it and sponsors look for you, not the other way around, kiddo.” The boy lazily looked up at him and rolled his eyes. “Now give me a high five.”
He laid his palm out and the boy lazily slapped his older brother’s hand before taking off towards the water. I watched as he walked waist deep into the sea, placed the board on the water’s surface and then paddled out.
“So what’s ya name?”
“Dean,” I answered, shyly. I’d never been in the presence of someone I not only admired but also thought was hot.
“My name’s Riley.” He leaned over and unstrapped the leash connecting him to his board. He left the board a few feet behind and closed the distance between us, then offered his hand. When I grasped his warm palm, my heart raced. My eyes narrowed. Why was I nervous about meeting him? At least, that’s why I thought my heart was racing. I hadn’t ever been one to feel nervous about meeting someone, though.
“So you live around here?” he asked.
“No, I’m here with my family on holiday.” I glanced out to Riley’s brother gliding along the waves. “So you and your brother are pro surfers?” I looked back to Riley. He was rubbing the back of his neck, almost awkwardly as he pulled a face.
“I’m a pro, my brother, not so much.” He chuckled and lowered his weight beside me. “He’s trying, though.” He turned his head to look at me from the corner of his eye before looking back to the sandy horizon and the palm trees beyond the sand. As dark clouds began to blanket the sky and sun, I thought I saw his cheeks flare red.
“I was watching you. It was like you and the board were one. I’d love to learn.” I hoped that was enough to warrant him to offer to teach me. If I was going to learn, I might as well learn from the best, and what little I knew about surfing told me Riley was good. He kind of had to be the best, being a pro.
“How long you here for?”
“We leave on the fifteenth.”
“Bummer. I can show you the basics today but you can’t learn much in two days. I can still teach you something, though. So where you from?”
“Thanks. I’d love that.” I smiled. “Country Victoria.”
“Ah, a cowboy.”
I looked to him and found a playful smirk playing on the corners of his mouth. “I’m not a cowboy. I hate the country—I don’t fit in.” I bit my lip to keep my big mouth shut. I hadn’t meant to say the last part. Hell, what was I meant to do now if he asked me, ‘why?’ I couldn’t tell him why without possibly risking my lessons. He could have been homophobic, though it was unlikely with him being about my age. It seemed to be that people around my age understood where people like me were coming from, but there were still a small few who didn’t understand. Those who usually grew up with the bible shoved in their hand heard it more often than nursery rhymes. I rolled my eyes at the thought. Many kids back home were like that.
An awkward silence drifted over us. I could feel Riley’s eyes burning the side of my face, like he was trying to read me or something. It felt unnerving. I allowed a long moment to pass between us before I gave in and brushed my cheek, wondering if there was an unsightly pimple there or some bug sucking my blood.
As my lips parted to question Riley why he was staring at me, he looked away. “I know the feeling, but I thought I was the only one,” he said lowly.