Xio Axelrod gives us an all-access pass to the glitz and blitz of Hollywood in her latest contemporary romance—a slow-burning friends to lovers, second chance romance—and I have a little sneak peek for you.
“No one knows I’m down here, Ols. I’ll be fine. I’ll even wear the hat and the sunglasses, the whole incognito special. I promise.”
Ollie couldn’t think of a valid argument. “Be careful.”
“Careful is my middle name.” Bran winked at him before turning to Blake. “We’ll pick this up later.”
She looked skeptical. “Okay, sure.”
“Take my car. My keys are on the island,” Ollie called after him.
After a moment of silence, he turned to her. “I guess it’s just you and me.”
But Blake was frowning. “I… If you don’t mind, I’m going to go do some work inside.”
“Oh.” He tried not to read too much into that. Of course, she had stuff to do.
So did he.
“Meet for lunch later?”
Blake rose to her feet. “That sounds great. See you in a bit.” She gathered her things and walked down to the pool house.
He watched until she disappeared behind the door and let out the sigh that had been building in his chest.
Flipping the script over, he tried to pick up where he’d left off, but all he could think of was Blake.
She’d been true to her word, giving Bran a chance to show her who he was now. So far, there hadn’t been any snide remarks or snap judgements, at least none she’d voiced out loud.
The morning had been nice, with the three of them exchanging stories and banter. He wished it could be like that all the time and could almost imagine it.
Ollie checked his watch. It was half past ten. He had to wait at least ninety minutes to knock on her door.
“Right,” he said to no one. “I’ve got this.”
Movement in the front windows of the pool house drew his attention, and he watched as Blake drew back the curtains and opened the windows.
She stood there, stretching, and his breath caught in his throat. The blouse was gone, leaving her in the tiny bikini top and itty, bitty shorts, and… Christ. He tried to look away but couldn’t tear his gaze away from her curves and—
Blake stopped and gave a little wave which he absently returned, his swim shorts suddenly restricting. Mortified that he’d been caught ogling like a schoolchild, he tried to focus on the script. But his gaze kept drifting to the window, hungry for another glimpse of her honeyed brown skin and unruly curls.
There was no point in trying to work, his brain was fixated on one thing.
One gloriously attractive mind, body, and soul that was tantalizingly close and yet so very far away.
Ollie closed the script and stood, stripping out of his shirt and kicking off his sandals on the way to the pool.
He needed to cool off before he did something stupid. Blake had put the brakes on anything beyond friendship, and he wasn’t about to blow this second chance.
It was too early in the day for the sun to have warmed the water, and it was a shock to the system when he dove in.
But it was just what he needed. Pushing off from the far end of the pool, he began his first lap, pushing hard.
The sound of the water lapping against his skin and the rhythmic motion of his strokes was like a meditation, calming his racing pulse. He pushed away all thoughts of Blake and focused on his breathing, moving through one lap after another.
After several minutes, he stopped at the edge of the pool and looked up towards the pool house window, surprised to find her watching him.
Desire tore through him as their eyes met, but then she offered an adorably nervous smile and a little shrug before disappearing into the shadowy interior.
She’ll be the death of me.
Defeated, Ollie sank under the water and called on every cell of his being to behave for just a little longer.