By: Natasha Knight

Gabrielle swallowed and remained still, her eyes on the pair. The woman was moving her hips rhythmically and Gabrielle could make out the soft sounds of breath as the blonde enjoyed the pleasure of his fingers. A moment later, a sigh came and the woman broke the kiss, laying the top of her head on his chest as she melted into this hand. Gabrielle’s own sex heated with the vision of the couple and it took all she had to remain still when he pulled his hand out of her bikini and licked his fingers clean.


At the pool, she dropped her towel and book on a lounge chair, stripped off her wrap and quietly slid into the cool water. Allowing herself to disappear beneath the surface, Gabrielle did what she’d been doing every day since the accident that had killed William: she screamed. She swam daily at the pool by her house in Florida and when, in the beginning, she’d been unable to control her tears, she’d just let herself go under and scream and scream, knowing the water would swallow the sound.

She swam the length of the pool, turned while taking a breath, and once again submerged, continuing to swim, screaming all along.

Twelve more laps and she lifted herself out, squeezing moisture from her hair as she made her way back to her lounge chair. Picking up her towel, she patted herself dry and scanned the area. One woman played with her young daughter along the edge of the pool, but other than that, it was deserted.

She sat down, adjusting her sunglasses and picking up her book when she saw him. It was the same man who’d been staring at her when she’d checked in. He wore tight fitting swim shorts and carried a newspaper and was heading straight toward her. His body was solid, not built up like he spent time working out, but strong: a tanned chest with a dusting of dark hair, beautifully sculpted arms and shoulders and narrow hips that led to powerful legs.

Her heart raced while she worked to manage her expression, trying to remain casual, as if she hadn’t noticed him at all. As if he didn’t have some strange effect on her. At least her glasses were dark enough that they would hide her eyes.

"May I join you?" he asked, setting his towel down before she had a chance to answer. His looks were enough to do her in. Tall, just over six feet, she'd say, with dark hair to his shoulders. His face was shadowed by what seemed to be a few days worth of stubble.

"I was actually hoping for some alone time," she said, picking up her book when he removed his sunglasses. His eyes were pure black, it was like nothing she’d ever seen before. They seemed to laser into her, to know her. Why did this man make her nervous? She hadn’t felt like this in a very long time. Why now? And why here, of all places?

"I’ll be quiet, I promise," he said, settling into the chair. "I’m Julian," he extended his hand.

"Gabrielle," she took it reluctantly, but as soon as skin touched skin, her eyes widened while his remained intent on hers. The attraction between them was palpable, his touch pure electricity. She didn’t need this. She’d been avoiding exactly this for two years now.

"Gabrielle," he tried out her name, bringing her hand to his lips, brushing them with a soft kiss as he inhaled. Stubble tickled her flesh and that sensation settled in far more intimate parts of her body than the hand he held. "You're a strong swimmer," he said. "Do you train?"

"Were you watching me? I didn’t see you," she asked.

"You were looking for me?" he countered, tilting his head to the side.

She couldn’t tell if he was teasing, but he was definitely making her nervous. "No, that’s not what I meant," she stumbled over her words.

He dropped it. "You're here alone, yes?"

"I…yes," she answered.

"Pardon my directness, Gabrielle," the way he said her name, it was like he was rolling it on his tongue, playing with the sound of it. "But when I saw you earlier, there was something about you that moved me."

"I'm sorry…?" she asked.

"You seemed so…sad."

Tears rimmed her eyes. She was going to cry. Right here, right now. And why? Because someone actually had the guts to tell her the truth: that she looked sad.

"It touched me," he said, taking her hand. "I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, I want to help…"

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