Too Tempting

By: Bethany Lopez

Chapter One ~ Gabe

I took a deep breath as I walked out of my cabin and onto the wooden deck overlooking the lake and forty wooded acres of my camp.

I’d built Camp Gabriel Lewis over three years ago, after I’d retired from the NFL and decided to make my dream of working with teens a reality. My camp was not just a football camp, and not just your traditional sleepaway camp; it was a combination of both. It was the culmination of a vision I had when I was a young kid, and the only things I gave a damn about in life were football and my annual camping trip with my cousins.

“Son of a bitch, it’s good to be back here!” I grinned over my ceramic coffee mug at my cousin, Reardon, who’d just pulled in.

Crazy tall, blond, and charismatic, he was the person I’d been closest to growing up. My best friend. Now he was a lawyer in the small town he grew up in.

“Happy to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cherry Springs?” I asked with a chuckle.

“No, man, things there are quiet as usual,” Reardon responded as he pulled his duffle bag from the trunk of his Mercedes. “I’m just looking forward to kicking your ass at family sports day this year.”

“You wish, cupcake,” I responded wryly, feeling ridiculously happy to see him again.

“Hey, I’ve been working out,” he countered with a grin.

When he reached the top we came together in a quick hug, each giving the other a sharp clap on the back before pulling apart.

“C’mon, I’ll walk you down to your cabin so you can get settled in. Jasmine and Dillon are en route. They’ll probably get in tonight. Serena had to work today, but said she should be in first thing in the morning.”

“Sounds good.”

I followed him back down the steps and onto the trail, which led to the row of cabins. The counselors stay in the cabins when camp is in session, but my family always lived in them when we came down for our annual trip the week before opening.

“This is you, as usual,” I said, jogging up the steps to open the door, since his hands were full. “So, what have you been doing since Easter?” I asked as he tossed the bag effortlessly onto the bed.

“Had a couple cases, nothing really exciting,” he replied, opening the drawers to the dresser so he could unpack.

“Things still good with Brenda … or was it Bonnie?” I asked, honestly unable to remember the name of the girl he’d brought for Easter dinner.

“It’s Becca, and no, we broke up.”

When I looked at him pointedly, asking him what happened without saying the words, he shrugged.

“She liked the idea of being with a lawyer, but not living in a small town. She kept trying to convince me to move to the city … kept leaving brochures around and shit. I finally told her that leaving was not an option for me, and she bailed.”

“That sucks, Rear, I’m sorry things didn’t work out,” I said sincerely. Neither of us had ever been married. In our twenties, we’d enjoyed playing the field, but we’d recently agreed that we were ready to stop all the bullshit and settle down.

Unfortunately, the kind of women we seemed to attract weren’t the kind that we wanted to marry. Now we were older, and set in our ways, we were finding that women our age were set in theirs too, so it was difficult to find someone who wanted the same things we did.

“It’s for the best,” he replied, rolling his bag up and shoving it in the closet. “It’s better to find out now, than when I proposed, right?”

“Was it that serious?”

“I don’t know … It could have been.”

I looked my cousin over, determined he didn’t look heartbroken or anything, and figured he was better off. He’d find the right woman soon enough, but for now, it was time to enjoy a week with our favorite people.

“I was just about to take a look around, see if anything needs to be fixed,” I said, tilting my head toward the door. “You wanna head out?”

“Yeah, sounds good. Let me just hit the head real quick and we can take off on foot.”

I went back out onto the porch to let him take a piss in peace. These cabins had their own bathrooms, and were usually shared by two counselors of the same sex. Once you got to the part of camp where the campers stayed, there were communal bathrooms and showers. Each of those cabins had five bunk beds, and a twin bed for the junior counselors.