An Enchanting Surprise by Brian Collier
Part of the Boys of Summer anthology
short novella (approx 12000 words)
erotic contemporary romance
Cover art by Winterheart Design
Release Date: 10/11/12
Skie Wilson is a simple girl with simple tastes. Give her the job at the Cambridge Inn, her outrageous best friend, some puzzles, and a beer, and she's good to go. Of course, the one thing missing from that mix is passion and heat—the kind that makes her heart race, her toes curl, and her body tingle.
Jaded by a cheating fiancé, Skie has avoided commitment ever since. No man has caught her eye enough to make her change her mind, at least not until the Spanish Olympic team arrives for their last summer of training before the event. The scorching hot athletes offer quite the temptation, with their sweat-glistened muscles and taut bodies, but one sinfully sexy triathlete captures Skie’s attention the most. Will she hide behind the safety of the inn’s “no fraternization” rule, or will she let her hair down and have a little fun?
Staring down at the filthy bench, Skie groaned loudly, stretching her sore back. Glancing down the pathway, she counted how many benches were left and swore softly–three down and eight more to go – and then got back to work.
“This damn dirt must be melded to the metal,” she muttered as she scrubbed diligently, trying to get the grime to pry loose. The benches had not been cleaned in ages, a fact well documented by the state of her blue coveralls, once clean but now covered in a fowl-smelling sludge.
She used a rag and a bucket of soapy water that she had already changed twice, but somehow more water got on her than in the bucket. In hindsight, she should have used the hose that a co-worker had offered, but she had assumed it would be an easy job.
Cursing some more, she shifted the bucket further down the path while she reached toward the bench legs and wiped them down. A noise caught her attention and she lifted her head, watching as a large group of men entered the far end of the walkway.
Furrowing her brow, she wondered who the men were. Then it hit her — the inn’s special guests were supposed to arrive today!
Feeling like an idiot, Skie stared at the men. How many of them belonged to the Spanish Summer Olympic team? From the looks of their builds — what she could see of them from that far away at least — most could have fit the bill.
“Damn, I picked a good time to start getting back into the game,” she said, smiling wickedly. That smile disappeared when she remembered the “no fraternization with guests” rule.
“God, Ted can be such an ass sometimes,” she muttered, shaking her head. Deep down, she knew it was a good rule but as she stared at the handsome faces and bodies chiseled to fine perfection as they moved towards her, she could only hate her boss.
Feeling desire stir within her for the first time in ages, Skie groaned and slowly stood, trying hard to keep her jaw from dropping open.
The first wave of men passed her, a few casting weird looks toward the bench and one even turning up his nose and sniffing exaggeratedly. Skie frowned for a moment, considering their behavior. Then she remembered how she looked and groaned again. Closing her eyes in embarrassment, she felt heat flare across her face.
“Is everything ok, señorita?” a strange voice asked, the words deep with just a touch of an accent. Her eyes snapped back open, and she stared into beautiful hazel eyes framed by a deeply bronzed face.
“Uh…um...yes…I mean yes, everything is ok. I’m just sore from cleaning benches,” Skie stammered, her brain failing her in the one moment she needed it most.
He chuckled lightly, his gaze slowly rolling down her body and back up to her face. “You should be. From the looks of it, the benches are winning the fight.” A grin bloomed over his face as he spoke.
Skie blinked, trying to comprehend what he’d said, before she glanced down and burst out laughing. “Oh god, I guess I do look pretty horrible. Ignore me, really, you should. I mean, you have better things to do, I’m sure.”
The man studied her for a moment before holding out his hand in an offer of greeting.
“Better things to do than meet an attractive woman? Please, what are they going to do to me if I’m late? Train me harder?” He laughed at his own words, the sound filling the area where they stood.
Smiling, she found herself stepping forward, reaching out to take his hand in hers. Just as their fingers touched, she slipped and sent a mud-caked shoe crashing into the bucket of water. Despite its obvious weight, the offending container tipped with ease, sending a wave of filthy sludge cascading over the man’s spotless sneakers, covering them.
Skie yelped in shock at the same time he swore, his athletic reflexes not quick enough to keep the footgear from getting a bath. She grabbed the rag and immediately dropped to the ground, preparing to dry them off. Realizing that she would only make things worse, Skie felt her face turn hot as she stopped. Dropping the rag on the bench, she lowered her gaze and took a deep breath.
“I’m so, so sorry. I’ll replace those shoes for you, I swear. I can be such a klutz!” Realizing she sounded like a fool in front of a guest, she began to stammer again, the words making no sense before she finally trailed off at the sound of laughter.
Looking up, she grunted, one hand resting on her hip as her body tensed.
“You’re laughing at me!”
The gorgeous man shook his head. “No, not at you, at the situation; I mean, come on, even you have to admit this is pretty funny. Just look at my shoes.”
One look was all it took before she started laughing also, her body wiggling with each wave of sound that left her mouth.
“I really will replace them for you,” she finally said, the last of the laughter trailing off. “It’s the least I can do.”
He smiled at her and shook his head. “No need. The team provides them free of charge. It’s one of the perks, so we might as well take advantage of it. Let’s try this again though. I’m Rafael but my friends call me Rafe. I’m a triathlete for the Spanish Summer Olympic Team. And you are?”
Skie studied him, his name rolling through her mind, before she wiped her palm against her coveralls and shook his hand. “You can call me Skie. As in the blue thing up there.” She pointed upward after reluctantly pulling away from his grasp, her skin tingling from the simple touch. Rafe glanced up and grinned, but before he could say anything a voice rang out, calling his name.
Turning to look down the path, he waved to one of his teammates. “Well, time for me to go, I guess. It was a pleasure to meet you, Skie. Perhaps we’ll cross each other’s paths again…hopefully under cleaner circumstances.”