Spike by Lyncee Shillard
part of the Boys of Summer Anthology
Cover art by Winterheart Design
Mutual passion was something Brody and Rae had in abundance, but then Brody disappeared in the night. Now he travels on the pro beach volleyball circuit while Rae keeps control of the locals at the tavern. Still, after all these years, she wonders what if…
Forgiveness isn't something that comes easy for Rae, but she'll do whatever she can to ease her sister's struggles with her five-year-old niece's fight against cancer. In desperation, Rae calls Brody and asks him to do a benefit volleyball match.
Though at the top of his game, only one thing keeps Brody from enjoying his hard-earned success—memories of Rae. When she calls, he believes this may be his chance to make it right with her.
Fighting her old attraction and the flames between her thighs, Rae is determined to stay out of the ripped volleyball player's bed. At least until he shows up with his teammate, Treyvon. Is the hate she's groomed against Brody for the last seven years strong enough to keep her from falling for both men?
The game is on.
Rae looked over at Tara. The girl wore an oversized sweatshirt and a short denim skirt, her honey brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. They both worked as waitresses at The Sand Pit, a beach bar restaurant and the hub for the upcoming event.
“So he can rub his success in all of our faces?” Rae snarled, not wanting to admit she really was thankful he agreed to do the benefit. Bitterness tainted everything surrounding Brody Slyvan.
He’d left Hampton two weeks after they’d graduated high school. A quickie before he hit the road was the only goodbye she’d gotten. For two years, no one had heard a word from him, then he’d hit the pro volleyball circuit five years ago. For the last three years, Brody and Treyvon had held the title of top pro beach volleyball players in the world.
During all those years, Brody had made one attempt to contact her. A year and half after he’d left, she’d received an airline ticket with an invitation to one of his semi-pro matches. It would have been less cruel to send a note saying, “see I’ve made it–how are things at the bar?”
“Well that’s one theory, but the other is to reconnect with you,” Tara smiled, and Rae wanted to stomp across the sand to slap the silly grin off the girl’s face.
“There will be no reconnecting,” she growled. “He’s going to come with his harem intact, so the smart bet goes on that he’s here to show-off.”
Tara opened her mouth to say something, but Rae held up her hand. “I don’t care what he does or who he does it with as long as the money made will go to Vonnie.”
The rumble of a truck made both women look toward the parking lot. Del’s flatbed was loaded with bleachers from the high school.
“I’m going to check on how things are going in the kitchen, and I’ll send the guys out to help Del set up.” Turning, Rae moved away before Tara could object to being left alone with Del. The man was extremely creepy, but harmless, so helping him would be Tara’s punishment for the reconnecting comment.
"Maybe he brought his sock collection with him," Rae yelled back. Del had every sock he'd worn. His goal was to set a new world record.
Sighing, Rae walked across the wooden deck. At least Del had a dream. Something she lacked. Ever since the announcement that Brody Slyvan would be doing a benefit volleyball tournament, the whispers of a hook-up between them had been more numerous than a flock of starving seagulls on a bag of popcorn.
She’d loved Brody–seven years ago. Before he’d slithered out of town like some snake, too spineless to tell her goodbye. Truth be told, when she’d contacted him about doing the benefit, she really had thought he’d immediately turn her down, but she was desperate to help Vonnie. So she’d swallowed her pride and asked. Then when he said he’d look into it, she figured she’d never hear from him again. Three weeks later, he called back saying he had four other pro teams willing to do the benefit and donate all proceeds.
“Greg, the bleachers are here,” she shouted. The smell of stale beer replaced the fresh breeze. The only lights on were those behind the bar. A deep sadness she’d been trying to ignore filled her. She doubted there was any place in the world lonelier than an empty bar.
Greg walked out of the kitchen and pulled a hair net off, releasing thick, sandy brown hair. Tan cargo shorts hung on his thin hips, and an orange t-shirt with the Harley logo hugged his chest. “The taco meat is done. Lettuce and onions chopped.”
“Thanks for all your help.”
“We all love Vonnie, and no parent should have to deal with shit like this,” he said. “You left Tara with Del?”
Shrugging, she walked over to the bar. “Retribution for telling me about the betting pool on me and Brody making it.”
“Jesus, the girl is dumb.” Greg smiled and a dimple appeared in his left cheek. He’d hinted a couple times that maybe they should go out, but Rae had ignored them, so he stopped and moved on to someone else. Since then, they’d fallen into a lighthearted banter that included flirting. “Does she have a rake sticking out of her ass?”
“No. I’m a woman of self-control.”
“Oh how I know. You’ve resisted my charm for over two years.”
“It hasn’t been easy. Nightly cold showers and a fresh supply of batteries.”
“I’m sure we could work something out that would allow you to take a warm shower and give your toy a break,” a familiar voice spoke from behind her. A ghost from a past she hadn’t been able to escape. Without turning to face him, she knew she was in deep shit.
“Rae, remember Vonnie needs the money so don’t kill him until after the tournament. Then I’ll let you use my boat to take his body out to the middle of Lake Michigan.” Greg moved around her. “Greg Michaels. I’d heard rumors you were a jerk. They were wrong. You’re a fucking asshole for making that comment. However, thanks for doing this for Vonnie.”
Rae studied Brody in the mirrors lining the back of the bar. He wore his brown hair in a taper cut. Hours on the beach had colored his skin a deep bronze, which was highlighted by the sky blue oxford shirt he wore. His lips still made that “eat shit and die smile.” A tattoo ran down his left arm. Damn it, she wished she didn’t know it was of a dragon carrying a sword.
Greg glanced over his shoulder at her. “Want me to send Tara in, and you can replace her with Del?”
Brody glared at Greg. “I was making a joke, nothing more. Don’t worry. I didn’t come back to steal your girlfriend.”
“Since he’s dating your Aunt Carol, I don’t think that’s what he’s worried about.” The words came out with much more venom in her voice than she’d intended. “Greg, go help Carlos, Tara, and Del with the bleachers. I’m fine.” Rae drew a deep breath. Those last two words were one of the biggest lies she’d ever uttered. She was far from fine. The impulse to grab a whiskey bottle and smash it over Brody’s head battled with the desperate want to fuck him. Her body tingled as she remembered how his skin felt next to hers. How could it be after all these years and the way he’d treated her, that just by looking at his reflection in a mirror had launched more of her lust hormones into overdrive than any other guy in seven years?