This is my first Contest Submission: SUMMER LOVIN'. The title of the contest sparked the idea for it. My muse and memories of summers-gone-by inspired it. One lonely spirit came to me and asked me to help set them free. I hope I succeeded. Please Read, Vote, and/or Comment. I love getting feedback and do take criticism into consideration. Enjoy and Thank You! :)
"Momma!" The tiny tot screamed at the top of her lungs. Devin slammed the suitcase lid down and ran out of the room to see what the screaming was about. By the decibel of the scream, she figured her daughter must have fallen and gotten a booboo.
She entered the living room ready to rush in and comfort, only to stare and blink, seeing that her little monkey had climbed out of her playpen and on top of the golden retriever and was currently playing horsey, saying "Neigh, Neigh, dog, dog."
The dear dog took it like a champ and carted his little package around like the pony he was, without the aid of sight. The little imp had thrown her favorite blankey over the dog's head. When he crashed into the wall, she slid off and bonked her head on the floor, letting out a true scream. Mom ran in and rescued baby with one arm and whipped the blanket off the dog with the other, pushing him to safety. She blew a breath out lifting her sweaty hair off her face.
"Shaylee, Grady is not a horsey. Come help Momma finish packing for the beach." Eager to please, the green eyed fae child took her mother's hand and toddled along. Shaylee was sitting nicely in the center of Devin's bed watching her pack the suitcases. Devin was singing itsy-bitsy spider to her. She turned her back to get her swimsuit out of her top drawer when she heard an impish giggle. In the mirror, she could see that her clothes were scattered and the baby was inside the suitcase tossing panties and bras up in the air.
"Whee!" The little one smiled. Devin gave up on packing and swooped down on her little bundle of joy, tickling her belly until they both fell on the floor laughing. Shaylee snuggled against her and kissed her loudly on the lips. "Momma," she said softly.
"Oh baby, Momma's going to miss you so much!" A tear rolled down her cheek as she reached for the phone to call her own mother.
"I just don't know if I'm ready to leave her," she said into the receiver.
"You need this, Dev. Shay will be fine and so will you. We're going to take her to the amusement park and buy her ice cream. Grandpa will build blanket forts with her. This is your time."
"I feel guilty Mom." She bit her lower lip, a habit she did when she was unsure of something.
"Devin you have been home with that baby 24/7 since she was born. I know that things did not work out with asshole the way you wished they had. But, he's in your past now. The divorce is finalized and you are a free, beautiful, intelligent, strong-willed woman. Take time for you; pamper yourself, revisit your old haunts and let yourself feel like a woman again. Don't let what he did take anything away from you. He's the moron who hurt you and your baby girl, not the other way around. Trust me, your issues with him will be here waiting when you return. But for now, focus on you. Besides, you wouldn't deny me exclusive cuddle time with Shaylee, now would you?" Her Mom had a point, always the voice of reason.
"Thanks Mom. I love you."
"I love you too. Now finish packing and get that sweetpea over here and in my arms. Oh and Dev, honey? I bought a little something to help you celebrate." She could hear her mother's grin through the phone.
"Mom," she began.
"Nothing extravagant, don't worry. Just something to help you feel like the pretty woman you are." Her mother loved shopping, especially for clothes. While there was no denying that her Mom had great taste, she didn't want to be spoiled. Although, a small part of her thrilled at the prospect of a new outfit or two.
She put the baby down for a quick nap while she finished packing. Then she gathered dog toys, dog food, and the rest of Shaylee's toys and comfort lovies. She turned on the shower, undressed, and took a quick look at herself in the full length mirror.
Her blue gray eyes stared back at her. She had the typical freckles of a redhead that spread across the bridge of her nose and a generous supply on her cheeks. She had a petite body. Cute, was what she was always called. Her long, curly hair was in need of attention, and a trip to the stylist was the first order of business once she got to the shore. At thirty, her breasts were still pert. Motherhood had finally given her a grown woman's figure at long last. She lifted her breasts up and smiled at herself.
Devin stood in her parent's living room, her hands moist with nerves. She released the dog and handed the sleepy baby off to her mother. Her Mom had been true to her word and then some.
She lay out enough outfits to last her two weeks. Fun and flirty dresses, sassy and sexy tops and skirts, relaxed and causal outfits. Really cute. She was going to have fun trying them on and wearing them to the beach and boardwalk.
"Mom, you shouldn't have," she scolded. Her mom beamed at her.
"I wanted to." Her Mom reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope. "It is just a little something to go towards pampering yourself. Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, and a blissful massage. I wish we could have sent you somewhere exotic. But for now, I hope this helps."
Devin hugged her mom and squeezed her eyes shut against the tears starting. Then she hugged her father who was currently being smothered with doggy kisses.
"Thanks Daddy. I'm sure you will spoil Grady rotten. But remember table food gives him a stomach ache. So please control the urge."
"Me feed the dog people food? Wherever would you get an idea like that, Devin?" When her father laughed, his blue eyes sparkled mischievously.
"Dad that goes for Shaylee, too. Just because you have a sweet tooth, doesn't give you permission to indulge my daughter in sweets, too." She gave him a stern look.
"Only one piece of cake a night." He winked at his grand-daughter who was eying his piece of pie. "Oh alright, and a cookie after lunch."
"Dad!" Her Mom came up behind her and put her arm around her, pushing her towards the door.
"Don't worry sweetie. I'll keep him in line with the sweets and the people food," her Mom assured her.
"No all day shopping sprees, either Mom. Shay still takes two naps a day." She pulled out a long list of instructions and emergency contact numbers.
"Boy, you have an awful lot of rules," her parents said in unison, laughing.
"Grappa," Shaylee shrieked, reaching for her grandfather and squirming out of her grandmother's arms.
"Yup, we'll be just fine." She kissed the baby on her chubby cheek.
"Pumpkin, you better get a move on so you don't hit rush-hour traffic," her father reminded her.
"Drive safely," Mom put in.
"I will. Thanks guys." She took Shaylee back in her arms and snuggled her, showering her with kisses as she tried her best to hold back her tears and not let her baby feel her apprehension.
"Mommy loves you so much. Are you going to be a good girl for Gramma and Grandpa?"
"Yeah, me go," the little one nodded. "Grappa," she said again.
"I see how it is," Gramma put in. "Shaylee, say Gramma."
"No. Momma." The imp pouted.
"Momma has to go bye-bye. But you will have fun. Take care of doggy for Mommy. Okay?"
"Momma go?" she asked with confusion.
"Yes, Momma go bye-bye. Shaylee stay and have fun. Momma talk to you on the phone." Shaylee clung to her, not letting go.
"No bye-bye." She scrunched her face up. "Me go too!"
"Shaylee, let's have a tea party," Gramma suggested, trying to distract the little one.
"Devin, just go. She will be okay in a few minutes. I promise. We'll call you after she settles down." Shaylee reluctantly let go of her mother and peeked around her grandfather's shoulder looking for the promised tea party.
"Momma bye-bye." She waved. "Dog dog." Bless her small attention span. She pointed and then ran off to wrestle the dog.
Devin's mother handed her a tissue and sent her on her way with another hug. Her Dad took the clothes out to the car for her. "No trolling for boys on the boardwalk," he said.
She cracked up. "Dad! I'm not a teenager anymore. Besides, if I were going to do any trolling, it would be for men." She winked, then swung herself into her car.
"You never know, baby-girl. You never know." She groaned inwardly, waved, and hit the acceleration.
The drive was thankfully uneventful other than the crying-over-the-music-blasting session. She pulled up to the quaint seaside inn, stepped out of the car, let the HS part-timer park it, and took a deep cleansing breath of sea air, then sighed.
"Yup, still smells like fish." She pinched her nose and headed for the entry door. It had been years since she had been back on the shore she had grown up on, fell in love, out of love, suffered losses, and ultimately distanced herself from. The hustle and bustle, the traffic jams, and the rude people had just become too much for her. But for weeks, she felt herself being drawn back here for some reason.
She checked into her room, called the spa she used to go to and got herself an appointment for the morning. After calling to check up on Shaylee, who was currently napping peacefully, she made her way outside.
The inn was on a private beach. She had been itching to dig her toes into the cool sand and did just that, sighing with pleasure. She walked along the shoreline, letting the warm water lap at her feet, watching the sun sink below the horizon. The setting sun left in its wake a profusion of vivid colors: fuchsia, peach, lavender.
She had never been a sun-worshipper. She burnt to a crisp if she wasn't careful and so she wasn't a fan of the beach during the day. She didn't eat seafood and one time tried to rescue a lobster from a lobster tank at a popular seafood chain. Ah but twilight, right before moonrise when the sand cooled off, the ocean felt warmer, the beaches cleared out, the boardwalks were lit and buzzing with activity; that was her time. And right now, she felt like a teenager again.
She walked a bit further when something on the sand caught her eye. She moved closer to examine it and noticed someone had written a message in the sand, something she had done more times than she could count. It said "D.B. <3's M.L forever." She stared at the initials as a little chill crept along her spine.
Ah, to be carefree again and in love, or at the very least lust. Her stomach growled at her demanding attention as if signaling the unhealthy turn her thoughts had taken. Her nose twitched and she started salivating at the most welcome smell coming from up on the boardwalk.
"Jersey Pizza!" she shouted to the skies. She picked up the pace until she was nearly running toward the boardwalk with one thought in her head. She neglected to notice the man who was bent over a metal detector and slammed right into him.
"Oh my god. I'm so sorry, sir," she began apologizing. "Are you okay?" The metal detector started beeping.
Annoyance edged his voice when the beeping stopped. "Dammit. Why don't you learn to look where you are go--." The words abruptly stopped when he looked up into the stormy depths of her eyes. A tingle of recognition overtook him and he remembered a slip of a girl laying beneath him on a checkered blanket under the boardwalk so very many years ago. But no, the memory faded as quickly and he realized this woman couldn't possibly be the same girl.
"Do I know you?" she asked with her hands resting on her hips. Was it possible? Could this girl be the very same? Well, for now he would see where the interaction led and not let on that he might know her. That could come later.
"I don't think so, darling." She scowled at the condescension and turned on her heel. She tried not to notice the tousled chestnut hair or too-blue eyes in his handsome face.
"I'm no one's darling," she shouted back. He leaped to his feet and chased after her.
"Wait!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her close.
"That doesn't mean I don't want to get to know you."
She huffed out a breath and yanked away. "In your dreams, buddy." She threw back at him. "Do I look like a silly co-ed?"
Ah that fiery temper. Without a doubt, Marc now knew this was indeed his Devin. He gave her a devilishly handsome grin.
"Ah there's the fiery spirited girl I remember." He tugged her against him and plundered her mouth, his groin stretching his board-shorts.
"And no, definitely not a silly co-ed any longer." He looked her up and down appreciatively. He saw her gasp of recognition and wondered if her heart skipped a beat, too.
"Apparently you are still the same ole player I remember. Just as arrogant and just as macho. Men don't change, do they Marcus? What were you searching for, buried treasure?" He watched her curse under her breath. He imagined she was thinking something like 'What ill luck to come upon my former summer fling.' He grinned at the thought.
"Actually, I am looking for the locket my daughter lost yesterday when we were at the beach. It belonged to her mother and is very special to her."
Devin seemed momentarily at a loss for words. "Oh. Where is your wife?" She scanned the beach.
"Never married. Left me and left the kid shortly after she gave birth to her. Where's your husband?" He shot back.
"Finally out of my life. I'm newly divorced," she stated proudly.
"Good. That means we are both free to get reacquainted with each other. Pizza? I heard that shout of joy from across the beach. My treat."
"Do I get frozen custard with that as well?" She batted her eyelashes. Ah those moody eyes of hers.
"I think I can manage that." He reached into his pockets and pulled out a few crumpled dollar bills, smirking at her. He knew she couldn't resist food and as if on cue, he heard her stomach growl. He also knew her enough to know that she had probably been enjoying her peace and quiet when she crashed into him. Too bad for her. She could have peace and quiet after they caught up.
She nodded and headed up to the boardwalk with him. He gave her another once over, noting that she had filled out nicely over the years. He wondered how she would look in a flirty little dress. She must have felt his eyes on her chest, because she stared at him until he returned them to her face.
"Man, how long has it been?" he asked, steering her to the pizza booth where they had shared many pizzas at before.
She smiled. "A long time. Ten or maybe twelve years. It was the summer after I graduated high school. You had graduated already, what like five years before me? A college man." They ordered their pizza and found a bench to sit at.
"Yeah, everyone thought it was inappropriate because of my age." He recalled how upset her family had initially been.
"Well," she tutted.
"Not so big a difference now, is it? I'm guessing you are thirty? Although you don't look a day over twenty-five." He lightly touched her cheek.
"Don't you remember that flattery doesn't work on me?" she said in seriousness.
"No, but I know what does work on you," he winked back and she laughed, shoving him away.
"Will you cut the bullshit?"
"No bullshit." He lifted some cheese off her slice and lifted it to her lips.
"This is the pathway to your heart sweetie, food." He smirked as she snatched the cheese off the pizza and smacked her lips loudly. She nearly fell off the bench from the laughter bubbling out of her, then pouted.
"Don't make fun of my food issues." He took the pizza out of her hands ignoring her growls and leaned his head to hers.
"And this," he whispered as he gazed into her eyes, sliding his fingers into her hair before gently touching his lips to hers. She sighed against him.
"Mm. But, I can't," she protested.
"Can't what? It's just a kiss."
"Where's your daughter? How old is she? Where do you live?" She started flooding him with questions, biting her lower lip. He licked her lip to soothe.
"She's four-and-a-half." Then he nipped it. "We live a couple blocks away." He played with her collarbone. "She's with my dad." His lips found her ear.
She pushed away from him remembering the devastation her young heart felt when he broke it.
I've been burned by you before. I just got out of a fraud of a marriage in which I was betrayed. I'm not going there again, not with you, not with any man." She stood firm. "Thanks for the pizza. I have to get back and call my baby."
"That's not fair, Dev. I'm a changed man." He frowned.
"Sure you are. Newsflash Marcus; people, especially men, don't change." She flipped at him.
"Ouch. You wound me," he said while clutching his heart. "Seriously? I have regretted every day how I hurt you. Then I met the woman of my dreams. We had all these plans of traveling the world, marriage, babies, happiness."
"I guess we were both fooled," she stated, not backing down.
He shook his head and walked to the railing to lean out, a far off look in his eye. "You don't understand. She was my everything." He whispered.
"Betrayal sucks." She said bitterly.
Marcus sighed deeply and turned around, the grin gone from his face, replaced with something Devin couldn't place. Anguish? There was something he was holding back, she could just feel it. She did not need more drama in her life, thank you very much, she had her own.
"She did betray me. She loved me, then left. Leaving our baby girl in my arms. I was so angry, raging, left with this lot in life. Why me? Why meet her only to lose her?" His words were quiet.
"Sounds like it was her choice. She's the idiot who left her family." Devin said angrily.
"Nothing was her choice. I wanted to murder the man who took her from me." His fists were clenched, knuckles white, temper flaring.
"I'm sorry. My husband had an affair too. It takes time. How long ago was it?" She tried to defuse him.
"The man who took her from me was driving that night. I cannot exact revenge upon him because he too died in the crash." He collapsed on the bench, his head in his hands, grief overtaking him.
"Oh God, Marc. God I didn't know. When you said, I just assumed; I didn't-- I had no idea." She began rambling, then put her arms around him and held him as he sobbed.
"I haven't spoken about it since it happened. It hurt too badly to even say her name. I'm sorry for unloading on you. Danae was my everything and Kyla is all I have left of her."
At that moment a loud "Daddy" pierced the silence and a short haired little girl came running down the boardwalk, a huge stuffed dragon in her arms and cotton candy on her face. She stopped just short of her father's arms and gave Devin a once over.
"Who is she?" The little girl asked matter-of-factly.
"An old friend from when Daddy was younger," he answered.
"Oh." Her lips formed the words. "Are you sad today?" she asked her father, looking at his red eyes, "or just scratchy eyes again?"
Devin's heart twisted. How hard it must be to keep the pain and sorrow from this little girl. She turned her attention back to Devin.
"What's your name?"
"I'm Devin." She held her hand out. "You must be Kyla."
"Yup. Look. Grandpa won me a dragon! I'm going to name him Tiger." She smiled at her.
"He's a handsome dragon. Why Tiger?" Devin touched the scales of the stuffed dragon.
"See those little stripes on his back? Like a tiger and he growls like one too. Grrr," she demonstrated and giggled. "Tigers are Mommy's favorite. She told me so." She eyed her father who just sighed.
Just then a handsome man with gray hair and dark eyes caught up to the little girl. "Kylie, you run too fast for Grandpa to keep up." Marc's father said, catching his breath. "Marc, who is this?" Devin felt him assessing her.