The beach novel of 2005 is here - a sizzling summer thriller from the author of the #1 bestseller The Beach House.
The danger isn't in the water.
Working as a lifeguard at a Florida resort, Ned Kelly meets a woman he is wild about, the woman of his dreams. It feels perfect in every way - except that she is used to caviar and Manolo Blahniks, and he is used to burgers and flip-flops. She is a guest at the luxurious hotel - he lives above a garage.
So when Ned's cousin offers to cut him in on a rich deal he's been commissioned to execute, Ned can't turn him down. The plan is simple, just a fast break-and-enter. The risk is high, and the reward is even greater - $5 million. But on the night of the heist, something goes devastatingly wrong. Who will save the lifeguard?
Ned walks away from his job, his town, and the woman he's fallen in love with. Runs away, actually, knowing that only velocity and secrecy can save his life. But who is pursuing him? The FBI? Whoever sabotaged the heist? Or is it all somehow tied into his new love - and his oldest enemies?
“DON’T MOVE,” I said to Tess, sweaty and out of breath. “Don’t even blink. If you so much as breathe, I know I’m gonna wake up, and I’ll be back lugging chaise longues at poolside, staring at this gorgeous girl that I know something incredible could happen with. This will all have been a dream.”
Tess McAuliffe smiled, and in those deep blue eyes I saw what I found so irresistible about her. It wasn’t just that she was the proverbial ten and a half. She was more than beautiful. She was lean and athletic with thick auburn hair plaited into a long French braid, and a laugh that made you want to laugh, too. We liked the same movies, Memento, The Royal Tenenbaums, Casablanca. We pretty much laughed at the same jokes. Since I’d met her I’d been unable to think about anything else.
Sympathy appeared in Tess’s eyes. “Sorry about the fantasy, Ned, but we’ll have to take that chance. You’re crushing my arm.”
She pushed me, and I rolled onto my back. The sleek cotton sheets in her fancy hotel suite were tousled and wet. My jeans, her leopard-print sarong, and a black bikini bottom were somewhere on the floor. Only half an hour earlier, we had been sitting across from each other at Palm Beach’s tony Café Boulud, picking at DB burgers—$30 apiece—ground sirloin stuffed with foie gras and truffles.
At some point her leg brushed against mine. We just made it to the bed.
“Aahhh,” Tess sighed, rolling up onto her elbow, “that feels better.” Three gold Cartier bracelets jangled loosely on her wrist. “And look who’s still here.”
I took a breath. I patted the sheets around me. I slapped at my chest and legs, as if to make sure. “Yeah,” I said, grinning.
The afternoon sun slanted across the Bogart Suite at the Brazilian Court hotel, a place I could barely have afforded a drink at, forget about the two lavishly appointed rooms overlooking the courtyard that Tess had rented for the past two months.
“I hope you know, Ned, this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often,” Tess said, a little embarrassed, her chin resting on my chest.
“What sort of thing is that?” I stared into those blue eyes of hers.
“Oh, whatever could I mean? Agreeing to meet someone I’d seen just twice on the beach, for lunch. Coming here with him in the middle of the day.”
“Oh, that . . .” I shrugged. “Seems to happen to me at least once a week.”
“It does, huh?”” She dug her chin sharply into my ribs.
We kissed, and I felt something between us begin to rise again. The sweat was warm on Tess’s breasts, and delicious, and my palm traveled up her long, smooth legs and over her bottom. Something magical was happening here. I couldn’t stop touching Tess. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel this way.
Split aces, they call it, back where I’m from. South of Boston, Brockton actually. Taking a doubleheader from the Yankees. Finding a forgotten hundred-dollar bill in an old pair of jeans. Hitting the lottery.
The perfect score.
“You’re smiling.” Tess looked at me, propped up on an elbow. “Want to let me in on it?”
“It’s nothing. Just being here with you. You know what they say: for a while now, the only luck I’ve had has been bad luck.”
Tess rocked her hips ever so slightly, and as if we had done this countless times, I found myself smoothly inside her again. I just stared into those baby blues for a second, in this posh suite, in the middle of the day, with this incredible woman who only a few days before hadn’t been conceivable in my life.
“Well, congratulations, Ned Kelly.” Tess put a finger to my lips. “I think your luck’s beginning to change.”
Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson
Billy Campbell studied acting at the Players Workshop of Second City in Chicago, and first appeared on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre's 1992 production of Hamlet. He starred in the ABC series Once and Again, and appeared in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Big screen credits include Enough, with Jennifer Lopez, Disney's Rocketeer, and Gods and Generals, where he portrayed General Pickett.
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