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Beach Read Sneak Peak
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Topher and Piper

The wave crested around him. The curl of crystal blue water isolated Topher and his surfboard from the world and offered him freedom.

It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. The sound of the wave deafening the worries in his mind. Piper’s instructions and the waves were the only thing left. He could have sworn he’d seen her there in the green room with him, her sun kissed skin and golden hair. Then the waves had swallowed him.

The tunnel crashed and he whiplashed into the pull of the water below. His body wasn’t his own in this part of the surf. He fought, pushing his way to the sunshine above the surface. Piper was on the shore leaping into the air, pumping her fist.

He could feel his grin, wider than should be possible. Powering his way to the shore, he swam till his board hit sand. Before he’d even made it upright, Piper dove at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and hooting in his ear so he tumbled back into the water.

“You did it!” she yelled, splashing him with a wave of saltwater. “You freaking did it! I told you!”

“I know. I guess this is what happens when I finally listen.” Toph accepted Piper’s hand when she tried to help him out of the water and pulled her right back in.

She yelled and he laughed before they crashed into the waves. He was buzzing with energy and Piper was the source. Anything she did he wanted to follow. God, he hadn’t felt that in a long time. Piper grabbed his shoulders and shoved him backward as a wave doused them both. He grabbed her waist and they went under, surfacing together with a gasp.

“You’re such a surfer boy,” Piper complained with a grin.

“Is that better than a movie star?” He didn’t have time to flash her his patented Topher Grace smile before another wave crashed over them.

“Oh,” Piper grinned and pulled away, “you better believe it.”

They moved further onto the beach, escaping the waves but he wasn’t ready to leave yet.

“Hang on.” Topher said, stopping them. He fell back in the sand spreading his arms like he was making snow angels in the sand. Piper laughed dropping beside him. The water washed around him. This was home. How had he forgotten?

“When do I get to go again?”

“You liked it, huh?” Piper sat next to him, water up to her hips, still grinning.

“It was the most incredible feeling. Everything you told me. You’re right! You’re so right! I can’t believe I’ve never gone that far before.”

“Did you just say I’m right?” The words were teasing, but he could hear the pleasure drifting in the surf of her voice.

“You like that, huh?” He echoed her earlier words earning a punch and he laughed. He loved Piper’s feisty independence. It made things exciting. “I’ll say it again, if it makes you happy.” It slipped out before he could think about what that meant.

He pushed himself up to sitting, expecting mockery or a witty put-down. He felt so good about himself, he probably could have used one.

Instead, Piper slid closer.

“This makes me happy,” she said, bumping his shoulder. Her hip touched his as they watched huge waves crash in the distance, another tunnel forming and falling.

Topher’s grin softened and he nodded. The words stirred the deep places of his heart, places that had been waking in these last weeks on the island. It made him happy too.

Water dripped down Piper’s cheek and he rubbed a hand over his hair, shaking it. She laughed, turning away. When she turned back, she was closer, her body leaning toward him.

Heat swelled in his chest, and Topher could have sworn the sun had turned its rays solely on him and Piper. His body heating till it burned wherever Piper brushed against him.

The swell of the waves hit like they were his patron saint, knocking Piper onto his bare chest. She laughed, pushing away and he prepared himself for the friend zone, but it didn’t come. Her fingers lingered on his skin tracing the lines of muscle and water. She leaned into him, her bare legs sliding over his, raising goosebumps like scorch marks, her signature on his body.

“Piper . . .” It wasn’t a question or an answer, it was pleading. With her name on his lips, he was begging.

She grinned and he slid his hand behind her neck. When she tensed, he let go.

Water washed over them, and he welcomed the cooling waves. His body was on fire with every point of contact.

“Toph. . .” She said turning to face him.

It sounded like an apology coming, and he didn’t want it. He wanted her. He dipped his head in a shrug of “no worries” and tried not to be aware of her body next to his. Working his fingers in the sand, he tried to stretch the burn of Piper from his skin.

When the next wave came, neither of them was prepared. She washed into him, tossed by the crush of water and he grabbed her protectively, holding her without permission.

The wave retreated and Piper stayed pressed against him, sliding her arms over his shoulders, wrapping her body to his. When her lips found him, his heart rate jumped, adrenalin coursing through him, burning away the façade of his confidence. He’d never wanted anything more than he wanted this girl and he’d never given anything up so willingly. He would not hurt her.

“What if we . . . What if this doesn’t work?”

He wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer. His world was movie stars and paparazzi, and Piper was an island girl. The ocean clung to her hair and eyelashes, claiming her with glistening liquid beads.

“Is that what you’ve been asking? What if it doesn’t work?” She shook her head and a droplet of sea water fell, hitting the bow of her lip and dissolving into the rosy lines of her full mouth. She licked the salt away and Topher’s blood pumped faster. “That’s not the right question, Toph. What if it does?”

What if it does? It wasn’t something he’d ever been allowed to ask. He’d been handed his life and it worked. It wasn’t his decision.

“Topher, I want this. I want you.”

He traced a finger across her cheek. “Well . . .” he let the word hang there as he tucked a wet tendril of her hair back. With a soft grin he kept going, brushing the tips of his fingers across the tender areas of skin, below her ear and down the base of her neck.

She inhaled, leaning into him, welcoming his hands as they trailed further seeking out her shoulders and hips. He let himself see every curve, mapping her face and body before he paused and winked at her. “I’m pretty sure, I want you more.”

Piper stuttered a laugh, as a wave crashed, knocking them back into the water. Together they surfaced and Topher, held her close. Double checking her approval, he slid a hand up the side of her arm, pausing when she shivered. Then let his lips lead the way from her chin to her jaw and over the buckle below her mouth.

When he finally captured her lips in his, Piper arched in his arms.

She tasted like salt and pineapple, her lip gloss completing the picture he had built. She moaned softly against him, and all reason left his brain.

He wouldn’t have cared if they’d been on the most crowded beach on the island, in that moment there was only sand, sea, and Piper.

Piper’s skin came alive in his hands. Water swelled around them, crashing against their bodies, and letting his hands slip over her skin as he shaped the curve of her waist.

Moving from the contour of her neck to her shoulders his mouth slipped across the heat of her skin. his fingers settled over the waistline of her soaked shorts. Then, he skipped the fabric all together and gripped her thighs, pulling her up onto his lap. Her legs wrapping around his waist.

His skin crackled with energy. He wanted this, and the next step, and the next. It terrified him to wonder if she wanted that too. Or worse if she didn’t.

Piper’s lips moved over his shoulder, her fingers sending thrills of pressure across his chest and side. He gripped the skin at her hip. He’d sworn not to hurt, and he knew his life, what was expected of him. One day this would hurt her.

He pulled his knees in, lifting Piper’s body up with them, and pressed his face to the skin of her belly. Then with torturous pain he forced his salt and passion swollen lips to stop touching her.

She tipped his head back and ran her fingers through his wet hair. Her body blocking the sun as he looked up to her face. She was little more than a silhouette above him. His beach angel. She lifted herself from his knees and slid down to his lap again, cinching their bodies together.

Rolling them both so she was below him, Topher met the question in her eyes without an answer. He shook his head and pulled back. “I’m sorry Piper, I can’t.”

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