Making Waves ONLY
a Perfect Kisses novella by USA Today bestselling author Ophelia London
Visiting her friends Ellie and Charlie in Hawaii was supposed to be a much-needed vacation for journalist Justine Simms. But when she learns the notoriously reclusive pro-surfer Chase Ryder is coming out of retirement for a competition, she knows she’s found the perfect exclusive to save her career. Of course, then she learns he’s the gorgeous, secretly nerdy guy who broke her heart a year ago.
Will Davenport—aka Chase Ryder—doesn’t do interviews. He keeps his real name out of the papers and doesn’t mix his public life with his private. That is, until the still-heartbroken Justine blackmails him into giving her an exclusive. Seeing Justine, stunningly beautiful as ever, brings back all the feelings he had before. But despite their smoldering attraction, nothing has changed since he had to leave her the first time.
Each book in the Perfect Kisses series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 – Playing at Love
Book #2 – Speaking of Love
Book #3 – Falling for Her Soldier
Book #4 – Making Waves
Title: Making Waves
Series: Perfect Kisses
Author: Ophelia London
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 122 pages
Release Date: June 2014
Price listed is for the U.S. digital format. Please confirm pricing and availability with the retailer before downloading.
by Ophelia London
Copyright © 2014 by Ophelia London. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
“Welcome to paradise.”
Justine’s city-girl mentality made her flinch back when a total stranger came at her from out of nowhere at baggage claim. But then she was offered a cheery “aloha!” and a lei was draped around her neck. As quickly as the muumuu-wearing welcoming committee had appeared, they’d moved on to other deplaning passengers.
“Thank you,” Justine called after them. “Um, aloha back atcha!”
Chill, Juss, she told herself. Remember, you’re here to relax.
While watching the women present leis to another family, Justine fingered the silky garland around her neck. The flowers smelled amazing, and she had half her nose buried in one as she headed out the sliding glass doors.
She didn’t expect the actual air to feel different, but it did. Much less smog than in L.A., but way more humidity. After two seconds outside, she was ready to throw her hair up in a ponytail and peel off her city clothes in favor of something flowy and tropical.
Time to get this lazy party started.
For a moment, she thought about dashing to the ladies room and changing outfits when she heard the toot of a car horn.
“Justine! Over here!”
After one more big whiff of flowers, she grinned and lugged her rolling bag toward the curb where Ellie stood in front of a shiny, white convertible.
“We’re only stationed here for two years,” Ellie said, running a hand across the hood, then through her red hair, “so we’re making the most of it. And you know how Charlie is about cars.”
“That I do,” Justine said with a laugh. “I hope you left his Impala in good hands back home,” she added.
“Oh yeah. His baby is parked in his sister’s garage ensconced in a custom-made cover.” She rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “Once we’re stateside again, I’m sure that’s the first thing he’ll want out of storage.”
“Is Charlie working on post today?”
“He’s over there.” Ellie gestured toward the bus and taxi median, where Charlie—her Army boyfriend—was talking with three guys. He was dressed in long shorts and a T-shirt, but the other three were in casual military dress and carrying rucksacks. “We’ll swing by for him on the way out, but first thing’s first…” She opened her arms and gave Justine a hug. “How are you?”
“Relieved to be here,” Justine answered as they loaded her bags into the trunk. “Though I think I’m in mild shock over all the pretty.” She swept a hand out, gesturing at the palm trees, colorful bushes, and overall gorgeous greenness. Was this really just an airport? It was more lushly landscaped than a five-star hotel.
“It was the same for me.” Ellie slid behind the steering wheel. “Even now, sometimes I wake up and have to pinch myself.” After both she and Justine buckled their seatbelts, Ellie made a tight U-turn, then pulled to a stop at the center median. “Hop in, soldier.” She revved the engine.
Charlie finished what he was saying to the military guys, then jumped in the backseat. “You know I love it when you’re bossy.” He planted a kiss on Ellie’s cheek. “Hi, Justine. Welcome—or aloha, I mean.”
“Thanks, and thanks again for the invite, guys,” Justine said, then squealed as Ellie jet-propelled into traffic. “You’re lifesavers.”
“We’re happy to have you,” Ellie said. “When your sister told us you were stressing at work and needed a vacay, it was a no-brainer. And, you know, we’re practically related.”
“How, exactly?” Justine asked.
“Let’s see…Tess—Charlie’s sister—is best friends with Mac, your sister. That’s got to make us some kind of distant cousins.”
“Very distant, babe,” Charlie said. Justine looked back at him and they shared a smile.
Ellie had moved to Oahu when Charlie had been transferred there. Justine knew the couple through her sister Mackenzie and Mac’s husband, Rick. She’d met Charlie at a few barbeques before he’d gotten together with Ellie. Nice guy. Good-looking, too, if you’re into big, beefy, and perfectly chiseled. She used to think he was kind of a player. But it was obvious now, he played only for Ellie.
“I do like the idea of being here to visit family.” Justine tipped her chin to admire the clear blue sky. “Seriously, cousins, L.A. has killer weather in December, but this beats even Malibu.”
“I’ve found in the many months we’ve been here,” Ellie said, sliding on a pair of dark sunglasses, “that problems tend to melt away with the right amount of sand, sun, and piña coladas. It’s the ‘aloha spirit’.”
“And you already got leid,” Charlie added.
Justine swiveled around to find Charlie pointing at her chest. “What?”
“He means the flowers,” Ellie said with a snort.
“Of course I meant the flowers. What else would I…ohhh.” Charlie’s grin widened. “Ladies, I would never say a thing like that.” He reached forward to rest his hand on Ellie’s shoulder. She laughed and turned her face to give his hand a kiss.
“It’s an old custom,” Ellie said to Justine. “Not every plane gets greeted with the leis. See, you’re already finding luck in paradise.”
Justine needed all the luck she could get. Right before finishing grad school in psychology, she’d taken a job at her brother-in-law Rick’s newspaper back in their hometown of Franklin, Indiana. It turned out that she was a natural reporter, and after a few months, she was writing articles and chasing leads. Rick pulled some strings and got her a job at a small paper in L.A. with lots of growth potential, and before Justine knew it, she was on her way to California.
But the job hadn’t turned out like she’d hoped. Her boss was more interested in giving her press releases to regurgitate or the occasional cat fashion show. No real news. Then a few months ago, word hit the grapevine that the entire paper was in trouble. One round of layoffs had already occurred, and Justine knew she was on the chopping block if she didn’t make a huge impression. For the past few weeks, she’d been on high alert for anything exciting or breaking that would win the attention of the editors, not to mention save her job. But so far, nothing had surfaced.
Lately, she hadn’t been lucky in love, either, focusing on her career instead. Actually, there had been someone last year. They’d gone out four times, four pretty amazing dates, in fact.
Just thinking about Will made Justine put a hand over her stomach, stifling those traitor butterflies. He’d been a lot of fun, really cute, and she hadn’t felt such strong chemistry with anyone before or since—she couldn’t deny that.
But there’d also been something she couldn’t figure out. Despite his contagious laugh and the animated way he told stories about the ironic perils of being an IT geek, Will was closed off. When she thought about it, how much had she really known about him?
Having the inquisitiveness of a reporter, that still bothered her. If their relationship had progressed the way she’d hoped, it probably wouldn’t have worked out in the long run because of that. How could she be with someone who never opened up?
It didn’t matter in the end, because the last time they’d been together…everything had gone to hell.
She hadn’t seen Will Davenport since.
Regret, unresolved anger, and way too many questions crowded her mind whenever she thought about him. Would she ever get answers about what happened that night? She’d been totally into Will and had wanted to be with him…she just wished she could remember it.
Still, it sucked on multiple levels that the sweet, though guarded, guy she’d been dating had turned out to be a bastard.
“And over there is Pearl Harbor,” Ellie was saying, but Justine had completely zoned Ellie and Charlie out, thinking about Will, wondering about him—not for the first time, not by a long shot.
Snap the hell out of it, she inwardly lectured. You haven’t heard from him in a year.High time to get over the guy for good.
“We can do the touristy things later,” Ellie added. “Most people want to hit the water two seconds after landing. Our place is off base and close to the beach, so we can go as soon as you want.”
Those Will-shaped butterflies in Justine’s stomach turned to rocks. She gulped the stale bile in her mouth and stared across the freeway, past the tall buildings and hotels, and toward where the ocean must be. Her palms were already sweating, and for a second, she wondered if she could convince Ellie to hang a U-turn and take her back to the airport.
Before she’d jetted off for a tropical vacation, why hadn’t she stopped to consider the reality that she was going to be on an island…surrounded on all sides by water? The idea to fly to Hawaii for an extra-long weekend had been extremely spontaneous, but the image of chilling out in a hammock while downing mai tais had been so intoxicating that she hadn’t thought about the ocean, about swimming.
More specifically, how she hadn’t set foot near a body of water in over a year.
The chill colder than an ice cube ran up her spine. Suddenly, she wished to be anywhere but here.
“Well, I’m not sure I’ll want to swim this weekend,” she said.
Ellie stared at her through her shades. “Are you serious? Why?”
Justine shrugged noncommittally. “It’s not really my thing anymore.”
“Wasn’t that one of the reasons you moved to L.A.?” Charlie asked. “Mac said you were tired of being landlocked and wanted to get into paddleboarding or something.”
This was true. Justine used to be crazy about swimming in the ocean and all kinds of water sports. She’d joined a paddle surf club in Santa Monica, taken up snorkeling out on Catalina Island, and was about to get certified in scuba. Hardly a day went by that she wasn’t in the water or daydreaming about the water.
Then Anna had died. Her oldest and dearest best friend in the world drowned last year. Since then, Justine steered clear of anything larger than a hot tub. Sadness and loss had morphed into a crippling phobia she didn’t know how to get over.
Yet, here she was…in the middle of the Pacific.
She was about to offer up the always-popular, though antiquated, excuse about it being her “time of the month,” when Ellie’s cell buzzed.
“Could you check that?” Ellie asked, passing Justine the phone. “Very strict rules about cells and driving on the island.”
“It’s a text. You don’t mind if I read a private message?” Justine asked. “I made that mistake once with a text sent to my sister. I couldn’t look Rick in the eye for a month.”
“I’m the only one who gets to send Ellie those kinds of texts,” Charlie said. “And we have no secrets in our house, you’ll see.”
Ellie laughed. “I think we both trust you to not inform the world that my big, tough soldier has a weakness for Michael Bublé.”
Justine looked back at Charlie, whose smile had frozen on his face. A second later, he rolled his eyes and reached out to touch Ellie again. “That’s supposed to be a secret, Red,” he said, brushing a finger across her cheek.
Justine giggled and held up a hand. “You two are disgustingly cute. I don’t even want to know.” She clicked open the message and began to read the text. “To paraphrase, someone confirmed that Chase Ryder is coming out of retirement for the Eddie.”
“Seriously?” Charlie said, leaning forward between the two front seats.
“Chase Ryder?” Ellie’s voice held the same tone of excitement.
Figuring this was some kind of huge deal, Justine quickly passed the phone back to Charlie so he could read it for himself.
“There’s been buzz about that for a while,” Ellie explained. “The Eddie’s an exclusive, invitation-only surfing competition.”
“The waves have to reach a certain size or it doesn’t happen,” Charlie added. “There’s only been nine in the last thirty years. It’s a pretty major deal around here, though we haven’t been following the local news like we should. Something like this, though”—he held up the cell—“with Chase Ryder coming out of retirement for the Eddie, that will make world news once it gets out. It’s the Super Bowl of surfing.”
“Yeah?” Justine blinked. “Do you mind if I read the rest of the message?”
Charlie passed her the phone and Justine scanned the whole text. Chase Ryder. She’d heard of him. Living in L.A., you couldn’t help picking up tidbits of the surf culture, almost through osmosis…it was in the air, like vitamin D and the odd Brad Pitt sighting.
“World news, huh?” Justine murmured to herself, reading the text again. “Where is Waimea Bay?”
“North Shore at the top of Oahu,” Charlie said.
“It’s a gorgeous drive,” Ellie added, then reached a hand back to touch Charlie. “If you get off early tomorrow, we should cruise up there.”
“Is the Eddie today?” Justine asked.
Charlie shook his head. “Doubtful. Once the big wave experts measure the swells, it’s announced and the invited competitors have twelve hours to register. I’m guessing it’s tomorrow. Why?”
Justine bit her lip, forming a plan almost too fast for her thoughts. “If I rent a car, how long will it take me to get there?”
Justine was glad she’d left last night. On the map, the miles from Waikiki to North Shore didn’t look like many, but it took over two hours to make the windy trip. It was scenic, but most of the time she felt too close to the edge of the highway with nothing but the deep, blue ocean below. She’d gripped the steering wheel so tightly her fingers still ached the next morning as she searched for a parking place along the beach road.
Unlike Honolulu, the North Shore didn’t have many hotels. Maybe three, if Google was correct. So Justine knew how fortunate she was that Charlie had an Army buddy with a small bungalow she could crash at for the night.
The narrow highway along Hale‘iwa was lined with cars on both sides. She’d found the right place. She parked her rental, grabbed her notebook and purse, and headed toward the beach, trying to block out the sound of crashing waves—she did not need to be thinking about the water or undertows or riptides.
It was still early, a little past eight, but the air was warm and the sky streaked with morning sunlight. Her flip-flopped feet sank in the course, golden sand. She was wearing a yellow sundress—the most “formal” outfit she’d brought with her. She hadn’t expected to be doing the most pivotal story of her budding career while on vacation.
There was a crowd of about fifty, not as large as she’d expected. Not yet. First stroke of good luck. Perhaps news hadn’t made it to all corners of the globe that the Quicksilver Big Waves Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau—aka the Eddie—was taking place, or that the mysterious Chase Ryder was coming out of retirement especially for this event.
Justine knew if she played her cards right and scored an interview with Ryder, her boss would be forced to print it. Hawaiian surfing news would go over about as huge as reports of a new formula of Botox with West Coast readers. Her first real byline. The big break that could save her from unemployment.
Now, if she could only find Ryder. Thank goodness for the internet. There were no photos of him close up—just shots of him riding waves that looked to be a terrifying twenty feet high. But she knew Ryder had an elaborate tattoo on his right shoulder blade, depicting a wave that’s top curl turned into a dragon. Ominous, but kind of sexy. Dangerous—a trait she usually didn’t go for, especially now.
She flashed her press credentials and was allowed to cross the rope barricade halfway down the beach. Thirty colorful surfboards standing on end lined an area ten feet from the shore. She hoped she wouldn’t have to get any closer to the water. Different pockets of people—some dressed in swim trunks and others in shorts and T-shirts—stood in groups. The largest was crowded around a tall man. Not knowing who to talk to first and pretty out of her element, Justine figured she would start there. As she drew closer, she couldn’t see the tall guy’s face, but she did grab a quick peek at his back…more specifically, his right shoulder blade.
Bingo. Chase Ryder.
She moved toward the crowd around him. Some people were engaging him in conversation, but most were getting his autograph and doing the guy fist-bump thing. She waited behind him, three people still between them. She didn’t mind waiting because, even from the back, Chase Ryder was an impressive specimen. He was nice and tall, lanky but with muscles—a delicious combo. He was wearing only black trunks, his shoulders were broad, his biceps flexed with lean muscles, and his skin was a smooth, golden suntanned brown. And, dude, were those boyish freckles on the tops of his shoulders? Very nice. He had dark hair, kind of long on top, but cut more conservatively than she would have expected from a surfer boy.
Once she was next in line, she gripped her notebook, ready to flash him the most pleasant, professional smile she could muster, then promise the guy anything under the Hawaiian sun for a ten-minute interview that might possibly save her career.
“You got it,” she heard Ryder say to the teenaged boy opposite her. His voice was smooth and deep, friendly. “Always cool to meet fans,” he added, shaking the kid’s hand. “Mahalo.”
Justine zeroed in on the tattoo on Ryder’s shoulder and tapped him just below the cresting wave. “Excuse me, Mr. Ryder?”
When he turned around, Justine’s heart stopped mid-beat. Ryder froze, too, his big brown eyes staring back at her.
“Juss?” he whispered.
That longing to be anywhere but here crashed over Justine’s head like a tsunami, as she stared into the eyes of Will Davenport.