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Surf's Up

MaryJanice Davidson

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


































  Teaser chapter

  Praise for the authors


  “Delightful, wicked fun!”

  —New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan

  “A bawdy, laugh-out-loud treat!”—BookPage

  “No one does humorous romantic fantasy better than the incomparable MaryJanice Davidson.”—The Best Reviews


  “Sinfully delicious.”

  —New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd

  “[A] wonderfully creative, utterly unique romance.”


  “A witty, charming, sexy read.”—Christine Feehan


  “Nothing less than divine.”—

  “Ms. Denison knows how to make a story more than a romance. She makes it sensual, electric, and with a plot that keeps readers turning the pages.”—Road to Romance

  “Guaranteed to seduce your senses and leave you wanting more.”—New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

  South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the authors


  Berkley Sensation trade edition / July 2006

  Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / May 2009

  Copyright © 2006 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-05064-4


  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


  Janelle Denison


  Claire Reissing had five long minutes to wait.

  Until then, she carried her cup of coffee out to the open deck and sat down in her favorite padded reclining chair. The unobstructed view she had of the beach was absolutely breathtaking and inspiring. From the white, glistening sand, frothy waves, and clear blue sky, to her gorgeous, drool-worthy neighbor who jogged every morning with his golden retriever at exactly eight A.M.

  Yes, the best thing that had come out of Claire Reissing’s recent divorce settlement was being awarded the beachfront house on the California coastline in San Diego. Not only was the fully furnished place all hers, but it was thousands of miles from both her lying, cheating ex-husband in New York, and a shallow, superficial way of life she’d grown to hate.

  She’d happily traded in sophisticated chic for casual attire, humidity for dry heat, and carefully planned-out days for a spontaneity that made her feel vibrantly alive. She no longer had anyone she had to answer to. Didn’t need to get anyone’s approval on how she spent her afternoon. She did what she wanted, when she pleased, and experienced no guilt or remorse for enjoying herself.

  In other words, she loved everything about her new life. But, admittedly, there were a few things she did miss now that she was single again. Such as male companionship, sex that was for pleasure rather than a sense of duty, and an orgasm that wasn’t self-induced. Unfortunately, it had been a very, very long time since she’d been the object of a man’s lustful affection or attention. But despite all that, she was still holding out hope that her sixteen months of celibacy would soon come to an end, and that one day she’d experience the kind of hot, uninhibited sex she’d read about in books and magazines.

  In the meantime, until Mr. I-want-to-have-hot-mindless-sex-with-you came into her life, she planned to enjoy the object of her lustful affections and nightly fantasies. And luckily, she was able to enjoy him daily.

  She glanced at her watch impatiently. Three more minutes and counting before the show began.

  Having purchased the beach house three years before she’d filed for divorce from Alan, she and her ex-husband had spent many vacations and weekends here in San Diego. Those visits had been enough to learn a few things about her neighbor who lived three houses away from hers. His name was Shea O’Brien and he owned the Irish pub in town, about a mile away, right on the beach. She’d gone there with Alan for appetizers and drinks a few times and Shea, having recognized the two of them, introduced himself.

  As a woman, it had been difficult not to notice just how good-looking Shea was. How confident and charming his personality was when he spoke to her. Of obvious Irish descent, his handsome features were enhanced by thick black hair and the richest, greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Eyes that had made her feel a little bit breathless just from looking into them.

  He’d been incredibly friendly, but she’d learned during the first few months of being married to Alan that her then-husb
and didn’t like it when she drew attention to herself. Even if it was unintentional, which most of the time it was. So, always the dutiful wife, she’d forced her gaze away from Shea’s and let Alan carry the conversation.

  The one thing she discovered too late about Alan was that he was a very jealous, possessive man. And even later, at the time in their marriage when it was becoming increasingly clear that he no longer wanted or desired her, it was also equally apparent that he didn’t want anyone else to so much as look at her with even the smallest tinge of interest.

  During their five years of marriage she’d come to learn that her attorney husband liked to acquire expensive and beautiful things. Like a monstrosity of a home. Rich, elegant, custom-made furnishings. Rare artwork and antiques and high-priced electronic gadgets. The latest, greatest sports car. And a wife he could dress up in sophisticated couture and extravagant jewelry—all in an attempt to make him the envy of his clients and colleagues.

  Unfortunately, all those tangible items were easily exchanged or upgraded, and Alan did so often. When he lost interest in his latest purchase, he’d replace it with something newer and better to satisfy his ostentatious nature. So, it had only been a matter of time before he’d grown bored with her and traded Claire in for a gorgeous younger woman he could mold to his ideal expectations.

  Claire took a drink of her coffee, remembering the day she found out that Alan was sleeping with another woman, and had been for months. Instead of being devastated by his lies and infidelity, she’d been strangely relieved that their sham of a marriage was finally over and she was free to pursue her own interests and life. Like designing and creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, and finally having the freedom and confidence to sign a contract with a local jeweler in San Diego to sell her items on a consignment basis.

  The sound of a dog barking drew Claire’s attention back to the beach. She first caught sight of Shea’s retriever, Goldie, as she galloped playfully through the frothy waves breaking on the shore. Then came a full-blown view of the man himself as he stepped down the stairs leading from his deck and headed toward the water.

  A giddy sensation settled in Claire’s belly and made her heart beat faster in her chest. She knew her reaction was like a schoolgirl with a secret crush, but she just couldn’t help herself, especially since Shea had become the leading man who starred in her nightly fantasies. Seeing him half naked was sure to arouse any woman’s desires and libido. Even if it was only from a distance.

  He wore a pair of dark blue running shorts and nothing else to cover that magnificent body of his. His broad, lightly muscled chest was bare and tanned a warm shade of brown from the sun, and his legs were long and powerful looking. In addition to his daily run, he also surfed regularly, which no doubt helped keep him in shape, too.

  And she was reaping the benefits of all that hard work—albeit visually. He was athletic and virile and built like a god. One she wanted to worship in the very worst way.

  A soft, wistful sigh escaped her lips.

  Once he reached the wet sand, he began jogging along the length of beach, which stretched out for a few miles on either side of their houses. The sun glinted off his skin and the breeze ruffled through his dark, tousled hair, much as her fingers itched to do. As he passed her place, he glanced her way and grinned and waved, as he did every morning. Smiling, she returned the unspoken hello with a wave of her own.

  She continued to watch him run with Goldie by his side, until he was nothing more than a stick figure in the far distance and there was nothing left to ogle. Finished with her coffee and her morning’s entertainment, she stood and went back inside the house. After washing out her mug, she parked herself on the tall stool in front of the drafting table where she designed her jewelry.

  The beach house had an extra room for her to use as an office, but the window faced the front of the house and the driveway. Instead, she’d decided to place the worktable in the corner of the living room where she could glance out the sliding glass door that led to the deck and have an unobstructed view of the beach and ocean at any given time. She couldn’t think of a more pleasant, relaxing way to spend her workdays.

  Zoey, the gray tabby cat she’d found as a kitten a few years ago and took in as a pet, jumped onto the table and greeted her with a rumbling, precocious meow. Then she promptly laid down on Claire’s drawings and rolled onto her back for a belly rub. Laughing, Claire obliged the love-able feline.

  But Zoey was a frisky, playful cat, and before long she was back on her feet, batting at a pencil and chasing it across the table until she succeeded in swatting it right off the surface and onto the floor. She jumped down and pounced on the object before it could roll away, and wasn’t at all happy when Claire bent down and took the pencil away from her.

  “That’s my favorite pencil, Zoey-Girl, and I need it to sketch my drawings,” Claire said, and placed the writing instrument in a drawer to keep it safe. “You’ve already lost two others and this is the last one I have like this. Sorry.”

  Zoey’s whiskers twitched indignantly, showing Claire just how miffed she was that her toy had been taken away, no matter the reason. Grinning at the feline’s put-out attitude, she tossed a catnip mouse across the hardwood floor, and that was all it took for Zoey to forget about the pencil. The cat went skidding after the toy, lured in by the scent of the intoxicating herbs.

  Settling in to work, Claire retrieved a fourteen-karat white gold casting of a pendant she’d designed and poured loose diamonds and gemstones from a pouch onto a velvet-lined tray. She’d recently bought a parcel of gemstones that included tanzanite, garnet, emerald, and all shades of sapphire, including a rare and incredibly expensive Padparadsha. She was saving that two-carat beauty for a gorgeous cocktail ring she’d designed. She was just waiting for the casting to be finished to complete the exquisite treasure.

  She spent over three hours securing diamonds and an oval pink sapphire into a simple yet elegant pendant setting. When she was done, she had another unique, custom-made piece ready to take to the jewelers to add to her consignment collection that was already selling very well at the exclusive store.

  Lifting her hands over her head, she stretched her stiff back and rolled her shoulders, thinking a leisurely swim sounded good. It was nearly noon, and already it was promising to be a hot June day, which made a dip in the ocean and a bit of sunbathing sound incredibly appealing.

  Fifteen minutes later, she was making her way across the sun-warmed sand, wearing a one-piece swimsuit and a large terry towel over her arm.

  One of the things she loved about where her house was located was the fact that it was situated in a way that made it difficult for visitors to get to the beach in front of her place, and her neighbors’, so there was much more privacy than all the other local, public beaches in the area. With it being a weekday, there were only a few people around—most of whom were lying on lounge chairs and listening to their iPods while soaking up the sun’s rays.

  Dropping her towel on the sand, she strolled down to the water and kept walking into the ocean despite the initial chill to her skin. Once she was deep enough, she dove into a small approaching wave and swam out a few yards, then back again. Her body quickly adjusted to the temperature of the water as she continued swimming. She dove under another wave, and when she came back up for air, she glanced over her shoulder and realized that she was floating farther and farther away from the shore.

  A frisson of panic swept through her, and she immediately started back toward the beach. But instead of making any headway in that direction, for every stroke she made forward, she seemed to drift three feet back. Add to that the waves that were cresting around her and pulling her into what seemed like an inescapable vortex, and she quickly grew tired of fighting the strong current.

  Despite how weak her arms and legs were beginning to feel, she fought to stay afloat and yelled toward the shore for help—and ended up with a mouthful of salty water. She coughed and tried again, her voice nothing
more than a hoarse croak of sound mingling with the fear rising within her. In the distance she heard the sound of a barking dog, but knew that wasn’t going to save her.

  She couldn’t believe what was happening. She’d finally gotten her life back, and now she was going to drown.


  Shea piled a heap of shaved turkey breast onto his sandwich, added a second slice of bread, and was just about to take a bite of his lunch when the persistent barking of his dog, Goldie, demanded he find out what had her so excited. She was probably chasing seagulls, which was a favorite pastime of hers.

  He headed out onto the deck, intent on calling Goldie in from the beach so she didn’t annoy the sun-worshipers out there. But instead of playing with the birds who were scrounging for crumbs of food in the sand, his golden retriever was running anxiously back and forth along the shore, right where the water lapped at her paws.

  He whistled for her, loud and sharp, and she stopped and glanced back at him. Normally, she’d immediately obey his command to return home, but this time she didn’t. She resumed her unrelenting barking again, her attention focused on something out in the water.

  Frowning, Shea glanced farther out and finally saw the person that was trying to call for help, a good fifty yards out in the ocean. A bobbing head just breaking the surface, and weak attempts to tread water while fighting the current sucking the person out to sea.

  Immediately realizing that the person was caught in a riptide, Shea didn’t hesitate. He was already in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and he quickly kicked off his shoes before vaulting over the deck railing. He hit the sand running.