At the beach with Leo and Quinn

Every year, as part of the build-up to Coastal Magic, I participate in a blog series on Literary Escapism called At the Beach. I write a short scene set (where else?) at the beach, featuring two or more of my existing characters. 

I asked the Temptresses for input about who should have the starring roles this year. The response was varied . . . but I did choose one couple. I’ll share that when the post goes live on Literary Escapism. 

But there was so much interest in some of the others . . . and because this year I have time for this kind of writing . . . so I decided to share some other At the Beach posts here, featuring different couples. 

Today it’s Leo and Quinn, from the Keeping Score series. Enjoy! 

PS: The photo above was taken at the beach where I’m writing this, during a family vacation. 🙂 Talk about the perfect inspiration! 

***~~~***

“How many weekends out of the year are not in football season?”

On the blanket next to me, Leo turned his head and blinked. “What?”

I pushed to sit up, wrapping my arms around my bent legs. “How many weekends are you not playing football, or on a bye week, or in pre-season or post-season?”

My husband—and didn’t it still give me a thrill to think of Leo as my husband, a year after our wedding—sat up, too, sliding his dark sunglasses into place over those gray eyes that could make me melt or smolder at any given moment. “Uhhhh . . . I don’t know that number off the top of my head, babe.”

I lifted my shoulder. “Take a guess.”

“Okay. Four weeks of preseason, seventeen weeks of regular games . . . then you’ve got wild card, divisional

My husband and kids playing football in the surf

round if you’re lucky, conference championship if you’re really lucky . . . Pro Bowl if your team isn’t playing in the big game . . . and then the big one. The super one. I guess that’s . . . what, about 25 weeks if your team is having the kind of year we all want it to have?” He reached over to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Why do you ask? Are you thinking of renegotiating our contract?”

Leo’s voice was light, but I felt the undercurrent of worry beneath his words. In our past, football and the demands of the game had taken a toll on our relationship. But not now.

“Of course not.” I rose onto my knees, framed his face with my hands and kissed his lips. Instantly, his arms were around my waist, pulling me hard against his body, and I felt my pulse skitter into overdrive.

But now wasn’t the time—or more importantly, the place. This Florida beach was mostly private, but there were still more than a few curious onlookers, and I knew from experience that it would be all too easy for someone to capture a few frames of Leo Taylor, rising star of the Richmond Rebels, and his wife getting busy on the beach. We didn’t want or need those kinds of headlines.

So with great reluctance, I dropped back to our blanket, lacing my fingers through Leo’s as I did. “I was just thinking. We have potentially twenty-five weeks out of the year when you’ll be committed to football. Add in organized team activities, mini-camp and training camp, and we’re talking another ten weeks. More than half of our year.”

“Uh huh.” Leo nodded. “That’s true.”

“It seems to me, then, that the other weekends out of the year should be spent on the beach. I think it’s only fair.”

It took Leo a minute to process what I’d said. “Oh, really? That’s what you think? Hate to break it to you, babe, but some of those weekends could be pretty damn frigid. A good part of my off-season is in February, March and April . . . not exactly peak season for beach weather.”

“It doesn’t have to be this beach.” I grinned at him. “There are plenty of others we can explore. Think . . . Hawaii. Think the Caribbean. The Mediterranean. Go big, baby.”

“Hmmmm.” He frowned, but I knew that he was just playing with me. “Let’s think about this. If I agree to spend all my non-football time on a beach with you, does that mean you’ll wear sexy little bathing suits like this one all the time?” One of his talented fingers skimmed the edge of my bikini top, making my nipples pucker. Leo noticed that, of course, and one eyebrow quirked with interest.

“I think that can be arranged,” I whispered, linking my hands together behind his neck and pressing myself into his solid warmth. “Just imagine the savings in my clothing budget, if I only have to worry about beachwear during the off-season.”

“I’m thinking about it right now.” His lips were next to my ear. “I’m also thinking about that project we’ve been talking about starting . . . project Taylor, the next generation? How do you feel about telling our daughter or son that she or he was conceived on the beach?”

I giggled. “I believe having a story that embarrasses your offspring is a requirement for parents. Our parents have that one down, for sure.”

“True.” Leo’s hands inched lower until they covered my ass, griping me tight. “Mia? All this talk about the offseason has made me . . . uhhh, intrigued. Let’s go inside and talk about it some more. You know . . . in private?”

I kissed my husband’s neck. “I’m all over that plan, baby. Let’s go inside and . . . explore all the possibilities . . . deeply. Again and again and again . . .”

Leo groaned. “Killing me, babe.”

“But you love me.” I didn’t have any doubts on that front.

“Even more every single day.” His kiss was full of promise, full of the future. “Let me show you how much.”

And he did.

You can read all of Leo and Quinn’s story right here in the Keeping Score series, available at all retailers.

A Little Posse Tease

Since we’re kicking off the Summer of Beach Lovin’, I thought we’d have a little Posse tease today. If you haven’t read this sizzling beach romance, grab it now, before the next book in the Crystal Cove series comes out in late June!

The Posse

The apartment over the restaurant was tiny. When she and Daniel had moved in after their wedding, it had been romantic and fun, finding used furniture, using mismatched dishes and pots and pans handed down from their families. Close quarters hadn’t been a problem. And even after Meggie was born, she had taken up so little space, and it had been handy to leave her sleeping upstairs while Jude worked in the restaurant, baby monitor hooked to her belt.

Since they’d moved, the apartment was more of a flophouse, Jude thought as she stripped off her shorts and T-shirt in the miniscule bathroom. It was a handy place to crash when the posse hung at the Tide and maybe had had a little too much to drink. The kids used it sporadically during their summers at home.

She’d considered selling the house and moving back here, right after Daniel died. The kids and her brother had talked her out of it, arguing that if she did that, she’d never get a break from work. They probably had a point.

Jude gave into the temptation of a quick shower, knowing her sister-in-law and friends were more than capable of running the show on their own for a few extra minutes. And it felt heavenly to let the water sluice over her, feel the grease and stress of the day slide down the drain.

Dressed again in a fresh shorts and a thin cotton tank top, she sprinted down the steps and ran smack into Logan.

She’d seen him that morning, of course, as she had opened up, but tonight he too was freshly showered, dressed in jeans and a white polo shirt that brought out a deep tan. His light brown hair was damp as it fell across his forehead.

He grabbed her arm to steady her. “Whoa, there. Where’s the fire?”

Jude felt that same disturbing skitter in her heartbeat that had been showing up whenever she saw him lately.

Logan, she reminded herself. This is just Logan, one of my best friends.

“The fire better be in my kitchen, under some burgers.” To prove to herself that she could, Jude tiptoed and kissed Logan’s cheek. “Glad you’re here. Ready to see my plan spring into action?”

Logan released her arm, frowning. Jude wondered if she’d upset him with the kiss.

“Seeing as neither of the necessary parties are here yet, I think I have a little while before show time.”

Now it was Jude’s brow that furrowed. “Matt’s not here yet? Or Sandra? Are you sure? I told them both five.” She scanned the room.  “It’s twenty after.”

Logan shrugged. “I heard there was traffic on the bridge. Maybe that hung up your friend.” His eyes lingered on Jude’s damp hair, wandered down her neck, making her acutely aware of the small rise of her breasts visible at the top of the tank.

She shook her head to clear it. “Did you get a drink yet? Sam’s supposed to be making one for me.” She didn’t wait for an answer but turned to head for the bar.

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