The roar of the ocean called like a lullaby. With anticipation building, her feet traveled faster and faster until she broke into a trot, then a run, then a sprint. She followed the intriguing sound, and moments later stood face to face with the magnificent Pacific Ocean.
The blue-green water extended out as far as she could see, and the bright blue sky stretched over the ocean like a blanket. The setting sun looked like a giant orange ball that could be tossed on the white caps of the waves. Megan’s eyes widened in amazement at the spectacular sight. The view was more breathtaking than any picture she’d ever seen. Closing her eyes she inhaled the salty mist that stung her face, while a cool breeze played with her hair.
Absorbing the sights and sounds for several minutes, Megan felt transported a world away from the monotonous farm fields of Illinois. The waves lapping against the shore beckoned like an invitation. Slipping her shoes off , she tentatively walked to the edge of the shore, she squealed as the cold water washed over her bare feet. As the tide receded, a strange sucking sensation tickled her feet. Feeling as carefree as a child she ran along the shore jumping over each wave that crashed on the beach.
Breathless and exhausted, she found a soft spot to sit and rest while watching the sunset. Burrowing her numb toes into the faintly warm sand, she watched as the bright ball aligned itself on the horizon where the water and sky met.
For the first time Megan observed the presence of other people and felt a little embarrassed as she wondered if anyone had noticed her hopping and skipping along the shore.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” A voice interrupted her thoughts, disturbing her.
“Yes, it is.” A tall, thin man, clad in jeans and a blue polo shirt towered over her. She looked around to see where this handsome stranger had come from, and spotted a small group a little ways down the beach. They were lying on blankets, with rock and roll music blaring from an iPod and speakers. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,” she added.
“I have.” His brown eyes admired the childlike image she presented. The setting sun cast an amber glow that made her look angelic.
“You.” He sat down next to her.
“Do you get a lot of women with that line?”
He shrugged. “A few.”
Megan looked skeptical. “You can’t come up with something more original?”
“That is original.”
“Oh, and next you’ll be asking me if I come here often.”
His thick, blond brows shot up in amusement. Not only beautiful, she has fire too. “Well, do you?”
“No, this is my first time at the beach.” His intense stare made her feel uneasy, so she turned her attention back to the sunset.
“I’d say it’s my first time too, but I’ve lived here my whole life.” Looking at the blazing display he sighed, “This is my favorite spot in the whole world.”
“I can see why.”
He studied her pointed profile for a few minutes, and finally asked, “So what’s a lovely girl like you doing in a place like this?” His laughter echoed off the ocean.
“Watching the sunset.” The indifference in her tone strongly contrasted the way his boyish smile made her melt. She desperately tried not to be taken in by his charm. However, it had been a long time since anyone looked at her like that.
“Can I buy you dinner?” He decided to take the direct approach.
Megan studied the stranger with sun kissed blonde hair and bright brown eyes. It would be nice to make a friend, she thought. But, the last thing she needed was another complication in her life. “No, thank you.”
A gust of wind whipped some tendrils of hair loose. Without hesitation, he gently tucked them behind her ear, reluctantly pulling his hand away from the soft, silky strands.
A shiver tingled down her back. From his touch or the wind? She couldn’t tell, and couldn’t give in to this attraction. “Before we get to the cliché ‘your place or mine’, I should be going.” She stood, brushing off the sand.
He jumped up, trying to think of something to alleviate her apprehension. “Can I at least buy you a drink?”
“No, thank you.” Megan almost felt tempted to give in. “I’ve had a long day and I’m really tired.”
“You wouldn’t have to go far. We have a cooler right over there.” He pointed to the group she’d spotted earlier.
“I don’t drink, anyway.”
“We have sodas.”
“You’re persistent, aren’t you?”
“Persistence is my middle name.” He flashed a brazen smile. His perfect straight teeth gleamed against tanned skin.
“And ‘no’ is mine.”
His smile faded but he couldn’t give up that easily. “Oh, come on – what will one drink hurt?”
Her patience wore thin. Going out with him would be a mistake. She’d made enough of those lately. “Look, mister. I don’t want to have dinner or drinks with you. So please leave me alone.”
His brown eyes darkened. “You’re tired? Is that the best excuse you can come up with?”
She didn’t want to fight, having done enough of that in Illinois too. This stranger may be handsome but his forceful personality seemed to push all the wrong buttons. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is but……”
“My problem?” he erupted. “I don’t have a problem. You’re the one with a problem.”
“Yes…my problem is you!” Megan poked his chest. “I came to the beach to be alone. I’m not a trophy to be picked up by some shallow playboy.”
“Playboy!” He tried to sound offended, however, couldn’t deny it. He hadn’t been serious about a girl in years but resented her throwing it in his face. “Well, aren’t you Miss Conceited,” he fumed. “You’re not the only pretty girl in town. I can find any number of women waiting to go out with me. And they won’t be as frigid as you.”
“Since you seem to have a harem following you, I won’t be missed.” Picking up her shoes she stomped away.
He absently raked his hand through his wind-tousled hair, bewilderedly staring after her. No woman had ever given him such a cold shoulder. “Ice queen,” he muttered and joined his friends.