I’m swiveling back and forth, searching the crowd for Harley.
“Hey, short stuff.” A deep voice slices into my thoughts from over my right shoulder.
I slowly turn around, meeting Harley’s smiling face. I may have been short once, but now I am five-foot-eight, not exactly below-average height.
I take in Harley. He’s tall—six-four, at least—and gorgeous with light brown, short hair; tanned skin; and does he have some ink work on his arms? I’m normally very curious about tattoos, but now isn’t the time to look.
I know I’m looking him up and down, but it’s been so long, and he has changed. The softer boy features have been replaced by a big, muscular, chiseled man.
“Wow, is that really you, Harley Madden?” I’m drinking him in. I don’t remember Harley being so big and buff. His charcoal t-shirt molds tightly to his chest like a second skin. He wasn’t this muscular the last time I saw him. His belted, black jeans and boots complete his handsome look that has quite a few people in the crowd appraising him. He looks a little dangerous in his dark clothing. He would make Will purr like the cat who got the cream. I must admit, even I’m a little taken back.
He leans in and grabs me in a bear hug, lifting me off the ground, leaving me a little breathless. My face is nestled in his neck, catching his scent of cologne and soap.
“Okay, big guy, you can stop squeezing the life out of me now,” I try to breathe out. He loosens his hold and slowly let’s go while I take a step back.
“You look amazing, Harley.” I find myself smiling. It feels good. I was worried about feeling awkward meeting Harley again after so long, but something just clicks. He was my brother’s best friend, and I’ve known him all my life. “It’s been a long time.”
“I could say the same about you. I might have to start calling you Faith.” He flashes me an amused grin, showing me perfect, white teeth and a dimple.
The baggage carousel starts up and everybody squeezes in tighter, trying to jockey for a position to get their luggage when it appears.
“Whoa!” I’m already beginning to feel less nervous having Harley here with me when I’m suddenly knocked off balance. Harley’s left arm snags me around the waist, bringing me up against his hard side. He shoots the person beside me a dirty look. Some people really do need to chill out when they travel.
I step away from him when I notice my case coming towards me.
Harley stops me with a gentle, firm hand on my arm. “I’ll get it for you, which one?”
With one, bright blue suitcase and camera bag in his hands, Harley walks me out the sliding doors of the airport and we cross to the parking garage.
The sun is shining, and my grey hoodie jacket is making me too hot. I unzip it, taking it off as I’m walking, revealing a tight white tank top. Much cooler.
Harley is staring at my chest and nearly trips over. I roll my eyes. You can never take the boy out of the man.
“Harley, are you finished staring?” I laugh a little at the look on his face. “So I grew up.”
“You certainly did,” he mutters and looks away. I could have sworn I heard him swear and mumble something about guard duty.
As we approach his vehicle, I’m stunned. wow! Harley has a black Hummer. I do my best to hide how surprised I am.
Harley stows my luggage in back, and then we climb in and set off.
The Hummer suits Harley; he is such a big, masculine guy.
“Beautiful car. Where to James?”
Harley slides on a pair of vintage aviator Ray Bans, giving me a superstar smile that is a heart stopper. “La Jolla. I have a place up on Vista De La Playa.” Harley then assures me we will be at his place in less than half an hour with the lunch time traffic.
The radio is playing Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” with Nelly. I put my sunglasses on, roll my window down, prop my right arm up on the open window, and hold onto the outside of the car. I can’t help tapping my fingers and nodding my head to the beat, quietly singing along as the breeze blows my hair free.
I can see Harley out of the corner of my eye, stealing glances and smiling.
We don’t talk, although it’s not uncomfortable. I think we both have a lot swimming about in our heads. I’m simply taking it all in, while he knows why I’m here. He knows this isn’t easy for me.
I pull my phone out of my bag, take a quick snap of the coastline, and text Mom and Dad, attaching the pic. I let them know Harley has me, and we are heading to his place now. I then send Will a text and tell her I’ll chat in a couple days when I have something to tell her. I don’t hear back straight away.
Holy shit is all I can think the closer we get to Harley’s place. The view of the beach is incredible. As we drive higher, I’m itching to get my camera out and ask Harley to pull over so I can take some photos. We are driving past some beautiful homes, overlooking the coast. It’s not long until we make a turn, and then he drives up a long driveway towards an unbelievable looking place.
“You sure you got the right address?” I know my mouth is gaping open.
Harley looks over at me then reaches out, gently pushing my chin up so my mouth closes.
“What did you do? Rob a bank!”
Harley lets out a full blown belly laugh, which makes me turn and stare at him. “No.”
Wow! The Hummer and now the house, or what I would call a freakin’ big, two-story, contemporary mansion. It’s beautiful.
And the view!
This is when I realize I don’t really know anything about Harley and where these guys have all ended up.
He sobers up, and I see him looking at the black and chrome Jeep Cherokee parked farther up the drive. His hands grip the steering wheel while his jaw tenses.
Something tells me I’m going to be meeting the guys sooner rather than later.
“So, is this the girlfriend, the ex-girlfriend, or the guys?” I joke because that’s all I know how to do when I feel cornered.