Summertime Blue: A Blue Mountain Novella
A brief interlude just before Christmas was supposed to be more than that. That was what Nathan Sinclair imitated to Meghan Carstens when they said goodbye, and she believed him. She should’ve known it was a lie and that Nathan will prove to be an asshole just like all the others she dated before. When they met again a few months later, Meghan accepts it is over. Nathan ignores her as if the time they spent on Twin Peaks over the summer, never happened. She does the same, even though it hurts.
Meghan belongs to an industry Nathan abhors. Apart from his mother and his sister, he vowed never to have anything to do with someone aspiring to be a model, designer or a journalist. He was burned once too often. Why then does he feel this compelling attraction to the sultry fashion designer?
When the truth emerges, will Meghan give Nathan another chance?
Release date: January 14, 2019
Publisher: Francine Beaton
Print pages: 128
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Summertime Blue: A Blue Mountain Novella
Nathan closed his eyes, filling his lungs with the fresh sea air. There was no doubt about it. There was just something about a late afternoon in December that made Cape Town so unique—unlike any other place in the world.
Here on the terrace of the five-star hotel next to the yacht club, the ocean was only metres away. The waves crashed against the rocks, and the saltiness of the air lingered on your tongue. Faint drops of spray kiss your skin now and again as the light summer breeze carried it to the veranda.
He leaned his head back, feeling the sun warming his skin and sighed. He had missed this during his years away. Why the hell did he wait so long before he returned? Although it had been his choice, he now regretted it. It had been way too long, but now he was back, at last.
The sudden low ripple of a woman’s laughter sounded behind him, pulling him out of his relaxed thoughts. The sound, low and incredibly sexy, sent a similar ripple down his spine.
Nathan shifted when his body reacted to it in an obvious, but almost forgotten manner. He sat still, breathed in deep before he attempted to analyse the effect it had on him. When last had that happened? Nathan snorted. It must’ve been so long ago he couldn’t remember.
And if that was what the sound of the woman’s laughter could do to him, could her looks do it too?
Unable to resist any longer, he raised his head and turned to the direction of the sound.
Then he saw her, hovering with the waiter at the doors leading to the patio. He couldn’t miss her. Nobody could. She was beautiful and all that, but it was more because she was one of those women who would stand out in a crowd.
Nathan had a brief opportunity to enjoy the sight of her without her being aware of it.
Her laugh hadn’t belied her face. The dark hair and the dark, chocolaty brown eyes, the full lips and the flawless skin all screamed sultrily, but when you saw her smile, it belied that first impression. Though not wide, it was enough to show she was a woman who laughed often and, giving an impression of the girl-next-door. She was also sexy, beautiful and too young—much younger than him anyway, and therefore off-limits.
It didn’t change the fact that this was the kind of woman Nathan wouldn’t mind having a fling with, but it was a crazy idea. That might only happen in his wildest dreams. This woman wouldn’t be up for it, and a fling was all he would’ve time for in the next few months.
He watched amused as the poor waiter hung onto every word she spoke, unaware that he’d have no chance in hell with a woman like that. Hell, Nathan didn’t blame him. He would’ve been doing the same if he was in this man’s shoes.
Although he could still dream that’s where it would stay. Reasons were plenty of which the age difference would make it top of the list. He didn’t have to judge her age. He had eyes to see. He was way too old for her.
Time might be another problem. He didn’t think he would even have time for a fling, so building a relationship in his hectic schedule for the next year was out of the question.
So, a woman as young and beautiful as the one talking to the waiter? He shook his head. It was not going to happen.
The knowledge that he wouldn’t be able to take anything further with her didn’t stop him from sliding his glance over her body, appreciating the curves ensconced in a burnt-orange sundress.
Sultry might not be the only way to describe her. High-maintenance might be another one. He was not an expert but even he recognised the expensive cut of her casual dress which ended way above her knees, exposing endless golden-tanned legs. The designer handbag and shoes in bronze complimented the dress to perfection but the price tag of her accessories was irrelevant. Everyone could see that she didn’t buy that at a chain store’s red-dot sale.
He allowed himself one more lingering gaze to appreciate the lithe body before he brought his eyes back to her face, only to notice that the waiter was pointing in his direction.
His breath hitched as she turned her head towards him, meeting his eyes with a small smile curling at the corners of her mouth. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and walked in his direction.
No, this woman didn’t walk. She glided over the tiled floor, oblivious of the envious looks of the other women on the veranda and the appraising looks of the men.
Almost belatedly, Nathan noticed that she was heading straight towards him, and he sat up as realisation struck him. He hoped he was wrong, but subconsciously the knowledge hit him like a sledgehammer. The woman, who was fast approaching him was Jennifer’s friend Meghan Carstens. He volunteered to meet her and keep her company until his siblings arrived with Jennifer, a future employee and his younger brother, Reid’s friend.
As she approached and he could see her features in more detail, Nathan realised something else. This woman screamed trouble. Because, apart from her age, she might still somehow ticked all the boxes on his long list of requirements for a potential partner. And judging by her looks alone, she might also be a woman he couldn't resist for long.
When she got close to him, Nathan further realised that since they made eye contact, neither of them had looked away.
He groaned when he stood up.
Yep, deep, trouble.
She stopped in front of him; the dark eyes still assessing him as she had since their eyes met for the first moment.
Nathan cleared his throat and held out his hand, “Meghan?”
When she nodded, smiling, Nathan murmured, “I’m Nathan Sinclair. I’m pleased to meet you.”
She shocked the living daylights out of him when, instead of shaking his hand the customary way, she folded the fingers of her right hand over his fingers. The boldness of the action and the heat of her hand shot straight to his groin and then she said only his name. “Nathan.”
Her voice was as sultry as her laugh. Nathan wouldn’t mind hearing her breathed his name just like that, in his bed. Thinking about it was enough to shoot the heat surrounding him up by twenty degrees—as if the temperature of a mid-December day was not enough.
Nathan pulled his hand away, turning from her and pulled out a chair for her. He needed to sit. If he had to stand there much longer, he wouldn’t be able to hide the effect she had on him.
The afternoon breeze ruffled his hair. It was a godsend, cooling his libido—until his gaze returned to Meghan. She’d thrown back her head and sat with her eyes closed while she breathed in the salty sea air, oblivious to the world. The breeze had lifted her hair, and a couple of wayward strands clung to her lips.
His fingers itched to wipe the strands away from her mouth but that was not all he wanted to do. He would’ve liked to have his lips follow his fingers, sliding his mouth over hers until it…
Nathan cursed under his breath and shifted. That was no way to keep his libido under control.
The waiter chose that moment to come and take their order. Nathan could’ve kissed him. The man was still so fascinated with Meghan that he first spoke to her, giving Nathan a chance to gather his wits. When the waiter turned to him, Nathan’s voice still sounded far too husky when he ordered a beer.
Friday afternoon traffic on the N2 into the city was always a nightmare. Most of the time there was only one lane available and today it was worse. An accident close to the airport had closed both lanes and people were stuck for goodness how long. Nathan hoped it would clear soon so his siblings and Jennifer could join him before he did something stupid.
It was fortunate that he had a meeting in the city this morning and had stayed in the family’s townhouse to avoid the early morning traffic otherwise he would’ve been in the same position as his siblings. It meant, however, that he had no other option than to entertain Meghan Carstens until the others arrive.
If he got to know her better, he might not be attracted. What if she was an airhead or a genius? He never felt attracted to women in either extreme.
Well, that was apart from his ex who had been a complete diddy. He should never have gotten involved with her. His only excuse was that he was young, stupid and naïve, and he had used a different part of his anatomy to decide on marriage. At least it ended before he reached the altar, but he had learned a hard lesson. He knew better now. He won’t fall for a beautiful face again.
When the waiter brought their drinks, Nathan picked up his glass. He wanted to say something witty when he held out his glass to her, but Meghan was quicker. She clinked her glass against his and said with a smile, “To new friends.”
Friends? Hah, there was no way he could only be friends with this woman, but he didn’t want to scare her away—not yet anyway.
He lifted his glass and clinked it against hers. His silence didn’t seem to bother Meghan, because she took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh air, and sighed in appreciation, “Oh, this is great. I needed this.”
“You’re on holiday?” Nathan asked.
“Not yet, but I’m taking a break with Jen from the day after tomorrow. I just had a crazy day and this is relaxing. What about you?”
“I have a brief break until after New Year,” Nathan admitted.
“So, what do you do?” Meghan asked before Nathan could think of a question of his own.
“I’ll be the High-Performance Manager for a new rugby franchise in Stellenbosch called the Winelands Rugby Union.”
“Oh, you’ll be working with Jennifer,” Meghan stated.
Nathan sounded curt, but he wasn’t ready yet to share he and his brothers, Luke and Reid, were the owners of the franchise. He would be Jennifer’s boss but then, Meghan might know that anyway. It would be a useless remark, almost as if he was bragging.
Before Meghan could reply, Nathan asked, “How long have you and Jennifer been friends?”
Meghan laughed, the sound again sending ripples down his spine, “Since high school.”
“I don’t know Jennifer well. I’ve seen her twice with Reid though. Do you also live in Johannesburg?” Nathan asked.
Geez, he was out of touch with the dating game. His questions sounded more like an interrogation than the friendly chitchat he would’ve wanted.
“I used to but now live in Knysna, or I should rather say I am living there now, but not for long. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling to Johannesburg and Cape Town during the last two years, so I consider moving here next year. That is one of the reasons for my visit, to check things out and build up contacts. It’s difficult but if you want to succeed, you have little choice,” Meghan grimaced.
“What kind of business are you in if I may ask?” Nathan asked.
“I’m a fashion designer. I hope to put out two new lines next year,” Meghan answered and, oblivious that Nathan was not listening anymore, she carried on. The first sentence was enough for him to switch off as his brain stuck with the words “fashion designer.”
Hell, could Reid or Luke not have warned him? He wouldn’t have been here, in this woman’s company, if he knew what she did for a living. It didn’t matter if he grew up with women’s fashion, he had a passionate dislike in the industry and anyone, apart from his mother and sister, that had anything to do with it. Blame it on his ex and his friend Nicholas’ ex and all the other women just like them.
Without realising it, Nathan scowled at Meghan. He had difficulty containing his anger. He clenched his teeth, trying to keep control before he lashed out her. For safety’s sake, he put his glass back on the table before he breaks it.
Somehow, Meghan must’ve noticed something was wrong as she trailed off to watch him in concern. She put her hand on his arm, and Nathan hoicked it away, scowling at her. She asked, confused, “What’s wrong? Is it something I said?”
“Damn right,” he hissed. “Let me tell you now: No, I can’t help you. I won’t introduce you to anyone. Do your own damn business.”
“You heard me. This whole arrangement wasn’t necessary. You’re wasting your time. I will not sleep with you so I can help you build up your contacts,” Nathan grunted.
Meghan’s smile disappeared, and she stared at him with a frown.
She stood up in one fluid movement, picking up her purse from the table. She opened her wallet, took out cash and threw it on the table in front of Nathan, not caring whether the sea breeze would blow it away.
Only then did she look back at Nathan. She leaned closer to him—so close he could smell her subtle perfume. Her breath blew warm against his skin when she hissed, “I don’t know who the hell you think you are but let me tell you something, Mister. I don’t need you, nor your contacts to build my business. I never had to sleep with anyone to get where I am, and I will not start with you. I’m quite particular with whom I allow in my bed. I don’t sleep with arrogant, conceited pricks who think every woman wants to jump into their bed. They’re lousy lovers and I’m far better off without them.”
She straightened up, “I won’t embarrass you in front of your family. I’ll make an excuse for why I couldn’t make it. Have a nice life, Mr Sinclair.”
Before Nathan could react, Meghan left.
He inhaled, wondering if he made a terrible mistake. Meghan didn’t look like his refusal to help bothered her so she might tell the truth. Or maybe she was just a good actress.
Nathan hesitated. Maybe he should go after her and apologise?
He shook his head. He could apologise, but it won’t change anything. She would still be an aspiring fashion designer, and he the man who had to endure too many advances from women who thought he could be their gateway to his mother or sister.
It sucked having a mother who was the owner and editor of one of the most prominent fashion magazines in the country and a sister who was the director of the Winelands Fashion Week.
His phone vibrated with an incoming message. It was Luke, again apologising they were late, but at least the traffic was moving. According to Luke, they were just going to drop Jennifer at the hotel before they would head for the family’s townhouse in Camps Bay. Nathan didn’t have to wait any longer as Jennifer’s friend had sent a message she wouldn’t make it.
Nathan sighed. He wished he had gotten this message an hour ago before this disastrous meeting. He signalled for the waiter and settled his bill. On the way to his car, he left the invitations for the following evening’s cocktail evening at the hotel’s reception for Jennifer.
Meghan was fuming. Who the hell did the man think he was? She never had to do the things Nathan accused her of, and she wouldn’t do it now. Whom did he anyway know who could help her? She didn’t know of any Sinclair in the fashion industry.
Not that she needed it. It took her five years to get where she was now, and it only came through hard work.
Okay, maybe luck had a lot to do with it because she had one lucky break two years ago. That chance she grabbed with both hands, and with hard work and sheer determination, she’d made it. She would do it all over again, without doing what he insinuated.
She gritted her teeth. She hadn’t been so angry with anyone for a long time. Nathan Sinclair knew nothing about her or her business, but he made assumptions about her. He would be the last man she wanted in her bed.
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Meghan frowned when she admitted she’d noticed Nathan long before the waiter had pointed him out. She had been early and had stood at the railing, overlooking the sea to let the fresh air clear her mind. When she had turned to enter the restaurant, she had seen him, although he couldn’t see her.
He looked to be somewhere in his mid-thirties, an age that appealed to Meghan. She liked confident, assertive men who were a few years older. At that age, most men had been around the block a couple of times. They would know what they wanted or didn’t want in life and wouldn’t hesitate to let you know.
She snorted. Oh yeah, Nathan Sinclair voiced his opinion but she didn’t like it. Not one bit.
For one or the other reason, they had rubbed each other up the wrong way. If she had a choice, she would’ve liked to do another kind of rubbing with him. Realising where her thoughts were going, she groaned. A couple admiring the sunset turned to watch her with concern and she flushed. She gave them an embarrassed way and hurried away.
As soon as she did, her thoughts returned to Nathan. She didn’t know why it did. Maybe it was because she would’ve liked to get to know him better. When he stood, and she realised who he was, she was undecided. Should she bolt, or should she try to get closer? Another glimpse at his face had been the decider. He was gorgeous, so she stayed.
Not only was he gorgeous to look at, but he had a body that would make many younger men envy him. The cream chinos and button-down shirt couldn’t hide his muscled legs and torso. He had rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, exposing his arms.
The tanned skin, blue shirt and dark hair all worked together to bring out the bright blue of his eyes. She even found his beard attractive, which surprised her. She was not a fan of facial hair, but it suited Nathan.
Nathan Sinclair was like a good, red wine ageing well. He might be even more devastating in his forties and fifties. So yes, she would’ve liked to get to know him better if it wasn’t for his anger. He was an arrogant prick, and she would do well to stay away as far as possible from the man. She now wished she hadn’t bothered meeting him.
Jennifer’s message she was at the hotel stopped her musings. Reid and his siblings had left and Meghan exhaled. She didn’t fancy seeing Nathan’s siblings.
Fifteen minutes later, Meghan joined her best friend at the hotel bar. That’s when she got excited again about the idea of moving to Cape Town. With Jennifer living in Stellenbosch, it would mean she could spend more time with her friend, something she had missed the last two years.
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