Rumor Has It – Excerpt


Limelight #1


Elisabeth Grace

Rumor Has It is quite possibly one of the best New Adult debuts I’ve read—ever. I loved every hip-hop minute of it and can’t wait to read the rest of the series! I devoured it, from laugh out loud funny moments to hot Mason scenes, I was begging for more by the time I finished reading. I can’t wait to see what more this talented author has up her sleeve.”

–Rachel Van Dyken #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“Sexy and sweet—Mason and Ellie are a couple you’ll want to root for.”

–Monica Murphy, NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author


All publicity is good publicity, right? Unless you’re recent college grad Ellie Wagner and an embarrassing video of you and your boyfriend goes viral. Every man in your life abandons you, but who knew a one-minute clip of your latest doomed relationship would brand you a slut, prevent you from getting your perfect job, and force you to keep doing the one thing you swore you’d never do again…live with your mother.

But staying with mom and her latest boy-toy (is this husband number four or five?) until your life turns around might not be all bad. Especially when you fall―literally―at the feet of a sexy, green-eyed stranger who offers you freedom and a life of luxury on a gold-rimmed platter.

There’s only one liiittle problem―the man of your dreams is none other than Mason Nash, the latest hip-hop star busting up the music charts. Fame and fortune are his calling cards and he’s vying to steal the show on a new reality TV series that will catapult him into mainstream stardom. Hello spotlight.

The man behind the famous persona is perfect for Ellie in every way, but can she overcome the ugly pitfalls that come with Mason’s celebrity status? Or will she be forced to choose between the man she loves and the independent life she longs for? After all, fame and fortune aren’t always what they seem and not all publicity is good publicity…


Rumor Has It

Copyright 2013 by Elisabeth Grace

ISBN: 978-0-9921068-0-5

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.


“Ellie, you shoved your pie right in his face!”

“I did not shove my pie in his face.”

“I saw the video. You really did.”

“I don’t want to talk about this, Katie,” I said.

“Can you believe your video already has forty-three million views on YouTube?”

I dropped my forehead down onto my desk. “It’s not my video,” I ground out. “And I don’t want to know how many people have seen it.”

“I think we can officially say it’s gone viral.”

I sighed. There was no use. Katie would do what Katie wanted. We’d become friends since I’d started working this crappy job, but she existed in a bubble of her own creation. She didn’t seem to pick-up on social cues. This was the third time I’d told her I had no desire to relive the humiliating video of myself.

As much as she was annoying me, I didn’t have it in me to tell her what I was thinking. Katie was a bigger girl with thick glasses. I got the sense I was one of her only friends. Which at the moment was debatable. Instead I glanced up from my computer and said, “I have to get these reports done before Jeff comes back and has a shit fit.”

“Enough said.” She grimaced, tucked a stray piece of her mousy brown hair behind her ear, and headed to the back of the building.

If there was one thing we did share an opinion on, it was our jerk of a boss. Actually, jerk might be too mild a word for him.

Pompous ass had a better ring to it.

I’d been working at his real estate office for nine months. I’d left Miami, where I went to college, to move to Virginia Beach with my mother and her latest and greatest husband, Ralph. Apparently a degree in Comparative Media Studies didn’t scream “must hire” to potential employers. I couldn’t afford to live on my own anymore.

These days I worked at Jeff’s brokerage, pushing papers, answering phones, and being his gofer the rest of the time. I was still searching for that elusive job that would lead to a career. One that would allow me to pay my own rent, buy groceries, and pay off my student loans. If I was lucky after that I’d have enough to buy myself the odd Starbucks and night out with my friends.

The roar of a car engine brought my attention to the parking lot. Speak of the devil… Jeff raced his silver Mercedes SL65 into a parking spot and slammed to a stop. He got out of the car quickly, his face flushed. Whether from the early summer heat or agitation I couldn’t tell. As he approached the doors separating the outside world from my reception desk, I saw his creased forehead and pursed lips. Definitely agitation.

As much as I would have loved to avoid being an outlet for his anger, I was one step up from a Walmart greeter. Saying hello to everyone who came through the doors of Beachside Realty was my job. If I failed my duties I might as well paint a target on the back of my blouse. Maybe if I said hello and looked busy he’d charge on past and find another victim.

Jeff almost ripped the door off the hinges and stalked inside. Show time. I began typing gibberish and concentrated really hard on the computer screen.

“Good afternoon, Jeff,” I said brightly.

He stopped in his tracks and spun on his heels to face me. “Ellie.”


“I just got a call from the housekeeper who takes care of the Oceanfront Avenue property. The idiot locked the house before putting the key back in the lockbox and now she can’t get back in. The client who rented the place is due to arrive in the next couple of hours.”

“Is there any way I can help?” I didn’t mean it, but it sounded like the kind of thing someone who really valued their job would say.

“I have a client meeting me here in twenty minutes.” He wiped sweat off his brow. “Have Katie get you the spare key from the safe. Open up the house, find the other key, and replace it in the lockbox.”

“I’d be happy to,” I said with mock enthusiasm. I’d never get through those files by the end of the day now. That beach house was a good twenty-five minute drive on a day with no traffic, never mind on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

“Go before the client gets there. This guy is a big deal.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t screw this up. I’ve had about all I can take of incompetent employees today.” He glared at me for a moment like the whole situation was somehow my fault, then stalked down the hall to his office.

I forwarded the lines to the answering service and rushed back to Katie’s office. She acted as the brokerage’s deal secretary but apparently, no transactions needed her attention today. She sat at her desk with her back to the door checking her Facebook account. I’d been avoiding my own page since some loser from my old high school had tagged me in the infamous YouTube video. Ever since my profile page had been loaded with comments from friends and strangers alike giving their unwanted opinion on the whole ordeal.

“Hey.” She almost jumped off her seat. It must have been a good day on her news feed if I’d startled her. She swiveled in her chair to face me. “I heard Jeff’s voice. You survive?”

I closed the door for privacy. “Oh, I wasn’t the main target—just collateral damage. I need the key for the Oceanfront Avenue property. The housekeeper locked the key inside and another client is due to arrive.”

“I wish I could get out of this office and go see a million dollar beach house.”

“You’re welcome to take my place,” I deadpanned.

“Sorry. Busy.”

Busy, right. With Facebook.

I drove my shit-box car as hard as I could but it seemed the harder I pressed the gas, the slower it went. I didn’t want to risk it overheating and end up on the side of the expressway. Traffic wasn’t too bad until I got closer to the ocean. The air conditioning didn’t work, of course. It was the hottest it’d been all damn year so the windows were down. With traffic barely moving I knew it was going to get even more unbearable. I grabbed one of the elastics I left in the console for such occasions and quickly arranged my hair into a ponytail.

My phone rang. I kept my eyes on the road and reached over to hit the speaker phone button.


“Hi, sweetie, it’s Mom.”

This was so not what I need right now. It’d been an aggravating afternoon and a conversation with my mother would only add to it. “What’s up, Mom?”

“Honey, sorry. I know you’re busy.”

“It’s okay, but I only have a few minutes.” By the sound of her voice this was going to be another talk-Mom-off-the-ledge conversation.

“Okay, I’ll be quick. When I got up this morning Ralph was already gone. I’ve called his cell phone and he’s not answering.”

“And this is a big deal because…?” My mother had a knack for creating drama where there was none.

“We have a morning routine. We get up, make love while we shower, and afterward I make him breakfast. There’s got to be something wrong if he left without saying a word. He’s never done that.” She also had a knack for sharing too much information.

“I’m sure it’s nothing, Mom. He probably had an early tee-off time and didn’t want to wake you.”

“But why not? Do you think he’s cheating on me?”

“No. Maybe there’s a problem at the dealership and he had to leave in a hurry. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose. He probably forgot to charge his phone.”

My mother’s latest husband owned a few car dealerships throughout the state. He pretty much let his sons run the day-to-day operations and only got called in when his opinion or his check book was needed.

“I do always have to remind him to charge his phone…”

“See, I’m sure that’s all it is. Now don’t worry. You’ll probably hear from him soon.”

“You’re right. I’m worrying over nothing.”

“There you go.”

“Why are you out of the office right now? I called there first and it went to the service.”

I sighed. “I need to drop a key off at one of the rental houses.”

“Why do you insist on working at that place? You should take Ralph up on his offer to work at one of his dealerships.”

“I can do this on my own. I don’t need any hand-outs from your husband.” I didn’t add the fact that I wasn’t like her; I wasn’t going to rely on a man to make things happen for me. Still, I couldn’t wait to get a better job so I could move back out on my own. How had I ended up as a boomerang kid?

“Fine, suit yourself.” She paused for a moment and I knew we were venturing into territory I didn’t want to discuss. “You know, I was on YouTube this morning reading some comments on that video—”

“I don’t want to talk about the damn video.”

“Oh, honey. My cell is ringing. Maybe it’s him.”

She hung up before I could say anything. More than fine with me. I’d done my daughterly duty for the day. I’d certainly had enough practice over the years. During my freshman year at college I’d taken a week off school to nurse her back to sanity when her fourth marriage fell apart. Yep, fourth.

The turn-off leading to the beach house came into view. A drunk must have run over the street sign. The metal pole lay almost perpendicular to the ground. Thank God it wasn’t far now. Sweat began to drip down the middle of my back, making my blouse stick to my spine. Was it possible for this day to get any more annoying?

I pulled into the driveway of the beach house and got out of the car. The sun’s rays glistened off the predominantly glass structure. I held my arm across my brow as I approached, then took the steps leading up to the wraparound deck at a frantic pace—keenly aware of the clock ticking down to the client’s arrival. I reached the top and bent at the waist, trying to suck in some oxygen. Because of my quick metabolism I didn’t pack any extra weight. That didn’t mean shit when you couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without feeling like you’d run a marathon.

After a minute or two the light-headedness subsided enough that I stood upright. I followed the deck around the house to find the main door. Indeed, the lockbox hung open on the handle, empty. I reached into my purse for the key and put it into the lock. It wouldn’t budge. I tried and tried but the metal just dug into my finger. Desperate, I snatched the key out, thrust it back in, and gave it another go.

Katie must have given me the wrong key, or maybe it wasn’t cut properly. Who knew if they’d ever used this one before? If I didn’t get this door opened before the client showed up the situation would become my fault. Not the housekeeper’s, mine. I’d worked for Jeff long enough to see his temper lead to impromptu firings. That would only set me further back. Not an option. I was getting in this house somehow.

I followed the deck around to the back where the house faced the ocean. The Atlantic looked fairly peaceful. No whitecaps, just the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore where water met white sand. A couple of patio sets and chaise lounges sat before the pool and spa overlooking the beach. Apparently the rich didn’t like getting sand on their feet and preferred to sit in a sterile pool with a beach view. There were several sets of French doors along the back of the house. I tried them all. Locked.

That left only one choice. There was a small window on the side of the house. I dragged a chair across the deck and placed it below the small rectangular window, praying that since it was high no one had thought to lock it. Setting my purse down, I removed my heels and stood on top of the chair. Of course I’d chosen to wear a pencil skirt today. How perfect. I hiked the beige fabric up my thighs and stretched up to the window. At first it didn’t move but when I put more force into it, it finally gave.

“Yes, thank God.” I removed the screen and grimaced. Now the fun part. I wasn’t a big girl but it’d be a tight squeeze. Still, I was confident I’d make it. I didn’t have any other choice.

It took several tries before I managed to get my arms onto the window ledge. I was sweating profusely and cursing the fact that I never found the time to work out. My biceps shook with fatigue but my waist was resting on the window lip. Halfway there.

The window was barely wide enough for me to fit through; maneuvering around enough to get in the house feet first wasn’t going to happen. The ceramic tile floor was directly below me and the toilet was to the left.

I’d have to go head first, hoping to break the fall with my hands and not my neck.

Breathing was difficult with the window sill jammed into my midsection, but I gulped one breath down and used my hands to push off. Nothing happened. I didn’t have enough upper body strength to propel my bottom half up. The second time I used my feet on the outside wall to get some leverage.

It worked a little too well. I fell forward. My skirt caught on something, and I heard the audible rip as I hurled to the floor below. I bashed my head off the toilet and lay sprawled on the bathroom floor.

All I could think of was how pissed Jeff was going to be if I didn’t get that key in the lockbox and scram before the client arrived. I remained on the floor for a minute. My wrist was sore, and my head was pounding but I was inside.

I lifted my forehead off the cold ceramic tile and my vision blurred. I blinked a few times to clear the curious image before me. Eventually my vision focused. A pair of men’s sandals were still in front of me.


I’d been in the beach house I’d rented for all of ten minutes and already a crazy fangirl had found me. How’d she even know I’d be here? Maybe she didn’t know. I’d parked my rental car in the garage. Either way, if my manager booked the rental under my real name he’d fucking hear about it.

I took in the sight of the girl sprawled on the bathroom tiles. It was clear she’d broken in through the window and somehow lost the lower half of her outfit in the process. I was okay with that. Her yellow thong left little to the imagination. She groaned and attempted to see through the mass of a brown ponytail.

Dealing with an overzealous groupie was nothing new to me. I’d never had an actual crazy chick pursue me, but I suppose there was bound to be a first time. My manager always warned me I needed to take my personal security more seriously. “Better safe than sorry” he’d say, and I guess he was right.

“You okay?” I asked.

She didn’t say anything but slowly moved into a sitting position. She wore a fitted blouse so I could see she wasn’t packing any weapons. Unless a pair of full C cups counted. She lifted her head and her long ponytail swung out of her face, revealing a set of doe-brown eyes. They didn’t appear to be fully focused.

“The cops are on their way,” I said.

That got her attention. Her eyes widened and she scrambled to use the lid on the toilet to hoist herself upright. On her feet, she gripped the marble counter beside her. Her orange toenail polish practically glowed. My gaze traveled up the olive skin of her legs to the apex of her thighs. Her entire body stiffened. The show was over.

“Oh god,” she said. She whirled to grab at the skirt hanging from the window and gave it a few good yanks. It didn’t budge. She must have realized she was on display because she whipped around. I guess she didn’t like me taking in the view. She eyed the towel rack and hastily grabbed one of the plush towels, wrapping it around her waist.

“Maybe you should worry less about your skirt and more about what’s gonna happen when the cops get here.” I don’t know why she was being so modest. What was the point of breaking into my place if she hadn’t planned on letting me in her pants? Hell, if it was a few years ago I would’ve been happy to see her.

The color drained from her face and for a moment I felt bad. But as cute as she was I didn’t want to give this chick any reason to think she’d be welcome during my stay. I didn’t need an obsessive groupie trying to insert herself into my life. I was here for one reason only. Relax before my next tour began and find out why the hell a guy who supposedly had it all wasn’t content with his life.

“You called the cops?” she asked sounding panicked.

“Wouldn’t you?”

“I didn’t break in. Honest!”

I looked from her, to the open window and back and raised a brow.

“No really! I’m from Beachside Realty,” she said.

“Sure you are.”

“The housekeeper was here earlier and she locked the key inside. My boss told me you wouldn’t be here yet and I was trying to get the key so I could put it back in the lockbox for you.”

“Well, if you’re a Realtor, show me your card.”

She blanched. “I didn’t say I was a Realtor. I said I’m from the real estate office. I’m a secretary.”

“You expect me to believe you don’t know who I am?”

She appeared genuinely confused. Maybe she was for real. “Should I? My boss didn’t give me a name, unless your real name is client.”

I laughed. She had balls. I’d give her that. “Give me your boss’s number and we’ll see if you’re telling the truth.”

Her eyes widened even more. “You can’t call him.”

“Can and will.” I crossed my arms across my bare chest. “You’d rather face the police than your boss?”

“Yes. He’ll fire me. Let me prove it. That key’s got to be in here somewhere. We can find it and you’ll see I’m telling the truth.”

I probably outweighed her by seventy pounds and towered over her by at least six inches; she was no real threat to me. She really didn’t seem to know who I was so I decided to indulge her in the effort to prove herself innocent.

“All right then. Find the key.”

She let out a rush of breath. “Thank you.” She took a step forward and then stopped. “Wait a minute…how did you get in?” she asked.

“I used one of the French doors on the deck. Why?”

She looked confused. “I checked those and they were all locked.”

“Are you going to find that key or not?” It was force of habit to lock the door behind me. Whenever my mom would leave me alone as a kid she’d make sure I’d lock the door after she left. I wasn’t about to tell this girl that though.

I motioned for her to go in front of me. At this point I didn’t think she meant any harm but I still didn’t want my back to her. She scurried past me, and I got a whiff of her perfume. I usually didn’t give a shit one way or the other what perfume a girl wore. Something about hers though… I liked it. The slight vanilla and citrus scent left trailing behind her had my thoughts moving in a southerly direction.

She trekked into the great room with its wall of glass and French doors every few feet—a woman on a mission. I’d picked this rental because of the contemporary design on the outside, and more traditional beach decor inside. It featured the expected pale wood floors, white couches and blue accents. The pool on the deck didn’t hurt either. I could still go for a swim and maintain privacy if the beach was crowded.

“It’s gotta be here somewhere,” she said. She scampered around back of the couch and checked the coffee and end tables. When she came up empty she made her way over to the kitchen, searching the black granite counter for the key in question. Her brows drew together after she moved over to the white-washed kitchen table and came up empty-handed.

Those doe eyes of hers darted over to me and panic set in.

“Maybe it’s in the bedroom. I’ll go check there,” she said.

Hell, if this was a ruse to get me into the bedroom with her, it was the most creative I’d seen thus far. And in the past five years I’d seen a lot of shit. I followed her. My suitcases were in there and on the remote chance she did know who I was, I didn’t want her stealing my shit to sell on EBay.

I rushed in to find her bent over the nightstand. Before I could imagine what she’d look like in that position without the towel wrapped around her waist, she spun around.

“Aha.” Her hand flew up in front of her, displaying the key. She winced and dropped her prize, grabbing her right wrist.

“Are you hurt?” I asked, and made my way over to her.

“I’ll be okay. I told you I was telling the truth.” The smile on her face was triumphant.

“I can see that.” Now that I was closer, I noticed a good-sized goose egg forming on her forehead. “Here, sit down on the bed so I can take a look at your wrist and your head.”

She stood in place. “What’s wrong with my head?”

“You’ve got a big bump. Do you feel dizzy or anything?”

“I did earlier. I’ve got a headache, but I’m fine.” She glanced warily at the bed, “I’m going to get out of here.”

“Sit.” My tone brooked no argument and from her swift intake of breath, she knew I meant it. I wasn’t trying to scare her but I knew if she had suffered a concussion it could be serious. Experience had been a great teacher. Having a drunk for a mom meant I’d dealt with enough falls to know my way around a first-aid kit.

“I’m fine,” she said, but sat down on the edge of the bed anyway.

I liked seeing her on my bed. She was gorgeous in a way that wasn’t totally obvious at first. Her appeal didn’t scream “look at me” the way most of the women in my world did. At first glance she reminded me of the girl next door, but her lips were a little too plump, her eyes a little too sultry.

She broke eye contact and looked down. When she realized she was looking at my crotch her gaze darted to the floor and a pink flush crept into her cheeks. I felt the stirrings of desire again.

“Wait right here. I’ll be back.”


Now that he was gone I let out the breath I’d been holding. Holy crap. I’d never been in close proximity with such a stunning piece of male. When I’d first raised my head off the bathroom floor I figured I’d hit it harder than I thought.

He’d been shirtless and on display was a set of muscular arms and a rock-hard six pack. It could have been an eight-pack for all I knew. I had been a little woozy at the time. I’d have a closer look when he came back out. My best friend Skye would want details when I relayed this story later, and I was nothing if not a good friend. To push him even higher on the hot meter, tattoos covered both arms from his wrist to his shoulders. When he’d gone into the bathroom I’d seen a huge eagle spread across the rippling muscles of his upper back. His face was chiseled and his green eyes were surrounded by a full set of dark lashes that matched the cropped, dark hair on his head. I’d never seen a guy rock a five-o’clock shadow so well. His look was intense, but he came off as more of a laid-back surfer guy.

I heard him rifling through drawers. Shit, as I stood here mentally undressing this guy the cops were on their way. Jeff was not going to be happy. Never mind how attractive this guy was, I had bigger issues.

“Um…excuse me?” No answer. “Excuse me…” It occurred to me that I couldn’t even address dreamboat by name.

He walked back into the room with a first-aid kit in his hands and sat down beside me on the bed. Every nerve leapt to attention. My skin felt itchy like I needed to scratch only there was no one spot that would give me relief. This was ridiculous. I had bigger problems than the fact that my hormones worked overtime around this guy.

“Mason,” he said.

“Huh?” Way to showcase my college education with that reply.

“My name is Mason.”

“Right. I’m Ellie Wagner. Nice to meet you.”

I stuck out my hand to shake his. Seconds after he took my hand in his I wrenched it away; for two reasons. One, because it friggin’ hurt my wrist. Two, because the electric jolt racing up my arm when he touched me was unnerving. His eyes flicked up to meet mine. I could see now that they weren’t all green. Flecks of hazel around his iris broke up the solid color. The combination made it difficult to look away, but my brain managed to remember the situation with the cops still needed sorting out.

“So, Mason, about the cops. You can call them now and tell them they don’t need to come, right? That it was all a big misunderstanding?” I’ll admit I batted my eyelashes a little in the hopes he’d see only an innocent girl who in no way deserved an audience with the authorities.

He laughed. He freaking laughed like it was a big joke that I might be arrested. Never mind that when the police called Jeff to check my story, I’d lose my job.

“I don’t see the humor in this situation.” I was trying to tread lightly but even I could hear the irritation in my voice.

A slow easy smile crept across his face. He had a dimple. Seriously? That attractive and somehow the heavens figured he needed a dimple, too? For what? In case there was a girl alive who didn’t want to drop their panties for him upon contact? It was just unfair.

“Easy. The cops aren’t on their way.”

“But…you said—”

He shrugged one shoulder. “I lied.”

“Oh.” I sounded so damn intelligent today.

“I didn’t have time to call them. I heard the crash and came running and there you were. Pretty girl, pantless, sprawled on the bathroom floor.”

Heat rushed into my cheeks. I felt mortified enough that he’d basically seen my bare ass before he even knew my name. Bringing it up again only made it worse. I was saving my mental breakdown for when I got back in my car. Surely I’d exceeded my monthly quota for embarrassment.

“Now, let’s take a look at your injuries.” He picked my wrist up off my lap and gently turned it over a couple of times to check it out. “It looks like you only sprained it. Nothing is broken or it’d be blown up like a damn balloon right now. It’s a little swollen. Ice it when you get home and it’ll probably feel a lot better in the morning.”

“Okay, good idea.”

“I’m gonna wrap it anyways to help keep the swelling down.” Instead of moving to get the bandage out of the first-aid kit, he stroked his thumb over the pulse at my wrist. He probably meant it to be soothing. I found it erotic as hell and had to resist the urge to press my thighs together. I said nothing but watched as his much larger hand held mine. My heart was beating so fast I was sure he could hear it. I tried my best to keep my breathing even.

The silence stretched and began to feel awkward so I cleared my throat. Mason let my hand go and searched through the first-aid kit. I found it difficult not to watch the muscles moving beneath the skin on his forearms while he did his rummaging. Who knew I had a fetish for forearm muscles?

“Okay, hold your hand out,” he said. He gently wrapped gauze around my wrist, almost delicately. It was surprising a man with so much raw power could be so gentle. “All finished.”


“Let me take a look at your head.”

He raised his hand to my face and lightly brushed away stray hairs that’d come loose from my ponytail and tucked them behind my ear. A shiver raced up my spine. As Mason tended to my forehead and the apparent lump there, I used the opportunity to check out his eyes again. They were astonishing. I’d never seen anyone with eyes quite like them in my life. As he leaned in to get a better look at my injury the scent of coconut suntan lotion drifted up and I realized he’d probably been planning on hitting the beach or the pool before I’d come barging in. That must’ve accounted for him being bare-chested. Of course, if I had a body like his I’d saunter around advertising it, too.

“You have a pretty good bump starting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I want to make sure you don’t have a concussion.”

“I’m fine. Honest.” Uncomfortable again by how close he was, I went to lift myself off the bed. I needed to get out of here before I made a bigger mess of things and he really did call my boss, but his hand was on my shoulder exerting pressure to get me to sit back down.


It was clear it wasn’t a request so with a sigh I did as he said.

“Do you feel woozy at all?” he asked.


“Is there any blurring in your vision?”


“Do you feel tired, like you want to go to sleep?”

“No more so than usual.”


“A little.”

“Ringing in your ears?”


“Feel like you’re going to be sick?”


“You single?”


He didn’t speak. Just pinned his gaze on me; comfortable in the silence and waiting for me to answer. I, on the other hand, was not so comfortable. The butterflies in my stomach started because there was only one reason to ask. I was not in this guy’s league, I wasn’t in the ballpark; hell, I couldn’t even afford tickets to watch the game. I wasn’t sure who he was but he must be someone of stature based on the mere fact he could afford to rent this beach house for a month.

“Um, I should really…”

“It’s an easy enough question, Ellie.”

I had a feeling I was at a crossroads and my answer here was going to lead me down either the right or wrong path. I wasn’t sure which was which. I could lie to him. I could lie and say I wasn’t single and I have a long-term boyfriend I’m madly in love with…but hormones won out. I didn’t say any of that.

“Yes, I’m single.”

A slow grin crept across his face. “Good to know.”

And that was it. That was all he said and then he got up off the bed, took the first-aid kit with him, and disappeared into the bathroom. Talk about leaving a girl hanging.