Geni sensed her muscles relaxing as she dug her toes into the warm sand. The salty breeze teased a sigh from her lips. She needed this time for healing. Losing her fiancé had devastated her.
Like a thundercloud, Brian’s face appeared in her mind. Anger and betrayal pelted her peaceful mood. "Go away!" she growled.
"Excuse me?" The comment was followed by a good-natured chuckle. "Give a guy a chance before you send him packing."
Embarrassed, she spoke harsher than she intended. "You startled me."
"Sorry, didn’t mean to. Actually, I need your help?" He crouched beside Geni. "See my buddies over there?" He pointed to a group of guys that were pushing and shoving one another. "They think you’re gorgeous and dared me to come over and talk to you." He flashed a dazzling smile at her.
His eyes stole her breath. She should be flattered, but felt annoyed instead. Obviously, this wasn’t the first time he’d done this. How many others had fallen for that smile? "Okay, you've gotten your laughs. Go prey on someone else."
"Ouch!" He feigned a wound, waiting for her to laugh. "Oh, you were serious." His face sobered. "Don't be upset. We didn't mean any harm, honest."
He motioned his friends away and sat unceremoniously in the sand. "I didn’t mean to offend you." He extended his hand. "I'm Jake." Undaunted by her hesitation, he added. "May I say some guy messed it up for the rest of us. The guy is a fool."
"Excuse me?" Geni's brows knotted with confusion.
"I’m saying someone burned you pretty bad."
She thought for a moment and gave a little laugh. "That obvious?"
"Only because I’m a fellow survivor." There was a flicker of vulnerability that touched her.
Summer was just beginning and if she let it, maybe more. Geni took a deep breath and extended her hand. “Let’s try this again, I’m Geni.”