The Heat of Summer, page 1
The Heat of Summer
Copyright © 2019 by Melissa Tereze
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Also by Melissa Tereze
“Are we going out for cocktails or not?” The question left an agitated Jade’s mouth for the fifth time in an hour. “I leave tonight and I want to at least enjoy my last few hours with you…”
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea.” Summer adjusted her sun lounger, sitting partially upright. “You know what happens when we go out drinking.”
“Not happening.” Summer relaxed back, her dark mirrored aviators covering her blue eyes. She glanced down at her bare stomach, satisfied that her tan was beginning to intensify, and rested her head back.
“I know what you’re doing!” Jade’s agitation grew, stunning Summer. “The same thing you’ve been doing all week.” Summer was beginning to wish she hadn’t enlightened Jade. It had only created a pain in her ass.
“Um.” Summer swung her legs over the side of her lounger, facing her best friend fully. “What are you talking about?”
“You’re watching her again.” Jade cocked her head, motioning towards the other side of the small boutique hotel.
Summer could have lied, but it was pointless. She had, in fact, been watching the woman on the balcony for the last hour. At least. Just as she had the day before. And the day before that. At one point, Jade held an entire conversation with her, but Summer couldn’t recall a single sentence. Since her arrival in Tías, Summer had sworn to herself that she wouldn’t look at another woman, but here she was…looking at every opportunity. Only one woman, though. The dark-haired, tall, slender woman who graced the balcony every morning, every afternoon, and most of the early evening.
As Summer’s eyes followed Jade’s, a smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. There she was, standing with her arms stretched out either side of her along the glass balcony, inserting her dominance over every person who looked her way. In reality, Summer should shrivel under her gaze, but instead…she felt an intrigue. A desperate need to hold conversation with her. To know her.
Summer laughed and shook her head. “I wasn’t looking.”
“Lies.” Jade resisted the urge to roll her eyes and lay back down on her sun lounger. “I can’t believe you’re going to deprive me of my last night here with you.”
“We’ve been out almost every night over the last two weeks, Jade.” Summer remained calm, but inside, she wanted to scream. Jade was constantly on the go, and not always in a good way. “We will go down to the restaurant earlier tonight and have one or two before dinner.”
“Sounds enthralling.” This time, Jade did roll her eyes. “Wake me up in an hour.” Turning onto her stomach, Jade rested her head on her arms and sighed.
Summer glanced back up at the woman on the balcony, shocked to find her staring back. Unsure as to what she should do, Summer lifted her hand and waved. What the hell are you doing? A wave? She scoffed and returned to her position on her own lounger. Attempting to remain as calm and inconspicuous as possible, Summer angled her head up towards the sun, ensuring she could still watch the woman on the balcony. She was exquisite. It really was as simple as that. A long, white, linen shirt hung off her body, left open to expose the black bikini sitting perfectly in place. The longer Summer watched, the harder she found it to take her eyes off her mystery woman.
Like clockwork, a man appeared beside her, two kids quickly rushing out onto the balcony. The woman turned, pulling the kids into her body and holding them close. Maternal, that’s what Summer was getting from her. Loving and maternal. No longer willing to ogle the woman some ten feet away, Summer shifted and made herself more comfortable. With one last glance, dark hair whipped around, eyes landing on Summer. The other woman lifted her own hand and waved, before disappearing inside the apartment.
Truly gobsmacked that she had been noticed, Summer’s stomach tossed. That was the first time she had been acknowledged, but she hoped it wouldn’t be the last. Clearing her throat, she mirrored Jade’s position on her stomach and closed her eyes. Her time in Tías had so far been pleasant, and as long as she could kick this issue, it would remain that way. Though Jade would be leaving tonight, Summer had no plans to do the same. With nothing left for her in the UK, Spain was good enough to call home for the foreseeable future. Two weeks ago, she left on a plane from Manchester Airport, with no return flight booked. Of course, if things didn’t work out, here she could return to the UK, but she had everything she needed…and the beauty of being a freelance photographer meant that she could work from anywhere in the world.
“Hey…” Summer nudged Jade.
“About those drinks?” Jade was right—tonight should have been about the two of them living the life they wanted to live. Okay, Jade didn’t have the luxury of staying in Spain forevermore, but Summer could still spare a few hours this evening being with her best friend. After all, neither of them knew the next time they would see each other.
“What about them?” Jade mumbled against her arm, her cheek squashed up by her eye.
“Let’s do it.” Summer nodded. “Another hour out here and then we will go out on the strip. But, we have dinner plans, remember? Nothing too rowdy.”
“I knew you were my best friend for a reason.” Jade lifted her head and grinned. “And I’m really going to miss you.”
“You know you’re welcome here whenever you want, Jade.”
“Once you get your flat, I expect an invitation back out here.” Jade’s features softened. “Before anyone else.”
“You know you’d be the first.”
Jade winked. “I know.” Scrambling from her sun lounger, she pushed her Havaianas into the shade and poked Summer’s shoulder. “Pool. Now.”
“You watched me put lotion on not even twenty minutes ago.”
Jade shrugged, pulling Summer up to her feet. “Yeah, well, you can put more on.”
“You never know…” Jade hip-checked her best friend. “The woman on the balcony could be watching you. Wet and shiny.”
“Don’t even.” Summer held up her hand. “That’s a ridiculous thought.”
“But one you’re definitely hoping for.” Jade wiggled her eyebrows and rushed off to the pool. “You and mystery woman could get hot and bothered one evening in here.”
Summer groaned, those thoughts far too wild to even comprehend.
Summer stood outside on the terrace of her apartment. At twenty-six, she should have been preparing for a drunken night on the strip—according to society—but she didn’t have the energy. While the beginning of this journey, this move, was a holiday, Summer didn’t need to stumble home as the sun was rising. She didn’t need to wing-woman Jade while she tried to figure out who was gay around town. What she needed was to unwind. To lie back and revel in the sun. Relax. Jade, however, had other plans. She loved her best friend dearly, Summer really did, but both were at different stages of their lives. When Jade partied, she did it hard. Though they were the same age, best friends since primary school, Summer had been through enough to know that alcohol-fuelled nights weren’t essential to her happiness. After all, it was what killed her father when she was only eighteen months old, her mother following suit some ten years later.
Taken into the care of her grandparents at the age of four, Summer lived her life following their example. Their home filled with nothing but love and respect, she was blessed to have them. Without them, she couldn’t begin to imagine the path her life likely would have taken. Without them, she wouldn’t be here and about to start a new chapter of her life. Her grandad, Pete, passed away two years ago. Her grandmother, Edith, a year later. As heartbreaking and lonely as the last year had been for Summer, she had been armed with everything they taught her. Their values, everything they believed, she would carry through life with her. Now, she had to live her life without them…beautiful memories always at the forefront of her mind.
The day she sat in the office during the reading of her grandmother’s last will and testament, she expected a straw donkey and the collection of fancy plates nobody was ever allowed to use. Instead, she was floored when she was informed that she had inherited over two hundred thousand pounds of their savings and her grandparents’ home. Everything they owned they’d left to their only granddaughter. Summer could have stayed in the UK, and for a while she did, or she could make a life for herself. She chose the latter, Tías the destination of choice.
Why had she chosen Tías? It was really very simple. For fifteen years, this had been her grandparents’ holiday destination. A lot of Summer’s best memories were here. It made complete sense to come back to a place she loved. It also made sense that she felt more connected to them here than she did back in the UK.
Summer sipped her glass of iced water. “Are you nearly ready?”
“Yes. Coming. Give me two minutes.”
“You said that twenty minutes ago.”
Jade poked her head out of the door. “Two. I promise.”
Summer nodded, turning around and moving off the terrace. She looked down at the pool, only a few people still lounging about, and smiled. Jade had a flight to catch later this evening, but Summer still had another two weeks of holidaying alone before she collected the keys to her flat down on the strip.
Naturally, she was apprehensive, but she knew people here. Over the years, the same faces appeared…shared memories of beach days and late dinners under a beautiful sunset together. Summer knew that once her apprehension wore off, life here could be wonderful. She had no family to speak of back in the UK, so why not spend her days with a healthy sum in her bank account and her Nikon permanently in her hand? To Summer, it was a no-brainer.
“Ready.” Jade appeared behind her.
“Great.” Summer glanced over her shoulder, smiling.
Jade narrowed her eyes. “You were looking for her again…”
“Actually, I wasn’t.” Summer ran her fingers through her blonde hair falling just below her jawline and shoved her phone in the back pocket of her short-cut denim shorts. As she was dressing tonight, she had wondered if her choice of shorts was appropriate for dinner, but she had dresses shorter than said shorts so she wouldn’t worry. Accompanied by a yellow floral wrap blouse, it only encouraged her tan to pop. She looked great; Summer knew that.
“Looking good tonight, Hastings.” Jade nudged Summer’s shoulder. “Dressing to impress?”
“Nope. It’s still thirty degrees and the humidity is about eighty-five percent. I’m comfortable like this.” Summer closed the apartment door, handed the key card over to her best friend, and moved towards the steps that would take them to the five-star, on-site restaurant.
“You know I’m only joking with you.” Jade caught up, linking her arm with Summer’s.
“So, what are you going to do with yourself when I leave?”
“Relax some more.” Summer glanced at Jade. “Spend time doing nothing.” As much as she loved having Jade here, the last two weeks felt like anything but a holiday. Summer was tired. Worn out. “Maybe set up a new portfolio, I don’t know.”
“Ladies.” Julie, a British server, greeted them. “Usual table?”
“That would be great.” Summer offered the server a full smile.
They took their seats. The hairs on the back of Summer’s neck suddenly stood on end. She felt as though she was being watched but she couldn’t bring herself to look up from the menu now in her hands. If someone had their eyes on her, she knew exactly who it would be.
“The lamb sounds good tonight.” Jade sat facing her.
“Mm.” Summer’s mind preoccupied, she perused the menu but failed to understand the words.
“Maybe the steak, I don’t know.”
“I think I’ll just have the chicken Caesar salad tonight.” Summer set her menu down. “How about a jug of sangria too?”
“Sounds perfect.” Jade smiled. “I’ve really had the best time here with you.”
“You promise to come back out once you have annual leave?”
“Excuse me, ladies…” Julie placed a bottle of expensive red wine down on the table, followed by two glasses.
“Oh, we didn’t order this.”
“This is from Prue,” Julie explained. “She asked me to bring it over.”
“Um, I don’t know anyone called Prue.” Summer frowned. “I think you have the wrong table.” She attempted to hand the wine bottle back, but Julie stopped her.
“Prue owns this place. When she sends drinks, you take them.” Julie glanced two tables down.
Summer followed her line of sight, her breath catching when she reached a particular table. It was the woman from the balcony. The woman she’d drooled over for two weeks. Prue. The dark-haired woman offered a small wave, then a full smile. Summer mouthed thank you, gaining a wink from the woman whose eyes were boring into her soul. Grey. Silver. Whatever the colour was…they were stunning.
“You with me?” Jade asked, waving her hand in front of Summer’s face.
“You were staring.” Jade turned, observing the object of her best friend’s affection. “Oh. Now I see why.”
“You’ve lost me.” Summer’s forehead creased. “What?”
“Do you want me to leave you two alone so you can get better acquainted?” A smirk tugged at the corners of Jade’s lips, but it wasn’t appreciated by Summer. “Sorry.” She held up her hand.
“Why has she sent us wine?”
“Because she’s the owner and she’s being polite?”
“Mm, polite.” Summer poured a measure of wine into her glass and lifted it, watching Prue over the rim. “Polite.”
“Okay, why do you keep saying that?”
“Someone like her doesn’t strike me as polite, Jade.” Summer lowered her voice. “I mean, look at her.”
Jade attempted to turn but Summer stopped her. “I don’t mean literally.”
“Then what did you mean?” Jade laughed. “You’re really being weird now.”
“She’s a businesswoman. Remarkable. God, she’s fucking gorgeous.”
“O…kay,” Jade drawled out.
“She also looks like a complete bitch.” Summer scoffed. “The way she sits. How she pulls her shoulders back. Nah, I don’t want
“Are you asking yourself that, or…?”
“She looks like bad news.” Summer finished her glass of wine and sat back in her seat, crossing her legs. “Even if she does pick out one hell of a wine.”
“Sure, yeah.” Jade sighed. “She’s a bitch and bad news. Got it.”
Summer sat on the terrace, her legs pulled up onto the seat in front of her. An hour ago she said her goodbyes to Jade, and now she was left alone…contemplating the next couple of weeks of her life on this complex. The place was beautiful, really beautiful, but Prue and her offer of wine a few hours ago had thrown her. Not because it meant anything, it couldn’t possibly, but because she now felt she owed the gorgeous woman a drink in return. Why else would someone send an expensive bottle of wine? Summer had checked the drinks menu, and that particular bottle of wine cost close to eighty euro. She appreciated it, it was a kind gesture, but it didn’t make sense. Did Prue send drinks to everyone that stayed at her hotel complex? Was it a common theme around here? If so, why had it taken two weeks for the other woman to send that bottle of wine?
She was thinking too hard about something that meant nothing, Summer knew that, but she wanted to know more. She wanted to know why. She was entitled to that, surely. As quickly as that thought entered her mind, it disappeared again. A woman like Prue would never give Summer the time of day. Jade was right—she was being polite. Nothing more.