Page 37 of Pretend Ring Girl

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“Here,” Vincente Jr. passes a basket to Sandro that I didn’t realize he was carrying.

Wait a second.

“You guys had this planned, didn’t you?” I glance between them, trying to look accusingly but really just impressed.

“Of course, gorgeous,” Sandro grins. “Today’s my day.”

Vincente gives me a warm hug and slow cheek kisses that set my skin on fire, and Elian surprises me completely by pulling my face in and kissing me languidly in front of his brothers. At first shocked, I melt into the kiss, and forget we have an audience until I hear Sandro’s whoops and Vincente’s amused chuckle.

“Well, I guess that answers that.”

“Easy, turbo, I need her to still have some lips left for later,” Sandro teases.

My face is absolutely flaming now. I check for any sign of anger or jealousy, but the two older brothers are just beaming at me happily.

Huh. Maybe this isn’t as complicated as I imagine it would be.

I step forward and accept Sandro’s proffered hand, and we climb onto the sleek boat together. He throws the ropes off and pulls in the bumpers while I admire the view from the back seating area. It’s partially covered, and has a soft tent like flap to provide more shade from the burning sun. There’s a dining area with a built-in table featuring bright red cushions, and another cushioned area that looks suspiciously like a round outdoor bed. The back has a landing at water level to jump in for a swim, and sleek cabinets line the entire area.

Sandro picks up the basket and encourages me to follow him inside, where there’s a love seat with a coffee table and two seats facing forward. Placing the basket on the floor, he leads me up to the captain and co-pilot seats. “Check this out.”

After starting up the engine, he presses a button and the roof slides back, opening the room up to full sunshine and suddenly I feel like I’m more outside than in.

After fetching two waters from a small hidden cooler, we pull forward slowly and start cruising out of the canal.

In the chairs we’re blocked from most of the sun, and the breeze flowing through the cabin cools my sticky skin. I finally understand why Elian insisted I wear a bikini again. Here I thought it was for our beach excursion earlier, but I didn’t understand why we never got in the water. I’m starting to understand that these three are working in tandem and are way ahead of me. For all I know, they have the next month planned out with a color-coded calendar, complete with tabs, delineating our allotted time.

Some part of me is desperately curious about what that looks like. I still haven’t decided if I like that they have things all planned out among themselves, or if I want more say in my life. It’s taken quite a turn in the last week and I am still trying to keep my head above the water that’s threatening to drown me.

After nearly a half hour of slow cruising through the canals, we reach a more open spot and Sandro kicks up the speed, inviting more wind to course through the cabin. He’s in his element here. I see it now. Laid-back, listening to music as we cruise around on another ridiculously expensive boat, without a care in the world. Wind ruffling his hair, billowing out his t-shirt and giving me delicious flashes of rock-solid abs. My eyes linger on his tattoos, remembering the impressive body that lay under his loose shirt.

I suppose it’s not terrible to allow myself to ogle him now. I don’t have to worry about his brothers being jealous, and there’s no one here to see but us.

“Do you want to drive?” Sandro shouts over the wind and music.

“No, that’s okay,” I wave him off. “I’m happy to ride.”

A dirty grin curls his lips, and I snort. “You know that’s not what I meant!”

“Gorgeous, you’re always welcome to ride. But come steer for a bit. It’s fun, I promise.”

I am curious, so I stand and shimmy my way over to the small wheel he’s currently guiding with one hand. Sandro stays in his seat and wedges my hips between his legs.

Leaning forward, he rests his chin on my shoulder and speaks into my ear. “This makes it go faster,” he indicates a handle that he pushes forward slightly, increasing the speed, before he pulls it back to slow down. “This pushes the rudders and makes you go left and right.” He grabs my hands and places them on the wheel, then holds on to turn it gently side to side. We’re in a wide-open swath of water, far from the islands, and no other boats in sight.

I grip the wheel more tightly and settle my butt back on the edge of the seat, feeling how the boat responds with each slight movement.

Now that his hands are free, Sandro scoots forward in the seat and presses his body against me from behind, letting his hands settle on my hips before he goes back to resting his head next to mine. “See gorgeous, you’re a natural,” he says, then plants soft kisses along my jaw as his hands tuck under my t-shirt and run across the skin of my belly.

“Hey, I don’t know where we’re going!” I protest, laughing. Part of me is enjoying the attention, the heat of his lips and fingers on my skin. Another part of me is irrationally worried about what happens once we’re out of this empty straightaway.

“You’re doing fine, just keep going forward,” Sandro hardly pays attention as his hands creep further under my shirt, up my ribcage.

“Sandro!” I stand up straight, making it difficult for him to keep feeling me up.

“Fine, fine,” he withdraws his hands and settles them on my hips. “Just around this bend there’s another big open space with a marina, and right about now, the sandbar should be coming out. That’s where we’re going.”

“You want me to drive up on a sandbar?”

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