She leans back on her elbows, letting the last rays of sun caress her face.I envy that sunbeam…
Good grief. I’ve got it bad. How am I going to be able to live next door to this woman without blurting out my feelings like a blithering buffoon?
Maybe I should just tell her how I feel and get it out in the open.
I’ve considered it several times over the years. And I came really close to telling her once. I was a junior at the University of Georgia and she was a junior in high school.
When Tuck and I went away for college, she wrote letters to us, passing along all the Friendly gossip. Tuck seldom wrote back, but I always did. Soon, she addressed her letters just to me, and we became pen pals.
In one of her letters, she said she wanted to go to the prom but didn’t have a date. I quickly scribbled my response on a sheet of paper. It said:Dear Hazel, I’ll take you to the prom. Love, Bishop.
Short. To the point. Absent of any sentiment whatsoever. But it contained a word I’d never used in our letters before.Love.
I debated whether to send it. This wasHazel, after all. My best friend’s little sister. There was so much at stake. So, I decided to leave the page in the notebook for a day or two and give it some more thought.
When Tuck asked if he could borrow my chemistry notes the next day, I tossed him the notebook without thinking about it. He saw the note.
It’s the only fight we’ve ever had. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was too old for his sister and that if we were going to remain friends, I couldn’t so much as look at her ever again.
I held up my hands in defeat, claiming innocence. “You’ve got it all wrong,” I lied. “I was just doing her a favor. She’s like a sister to me.”
Like a sister to me. I still cringe at the words.
There’s only one thing worse than being stuck in the friendzone.
Being stuck in thelike-a-brotherzone.
Bishop’sgrownsilent,soI open my eyes and squint up at him. “I forgive you, by the way.”
“Hmm?” His eyes meet mine, and my breath catches. Bishop’s gaze can be…intense. There’s intelligence andfeelingin his eyes. And it doesn’t help that his irises are the color of the sea on a stormy day. A person could drown in those eyes.Heck, entire ships could drown in those eyes.
I lick my lips, suddenly nervous. His eyes trace the movement, making me shiver. “I-I forgive you for threatening to tell on me when we were kids,” I say. “You probably saved my life.”
He continues to watch my mouth, and I swear, his eyessmolder.
Flynn Rider has nothing on John Fitzherbert Bishop.
“I think you would have lived, but I may have spared you a few broken bones.”
“My hero.” I feel lightheaded. I need fresh air. But I’m already outside.
I forcibly pull my gaze from Bishop and attempt to focus on the sunset once more. But my view is blocked by the six-foot wingspan of a pterodactyl. With a shriek, I scramble backward like a crab. Startled, Honey starts to bark.
Bishop chuckles. “Calm down, ladies. It’s only Hank Heron.”
The great blue heron perches on the pier’s railing next to us, clearly unperturbed by the shrieking and the barking. Despite recognizing Friendly Beach’s resident heron now, it’s still a little disconcerting having him tower over us from the railing. He may not be a dinosaur, but standing over four feet tall, he’s impressive in his own right.
I clutch a hand to my chest, wiling my heart to slow back to its normal rate. “I’ve only seen him at the beach. I wasn’t expecting him here.”
Bishop smiles. “He goes where the fish—or the fishermen—go. He often shows up this time of day, hoping to snag my catch.”
“Has he ever been successful?”
“Not yet.” Bishop’s face grows sad. “I worry about old Hank. He has no fear of humans. And he’s pushier than ever. I’m afraid he’s going to grab a fish while it’s still on the hook and hurt himself.”