One Sweet Ride

Chapter 19

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She looked out the windshield with a grin on her face. “Fantastic.”

As they drove, he stole glances at Evelyn. She never once complained about her hair blowing or the hot sun beating down on her. She tilted her head back, laid her arm on the door, and watched the ocean go by.

He was in one of his favorite cars, with a beautiful woman occupying the seat next to him. What more could he ask for?

They drove for about forty-five minutes, then he pulled into a marina, parked the car in a corner slot far away from the traffic. He gave a wave to the parking attendant, Walter, who he knew would give an eagle eye to his baby, making sure no one would park next to her. He grabbed their bags and left his keys at the desk. Walter nodded from his spot on the high perch of the lot.

“I thought we were going to hit the beach,” Evelyn said.

He slipped his hand into hers as they headed down the wooden deck. “We will. Be patient.”

He led her to the boat that was parked toward the end of the slip.

“Seriously? You have a yacht?” she asked as he helped her on board.

“It’s a boat.”

“It’s a yacht. I know the difference.”

“Whatever.” He handed her the bags. “You want to store these down in the galley while I get us ready to take off?”

She took the bags from him. “I suppose this is your . . . boat.”

“Yeah.”

She rolled her eyes, then headed down to the galley. He got them untied and pushed off, then started the engine, easing through as they headed out. Evelyn came up and stood next to him while he pushed past the warning zone, then gave it some gas.

“You might want to take a seat.”

She grabbed the chair next to his and he cranked the speed up, the bow rising as he churned through the waves. He was damn happy to be on the sea again. During the racing season he didn’t get many days off, and very rarely got to come home and play with his toys. He was glad for Evelyn’s company, for an excuse to take the boat out today.

He found the isolated cove and, after carefully checking where he was, dropped the anchor.

Evelyn had gone downstairs and changed into a sinful, skimpy red bikini he couldn’t wait to get her out of. They climbed out of the boat and waded to shore, tossing their bags on the beach.

“Feel like snorkeling?”

“I’d love to.”

He grabbed the gear out of his bag and they hit the water.

Normally when he came to town for this break in his schedule, he’d bring the boat out, kick back, and do some fishing, or just idle and clear his head. If there was an available woman, he might drag her along, but usually he preferred the time alone to rest and regroup.

As they swam along the surface of the cove, Evelyn grasped his hand and drew him to look at something several times, whether it was one of the many colorful fish that inhabited this area, or the coral that lived around the cove. He could tell from the wide smile on her face and the way she excitedly tugged him along that she was pleased.

When they came back to shore, she threw her arms around him.

“It’s beautiful down there, Gray. Thank you.”

He slipped an arm around her wet body and drew her against him. “You’re welcome. It’s one of my favorite spots.”

She grabbed towels and set them down to sit on, then grabbed his hands and he sat next to her.

“I can see why. The colors of the coral are amazing. Did you know coral are an endangered species? Overfishing and environmental pollution of our waters have had a severe detrimental effect on more than sixty percent of the world’s coral reefs. This could be disastrous to our entire ecosystem.”

He cocked a brow. “Something you’re passionate about, obviously?”

“Yes. I’ve told you I love the beach and the water, and I wasn’t kidding. I’ve lobbied for laws to be passed to limit overfishing and to post sanctions on those companies that leave behind nets and equipment that can harm the coral.”

He swept his hand over her hair. “Maybe it’s something you can talk to my father about sponsoring.” He wanted to laugh at that thought, but he could see she was serious about it and didn’t want to puncture her balloon of hope.

She cocked her head to the side. “Gray, your father chairs a committee on environmental pollution. It’s one of his primary causes.”

“Seriously.”

“Yes. He and I have lobbied hard for legislation to protect coral reefs, as well as other key environmental legislation. He’s written groundbreaking papers on the effects of global warming, overfishing, and the pollution of our waters. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.”

He didn’t know that, and it didn’t sound at all like something his father would be the slightest bit interested in. “Mitchell Preston cares about the environment? Since when?”

She sighed. “I told you. He’s changed. Maybe you should check out the other issues he’s passionate about.”

Gray still found it hard to believe his father cared about anything other than what would serve his interests or line his pockets. “Yeah. Maybe.”

“Anyway, this area here is a slice of paradise.”

“It’s also a protected area. Fishing isn’t allowed, nor is recreation.”

“Really? To protect the coral?”

“Yes.”

She looked around. “So . . . we shouldn’t be here, either.”

“It’s all right. I’m the one who worked to get new coral planted in this area. It had been damaged by those very things you talked about—fishing and environmental pollution.”

“You put money into restoration of this area.”

“Not by myself. Me and a group of investors.”

She reached for his hands. “Maybe you and your father share more common interests than you’re aware of.”

He looked out over the water.

“Several years ago, I came out here to do some snorkeling. It had been a while since I’d been here, and I hated what I saw when I went down.”

She squeezed his hand. “Bleaching of the coral?”

“Yeah. This was a heavy fishing area, and over-recreated. They were destroying the coral and the aquatic life that depended on it. I vowed then to do something to change it. So along with several friends with big bank accounts, we arranged for transplantation of healthy coral, and lobbied and won the rights to secure this area from fishing and recreation.”

“You did a good thing.”

He smiled. “I feel like I own a part of this area now.” He turned to her. “Not as my personal playground, but because I had the right to give it back to the sea life and to the coral. That’s who it really belongs to.”

She climbed onto his lap and framed his face with her hands. “You continually surprise me, Gray Preston.”

He clutched her hips. “Yeah? In what way?”

“As soon as I think I know who you are, you surprise the living daylights out of me. Here I think you’re some rich guy whose job it is to burn thousands of gallons of fossil fuels a year, and it turns out you’re a closet environmentalist.”

“Hey, I’m just a guy who happens to have a lot of money, so I can toss it at causes like this.”

“Oh, don’t go trying to downplay this. Lots of people have a lot of money. This was personal to you and you did something about it.”

He smiled. “I got to spend some time watching them transplant the coral. It was amazing. Kind of like watching babies grow. Stupid, I know.”

“Not stupid at all. I would have given anything to see it. Your father would be so proud of you to know you’re a part of something like this.” At his blank stare, she added, “Thank you for bringing me here today and letting me see it. It’s such an important cause for me. And for your father.”

Yeah. His father. Still hard to believe he and his dad saw eye to eye on anything, especially an environmental issue. Evelyn kept telling him that his father had changed.

He still found that hard to believe.

But maybe . . .

He didn’t want to think about his father. Not when a wet, barely clad Evelyn sat on his lap and stroked his shoulders. “Let’s get back to the boat and rinse off some of this sand.”

He stood with her in his arms and they went back to the boat. They rinsed off in the shower and Gray pulled out some drinks and sandwiches he’d had delivered to the boat before they arrived.

“What? No champagne and lobster?”

He frowned, until she laughed.

“I’m kidding. Considering you have this ridiculous yacht, I thought I’d nudge you.”

“Oh.”

She rolled her eyes. “Really, Gray. You need to lighten up and get my sense of humor.”

“I guess so. Sorry.”

“Iced tea and turkey sandwiches is perfect. I’m starving.”

They sat on the back of the boat and ate, and he explained in greater detail about the coral project that he’d spearheaded. He could tell by the way she nodded that she was making mental notes.

“You’re going to do some social media connection thing between this and me and my father, aren’t you?”

She lifted her gaze to his. “I’d love to. With your prior approval, of course. It is an amazing cause, showcases you in a good light, and brings the plight of the sea and the coral to a greater audience. That can’t be a bad thing.”

“I guess not.” He polished off his second sandwich, then bagged up their trash and pulled out another iced tea for both of them. When he saw her nose getting red, he brought out the sunscreen and spread some across her nose and cheeks.

“Thanks,” she said, rubbing it in. “Darn freckles.”

He kissed the tip of her nose. “Those freckles are sexy.”

She stretched out in the shade. “They weren’t when I was gangly and flat chested at fourteen. My hair was a darker red then. I looked like Little Orphan Annie.”

“I would have thought you were hot.”

She laughed. “No, you would not have. You would have pointed and laughed like the other boys did.”

“Hey, Little Orphan Annie totally trips all my hot buttons.”

She snorted, then flipped over onto her belly. Her bikini bottoms were doing him in today. They covered her ass, but gave him tempting glimpses of the underside of her cheeks. And those legs of hers made him hard.

Too bad they didn’t have enough privacy here. He could take her below, but he had other plans for Evelyn today.

Then again, he could give her a little tease.

He went over with the sunscreen in his hand. “Your back is getting red.”

She lifted. “Is it? I can’t get any sunscreen on there.”

“I’ll take care of it.” He put some of the cream in his hand and rubbed it over her shoulders and back, loving the feel of her smooth skin under his hands. Her eyes were closed, her head resting on her arms as he massaged her.

And when she moaned, his cock hardened. It would be so easy to spread her legs and spear her with his cock, to ride her hard and fast until they both got off.

Instead, he rubbed more lotion over her legs, inching his way up to her thighs. He listened to the sound of her breathing, then parted her legs to slip between them, teasing her inner thighs with his fingers.

Her breath caught, but she was languid, not tense.

She trusted him.

There were no other boats around since this was a restricted area and he’d gotten permission to be here today, so he didn’t expect company. As long as no planes flew over, they’d have some privacy.

He wouldn’t need long; he was already learning her body.

He untied the side of her bikini.

“Gray.”

Her voice was barely a whisper.

“Yeah.”

“What are you doing?”

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