Release Date: July 25, 2018
Cover Design: MadHat Books
I got out of the Marine Corps to give my daughter a better life. I’m a strong and capable single dad. I got this, right? Not so much.The one thing my daughter wants is the hardest to find—a mom. It’s not like they’re selling hot intelligent women at Walmart these days, and with the amount of baggage I’m carrying around, I might be out of luck. Yeah, so. We moved from Oahu to Maui. I needed a job, a place to live, and to get us settled. I thought it would be simple, but let’s just say . . . mistakes have been made. · Mistake #1: I took the first job I was offered. (Should’ve probably asked a couple more questions about the required uniform.) · Mistake #2: I flirted with Kai, the first attractive woman who crossed my path. (So far out of my league she might as well be a Hawaiian princess.) · Mistake #3: I fell head over heels for that woman. (See Mistake #2.) Now I’m standing here showing my butt—no, literally. It's the required uniform at Man Buns, the restaurant I’m working at. (See Mistake #1). In any case, I can tell you one thing—it’s damn near impossible to convince the woman I can’t live without to take me seriously when I’m serving up burgers, half-naked, and women are constantly ogling my assets. I’ve gotta try, though. Because Kai is the woman for me, and she’s perfect with Aya. I’ve just gotta get these man buns in gear and figure out how to win her over.
“It’s not even that busy,” Aya shouts while running right for the water.
“It’s busy enough that you need to wait up, kiddo. You know better than to run near the pool.” Aya stops dead in her tracks and gives a look to inform me I’ve embarrassed her. I hold my hands up. “I’m sorry, just no running. I don’t want you to get in any trouble with a lifeguard.”
“Why would a cute little girl like her get in trouble with a lifeguard?” I’m asked. I turn around, surprised to be spoken to by anyone here. You’d think the cap on my head that’s curved over my eyes wouldn’t be an invitation for someone to engage in conversation.
“Excuse me?” I ask, turning to face a lifeguard—a drop-dead gorgeous lifeguard with oversized sunglasses and a killer tan.
“I was kidding,” she says, nudging her glasses down the bridge of her nose.
The woman’s eyes are startlingly beautiful—two round copper pennies with dark caramel outlines. She’s like a Hawaiian goddess. I swear these hotels hire models to play the staffing roles. “I hope so,” I reply. “I don’t want my daughter breaking any rules just yet.”
“She’s fine,” the woman says. “Relax.”
Wow. You’d think I was diving off the deep-end by the ways she’s trying to calm me down. “You’re telling me to relax? You’re the one who looks miserable sitting there in front of a beautiful pool under the big open sky.”
“It’s my job. Who smiles while working?” she asks while flipping her long, dark braid over her shoulder.
“Um, I think in the hospitality industry, it’s part of your job.” Why am I arguing with a hot chick I don’t even know? I obviously need to get laid. Plus, I’m apparently uptight.
“Actually,” she replies, without hiding the hostility she’s obviously feeling, “I’m supposed to be serious since I need to keep an eye on everyone in the pool to make sure no one drowns.”
“Well, there aren’t any kids in the pool yet, so you can loosen up a little, I’m sure.”
“Dad?” Aya calls me from the steps of the pool. “I’m going in.”
“Believe it or not, it’s not the kids I have to worry about,” the lifeguard says. “It’s the arrogant visitors I have to keep an eye on.” With her last word, she pushes her aviator sunglasses back up her freckled nose and straightens her posture.
“What’s your name?” I ask even though I’m sure the conversation ended when she recovered her eyes. Still, can’t hurt to try.
She turns her head and glances over at me, adding in a snide chuckle for good measure. “No.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, ‘No.’”
“I’m Denver,” I say, reaching my hand out to her.
“No,” she says again, but this time with a tease of a smirk.
“Well, No, I’m sorry for the confusion. I am Denver. You are ‘No.’ I got it.” I point at her, and wink, leaving her with my smartass response. I needed that. It’s been a while since I’ve had any game.
“Dad!” Aya yells again. She’s neck deep in the water, treading through the four feet like a champ. I had one summer home when she was two and I spent every single minute I wasn’t working teaching her to swim. Two is young to understand the logistics of floating, but by the end of the summer, I didn’t have to worry about her drowning. In Hawaii, being born with the instinct to swim should tie right in with real life experience. I want to believe that my kid is destined to be a surfer or an Olympic swimmer.
I find the towel bin and grab a couple of freshly folded white towels and drop them down onto the empty lounge chairs near the lifeguard's stand. I can’t give up that easily.
The lifeguard straightens her neck and with what I assume to be irritation, tilts her head to each side probably needing a good crack in her tensed neck. In my defense, I haven’t said anything else. I mean, the chairs are empty and they’re in the direct sun, which is right where I want to be. “I’m coming for you, baby-girl!” I shout over to Aya.
I cross my arms over my torso and peel my shirt up over my head. I guess if this chick is going to see any part of me, it can be my best asset. I’ve been a human machine for the last eight years, and I’m proud to showcase the hard work I endured in the Marines. I unhook my worn, brown leather belt that I’ve probably had since my Abercrombie days, and drop my shorts to the pool deck. After a quick shuffle around the side of my chair, I lean over slowly and proudly to retrieve my shorts so I can place them down on the lounge chair. I can’t look over to see if I’ve caught her attention yet, but I’ll just boost my self-confidence and pretend she did.
“Well, aren’t you so sweet. Cleaning up after yourself and all,” she mutters. Ha. She saw me. She was probably staring at every move I made, and now, she’s cleaning up her drool. I bet she wishes she gave me her name now.
Right. Ah well. I can keep my confidence in check even though I’m broken baggage to the rest of the world. No chick in their prime wants a single dad with all the responsibilities in the world, but I wouldn’t give up Aya for all the hottest women in the world. She’s the only girl I need in my life.
With my show over, I catapult myself off the side of the pool and into the water, splashing Aya as hard as I can.
“Dad, no!” Aya gasps as she rubs the water from her eyes. “You’re in trouble now.” Aya pulls herself out of the water, dripping wet and shaking as she wraps her arms around her body, staring at me with the devil’s glare in her eye. “You better watch out, Dad.”
I back up a few feet, knowing what’s coming at me. She jumps into the water, pulling her knees into her chest at the same time, and the splash is epic for my little peanut. It was so epic, it soaked the lifeguard. Ha.
I grab Aya and swing her around over my head, watching the lifeguard remain still like statue. She’s dripping wet, but doesn’t care. Or she does, and she doesn’t want me to know. I guess this is what life is like when I don’t have somewhere to be every second of the day. I have to find ways to entertain myself and clearly that means torturing this woman. Pool rules. Pool rules. Think, think, think. Surely children wouldn’t be allowed on anyone’s shoulders. That could be dangerous if it wasn’t a responsible adult holding on tightly. I toss Aya up on my shoulders, holding her steady as I pace around the pool. Come on, you know you want to yell at me. What do I have to do, run around the pool?
A whistle blows because obviously, I’m not less than ten feet away and couldn’t possibly hear her if she called over to me. Attention is needed. “Sir, no horse playing in the pool,” she says, monotone as if she must recite the same line four-hundred times a day.
“I’m not horse playing, Miss No. I’m just holding my daughter up on my shoulders. Dads do that sort of thing.”
“Not in the pool,” she replies.
One of Five ARC's for Man Buns
About the Author
Shari J. Ryan is an International Bestselling Author of heartbreakers and mind-benders. Shari was once told she tends to exaggerate often and sometimes talks too much, which would make a great foundation for fictional books. Four years later, Shari has written eleven novels that often leave readers either in tears from laughing, or crying.With her loud Boston girl attitude, Shari isn't shy about her love for writing or the publishing industry. Along with writing several International bestsellers, Shari has split her time between writing and her longstanding passion for graphic design. In 2014, she started an indie-publishing resource company, MadHat Books, to help fellow authors with their book cover designs, as well as assistance in the self-publishing process. While Shari may not find many hours to sleep, she still manages to make time for her family. She is a devoted wife to a great guy, and a mother to two little boys who remind her daily why she was put on this earth.
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