Excerpt: Say a Little Prayer
It was too late for tourists to have strayed on to the beach by accident; too early for midnight lovers to be trespassing. This part of the beach was privately owned by the nearby hotel, which was why I was there. My second week at my summer job and I’d had enough of it already. I needed just a few moments of peace after a long and hot day’s work. Just one blissful, quiet half-hour away from the frenzied shrieks of holidaymakers and beach balls bouncing sand in my face, and my tight white catering cap causing rivulets of sweat to run down behind my ears.
I mean, my ambitions in life were modest enough–I didn’t want to be a rock star or a nuclear scientist. I was determined to make my own way and I wasn’t afraid of hard work. But the summer was proving to be more of a struggle than I’d hoped. Here I was, a young man trying to earn extra money wheeling ice creams around in a cart along the promenade, from morning until late afternoon, advertising the local hotel chain. I would have finished earlier if I hadn’t offered to take Mandy’s shift as well, but she was excited at the offer of a last-minute interview for a TV soap. And I’d lent Paul my travel pass so he could visit his sister after her operation, so I needed the money to cover extra fares this week. And … well, Mum needed as much help as possible from me. Even though she hoped this job was going to be fun for me, soaking up the holiday spirit.
I smiled to myself. Soaking up sweat, more like. I wasn’t even going to get a tan because of the smart polo shirt and trousers and long apron the hotel manager wanted me to wear. Obviously I wasn’t meant to be a sexy beach god, either.
Then I saw the man.
I walked towards him because that was the direction I was going anyway. Plus, he needed to know this beach was closed to the general public, and the hotel security could get a little heavy-handed. He was sitting on the sand, his back to me. The late afternoon light lit him from behind, setting a golden glow around his dark curls.
He was …
I came to a sudden halt as he turned his head to face me. He probably heard the squeaky wheels of my cart, even on the sand.
I stared back, temporarily speechless.
“Hello,” he said, and smiled broadly. “I’ve been waiting for you.”