“I feel like I’m the main character in a reverse harem romance novel,” Hazel said, stepping into the limo. Alex had already climbed into the car and held out his hand to help her in. Mark was right behind her and she sat between the two of them. “Hanging out with four hot guys.”
“You think we’re hot?” Drew raised his eyebrows as he sat down on the fine leather seat across from them.
“Well… maybe not you.” She tapped her chin and they all laughed. “I’m just kidding. You’re all hot.”
“It doesn’t really matter anyway,” Alex said. “If a girl has a choice between a prince and his three best friends, she’s gonna choose the prince.”
“Not necessarily,” she said, patting Alex’s knee. “I’m sure there’s a special girl out there for you, Alex. And don’t worry, by the time you meet her, the prince will be off the market.”
“Would you like to skip the kiteboarding and just go ring shopping?” Mark asked with pretend seriousness.
“No way, man, I’m going to the beach and you’re picking up the tab,” Noah said, opening the minifridge to survey the contents. “Water bottles? That’s it? Don’t all limos have champagne or something?”
“My father is a sober man,” Mark said. “He thrives on serving his family and his community. The local indigenous tribes consider him their king.”
“What?” Noah and Drew said at the same time.
“Why?” Alex asked.
“He’s kind of like… well… the equivalent of a governor in the States.”
“I thought he just hung out and did princely, rich people stuff,” Drew said.
Hazel threw her head back in a hearty laugh. “What, per chance, is princely, rich people stuff?”
“Ya know, play golf and smoke cigars at the country club, stuff like that.” Drew shrugged.
“Well, he owns the country club,” Mark said. “And half the town really. Every time a business starts to fail he swoops in and buys the business then pays the previous owner to work there and he teaches them how to run a successful business and eventually sells shares back to the previous owner and everyone wins.”
“He learned that from my grandfather.” Hazel lifted her chin in mock superiority. “That’s why my family’s wealth makes your family’s wealth look like… well… millionaires.”
Noah, Drew, and Alex all had gaping mouths, and Noah finally choked out, “Being a millionaire is a bad thing?”
“It’s not like we look down upon them or anything,” Hazel said. “You just wouldn’t find a millionaire who could afford a yacht as big as ours.”
“Mine’s bigger than yours,” Mark pointed out.
“I’m sure it is,” Hazel said in a seductive voice. She raised her eyebrows at Mark.
“My yacht—” Mark emphasized— “Is larger than your yacht.”
“Darn, that’s not what I hoped you were talking about.”
Mark could feel his face and neck heat with embarrassment while his three friends laughed heartily. Mark regained his composure and teased her back. “Watch it, woman, I’ll find someone else to be my princess and you can go off and marry a commoner.”
“Oh my gosh, I shudder,” Hazel said, wrapping her arms around Mark’s, claiming him for her own. “You must not speak of such things.”
Their teasing paused as the limo pulled off the 307 highway, down a long driveway and into the KSM Kiteboarding parking lot.
Mark hauled out his credit card and paid for all five of them to have unlimited lessons for the next two weeks in case any of them wanted to come back another day.
They were each assigned a personal instructor who explained to them the basics of the equipment, the mechanics, the proper way to secure the harness and mount the board, the required wind speeds and directions, and the danger involved in the sport.
After an hour of trying to hold onto the bar, Hazel struggled to keep the bar from flying out of her hands much less control the small practice kite. While the guys were already learning how to step onto the board with the kite bar in one hand, Hazel seemed as if she were about to break into tears.
Marcos unhooked his harness and handed his kite to his instructor then made a wide circle around the area where Hazel was struggling and came up behind her.
“What do you want?” she snapped at him. “You wanna give me pointers? Or laugh at how badly I’m failing at this?”
“No, I want to go up to the cabana and get some lunch,” Marcos said. “Are you hungry yet?”
“Would this lunch involve a pina colada and a shoulder rub?” Hazel asked, already passing off her kite and unhooking her harness.
“Shoulder rub, yes.” Marcos chuckled. “Your grandfather would hang me by my toes from one of these kiteboards if I got you drunk. How about a lemonade?”
“Fine, if you insist.” Hazel took his proffered hand and they trudged together through the white sand.
They ordered lemonades and handmade burritos at the cabana and took a seat under one of the umbrella tables while they awaited their food.
Mark was hesitant. Did she really want a shoulder massage? Or had she been joking?
Hazel cringed and moved her head side to side as if she were hurting so Mark took that as a sign.
“Here, I’ll take care of that.” Mark jumped up from his seat and stepped behind her, placing his large hands on her shoulders, kneading her muscles gently. “I promised you a massage.”
“You’re hired,” Hazel moaned as he massaged her sore shoulders. She suddenly pulled away and sat up, reaching for the straps of her bikini top. Although the style was similar to a sports bra, the straps easily slipped off her shoulders while continuing to cover all the important parts. She sat back again. “There you go. Better access.”
“To what? A birds-eye view of you taking off your top? Forget the massage; I’m gonna need a cold shower.”
“Oh please, I’m not fully exposed and I’m sure you’ve seen a woman’s breasts before.”
“Uh…” Mark resumed her shoulder rub, not wanting to admit that indeed he had not seen a woman’s breasts up close because he was choosing to wait until marriage to become intimate with a woman. He was afraid she’d laugh at him if he admitted he was a twenty-year-old college guy who was still a virgin. He kept his mouth shut until the guy from the cabana brought out their food. Saved by the burrito.