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Mouth to Mouth (Beach Kingdom #1)
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A man with a prison record has no place around a fresh faced college student. Tell that to Rory Prince. He should stay the hell away from Olive Cunningham. There’s one small problem, though. She won’t stop almost getting killed—and with this too-smart, too-sweet girl holding his heart in her hands, Rory is powerless to do anything but keep saving her.
Homeschooled from a young age, Olive is now out on her own and discovering the world, one milkshake flavor at a time. Until recently, she has experienced life through books. She’s walked in a million sets of shoes while flipping pages—enough to know that Rory gives her once-in-a-lifetime feelings. If only he would stop trying to protect her…from himself.
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God, I fucking hate summer.
Rory Prince shoved the ice pack against his throbbing eye and tried unsuccessfully to tune out the offensive early morning kitchen sounds. The scratching of his oldest brother’s pencil across the table might as well have been an air horn pressed directly to the center of his forehead—and was way too efficient for nine a.m.
“Do you mind?” Rory muttered. “I’m in recovery mode.”
“When are you not?” Andrew didn’t even bother to look up from the two clipboards on which he seemed determined to make endless notations. “It’s Memorial Day weekend and I have two schedules to organize. Sorry I can’t accommodate your hangover.” His pencil flew from one set of grids to another. “Where did the black eye come from?”
“Yes, I thought you only gave those out,” Rory’s other brother, Jamie, said from behind his raised, open book. “Who got the drop on you?”
“Some DFS’s,” Rory responded, shifting the ice pack, and his brothers hummed in acknowledgment, well aware that DFS stood for Down for the Summer. As in, those who didn’t live year-round in Long Beach but showed up for three months out of the year to make hell for the residents. “Don’t worry, he ended up with two instead of one.”
Jamie sighed and finally lowered his worn-in copy of The Grapes of Wrath. “Aren’t physical altercations a violation of your probation?”
Rory winked his good eye. “Only if I get caught.”
Andrew tossed aside the pencil and flattened both hands on the kitchen table. “All right. I tried to give everyone at least one full day off every week—”
“Jesus, man,” Rory deadpanned. “Don’t spoil us.”
“Look. We’ve got a bar to run.” Andrew massaged his eyes with a forefinger and thumb. Not for the first time, Rory noticed the new lines at the corners and the ice pack started to feel heavier in his hand. “I know it’s a lot, lifeguarding during the day and working behind the bar at night. If I could eliminate one of them for us, I would.” He dropped his hand. “Things are different than they were four years ago, though. We should be used to it by now.”
Things were different? Christ, what an understatement.
Rory, Andrew and Jamie traded long looks over the table, before quickly moving their attention elsewhere. A familiar pit took up residence in Rory’s stomach, but he filled it with cement and pasted a bored expression on his face. “Look, all I know is I’m not working Trivia Tuesdays at the bar.” He pointed at Jamie. “You herd the nerds this year.”
“As long as I can still participate in the quiz while serving drinks.”
Rory’s lips twitched. “God forbid you miss a chance to blow minds with your bottomless intellect.”
Jamie turned the page of his book. “What good is being a genius if I can’t make everyone else feel stupid?”
Andrew grabbed their attention with a knuckle rap on the table. “All right, so Jamie, you’re on Tuesday nights.” Their older brother made a notation on one of his clipboards. “I’m taking Sunday and Monday because the sports crowd is belligerent and Rory will knock someone out and end up back in a concrete cell—”
“More than likely,” Rory drawled, taking a few gulps of black coffee.
“We’re all hands on deck Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights—everyone works. So that leaves Wednesday night open.” Andrew speared him with a look. “You got it covered?”
“Sure. Wet T-shirt Wednesdays—”
“Nu-uh. Not happening.”
Rory smiled at his strait-laced oldest brother to let him know he’d been joking. “I think I’ve got it, man.”
With a nod, Andrew penciled in the final details to the Castle Gate schedule, hoisting it up like Moses probably held the Ten Commandments. “The next three months are going to be crazy, but when things quiet back down in September, we’ll have a lot less of Dad’s debt to show for it. We’re almost there. Play our cards right and this could be the year.” He didn’t meet their eyes. “Heads down and plow through, okay?” Finally, he ticked a look in both of their directions. “And let me know if anyone asks about him.”
Rory swallowed. “Will do.”
Jamie set his book down, which was as good as an agreement.
“Next order of business,” Andrew started, trading a not-so-subtle glance with Jamie. “Mom’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks.”
“What do you know?” Rory drawled, his neck itching. “Damn thing rolls around at least once every single year. Same time, too.”
“Are you going to come?” Jamie asked, shifting in his chair. “I don’t think you realize how much she’d like to see you, Rory.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” He laughed without humor and polished off his coffee, softening his tone when his brothers looked disappointed. “I’ll let you know, huh?”
Before anyone could respond, the back door of their kitchen opened and Jiya Dalal, the fourth member of their family, breezed in. “Morning, suckers,” she murmured, flipping her wave of black hair over her shoulder. “Where’s my coffee?”