Prologue

Her eyes were flooded with tears, but the liquid was lost among the salt water surrounding her. Strong currents pulled and twisted her every which way, and she let them, her long golden hair winding itself tightly around her neck, leaving red marks as she struggled to untangle it.

As she surfaced, the tears streaming down her face blended beautifully among the water droplets dripping down her cheeks. He had left her for another woman, her best friend, and she had immediately retreated to the place that she felt most comfortable. The lifeguards had tried to convince her to head back to shore when their shift ended hours ago, but she had opted to stay where she was. She was happy in the cold oblivion that was her current residence, both literally and figuratively.

Giacinta Moore leaned back and let herself go, floating weightlessly upon the water beneath her back. The night was clear, and the stars shone brightly above her. Picking the brightest one she could find, she began to wish upon it.

She wished that the heart-ache brought on by her friend and lover's betrayal could sink to the bottom of the ocean as easily as she could. She wished that she could cause him as much pain as he had caused her. Most importantly, she wished that his new fiancé would gain three hundred pounds so he would realize his mistake.

She jumped slightly at the feel of something sliding along her back and she jerked herself upright before her face fell below the surface. It had felt like fingers. But no one else had been in the water. She was sure she would have seen, or at least felt, someone approach. She squeaked in alarm as a face burst out of the water, lime green eyes staring into her wide open ones. He studied her for several moments before breaking the silence.

"Are you new around here?" he asked, a deep, husky timbre to his voice.

"No," she replied, circling around him and backing away in a subtle attempt to retreat. She found it strange that that was his conversation opener. He didn't say hello or ask her name—just if she was new. "And your pick-up lines could use some work."

His face was a deep tan, with slight laugh lines by his eyes, his pleasant disposition apparent in the wide smile splitting his face. His cheeks and nose were lightly sprinkled with freckles, and he was slightly unkempt with a red-gold beard and mustache to match his unruly hair. She could just see the outline of his shoulders, intimidating in their breadth. Her eyes flashed back to his just in time to catch his knowing smirk, and she glared as she continued to move away.

He knew she was trying because with every step back she took, he took one forward, and she began to give in to panic as she realized a piece of seaweed had wrapped itself tightly around her ankle, preventing her from making her final dash to shore. She tugged, hoping her movement was inconspicuous. From the shrewd look he gave her, it apparently was not.

"Would you like me to help you with that?" he asked.

"Help with what?" She looked around herself frantically, hoping to find someone strolling along the beach. He laughed and rolled his eyes as she squeaked again at the feel of his fingers pulling lightly on the seaweed. She was extremely short, approximately five feet tall, but the fact that he could reach her ankle with his hand and barely submerge his face was startling to her. As the plant came loose, he trailed his palm lightly up her calf, his eyes never leaving hers. She shuddered and pulled away. "Thank you for your help," she gasped, running from the water as fast as she could, throwing water into the air with her feet as she sped away.

With his eyes locked on her curvy form, he slid further down in the water, hiding his smile at his latest find. He always said that treasure came in every form, and she was his proof.