Just a Little Kiss - Renita Pizzitola

Chapter 1

Felicity

The waves crashed against the shoreline beneath the boardwalk. Their melodic pounding drowned out the bells, rattles and cheers from the carnival behind me. There was just something about the ocean that helped calm my nerves, except today it seemed to torture me with its boundless sky and endless water, the epitome of freedom…yet my life was contained to this. This nothing that felt like everything. Small town; smaller life.

My sister Hope slipped up beside me, pressing her elbows against the railing, her rounded belly grazing the wooden slats. “Everything okay?” she asked.

I straightened, stretched my hands over my head then tugged my white work tank top back down. “Yeah. Just a little worn out from tonight’s shift. This summer has taken it out of me.”

Of course, it wasn’t really just this summer; it was every day. Every moment. Every single minute spent doing the same freaking thing: Wake up, pull a long shift at Eddie’s, crash, repeat. My skin itched for something new. Something better. I felt like the boats in the harbor, crashing with the waves, fighting to break free, but bound by a single freaking rope. Except my rope was my own fear, but that was all it took. One thing, one person, one commitment. Tied down.

“It’s been a hot one.” Hope rubbed her hand over her stomach. “In a few years, when you have kids, plan for a winter pregnancy.”

A few years? No way. I refused to let my life be headed in that direction. But this town…it sucked everything out of you. Well, not everything. I swear, every time I turned around someone else was pregnant. The fertility rate here must be astronomical.

“Felicity?” Hope turned toward me, her expression one of concern.

I forced a smile. “Sorry, I spaced out. I think I need something to eat. I skipped dinner.”

“Food sounds good.”

She licked her lips and I suppressed a laugh. “Yeah, I can grab us something. What are you in the mood for?”

“Um, a corn dog? But hot dogs are bad for you. Maybe some cotton candy? But that’s a lot of sugar.” She bit her lip. “An ice cream cone? That’s good. It’s dairy, right? And protein.”

“Sure. And the cone’s a grain, and if you get strawberry you can add in the fruit.”

Her eyes brightened, then her expression sank. “You’re screwing with me, aren’t you?”

“Of course not.” I grinned. “Okay, I’ll be right back with your corn dog, cotton candy and ice cream.”

“Can you also maybe get a drink? To wash it down.”

I chuckled. “No problem.”

“You’re the best. Love you.”

With a shake of my head, I headed to a nearby food trailer to blow a decent chunk of that night’s tips. Thankfully the line wasn’t too bad, and it didn’t take long to load up and head back to Hope. Juggling way too much food, I navigated through the carnival crowd, careful not to drop anything.

“Hungry?” A guy’s voice called out.

I turned and smiled when I saw my friend Colby walking up. “Hey. It’s not all for me.”

“I was kind of wondering when you started eating non-green food.”

I rolled my eyes then lifted the hand holding sweet potato fries and cotton candy. “These are orange, and I may even eat a bite of pink.”

“Wow. Really branching out.”

I grinned. “So what are you doing here? Past your bedtime, isn’t it?”

“Pretty much.” He took his baseball cap off, scratched his head, then readjusted it, centering the John’s Charter Boats logo perfectly. “Dad had shoulder surgery this week, so I got a few days off. But we’re heading back out come Sunday.”

“That explains why it’s been so quiet