Riptide Rendezvous

Juliet works for the Marine Mammal Conservancy Center, where she commits her whole life to saving injured sea life and cleaning the Florida beaches. Focusing entirely on her career, she rarely has time for relationships. One late summer evening, she is called to save a group of sea turtles. She quickly learns that they are not the only ones who need saving when she meets Harry Styles, whose cheeky but rugged personality makes her question her own motives. Maybe she was so busy saving the world that she didn't realize it was she HERSELF who needed to be saved...

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4. Chapter 4

Chapter 4

JULIET’S POV

For the first time in a while, I was slowly outgrowing my shyness. Instead of cancelling lunch with Braedan and my other coworkers, I decided to accept their invitation and I texted Elle that I would meet her for dinner instead. It worked out nicely because she insisted she needed more time to buy a new outfit anyway.

After 9 hours in the blazing sun, I was famished. I met Braedan and the others in the back of the MM center and we all crammed into my jeep for the short ride to Mambo Italiano, my favorite little restaurant just 4 blocks from work. When we all piled out of my vehicle, Braedan ran ahead to get a table for us, hoping to avoid the lunchtime rush. I waited with my coworkers Tony, Brian, and Trisha. Braedan ran back outside, laughing hysterically.

All 3 of us simultaneously said, “What’s so funny?” Just when we thought Braedan had finally caught his breath, he broke out in a fit of laughs again.

“It’s…Aaron! He…he…apparently must’ve heard me on the phone with you this morning Juliet, cause he’s already booked us all a table, and he’s even ordered you a drink! Get it babe,” he nudged me.

“Ugh. You’ve got to be kidding me,” I rolled my eyes. As if we were repeating the crammed ride over here, we all squished into a medium booth, only this time it was worse because Aaron had joined us, and he was practically sitting in my lap.

“Personal space bubble. You’re violating it. Bippity Boppity back-it-up...” I muttered to him.

“So sorry. Don’t look so stressed out, you must be tense. Let me rub your shoulders!” he eagerly offered.

“Touch me and I’ll cut off your testicles.” I remarked coolly.

“Whoah, sassy Juliet’s in town…I wonder how this happened!” Braedan was itching for an answer. My best guy friend knew me too well. I silently mouthed “later”, and he respected my request.

A small smirk escaped from my lips as I hid my face behind the menu. I was so proud of myself for standing up to Aaron’s asshole-ish antics. The waiter came over to our table and placed a strawberry daiquiri in front of me. Everyone at the table, including myself, was puzzled.

“Ma’am, this is from your friend at the bar,” he informed me. I glanced over at the bar, searching for any familiar faces. Way too difficult to do during the lunch rush on a Thursday. There was close to 20 guys crowded around the massive TV, squandering over a baseball game. Most of them were old men. Fat, hairy, old men. Ughhh. Today was filled with all sorts of surprises, welcomed and unwelcomed.

I twirled the straw in the daiquiri and cautiously took a sip. I decided to scale the bar one last time. Smack dab in the middle of a blonde haired boy with an Ireland jersey and an old man in full fishing gear was a man with obviously yellow swim trunks. I was almost positive it had to be him, but I couldn’t see his face in the crowd. The men cheered wildly as someone hit a home run. I strained my neck to try to catch a glimpse of his face, but to no avail.

“Whatcha lookin’ at Juliet?” Tony questioned.

“Just trying to see who hit that homerun...” I lied.

I whipped my phone out under the table and texted Elle.

You will not believe this. I swear the attractive tattoo guy is at Mambo’s and he just bought me drink.

OMG no way Jul! Ugh I’m dying for all the details. Can’t wait for dinner. Ru sure it’s him?

Els, I’m sure. His trunks are bright enough to blind the dead.

The waiter soon came with our lunches just as the bar crowd was dispersing. My eyes frantically searched the area for tattoo man, but he vanished. The all-too familiar feeling of disappointment sank into my stomach as I picked at my chicken parmesan. I wound up letting Trisha take home my leftovers, and everyone else left Mambo Italiano’s with full bellies and smiles on their faces.

The afternoon at work seemed to go by so slowly. Every minute felt like an hour in the sweltering heat. I was irritated by the smallest things, from a barking dog to a child kicking sand everywhere. The sun was blinding me, literally and figuratively…every time I squinted in the light, all I could see was vivid yellow swim trunks. I got increasingly aggravated the more he crossed my mind.

Pay attention, I thought to myself. You don’t let anything break your focus at work. These turtles need you. The beach needs you. The ocean needs you.

Finally, 6:00 rolled around and I punched my time-card in exactly on the hour. I nearly ran to my jeep, coming to a halt when noticed Aaron leaning up against the driver’s side door.

“Mother of God,” I mumbled to myself. He was really going to get it this time.

“Why can’t you just let me take you home? Just this once baby...” Aaron moved closer to my face.

“Aaron I’m warning you. I’m really not interested it at all, and frankly you’re pissing me off. Go away, alright?” I sneered.

He moved even closer, slowly reaching for my wrists. He pinned me against the side of my jeep and stuck his hand down my shirt.

Oh hell no. Bad move, buster. I silently thanked Braedan for dragging me to his tai-kuan-do lessons last summer. I was about to use my ape-shit karate skills on Aaron’s face when a tall man came running towards us, obviously concerned by the look on his face, and maybe even disgusted.

My conscious was literally laughing. Here I was, partially defenseless and pinned up against my own vehicle, and who comes to save me? Yellow trunks. This day was so ridiculous that I was sure Elle would think I was imagining it. Aaron spun around, still holding my wrists, and immediately dropping them as he made eye contact with my rescuer. Yellow trunks cracked his knuckles and crossed his arms.

“I suggest you don’t try that shit again.” He spat, his accent thicker than I remembered. His hand reached for his back pocket, and he brandished a City Police badge.

I couldn’t stifle the gasp that parted from my lips. Metaphorically shitting my pants, I clenched my teeth together and continued backing up against my Jeep as if it was going to swallow me whole and get me out of this uncomfortable situation. Bewildered that he was just stood up by a cop, Aaron put his hands up and slowly walked backwards away from my vehicle. I bent down to pick up all my gear and found myself eye-level with the cop. We both reached for my backpack at the same time, his large hand swallowing my tiny one.

“Thank you officer, um,…”

“Styles.” he stated. “Harry Styles. This wasn’t exactly the type of introduction I intended to have with you.”

I swallowed, choking on my own spit. The space between us felt like it shrunk 10 times smaller as he continued to pick up my belongings and load them into my vehicle. Maybe I was delusional from the sun, maybe I was too nervous to notice before, or hell..it could’ve been the booze, but he was stunning. Not the kind of stunning where you have a crush on someone, but the kind of stunning that made you appreciate natural beauty. He was truly a work of art. Even when he wasn’t speaking, he was undeniably charming.

I wanted so badly to ask if that was him in the bar earlier, but it felt wrong. Elle’s voice was shrill in my head. “Pick your balls up off the floor!” she would shriek. The buzz I got from the daiquiri and a martini that Trisha and I shared was roaring through my veins, sending good vibes to the sassy Juliet inside of me.

“ You were at the bar earlier. Thanks for the daiquiri, officer Styles.” I said politely.

“ No, I wasn’t, and I would be most delighted if you would please call me Harry.” he replied.

“But it had to be you. I recognized those shorts from anywhere. They’re just so bright that I-“ he interrupted me, “I can assure you it wasn’t me, ma’am.”

“I would be most delighted if you would please call me Juliet!” I giggled, covering my mouth instantly. Shit, I should not be allowed to drink. It’s amazing what the tiniest bit of alcohol was doing to my confidence level.

“Charming.” he smirked. The sun was setting over the orangey-pink sky and the breeze picked up. Harry opened the jeep door and shut it delicately behind me.

“Hopefully that slimeball gets off your case.” he sternly remarked.

“ Thank you for coming to my aid” I batted my eyelashes.

“Anytime, Juliet.” he winked and tipped his snapback.

I put my key in the ignition and watched my rearview mirror as my jeep putted off the beach. Harry Styles was still standing there, the breeze teasing his brown locks as he held his arms above his head. I watched his figure grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror until he was no longer visible, smiling the whole way home.

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