The Movie Star’s Son
eBook ISBN: B00EYME894
Girls dream of growing up and marrying a movie star, but how many have their sights set on his son?
With no fear that anyone in the parking lot was watching him, the man smashed in the back window of the canopy housing on the red pickup truck.
Chris was walking across the parking lot when she heard shattering glass and saw the man breaking into her truck. Icy fingers clutched her heart and threatened to yank it up her throat. Her darling dog was in the truck and she sprinted the remaining distance in seconds.
“What are you doing?” Chris screamed, hoping her cries would alert people walking across the Santa Monica beach parking lot.
The man in the white shirt and red shorts whirled around and she saw he was a Los Angeles County lifeguard. Backing up, he held a tire iron at shoulder length, getting ready to use it again if he had to. He almost looked guilty at being caught, and then his face grew hard with rage.
“I’m rescuing your dog. You’ve left it alone in the back of your truck with the window closed. The sun heats up cars thirty, forty degrees higher than the outside temperature and your dog could have died from heat exhaustion.”
“You moron!” Chris’s hands flew above her head and her blue eyes narrowed as she glared at him. “The window on the other side is open! This window is closed because the fly screen is ripped and I didn’t want my dog to work it loose and escape. The canopy is insulated and she has her blanket, her food, and a bowl of water. I’ve been down at the beach for less than an hour and before I went I poured water over my dog to keep her cool. How dare you accuse me of abusing my dog!”
Unlocking the canopy, Chris flipped up the back window and pulled down the tailgate. The Dalmatian inside was pressed against the back of the truck quivering in fear.
“Come here, Dorothy.” Chris quietly coaxed the dog. “It’s all right.” The dog came to her and she held her tightly before lifting her off the truck. Kneeling on the pavement she checked the dog over, and then stood up to get a better look at the shards of glass that littered the back of her truck.
The lifeguard walked around to the other side of the truck and lightly tapped the fly netting on the open window. He returned to where the woman and dog were standing and put his hand on the dog. He was treated to a deep, throaty growl and quickly withdrew his hand. “I’m terribly sorry. I’m a dog owner too and I was worried when I heard your dog bark. I thought it might be in distress.”
“So you go around smashing in the windows of every car where you see a dog? Give me a break. Why don’t you go pull someone out of the ocean?”
His tanned face flushed in humiliation. “Let me get your window fixed. There’s a glass repair shop three blocks from here. I’ll get my truck and you follow me there.”
Chris hesitated, wanting nothing more to do with this moron other than reporting him to his supervisor. But why should she pay to have the window fixed? Pursing her mouth, she nodded and brought Dorothy inside the cab of the truck. When she slid behind the wheel she caught a glimpse of her wind-snarled red hair in the rear view mirror and ran her fingers through the tangles while she waited for the man. A few moments later a truck pulled up beside her and the lifeguard honked and motioned for her to follow him.
At the glass repair shop an employee surveyed the damage and gave a figure to the lifeguard, who handed over a credit card before returning to Chris.
“It’ll take an hour to fix your window and they’ll vacuum up the glass in the back too. I’m also taking care of replacing the broken screen on the other side of the canopy. It’s the least I can do for causing you all this trouble. Let me buy you lunch while you wait.”
“No thanks.” Chris glared at him, determined not to let his ruggedly handsome face sway her anger. “You’ve already done enough. Just leave me alone.”
“I’m terribly sorry. I feel awful for the inconvenience I’ve put you through.” He made an apologetic shrug with his hands.
“Fine. Just leave. Go jump in the ocean!”
Chris watched him flinch, clench his jaw, and he pulled back his shoulders and stood straighter. His blue eyes locked on hers and turned ice-cold. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth as if he had something else to say. He must have thought better of it, because he gave her a terse nod and turned away. His broad shoulders sagged ever so slightly as his long legs quickly covered the distance to the lifeguard truck.
“Good riddance,” Chris whispered to Dorothy, and patted the dog’s head. Seeing as how the lifeguard had brought up lunch, she decided it was a good idea and let the repairman know she’d return soon. She found a taco stand with outside picnic tables and Dorothy sat at her feet while she munched on her meal and looked over a California map. Her destination was Del Mar and she planned to spend three days visiting attractions in the San Diego area. This darned glass replacement had set her back a couple of hours, but barring any further delays she should be at the hotel around five o’clock. By the time she returned to the glass shop the truck was ready to go and she headed south.
* * * *
Chris spent her last afternoon in Del Mar walking Dorothy on an off leash beach. Dorothy joined new doggy friends taking advantage of unleashed freedom to play under the watchful eyes of their owners. Dorothy was having a grand time racing other dogs along the water’s edge while the wild surf crashed upon the beach, covering dogs and their owners with fine sprays of mist. Trudging behind Dorothy in calf deep water, Chris thought she saw someone swimming beyond the surf line.
Squinting her eyes against the strong Southern California sun, she saw an older man flailing his arms, bobbing helplessly as two to three foot waves washed over him, sucking him under and then spitting him back to the surface. Tossing her shoes onto the sand, Chris yelled at Dorothy to stay, and ran into the surf. Seeing as how she used to be a lifeguard for the City of Seattle, her old instincts kicked in and she knew she had to do everything in her power to get this man to safety. Breakers crashed over her and she lost sight of the man. Just when she was beginning to question her sanity and wondering if he had made it safely back to shore, Chris rode the crest of a wave, and spotted him struggling in the water.
“Hold on! I’m coming!” She hoped he heard her over the thundering surf.
He turned to her and their eyes locked, his full of fear and hers bulging wide with adrenaline.
“Help!” he cried.
Within moments Chris reached him. “Are you hurt?”
“No.” He gasped for breath. “I’m tired. The ocean’s stronger than usual and I can’t get back to shore.”
“Is anyone else with you?” Chris fervently hoped she wouldn’t have to do a double rescue.
“Okay, roll on your back and I’ll tow you in to shore.” There was something familiar about this man. She wrapped her right arm across his chest and kicked for shore. “My name’s Chris. What’s yours?”
She stared more closely at him. Ben? Not the TV and movie star Ben Jenkins! She’d been watching him in movies and on television since she was a little kid. Wow! Who would ever believe this? To keep him distracted while swimming back to shore, Chris asked him questions about his family. In-between uneven gasps of air he told her about his wife, his son who co-starred with him on a popular TV drama, another son, one daughter, and several grandchildren.
The current was strong. The waves tried to suck them back out to sea. Chris became tired and disillusionment washed over her. It seemed she was not making any progress and after a couple of moments of silence Ben spoke.
“This is useless. I’m in your way. Let go of me and save yourself. Swim back to shore.”
Right, Chris said to herself. I really want to be known as the person who let Ben Jenkins drown. Even though she was tiring, there was no doubt in her mind that she would get both of them safely back to shore.
“Nope, we’re going to do this together. You help me by kicking.”
The little extra help on Ben’s part or perhaps a sudden lull in the waves did the trick. The ocean momentarily seized its grip on them, and encouraged that the safety of the beach was close, they found a renewed energy. It was a short-lived reprieve. One strong wave reared and pounded them into the unforgiving Pacific. They were sucked underwater, caught in a tumbling spiral. Chris held on tight to Ben, and just when it seemed she couldn’t hold her breath much longer, the ocean spat them out.
Thrown onto the sand they gasped for air. Dorothy was overjoyed to see her mistress and greeted them by running back and forth, covering any available body part with licks. Chris knelt on the sand letting Ben lean against her while they struggled to breathe. Other dog owners ran over and someone with a cell phone called an ambulance. People began to materialize when word spread this was Ben Jenkins. Chris spoke softly to Ben, making sure he was okay, comforting him, and letting him know the ambulance was on the way. He tried to protest but she insisted he go to the hospital and let the doctors check his lungs for water and treat him for exhaustion.
“Can someone get my wife? We’re staying at that brown house with the blue windsock on the sundeck.”
A young man looked in the direction he was pointing. “The one with the four big palm trees?”
Ben nodded and the young man jogged to the house.
Soon the paramedics arrived and took over. Chris quietly backed away, picked up her shoes, collected Dorothy, and left.