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I picked at the table. Some dickhead had scratched penis into the wood, and damned if I wasn’t going to turn that i into an upside-down actual penis. Just needed to add some girth and another ball. Or I was stalling. Again.

I glanced up, meeting Trent’s knowing gaze. Why’d he always look at me that way? Like he was an all-knowing wise owl.

I raised a shoulder, feeling guilt bloom in my chest. “You should’ve been able to do that, except Damian should’ve joined the conversation.”


One year ago. That’s how long ago I’d left that relationship, and I’d been such a mess that it took eleven months to realize I needed something drastic to get me back in the land of the living—and social media.

Hence my Lucas mistake. We met at my gym, gushed over Reese Forster, and I’d given a reckless yes to his suggestion we grab a beer, which had ended with Newt. Good old Newt.

I sighed. I was starting to miss the old grandpa.

But not his thieving ways.

Trent nodded. “Yeah. Maybe. Maybe I can’t talk, but I know all our other friends, and I never had the relationship with any of them where I could call at three in the morning to plot Operation Remove Forgotten-Name-Nice-Lady.” He bumped my arm with his fist and ducked his head to meet my gaze. “I’m kinda scared this is an aberration, so I mean it. You should come with me to camp. Keith—”

Boo. Hiss. Thunderbolts.

I hated Keith.

Keith, the boss.

“—said that whoever booked the island, they have it for almost three weeks. He asked me to come back a couple times for their stay. He’s only using old staff. He wants the ones he can trust, so whoever it is, they’re a big deal. You should come.”

“And work there? Be your assistant? Get you coffee? A fan on command?”

He rolled his eyes. “No. I mean, didn’t you say you were trying to write a book?”

Oh, fuck. Either my social skills were seriously lacking or my tolerance to tequila was in the trenches.

“I said that?” I felt my face getting hot. What else had I said?

Trying to write a book hadn’t been my idea. It’d been my therapist’s, and yes, after eleven months, Lucas and the therapist had both been my attempts at getting a life again. And that was an exaggeration about writing a book. She might’ve said journal, but here’s me. I either overly commit or I don’t commit at all, and I walked out of that session hearing I needed to write a book.

Yeah. I’d written nothing.

“What?” Trent asked.


He shook his head. “You zoned out on me.”

“I told you I was going to write a book?”

He nodded. “Were you not supposed to?”

“No, but it’s embarrassing.”

“Why’s that embarrassing? I think it’s a good idea. You can write about your life, about what you went through with Damian. It’s like an intensive therapeutic technique.”

Holy shit. He’d been talking to my therapist. Or Newt.

“My life sucks. It’d be the most depressing book ever.”

He laughed. “You’d be surprised. But hey, getting back to my question—are you still working at that data place?”

I used to work with data sets, but it was something I quit on behalf of my dignity. The owner had asked if I stole her laptop. I said no, and I quit. Okay. I might not have quit per se, but I still left without pointing out that it was her cheating husband who stole it. For his mistress. And I knew that because the mistress had come in the day before with the same laptop. He hadn’t even taken off the sticker that said Boss Bitch. Instead, the mistress had crossed it out and written Mine Now.

I felt she’d fired me because I kept quiet. But the mistress herself was revenge enough. I went in the other day to grab my last paycheck—she wouldn’t even mail it to me. And I saw she’d hired the mistress for the desk clerk position.

The two of us had a shared smirk moment.

I felt like I was telling her, “Give Meredith hell.” And the mistress was telling me, “I already have been, with him. In bed.”

She might not have been thinking that, but I had high hopes. She was probably more thinking, That’s the loser who got fired for what he stole for me. And she probably thought I was thinking, I’m scared of you, but please come clean so I can have my job back.

See? Joke was on her. Ha.

Either way, I’d decided to accept the assignment my therapist gave me: write about my life. I was embracing the idea. I did have a small nest egg in my savings account, and if there was any time to try something new, it was now.


Who was I kidding? I was scared shitless. I needed to get a new job and stat.

“Who do you think would win: a cockatoo or an otter?” I asked. Followed shortly by, “hashtagImight’vebeenfired.”

He didn’t respond, not right away. He just stared at me, and after I snuck a look at him, he rolled his eyes. Again.

“I’m not even going to ask, but hello?” He nudged my shoulder over the table. “This is perfect timing. You’re coming. Decision is made.”

It was like being in the last cell in a block, and one by one, I heard the doors shutting. I knew mine was coming, and I wanted to bolt, but I also knew I couldn’t. Long-term, it was better if I sat tight.

Lucas had dumped me.

I lost my job.

I had a book to write.

Get the feeling the universe is trying to tell you something?

Trent was looking at me, so smug and somehow I knew I’d just committed to this too.

Whether I was ready or not, Echo Island Camp, here I come.


I felt like a thirteen-year-old, all awkward and scared, not like my twenty-seven years. Oh, who was I kidding? My life had been more together back then than it was now. Maybe Trent was right. It was fate that I was coming here.

Trent had called ahead, making sure Keith had a position for me to fill. Trent had to leave after his speaking event tomorrow, but I’d be staying so we were going in separate cars the next day. My old boss had hired me for the whole three weeks whoever-it-was had booked the entire island.

He said I’d have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and I tried to keep from gagging. Keith always made a big deal about any campers. They mostly catered to wealthy campers, but even the 4-H campers got the celebrity treatment. At this point, the island could’ve been rented out for a makeup consultants convention and Keith only needed us to staff concessions or the gym courts.

In my case, it was the gym courts.

That’s what I learned when we arrived, four hours later and severely needing coffee. We’d taken off the morning after what I now called Tequila and Regrets Night. Trent had gotten up, the ambitious overachiever he was, and went for a run.

“Just the gym courts?” I signed the NDA with a little flourish under my name.

Keith started to take the paper away, and I couldn’t help myself.

I added two dots over the i in Charlie.

He paused.

I was done.

He started to take it again.

Wait. I had to add a line under my name.

He raised an eyebrow. “Are you done?”

“Is your name Keith?” That was tame, even for me. I nodded.

I didn’t like Keith. I never had.

He’d been my boss every summer I came here, and each year, his belly got bigger and bigger, and so did his arrogance. He always had on a golf shirt with a mug that spelled out BOSS with the B being the handle (Maybe I was attracted to always being an employer for those types of bosses? The asshole kinds?), and he wore khaki shorts with white socks and white sneakers underneath. It was the same uniform every single day—with a bounce in his step as he strutted around the campgrounds that made me grit my teeth.

And then there was his hair. There was a small amount of curl on top, a blondish brown color. Or maybe it was his laugh. He would always echo out a “HAR HAR HAR” laugh at the end of his jokes. Not anyone else’s. His.

When Trent and I had arrived and walked into the office, I’d braced myself for some suggestive, snide comment. There was usually something sexual from him, at least with me. It was what he did, what he leered about, what he suggested with an appraising look, or a slightly dirty joke, but I’d been surprised.

He hadn’t said a word, just shoved over the NDA, announced I would get paid a little less than the normal rate and I wasn’t special because I was older. Then he’d picked up the B-oss mug and taken a sip.

When I finally let him take the NDA, he left his mug on the counter as he took the papers over to his desk. I eyed it. I was tempted to knock it on the floor, but this was my first day back. Probably not a good idea.

“Is that okay, Charlie?”

I’d been lost in Boss-mugland. “Huh?”

He came over, a key in hand. “You’re in charge of the basketball courts, the outside and inside ones. I don’t know what they’ll need, but make sure they don’t take our equipment or damage anything. You’re there to watch everything, and help with whatever they need—towels or snacks or whatever. You’re in charge of that too.”

I stared at him. Huh?

Basketball courts…

“It’s a basketball camp?”

Trent smothered a laugh beside me.

What had I just signed?

But it was gone. Dickhead Boss had already taken it.

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