Monday, December 31, 2012

Hot sun, hot sand and a hot, hot man. Who says an older woman can't have adventure?
Kitty Benson left her home in the UK to find the warmth of the sun 'Down Under'. She never expected the journey to include a life-threatening experience. A toned, tanned Adonis—Zakk—rescues Kitty from a dangerous rip current her first day at the beach. Alive and sunkissed by the Downunder Heat, when Kitty meets her rescuer again, the spark that piqued her interest turns to flames…

Kitty wasn’t a bad swimmer—at home she’d done laps in the pool to keep fit—but, no matter how strongly she stroked, she made no progress. Her arms felt heavy and her breath came in choppy gasps, salt water rasping into her throat as she breathed in. Panic sent her heart pounding and stiffened her muscles, and she sank below the waves. She struggled to reach the surface. From somewhere in her memory came the idea that she should raise her arms above her head to signal distress, but she couldn’t do that without sinking, and in any case she was too far out for anyone to see her.
She lifted her head, took a deep breath—trying to avoid inhaling water—and began to swim for shore again. She refused to drown on her first full day in Australia, on her first visit to the beach.
“I…am…not…drowning. I…am…not…drowning,” she said, her words keeping time with the lift, swing, dive and drag of her arms.
“Pleased to hear that,” a deep Australian male voice said. “But I’d like you to climb on board the surf ski anyway.”
She swung her head and there, right alongside her, was a man—a ridiculous red and yellow cap on his head, his legs astride a long narrow water craft.
He held out a hand to her. “Come on, get on here and we’ll get you out of this rip.”
He reached over and hauled her up out of the water and settled her in front of him on the bright yellow board. She flopped on her stomach, and he leaned across her, his chest against her bottom, his strong arms churning the water, propelling the board, not in towards the beach as she expected, but parallel to it.
“Why aren’t we going in?” she gasped when she got her breath back.
“You haven’t been to the beach much, have you?” he asked, the effort of paddling both of them through the water seeming to have no effect on his ability to hold a conversation.
“No,” she replied, “this is my first day in Australia.”
“Tourists.” Kitty could clearly hear the disdain in his voice. “They just want to hit the water. They never take the time to find out what the dangers are.”
“You mean like sharks and stuff? I thought there were alarms if there were sharks.”
“There would be,” he said. “But since you didn’t hear the whistles and the loud speaker telling you to stay between the flags, what makes you think you’d have heard the shark alarms?”
“There wasn’t any whist—” Kitty stopped what she had been about to say, remembering she had heard something, she just hadn’t thought it was relevant to her. Maybe he had a point.
“In any case,” he went on, “sharks are the least likely problem you’d encounter. Dangerous surf conditions are far more common. The flags are there for a reason. You stay between them so you don’t end up in a rip, like this one.”
As he spoke he turned the board and headed it towards the shore. The surf ski slid forward in a rapid glide that covered the distance in very little time. “Rips are areas where the water moves outwards quickly. People who don’t know what they’re doing get taken out with them. You can tell a rip because the waves are flattened so they look smoother. When you get caught in one, you don’t swim or paddle inwards. You go across it until you get out of it, then you head in, like we just did.”
They reached the sand, and he helped her to stand then grasped the handle of his board and held it to keep it from being washed away.
“Learn to recognise a rip when you see one, and stay between the flags,” he said sternly. “First rule. Don’t ignore it.” Then he smiled at her. “You probably should go to first aid and get checked out. Make sure you’re okay.” He turned and pushed his board back into the water.
Realisation crashed like a wave over Kitty’s head. The man had just saved her life and she hadn’t even thanked him.
“Wait,” she called. He turned around and Kitty gulped. He was gorgeous—long and lean, with powerful muscled thighs, a six pack, broad shoulders and those powerful arms that had lifted her from danger and paddled them both to shore. She swallowed, trying to get some moisture into her dry mouth. “I…” Her voice sounded croaky and she tried again, “I could never have made it back on my own. I would have died. I can never, ever thank you enough. I don’t have any money with me now, but if you tell me how to contact you—”
“I don’t want your money,” he said, taking a step backwards, his hand held up in front of him. “I’m a volunteer lifesaver. No one, not one of us, will take a reward for doing something like this.” He stood there like some tall, earth-bound god, his golden brown eyes warm in the sunlight. 

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