Home > Her Wild Warrior

Her Wild Warrior
Author: Caitlyn O'Leary

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Derek ruined everything! Ryker looked out at the waves with his surfboard planted next to his feet in the powdery sand. It wasn’t fair that Eddie got to go out with his brother, and he was stuck here on shore watching, just watching.

The waves are firing! And I’m missing it!

Ryker glared over at Derek who also had his butt planted in the sand as he watched Eddie and Larry surf.

“You’re a prick, you know that, don’t you?” Ryker asked.

“If you say one more word,” Derek turned to him, “I’ll tell Mom and Dad that you came out here without their permission and Dad’ll blister your ass.”

Ryker’s fists planted on either side of his long, skinny body. “Fuck you. The last time I was spanked was when I was four years old.”

“He’ll make an exception, trust me.”

Ryker had never heard his big brother sound so angry. How did he even find him, for God’s sake? The sun had only come up forty-five minutes ago. He couldn’t believe it when Larry drove into the parking lot and Ryker saw Darek’s fucked-up Volkswagen van.

I have the shittiest luck!

“This isn’t a big deal,” Ryker told him again. “Larry does this all the time.”

“Larry’s sixteen years old. There’s no way he should be taking his little brother out at The Wedge.”

“Larry knows what he’s doing. He explained he wouldn’t let either of us ride the big waves. He was looking out for us.”

“Goddammit, Ryker, you’re not listening to me. Somebody died out here last year. A grown man. This is exactly why Mom always asks you who you’re staying with and who’s going to be watching you.”

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…that was Derek, just moaning on about garbage that didn’t matter. Why couldn’t he be more like Larry? Larry was cool. Eddie said he even saw him have sex with a girl once, at least he was pretty sure because when he peeked in the downstairs basement, he could see her boobs and ass.

I bet Derek’s never had sex, and he’s even older than Larry.

“Are you listening to me?”

“If you’re not man enough to surf, why are we even staying here?”

Ryker’s sneer didn’t seem to bother Derek. “We’re staying because as soon as they come close to shore, I’m dragging Eddie’s ass out of the water and taking him home too. Mrs. Gilder is going to flip her shit when I tell her that Larry let him surf The Wedge.”

“You’re going to narc? You can’t fucking sell him out!” Ryker scrambled up to stand in front of his brother and yell down at him. It didn’t matter that he was only twelve years old and Derek was seventeen; if he told on Eddie, his friend would be grounded for the whole summer, and then who was he going to hang with?

“This is for your friend’s safety.”

“He’s been surfing even longer than I have. He started when he was six. He rips!”

“I know that. But it isn’t about how good he is, it’s about how strong he is, and he’s twelve, he hasn’t developed the muscle he needs to surf—”

Derek shot to his feet and kicked off his sneakers. He moved like lightning and grabbed Ryker’s board out of the sand and started running at the water. Ryker couldn’t even make out what his brother had seen that had him acting like the world was on fire.

He kept looking out at the ocean. There were nine surfers out there, almost all wearing black wetsuits, all coming off the last wave. Larry was easy to spot because his board was bright blue, but that’s when he saw it—a surfboard, light blue, floating upward with its nose pointed at the sky. It was Eddie’s.

Oh God, he’s tombstoning!

Shit, if his surfboard was standing on end like that, Eddie’s leash still had to be tied to it and he was probably halfway to the ocean floor!

Another wave was beginning to break. Ryker flinched as it plowed over Eddie’s surfboard. Now he couldn’t even see the spike of the board standing up in the surf.

Ryker tasted bile as he fought down the need to vomit. Eddie could die! He kept watching the others.

Where is Larry?

Then he spotted Derek. He could see that he was dragging Ryker’s surfboard behind him with the leash around his ankle as he swam out to sea.

Ryker wasn’t sure, but it looked like only six or seven of the guys were still on their boards out there. Their empty boards were nowhere close to where Ryker had last seen Eddie’s surfboard, but Derek was swimming to the right spot.

Come on Derek, you can get him. Come on Derek.

“Oh shit.” Ryker looked around at the empty beach and realized he needed to pull his head out of his ass. Instead of standing around watching, Ryker tried to think of something useful to do. Nobody else was on the beach, but near the bathrooms was a telephone booth. He sprinted toward it. Even though he was a track star, it felt like he was running through molasses. Finally, he got to the booth and punched in 9-1-1.

“What’s your emergency?”

“I’m at Newport Beach, literally on the beach, at The Wedge. My brother’s gone in the water to rescue my friend.”

“Calm down. Can you see your friend?”

Ryker turned back to the ocean. Now there were fewer guys on their boards; they had to be searching for Eddie.

“No, he hasn’t surfaced.”

“I’ve sent Fire and Rescue and notified the local lifeguard.”

“He’s twelve, Lady, he’s been under at least two minutes.”

Is that my voice? It sounds squeaky.

“I need you to calm down and tell me what’s going on.”

“I need to get back—”

“You need to stay on the line and be ready to guide the EMTs when they arrive in the parking lot.” She sounded soothing, and Ryker was able to breathe again. “I have the address of the telephone booth you’re using. They’ll be there any minute. What’s your name?”

“I’ve gotta—”

“What’s your name?” She asked again, in that same friendly soothing voice.

“Ryker. Ryker McQueen.”

“You’re doing good, Ryker. Can you hear the sirens? I need you to listen for the sirens. That’s your job.”

Ryker was gripping the handset so hard he thought it might crack.

“I don’t hear them.”

“They’re almost there.”

Ryker stepped sideways on his toes, trying to get any kind of view of what was going on. He couldn’t see Derek or Larry. He did a headcount, there were only four guys on their boards.

Come on, Eddie. You know what to do, just float to the top. Don’t swim, just float.

That only worked if wave after wave wasn’t pounding on top of you, keeping you under. This time he did throw up a little in his mouth. He spit it out.

Then he thought he saw something. It was Derek’s white-blond head popping up, just for a second. It looked like he had another dark head beside him.

Please say he has Eddie. Please.

Ryker looked farther back behind them and saw it coming.

Another wave.

No, wait.

Waves.

Shit. Fuck. Piss.

They were big ones. Ryker’s skin turned to ice.

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