Home > The Touch of a Villain (The Boys of Clermont Bay #1)

The Touch of a Villain (The Boys of Clermont Bay #1)
Author: Holly Renee

 


Chapter One

 

 

Josie

 

 

I never wanted this. Life wasn’t supposed to go like this.

I picked up a shell out of the sand and almost crushed it in my hand before I threw it. It disappeared into the dark water, and I knew I would never see it again.

Just like I would never see my mom.

“What did the ocean ever do to you?”

I jolted at the sound of the voice from behind me and spun around. There was little light out on the beach except for what came from the house party and the steady beam of the moon, and I could barely make him out as he made his way toward me.

The ocean hadn’t done anything to me.

“Nothing.” I shook my head and looked back out toward the ocean as he sat down in the damp sand a couple of feet away from me.

The ocean hadn’t done a thing but be steady and constant and infuriating. It was a reminder of how vast the world was, and of how alone I was in it.

My mom was gone, and my dad didn’t care.

And my new stepbrother had lost me the moment we arrived at this stupid party.

I had barely known him a week, and already, he felt as unreliable as the rest.

I was alone and the ocean mocked me.

He leaned back on his elbows, and I couldn’t stop myself from peering over at him. He looked like he belonged out here on this beach. His skin was tan and his dark hair flopped forward into his face, making my hands itch to touch it even though I didn’t know him.

“I’m Beck.” He leaned on his elbow and held his hand out to me. I stared at his hand for a second before placing my own in his.

“Josie.”

He dropped my hand and a wicked grin lit up his face.

I knew that this boy was trouble. Even with only knowing his name, I knew that. That fact was easy to spot from a mile away.

“You new here?”

“I am.”

“And you’re already over the party?” He hiked his thumb over his shoulder toward the still pumping music.

“Guilty.”

He smiled again, but I had no idea what the hell he was smiling about.

“Why aren’t you in there?” I let my gaze run over his full lips to his sharp jaw. He was handsome in a way that made me feel like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Like he was a sin.

“I’m over it too.” He looked like he meant it. Whatever was going on at the party, he had as little interest in returning as I did. “You want to go somewhere?”

My body tensed at his words. I didn’t even know this guy, and he wanted me to go somewhere with him?

Silence lingered in the air between us. A smirk sliced through his lips and a mischievous look rolled through his eyes as they held my attention. Yeah, this guy was trouble, and for some crazy reason, he intrigued me. He held up his hands, his smirk deepening. “I didn’t mean it like that. There’s just this really cool spot a little way down the beach. You can either stay here and throw some more shells or you can trust a stranger. Choice is yours.”

I should have said no. I had seen enough true crime documentaries to have that instilled in my head, but part of me wanted to go with him. There was no way in hell I was going back into that party that was more orgy than truth or dare, and I had my cell phone in my back pocket.

I glanced at the extravagant house before looking back at him. I was sure there were worse ways to die.

“Are you going to murder me?”

A loud, boisterous laugh shot from his lips. “I don’t think so.”

“Have you ever murdered anyone else before?”

His eyes sparkled, and I couldn’t tell if they were brown or green or a mix of the two colors, but I knew they were mesmerizing.

“If I had, do you think I would be sitting here on the beach with you?”

“Probably.” He stood and dusted the sand off of his jeans.

“It’s a well-known fact that attractive serial killers get away with their crimes for a lot longer.”

He cocked his head to the side and ran his teeth over his bottom lip as he ran his gaze over every part of me. “You think I’m attractive?”

Shit. Did I say that out loud?

“We both know you’re attractive.” I rolled my eyes and stood alongside him. My blue jean shorts were damp from the sand, but I dusted them off the best I could. “The unknown factor here is if you’re innocent or on the run.”

His smile turned devilishly lethal with the deepening of his grin.

“So, are you going to chance it?” His voice was as smooth as butter as he took a step back, and I found myself eager to follow him.

I knew I was going to say yes before the word ever left my lips. I was in this town all alone. In this world all alone, and I desperately wanted to be anywhere other than where I was.

I didn’t want to think about my dad or my stepbrother or the fact that I could no longer turn to my mom.

I wanted to take a risk with him regardless of the consequences.

No one would even notice if I was gone. I doubted they would even care.

I was on my own, and the only thing that mattered in that moment was the two of us on this beach with no one to stop us.

No one to care about the reckless decisions I made.

I took a step past him and looked him over. “I don’t even know you.” I didn’t wait for him as I kept walking in the direction he was heading, but he quickly caught up.

“You can get to know me.” He got ahead of me and turned around to face me. His eyes trailed over me from head to toe as he walked backward in the sand, and I couldn’t help but notice that his gaze held no shame when it finally met mine again. “We can play a game.”

“A game?” My stomach tightened as I thought about the kind of games he probably played. His eyes sparked with mischief, as if daring me to take a risk.

“Yes. You can make an assumption about me, and I’ll let you know if it’s true, then I can make one about you.”

This game of his sounded dangerous, but I had already made plenty of assumptions about him in my head.

“You’re a player.”

He rubbed his chest playfully, but his eyes lit up at my words. “Damn. Right off the bat, huh?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Am I wrong?”

“You’re not right.” He shifted to walking beside me, and the smell of him overwhelmed me.

His cologne was a mixture of smoke and spice, and I could practically taste it on my tongue. “But you’re not completely wrong.”

He smiled before biting down on his bottom lip. “My turn. You’re an only child.”

“Yes.” He technically wasn’t wrong. Lucas was only my stepbrother, and I wasn’t meeting him until after I was seventeen. In every way that mattered, I was an only child.

He snapped his fingers. “One for one.”

We walked farther down the beach, and I thought about what to say next. I had plenty of assumptions about him in my mind, but I wasn’t sure that I should say any of them out loud. “You’re not an only child.”

“I’m not. I have a younger sister.”

“Poor thing.” I chuckled. “I bet she can never get a date with you around.”

A storm brewed in his eyes before he pulled his gaze away from me and out toward the ocean. I instantly regretted what I had said.

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