Cole buried his hands in the pockets of his jean shorts and continued down the beach. His gaze wandered out over the frothy blue-green water, where surfers sat perched upon their boards, waiting to catch the next big wave. It was a beautiful August day, the kind meant to be spent outdoors.
Other than escaping the monotonous cycle of waking up, going to work and then home to sleep, Cole hadn't had a destination in mind when he'd left his apartment. All he'd wanted to do was get away from his life for the afternoon and think things through. Meandering about on the beach, feeling small in comparison to the vast ocean, always had a way of putting things into perspective.
Two weeks had gone by since Karen broke things off with him. True to her word, she hadn't accepted any of his phone calls and had returned each and every bouquet of flowers he'd sent. Things were well and truly over between them. He simply wasn't sure how he felt about it.
Karen had been a part of his life for so long that he didn't quite know what to do with himself without her. A part of him was relieved she was gone--the same part that whispered in his ear about how wrong it felt to pretend to be someone he wasn't. The other half of him screamed for him to go crawling back to her on his knees and beg for forgiveness before it was too late. He knew she would take him back, if only so she could have the "Mrs." moniker before her first name.
While that would have been the easy, safe thing to do, he couldn't make himself give in to her demand. Simply put, he didn't want to marry Karen. Not now, not ever. And it wasn't fair to keep stringing her along so he wouldn't have to admit to things about himself he'd rather not face.
Loving someone wasn't the same as being in love with them, and that's what he wanted for Karen. He cared enough about her to want the best for her, and that wasn't him. She deserved someone better, a man who would love her the way he couldn't.
Cole shook his head, almost amused by how depressing his thoughts were. What he needed to do was go out and have some fun. Maybe call up one of his single buddies from poker night and see if they wanted to ... Oh, wait. That wouldn't work. The last of his single buddies got married back in June, so getting anyone to go out with him on a Tuesday night was probably a no-go. Hell, it'd probably be out of the question on the weekend too. Did married people even go out with their single friends? He sincerely doubted it.
The tide hit the shore, washing seaweed in right along with water. A slimy green clump of vegetation landed atop his foot. He stepped back, jiggling his left foot to dislodge it, even as the back of his right knee ran into something cold and hard.
"Hey, watch it!"
Arms swinging out, he tried to right his equilibrium, to no avail. His ass hit the ground, not really hurting anything besides his ego. Face flaming in embarrassment, he glanced up and around, trying to see who or what he'd run into.
The first thing he saw was the neon purple surfboard he'd tripped over. Right next to it sat the owner. Cole blinked and did a double take, seeing the flesh and blood version of his every fantasy sitting in the sand, smiling at him.
The man was the epitome of everything Cole had ever dreamt of. Sun-bleached blond hair, sheared close to the scalp on the sides and longer on top, fell into a face so classically beautiful it rivaled Michelangelo's David. Sharp cheekbones and a straight, tip-tilted nose led down to a full mouth the color of fresh strawberries. His neck was long and graceful, leading to leanly corded shoulders. His skin gleamed golden-bronze in the sunlight. His pecs and biceps were nicely defined, not too much muscle, just enough to broadcast health and fitness. Tiny copper nipples, pierced with silver barbells, sat above a chiseled, washboard stomach.
Heat rushed from his face to his groin, filling Cole's shaft with blood. He was damned glad he wasn't standing up. The pup tent in his shorts would have been mortifying.
Cool azure blue eyes, the color of the freshest mountain stream, met his and he could've sworn he felt the earth move. So what if it was just the tide hitting the shore? It felt a hell of a lot more life altering than something that simple.
"Cole? Cole Winchester? That you, man?"
Cole's brow wrinkled in confusion. How did this kid know his name? He couldn't be more than twenty years old, if he was a day. Studying the man's face more closely, he saw a familiarity in his features, but was unable to place him as anyone other than the specter haunting his fantasies.