Fish out of water, p.1
Fish Out of Water, p.1Alethea Kontis
Table of Contents
A Letter from Roxanne St. Claire
About the Author
Also by Alethea Kontis
Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Roxanne St. Claire. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Barefoot Bay remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Roxanne St. Claire, or their affiliates or licensors.
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Fish Out of Water
A Barefoot Bay Kindle World Romance
A Letter from Roxanne St. Claire
About the Author
Also by Alethea Kontis
A Letter from Roxanne St. Claire
Welcome to Barefoot Bay Kindle Worlds, a place for authors to write their own stories set in the tropical paradise that I created! For these books, I have only provided the setting of Mimosa Key and a cast of characters from my popular Barefoot Bay series. That’s it! I haven’t contributed to the plotting, writing, or editing of Fish out of Water. This book is entirely the work of author Alethea Kontis, one of the brightest stars writing teen fiction today. I was overjoyed when Alethea agreed to write in the Barefoot Bay world, as I am huge fan of her work and have been longing to see some young adult romance take place on my beloved shores. She delivered with an enchanting story that includes young love, rock and roll, and some favorite characters from the Casa Blanca Resort & Spa that I know readers will love revisiting. Sure the characters are teenagers, but is there anything as poignant as first love? I know you’re going to enjoy this one!
—Roxanne St. Claire
PS. If you’d like to read all of the Barefoot Bay Kindle World novels, or would like to explore the possibility of writing your own book set in my world, stop by www.roxannestclaire.com for details!
For Adam, Corinna, Josh, Turtle, Francis, and Alex—
Tetra smiled at her buzzing phone. Just like clockwork. Her plan was going to go off without a hitch. “Hey, Dad. What’s up?”
“Looks like this business meeting is going to run long, kiddo. You know what that means.”
Tetra sighed dramatically. “You’ve been captured by the Ferengi again, and I need to scrounge up a ransom.”
Her father chuckled on his end. “Got it in one. Who knew there would be so many Ferengi here in Tampa?”
Tetra loved that her father was, at his core, one of the geekiest geeks that ever geeked. She loved teasing him about his obsession with nerdy pop culture even more. The Ferengi were the greedy, underhanded businessmen of the Star Trek universe. “Kidnapped by Ferengi” meant that Dad’s meeting had turned into a dinner, and it would be easier to spend the night there than drive home.
Just as Tetra had expected.
“I’m so sorry, Tetra.”
“It’s cool, Dad. I know the drill. The wives and kids are at the parks, so you have your clients’ full and undivided attention. That was kind of the whole point of coming here.”
Actually, the whole point of moving to Florida had been to get as far away from Kansas as possible after the school year ended, but that wasn’t something they talked about.
It had certainly been a good decision on her father’s part—Malcolm Scott hadn’t stopped working since the day they’d arrived. He’d chosen Mimosa Key because it was listed as a favorite destination spot for many of his clients, but since kids around America were now out of school for the summer he’d been forced to meet all his clients halfway to Disney.
“I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” He would, too. “Why don’t you take tonight and explore our new island a bit? Go to the beach. Find the best place to swim, the best ice cream cone, and the best taco. Have an adventure. Get into trouble. Give my best to the local authorities.”
“Yes, sir!” she said with a mock salute. “When you see a charge for a dozen jelly donuts, you’ll know the mission was successful.” Her overprotective father could joke with her like this because she was a good girl who never got into trouble.
And as long as she didn’t get caught tonight, that record would stay unblemished.
“Love you, kiddo. And remember: gold-pressed latinum for the ransom. None of that fake stuff like you tried to pass off last time.”
“Hey, I figured it was worth a shot.”
“That’s my girl. Call me if you need anything.”
“Love you, Dad. See you tomorrow.” She tapped the screen to end the call and then slid her finger over to start her 10mm Conspiracy playlist on the bluetooth speaker in the bathroom. She wriggled giddily to the intro of Scarlet Fever and danced all the way back to her bedroom. There were still boxes everywhere. Thankfully, Dad hadn’t pressured her into unpacking with the same speed that they’d packed. There would be time enough, he said—apparently, Floridians did their “spring cleaning” in the summer, when the heat kept them trapped in their houses. This one was expected to be a scorcher.
Unfortunately, outside of her sushi pajamas, Tetra’s wardrobe was entirely black. Black shirts, black skirts, black boots, black socks, black underwear…heck, even her swimsuit was black. On the plus side, choosing an outfit every morning took almost no thought whatsoever, and she could attend a funeral at a moment’s notice. On the down side…well, it was just easier to be Goth in Kansas than Goth in Florida.
Her father had given her a credit card, encouraging Tetra to pick out a few new Florida-appropriate things for herself while he was away. “Cotton,” he stressed. “And maybe some lighter colors?” At Tetra’s grimace, he’d added, “You know I don’t care what you wear. But it gets hot here, kiddo. I’m only thinking of your safety.”
She’d actually made it through the door of a quaint little surf shop, bolstered by Dad’s confidence in her. Thirty seconds later, she’d hightailed it back home. She wasn’t about to dress up like some fake tourist and skip down the street looking like a flower-bedecked cone of rainbow sherbet. Black was her armor. Her happy place. Her comfort zone. She wasn’t ready to step outside that just yet, and Tetra needed all the help she could get.
After all, she was about to sneak into a private concert where her favorite band was playing. Tetra glanced at her phone. Enough daydreaming. She really should hurry. Kara would be looking for her.
After upending three boxes and sifting through piles of material, she finally extracted a short, flippy skirt and tank that would be perfect with her favorite boots. She split her hair into two ponytails that showed off her blue streak, then lined and smudged her eyes. She spent a whole minute debating what lipstick to go with, settling
This was an afternoon event. Black lips were really for evening.
So far, Justin hadn’t lost the staring contest…but he hadn’t won, either.
His uncle slouched across from him with quiet ease, like a fifth of Jack poured into a chair. He smelled faintly of stale cigarettes and old beer. Or, rather, he looked like he should smell of those things—road-weary rock stars usually did. But all Justin had smelled since he’d arrived was warm salt and citrus, as if this frivolous island had been made out of dreams and oranges.
Justin leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees. His skin was just as tan and tattooed as his uncle’s, his jeans just as worn and his boots just as scuffed. He wasn’t sure if he should be pleased or annoyed at the similarity, so he felt both, with a side of frustration. “Why am I here?”
His uncle didn’t answer right away. Instead, he brushed his long hair behind one diamond-studded ear and draped an arm across the back of his chair. “You’ve heard of a come-to-Jesus, right?”
“Well, consider this a come-to-Donny.”
Justin clenched his teeth. He wanted to punch something, break something, drink something, snort something. But doing any of those things would have solidified their image of him as an irredeemable rebel so he forced himself to remain as still as a stone. It didn’t matter who he was—if he even knew who he was anymore. The lesson that had been drummed into his brain over the last six months was clear enough: perception was everything.
“I know why I’m in America,” said Justin. “Why am I on this particular side of it?” He pointed behind him, where a high arched window framed a ridiculously picturesque beach with white sand, palm trees, and fluffy white clouds in an impossibly blue sky. Not that Justin minded the coast; this was just the wrong one.
A storm on that annoyingly perfect horizon would have done wonders to ease his mind. Justin had never before wished for a hurricane, but he wished for one now. Some serious act of God to illustrate his violent mood without words or fists.
“You need a babysitter.”
Justin ground his teeth harder. His uncle wasn’t wrong. Justin did need something, maybe even someone to look out for him…but he could have done without the condescension. His flighty mum had moved him from Australia to California when he was just a kid. She’d promised a better life for both of them, but in reality they’d just shifted from one toxic environment to another. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
And boy, had he burned.
“Listen. I like this about as much as you do. But I’ve seen more than my fair share of talented people go down dark paths and never come back. My baby sister might be one of them.”
“Might be?” Justin scoffed. His mother was a butterfly, flitting from pretty flower to pretty flower. She had no idea how dark the path around her had grown, or how it affected the son she’d pulled along with her.
“Let me worry about Grace. Right now, you just worry about you.” His uncle’s fingers twitched, as if subconsciously playing a guitar solo, or itching for one of the cigarettes Aunt Ona believed he didn’t smoke anymore. “You’re old enough to make your own choices, but you’re still young enough for someone else to take the responsibility of pulling you back from the edge of the abyss.”
Justin snorted at that one. “And you’re my catcher in the rye?”
Donny cracked a smile at the comment. “I always did like you, kid. There are still a few functioning brain cells left in that thick head of yours, which is why I think you have a shot. Do me a favor and take it, will you?”
Justin wanted to tell his uncle where to stick his favor…and break a few things on the way out of the perfect room. But Justin had been clean for long enough now to recognize a decent chance when he saw it. “So what, you’re gonna tie a noose around my neck and drag me behind the Z-Train?”
A gruesome image, to be sure, but Justin only said it to get a rise out of Donny. Ruffle his feathers a bit. A remark like that would have sent his mum through the roof.
His uncle, on the other hand, just kept grinning like a cat. “I’m giving you to Xander.”
“WHAT? That asshole? You can’t be serious.”
Just the thought was ridiculous. Xander wasn’t a nurse or a bodyguard…hell, Xander was barely older than Justin. All through grade school they’d been great band mates and better friends. Now, Justin couldn’t stand the sight of him, and Xander had made it known in no uncertain terms that the feeling was mutual.
Xander was the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet—everything he touched turned to gold. He was frontman for a constantly touring up-and-coming indie band. Their third studio and fifth live album was due to come out later that year. Xander had steady gigs, and worse—a steadier girlfriend with a Real Job who was crazy enough to love the fact that her boyfriend was absent seventy percent of the year.
Even when Xander screwed up, he didn’t screw up half as badly as Justin. Xander was the perfect rockstar son that Donny the Rock God never had. And with their history, Xander certainly wasn’t going to do Justin any favors.
“Xander’s just going to let me play in his band?”
Donny shrugged noncommittally. “Up to Xander. Yesterday their publicist announced a little side-tour throughout Florida over the next few weeks. Due to the last-minute booking, they’ll need a bassist. But you’ll have to audition first.”
“Today, as a matter of fact.”
“For a wedding here at the resort.”
Justin couldn’t bring himself to say “what” again, so he let out a series of curses instead.
“Look kid, I don’t care if you’re on stage, or if you’re a grip who makes sandwich runs. You’re Xander’s problem now, and will remain his problem until you can prove to me that you finally have your shit together. Xander’s band is performing today as a personal favor to me. The Florida tour, this olive branch, is a personal favor to you. This is your last chance as a performer to clean up your act. Do not screw this up, understand?”
Justin’s nostrils flared. “And if I do?” He was pretty sure he already knew the consequences, but he wanted to see if there was any way he could call Donny’s bluff.
“All those favors that everyone’s been doing for you your whole life? Those will dry up. If you’re lucky, that pretty face of yours might get you in a boy band. Otherwise, the only time you’ll see anything like a stage again is open mic night at the Starbucks where you work. That’s right, you’ll have to get a job because there will be no money. None. All your accounts—including the trust I set up for you—will be closed. Worst of all, the next time you screw up, no matter where in the world you happen to be, your family won’t be around to protect you.”
So jail, death, and possibly open mic night. Pretty much every circle of hell Justin had ever imagined except one.
“…nor will I stick around to help with Grace,” Donny added.
That was the one. Justin’s mum needed guidance, far more than Justin could ever provide without sacrificing his entire future. Donny might have been bluffing about that too, but lost to the darkness or not, Justin loved his mum too much to risk it.
“Do we have a deal?”
Justin looked down to where his uncle had extended his hand. “I hate you,” he said through his teeth.
Donny reached out and forced Justin to shake his hand anyway. “Hate me all you want, kid. Despise me until my dying day. Do whatever it takes.” He stared hard into Justin’s unwavering eyes. “Just survive.”
The Casa Blanca Resort and Spa looked like something out of a movie. Only better, because as far as Tetra knew movie sets didn’t have things like ceilings and bathrooms and sweeping landscapes and working fountains every ten feet. She tried to imagine the sheer scope of the army of people required to keep the main building, outbuildings, and groun
If this island was a kingdom, Casa Blanca was its castle.
Modern day Goth girls didn’t just waltz in through the doors of castles.
Tetra suddenly felt like a black smudge on a postcard. The mental image made her smile. All her black clothing, on the other hand, made her sweat. She felt it bead up between her shoulder blades. It trickled down her lower back and she tried to ignore it.
She made a sharp left turn and headed to the side of the building, slipping between a palm tree and a towering hedge of yellow hibiscus for shade. She needed to find a servant’s entrance. Or a loading dock. Or garbage area. A place this big surely created a sizable amount of garbage.
But if Casa Blanca created garbage, she never found it, just more wide, winding stone walks lined by rainbows of crepe myrtles and a myriad of other exotic flowering things. She chose the path that kept her close to the main building and eventually found herself in a small parking lot. Beyond the lot was a sparkling pool and a lovely raised deck that looked set up for a party. In the lot itself was 10mm Conspiracy’s van. The band referred to it as “Old Faithful” in all their posts online. Tetra would recognize that rig anywhere.
The back of the trailer was open; Tetra slowed her pace until someone returned. She wanted to make sure her approach seemed more like casual happenstance and less like a stalker trying to steal something. Happily, she didn’t have to wait long before a willowy redhead rounded the corner.
Butterflies erupted in Tetra’s stomach. Get over yourself, girl, and say something normal, she mentally yelled at herself. With her outside voice, she said tentatively, “Kara?”
The young woman froze like a gazelle and looked around. When she spotted Tetra, it was only a moment before her face split into a beautiful grin.
Fish Out of Water by Alethea Kontis / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes