She rolled the kink out of her neck from sleeping on the floor. Today was the day she further depleted her savings by buying furniture.

And other essentials, such as food.

Today was also the day that she got her act together. She stared at the portable piano keyboard leaning so deceptively casual-like against one of her suitcases.

As a jingle writer, all she had to do was write a catchy tune for a given product. That was it. Write a jingle, sell it to the ad agency that had her on retainer, and accept their thanks in the form of a check.

Except she’d been having trouble for a year now. Her muse had shriveled up on her, and she was eking out only the barest minimum to keep her agency interested. Her latest assignment was simple—come up with something catchy for Cushy toilet paper. A relatively easy and insignificant enough assignment, right?


With a sigh, she grabbed a roll of the toilet paper that the company had sent her, shoved it in her tote bag, and headed out. The first person she came across was the same boy on the bike who’d nearly hit her the other day. “Hey,” she said, flagging him down.

He slowed. “Sam’s probably in his warehouse—”

“No, this question’s for you.” She pulled out the roll of toilet paper. “Feel this. What does it make you think of?”

He blinked.

“I’m writing a commercial for it,” she told him.

“That’s weird,” he said, but he reached out and took it. Considered. “I guess it feels nice to squeeze,” he finally said.

“Good, but unfortunately, that commercial’s already been done,” she said. “Give me something else.”

“Okay . . .” The kid scratched his head. “It’s . . . soft?”

“Soft,” she said.

“Yeah. You know, cushy.”

She blew out a breath. “Thanks.”

“I wasn’t any help at all, was I?” the kid asked.

“You were great,” she told him, and waved as he rode off.

She walked to the pier for more ranch-flavored popcorn, which she’d bought at the ice cream stand. The same twenty-something-year-old guy was there today.

“You’re back,” he said.

“Yep. You give good popcorn.”

He smiled. “I know. I’m Lance, by the way.”

“Becca,” she said. “I’m new to town.” Lance was small, painfully thin, and had an odd sound to his voice, like his chest was hollow. She glanced at the jar on the counter, with a DONATE TO CYSTIC FIBROSIS RESEARCH poster taped to it, and felt a pang of worry and empathy for him.

“So what’ll it be, Becca New to Town?” he asked.

She smiled. “Ranch-flavored popcorn.” She paused. “And a single chocolate scoop.”

“Living large,” he said. “I like it.”

When he brought the popcorn and ice cream to her, she held up the roll of toilet paper. “Question,” she said. “What does this make you think of?”

He laughed. “That’s going to cost you a double scoop, at least.” But he squeezed the roll of toilet paper. “Tell me why I’m humoring the crazy lady?”

“Because she writes the songs for commercials,” Becca said. Sometimes. If she’s very lucky. “And I need one for Cushy toilet paper. Only I’m stuck.”

“So your brain’s . . . plugged?” he asked playfully. “Your brain’s got a big . . . load?”

She laughed. “Don’t quit your day job.”

He squeezed the roll again. “You know,” he said casually. “I get sick a lot.”

Her heart pinched. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. But I use this brand for blowing my nose. It’s softer and more gentle than tissues.”

She smiled and handed back the ice cream cone she hadn’t yet licked. “Okay, now that’s worth a double.”

He made it a triple.

A million calories later, she was back in her place, and she managed to come up with a little—emphasis on little—jingle for Cushy. She sent it off to her agency, fingers crossed.

Standing up, she moved to the window and took in a most mesmerizing sight.

Not the ocean, though that was pretty damn fine, too.

But Sexy Grumpy Surfer—SGS for short, she’d decided—side by side with one of the other guys from last night, the two of them doing pull-ups on some metal bar. Given their easy, economical speed and the way they kept turning to eyeball each other, they were competing and not for the first time. They were shirtless, their toned bodies gleaming with sweat in the early-morning sun, definitely outshining the Pacific Ocean.

“Wow,” she whispered. She had no idea how long she stood there, or how many impossibly difficult pull-ups the two men did before they both dropped lithely to the ground, straightened, and gave each other a shove.

Their laughter drifted to her ears and she found herself smiling along with them. A sweaty tie then, she decided, and realized she was a little hot herself.

Hot and bothered.

Sexy Grumpy Surfer looked damn good laughing. The other guy moved off, back toward the small building between the street and beach, but SGS remained. Turning only his head, he unerringly met Becca’s gaze.

Crap. She dropped like a stone to the floor and lay flat. He hadn’t seen her, she thought. He totally hadn’t. The glare on the window had blocked his view. Yeah, for sure he’d missed her . . .