The Hazards of Skinny Dipping (Hazards #1)


by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Prologue

Skinny dipping was the last thing on my list. Of the five items, it was the hardest one for me. It wasn’t a bucket list or anything like that—I wasn’t thinking about death. It was a things-to-do-before-college list my cousin, Amy, made for me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is going to be one of those stories about the death of a loved one spurring a girl down a path of self-discovery. It’s not. My cousin is alive and well, and at the time of this story was in Malawi with the Peace Corps. The list was her way of preparing me for the wilds of college (her words, not mine). Amy was under the impression that I was entirely unprepared for the life of a coed.

I still remember her exact words. We were hanging out in her room at her parents’ house while she packed. “Juliet, sweetheart, you know I love you, right?”

I glanced at her apprehensively. “Yeah…”

“So know that, when I say this, it’s out of love.” She tossed a huge pile of t-shirts into her large black duffel.

I tensed. “Should I be scared?”

“No.” She smiled her million-dollar, brings-guys-to-their-knees smile, and I knew I should actually be terrified.

“Okay.” I clasped my hands together, refusing to look at my chipped nail polish.

She flipped long, dark hair off her shoulder. “I’m worried about you.”

“Worried?”

“I don’t want you to totally drown next year.” She shoved a small, pink envelope into my hand. “Here, don’t open this until after graduation.”

“But you won’t be here. You leave tomorrow.”

She gave me her signature ‘duh’ look. “I’m well aware. Just open it, and do exactly what it says.”

“This kind of feels like the beginning of a YA novel.”

She laughed. “No. Trust me. The contents of this letter are not YA appropriate.”

My stomach dropped. What was Amy getting me into?

I brought the envelope home and stared at it about four times a day for the next two weeks. Obviously, I could have just opened it, but I’m usually kind of a rules person. Each time I started to tear open the envelope, I chickened out. I kept picturing Amy’s perfectly made up face yelling at me. I know that description doesn’t quite fit with a girl who joined the Peace Corps, but if you knew Amy, you’d understand. She was just Miss Perfect. It wasn’t until I got home from a graduation party at a friend’s house that I finally opened it. As I unfolded the pale pink paper, a Georgia driver’s license saying I was twenty-two fell into my lap. I set aside the fake ID and read the note.

Juliet’s Must-Do Before College List

Get drunk (and no, a buzz from sugary drinks does not qualify as drunk).

Go to a bar. Any bar will do, but you need to at least know what they look like inside.

Wear something you know would give your father a heart attack if he saw it.

Kiss a random guy, and don’t let it go further.

Go skinny dipping.

I’m sure you expect me to detail how I crossed the first four items off my list, but this story isn’t about the first four. It’s about what happened when I did number five.

Chapter One

Finally alone, I reveled in the silence, looking out the large floor-to-ceiling windows of my family’s beach house. My grandparents had bought the house located just outside of Charleston, South Carolina years ago, before Kiawah became a retreat for millionaires. They were generous and let the entire extended family use it whenever we wanted. After two weeks of sharing the house with five other people, I was excited to have it to myself.

I’d decided to stay an extra day, craving some alone time before I had to give up all of my privacy and move in with some random girl. The whole idea of having a roommate sounded good in theory, but knowing my luck, I’d be living with my exact opposite or something even worse.

Sitting cross-legged on the ultra-comfy bed (now that everyone had left, I had moved up from the pull-out couch), I took the now crinkled letter out of my green REI backpack. Go skinny dipping. If I was ever going to do it, an empty beach house was the perfect place. Besides, I was running out of time. School started in just a few weeks.

It was already after nine, and the last remnants of the sun had disappeared. I picked out my favorite red bikini and changed. I’d have to ease into the whole thing, maybe jump in the pool and then take it off. It’s funny that getting drunk and kissing a random guy didn’t scare me, but getting n**ed in a pool seemed terrifying. I just wasn’t comfortable being naked. I knew my body wasn’t bad. I was decently thin with curves in all the right places—namely my chest. The few guys I’d been with always seemed happy enough with my body, but I still didn’t like shedding my clothes. I know some girls walk around their rooms naked. Not me. I was dried off and in clothes within minutes of getting out of the shower. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I loved sitting around in a towel, but you had to be careful doing that when you lived in a house with a couple of brothers.

I changed into my bikini and headed outside. One side of the house bordered the woods, and the house on the other side had been empty for the two weeks I’d been at the beach. I knew that well. I’d been disappointed when the Bradleys failed to show up.

Something was still missing. If I was going skinny dipping, I was going to do it right. I went back inside to get my iPod. I plugged it into the outside stereo system and selected my workout list. I needed something upbeat.

Satisfied with the musical selection, I jumped in. I wasn’t good with the whole easing myself in slowly thing. Too cold that way.

It was only after I’d jumped in that I realized I’d forgotten one important thing—a towel. I thought about getting out for one, but then I’d get cold. There was no sense going through it twice.

I dove under the surface and tried to make myself relax. It wasn’t a big deal. I needed to pretend it was a bath—a big, outside bath. I pulled the elastic out of my hair, letting my long, light brown hair fall down my back. My mom called my hair dirty blonde, but I hated anything with the name dirty. It was light brown.

I finally made myself do it. I untied my top and slipped off the bottoms. Oh my god, I’d done it. I was actually naked. I flung both pieces to the side, trying to get them to land on one of the lounge chairs, but somehow they ended up on the decking underneath. It didn’t really matter since I wouldn’t be putting them back on. I’d just run up to my room and change.

Amy hadn’t specified how long I needed to skinny dip, but I figured I needed to at least swim around a little. The more I did it, the less weird it seemed. It felt liberating. The water was warm enough, and with only a few lights illuminating the pool, I didn’t feel overly exposed.

That excitement lasted maybe another five minutes until I saw headlights pull into the neighbor’s driveway. Unfortunately, they had one of those windy driveways that curved around to a garage in back. If the driver happened to look through the trees and shrubs, I’d be spotted. Before I panicked, I reassured myself that it was too dark for anyone to actually see anything.

I didn’t have much time to worry. The car stopped, and a tall figure stepped out.

“Hey, is that you, Juliet?” It may have been dark, but I’d know that voice anywhere. It was deep and incredibly sexy.

I wanted to slip under the water and never come back up. Dylan Bradley was talking to me while I was naked. “Uh, yeah. Hi, Dylan.” To this day, I blame it on the music. If Katy Perry hadn’t been blaring, he might never have looked.

“Isn’t it a little late for a swim?”

“Not really. I like staying up late.” Could I sound lamer?

He disappeared, but I knew it wasn’t over. He reappeared a moment later through a patch of trees.

I treaded water in the deepest part of the pool, hoping the dim lighting hid how completely n**ed I was.

“Mind if I turn that down?” He pointed up at the speakers.

“Sure. The controls are—”

“Behind the bar. I know.” Dylan had spent plenty of nights swimming at our house. Even though his house was far bigger, his dad had refused to put in a pool. Mr. Bradley claimed that if you were at the beach, you didn’t need a manmade concrete hole to swim in.

Dylan turned off the music. So much for turning it down. “I heard you’re going to Harrison this year.”

“Yeah. I’m actually starting college.” I continued treading water, praying he wouldn’t move any closer.

“Cool. I’ll probably see you around then.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot you were still up there.” Total lie. I was well aware Dylan was a senior at Harrison University. I hated to admit it, but I Facebook stalked him. I’d probably have real life stalked him if we didn’t live five hours away from each other. To say I had a crush on Dylan would be the understatement of the century.

His expression let me know how little he believed me. “Yeah. It’s my last year, but Kyle’s going to be a freshman.”

“Yeah?” I, of course, knew that too, but not from internet stalking. I couldn’t care less about his brother, Kyle. It was Dylan who always had my attention. I’d found out about Kyle’s plans from my mother.

Dylan looked even better than I remembered. Despite the dim lighting, I could see his slight tan—normally it was a lot deeper. I guess his summer internship had kept him from spending as much time at the beach as usual. His brown hair still had just a little bit of a curl to it. He wore it shorter than I’d ever remembered seeing it.

“You look kind of cold. Where’s your towel?” He glanced around.

“Oh, I’m okay.”

“Come on, you can’t stay in the pool all night.”

I would stay as long as I had to.

“Wait a second.” A small smile spread across his face. He walked toward the chairs, and my heart sunk. When he turned back toward me, he had my bikini top wrapped around his hand. “Are you skinny dipping?”

“Umm, maybe.”

“By yourself?”

What was that supposed to mean? “Isn’t that part obvious?”

He grinned. “Wow, I never took you for an exhibitionist.”

“This is a private pool.”

“Now you really need to get out.”

“Shut up. Not until you leave.”

“You’re too cold. You won’t make it that long.”

“You’re wrong.” I sure hoped he was.

“All right. If you’re not getting out anytime soon, I’m going to join you.” He pulled off his t-shirt.

Oh my god. Was Dylan Bradley about to get n**ed in front of me? I had to be dreaming. This was not the kind of thing that ever happened to me—at least not when I was awake.

I was so busy freaking out that I didn’t even try to stop him. The next thing I knew, he stood buck n**ed in front of me. I admired the view in shock for a second before he jumped in. He swam over to me, but held back. “You’re eighteen, right?”

“Yeah. Why does that matter?”

He smiled. “Because I’m not getting busted for swimming n**ed with a minor.”

“It’s stupid, isn’t it? I mean it’s not like I magically changed from a kid to an adult on my last birthday.” I stupidly used hand motions and unwittingly gave Dylan a front row view of my br**sts.

His eyes widened. “You haven’t been a kid for a while.”

“Yeah, you either.” I cringed. I really needed to filter.

He laughed. “No, no I haven’t.”

The way he stared unnerved me, and I needed to keep us talking. “What are you doing here? School starts in like two weeks. Isn’t this a weird time to come to the beach?”

“I’ve been working all summer. It’s the only break I’ve had.”