A Change in Tide, Northern Lights, Book One

What impact would it have when everything suddenly faded to black?

For Mia, a crowded subway ride changes her entire life. Retreating to the wilderness helps her cope with a world that is suddenly too loud, too turbulent.

Her existence safely contained to the small cottage on the lake, she is unprepared for the neighbor that moves across the bay

A career-ending injury has Jared permanently benched. His reputation as The Enforcer won’t survive the unanticipated responsibilities awaiting him.

​Away from the public eye, he adjust to his new reality, under the quiet observation of the intriguing hermit on the other side of the water.

Mia

Seriously?

I go inside for five minutes and this is what is waiting for me?

When I discovered a single guy was moving in, and I saw some of the luxurious renovations done to the home, including a two-level deck, I was afraid something like this might happen.

His cottage—although it can hardly be qualified as such anymore—is clear across the small inlet from me on Spence Lake. Frank and Harriet, the former owners, decided to sell and move closer to their grandchildren. I’d been pretty upset to see them go. They’d been on the lake for over twenty-five years and had been a great source of information, since I bought my place a few years ago.

The only activity our little private bay ever saw was the splashing and giggles when their grandkids came to visit, but in the few days since the new guy moved in, all I’ve heard is the revving of that blasted speedboat of his. The same boat I just saw his lady friend diving out of, squealing. Definitely not what I’d consider the sweet sound of kids at play. And here I thought that with the disappearance of the construction crews, I’d be able to start enjoying my peaceful solitude again. Apparently not.

In stark contrast to the large home across the water, I just have a one bedroom log cabin, with a kayak and an old canoe pulled up on my ancient dock. I love my little corner of the world, with my dog, wilderness at my back, beautiful views in front of me, and still close enough to civilization. Hell, the local grocery store even delivers to the top of my drive. It’s perfect.

My favourite spot is my screened-in porch, I can smell the pines, feel the breeze off the lake, and hear the sound of the occasional loon or cormorant visiting, yet not get eaten alive by the bugs. I have a little desk set up, where I’ll sometimes eat my dinner, or play crosswords, along with an old, beaten-up leather love seat, where I’ve spent many an afternoon nap and currently Griffin is doing the same.

A large splash of water draws a sleepy woof from Grif, and I look over to the dock on the other side. My new neighbour has apparently joined his guest in the water. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was murdering her by the way she’s screaming and carrying on.

I determinedly tear my eyes away and focus on my sandwich, and my new book, while the dog settles back to sleep. I’ve been looking forward to this one and it appeared on my Kindle this morning. Every morning is a little like Christmas when I start up my Kindle, considering all the books I tend to pre-order.

Life has certainly improved since I had my wireless router installed. Hooked up to the world at large makes living in relative seclusion a lot easier. It’s also much simpler to stay in touch with the few folks I care about. I dislike talking on the phone with a passion, and the only one I speak to regularly is Steffie. For some reason, I get tongue-tied and awkward, and much prefer letting my fingers do the talking.

A giggle catches my attention and this time I get an eyeful. I’m positive I saw the blonde woman go in the water with a bathing suit on, but she’s naked as a jay when she climbs up the ladder on the side of the dock. Her body; a picture of perfection with long tan legs, delicately rounded hips, and a set of substantial, gravity defying breasts, I want to bet nature had no part in creating. The giggle apparently is courtesy of the man behind her, who seems to be biting her butt? Holy Mary, Mother of God! A hot blush shoots up my chest when my neighbour pulls himself from the water. I knew he was big, I could see that, but I had no idea exactly how big—everywhere!

Instinctively, I scoot back a little in an attempt to hide, although, I’m quite sure they can’t see me anyway. Not that I think they’d particularly care, since I’m watching him pull her to where he’s kneeling on the dock. The bulk of his back, still wet, ripples in the sun. Even from here, I can see the muscles of his ass clench as he hoists one of the woman’s legs over his shoulder. Oh my…

Her hands hold on to his dark head, which is dipped low between her legs, and I watch as she drops her head back and moans loud enough for the sound to carry. I’m mesmerized. I know I should probably go inside, but I can’t stop watching. I can’t remember the last time…heck, what am I saying? I’m pretty sure I’ve never experienced anything like the thorough treatment the woman is receiving.

I place my hand on my chest and feel my heart beating hard, before it slides down, almost of its own accord, to find the swell of my breast. My nipples are hard and straining against the material of my old tank top. The moment I pull down my top, and expose my breast, a breeze whispers over the tight nub, sending a charge straight through my center.

I watch as he carefully lays her down and stretches himself over her body, his hard white ass standing out in stark contrast. I can almost feel the invasion of my own body when I watch his hips surge forward, his tight ass clenching as he enters her. My breath hitches when my hand closes over my exposed breast and plucks, almost distractedly, at my nipple. I see him raising up on his arms, the full width of his shoulders impressive as he holds himself up over her body and powers into her with increasing force.

The entire scene feels illicit—taboo—and unbelievably erotic.

In the privacy of my enclosed deck, watching my neighbour fuck his guest, my body craves like it’s never craved before, aching for release. My other hand slips under the waistband of my flannel PJs, skims through the damp patch of curls and easily finds the slick evidence of my arousal. As the woman starts to keen over the audible grunts from her lover, my fingers rub furiously over the throbbing heat between my legs. I feel the vaguely familiar tension coil and build, until the sight of his furiously bucking hips and the sound of his loud groan of completion, tips me over the edge.

I don’t mean to make a sound, but I must have. In seconds he is on his feet, pulling up his companion and urging her to the house, before he turns around. With his hands on his hips and his legs slightly spread, he stands shamelessly exposed as he glares in my direction.

I duck even further back into the shadow of my porch. Surely he can’t see me?

Holding my breath, I wait until he finally turns and follows her into his house. I rush inside mine, the hot flush of embarrassment burning my face and the dog close on my heels.

I’m a voyeur.

Jared

Fuck me. You’d think I’d have learned by now.

I wince when I hear Lori’s girly voice call out from the bathroom over the sound of the running shower.

“Are you gonna join me?”

Fuck no.

With Jordy arriving next week, it seemed like a good idea to have one last hurrah before my transition to a responsible adult. Of course, at thirty-nine, most people have long grown into one, but my life thus far has allowed me to indulge selfishly. I am—or I used to be—a feared and revered NHL defenseman. With a heavy traveling schedule and substantial fan adoration, especially from females, I was happy to play the field. Many, many fields actually. But when Jordy dropped that bombshell on me six months ago, I knew my player days needed to come to an end.

Easier said than done, when recognition and reputation made it hard to walk into any establishment, without two or three women putting their hands on me. That’s how I met Lori, two nights ago in a restaurant in town. Blonde, stacked, and with a sweet demeanour and obvious crush, I’d easily talked myself into one last indulgence before I’d have to hang up my jockstrap.

One night turned into two, and now she’s in my house, making herself as comfortable as she can. Not going to happen. I may be ready to settle down some, but those plans do not include Lori. I was ready to send her home yesterday, but when she surprised me with a nice dinner she’d prepared, while I was taking a nap, I couldn’t rightly toss her out. Then this morning, she’d been all excited about going out on the boat, and I figured it’s probably the least I could do before I make her leave.

Of course, then she jumps in the lake and pulls her top off, taunting me with those tits. They feel fake as shit, but they look fucking phenomenal. Especially bobbing on the water. Not sure whether it’s the knowledge of this being the last opportunity, or the buzz of my pain meds combined with the steady stream of alcohol, but I dive in after her. Before I know it I’m fucking her on the dock, my ass out for anyone to see. Way to keep a low profile, dickhead.

The reality of it doesn’t hit until I hear a faint yelp coming from the log cabin on the other side. I’ve seen the woman who lives there exactly twice. One night at dusk when she was hoisting her kayak back on the dock, and once when she was weeding the sad-looking vegetable patch she’s apparently trying to grow on the side of her house. Each time she was wearing those ugly, flannel, men’s lounge pants and a shapeless men’s T-shirt from the looks of it. I have no idea whether she’s twenty or sixty, but my educated guess is somewhere in between. Her dog has been more visible. A friendly creature who came by one early morning, while I was sitting on the dock, apparently to check me out. He allowed me to give him a scratch behind the ears before he turned and loped off on the narrow trail along the water, back to his mistress.

I ended up pulling out of Lori in a hurry and rushing her inside before turning toward her place. I caught a slight movement behind the screen of her porch, but it may well have been my imagination. Last thing I need is someone snapping pictures and selling them to the highest bidder. Granted, the pay may not be as much as it was a year ago, before my knee blew out, but I bet someone would still pay a pretty penny to see my white ass bumping uglies in broad daylight.

With Lori in the master bath, I slip into the second bathroom for a quick rinse, before I give her the heave ho. When I lift the toilet seat for a quick wiz before I hop in the shower, I notice the sticky evidence of stupidity on my cock. Son-of-a-fucking-bitch!

This is what happens when I drink too much.

In ten minutes, I’m as clean as I’m going to get, my Johnson raw from my furious scrubbing. Not that it would do any good, the semi-sober part of my brain realizes, but the slightly painful scrape of the loofah over the tender skin seemed an appropriate punishment, considering. Better write myself a note to get checked out ASAP.

Lori is already in the kitchen, pulling shit out of the fridge. I have to put a stop to this now.

“Listen,” I start, to which she turns to face me.

“Oh hey,” she chirps with a little smile.

“I didn’t use a condom,” I blurt out, eager to get this shit over with.

“Oh, I know,” she says, apparently unfazed. “No worries, I’m covered.”

Yeah, I’ve heard stories like that. Not about to let it go with that.

“How exactly are you covered?”

“Depo,” she says by way of clarification, but it really doesn’t help me. I have no clue what the fuck she’s talking about. “The injection? I get it every three months.”

Right, I’ve heard of those.

“Okay.” I nod, more than a little relieved. “But what about…”

She won’t let me finish and cheerfully jumps in. “STD’s? Not to worry, I get checked every time I go in for my shot.” When she sees my eyebrows shoot up at the frequency of her health checks, she shrugs her shoulders. “Got my shot just last month and the handful of guys before you were gloved, so we’re good.”

Handful of guys? Okay, so she’s a player. I feel part relieved and part worried, because a sweet girl like her should maybe be a bit more discriminating. I catch myself being the biggest hypocrite on the face of the earth. I never thought I’d measure with a double standard. Especially given that, although in recent years my gallivanting has slowed down dramatically, in my younger days I’d think nothing of five different partners in a week, let alone a month.

Still, she should be a bit more concerned.

“Good to know, but you don’t know if I’m clean, right?” I watch as her face pales a little. “I was clean at last check and I’ve been safe…until now. Look, you’re a nice girl, Lori. I just want you to be careful, okay?”

“Okay,” she says sweetly. “Does this mean you’re ready for me to go now?”

Stumped and more than a little. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman this casual and easy. Just like me, except—female.

“I think so,” I tell her with just a hint of regret.

Fifteen minutes and a friendly, angst-free hug later, I give one last wave to the retreating taillights of her car going up the hill, when I hear my phone ring inside.

“Hey,” I manage breathlessly by the time I find it.

“Oh no,” Jordy says on the other side. “What did I interrupt?”

“Nothing,” I’m quick to answer. “I was just outside and left my phone on the kitchen counter. What’s up?”

“Just saw my OB/GYN this morning. The baby is right on target and my medical files were transferred to the clinic in Bracebridge.”

“That’s great, honey. So I’ve scheduled the movers to be there next Tuesday at nine in the morning, that still good for you?”

“Should be, I’ve packed up seven boxes with small shit already and will get the rest packed up over the weekend.”

I take a deep breath and run my hand through my hair. The woman is so stubborn. Every time I’ve offered to drive back and help her pack up, and each time she’s shut me down, claiming she needs to do this ‘on her own.’

“I can hear your exasperated sighs, you know?” she says, a smile in her voice. “Don’t even start with me, Jared. I’m fine. I have a few friends helping out and I’ll be good to go. It’s important to me to do this without having your sweet, caring, and very controlling self looming over me. Please?”

I love her to distraction and perhaps over the years I’ve been a bit overbearing and overprotective. Knowing that she’ll be here soon, where I can properly look after her, helps me give in. “Fine. Just call me before you leave.” I walk out of the sliding doors and onto the deck, breathing in the late afternoon air. “It’ll be good to have you here,” I add a little gentler.

“Thanks, Jared.” Her voice has softened as well. “Love you lots.”

“Love you too, Pipsqueak.”

I swipe my finger across the screen to end the call and slip the phone in my pocket. I take in the lake and the sparse cottages and cabins dotting the shore, before my eyes land on the cabin next door. The kayak is missing from the dock, and I automatically scan the span of water, spotting her only a few hundred feet out, slowly paddling into shore. All I can make out from here is the stiff set of narrow shoulders and an occasional curl twisting from under the brim of her hat. I can’t see her face, but from the tilt of her head, and the stilted movement of her paddle strokes, I’m guessing she sees me and knows I’m watching.

Intriguing—and far too tempting.

I turn on my heels abruptly, forcing my thoughts on my little sister’s impending arrival—and away from the strange woman who’d all but sounded like she got off, watching me this afternoon.

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