Can one summer change the lives of two young men?
All-American boy Nick Pinchert, popular, athletic, envied by the jocks and desired by the girls—or that’s what he wants everyone to think. Deep down, he harbors a secret he fears will rip his world apart. His summers of leadership at sleep-away camp are sacred, a time to let go of trying to meet others’ expectations and just be himself…mostly.
Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Kip Davenport has everything except parents who care about him. He’s grown up shipped from boarding school to boarding school, and Camp Kilapea is one more holding station where he needs to claw his way to the top by tearing others down. Placed in a leadership position he hasn’t earned, Kip plans to deal with the extra resentment the same way he always has.
When the two meet, the attraction is immediate, terrifying Nick and providing Kip with the perfect target for his manipulations. But Camp Kilapea’s teachings challenge even the most obstinate. The three pillars of body, mind, and spirit force campers and leaders alike to examine their choices and to become better people.
But is the spirit of Kilapea strong enough to force Nick and Kip to lower their guards and let each other in?
Kip faced the group of leaders, somehow having managed to remain upbeat and to get through his speech without incident. Of course, he was no stranger to speaking before crowds, but back home, people feared him.
He hadn’t missed the several side conversations taking place, nor the glances he’d earned from the moment he stepped into the Great Lodge.
But it was Nick, the hunky, dark-haired Director of Leadership who’d captured his attention most. His looks alone had Kip interested, but as soon as the guy started talking, Kip knew he had to get to know him. His passion and love for the camp seemed so genuine.
Kip searched his brain to think of anything he’d ever cared about as much. While admittedly, his list contained only one item, he recognized the passion in Nick because it lived inside Kip as well.
More than anything, he loved the water. Whether boating, swimming, competing, or simply lounging and wading, the fresh coolness fed his soul. Water was essential to life, the most important component of cleaning, a never-ending cycle he could always count on. But more than that, water was an escape. A place where he could hide from the demons he lived with every day of his life.
Kip studied the Popsicle sticks on the walls, organized by year and each one containing a name. A voice from behind him startled him to attention. “Not a bad speech, man.”
Kip turned from his perusal only to have the breath knocked out of him Earthy, rust-colored eyes stared at him, the same one’s he’d fixated on during the meeting. “Thanks, uh, Nick, right?”
“Yeah. Nick Pinchert.” He extended his hand to Kip.
Kip took Nick’s hand in his own, wrapping his fingers around and soft-warm skin. “Kip. Kip Davenport. Nice to meet you.” And had his heart just decided to increase its beats per minute by twenty?
“I wish we could’ve met before tonight. If I’d known how much you clearly care about making the waterfront a vibrant and fun place, I would’ve skipped the first ten minutes of scrutinizing your every word.” Nick smiled, his gaze unwavering.
Well, damn. This guy doesn’t pull his punches. A sharp chill rushed down Kip’s spine and settled in his belly, leaving him edgy and alert. “Ouch?”
A warm chuckle emanated from deep inside Nick. And God if his laughter didn’t make the room light up. “I love this place. Needed to make sure the new guy cared as much as I do.”
“I doubt that’s possible.” Kip realized he hadn’t let go of Nick’s hand and quickly released his grip. “I love the story you told about your first cabin leader. Gave me a real picture of what life must be life for the campers.”
“The story came to me on my drive from home.” Another leader interrupted their conversation, pulling Nick into a hug. Kip watched as Nick hugged him back, no hesitation nor any sense of flirtatiousness or attraction. The guy truly loved the camp and all the people in the room.
After a brief greeting Nick returned his focus entirely on Kip. “Sorry ‘bout that. I haven’t seen these guys since last summer.”
Kip picked up right where they’d left off. “So where’s home?”
Nick’s cheeks pinked a little. “I live in Mianus, Connecticut.”
Although Nick had accented the first syllable of the town, pronouncing it Mee-anus, a chuckle escaped Kip before he could contain it. “M-Mianus? Are you serious?”
Nick stared at the floor, shuffling from foot to foot. When Kip glanced at Nick’s face he could see a trace of a smile tugging at his lips. “Yeah. That’s what I said,”
“That’s…awesome. I bet you guys have a field day playing around with a name like that.” The moment he spoke, his heart skipped a beat. What if the guy was sensitive about the name of his hometown? Surely Kip hadn’t been the first person to poke fun, or the hundredth. Kip found himself staring directly into Nick’s eyes once again.
“Truthfully, we do. Anyways, I should mingle and greet everyone. Nice to meet you. I know we’ll be working closely.”
“Yeah. Nice meeting you too.” Kip watched as the hunk of All-American meat turned and sauntered toward another group of leaders.
Rubbing his hand along the back of his neck, Kip had to tear his eyes away from the toned, athletic form. Man, nothing like getting the hots for someone on the first night of camp.