Blame It on the Bikini - By Natalie Anderson


CAN I get away with it?

It was harder than you’d think to take a picture of yourself in a small, enclosed space wearing nothing but a bikini. Biting back the giggle, Mya Campbell peered at her latest effort. The flash had created a big white space over at least half the screen, obscuring most of her reflection, and what you could see was more dork than glam.

With a muffled snort—a combination of frustration and laughter—she deleted it and twisted in front of the mirror, trying for another. Her teeth pinched her lower lip as she glanced at the result—maybe the skinny-straps scarlet number was a step too far?

‘Is everything okay?’ the clearly suspicious sales assistant called through the curtain, her iced tone snootier than her brittle perfect appearance.

‘Fine, thanks.’ Mya fumbled, quickly taking another snap before the woman yanked back the curtain. She needed to get it away before being—ah—busted.

Both she and the assistant knew she couldn’t afford any of these astronomically priced designer swimsuits. But that long-suppressed imp inside her liked a dress-up and it had been so long and if she were to have such a thing as a summer holiday, then she’d really love one of these little, very little things …

Giggles erupted as she tried to send the text. Her fingertips slipped she shook so hard. She was such an idiot. Typos abounded and she tapped faster as she heard the assistant return.

‘Are you sure you don’t need any help?’

She needed help all right. Professional help from those people in white coats. Too late now, the soft whooshing sound confirmed her message had gone. And she couldn’t afford this scrap of spandex anyway.

‘Thanks, but no, I don’t think this style is really me.’ Of course it wasn’t. She tossed the phone into her open bag on the floor and began the contortions required to get out of the tiny bikini. She caught a glimpse of herself bent double and at that point she blushed. The bikini was basically indecent. Would she never learn that bodies like hers were not built for tiny two pieces? She’d bend to pull off her shoes at the beach and instantly fall out of a top like this. Not remotely useful for swimming. She’d have to lie still and pose, and that just wasn’t her. Mind you, a summer holiday wasn’t for her this year either.

And never in a million years would she send such a picture to anyone other than her best friend and all-around pain in the butt, Lauren Davenport. But Lauren would understand—and Mya didn’t need her answer now. It was a ‘no’ already.

Brad Davenport looked at his watch and stifled the growl of frustration. He’d had back-to-back cases in court all day, followed by this meeting that had gone on over an hour too long. He watched the bitterness between the parents, watched eleven-year-old Gage Simmons seated next to him shrivel into a smaller and smaller ball as accusations were hurled from either side of the room. The boy’s parents were more interested in taking pieces out of each other and blocking each other instead of thinking about what might be best for their son. And finally Brad’s legendary patience snapped.

‘I think we can leave this for now,’ he interrupted abruptly. ‘My client needs a break. We’ll reschedule for later in the week.’

He glanced around the room and the other lawyers nodded. Then he glanced at the kid, who was looking at the floor with a blank-slate expression. He’d seen it many times, had worn it himself many times—withdrawing, not showing anyone how much you hurt inside.

Yeah, it wasn’t only his client who needed a break. But Brad’s burden was his own fault. He’d taken on too many cases. Brad Davenport definitely had a problem saying no.

Twenty minutes later he carried the bag full of files out to his car and considered the evening ahead. He needed a blowout—some all-physical pleasure to help him relax, because right now the arguments still circled in his head. Questions he needed to ask and answer lit up like blindingly bright signs; every item on his to-do list shouted at him megaphone-style. Yeah, his head hurt. He reached for his phone and took it off mute, ready to find an energetic date for the night—someone willing, wild and happy to walk away when the fun was done.

There were a couple of voice messages, more emails, a collection of texts—including one with an attachment from a number he didn’t recognise. He tapped