Love Will Find You

By Iris Blobel

Romance

Paperback, eBook

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339
10 mins

Prologue

Tyson held the Brownlow Medal in his hand, but celebrating was the last thing on his mind. His fake smile was as much a lie as the last message he’d sent to Katie the day before. As a result, it was his mother who sat in the crowd amongst his teammates, his friends, the footy world, reporters, and whoever else was important—and not Katie. His gaze wandered around the ballroom, with all the round tables neatly positioned in nice rows. Each table was beautifully set with dinnerware, menus, and a floral arrangement. The TV screens on either side of him showed a close-up of the stage, and as he tried to protect his eyes against the bright lights, he watched them all, making toasts, their glasses filled with the best champagne, applauding his achievement.

The crowd settled and awaited a speech. His speech. Nervousness crept up in him as he stared into the audience. His throat burned as the acid in his stomach churned.

The Brownlow Medal was awarded to the best and fairest football player of the season, yet he didn’t think there was anything fair about the way he’d treated his girl.

Tyson Gaspaldi took a deep breath, unfolded his little note, and cleared his throat. The first word he focused on was her name, Katie. He blinked to refocus and thanked his mother as well as his family. It came effortlessly once he was past the initial hurdle and in only a few minutes he finished, held up his medal, and walked behind the stage.

Why had he said the things he had? Why didn’t he just answer her question?

A short time later, Tyson joined his friends and his mother at the table again.

“Congratulations, darling.” His mother took his face into her hands and gave Ty a kiss on his cheek.

Only a few years ago, he would have been embarrassed by such open emotions in front of a crowd, but since his father’s death earlier in the year, he welcomed every sign of affection by his mother.

“Thanks, Mum.”

“Dad would be so proud of you.” Caroline Gaspaldi took a step back and gazed at him. Pride radiated from her eyes. “Look at you. You should wear a suit more often.”

His friends around the table gave him a quick clap on the shoulder and congratulated him before sitting down to proceed with the evening. Ty noticed his phone buzzing and with a flick of his finger, he scrolled down his messages. He stopped at Katie’s message from earlier in the day.

I don’t believe u!

With a heavy sigh, he switched off the screen, ignoring all the other new messages and the phone into his pocket. He took the beer in front of him and tried to concentrate on what the guy on stage was saying. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a woman at the other table. She looked incredible in her shimmering silver evening gown. The décolleté of her dress revealed tanned skin upon which a delicate necklace hung. Her curly brown hair was pinned up in a ponytail which made her look very sexy. When she smiled at him, he winked at her in return.

“What are you doing, Ty?” his mother whispered into his ear.

Chapter One

Autumn, the previous year.

After the football season, Ty took his mum and dad to a beautiful place nestled in a small cove along the New South Wales coast. His dad had suffered a heart attack only a few weeks earlier, and it was time for him to rest, relax, and recover. It was the perfect spot.

The main streets were close to the boat jetties and along the river. The surf beach, which was the most appealing part of town, was across the bridge, past the oyster farms, and on the other side of the peninsula. Friends and football mates teased him that at the age of twenty-eight, he was still taking his parents on holidays, but Ty couldn’t care less. His father’s health was crucial to him, and with the football pre-season about to start, he relished his time out of the spotlight.

This had been his first year as a pro footballer in the Australian Football League with a Melbourne club, and out of the twenty-two home and away games, he’d been on the field during most of the meets. His centre position as Ruckman had given him plenty of opportunities to be part of the game—except when Toby McGuire had knocked him out, giving him a nice concussion for two weeks.

Shortly after an early breakfast, he grabbed his surfboard and drove to the beach. Surf conditions were perfect with the wind blowing off the land and the swell breaking close to the shore. He was looking forward to riding the waves. The coast west of Melbourne had excellent surf beaches too, if not some of the best in the world, but with his constant recognition by fans, he’d been surfing less and less over the last few months. As a downside, he was often left behind in the big city while his best mates, Markus and Oliver, went to surf on their own. Markus, a goalkeeper with a Melbourne soccer club, and Oliver, a baseball player, didn’t have the national exposure Tyson had and were left in peace. Tyson loved his fans, there was no doubt about it, and most of the time they were a bunch of great characters, but sometimes he yearned for a bit of privacy.

Ty parked the car and walked across the recreational area to the beach. The beach was near empty, and he assumed it was because of the cold breeze that morning, or possibly the early hour in the day. He liked the idea of being almost alone out there. He loved the surf, the dunes, and the tang of sea air. The sea was perfect, with a few good waves. To the left, he saw a fishing boat heading towards the harbour and to the right a few people braved the early morning chill, walking along the beach. He reminded himself to bring his dad to the foreshore in the afternoon.

Quickly, he zipped up his wetsuit and jumped into the water.

Over an hour later, Tyson took the next wave back to shore. He shook the water out of his hair and wiped his face before he walked back towards his car. As he struggled with his surfing board against the gentle breeze, he saw a woman sitting only a few feet away from him. Her body shook from her sobs as she wiped away her tears. It was none of his business, yet he stopped. He disliked the feeling of pity and helplessness creeping up on him. Inhaling a deep breath, he turned and walked towards her.

“Hi there,” he said quietly so as not to startle her.

She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and turned to him. Shading her eyes with the other hand, she echoed his greeting, “Hi.”

Ty’s gaze went out over the ocean before looking back at her. The thin long-sleeved shirt which hugged her curves nicely, and the cargo pants she wore, gave her a very casual, but sexy look. She smoothed a loose strandof her curly light brown hair behind her ear and met his gaze. Although teary and red, the beautiful green colour of her eyes shone through brightly. He knew he couldn’t walk away. He looked at her for a second or two, noticing the tight lines of her lips. Still, she had a beautiful mouth. Even though her lips were slightly swollen from crying, there was an urge inside him to touch them and find out what they felt or tasted like.

He sighed. Not that long ago he’d burnt his hands with a girl in his life and had sworn off the opposite sex, but there was something about the woman in front of him that drew him in and intrigued him. He’d always been a sucker for a lady in distress.

“Are you okay?” he asked, scratching his head.

Her mouth curved into a tentative smile. “Yes, I am.”

He frowned. “Was that sarcasm in response to a stupid question?”

“Yes, it was.”

Damn, she had a gorgeous smile that made his stomach tighten.

She didn’t offer more.

After a brief, but silent moment, he offered her his hand. “Tyson.”

She ignored his hand. “Nice meeting you, Tyson.”

He chuckled. “This is where you tell me your name.”

She let out a sigh as she looked away from him. It was a fine line he was walking. He was well aware of it. More than anything else, he wanted to help her. It was in his nature. She was hurt, and it seemed she was alone as well.

“Apologies, I didn’t mean to come on to you. But I’ve never been good with going past a girl who cries.”

“Does that happen often?” she asked as she turned back to him.

“Actually, no.” He laughed. “Only with my little niece.”

A tiny smile appeared on her face. “How old is she?”

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “My niece? Turned four just a few days ago.”

She stared at him as he waited for her next question. Yet, it never came.

“I’m kinda getting cold here,” he said after a long moment. “Could I invite you for a coffee or tea?”

“No, but thank you for the offer. And thank you for caring.”

“Will you be here again tomorrow?”

A small sigh escaped her lips, and she shrugged slightly. “Not sure.”

He nodded and stood.

“It’s Katie,” she said as she stood as well.

Ty’s heart skipped a beat. “Nice meeting you, Katie.”

~ ~ ~

Katie stared after Tyson. She couldn’t believe how fast her heart was still beating. It’d been a short conversation, but his smile and his touch had done all sorts of crazy things to her insides.

With one final hiccupping sob, she picked up her jacket from the sand and walked across the dunes towards the parking lot. For the first time since Paige’s death, she experienced a sense of joy. It had only been a couple of minutes that she’d talked to Ty, a stranger, but she liked him. Wiping the last tears from her face, she walked to her car, recalling those chocolate brown eyes beneath his black lashes and the straight line of brow. But it’d been his smile that’d been so contagious. His teeth were even and white, in a nice contrast with his olive skin.

Anticipation rushed through her as she contemplated returning the next day. In her mind, she imagined touching his body. He’d looked so damn sexy in his wet suit, unzipped down to just below the navel, revealing a muscular chest and powerful shoulders. She’d certainly been attracted to his tall, athletic physique. And she liked the way his dark, damp hair had started to curl slightly around his face.

Katie walked towards her car across the street when she heard her mother’s voice. “Here you are, love.”

Katie turned and smiled. “Mum? What are you doing here?”

Her mother placed her hand on Katie’s shoulder. “Caring for my little girl.”

A smile tugged at Katie’s lips, appreciating her mum’s words. “I needed a little time out, I suppose.”

“I had a feeling you’d be coming down to the beach,” her mum said before placing a kiss on her daughter’s forehead.

Taking a deep breath, she leaned into her mother’s embrace, enjoying the comfort of a parent.

“I miss her so much, Mum,” she said, her voice nearly breaking. The tears streamed down her face once more as her chest tightened again. Grieving was so painful, emotionally and physically. Yet, for the first time since her sister’s death, Katie felt something other than mourning. Something different. Sadness had suffocated all other emotions, but today something had surfaced. She wasn’t sure whether it was good or whether she was ready for it, but she’d never believed there was a timeline to grieving a person.

“We all miss her, darling, but she wouldn’t want us to stop living. Her life’s come to an end, you will need to live your life with twice as much enthusiasm, with four eyes, with two hearts and—”

“Without her,” she finished her mother’s sentence.

Her mother gave a slow nod. “Have you been working this week?”

Katie drew in her lips before she answered. “Yes, I have, but I took today off. Only today.”

“You need to keep this job, love.”

She inhaled deeply. “I know.”

Her job in the administration at the local shopping centre was nothing much on the career ladder, but it paid the rent and the groceries every week. Her boss had been very considerate since her sister’s sudden death, and helped her juggle her time off as well as catching up with her night classes in marketing.

Her mother turned Katie in her arms. “How about a little walk along the beach?”

“I’d like that.”

As they headed towards the dunes, her mum said, “You two loved the beach. Some weekends, you’d snuck out of the house and come here in the early hours. I was always worried, but your dad would say—” She imitated her husband’s deep voice. “They’ll be all right. The girls have the sea in their blood.” She laughed. “But I always saw that tiny little bit of relief on his face when you two came back. You can’t be too careful near the water.”

Katie joined her mother in her laughter. “We’d watch the boys surf.”

“I liked my idea of you two building little sandcastles better.”

“Mum, we were teenagers.”

Her mother shrugged. “I was in denial. Sue me.”

Side by side, they walked along the shore, both comfortable with the silence, enjoying the fresh breeze off the water.

“I feel close to her when I’m here,” Katie said as they stopped to watch a few dolphins swim past.

~ ~ ~

When Tyson looked into the sky the next morning, the clouds increased and threatened rain. But a cloudy sky wouldn’t stop him from going to the beach. He’d left his surfboard back at the guest house. There was only one reason for making his way to the shore. One very special reason.

Katie.

Each of Ty’s steps was faster than the one before. He wasn’t in a hurry, but his stride had a purpose. A mix of curiosity and eagerness struggled within him.

As soon as he reached the top of the dune, he was able to see her. His heart was beating a tad quicker than usual, and he knew it wasn’t from his fast step.

It was Katie.

Ty was surprised by his body’s reaction at the sight of her, especially as he had tried hard to stay away from women. He’d been burnt and now he only wanted to focus on his career. Except the girl in front of him mucked up his intentions. Just as much as she’d mucked up his sleep the previous night. All he had been able to think of was seeing her again.

“No surfing today?” she asked as he approached.

The corner of his mouth tugged into a smile. “I was hoping you’d have a cup of tea with me this morning.”

Her hesitant smile disappeared, and she looked away, tucking her hands deep into her pockets.

Was that a nod?

Uncertain, he waited and followed her gaze to the water.

“Do you always invite strange girls for a cuppa?” she asked suddenly, and he turned to look at her. She was beautiful. Not like models in magazines. Not like the girls he’d met when he went out with his friends or the guys from the club. It was an inner beauty. An indescribable elegance and grace in her movement. He smiled at the use of the words in his mind.

Her brown wavy hair was tied up in a loose ponytail and emphasised her nicely shaped face with those hypnotising green eyes. Katie didn’t bother to cover her freckles and the natural appearance appealed to him. He couldn’t resist looking at her lips. They were full and pink like a nice rosé wine, graced with an innocent yet capturing smile.

“There’s a first time for everything I s’pose, and that’s kinda it for a cuppa invitation.”

He searched her face for some indication of whether she had any idea of who he was. As an AFL football player, he wasn’t a celebrity like a famous actor, but people in Melbourne and even in some country areas knew him. Especially during the football season, and since his team had done so well, he’d been in the paper and had even done a magazine shoot. But this was New South Wales, the state of rugby and not AFL.

“I love the ocean,” she replied absent-mindedly, before she turned and met his gaze. “I’ve got a thermos in my car. Mind if we stay here?”

He slowly raised his eyebrows. “You’re not too cold?”

Shaking her head, she said, “This is nothing. It’ll settle in a little while and warm up.”

“And you know that how?”

“Twenty-something years of experience.”

He couldn’t get enough of her smile. And her eyes. He felt his lips curl into a slow grin as he lifted his shoulder. “Okay!”

Katie looked puzzled for a moment, before understanding flamed up in her eyes. “Great.”

A moment of awkward silence came between them when she broke it. “Oh, right. I’d better go and get the stuff.”

Ty didn’t have a chance to reply. She was already on her way to get the stuff. He watched her back as she slowly made her way across the sand dune. The thought that she would make a fool out of him and leave him waiting popped into his mind, but he quickly brushed that thought aside. After all, she had come here prepared by bringing a thermos.

Or had she? He stared towards the dunes as his palms turned moist with sweat. Had it been a ploy to get rid of him? Any paparazzi hiding anywhere? With a deep sigh, he shook all these crazy thoughts out of his head and turned towards the water to take in the picturesque view.

“I hope you like simple black tea.”

He startled and turned, only to meet her gaze dead-on. With his heart beating in his throat, his relief she’d actually returned sent a rush through his whole body. He rolled his eyes for having doubted her. With the thermos and a small basket, she stood in front of him. All he wanted to do was touch her.

Good grief, he was already at the point where he’d have loved to kiss her.

Ty shook his head and chuckled as he held out his hand to help her carry some of the things. “Can I assume you were hoping I’d be here?”

Redness spread across her cheeks, and he placed his finger under her chin to lift her face. He got lost in her shining eyes, when he whispered, “I hardly slept last night, hoping to see you again.”

She seemed surprised. “You don’t even know me.”

“You’re Katie.” He raised his shoulders, adding in a soft, low voice, “With a gorgeous smile.”

She laughed. It was the first hearty laugh he’d heard from her since they’d met. It was music to his ears. Ty took her hand. Tracing her palm, he was momentarily lost in his thoughts.

Thoughts about what he wanted. Her.

Thoughts about why. She was different and like a magnet that drew people to her.

Thoughts about how he had met her the previous day.

Still touching her hand, he refocused. “Will you tell me why you cried yesterday?” he asked, uncertain, as he entwined his hand into hers.

Something flickered at the far back of Katie’s eyes. When she tried to speak, her voice wavered, and he regretted his question.

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she asked, “How about this cuppa?”

He nodded slowly and met her eyes with his. Hesitantly, he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her lips. When he pulled away from her, he searched her eyes. She didn’t move, but returned his gaze in silence. His pulse rate went up another notch before he finally broke the stillness as he traced her lips with his thumb.

“Please don’t be mad that I kissed you. After seeing you sad, I wasn’t able to simply walk away.”

She rewarded him with another smile, and he connected their lips for another kiss.

When she finally pulled back, she placed her hand on his chest. “Tyson what-ever-your-name-was-again. You’re one very scary person.”

His eyebrows slanted in a frown. “I’m scaring you?”

Tracing his eyebrow with her finger, she shook her head slightly. “Not that way. I don’t think I ever felt so comfortable with someone like that before.”

His lips curved into a grin.

“It’s funny. I always imagined a hot kiss in front of an open fire. The wind blowing around a cabin in the snowy mountains and—”

“Hot kiss?” he asked with a big grin.

She bit her lips. He had to admit, she was about the cutest and nicest girl he had met in a long time, if ever.

Watching her take a deep breath, he gently pulled her closer and whispered, “I’m sure I can do something about that cabin and the open fire. Just not this week.”

Ty placed a kiss on her forehead before sitting and pulling her down beside him.


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