Cissy’s eyes drifted up from the dull words of her reading assignment—Killer Angels. No hope for a romantic thread on the battlefield at Gettysburg. She dug her toes under the warm sand. Her surreptitious gaze expertly hidden behind the oversized sunglasses.

As Parker strolled up the beach, he brushed his blond bangs away from his tanned face, revealing his easy smile and eyes the same color as the June sky. Droplets of seawater trailed over his toned chest. High school boys posed no competition.

Cissy’s heart pounded like the marching drum leading General Lee’s army. But she forced her eyes back to the page. At this rate, it would take her all of summer vacation to read about a three-day battle. And if Paisley caught her ogling her brother, she’d never let Cissy hear the end of it. But she glanced back.

Two little girls giggled and nodded as Parker knelt near their beach toys. Together they dug sand, filling a yellow sand castle mold. Parker flipped it over, creating a tower. The girls applauded as Parker stood. So sweet. Too bad she turned down that babysitting job.

“Cissy … Cissy.” Paisley nudged her knee.

“What?” Cissy turned her head, giving her full attention to her friends.

Blair rolled onto her side, striking a pose she’d problem seen in a swimsuit ad.

Paisley adjusted her floppy sun hat. “Good grief. You must really be into that book. Parker loves Civil War History too. He keeps telling me to give it a chance. But ugh.” She poked her finger in her mouth.

“Really?” Blair pulled her sunglasses down her nose, peering over the top. “I think I might need a tutor for U.S. History. Think he could squeeze me into his schedule?” She bounced her brow, grinning.

“Not likely. He spends every minute when he’s not working either talking on the phone with his new girlfriend, Emma, or practicing the bass guitar.” Paisley rolled her eyes. “He’s joined her band. Never even sang in the church choir.”

“Too bad. Guess I’ll have to settle for one of his fraternity brothers for some Fourth of July Fireworks.” She winked.

“You’re crazy.” Paisley laughed, falling back in her chair.

Cissy pressed her finger under the black letters on the page. A cold wave of reality washed over her heart. Like General Lee, it was time to retreat. Not that she’d ever had the courage to do more than scout the possibilities.

Parker would always think of her as his little sister’s friend. Who was she kidding? He didn’t think of her at all.

A gust blew the page, she flattened her hand over it. Time to get back to work. Stick with her plan. Step one get A’s in all of her AP classes and ace the exams—step two get into the college of her choice—step three become a successful career woman, escaping this Island. Bright lights, big city. If she happened to find a guy along the way, fine. But definitely not necessary.

Cissy lifted the book, squaring her shoulders. Better study the Union strategy. Rebel certainly didn’t describe her. Besides, she preferred to win.