Summer at the Shore
Seashell Bay # 2
Seashell Bay # 2
By: V.K. Sykes
Releasing June 30, 2015
Grand Central: Forever
JUST A SUMMER FLING?
Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family's bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can't let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she's swept away.
Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he's not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn't allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she's in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .
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Ryan followed her up the porch stairs and into the center hallway. If Morgan didn’t miss her guess, his gaze was probably glued to her butt. A few minutes ago, that same gaze had made a slow perusal of her entire body, which had sent the blood rushing from her head directly to points south. He was clearly appreciating her outfit. Or more likely, what he imagined was underneath it.
Then again, she’d made a little more effort today, unlike her usual and decidedly more casual early morning routine. Her top was kind of tight and showcased her cleavage without being trashy, while her capris were a snug fit. A little understated makeup had been in order too. She kept telling herself that she was simply making up for her sweaty, harassed, and rumpled appearance on the boat yesterday. After all, she didn’t want Ryan to think she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown or anything.
Ha, ha. Nice try, Merrifield.
Besides, how could she object to him giving her a few once-overs when she’d been doing exactly the same thing to him? When he got out of the golf cart, it had hit her all over again that Ryan was truly a prime piece of rampant masculinity—more so every time she saw him. His soft, form-fitting Red Sox T-shirt and cargo shorts displayed a fabulous expanse of carved, tanned muscle, enough to make her start mentally fanning herself. Add in ruggedly handsome features and a dark, mysterious gaze, and everything about him screamed hot, powerful male, a guy who knew exactly what he wanted and how to take it.
And it looked like he might just want to take her.
Morgan knew her self-control was in for a very rocky time. Keep him busy all summer? Yeah, her suddenly filthy mind could pull up about a thousand ways to do that—some of them probably illegal and all of them insanely stupid, at least when it came to protecting herself from hurt.
But she knew the wild ride would be worth it.
Almost. Passing the parlor and dining room on the left and the sitting room/library on the right, she led Ryan back to the junction between the house and the annex. Only when she reached the door to the kitchen did she realize he’d stopped and crouched, carefully inspecting an electrical outlet. He made a note, then rose and strode down the hall to join her.
“Morgan, just how old is the wiring in here?”
Her lovely Ryan fantasies crumbled under the onslaught of reality. “All I know is that everything passed inspection when Dad bought it.”
“Getting through a home inspection doesn’t necessarily mean that much, and that was years ago anyway,” he said in a somber voice. “If the rest of the house is like this, you need to fully upgrade as soon as possible.”
Morgan stifled a pathetic whimper. “That would cost a fortune.”
“It would cost a lot more if the place went up in smoke.”
Crap. She couldn’t possibly afford new wiring now, but she’d build it into her already awful calculations of what she’d have to spend at some point to keep her increasingly bloated whale afloat.
After a quick nod of acknowledgment, she headed into the kitchen, where her sister was working at the center island, cutting up vegetables for a country-style soup. Ever deliberate, Sabrina would probably take a good half hour or more to work her way through the carrots, beans, onions, turnips, butternut squash, and celery. Though Morgan always offered to help, her sister tended to push her away more often than not. Cooking was one of the few things Sabrina felt comfortable doing, and it gave her a much-needed measure of pride.
“Sweetie, say hello to Ryan,” Morgan said with an encouraging smile.
Her sister wore a white chef’s apron that covered her from her chest almost down to her knees. Underneath was a blue T-shirt, faded jeans, and black Converse running shoes with purple trim.
“Hi, Ryan,” Sabrina said without looking up.
He extended his hand across the island countertop. “It’s really good to see you again, Sabrina.”
Sabrina wiped her right hand on her apron. Morgan had little doubt her sister’s palm was damp since all through breakfast she’d been as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After some hesitation, during which Ryan patiently waited, Sabrina extended her hand for a tentative shake. Thank God he’d remembered Sabrina’s aversion to hugging—hugging men anyway—and hadn’t tried to embrace her.
“Uh, thanks for helping us out,” Sabrina said.
“Those are great shoes,” he said, glancing at her feet. “That purple trim is totally cool.”
Sabrina looked down, then managed a shy grin. “Thanks.”
Morgan started to relax a little now that the ice had been broken. She crossed the kitchen and reached down into a cupboard for an iron skillet. “Bacon, sausage, and eggs okay, Ryan? How do you like your eggs?”
Ryan moved around the island to stand next to Sabrina. “Any way is fine.”
“Coming right up.” Morgan grabbed her pink apron from a hook on the back of the pantry door.
“Sabrina, how about I give you a hand with those veggies?” Ryan said.
Sabrina glanced over at Morgan, looking uncertain.
“If he insists, I say we put the man to work,” Morgan said.
Sabrina extracted a wide-bladed knife from a butcher block on the counter and handed it to Ryan, who carefully ran his thumb along the edge. Then she reached down and pulled out another cutting board. “Would you mind doing the onions? They burn my eyes something fierce.”
Ryan grabbed the pair of big red onions. “When you cut into an onion, it releases a gas that combines with the water in your eyes to form an acid. People have come up with a lot of ideas to avoid burning tears. I’ve only found a couple of things that help though.”
Morgan stared at him. He was the last guy on Earth she thought would be talking about cooking tricks.
V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s bestselling historical romances at www.vanessakellyauthor.com
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