Summer at the Shore
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 . . .
Ryan parked his cart next to Morgan’s pickup and took a good look at Golden Sunset, the first in a long time. Man, the place did need work. For starters, the mailbox listed over, there was a missing baluster on the wraparound porch, and the weather vane atop the gabled roof looked as if the next nor’easter would rip it clean off and send the metal rooster winging across the yard. So far, three jobs had presented themselves before he’d even started a close inspection of the old Victorian house with its attached annex.
No wonder Morgan had been so vague about the extent of the problems. He had a feeling there’d be a hell of a long list of work to be done by the time they’d finished going through the place.
At least the paint job looked pretty good. The coastal Maine climate hadn’t yet weathered the eggshell-white siding or the hunter-green gingerbread trim. Ryan said a silent prayer of thanks to Cal Merrifield for keeping that part up, at least, because he sure didn’t want to have to paint the old barn from stem to stern. He sucked at painting, probably because he’d always found it to be fiddly, slow, and boring. Give him a nail gun or a drill and he was good to go, but a paintbrush—no thanks.
Morgan emerged from the annex as he grabbed his duffel off the cart’s cargo carrier. “What time did you say you were going to be here?” she said with a teasing smile.
Ryan glanced at his watch. It was eight forty, quite a bit later than his original ETA. “I figured I should give you a bit of extra time. Didn’t want to barge in while you might still be getting breakfast on the table for your guests.”
He’d been awake since six. As if his brain had been hardwired at birth with a built-in wake-up call, his eyes popped open every morning at that hour, rain or shine, no matter whether he was tucked in at his dad’s house in Seashell Bay or grabbing some brief shut-eye in a wadi in Helmand Province. He’d used the extra time this morning to go for an even longer run than usual and had ended up completing a full circuit of the winding road that traced the circumference of the island. Then he’d had a quick cup of coffee with his dad, who delayed his normal castoff so he could spend time with his son. Though Ryan had never wanted to be a lobster boat captain, he’d always admired his father’s dedication to the challenging and sometimes dangerous life on the water. Kevin Butler was the most decent man he’d ever known, and Ryan was happy he’d be spending more time with him this summer.
“We’ve only got two couples, and they’re early risers,” Morgan said. “Everything’s already cleaned up and put away.”
Leaning against the doorframe, she looked so damn beautiful that Ryan’s pulse rate doubled. Her red-and- white-striped top displayed a nice amount of cleavage, and her white capris hugged her trim figure, showcasing curves that never failed to draw his eye. Her blond hair looked like sunshine. Morgan might be in a world of trouble, but you’d never know it from looking at her.
He rolled his eyes in mock aggravation. “Damn. I guess that means I’m out of luck for breakfast.”
A small notebook in her hand, Morgan sashayed across the gravel drive to meet him, her sweet smile holding more than a hint of mischief. “Oh, maybe we can rustle you up something. Granola and yogurt? Herbal tea, perhaps?”
He hoped she was kidding but decided not to push it. “On second thought, maybe we should start right in on the inspection.”
“I’m in your hands. Do you want to start outside or inside? ”
Babe, I’d like to have you in my hands, all right. Ryan tossed his duffel up onto the porch. “Might as well start out here, I guess. I’ve already noticed a few things—the mailbox, the weather vane, and that missing baluster over there.” He pointed to the side of the porch.
“Baluster? I just call it a post,” Morgan said, “but I must bow to your obvious male wisdom.” She followed her wiseass comment up with a flourishing mock bow that gave him an even nicer view of her breasts. Then she tapped her notebook. “And those three items are already on my project list, by the way. I’m afraid it grows almost daily.”
Ryan liked that she seemed so upbeat this morning. When they talked on the boat yesterday, he’d found it hard to see her so weighed down by her troubles. That wasn’t the girl he was used to. She always looked put together and gorgeous, but when she had that lively sparkle in her blue eyes, Morgan Merrifield was damn near irresistible.
But when she opened the notebook and he caught a glimpse of the long list she’d prepared, Ryan had to steel his features not to show his concern.
“Lead the way.” He pulled a small, spiral-bound note- book out of the back pocket of his cargo shorts and a stub of a pencil from behind his ear. “I’ll make some notes on the materials I’ll need.”
Morgan eyed the pencil, worn smooth and round at the tip. “I guess that outfit you work for doesn’t pay too well. I could get you a real pencil if you like. Or maybe even a pen?” she asked. “So far, I have to say your tools aren’t too impressive, Butler.”
He laughed. Yeah, that was the Morgan he’d always known—smart, funny, and always ready to rub a little forty-grit sandpaper over his ass.
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