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…
Morgan didn’t think Ryan was angry with her for being so cool that night. He’d been friendly enough whenever their paths crossed. She just figured he’d probably absorbed the unspoken message that she wasn’t up for some no-strings-attached sex.
Though she should have felt relieved, his cool approach had only made her feel worse and made her want him even more. By the second night, she practically had to handcuff herself to her bed to make sure she didn’t creep up the stairs and slip into his bedroom. Poor Charley and Lydia were in the room next door to his, and the walls were pretty thin. The thought of that dignified old couple hearing her and Ryan go at it like sex-starved bunnies was horrifying to contemplate.
“I want to get at that roof tomorrow,” Ryan said. “The delay is really bugging me now.”
“I warned the guests about noise,” Morgan said. “They’re fine as long as you don’t start banging around too early.”
“You’d better define early, then.”
“Ten, I guess. You can’t really blame them for not wanting any hammering until they’ve cleared out for the day. When you did that little repair a few days ago, you can’t believe how loud it sounded all through the house.”
“Sorry, but you can’t drive nails with a foam rubber hammer.”
“Ha, ha, funny guy. I get it, but I can’t afford to shut down for a week either. These guests are helping to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. And we want first-timers like the Stringers to come back.”
“Got it.” Ryan leaned a hip against the island counter and studied her. “So what are you going to be up to for the rest of the day, boss?”
Morgan sighed. “Bookkeeping, shopping, laundry, cleaning silverware. Making dinner with Sabrina. Same old, same old. No rest for the wicked.”
His gaze dropped to her chest for a leisurely moment before flicking back up. “Wicked? I haven’t noticed you being wicked. Not yet, I mean.”
Oh, boy. The heat in his eyes that had been missing for a few days sparked to life.
She swallowed, flustered by his sudden sexual innuendo. “It was just a figure of speech, Ryan. People say that all the time around here. Irony, get it?”
His gaze narrowed as if he was irritated that she wasn’t going to play along. “All joking aside, you do work too hard. You need to have some fun too.”
Like having crazy-hot sex with you?
She practically clutched her head in frustration. Of course jumping into bed with Ryan would be the first thing that popped into her head when she thought about fun.
“Well, you did say you’d give me some kayak lessons. That sounds like it would be fun,” she said in an insanely cheerful voice, trying to compensate for the lewd images playing through her mind.
Though she wasn’t crazy about the idea of being wedged into a precarious plastic shell, a nice paddle along the eastern shoreline of Seashell Bay might be relaxing. She sure needed to relax.
Sex would be relaxing, Morgan.
She wished she could tell her damn brain to shut the hell up.
“I’ll be all over that if it ever stops raining.” Ryan moved a little closer, close enough that Morgan had to repress her instinct to take a step back. “But I had another idea. How about I take you and Sabrina out for drinks and dinner tonight at Diamond Cove? You guys have been great to me, so I’d like to do something nice for you.”
Now that she hadn’t expected. It was certainly a sweet and generous gesture on Ryan’s part. Including Sabrina was not only kind, it also told her that he didn’t see the dinner as some kind of date. He couldn’t have known that Sabrina would certainly decline the offer.
She struggled for a moment to find a lighthearted response but gave up when all she could come up with sounded stupidly flippant. “That’s sweet of you. I’ll talk to Sabrina as soon as she gets back.”
I’ll sort out my feelings about being alone with you later.
Morgan couldn’t help noticing that she’d already made up her mind to accept the offer, even though Sabrina wouldn’t be there as a buffer between them.
Her sister hated going out, other than an occasional night at the Pot with Morgan and her closest friends. Whenever Sabrina had to be in a public place off the island for more than a few minutes, she often started to act jittery. She said it made her anxious, and that she couldn’t enjoy the food or the company. Sabrina’s idea of fun had always been to curl up on the cozy love seat in her room with her nose in one of the library’s murder mysteries. She devoured them like chocolate.
“Great,” Ryan said, smiling. He had the best smile. It practically melted the panties right off her body. “I’ll check the ferry connections and make a reservation for seven thirty.”
He took off his server’s apron and hung it up. “And now I’ve got a heavy date with some insulation.”
“Well, you wouldn’t want to disappoint her,” Morgan said. “I hear she can be a real taskmaster.”
Ryan’s smiled turned thoughtful. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
As she watched him leave the kitchen, Morgan thought that there was very little in life that Ryan Butler couldn’t handle.
About the Author
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