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SUMMER AT THE SHORE
Seashell Bay #2
BY V.K. SYKES
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 . . .
SUMMER AT THE SHORE
Seashell Bay #2
BY V.K. SYKES
Ryan pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead, his dark eyes studying her so intently she began to feel nervous.
“Not boring,” he finally said. “Nice. You deserve the right man, Morgan. And he’ll be a damn lucky guy when he finds you.”
And maybe I’m already right under his nose.
She strongly doubted that he was thinking along any such lines, which meant she shouldn’t either. “It’d probably be easier for him to discover the cure for the common cold than unearth the love of his life in Pickle River, Maine, population ten and falling.”
Ryan choked out a laugh. “That bad, huh?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Trust me, I’m barely exaggerating. So what about you, mystery man? Are you waiting for the right woman? Because you certainly deserve to find her,” she finished with a teasing smile. She didn’t want him to go squirrely on her now by getting too serious.
Ryan turned away again, gluing his gaze on the water. Her heart sinking, Morgan wondered if he was simply ignoring the question.
She shimmied back around, picked up a pebble from the beach, and tossed it as far as she could into the channel. It made a barely perceptible splash. Ryan looked at her again, and she got a jolt at the grim set to his gorgeous mouth and something that looked like pain in his eyes.
“I don’t think of it in those terms,” he said. “In fact, I try not to think about it much at all.”
Annoyed by his cryptic response—and annoyed that she was annoyed—Morgan scrambled for a light response. “More fun to keep playing the field, huh? I can see why. You must have to fight off scads of women who’d like nothing better than a little attention from big, strong you. You’re such a badass.” She batted her eyelashes.
Weirdly, his gaze narrowed with even greater intensity. It surprised her that he didn’t take the easy out.
“I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a great idea to get involved,” he said. “Even if somebody could put up with the danger and with only seeing me once in a blue moon, I’m not into that kind of a relationship. They hardly ever work.”
The obvious conviction behind his words took her aback. “You know there are successful military marriages, Ryan, despite long deployments.”
His smile was grim. “You know what the divorce rate is in Spec Ops units?”
Morgan wasn’t about to guess.
“I’ve heard it’s around 80 percent,” Ryan said. “So your chances of success are one in five. And believe me, it’s no better for guys who work for private military contractors.”
She stared at him. “That’s awful. But you won’t be doing that kind of work forever. You told me that at Diamond Cove.”
“No, but it’s where I am now. Would it be fair to a woman to pretend we could have a relationship that would actually last?” He picked up a pebble and launched it out into the channel, far beyond where hers had sunk.
Boy, how could she even respond to that kind of cynicism?
“You’ve told me that teaching means more to you than anything else,” Ryan went on, as if challenging her. “Would you sacrifice your career even if you thought you’d found the right guy?”
His attitude was starting to piss her off. “I don’t know about that, but I’ve certainly given it up now, at least for the time being. Maybe for a long time.” She stared at him, feeling defiant. “And I did it because my sister needs me. That’s more important than my career.”
He grimaced. “Jesus, Morgan, I didn’t mean—”
She held up a hand. “It’s fine, Ryan. Really.” She flashed him a smile. “We shouldn’t be getting this heavy anyway. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves.”
His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “We can blame it on Kristi.”
“Yes, let’s. And speaking of Mrs. Buckle, mark my words, that woman is hot for you, husband or no husband. You’re only sleeping about twenty feet apart, so I’d advise you to keep your door locked at night if you want to avoid a midnight visit.”
This time, the smile did reach his eyes. He slid an arm around her waist. “If I wanted company, Kristi’s not the woman at Golden Sunset I’d want in my room.” His arm tightened around her waist, gently pulling her against his naked torso.
Morgan froze, staring at him. The slowly building heat in his gaze sure didn’t look like a joke, nor did the arm around her waist feel like just a friendly gesture—not when she was plastered against all that warm, brawny muscle. And honest to God, she hadn’t a clue how to react.
About the author, V.K. Sykes…
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
Links to V.K.’s website, blog, books, etc.
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