Jill’s Books & Series
"“I chose the path less traveled, but only because I was lost. Carry a map.” Phoebe Traeger
Maddie drove the narrow, curvy highway with her past still nipping at her heels after fourteen hundred miles. Not even her dependable Honda had been able to outrun her demons.
Or her own failings.
Good thing then that she was done with failing. Please, be done with failing, she thought.
“Come on, listeners,” the disk jockey said jovially on the radio. “Call in with your Christmas hopes and dreams. We’ll be picking a random winner and making a wish come true.”
“You’re kidding me.” Maddie briefly took her eyes off the mountainous road and flicked a glance at the dash. “It’s one day after Thanksgiving. It’s not time for Christmas.”
“Any wish,” the DJ said. “Name it, and it could be yours.”
As if. But she let out a breath and tried for whimsy. Once upon a time, she’d been good at such things. “Fine. I’ll wish for …” What? That she could’ve had a do-over with her mother before Phoebe Traeger had gone to the ultimate Grateful Dead concert in the sky? That Maddie had dumped her ex before he’d dumped her? That her boss — may he choke on his leftover turkey — had waited until after year-end bonuses to fire her?
“The lines are lit up,” the DJ announced. “Best of luck to all of you out there waiting.”
Hey, maybe that’s what she’d wish for — luck. She’d wish for better luck than she’d had: with family, with a job, with men—
Well, maybe not men. Men, she was giving up entirely. Pausing from that thought, she squinted through the fog to read the first road sign she’d seen in awhile.
Welcome to Lucky Harbor!
Home to 2,100 lucky people
And 10,100 shellfish.
"Ford raised a brow in Tara’s direction. She pretended not to notice as she walked her date out. When she came back into the kitchen, Ford was waiting for her, clearly amused. “You used me to dump your date.”
“Dumped is … harsh.”
“It’s accurate,” she agreed, and sighed. “He had bad breath.”
“This isn’t funny, Ford. I needed a damn date.”
“That’s not what I would have guessed.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”
“It means,” he said with a faint smile. “That I remember how you get when you’re uptight and anxious. I also remember the only that would relax you.”
She had a flash to a long ago night, on the docks after a fight with her mother that had left her shaky and alone. Ford had found her, and in shocking little time had her forgetting both her troubles.
Naked therapy, Ford style.
It’d worked, and at the memory, she felt heat flood her face. “Yes, well, sex isn’t on the table at the moment.”
Now he flashed her his bad boy grin. “I was talking about how we used to lie on the marina dock and count stars, but your idea has merits too. Come here, Tara.”
Said the spider to the fly. “I don’t think so.”
He smiled again and poured her some wine, looking comfortable in his own skin as he leaned back against the counter, his own glass dwarfed in his big hand."
"“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.” Chloe Traeger
It wasn’t often that Chloe Traeger beat her sisters into the kitchen in the morning, but with Tara and Maddie currently sleeping with the town’s two hottest hotties, it’d been only a matter of time.
And in the name of fairness, Chloe hadn’t actually gotten to bed yet, but that was just a technicality. With a wide yawn, she started the coffee. Then gathering what she needed, she hopped up onto the counter – hissing in pain from her throbbing legs. The quiet in the kitchen soothed her as she mixed ingredients together for her natural antibacterial cream. Given how loudly she lived her life, the silence was a nice start to the day.
Especially today, which promised to get crazy quickly, though not much could out-crazy last night. Later in the afternoon, she’d be doing her esthetician thing at a high-end spa in Seattle, but first she had to put in some time here in Lucky Harbor at the B&B that she ran with her sisters.
The fact that her days were centering around work instead of play had her shaking her head with a rueful smile. Oh, how things change. Only a year ago, she’d been free as a bird, roaming happily from spa to spa at will, with no real ties. Then she and the half-sisters she’d never really known had inherited a dilapidated, falling-down-on-its-axis beach inn. With absolutely no knowledge of what to do with it.
Hard to believe how far they’d come. They’d renovated, turned the place into a thriving B&B, and now Chloe, Tara, and Maddie were real sisters instead of strangers. Friends, even."
"Lightning sent a jagged bolt across Ty Garrison’s closed lids. Thunder boomed and the earth shuddered, and he jerked straight up in bed, gasping as if he’d just run a marathon.
A dream, just the same goddamn four-year-old dream.
Sweating and trembling like a leaf, he scrubbed his hands over his face. Why couldn’t he dream about something good, like sex with triplets?
Shoving free of the covers, he limped naked to the window and yanked it open. The cool mist of the spring storm brushed his heated skin, and he fought the urge to close his eyes. If he did, he’d be back there.
But the memories came anyway.
“Landing in ten,” the pilot announced as the plane skimmed just beneath the storm raging through the night.
In eight, the plane began to vibrate.
In six, lightning cracked.
And then an explosion, one so violent it nearly blew out his eardrums."
"“I should kiss you, that would shut you up.”
“Yeah,” Matt said. “You should kiss me.”
“Fine.” Amy shoved him up against a tree with one hell of a kiss. She found herself melting into him, like maybe there was no line drawn in the sand between him and her, nothing but this incredible pleasure, pleasure she couldn’t remember ever getting out of a simple kiss before. Matt’s arms held her close, and the scent of him, clean, warm male, was making her heart pound. Her head was overrun with wicked thoughts involving her tongue and every inch of his body.
“So,” she said. “It worked. You’re quiet now.”
“Amy.” His voice was thrillingly quiet and gruff, running his lips along her jaw. “Don’t promise what you don’t want to deliver.”
Turning her head, she cupped his face and pulled it closer. Matt let out a sound and sucked hungrily on her bottom lip, like he was a starving man and she was his next meal. And while his mouth and tongue were very busy, so were his hands, gripping her hips, grinding her into him.
“I rarely make a promise,” Amy whispered. “But when I do, I deliver . . . ”"
"Holding onto her hat, Mia ran along the streets on her killer four-inch red heels, her matching red skirt ruffling in the breeze. Late. She was late.
It was the story of her life.
“Hey, Mrs. Claus!” a construction worker yelled. “I need some holiday spirit! Come on, mama, bring it over here!”
This was accompanied by the hoots and hollers of the guy’s co-workers.
Mia flipped them off and kept running in tune to their raucous laughter. She might not be New York born or bred, but she’d learned to fit in just fine.
“Wow, are you real?” a little kid asked in marvel a block later, taking in her costume. “Is Santa real?”
“Yes!” she told him, and kept running.
Except if there’d really been a Santa Claus, she’d happily crawl onto his lap and whisper her greatest wish – to be picked. For her softball team, for her internship, for a relationship, it didn’t matter. Getting picked meant everything to her, but somehow, she always ended up doing the picking."
LOVE CAN HAPPEN IN A HEARTBEAT
Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…
With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…More info →
"She did her best to appear as though she hadn’t just been sitting in an interrogation room for hours being questioned about a crime she hadn’t committed. But as it turned out, the pretense was far too much for her overloaded emotions, and she closed her eyes, trying to disappear into the seat. If she disappeared, then he couldn’t see her fall apart.
“You okay?” he asked.
Her throat tightened further, and she shook her head. Nope. Not okay. Not even close. “Don’t,” she said.
“Don’t be nice to me right now. I’ll lose it.”
With surprising gentleness, he pushed the hair from her face, then clicked open her seatbelt.
It was all the invitation she was going to get, and all the invitation she needed. Turning to him, she burrowed in as steady, strong arms closed around her. He stroked a hand down her back, and she pressed her face into the crook of his neck, soaking in the warm comfort he offered.
It was the safest and most secure she’d felt in far too long and she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to let go.
Afraid he was going to pull away before she was done soaking him in, she squirmed a little closer. “Please not yet.”
He tightened his grip. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
Thank God. For just this one second, someone had her."
"Another firefighter stepped up to the griddle to relieve Jack who loaded a plate for himself and stepped over to Kevin. He flipped the dog a sausage, which Kevin caught in midair with one snap of his huge jaws. The sausage instantly vanished, and Kevin licked his lips, staring intently at Jack’s plate as if he could make more sausage fly into his mouth by wish alone.
Jack laughed and crouched down to talk to the dog, a movement that had his shirt riding up, revealing low-riding BDUs – his uniform pants – a strip of taut, tantalizing male skin, and just the hint of a perfect ass.
On either side of Leah, both Ali and Aubrey gave lusty sighs. Leah completely understood. She could feel her own lusty sigh catching in her throat but she squelched it. They were in the F-zone, she and Jack. Friends. Friends didn’t do lust, or if they did, they also did the smart, logical thing and ignored it. Still, she felt a smile escape her at the contagious sound of Jack’s laughter. Truth was, he’d been making her smile since the sixth grade, when she’d first moved to Lucky Harbor.
As if sensing her appraisal, Jack lifted his head. His dark mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes, but she knew he was looking right at her because he arched a dark brow.
And on either side of her, Ali and Aubrey sighed again.
“Really?” Leah asked them.
“Well look at him,” Aubrey said unapologetically. “He’s hot, he’s got rhythm, and not just the fake white-boy kind either. He’s also funny as hell. And for a bonus, he’s gainfully employed. It’s just too bad I’m off men forever.”
“Forever’s a long time,” Ali said, and Leah’s gut cramped at the thought of the beautiful, blonde Aubrey going after Jack."
"It was dark outside when she got back to the Book & Bean, and she stopped short just outside the door. She’d locked up when she left and turned off the lights.
But the door was unlocked now, and the lights on. She went still, then pulled out her phone and dialed 9-1-1. She didn’t hit send but kept her thumb hovered over call. Taking a step inside, she paused. “Hello?”
The low, slightly rough voice wasn’t what had her heart pumping. That honor went to the fact that there was a man on a ladder in the back of her store.
He was in jeans with a tool belt slung low on his hips, his t-shirt clinging to him. He seemed a little irritated, a little sweaty, and just looking at him Aubrey got a whole lot hot and bothered in places that had no business being hot and bothered by this man at all. “What are you doing in here?” she asked.
“I work here.”
“What are you talking about? Get out.”
“Sorry, Sunshine.” He wasn’t even looking at her, but using some sort of long, claw-like tool to pull down a ceiling tile above the wall she’d been working on. And his tool worked way better than hers."
"“Oh, yeah,” Becca Thorpe murmured with a sigh of pleasure as she wriggled her toes in the wet sand. The sensation was better than splurging on a rare pedicure. Better than finding the perfect dress on sale. Better than…well, she’d say orgasms, but it’d been a while and she couldn’t remember for sure.
“You’re perfect,” she said to the Pacific Ocean, munching on the ranch-flavored popcorn she’d bought from the pier. “So perfect that I’d marry you and have your babies, if I hadn’t just promised myself to this popcorn.”
“Not even going to ask.”
At the sound of the deep male voice behind her, Becca squeaked and whipped around.
She’d thought she was alone on the rocky beach. Alone with her thoughts, her hopes, her fears, and all her worldly possessions stuffed into her car parked in the lot behind her.
But she wasn’t alone at all, because not ten feet away, between her and the pier, stood a man. He wore a rash-guard T-shirt and loose board shorts, both dripping wet and clinging to his very hot bod. He had a surfboard tucked under a biceps, and just looking at him had her pulse doing a little tap dance.
Maybe it was his unruly sun-kissed brown hair, the strands more than a little wild and blowing in his face. Maybe it was the face itself, which was striking for the features carved in granite and a set of mossy-green eyes that held her prisoner. Or maybe it was that he carried himself like he knew he was at the top of the food chain."
"For a guy balancing his weight between the fly bridge of his boat and the dock, thinking about sex instead of what he was doing was a real bonehead move. Cole Donovan was precariously perched on the balls of his feet above some seriously choppy, icy water. So concentrating would’ve been the smart move.
But he had no smarts left, which was what happened when you hadn’t had a good night sleep in far too long — your brain wandered into areas it shouldn’t.
Sex being one of those areas.
He shook his head to clear it. It was way too early for those kind of thoughts. Not quite dawn, the sky was a brilliant kaleidoscope of purples and blues and reds. Cole worked with a flashlight between his teeth, his fingers threading new electrical wire through the running lights on the stern. He only had a couple hours before a group of eight was coming through for a tour of the area.
That’s what he and his two partners and best friends did — they hired out themselves and their fifty foot Wright Sport boat, chartering deep sea fishing, whale watching, scuba diving … if it could be done, they did it. Sam was their financial guy and boat builder. Tanner was their scuba diving instructor and communications expert. Cole was the captain, chief navigator, mechanic, and – lucky him — the face of Lucky Harbor Charters, mostly because neither Sam nor Tanner were exactly service-oriented people."
"“I’m off men, you know.”
“Yeah. I know.” Tanner pulled Callie in, hard against his body.
She took two handfuls of his shirt. For balance, she told herself. But the truth was, she wanted to put her hands on him. He looked down on her face for another second, his brown eyes soft but full of intent as he slowly lowered his head.
He paused, eyes on hers.
She had her hands over his heart and could feel the beating beneath her palms. Slow. Steady.
The opposite of hers, of course.
“I…can’t remember what I was going to say.”
His eyes were smiling into hers. “So I can continue?”
She cleared her throat and nodded. “Carry on,” she whispered.
He started with a brush of his lips against one corner of her mouth, a butterfly touch. And then the other corner.
She heard a soft sound, an almost whimper, and realized it was her. He slowly sank his fingers into her hair, and she melted. No other word for it, her bones just melted clean away. And then he proceeded to kiss the living daylights out of her…"
"Chloe came awake aware of two things: one, she was alone in the bed, and two, she didn’t like being alone in the bed. She sat up and blearily blinked into focus a sight that immediately had her brain clearing.
And her body humming.
“Officer Hottie,” she murmured, and had the pleasure of seeing the big, badass, steely man grimace at the nickname he hated.
Five years and she still loved to poke the bear. And right now the bear stopped shoving things into a duffel bag and looked at her, quiet and assessing, taking her temperature from across the room. “You’re awake.”
“Seems like,” she answered, hearing the exhaustion in her voice.
Evidently Sawyer did as well. His mouth tightened slightly as his eyes scanned her from head to toe. Whatever he saw had him moving from his duffel bag to the side of the bed, where he stood looking down at her. His dark brown eyes could be cool and unreadable—his cop eyes—or soft, melting chocolate, like when he was feeling frisky, though she hadn’t seen that side of him lately.
Yeah, she had brain freeze, and not just from the ice cream. “Back up,” she wheezed. “Give me space.”"
"Live life balls out,” Katie Kramer whispered to herself every night, even though she didn’t own a pair, hoping the mantra would keep the nightmares away.
Death and destruction and horror still dogged her every single sleeping breath. Until tonight that is. Tonight she’d miraculously been nightmare free. So when she opened her eyes in the middle of the night, she felt . . . confused. She wasn’t screaming about the bridge collapsing, about being
trapped in her car, hanging upside down by her seatbelt fifty feet over the side of a cliff with flames licking at her . . .
Which meant something else had woken her. And whatever it was, she wanted to kill it for interrupting the first solid sleep she’d had in four months.
There was a fatal flaw with this logic, of course. Because most likely it hadn’t been an it, but a someone.
She wasn’t alone.
Not prone to hysterics or drama, she shook her head in the dark. She’d locked the cabin door. She was safe. Plus, she wasn’t in Los Angeles anymore. After the accident, she’d gotten into her brand new used car and left town to fulfill her Œballs out’ motto. She didn’t know what adventures were ahead of her exactly, but the not knowing was part of the plan. She’d gone north because Hwy 5 had been the only freeway moving faster than fifteen miles per hour and she’d needed to move fast, needed to get as far from her old, staid, boring, careful life as the tank of gas could get her."
"Hot and bothered, and not in the good way, Dr. Emma Sinclair switched the sign on her father’s medical clinic from Closed to Open. It was eight a.m. sharp, and out of habit, she braced herself to be bombarded.
Not that that was going to happen, not here in Mayberry, USA.
Excuse her– Wishful, California. Nothing so simple as Mayberry. Not with the coyotes and bears she knew roamed around the property on a daily basis. She heard the coyotes in the early mornings, their eerie howls making the hair on the back of her neck to stand straight up. Even more disconcerting, she’d caught sight of them watching her from the woods lining the property, their hungry eyes making her miss the streets of New York, where the worst predators were grumpy, demanding homeless people.
She hadn’t actually seen a bear yet, but everyone who came through her door had a bear story, so she figured with her karma, it was only a matter of time. Not in a hurry for that, she booted up the computer behind the front desk, remembering with a fond sigh the hustling bustling rush of her Manhattan ER, where she literally ran her entire shift; bagging and defibbing, resuscitating, whatever came her way, with sometimes little more than caffeine in her system.
Yeah, she’d had it all in New York, a promising career with a great 401K, a fantastic sublet near Central Park, a great shift in one of the best ERs in the country . . . it didn’t get better than that.
But it certainly got worse."
"“Why are you here?” she asked. Not exactly a friendly a greeting as say Nolan would have received, but her reasons for not being comfortable with TJ were as complicated as everything else in her life at the moment.
His eyes said he’d registered her tone and was thinking about smiling. “You going to invite me in?”
Ah, he speaks. But no. Hell, no. That would be like inviting in the big bad wolf. She shook her head and simultaneously swallowed another bite of ice cream, which naturally went down the wrong pipe, and as the cold ache exploded behind her eyeballs, she choked.
Stepping in close, way too close for comfort, TJ ran a hand up her back, patting her between the shoulder blades as she coughed and gasped.“Brain freeze?” he murmured, his hands still on her, which was disconcerting enough, but added to that, he brushed against her with all those tough muscles, the ones that could make a nun ache to touch him, and in spite of her current and regrettable lack of a sexual life, she was certainly no nun. If she were, she’d be excommunicated for the thoughts she was having.
Yeah, she had brain freeze, and not just from the ice cream. “Back up,” she wheezed. “Give me space.”"
"“Legend says that if you take a moonlight dip, you’ll supposedly find your one true love,” Lilah said.
“Of course.” Brady nodded. “It’s always midnight. So, do you swim often?”
“Never at midnight.”
He couldn’t help it, he laughed.
With a slow shake of her head and a smile curving her mouth, she reached out and touched a finger to his curved lips. “You’re a cynic,” she chided.
It’d been a long time since someone had touched him, unexpected or otherwise. A very long time, and he wrapped his finger around her wrist to hold her to him, letting his eyes drift closed.
“For how big and tough you are,” she said very softly, “you have a kind mouth.”
He opened his eyes and met her gaze. “You should know it’s not kindness I’m feeling at the moment.”"
"“Come on, baby,” he murmured. “Give it up for me. You know you want to.”
Jade Bennett did her best to ignore the way the low, sexy voice made her shiver. Besides, it wasn’t aimed at her. Dr. Dell Connelly; dog whisperer, cat whisperer, horse whisperer, and known woman whisperer … was talking to a stray kitten.
The feline in question huddled miserably beneath the bench seat in Dell’s vet center waiting room, staring at him from narrowed eyes, clearly having none of the sweet talk. She was a scruffy/mangy grayish brown with sharp green eyes, and like Jade, not swayed by sweet talkers.
“Huh,” Jade said from behind the reception counter. “Most females leap right into your arms at the slightest encouragement.”
Dell craned his neck and regarded her from eyes as dark as his secrets. “Not all.”
There was a beat of silence during which she did her best not to break eye contact. He was right. Not all females, otherwise she’d have made the leap."
"There was a fine line between being exhausted and being comatose, and Adam Connelly had just about found it. He’d been two nights without sleep, half that without food, and his shoulder hurt like hell where his shirt was sticking to his open wound.
It was hard to feel much past the heart-pounding adrenaline surge still making his limbs quiver, but the pain managed to creep through. The freezing burn of the sleet slapping him in the face didn’t help either as he opened his pack and shoved in his gear. Later, he’d have to take it all back out again and carefully repair, clean, and repack everything after the unexpected rescue, but for now he wasn’t particularly inclined toward much besides getting the hell out of there.
Milo stood at his side, still in his search and rescue vest, attentive to their surroundings even though he had to be as done in as Adam. Knowing it, Adam forced a few deep breaths to try and slow his heart rate. “What do you think?” he asked, pretending he wasn’t fighting his still knocking knees to hold him up. “Food, sleep . . . or a woman?”
Milo nudged the pocket of the daypack where his food was kept.
Adam shook his head, finding some humor in the day, after all. “You always vote for food.”
The ten-month-old yellow lab seemed to smile at that. He was a search-and-rescue dog now, but not too long ago, he’d been nothing more than a scrappy, unwanted pup. In Milo’s world, food still trumped everything else.
Adam got that. After all, like tended to recognize like. Besides, sleep was overrated, and it wasn’t as if a woman had been on his calendar, anyway. Hell, a woman hadn’t been even a glimmer of a possibility in too long to contemplateHis own fault. “Food it is, then,” he said, and realized in spite of still shaking and sweating, he was starving, too. That was a good sign, he decided. It meant that the PTSD had been kicked down to a lowly 3 on the scale, when two years ago it would’ve been at a 10.5, not to mention wholly consuming him.
"Kate Evans would’ve sold her soul for a stress-free morning, but either her soul wasn’t worth much or whoever was in charge of granting wishes was taking a nap. With her phone vibrating from incoming texts — which she was doing her best to ignore — she shoved her car into park and ran across the lot and into the convenience store. “Duct tape?” she called out to Meg, the clerk behind the counter.
Meg had pink and purple tie-dyed hair, enough piercings to ensure certain drowning if she ever went swimming, and was in the middle of a heated debate on the latest The Voice knock-out rounds with another customer. But she stabbed a finger in the direction of aisle three.
Kate snatched a roll of duct tape, some twine, and then, because she was also weak, a rack of chocolate mini donuts for later. Halfway to the checkout, a bin of fruit tugged at her good sense so she grabbed an apple. Dumping everything on the counter, she fumbled through her pockets for cash.
Meg rang her up and bagged her order. “You’re not going to murder someone, are you?”
Kate choked out a laugh. “What?”
“Well…” Meg took in Kate’s appearance. “Librarian outfit. Duct tape. Twine. I know you’re the math whiz around here, but it all adds up to a Criminal Minds episode to me.”
Kate was wearing a cardigan, skirt, leggings, and — because she’d been in a hurry and they’d been by the front door – snow boots. She supposed with her glasses and hair piled up on her head she might resemble the second-grade teacher that she was, and okay, maybe the snow boots in May was a little suspect. “You watch too much TV,” Kate said. “It’s going to fry your brain.”"
"I wanted to thank you for having me, Dr. Connelly—” Emily Stevens broke off and shook her head. Not quite right. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel in the parking lot of her new job.
“I really hope to make a positive impact—” Nope, even worse. No one liked a brownnoser. She cleared her throat, looked into her rearview mirror and forced a smile. “I’m thrilled to be stuck in West Nowhere, USA.”
Your own fault.
She drew in a deep breath, applied lip gloss—because everyone knew that was the same thing as courage—and got out of the car. It was early autumn, and the chill in the early morning air only served to remind her just how far from Los Angeles she really was. She drew a deep breath, taking in the towering, intimidating Bitterroot mountain range, backdropping what could only be described as a vast, wide open valley of the most pristine, remote land of meandering rivers and lakes she’d ever seen. Emily figured it was filled with bears and wild mountain lions, and probably Big Foot for all she knew.
Having come from the land of freeway overpasses and interchanges, the wildest animals she’d ever seen were of the two-legged variety."
"Darcy Stone had never been big on rules unless she was breaking them. But that was the funny thing about nearly dying—it changed you, in a big way. So she’d taken a good, hard look at her life and decided that maybe a few “guidelines” wouldn’t hurt.
Number one: Don’t stress the little stuff.
Number two: Never let a certain man into her heart. Ever.
Number three: Don’t take crap from anyone.
It was number three on her mind right now. Today’s crap came in the form of one weasel named Johnny Myers, a dog trainer who lived two counties over from Darcy’s town of Sunshine, Idaho, deep in the Bitterroot Mountains. Johnny was complete pond scum, not to mention under investigation for illegally importing and exporting exotic animals.
It killed Darcy to do business with him, but if she didn’t, he’d send the dog she wanted straight to the kill shelter.
“I’m not paying you seven hundred dollars for a service dog you intend to dump for not passing his certs,” she said into her cell phone as she walked through the pouring rain and into work. Hell, she didn’t have seven hundred dollars."
"Zoe Stone had tried on everything in her closet and not only did her room now look like an explosion in a mattress factory, not one single item of clothing had worked for her.
She was still standing there eyeing the carnage when her sister, Darcy, appeared in the doorway, arms loaded with clothing. “Got your 911 freak-out text. Here’s all the stuff I’ve ever borrowed from you.”
“You mean stolen?”
“Tomayto, tomahto.” Darcy dumped the entire pile of loot in the only space available—on top of the slightly tubby Bernese mountain dog snoring in the center of Zoe’s bed.
“The pretty little black dress of yours is in there,” Darcy said. “You should absolutely be wearing that for your date instead of the granny dress you’ve got on. Seriously, how old are you, eighty-five?”
She’d just had the first anniversary of turning thirty, thank you very much, but Zoe looked down at herself. Her floral print dress was soft and clingy, fell to just past her knees, and hid a multitude of sins—such as the fact that she’d been stress-eating her feels all week. “It’s not that bad.”
“Zoe, you could walk into any Denny’s before five o’clock and get a discount.”
"Lily Danville was most definitely back in town. Because he couldn’t help himself, Aidan watched as she rushed to the door of the convenience store balancing an armful of junk food. Nice to know some things hadn’t changed.
Clearly she was trying to avoid him—a plan he could get behind. He had no desire to take a walk down Memory Road either, especially when that road had ended in a spectacular crash with no survivors.
Just the walking dead.
Still, after all these years she looked the same, hauntingly vulnerable and yet somehow tough at the same time. It was that willowy, curvy body coupled with those drown-in-me green eyes that she so carefully didn’t turn his way.
She almost got away, too, and then neither of them would have had to face each other, but someone jostled her at the doorway. Lily staggered backward, right into a five-foot postcard display of the Colorado Rockies.
The entire thing began to wobble.
With a gasped “Oh, no!” Lily reached out for it, sacrificing her bag of chips to do so. The bag hit the floor and then a package of donuts slipped out of her arms as well, landing next to the chips.
Lily Danville was most definitely back in town. Because he couldn’t help himself, Aidan watched as she rushed to the door of the convenience store balancing an armful of junk food. Nice to know some things hadn’t changed.
Clearly she was trying to avoid him—a plan he could get behind. He had no desire to take a walk down Memory Road either, especially when that road had ended in a spectacular crash with no survivors."
"The wind whistled through the high Colorado rocky mountain peaks, stirring up a dusting of snow as light as the powdered sugar on the donut that Hudson Kincaid was stuffing into his face as he rode the ski lift.
Breakfast of champions, and in three minutes when he hit the top of Cedar Ridge, he’d have the adrenaline rush to go with it. As head of ski patrol, he’d already had his daily before-the-asscrack-of-dawn debriefing with his crew. They’d set up the fencing and ropes to keep skiers in the proper runs and safe. They’d checked all the sleds to make sure their equipment was in working order.
Now he had time for one quick run before they ran rescue drills for a few hours, and then he was on to a board meeting — aka fight with his siblings. One run, ten glorious minutes to himself, and he was going to make it Devil’s Face, the most challenging on the mountain.
Go big or go home. That was the Kincaid way.
Just then the radio at his hip chirped news about a report of someone in trouble at the top of Devil’s Face and Hud shook his head.
So much for a few minutes to himself."
"Somehow she crawled behind the wheel. She started the boat before suddenly remembering she had to untie it first.
But her lake patrol guy was already on it, handling the ropes like he’d been born to the task, using his foot to push off on the hull so it didn’t scrape against the dock and get damaged. He then tossed the rope into the boat. “You’re good,” he said.
She stared at him. Was he kidding? She wasn’t good. She was a hot mess, and they both knew it. But then again, he’d meant the boat, not her, and she knew that too. Still, she appreciated his unsolicited help. “Thanks,” she said.
He nodded. Waited a beat. “Need help finding the throttle?”
This actually made her smile. “You’re a real charmer, you know that?”
“Yep. I’m fresh off the boat from charm school.” “Where was it, Timbuktu?”
“Close,” he said, offering no further explanation.
Fine. Whatever. Over mysterious men, over men period, she hit the gas. When she glanced in the rearview mirror a minute later, he was still standing there on the dock, hands shoved in his pockets, watching her go."
“No.” She bit her lower lip. “Maybe.”
She opened her mouth and then shook her head. “My mom taught me to show not tell.” And then her hands went to his chest, one of them right over the band aid, which she touched gently, running her fingers over it as if she wished she could take away the pain. “I just … need to see …”
Her gaze dropped to his mouth and again she hesitated. Tenderness mixed with his sudden pervasive hunger and need, a dizzying combination for a guy who prided himself on not feeling much. “Pru—“
“Shh a second,” she whispered. And then closing the gap, she brushed her lips over his."
"“You want to come upstairs, Willa?”
What she wanted was to put her hands back on his chest now that she knew it was as hard as it looked. Instead she gripped either side of her seat with white knuckles. “Of course not.”
“I think you do. I think you want something else too.”
“What I want,” she said as coolly as she could, “is dinner as promised.”
“Liar,” he chided softly.
“Well that’s just rude, calling your date a liar.”
“So it is a date.” His tone was very male and very smug. It should’ve pissed her off but instead it did something hot and erotic to her insides."
"Christmas Eve had the nerve to show up just like it did every year: way too quickly and with ridiculous fanfare.
Rory Andrews stood in the courtyard of the Pacific Pier Building in San Francisco, surrounded by sparkly holiday lights and enough garlands to give the place its own ozone, and told herself things could be worse.
She just wasn’t sure how.
It was the unknown, she decided. Because this year, unlike the past six, she’d be spending Christmas with her family, a thought that caused a swarm of butterflies to take flight in her belly.
Not an uncommon feeling since she’d turned twenty-three a few months back and decided it was time to become a person she could be proud of if it killed her. And given the guy leaning against one of the lamp poles clearly waiting for her, arms crossed, frown in place, it just might."
"He wrapped his fingers around her wrist. “Stop.”
Yeah, that would have been the wise thing to do. Definitely. But she’d never been all that wise when it came to him so she used her free hand to tell him he was number one. With her middle finger. “How’s that for icy, you overgrown, knuckle-dragging oaf—”
Swearing beneath his breath, he caught that wrist too and stepped into her, making her not only shut the hell up but also stumble back a few steps, off balance. A tree came up against her back and Archer used that to his advantage, pinning her there with lots of solid muscle.
Her breath caught. At the sound he froze, his gaze going heavy-lidded as he stared at her mouth. Then he planted both hands flat on the huge tree on either side of her, framing her shoulders as he let out a long, careful exhale, resting his cheek against her hair. “You drive me crazy,” he murmured, his voice reverberating through his chest and into hers."
"Colbie Albright stood in the crowded LaGuardia Airport staring up at the flight departure board. Her chest was tight and her throat felt like it was closing in.
Classic anxiety, she told herself. Just breathe right through it.
Not that her body listened to her brain. Her body rarely listened to good sense.
In any case, it was December 1 and people were rushing all around her like chickens without their heads, while she stood still trying to figure out her choice of destination. Her only requirements were warm and tropical. An exotic beach would fit the bill perfectly.
Oooh, I wanna take you…
Great, and now that Beach Boys song was stuck in her head. Doing her best to shake it off, she eyed the board again. So many choices for a twenty-eight-year-old runaway with a packed bag and no regrets."
After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find? The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.