When Rowan Hunter begins to suffer from a bout of the proverbial writer’s block, his editor offers up his beach cottage in Martha’s Vineyard. Prepared to relax, unwind and pray that the words begin to flow again, he gets an unexpected surprise one evening.
To the world she is known as the eccentric jazz singer Sapphire Woods, but to the small town of Oak Bluffs Massachusetts on The Vineyard, she is simply Laurel Asher, their best kept secret. In need of some time out of the spotlight to work on her next album, Laurel goes to the one place that’s always been home.
Thanks to a misunderstanding, Laurel and Rowan end up under the same roof. As the house has more than enough room, they decide to share the place. But what neither of them expects is the sensual attraction that begins to build up. As the color of the leaves begin to change and fall to the ground, these two find themselves falling as well–for each other.
Rowan breathed in and out deeply as he ran down the beach for his evening jog. There was something different…more peaceful getting his daily exercise done on the beach. Back in the city when he ran, the city smells of gas exhaust surrounded him, now he was taking in the salty sea air. Instead of listening to his music to block out the sounds of grumpy people and horns blaring in traffic, he was able to leave his headphones back at the house and just enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
He’d been in Martha’s Vineyard for almost two weeks now and he’d fallen in love with the place. He could imagine staying there forever. It was as if time slowed down, even stood still out on the island. Especially since the vacation season had passed. He’d arrived at the perfect time and thank his lucky stars he’d even been able to write a little. It wasn’t much yet, but it was better than nothing.
He’d done as Harry asked and called to let him know when he’d arrived at the island. Harry told him, again, to make himself at home and take as much time as he needed using the house.
He’d spent the first few days exploring. His ego got a little boost by how many people recognized him and asked for his autograph or wanted their picture taken with him. But they weren’t over the top about his recognition, which he appreciated. The town of Oak Bluffs was low key and laid back.
Rowan made his way back to the house, waving and speaking to the few people along the beach, out for an evening stroll. Once he was on the porch he stomped his shoes, getting the sand off of them before he walked into the house. After he felt like he wouldn’t leave a trail of sand in the house, he went in through the kitchen entrance off the side of the house.
He went straight for the fridge, grabbed a bottle of water out and drank it down in a few gulps. He grabbed the hoodie he’d worn to fight off the evening chill and was about to pull it over his head and start for the shower when he heard a click behind him.
His pulse began to quicken, recognizing the distinct sound of a gun being cocked.
He raised an eyebrow and felt something further south raise as well. He hadn’t expected the person he was sure had a gun pointed at the back of his head to have a voice so silky, so smooth and so damned arousing.
You could very well be shot right now, he told himself, and you’re turned on by the sound of your possible killer’s voice.
He shook his head as a chuckle slipped out.
“I said don’t move,” she said, more firmly.
“Hey,” he said, calmly. “There must be some kind of mistake.”
He was about to speak again, when he heard the sound of a low menacing growl.
Great, she has an attack dog too.
“You’ve got five seconds to explain what the hell you’re doing in my house.”
“Yes, this is my home. And you’re trespassing.”
“I’m not trespassing…can I at least turn around?” he asked.
He could sense her hesitation. Finally she said, “Slowly, with your hands up.”
He did as he was told and for a brief second he thought he might have already died and gone to heaven. The woman in front of him looked like an angel, with her big halo of tight curls spiraling around her face and across her shoulders.
She stood there, gun pointed at him with her feet braced firmly apart ready to pull the trigger if he so much as blinked wrong. And beside her was a bull mastiff standing tall and looking ready to defend its mistress. The dog was so massive, he stopped above the woman’s waist. He wondered if she walked or rode the huge animal.
“I’m not trespassing,” he repeated. “I was invited.”
“By whom?” she demanded.
He could tell by the look on her face that she recognized the name. She took one hand off of the gun and reached into her pocket.
“Don’t move,” she said again, as she pulled out a phone. She dialed a number and put the phone on speaker.
“Lolo! How are you, my girl?”
Rowan instantly recognized Harry’s voice. He would have breathed a sigh of relief, but he didn’t feel like he was in the clear yet.
“Uncle Harry?” she said, her voice full of apprehension. “Is someone staying at the beach house?”
“Yes, I sent one of my clients out there. He needed somewhere he could write in peace. I didn’t tell you since you’ve been out in L.A. for awhile.”
“Well, I’m not in L.A. anymore,” she mumbled.
“You’re not? Wait…are you at the beach house?”
“Yes, I’m at the beach house.”
Harry must have heard something in her tone, because suddenly his voice was frantic as he said, “Christ Laurel! Put the gun down.”
Clearly Harry knew his niece well. What was probably more accurate was he’d taught his niece well.
She instantly dropped the gun to her side.
“Coltrane!” Harry said next. “Stand down boy.”
The once intimidating dog, whimpered, tucked his head and laid down at Laurel’s feet.
“Hunter? Are you okay?”
Rowan removed the hoodie from his head and watched as Laurel’s eyes grew wide with recognition.
“I’m fine Harry,” Rowan said. “But thanks for helping get things cleared up.”
“No problem. How’s the writing going?”
“It’s getting better.”
“Good. I’ve got a dinner meeting so I will let the two of you hash the rest of this out yourselves. Oh and Lolo?”
“Yes, Uncle Harry.”
“Put my gun back. And apologize,” he ordered, before hanging up the phone.
Laurel slid her phone back in her pocket and glanced up at Rowan.
“I really am sorry,” she said quietly, looking embarrassed.
Rowan grinned at her and said, “You were protecting what was yours, right? I’m just glad we got things worked out before you actually used that thing.”
“It’s just that sometimes squatters try and stay in the vacation homes in the off season.”
“You don’t have to explain anymore. But how about we do some proper introductions,” he said, walking toward her.
He held his hand out to her. “I’m–”
“Rowan Hunter,” she said, slipping her hand into his.
He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
“I recognized you after you took your hood off,” she said, sheepishly.
“Next thing you’re going to tell me is you’ve read all of my books and you’re a huge fan,” he teased.
He watched the corner of her mouth tilt upward as she said, “Your headshot in your books doesn’t do you justice. You’re much more handsome in person.”
“Is that a fact?”
She smiled again and pulled her hand away from his. “I’m Laurel,” she said.
“Harry talks about you all of the time,” Rowan informed her.
“He probably exaggerates,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“And who is the behemoth?” he asked, although he’d already heard Harry called the dog by his name.
“This is Coltrane,” she answered.
“Interesting name. Hey, there Coltrane.”
At the sound of his name, Coltrane barked and stood on his hind legs. Rowan held his hand out and Coltrane sniffed it for a second. Once the dog decided he wasn’t a threat after all, Coltrane swiped his large tongue across Rowan’s hand.
“Well,” he said, trying shake the slobber off of his hand, “it’s nice to meet you too, Coltrane.”
He looked up at Laurel and grinned. “And it’s nice to meet you, Laurel, despite the circumstances.”
She hung her head, blushing again. “You have to let me find a way to make it up to you.”
“That’s not necessary–”
“I insist,” she interrupted. “I just got in, so I’m feeling kind of gritty from the plane ride. So how about we get cleaned up and then we can go out for dinner. My treat.”
“Okay,” he relented. “I’m in the master bedroom, if that’s where you stay I can get my stuff and go upstairs to shower.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “The second story suite is my favorite spot anyway.”
He nodded then they turned in opposite directions to head for their bedrooms.
About the Author:
Té Russ found solace in reading at an early age and a vehicle which broadened her horizons. As an adolescent she used writing to express her unspoken words. Since then, she has gone from writing stories in diaries to attending college for journalism and falling in love, which has allowed those youthful words of love to blossom into a series of stories in her romance novels. This Texas wife and mother of three can be found reading, skydiving, cheering for her MMA fighting husband at, buzzing down the interstate on the back of motorcycles, or kayaking.
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