Whispering Cove, Book 1
Release Date: July 10, 2011
Release Date (PRINT): March 5, 2013
Barnes & Noble
WILD is also available in print as part of the WILD, WET and WICKED anthology.
Memories made her run. Family forced her home. Only love can make her stay.
Ten years ago, a tragic accident drove Andie Adair away from her family, friends and fiancé in Whispering Cove. A dark secret has kept her away from the sleepy seaport village, until she receives an ambiguous telephone call from her grandfather. He’s in the hospital. Desperate to cling to her only living relative, she races home—and straight into the arms of the one man she can’t bear to face.
Sheriff Brody McGrath built a life without the woman of his dreams, but when the prowler he catches turns out to be Andie, he isn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions—grief, regret, heartache, and love. There is no denying the old spark between them still burns brightly, but love may not be enough to defeat Andie’s demons and allow her to live again.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
A gentle breeze feathered back her hair. Andrea’s plan was simple. Drop her bags off at the house, and maybe by then the local cab company would be available to take her to the hospital. From there she would be able to decide her next move.
Sand in her heels slowed her steps, but even after ten years she could make this trip with her eyes closed. A sudden wave of melancholy squeezed her chest. A long time ago, she had loved this beach, this ocean, this town.
When she reached the front porch of her grandfather’s beach house, she exhaled a weighted breath. She released her bags and they dropped with a thud. Immediately she cringed, remembering her laptop. Kneeling beside an old flower pot filled with white turtleheads, their sturdy blooms closed as if they slept, she tipped the planter and searched blindly for the spare key her grandfather always kept there, but it was missing.
“Great!” Pushing to her feet, she stomped down the stairs and headed around the house.
Mock-orange hedges made it difficult for her to access the first window that led into the living room, but she pushed through. Several of the branches bit into her legs. Getting a firm grip on the frame, she pushed upward and grunted. The window was locked. She had no better luck with the next two.
Exhausted, frustrated and more than a little peeved, she made her way around to the darkened back porch. With each step her temper built. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind she was redheaded and Irish. She might have learned to tame her ire throughout the years, but if the door knew what was best, it would not be locked. If she had to, she’d toss the old rocking chair next to it through the window.
Consequences be damned.
Andrea didn’t make it to the door before something struck her back with the strength of a battering ram thrusting her forward so she collided with the house. The impact pushed the breath from her lungs. Before she could inhale, strong hands grabbed her wrists and flung them over her head. Forcing and slapping her palms hard enough against the siding so that they stung. Fear paralyzed her.
A scream desperately clawed its way up her throat, but evaporated on a whimper when a solid kick sent her ankles apart. Spread-eagled and helpless against the wall, she trembled and her mind went blank. All her self-defense training vanished. Even when the man pressed his imposing body to her back, flattening her tight against the house, she couldn’t think, couldn’t react. Something deep and menacing was muttered into her ear, but she was too scared, too panicked to decipher his words.
When his large, threatening palms started to move up her naked calves, she choked back a feeble cry. He intimately stroked the inside of her thighs, causing her eyes to widen with knowledge that she was about to be raped. No way could she just let it happen without a struggle.
Red-hot anger flickered to life, fed by her fear. In this position she couldn’t maneuver a strike to any vital areas. So she did the only thing she had available. Breathing in, she released a long, high-pitched scream, which was abruptly ripped away when he jerked her around to face him. At the same time a flash of light blinded her and her eyelids squeezed shut. Before she could regain her senses a surprised gasp followed by a soft murmur of her name made her freeze. Her heart skipped a beat.
No. It couldn’t be.
Squinting, she pried her eyes open and once again found herself without oxygen, robbed of her anger, but not her apprehension. The man’s face bathed in shadows from the porch light was the last person she had expected to run into fifteen minutes after she set foot in Whispering Cove.
Andrea wasn’t prepared to see Brody McGrath again. Not here. Not now.
Sometime after the lights had come on, his hands had settled on her hips. The pressure of his fingers teased her senses, sending a wayward chill up her spine. She couldn’t have masked the tremor even if she tried.
When his grip slid to her waist, with only the thin, silky shirt between them, she gulped down a mouthful of air that nearly suffocated her. Unexpected tears gathered behind her eyelids, making her nose tingle and her face heat. Even after ten years, her desire for Brody had not waned.
“Andie?” Her gaze rose to meet his. Hazel eyes, more blue than green against his navy uniform, were wide and filled with something close to disbelief. “Is it really you?”
Maturity hadn’t erased the deep sensuality in his voice. Whether it was on the telephone or in person, she had loved listening to him, especially when he was aroused and holding her, telling her how much he cared.
What was she thinking? She had loved everything about him.
“You’re a policeman?” Her first words to the man she’d loved and hadn’t seen for ten years was about his occupation. Smooth.
Andrea had no idea where the question came from or even why her mind headed in that direction. Of course, the polished badge, nightstick and gun strapped to his hips were a dead giveaway. Or maybe she was trying to redirect her attention from his full lips, lips that had teased and taunted her dreams over the years. A strained smile tipped the corners of his mouth and all her good intentions flew out the window. Andrea sighed before she could stop herself.
“I’m the sheriff. Here. In Whispering Cove.” He shifted his feet, before slightly lowering his head, positioning his mouth a breath away from hers.
Andrea’s pulse jumped into her throat. Moving a foot, she tried to take a step back, but he caught her, pulling her to him. Their bodies melded together. Even light couldn’t slide between them.
For a moment she couldn’t breathe.
Locking one arm behind her, he trailed the fingertips of his other hand across her cheek. “Is it really you? After all this time?” He held her and touched her, as if he still couldn’t believe she stood before him.
Did he still care?
A terse chuckle burst from her mouth on a breathy exhale. “I’m afraid so.” A warm, woodsy scent wrapped around her like a blanket. Brody had always worn cologne, preferring the earthy tones.
A frown creased his forehead. “But I heard you weren’t attending the reunion.”
Good news traveled fast in a small town. “I’m not. I mean…” She paused, working to get her heart to stop beating so fast. “I didn’t come home for the reunion.”
Both of his arms wrapped around her again. “Then why? Why did you come home?”
The need to pull away was strong, a survival impulse, but she didn’t move. “Grandpa is in the—”
The screen door creaked open and the man she referred to stepped out onto the porch. A smile on his face stretched from ear to ear. “Well, laddie…will you be releasing me granddaughter or frisking her?”
Brody’s hands jerked back so quickly that Andrea swayed to recover her balance. “Yes, sir! I mean…no, sir.” He pushed his fingers through ebony hair so dark that it flickered a blue tint in places beneath the light. “Shit,” he groaned, before casting a sheepish glance in her grandfather’s direction. “You said you had a prowler outside your house.”
Heat surged across her cheeks. “Grandpa! You called the police?” Andrea couldn’t believe this. No wonder Brody had treated her like a criminal. He thought she was trying to break in.
Oh yeah. She was trying to break in.
“That I did.” There was no apology in her grandfather’s tone. Instead, he stepped back and held the door open. “Come inside before you wake the neighbors.” Andrea had just passed through the door when he spoke again. “Brody, would you be a good laddie and fetch her luggage out front?”
Andrea couldn’t help it, but her suspicious mind began to churn. “How did you know where my luggage was?”
He cocked a brushy brow. “It’s not here beside you. Where else would it be?” Pivoting, he placed his hand in the small of her back and ushered her inside while Brody disappeared around the house.
Upon entering the kitchen, a host of memories assailed her, but this time they made her smile. When her grandmother was alive there was always something cooking on the stove or in the oven. Even now Andrea could almost smell the fresh scent of zucchini bread or oyster fritters. “Nothing has changed.” From the seashell curtains along the bay window to the copper pots and pans hanging over the large island, it was just like she remembered.
“When something is perfect, lass, there be no need for improvement. Now come here and give your grandpa a hug.”