Title: Meet Me at the Beach by V.K. Sykes
Seashell Bay Series Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
YOU CAN’T STOP A RISING TIDE
When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he’s more handsome than ever. If Aiden’s in town, the rumors must be true about his family’s plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.
Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.
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Lily put her hands on her nicely curved hips, her feet planted apart like she was about to give him a lecture. Aiden remembered that stance so well. Lily Doyle had been feisty as a teenager, and time hadn’t changed that.
But she surprised him with her soft tone, sweetly colored by that gentle island lilt she would never shake.
“You still hate it back here, don’t you? You’ve been away almost half your life, but it feels to me like not much has changed since we were kids.”
As far as Aiden could tell, she wasn’t bitter or judgmental. If anything, she sounded sad for him. “Hate’s a strong word,” he said cautiously.
Was she right that not much had changed? Sometimes it felt like everything had changed. He’d left Seashell Bay fourteen years ago with his dreams in full bloom, a pro contract in his pocket, and the promise of a major-league baseball career. Now, that career was in tatters and his future in the game murky at best. The golden boy had come home with a decidedly tarnished luster.
“I wish you could see the island the way I see it, Aiden,” she said, her green eyes so earnestly intense. “See the people the way I see them. Seashell Bay is such a beautiful place, and the people are just so damn decent, despite their faults. I hate it that your father took that away from you.”
Aiden pressed his lips together, his tangled emotions keeping him silent.
“There’s so much good here,” Lily went on in a gentle but relentless voice. “So much that’s right for the soul. You just have to be able to see it.”
He wanted to. He really did, but he could still see her father stomping down the pier, eyes full of suspicion and fury. And then there was his dad, whose contempt and anger toward him—an anger Aiden had never fully understood—had colored everything about the place. There was too much ugliness in his past, too much darkness to ever make the island right for him again.
But he couldn’t say that. Not all of it, anyway.
“The only good thing I see in Seashell Bay is you, Lily, just like always,” he said, briefly cupping her soft cheek.
“But you’re right, nothing’s changed for me. Nothing fundamental, anyway.”
When Lily’s pretty mouth pursed in dismay, it was all Aiden could do not to grab her and kiss away the pain— his pain more than hers, he suspected. Instead, he turned away to gaze across the channel and think about the complicated mess his life had become.
“Well, I really should get going,” she finally mumbled. “It’s getting late.”
“Yeah, you should.” He turned to face her and smiled. Hell, there was no reason to take his crappy mood out on Lily, the one bright spot in his life right now. “But will I see you at the Pot tonight? Or are you going to be too busy plotting my downfall in the race?”
Lily’s laughter was sweet music as it echoed over the still waters of the harbor. “No and no. I’m sure I’ll be too exhausted to hang out at the Pot.”
It sucked that he wouldn’t see her, but he couldn’t deny the pleasure in hearing that she obviously wasn’t doing the bar scene. He guessed that made him a jealous ass-hole when he had no right to be, but he could live with it.
“That’s a shame. But if you change your mind, I’ll buy you a drink. Or two.”
“I won’t,” she said as she climbed back into her skiff. “But maybe I’ll see you at the Blueberry Festival tomorrow.” Then she suddenly cut him a teasing smile.
“What?” he asked, as she yanked the outboard’s starter cord and the little engine came to life with a cough and a puff of acrid smoke.
“I still remember how darn cute you looked when you were selling those pies at the festival for your mom,” she yelled over the motor noise. “You did that every year until high school, as I recall. What a good little boy you were back then.”
Aiden gave her a mock scowl as he used his foot to ease the skiff away from the pier. He not only remembered the blueberry pies he’d sold to festivalgoers from a goofy booth, he could still practically smell them and taste their summer sweetness on his tongue. Nobody could bake a blueberry pie like his mother, God rest her sweet soul.
He stood and watched Lily’s skiff putter out to the channel, feeling like he had a strange hole in the center of his chest. Then he turned and retreated back up the dock until he hit the road again at a flat-out run.
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
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