She vowed never to return.
To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.
She’s a risk he can’t take.
West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?
Saying goodbye the second time might just destroy them both.
Read an Excerpt:
“Hey,” she shouted. “I wanna talk to you.”
“Leave me alone, Piper,” West’s voice rose above the running water.
He hadn’t told her to “piss off” or “stop bitching at me and go back to the city.” Progress, right?
“Not this time.” Catching West in the shower meant she’d have a captive audience.
Knowing he wouldn’t have locked it, Piper walked inside and shut the door behind her. In her imagined scenario, the steam-filled room would modestly conceal West in the shower cubicle while she talked.
She hadn’t taken into account an extractor fan. No steamed-up mirrors, no fogged-up shower glass, just the whirr of the fan and the hiss of the water. Plus the tanned and very bare length of West’s body. She froze beside the door and gripped the doorknob, her heart hurtling into her throat.
Thank God he faced away from her. The sight of his toned ass turned her breathing into an asthmatic wheeze. She debated a quick, quiet exit, but tossed that idea out—West was on the back foot here, since she had clothes on. Besides, the tension etched across the muscles of his back indicated he knew she was already inside.
Just keep it above neck level, say what you need to say, and get out.
She cleared her throat. “That was a crappy way to talk to your mother. You made her cry.”
West pulled his head out of the spray and scrubbed water off his face. “The woman cries at a drop of a hat. It goes with her artistic temperament.”
Then he turned.
Holy guacamole. Piper nearly wrenched the doorknob off the door. Her brain must’ve missed the memo to keep her eyes above West’s neck because, hello—nicely shaped pecs, washboard flat abs, corded thigh muscles…and then her gaze skipped straight back up to his, er, expanding interest.
“True, buhht…” Her tongue unfurled to her knees when West rubbed a bar of soap over his chest, never taking his direct, blue gaze from her.
“So you barged in here to tell me I was rude to my mother?” Water sprayed over his shoulder, running down his body. His soapy hand slid from pecs to the trail of dark hair low on his belly. A happy, happy trail indeed.
“Well, I…” She licked dry lips, looked at anything other than where his hand headed, and found her mud-flecked, crimson-cheeked reflection instead.
So much for West’s awkwardness at being butt naked—she was the one exposed and vulnerable. Her excuses for being there suddenly seemed lame. Under the circumstances maybe his reaction to Claire was understandable, and though she told his mother she’d talk to him, nothing was so important the conversation couldn’t wait until after West had finished being all wet and hot and naked.
The creak of the shower door made her jump.
“Piper?” His voice, low and loaded with seduction, blazed through her.
West left the shower, water cascading off him and onto the tiled floor. She averted her gaze and turned her back, yanking on the doorknob again. It slipped through her damp fingers.
“Is this really about my mother or did you barge in here for something else?”
The spicy scent of his shower gel curled around her and the heat of his skin singed the fine hairs on the back of her arm, but still she grappled with the stubborn doorknob.
“Like because you’re very, very muddy,” he said.
His breath touched the back of her neck, droplets of water falling on her shoulder. “There’s a clean spot here, I think.”
A thumb traced the sensitive skin behind one ear and her vision blurred.
“And another here.” Warm lips trailed along the curve where the cords of her neck met her shoulder.
“But on the whole—” his hand snaked around her waist, fingers spread wide across her lower belly.
Hot shivers arrowed through her pelvis and struck their target.
“—You’re a dirty girl who should hit the shower—” he pressed her hips back against his body, shifting so his erection wedged intimately between her Lyrca-covered cheeks “—with me.”
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Tracey Alvarez lives in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where she’s yet to be buried under her to-be-read book pile by Wellington’s infamous wind—her Kindle’s a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy, she has two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.
Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, she’s the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories she writes. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—Kiwi men, in other words.
When she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, she can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres, nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars, or bribing her kids to take over the housework.
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