~WHAT THE STORY’S ABOUT~
Welcome to Willow Bay, the perfect place to stick a chair in the sand, your toes in the water, and get lost in the ebb and flow of life and love.
Danger follows her.
Tired of overbearing men who think they know best, self-sufficient attorney Aimi Larson moves to the coast hoping to leave that all behind. She can take care of herself. But when her past follows her, she must enlist the aid of Willow Bay’s sexy sheriff to find a man bent on deadly revenge.
Confirmed bachelor Jackson Smith isn’t interested in anything but a hookup. He’s seen firsthand what relationships do to people. Someone always gets hurt. When Aimi moves to town, he’s determined to keep his attraction locked down tight. Right up until she needs his protection and he vows to keep her safe at any cost.
Jackson knows how to shield Aimi from harm, but Aimi has a few ideas of her own. The only way to neutralize the lethal threat against Aimi’s life is to work together and never let her out of his sight. Even if it means losing his heart in the process.
“You may now kiss the bride.”
Jackson Smith clapped, then laughed along with everyone else as his friends kissed. Josh’s enthusiasm about being a married man showed big time. The man had loved Dana ever since she moved here and bought one of the gift shops near the beach. His friend had been waiting for this day for a long time and had even gone along with the flower-bedecked church.
What a fool. Jackson shook his head. He had nothing against women. They were great as friends and offered a perspective that he found important. But once you let them into your life, everything changed, and nothing lasted forever. Nope, he’d never be the one waiting at the front of the church. He’d become a born-again bachelor and nothing would change that. He was happy with his life, though an occasional dalliance wasn’t out of the question.
He glanced at the wedding party again, particularly at the maid of honor. He’d seen her once before, briefly, when arresting Dana’s ex-husband for forging her signature. There’d been no time then to talk to her, and when he’d gone to Dana’s shop the next day, she’d already left town.
Maid or matron? He couldn’t see her ring finger under the bouquets she held. She intrigued him, with her long, sleek, dark hair and eyes the same color that shone with happiness while she watched her friends exit the church. Then it was her turn. She and Bernie walked down the aisle together. Josh had selected Bernadette Gibson as his best, umm, person. A non-traditional moment in an otherwise very traditional wedding.
He tried again for a glimpse of the woman’s left hand. Still buried under flowers, damn it. Something about her drew him in. He’d planned on ditching the reception. Weren’t they all alike, anyhow? But now, maybe he’d pop in. Just to satisfy his curiosity about the mysterious woman.
Jackson filed out with everyone else in the church, helping Gladys, Willow Bay’s most familiar resident street-person. “Looking mighty fine there, Miss Gladys.” He took her arm as she hobbled along.
“Thank you, Officer. For the compliment and the arm. I don’t get around so well without my Mabel.”
Jackson held back his head shake at the name Gladys picked for her grocery cart. She and Mabel were a staple in Willow Bay. She refused lodging help, but would always take food. The town had accepted responsibility for Gladys, and she probably ate better than most because of it. Still, she looked thinner today. And her white hair looked different.
“Did you get a new outfit?”
“Had to have a dress for the wedding.” She pirouetted with surprising dexterity. “Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? $3.99 at the thrift store. Even got my hair washed at Mae’s.”
Wondering where they’d mailed her wedding invitation, Jackson smiled at the mention of Mae’s. The salon offered haircuts for free to Gladys and she loved a good deal.
“You look lovely.” They’d reached her cart. “Want a lift to the reception?”
“In that thing?” She glanced at his nearby squad car. “No, thanks. Town’ll think you’ve finally arrested me for loitering. No, Mabel and I will be just fine. It’s not far, and I can keep an eye on the town. Looking forward to some good food at that reception. Oh, yes.”
She and Mabel ambled their way out of the parking lot. One of Mabel’s wheels wobbled, making a racket as they left. Jackson laughed. There was no one like Gladys. It hit him why she looked thinner. She usually wore two or three layers of clothing. Today, she only wore the dress, probably due to the unusually warm June day. Gladys was definitely one of a kind. He got in his squad car, intent on following the procession to the community hall until his phone beeped.