Excerpt

 

     He expected she'd like dinner in a small restaurant. Secluded seating. A jazz trio. They could sip wine and share appetizers. He could spend some time drowning in her sea-green eyes. Her husky voice would regale him with her adventures during the day. Cognac after Châteaubriand would be a perfect ending to the meal. And then maybe … a kiss.

     Whoa!  He was here to work, not play. Her father and, more particularly, her brother, were already definite suspects for the person stirring up trouble.

     No, he'd steer well clear of her. But all work and no play makes Gregg a dull boy. Insidiously, the old saw flashed through his mind. She also knew all the lobstermen, he rationalized. Maybe spending time with her, she'd talk about people around here. Maybe he could finesse her into helping him.

     He focused his attention back to maneuvering through the narrow channel at the entrance of Gull Bay. Scanning the horizon between Gull Bay and Tide Rock Bay through binoculars, he observed a lobster boat near the shore of a small island. Funny. I don't remember any traps that close in.

     The lobster boat faced the wrong way so he couldn't read the name, but it certainly looked like the Ell-Cee, Todd Cushman's boat. He lingered only a moment longer, so as to avoid raising suspicion.

     Once inside Gull Bay, he spied a small sailboat dancing across the water. As he got closer, he recognized a head of hair the color of ripe wheat, ruffled by the wind. Robyn. Had his wishful thinking materialized her?

     Before he reconsidered, he gave a short blast on his horn. She looked back over her shoulder, gave a quick wave, and let the wind spill out of her sail as she came about. He watched, impressed, as she skillfully handled the little boat. He throttled back, carefully coming alongside.

     The sun behind her created a nimbus of blond curls around her head. She wore brief, white shorts and a bright orange top. Her bare midriff revealed an enticing amount of tanned skin, the color of warm honey.

     Leaning over, he rested his hands on the cowling. "Here, grab this."

     The Fancy Lady's engine idled, barely ticking over, the exhaust burbling in the water. A sea gull squawked, begging for scraps as it circled above the boat.

* * *

     Robyn easily caught the rope he tossed down, and tilted her head to look up at him. His wind-tossed brown hair already had blond streaks from the sun, caramel on chocolate. Shirtless, his hard body a toasty golden-brown. His skin gleamed with a sheen of sweat, the muscles rippling, as he maintained his balance on the gently rocking boat. Her breath caught in her throat. Quit it. You'd think I'd never seen a man without his shirt on.

     "Hi." She cleared the huskiness from her throat. "How's it going?"

     "Great. How about you?"

     "Nice." Without thinking, she had voiced her opinion of his body, rather than a response to his question. "I mean — great. The sailing," she added, trying to cover her slip. "And the day." She was digging an even deeper hole for herself. Was there any chance he'd mistake the warm color flushing her face for too much sun? Doubtful.

     They stared at one another for a long moment. Robyn dropped her gaze first, afraid Gregg would see her confused welter of emotions.

     "I didn't realize this was your boat." He grinned.

     "I hardly ever get a chance to sail during the week. It depends on the tides and how soon I can close up the Bayside in the afternoons."

     "Is the café yours?"

     She nodded. "Half. My friend Sara Dixon is my partner."

     "I'll have to stop in for a meal when I have time and check it out again."

     "That would be great."

     The boats bobbed up and down, hers occasionally bumping against his, the sail flopping in the breeze.

* * *

Gregg shifted his feet on the lightly pitching deck. Ignoring his better judgment, he took the plunge. "If you don't have any plans this evening, how about we do something together?"

     Her eyes widened, but she smiled. "I'd like that."

     "You can show me some of the hot spots in Tide Rock. Assuming any are open on Sunday night."

     Robyn threw back her head, laughter bubbling. "Oh, yes. All one of them. There's Jimmy's. And that's it!"

     Gregg lifted one eyebrow.

     "That's it," Robyn repeated. "It's a restaurant and a bar with a dance floor and an in-house country-western band, all rolled into one."

     "No jazz?"

     Robyn shook her head.

     The delightful scene he'd planned for her faded. "No piano bar?"

     Another shake.

     "Oh, well. The company will certainly be worth it." Gregg resigned himself to an evening out on the small town. The bright lights of his Boston vacation seemed very far away.

     Robyn's smile lit her face. "Thanks. What time?"

     "How about seven-thirty?"

     "That sounds great —"

     Over the noise of his chugging engine, the reverberating crack of a gun echoed across the water, the impact lessened by distance, but still unmistakable.

     "Rifle shots!" Gregg exclaimed. "That's a three seventy."

     Robyn's eyes widened. "Gunshots? Oh, no!  What if it's Todd? Or Dad?"

 

Where to buy Secrets

Book 1 in the

Heart to Heart Series

Secrets

 

     Gregg Hollister is in town, undercover, to investigate a growing problem among the lobstermen and there's bound to be trouble.  Robyn Cushman is fiercely opposed to people keeping secrets--in a town where everyone has secrets.  

     Can Robyn survive the test of her family loyalty and learn that all secrets are not bad? Can Gregg risk loving a family member of his main suspect?