Ann Davies was always giving away her heartlto her therapy patients, and to the dolphins she used to help them. For any stray kid that needed a home, she opened her arms in welcome. She never hesitated to give herself to anyone who asked. Until Hank Riley. The big contractor demanded everything--her body, her heart, her life.
Part of her wanted to give it all to him. She craved being desired, being cared for--after all, what had she ever done for herself? But another part feared everything he stood for--losing control, throwing away logic, living for the moment, surrendering. If she allowed herself to do that, what would be left when he walked away?
Look for more captivating titles from New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods, including Sand Castle Bay, the first title in her Ocean Breeze series!
It was already late Sunday afternoon when Hank pulled his pickup truck to the side of the narrow road, turned off the engine and stared. His gaze turned not to the spectacular red-tinted sunset in the west, but east, with a sort of fascinated horror, toward the worst-designed house he'd ever seen. As an engineer with a healthy respect for architecture, that house offended his sense of style, his sense of proportion, even his sense of color.
What had once been a small and probably quite pleasant waterfront cottage now lurched improbably across a tiny spit of land that poked into the Atlantic. Additions had been tacked on willy-nilly, adjusting to whatever natural obstacle had been in the way. One wing took a left turn away from the abrupt curve in the beach. Another detoured around a banyan tree. Although it was all one story high, the rooftops were not level, as if the specifications for the additions had been dreamed up without paying the slightest attention to the original.
The color scheme... He shook his head in wonder. Was it possible that there had been only one can each of the salmon-pink, dusty blue and canary-yellow paint in the local paint store? The effect was jarring when it should have been soothing. The house reminded him of the owner.
Hank had met Ann Davies during the three days of festivities surrounding his best friend's wedding. Her effect on his system had been about as soothing as rubbing sandpaper across metal. Ann was a tall, rawboned woman with short black hair that he was convinced had been sheared off by a lawn mower. Her idea of makeup was apparently limited to a slash of lipstick across a generous mouth that was always in motion. The woman talked more than any other human being he'd ever met. She had opinions--strong opinions--on everything from football to mushrooms. She thought the former too brutal, the latter unappetizing. Hank loved them both.
So why, in the name of all that was holy, was he parked at the edge of her property? More to the point, what had possessed him to listen to his friends Todd and Liz when they'd suggested he come here? They had actually managed to persuade him--even before he'd finished the six-pack of his favorite beer they had settled in front of him--that he could survive in the same house with this irritating woman for the next few months while he supervised construction of a shopping center being built in nearby Marathon. They were crazy. He was crazier.
He was also desperate, he reminded himself with stark realism. It was early January in the Florida Keys, the worst possible time to be starting a construction job. Condos, houses and hotels were filled to overflowing with tourists. Those accommodations that were still available cost an arm and a leg. The company could have written off the expense, of course, but the few places still sitting empty weren't available long-term. They'd already been booked for scattered weeks of the season.
Even so, he'd looked at every one of them, hoping to find something that would do even short-term. Most consisted of nothing more than a tiny room and a shower. They were all too cramped by far for his big frame. He would have felt claustrophobic after a single night. He'd actually stepped into the shower stall in one and come close to being wedged in.
The remaining alternative, to commute from Miami, while not impossible, would have driven him nuts inside of a week. Traffic this time of the year required the patience of a saint. Hank recognized his limitations. He was no saint. Just the prospect of being locked bumper to bumper with a bunch of sight-seeing tourists made the muscles in the back of his neck knot.