The making of a good neighbor
The best thing between Oliver Barrett and Mackenzie Williams is a fence. Ever since Oliver's new-neighbor gestures were met with unfriendly responses, he's decided to keep his distance. After all, he's in this seaside town to get his life on track again. That doesn't include working hard to get on Mackenzie's good side--no matter how intriguing she may be.
His intentions are put to the test, however, when his dog becomes infatuated with hers. The two crafty canines do their best to break down the barriers between the properties. And where the dogs go...well, the humans must follow! It doesn't take long for a powerful attraction to build between Oliver and Mackenzie. They soon discover that the worst of first impressions can lead to the best possible outcomes....
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It was wet and dark and cold. At first she didn't know where she was, then she realized she was in the car, the wipers working overtime, the road a shiny black ribbon stretching in front of her. She gripped the steering wheel tightly, but it felt rubbery and insubstantial beneath her hands. Panic welled inside her. She knew what was coming next. What always came next.
Then she saw it, the dark mass of rocks blocking the middle of the curving mountain road. Her scream was swallowed by the explosive crash of glass breaking and metal crushing as the car hit, then there was nothing but pain and the realization that she was going to die out here on this godforsaken stretch of road....
Mackenzie Williams bolted upright, heart racing, sweat cold and clammy on her body. The bedclothes were a heavy tangle around her legs and for a few disoriented seconds she fought to free herself before reality reasserted itself.
She was alive. She was at the beach house in Flinders. And she ached. God, how she ached. Her hips, her shoulder, her back...
She scrubbed her face with both hands, then let out her breath on an exhausted sigh. It had been almost two months since she'd had a nightmare and she'd hoped they were a thing of the past. No such luck, apparently.
She threw off the covers then swung her legs to the floor. Her joints and muscles protested the action, as they always did first thing in the morning or when she'd been sitting in the same position for too long. She gritted her teeth and pushed herself to her feet anyway. If she waited till the pain stopped, she'd never get anything done.
It was still dark outside and the floor was cool beneath her feet. She shuffled forward a few steps until she found her slippers, then reached for her dressing gown.
She could hear the skitter of Mr. Smith's claws in the hall outside her bedroom and she smiled as she opened the door.
"Hello, Smitty. How you doin'?" she asked as he began his morning happy dance, walking back and forth in front of her with his tail wagging madly, his body wiggling from side to side.
"I'm going to take that as a 'very well, thank you very much.' Shall we go outside?"
Mackenzie made her way to the living room. The bitter morning chill was like a slap in the face when she opened the French doors, but it didn't stop Mr. Smith from slipping past her and out into the gray dawn light. Mackenzie followed him, stopping at the top of the deck steps, arms wrapped around her torso as she looked out over the jungle that was her yard.
The air was so frigid it hurt her nose. She inhaled great lungfuls of the stuff and let the last remnants of the nightmare fall away.
It was just a dream, after all. She wasn't dying. She was alive. She'd survived, against all odds. Better yet, she was on the track to a full recovery and resumption of her former life.
Which reminded her.
She left the door open for Mr. Smith before collecting her iPad from where it was charging on the kitchen counter. One click told her that Gordon hadn't responded to her email. Again.
This was getting ridiculous. Twelve months ago, her boss wouldn't have ignored an email from her. Then, she'd been a valuable commodity, the only producer in ten years who had managed to improve the ratings for the production company's longest-running serial drama, Time and Again. Now apparently she was a liability, an employee on long-term sick leave who didn't even merit the thirty seconds of his time it would take to respond to her email.
He doesn't think I'm coming back.
The thought made her blood run cold. She...