Stained glass artist Callie Davis is in desperate need of a vacation. Burnt out and on the edge of a nervous breakdown, she’s fleeing the pressures of her career and is taking refuge on Massachusetts’ tiny Carter Island. Callie yearns for long, lazy days and pretty walks on the beach—blessed solitude and an escape from the complications of her life. Then she bumps into gorgeous Nate Carter and everything changes.
Sheriff Nathan Carter couldn’t be happier now that the height of the summer season has finally come and gone. After four endless months, tourists have packed their bags and headed for the mainland. The quiet days of autumn are about to befall the town—the way Nate and his fellow Sandersonians like it best.
But nothing ends up quite the way Nate expects when he meets the beautiful blonde with the big blue eyes. Callie’s pretty smiles hide secrets—deep, dark mysteries that could cost them both their lives if they continue digging into the past and cross a killer’s path.
They started walking again, and a wave rushed up, washing over their feet.
Callie gasped and stepped farther away. “Oh, my God, that’s cold.”
Like ice water, but Nate shrugged. “It’s not so bad.”
She looked at him as if he were crazy. “It’s freezing.”
“It usually is for most mainlanders—blood’s too thin.”
She stopped in her tracks and pushed her sunglasses onto her head, rewarding him with a look at her big baby blues. “Are you suggesting that mainlanders are wimps?”
“I’m not trying to hurt your feelings or anything…” He shrugged again, struggling not to smile. “But you’re the one who can’t get your feet wet.”
She splashed her foot in the surf as the next wave started receding.
He chuckled, thrilled that Callie seemed willing to play. “That’s not showing me much.”
She walked closer to the water, adding both feet this time.
He came up next to her and took her hand, pulling her toward the actual Atlantic. “In up to your knees for three good waves.”
He sent her a wry smile. “See? Wimp.”
She grinned. “All right. Three good waves.”
“You’re on.” He walked out with her, clenching his jaw against the bone-numbing cold, fighting the urge to swear.
She gasped, then squealed as the first wave rushed past their calves.
“We’ll count that as one,” he yelled over the pounding water, still walking farther out with her. “And here comes the next.” He braced himself, gripping her hand tighter as the current came in with a powerful rush and nailed them thigh-level.
Callie screamed as she laughed and made a move to head to shore.
He laughed too, pulling her back and bringing her closer to him. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“It’s too cold,” she screeched.
“I don’t think so, mainlander.” He hooked his arm around her midsection and held her in front of him as the next wave came in and sent a steamroll of water crashing into their waists.
She screamed again, gripping his forearm as if her life depended on it, and threw her head back on a long peel of laughter.
He let loose his own deep belly laugh, loving the way she sounded—that he could smell her flowery shampoo as she rested her body against his. That they were having fun.
“Nate,” she fought to say. “Let’s get out of here.”
He took her hand and they ran as best they could toward shore.
She stumbled as they made their way to the ankle-deep water. “Cramp. My toes are cramping.”
He moved to take her weight and carried her more than walked with her to the loose, warm sand free from the surf. “Bend your foot forward until it passes,” he said, slightly out of breath.
She did as he told her.
She nodded her head as her teeth chattered and goosebumps puckered her skin.
“Works every time.”
“Your toes cramp too?”
“Hell, yeah. That water’s like an ice bath. I never go in without a wetsuit.”
Her eyes went huge as she gaped at him. “What are you talking about? What happened to your thick, native Sandersonian blood?”
He chuckled, enjoying the gorgeous woman who’d forgotten she was shy. “My blood’s probably right on par with yours. I just wanted to get you out there.”
She laughed and swatted at him. “That’s a dirty trick.”
“Maybe.” It concerned him a little that her lips were turning a light shade of blue. He rubbed his hands up and down her soft, smooth arms. “Come up to the house. I’ll get you a towel and you can warm up by the fire and have a beer.”
She looked over her shoulder toward the noise and small crowd of people. “That sounds fun, but I should probably head home.”
He struggled with a wave of disappointment. “Are you sure?”
She nodded, holding his gaze as they stood inches apart. “Maybe next time.”
“Next time,” he repeated, knowing the moment they’d shared was over. He gave her a final rub and stepped back. “It’s a couple miles to the cottage. You’re good to get there?”
“Yeah. Definitely.” She bounced gently from foot to foot in her attempt to keep warm. “Thanks for the walk. I can now say I’ve partaken in my very own version of a polar plunge.”
He grinned. “I think you have to jump in during the winter for it to count as a polar plunge.”
A look of horror filled her eyes. “That’s never happening.”
She smiled again. “Thanks, Nate.”
He nodded. “I’m sure I’ll see you around town.”
“Okay.” She walked backward for a few steps, waved, then turned and ran. She swooped down for her shoes and headed toward one of the bike racks several hundred feet in the distance.
He started back to the house in no hurry to get there, even though his shorts were soggy and he was freezing his ass off. His teeth started chattering and he smiled. As far as he was concerned, every minute with Callie was worth his current discomfort now.
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About the Author:
International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal.