The McLaughlins, Book 1
In high school Sarah fell for her best friend’s older brother—one of the sexy, Scottish McLaughlin boys. But a painful betrayal showed her she’d been a fool to give her heart to a bad boy. At least it made it easier to leave him and move halfway around the world when her Navy dad got stationed in Japan.
Eleven years later, the death of her grandmother has forced Sarah back to Whidbey Island for a month. It’s the length of time she must stay in her inherited house before she’s allowed to sell it, take the money and run. But when she sees Ian, bad as ever and still looking like sin on a stick, she can’t keep her mouth from watering.
One look at Sarah stirs up the regret lingering in Ian’s heart—and never-forgotten desire lingering in his body. He should walk away, especially since divorced single mothers aren’t his style. But when she starts showing up at his family’s pub, he can’t resist a little casual seduction for old time’s sake.
One thing quickly becomes clear, though. The heat between them is causing an avalanche of secrets and betrayal and nothing will ever be the same.
coming June 2013
The car began to slow in a jerky spurts, and the thud, thud, thud came from what sounded like a flat tire.
Kenzie maneuvered the car to the side of the road and put it in park. She glanced over at Sarah and winced.
“Flat tire? I’ve got this.” Sarah reached for her seatbelt. “My dad made sure I knew how to change one before I even got my license.”
“That’s not it. I know how to change a tire too.” Kenzie tugged on a braid and grimaced. “It’s just I was going on a camping trip a few weeks ago and wanted a little extra space—”
“You took out the spare?” Sarah guessed.
“I took out the spare.”
Some things never changed. Fighting the urge to laugh or groan in frustration, Sarah just shrugged.
“Do you have AAA? We can get them out here—”
“No need. I’ve got brothers.” Kenzie waved her hand, already dialing a number on her cell phone.
She was calling her brother? Gripping the seatbelt now, Sarah’s stomach went into full on butter churn mode.
She couldn’t face him. Couldn’t see him.
“Kenzie…” Her plea was almost inaudible, but her friend must’ve heard it—and the sudden anxiety in her voice—because she glanced over quickly.
Sympathy flashed in her eyes. “Hey, don’t sweat it. I’m calling Aleck.”
Aleck. The oldest McLaughlin brother. Relief came immediately and filtered through her taut muscles. She managed a weak nod before resting her head back against the seat.
She couldn’t focus on the conversation Kenzie was having. Couldn’t do anything but try and get her heart rate back to normal.
What a stupid, ridiculous overreaction. What the hell was wrong with her?
“Help is on the way.” Kenzie set her phone down in her lap and sighed. After a moment, she cast a sideways glance Sarah’s way. “You know I wouldn’t do that to you. I wouldn’t throw you into an awkward situation with Ian. It’s not my business, and you need to face those demons when you’re ready.”
She’d be ready about a quarter after never. Wasn’t going to happen. Couldn’t happen. But, dammit, she’d known that just being on the island was gambling with the fact it might happen.
“I’m only here for a short while.” Sarah hesitated, trying to figure out how to put it delicately. “No offense, but you’re the only McLaughlin I intended to spend time with.”
A flicker of sadness passed over her friend’s face, but she nodded. “Understandable. Sorry I threw a wrench in those plans by making Aleck bring me a spare.”
“It’s fine. Really.” She could handle Aleck. He’d always been sweet and funny. Very much like a big brother she’d never had but wouldn’t have minded having.
Kenzie nodded. “Okay. So tell me about Virginia. How do you like living there?”
Appreciating the change of subject, Sarah told her about what had brought her there and how living across the country was. She’d begun to relax again, to enjoy the conversation with her old friend, when Kenzie whipped around and stared out the rearview window.
“Son of a bitch.”
“What is it?” Sarah turned to follow her gaze.
The red Camaro that roared up behind Kenzie’s car stopped maybe a foot from them, close enough to make her think he’d nudge their bumper.
That car. She knew that car.
Her heart, which she’d managed to slow, picked right back up again.
“Can’t anybody follow instructions?” Kenzie growled, and opened her door. “Stay in here, Sarah. I’ll handle this.”
This wasn’t happening. Sarah shook her head as the Camaro door opened and six feet of tall, hard male slid out.
Everything inside her head started to spin as he strode toward Kenzie, a big, shit-eating grin on his face.
Sarah gripped the edge of her seat, her nails digging into the fabric. Her neck started to protest the awkward, twisted position, but she couldn’t look away.
Shock cocooned her body, but through it, almost clinically, she drank him in. He looked so much like he had eleven years ago. Beneath the tinted sunglasses she knew she’d find those rare, piercing green eyes all the McLaughlins had.
His brown hair held a hint red in the sunlight, and it was just a little too long. The body, still tall and solid, was maybe even bigger now. It looked as if he’d taken up lifting weights.
His shoulders were wide and she couldn’t help but remember how she used to cling to them when his mouth was on hers. How those shoulders, and his hands on her waist, had been the only things that kept her standing.
Just like all the McLaughlin boys, he was entirely too sexy. But more than sexy, he seemed dangerous. Especially now. He was the ultimate bad boy, seemed happy to claim the title and revel in it.
Instinct demanded she run. That she jump out of the car and run like a startled deer into the woods, no matter how illogical and ridiculous it seemed.
Whatever Kenzie was yelling at her brother couldn’t reach her ears through the car, but the tone did. Kenzie was livid.
Her brother shook his head, and then his big grin vanished. He yanked off his sunglasses and whipped his gaze to the car to where Sarah sat in frozen disbelief.
Their gazes locked and her world bottomed out.
It was unavoidable. She would have to face him. The realization that she had no choice became evident when Ian ignored her sister’s protests and strode toward the car.
No, no, no.
Despite the childish instinct to hit the lock and keep him out, she made no effort to stop him when he reached her door and pulled it open.
“As I live and breathe. Sarah Thornton.” His Scottish accent was faint, but stronger than his sister’s. The voice was so familiar and had the power to make her knees weaken.
But even though he smiled, his eyes were frigid emerald stones that pierced deep. They were potent enough to shatter her heart all over again.
He tilted his head and murmured, “Welcome back to Whidbey Island.”