The McLaughlins, Book 1In 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.
Sarah was talking quietly to Kenzie, her body twisted away from him. But the angle gave him a full view of all the curves she hadn’t had the last time he’d seen her.
Sure she’d been pretty, but her looks had only been part of the reason he’d fallen for her. Her unwavering faith in him, and her ability to see beneath the surface of the image he projected, had struck him core deep.
Shoving all that bullshit aside—because it seemed it had been nothing more than illusion—she was a knockout now. Not overweight by any means, but she had more meat on her than before. Hips and an arse that definitely curved beneath dark jeans.
Mentally, he peeled off the clothes, imagining the body he’d once known with the new curves. What would it be like to explore them? To hold those sweet hips while driving into her—
Dammit, what the hell was he doing? He was not fantasizing about Sarah. That was a part of his life best buried and forgotten. They weren’t two reckless teenagers anymore who acted on hormones and had silly visions of love. He’d moved on to other women, and Sarah…she had a kid. The last damn thing he wanted was to get involved with a single mom.
Children tended to fear him, and he returned the emotion somewhat. They were emotional, asked too many questions, and could be entirely too prone to leaky diapers and projectile vomit.
Scowling now, Ian turned away from the two and got started on changing Kenzie’s tire.
By the time he’d finished, he was ready to get the hell out of Dodge.
Kenzie still glared at him—which was a bit ridiculous since he’d taken time out of his day off to help her—but Sarah still avoided looking at him completely.
Grabbing the flat tire, he placed it back in the trunk along with the jack and then turned to the women.
“That should do you, li’l sis.”
She flashed him a hard, sarcastic smile. “Thanks. I appreciate your help. Best be on your way now, I’m sure—”
“So how long are you staying on the island?” He wiped the dirt and oil from his hands onto his jeans and glanced at Sarah.
She didn’t answer right away, and he saw her chest slowly rise and fall and she seemed to take a deliberate breath in. Then she finally looked at him.
“Not too long. I’m only here to clean up Gran’s house and put it on the market.”
Sarah had always been close to her grandma, and it must’ve been painful for her to deal with the loss. Had she ever visited? As far as he knew, Sarah hadn’t returned to the island in the past eleven years. Word would’ve gotten out if she had.
“I was sorry to hear about Libby. I always liked her.”
For a moment, tears brightened Sarah’s blue eyes. She gave a jerky nod and looked down.
“Thank you. She liked you too.” The words seemed almost reluctant. “Her death was a shock to everyone.”
“I imagine so. I’m sure you’re regretting not visiting her more often before she passed. Actually, now that I think about it, did you ever visit?”
There was such blatant pain and guilt in Sarah’s eyes, for a moment, he would’ve sworn she was going to burst into tears.
But then she straightened her spine and she muttered, “You haven’t changed a bit, have you, Ian? Still a complete jerk when you want to be.”
“When I need to be,” he agreed softly.
Kenzie stepped forward, placing herself between him and Sarah. “Okay, really? Stop this shit. What are you guys, fifteen?”
“Twenty-nine. Colin and I both are, actually. Twins if you recall.”
“You’re not even a little bit funny right now. In fact, you’re quickly making it on my shit list. So, yeah, we’re going to leave.” Kenzie’s tone was overly bright for the heavy tension. “Thanks again for the tire.”
Taking the not-so-subtle hint, Ian nodded and turned to walk back to his car.
“Good to see you again, Sarah.” But it hadn’t been. Not really. Seeing her had ripped open a wound he resented—one that shouldn’t have existed.
As far as he was concerned, Sarah’s presence on the island was completely unwelcome.
She didn’t reply to his farewell, but then, he hadn’t expected her to. The sooner she left, the better.
Mandy M. Roth