When they say be careful what you wish for, do you pay attention?
Neither did Oliver Tunstead.
Oliver wishes for nothing more than to get his mind off his crappy bartending job, pile of debt big enough to swallow him whole, and playboy ex-boyfriend/boss who refuses to back off. Too bad distractions, like the hot little convertible he has his eye on, cost megabucks. And Oliver is flat broke. Renting the spare bedroom in his rundown beachfront cottage is his only option to pick up the cash he needs—a risky proposition, as Oliver is the polar opposite of a people-person. When he responds to a bizarre ad in the Waterfront Gazette seeking summer housing, he gets more than he bargained for. But Oliver can cope… After all, how much harm can a single quirky tenant do to his tightly guarded life in three short months?
WhereOliver is a loner by design, urban cowboy Bodie is a loner by necessity. A family dispute long ago dropkicked him onto the path of a lifelong wanderer. This changes when Bodie moves into the tiny beachfront cottage and starts working the door at Oliver’s bar.
Despite Oliver and Bodie’s nearly paralyzing instinct to avoid commitment, they fall into a wary romance. And to their surprise, life as a couple is sweetly satisfying; that is, until their jealous boss devises a cruel plan to destroy the tentative bond they’ve built. True to form, Bodie hits the road, leaving Oliver to lick his wounds alone.
Can these wounded souls defy their urge to flee and fight for love?
“You said there was an outdoor shower.”
“Oh, yeah. It’s on the deck off the kitchen.”
He drops his bags in the hall between the bedrooms. “You cool if I borrow a towel? No room for ’em on the bike.” His cheeks turn pink. “I’ll hit the store tomorrow. Ya know, I can pick up sheets and towels and shit like that.”
“No worries—I have plenty of towels. Come here.” I lead him into the hallway and point to a narrow closet. “I have extra sheets too. Don’t waste your money on that stuff. You’re only gonna be here for a few months.”
Bodie nods. Once, of course.
“You can use the bathtub if you want to freshen up before you go to work.” I do my best to fight the blossoming image of a burly naked cowboy with a crown of dark red curls, swallowed up in a pile of bubbles, lounging in my old clawfoot tub. I fail and hear my own extended sigh. “It sort of brings you back to childhood. You know, soaking in a tub.”
“Nah.” His shoulders stiffen. “I like the outdoors better.”
“Okay, then. And for your fingers, there are bandages in the bathroom medicine cabinet.” Bodie grunts his acknowledgment and grabs a faded pink bath towel out of the closet. Then he shakes off his boots and pulls his T-shirt over his head as if he’s alone in his bedroom.
And just as I figured… a golden brown six pack appears beneath a light spray of copper chest hair. “Um, I’ll leave a key for you on the kitchen table.”
When he starts to push down his sweatpants, I flee. The last thing I need is to witness a sexy cowboy perform a seemingly inadvertent striptease in the hallway by my kitchen. I’m through with great-looking men worming their way into my life and leaving me more alone than before I let them in.
“Just lock up when you leave.” I stand at the front door, back turned to him and my hand fastened on the doorknob. Ready to run. “You’re heading to your job in a little while, right?” I glance at him over my shoulder.
I should ask where he works—what he does for a living—but his sweatpants are looped around his ankles and I’ll admit to being somewhat flustered at the sight of his rugged thighs, not to mention the amazing curve of his backside in nothing but his Calvin’s. “Well, I guess we’ll catch up later, Bodie.”
“You bet your ass we will.” When he laughs—a deep rumble—it’s like he knows something I don’t. Whatever the case, the prickles of heat I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to ignore turn into goosebumps and shoot down my arms. Shoulders, wrists, and fingers—all tingling. Which can’t be good.
What have I gotten myself into?
Like Jude Munro, her fictional characters in her gay romance novels are drawn to the beach. They’ve sunbathed on the sands of many alluring East Coast beaches, along with the fantastical beaches in Jude’s books. They’ll answer questions like “Who do you think you are, the sun god?” (which they often resemble) if they can hear you over “Boys of Summer” cranking on their headphones. To most of Jude’s men, no shoes and no shirt is really not a problem. But even on the sunniest of beach days, the guys in Jude’s books do have problems… as in, serious relationship issues. Many of which seem insurmountable. And each character must earn his day at the beach. (Yes, there is always a HEA).