I am delighted to announce that my eighth book for the Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance Line called ‘The Boy is Back in Town’ will be published as a RIVA title in the UK in November 2011 and as a Harlequin Romance title from April 2012.
About the Book:
Who’s that guy?There was a time when the devastatingly sexy Ethan Chandler left Marigold Chance blushing and tongue-tied, but thankfully that’s all in the past. Now that the ice-cool international yachtsman has sailed smoothly back into her life, she’s determined to show him that the ugly duckling’s become a thoroughly modern swan – a beautiful, driven businesswoman with no time for him! Yet Ethan seems equally determined to ruffle her perfectly groomed feathers and show her what she’s been missing out on – it’s time to let go and live for the future!
Given the choice, I would love to spend each and every summer by the sea, preferably accompanied by a sandy beach, hot sunshine and a suitcase of great books.
Over the years some of my favourite holidays have been spent on small Greek Islands where the evening entertainment consisted of watching boats of all sizes, from luxury yachts to three masted wooden sailing ships, sailing into harbour for the night.
Some are pleasure craft, but many are ocean going yachts crewed by men and women who have chosen a life at sea.
Ethan Chandler is a professional yachtsman who has been sailing away from his loss and pain for the past ten years. Now he has returned to the small Dorset coastal where his career began. And to the girl he left behind.
Both of them have had to brave stormy waters to make their way in life, but can they stop running away long enough to find happiness?
I do hope that you enjoy Ethan and Mari’s journey to love and the happiness that they each deserve.
First Chapter Extract
Marigold Chance scrolled through the images on her digital camera with her thumb, and cringed. Of all the crimes against photography she had ever committed for her sister Rosa, of which there had been many, the last few hours had been a low point.
Mari might be forgiven for the portrait of the dry cleaner’s miniature dachshund in a cute beaded princess sweater, or even the popcorn-puff hooded jacket Rosa had made for the hairdresser’s Pekinese. But persuading the newsagent’s fox terrier to pose with a knitted plaid waterproof raincoat with the name ‘Lola’ in gold chain stitch on the back was the last straw.
Her sister Rosa had a lot to answer for.
‘Oh you are such a genius,’ Rosa grabbed the sleeve of Mari’s coat and squealed so loudly that two elderly ladies in the street looked across in alarm. Mari gave them a smile and small finger wave with the hand that was not firmly in the fierce grip of her sister, the budding internet entrepreneur who was wrestling to see the back of the camera.
‘Lola looks amazing. You see? I knew it would be useful to have an IT expert in the family one day. You told me how important it was to have great visuals on the website you made for me and now I have. It was hard work but so worth it.’
Mari snorted in reply and lifted the camera out of her sister’s reach. ‘You spent most of the time lying on the floor playing with the puppy and feeding her treats. I was the one doing the hard work.’
Rosa waggled her fingers at her dismissively. ‘What can I say? Some of us are blessed with the creative touch. Animal models are hard to find in the world of Swanhaven pet fashion and Lola wasn’t too keen on posing for more than a few seconds. I think bribery is acceptable in the circumstances. After all, it is not often my big sister has a chance to be a fashion photographer for the day. The least I could do was sacrifice my dignity in the name of your future career. You might need that extra line on your resume one day soon.’
Mari sighed and gave her head a quick shake. ‘I should never have told you that my department is laying off technical staff. I’m fine. Seriously. There are lots of hardware engineers who want to take the package and do other things with their lives but not me. I love what I am doing and don’t plan to change anytime soon.’
‘Um. Fine. Right . Is that why you were looking for IT jobs around Swanhaven on the internet this morning?’
‘Hey! ‘Mari play poked Rosa in the arm. ‘Were you spying on me young lady? I can see behind that sweet innocent face you know.’ Mari paused for a moment and decided to give Rosa a half version of the truth. ‘I wanted to compare the freelance rates on Dorset compared to California, that’s all,’ she replied with a smile and shrug. ‘Things have certainly changed a lot in the ten years since I last lived here. Apparently there is wi fi in the yacht club. Could this really be possible?’
And the moment the words had left her mouth, Mari instantly felt guilty about not telling her only sister the full truth. But she couldn’t reveal her secret quite just yet, not matter how much she was looking forwards to seeing the look on Rosa’s face when she broke the news that she was buying Rosa the home she had always wanted. Rosa had been inconsolable when their little family of women had been evicted from the home where they had been so happy.
But she couldn’t even hint that the house could be hers until she was certain that everything was in place.
Rosa was sensitive enough to pick up that Mari was worried about her job security and with good reason. Mari Chance had been the provider in this family since the age of 16 when their father left and their mother floundered in grief and despair.
It had been Mari’s decision to sacrifice her dreams of university so that she could leave school as soon as she could to work for a local business and become the breadwinner for Rosa and their mother. And she felt even more responsible now that Rosa was on her own and she had a high flying job with the salary to make sure that Rosa was taken care of. Even if it did mean that they were apart – her sister had to come first before anything that Mari wanted in her own life.
Rosa was the only person in Mari’s life who she truly trusted but this was one time when she wasn’t ready to open up and share her fears and dreams for the future. She had worked too hard to give Rosa hope, only to see it replaced with bitter disappointment.
Luckily her sister was distracted by a lovely spaniel who dared to be out in the cold air without one of her knitted coats and spotting a potential customer, Rosa pulled Mari closer and whispered. ‘See you back at the cottage. I am on a mission. Bye for now. Oh – and thanks again for the photographs. I knew that I could rely on you. We’ll talk more later.’ And with that, she released Mari all in a rush and scampered off in the direction of the spaniel, her hand already in her pocket looking for dog treats.
‘You are welcome sweetie,’ Mari replied in a low whisper nobody was going to hear as she watched Rosa laugh and smile with the spaniel’s lady owner. ‘You know you can always rely on me.’
Marigold Chance was not going to be the girl called for sports teams or talent contests. She left that to her brilliant older brother Kit and her little sister Rosa. Both extroverts to the core. No. Mari would be the person who stayed in the background and made the teas and watched the other people having fun. Usually at events she had organised and made happen. Every family needed a Mari to keep things working behind the scenes to make sure that everyone was safe and well and had what they needed. No matter how great the personal cost.
Especially in times of crisis when the whole world fell apart.
Mari shrugged off a shiver of sad memories, turned the corner and started down the narrow cobbled street towards the harbour, and was rewarded by the sight she never grew tired of. Swanhaven bay was stretched out in front of her.
The sea was a wide stretch of dove grey, flecked by bright white foam as the waves picked up in the icy wind. A bright smile warmed Mari’s face despite the cold. Swanhaven harbour had been built of granite blocks designed to protect the fishing fleet from the harsh English Channel. Now the long wide arms held more pleasure craft than local fishermen, but it was still a safe harbour and delightful marina which attracted visitors all year around, even on a cold February afternoon.
But that was not where she wanted to go before the early winter darkness fell. Today there was somewhere very special she wanted to visit now she was free for the rest of the day. The one place that meant more to her than anywhere else in the world. She could hardly wait to see her old home again. Snow or no snow. Nothing was going to stop her now. Nothing at all.
‘Well you know what your father is like. Once he gets an idea in his head nothing is going to stop him,’ his mother chuckled down Ethan Chandler’s cell phone, her voice faint and in snatches as it was carried away in the blustery wind. ‘He is out by the pool at the moment and quite determined to experiment with all of the fancy extras on his new barbecue, even if we are in the middle of a mini heatwave. Which reminds me? How is the weather in Swanhaven at the moment?’
Ethan Chandler took a firm grip with his other hand on the tiller of the small sailboat he had hired from the Swanhaven sailing school and let the fresh wind carry the light boat out from his private jetty into deeper water before answering. A spray of icy sea water crashed over the side of the boat and he moved the phone closer towards his mouth and under the shelter of his jacket.
‘You will be delighted to know that at the moment it is grey, wet and windy. And cold. Cold by Florida standards at least. You are going to freeze next week.’
Her reply was a small sigh. ‘I did wonder. I remember only too well what February can be like. But don’t you worry. Your father and I wouldn’t miss seeing our new holiday home for anything. We are so proud of you Ethan.’
Ethan inhaled a slow calming breath. Proud? Proud was the last thing his parents should be.
Far from it.
Apart from a couple of one to one sailing classes he had run as a personal favour to his old mentor at the Swanhaven yacht club, he had made it his business to keep out of sight and hide away at the house. The work that needed to be done was an excellent excuse for not socialising in the town, but the truth was, in a small town like Swanhaven, people had long memories. Ten years was nothing, and Kit Chance still had a lot of family in the area and the weight of the accident which killed Kit had become heavier and heavier the longer he stayed here.
Proud? No mother. The minute his parents were settled, he would be on the first flight back to Florida.
Luckily his mother did not give him a chance to reply. ‘And how are you managing at the house on your own?’
Ethan turned his head back towards the shore and enjoyed a half smile at the sight of the stunning one storey home which hugged the wooded hillside on one side and the wide curve of the inlet on the other. Now that. Was something he could be proud of.
It was a superb location. Quiet, private and secluded but only ten minutes drive to Swanhaven which lay around the headland in the next Bay, and even faster by boat. Perfect.
‘Everything’s fine. I am just heading out now to Swanhaven to pick up some groceries. But don’t worry mum. The team have done a great job and it will all be ready for next weekend.’ I hope.
‘That’s wonderful darling. You have been so secretive these past few months; I can hardly wait to see what you have done with the place. And don’t you worry about your father. He was reluctant at first to let you manage the project but you know how hard it is for him to hand over control of anything to anybody. He is so pleased that you agreed to finish off the work for us. We both are. Who knows? With a bit of luck your father might actually start slowing down soon and think about retirement one day soon.’
Ethan fought down a positive reply but the words stuck in his throat.
It had taken a few years before his parents understood that their only son had no interest in becoming the fourth generation architect in Chandler and Chandler, Architects. Ethan had no intention of spending his life in an air conditioned office looking out on the ocean when he could be on the waves himself, pushing himself harder and harder. He felt sorry to let them down but they eventually accepted the fact that he had his own life to lead and they had supported him as best they could.
The least he could do was come over to Swanhaven and finish off their retirement home for them in time for the award ceremony. It was ironic that his mother had chosen to come back to Swanhaven of all places, but she had grown up in the area and they had some happy memories of the summers they spent here before the accident which changed all of their lives. His most of all.
They had talked about Swanhaven many times, and he knew that although his mother had grown up in the area and loved this bay, they had chosen not to come back here because of the accident and how he felt about it.
But now they were ready to move on and this house was a symbol of that.
And if they could cope with having a holiday home here, then he would have to learn to live with that. It was the moving part that he had a problem with. But that was his problem, not theirs and there was no way he was going to spoil his mother’s delight in her new house.
‘Good luck with that one mum. If anyone can do it, you can.’
‘Well thank you for that vote of confidence. Oh. I am now being called to ogle some gizmo or gadget. Keep safe darling. And see you next Saturday. Keep safe.’
Keep safe. That was what she used to say at the dockside before he set out on a dangerous sea journey. They were her final words. Only a year ago they had been squeezed out through tear-filled eyes when he left for the Green Globe round the world race. Now he could hear warmth and an almost casual tone in her voice through the broken reception.
So much had changed. Now she was saying it before a short shopping trip across the bay to Swanhaven, not months spent alone battling the most treacherous oceans in the world where a simple mistake could cost him the boat or his life. Or both. Where he could be out of contact with the world for hours. Perhaps days.
Now she could call him from the kitchen of their lovely Florida home and know precisely where he would be for at least six months of the year. Safe and out of harm’s way. Running sailing courses at the international yacht club where troubled teenagers from all over the state could receive the help they needed to rebuild their lives.
And she was happier than he had seen her for a long time.
How could she understand that he had chosen to abandon his comfortable car in Swanhaven, and come out in wild wet weather in a boat which was smaller than the one he used to have as a boy, just to feel the wind and the spray? To sense the reaction of the rudder under his hand as the tiny sail stretched out to the fullest it had probably ever seen as he angled the craft into the wind at just the perfect inclination to squeeze every drop of speed.
He knew this stretch of water like the back of his own hand. Kit had shown him where the currents lay over shallow water and the best place to turn into the wind so that they could practice how to use the sails.
Ethan smiled to himself and shifted the tiller just a little more. Just seeing this part of the bay again on his first day had brought back so many fine memories, and some sad ones. Those summers spent sailing every day with Kit Chance had been some of the happiest times of his life. And he still missed him.
Over the past year or two his mother had dropped not so subtle questions about when he planned to stop pushing himself harder and harder with each yacht race. He had always laughed it off. But she had a point. Maybe there was more to life than competitive sailing? But he had not found it yet. And teaching kids to sail one day for a few months a year had done nothing to lessen his need to be at the helm of a boat, on his own, testing the boundaries, running faster and faster. But it was start.
And Kit would have loved it. But he couldn’t. Because he had died in a freak accident nobody could have predicted or prevented. And Ethan had survived. The burden of that guilt still lay heavy on his shoulders. Especially in this town where Kit had grown up. So far he had managed to keep a low profile and focus on the work at hand.
Ethan shrugged the tension away from his shoulders.
He had one week to finish the house before his parents flew into London then he would get back to honouring Kit in the only way he knew how. By sailing to the max and teaching young people how to live their lives to the full, just as Kit had done.
He had seven days to complete the interior of the house and be ready to hand over the keys to his parents. Job done. And he would gone as fast as his parents allowed.
With a bit of luck they might actually like what he had done. Especially when they found out that he had made a couple of alterations to the original plans. Instead of an extended parking area, Ethan had built a solid garage, workshop, boathouse, and jetty. These were his personal gifts to his parents. And particularly his father.
Maybe, just maybe, they could find the time to sail out on their own boat together from their private jetty like they used to, when he came back in July to make good his promise to open the Swanhaven regatta.
Now that. Was something worth looking forward to.
A squall of icy sleet hit Ethan straight in the face and he roared with laughter and dropped his head back in joy. That was more like it. Bring it on. Bring. It. On.
Marigold Chance thrust her hands deep inside the pockets of her thick padded down coat and braced herself against the freezing wind which was whipping up the sand onto the path that led away from Swanhaven and out past the marina and jetty to the wild part of the Dorset shoreline.
Leaving the village behind, she walked as fast as she could to get warm, her target already in sight. A slow winding path started on the shore then rose slowly up and onto the grassy banks onto the low chalk hills which became cliffs at the other end of the bay.
Steps had been cut into the cliff face from the beach, but Mari paused and closed her eyes for a moment before she stepped forward, desperate to clear her head and try to relieve the throbbing headache which had been nagging at the back of her neck for the past 24 hours.
This part of the beach was made up of pebbles which had been smoothed by the relentless action of the waves back and forth to form fine powder sand in places and large cobblestones in others. It had been snowing when she arrived in Swanhaven and the air was still cold enough to keep the snow white clumps on top of the frozen ice trapped between the stones at the top end of the beach where she was walking. The heavy winter seas carried with them pieces of driftwood and seaweed that floated in the cold waters of a shipping lane like the English Channel.
For once Mari was glad to feel the cold fresh wind buffeting her cheeks as she snuggled low inside the warm coat, a windproof hat pulled well down over her ears.
The relentless pressure of her job as a computer systems trouble-shooter was starting to get to her, but exhaustion came with the job, and it was all worth it. In a few years she would be able to start her own business and work from home as an Internet consultant. With modern technology she could work from home and run an online Internet advisory business from anywhere in the world, and that included Swanhaven. This small coastal town where she had spent the first 18 years of her life was where she wanted to make a life and create a stable long standing home, safe and warm, for herself and Rosa. A home nobody could take away from her. From either of them.
Mari inhaled slowly to calm her breathing and focused on the sound of the seagulls calling above her head, dogs barking on the shore, and the relentless beat of the waves on the shore.
She could still hear the flap of the pennants on the boats in the marina and the musical sound of the wind in the rigging of the sailing boats.
This was the soundtrack of her early life which had stayed with her no matter where she might be living and working. Here she could escape the relentless cacophony of cars, aircraft engines, noisy air conditioning and frantic telephone calls in the middle of the night from IT departments whose servers had crashed. In her shoulder bag there were three Blackberries, and two mobile phones. But right now, for one whole precious hour, she had turned everything off.
And it was bliss. Her breathing tuned into the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the waves on the shore and for a fraction of a second she felt as though she was a girl again, and she had never left Swanhaven.
Sailing and the sea had formed a fundamental part of her childhood. She loved the sea with a passion. She knew how cruel it could be, but there was no finer place in the world. And Kit would understand that.
Turning her back to the wind, Mari slipped the glove from her left hand and reached into the laptop bag she carried everywhere. Her fingers touched a precious photograph and she carefully drew it out of the bag, holding tightly so that it would not be snatched away in the gusty wind. It was only right that she should look at this photograph now of all places even though it had been around the world with her more than once. Not like Kit’s best friend Ethan Chandler on the deck of some horrendously expensive racing yacht, battling the ocean for his very life, but inside a bag which went into the cabins of aircraft and hotel rooms and even restaurants and offices and computer server rooms.
The smiling face of her mother looked back at her from the photograph. She was a tall, slim, pretty woman with freckled skin illuminated by the sunlight reflected back from the water in the sunny harbour of Swanhaven. One of her arms was draped around Rosa’s shoulders. Rosa must have been about 14 then and so full of life and fun and energy. Her baby sister was always ready to smile into the camera without a hint of embarrassment or hesitation. But this time Rosa and her mother had something to laugh about – because they were watching Kit playing the fool. As always. 17 years old, and full of mischief, Kit was their hero, full of life and energy and funny, handsome and charming – everyone loved him, and he was indulged and spoiled. Kit would not sit still for a moment, always jumping about, always wanting to be in the action, especially when it came to the water and sailing.
Mari remembered the day she took the photograph so well. It was the Easter holiday and the sailing club had been open for a training day. Of course Kit was the instructor, yet again, but he was not content to simply smile for his younger sister, but had to leap forward on to one knee and wave jazz hands at her, which, of course made Rosa and her mother’s laugh even louder. This was her happy family she loved, so natural, and so unrehearsed. Just a typical shot of a mum having fun with her three kids on a trip to the marina.
Looking at the image now she could almost feel the sun on her face and the wind in her hair on that April morning when she captured the precious moment in time when they’d all been so happy together. It was hard to believe that she had taken the photograph only a few months before the yacht race in the annual Swanhaven Sailing regatta when they lost Kit in a freak accident and the thin fabric of safe, loving little family was whipped apart.
He had been the golden boy. The much loved only son.
Oh Kit. Since she missed him so much like a physical ache that never truly went away, but somehow over the years she had learned to push it to the back of her mind so that she could survive every day, but the pain of the loss was still there. Coming back to Swanhaven, and seeing the boats in the marina and young people finding such joy in the water, brought out all of those happy memories so vividly.
They had been such good times with her family all around her.
Mari ran her fingertip down her mother’s face on the photograph, just as the wind picked up and almost pulled it out of fingers and she quickly popped it back into her bag, made sure that it was safe and pulled on her gloves as quickly she could.
Perhaps she was not as ready to see her old home as she thought she was? It had been her mother’s dream that one day she should be able to buy back the home she had loved so very much, but she died before Mari could help to make that dream come true. And it broke Mari’s heart to think that she had let her down when they came so close to making it a reality.
But she still had Rosa to take care of, so she drove herself to work harder and longer to help her sister, no matter what the cost to her own dreams of running her own business.
Turning away from the cliff, Mari faced the wild buffeting wind from the sea and skipped down the path back onto the shore walking faster and faster along the rough large boulders, sliding on the wet surface, squelching against kelp seaweed and plastic bottles, until she was at the end of the jetty and in front of her as the curving bay and the rising cliffs of chalk towering above in the distance.
She took a couple of steps further along the beach and there it was, the low dip in the cliff made by small river and the sloping grassy bank and the winding path from the shore which led to the cottages where they used to live. Bracing herself, Mari lifted her head, back to the wind and looked up towards the houses she could see quite clearly now. At this distance the old roofs looked aged and weathered but blocking the view of the actual house itself in the garden with a large placard from the local estate agent announcing the house was soon to be sold by auction and contact details. She had talked to the elderly couple who owned it many times, trying to persuade them to move to the village but they had always refused. Until now, when a broken hip had forced them to move into town.
Tears pricked her eyes, and she wiped them away with the finger of her glove. Cold wind and regret assaulted her eyes. But her mouth sheltered a secret smile.
Keeping a secret from her sister Rosa was not easy but the Valentine’s Day party was not the only reason that Mari had come to Swanhaven this week. It had taken years of working nights, weekends and public holidays for the extra salary she needed to build up savings but she had finally done it this week after her bonus for working over the whole Christmas and New Year holiday had been paid. It was hard to believe that she finally had enough for the deposit she needed to buy back the house their father had built brick by brick. This was probably the only chance she would have to make his house a home again for herself and her sister where they could live and work side by side one day while Rosa enjoyed it.
Other people had social lives. Lovely homes and designer clothing. Even boyfriends. Instead, Mari Chance had become the “go to” single girl who was willing to work when her colleagues spent precious holiday time with their families. Promotion after promotion had meant travelling to some far-flung parts of the world at a moment’s notice. But she did it. And most of the time she loved her work. Loved the idea that she could arrive at a business office where the staff were panicking and walk out with the IT system working perfectly. That was deeply satisfying. Besides, she did not have any personal commitments, not even a pet. But all that travel came with a price.
The crushing loneliness.
And now the one thing she had been dreaming about for the last three years was finally going to happen – it was so close, she could almost feel it. Everything was ready. She had the funds, her place at the auction had been booked, and she knew the going rate for the property from recent sales figures.
This was the house she had been born it. The house she had loved and been so happy in, and now she could make the offer – in cash and above the expected price with a loan facility already agreed at the bank, if the price was higher than she had budgeted for.
It was finally going to happen. She was going to get their home back and this time nobody could take it away from them.
She had to have this house.
She had to.
This was where her life travelling and relentless activity and exhausting work was finally going to come to an end. This was where she was going to spend the rest of her life. Building a routine with Rosa in the place where she had grown up and extended family all around her. She was ready to come home to Swanhaven.
At that moment an icy blast ran up inside Mari’s coat and a deep shiver crossed her shoulders and down her back, making her stamp her feet and clap her hands together to restore some circulation. Time to get back to hot tea and toasted crumpets – Rosa’s favourites. She could come back and see the house any time she wanted – but perhaps not today.
Indulging in a brief smile and a final lingering look, Mari turned back into the wind as she strolled back towards Marina and the stone terraced cottage Rosa had made her own. Instantly Mari’s eyes were drawn to a small sailing boat, which was coming towards the jetty from the West. It was the only boat on the sea and was too small to have crossed the Channel so it could not have come very far.
For a moment Mari wondered who was brave enough or foolish enough to be sailing in open waters on a day like this. Icy blustery wind and grey skies did not equate in her mind to a pleasant sailing experience. She continued walking, her head angled down against the wind, but she could not miss the small craft as it came closer and closer towards the shore and safety of a berth in the sheltered marina. She walked swiftly to try and get warm, but even with her fast pace, the stiff wind in the small white sail sped the light craft faster than she could walk.
It was coming in too fast. Much too fast. The closer she got to the marina the faster the boat came towards her. He had not even lowered the sail and, oh no, the crosswind was gusting now across the entrance to the marina. There was no way this boat could stop itself from being smashed against the jetty or the stone breakwater of the marina.
No! She had to do something. Shout. Call for help.
Mari looked frantically around – but there was nobody close enough to hear her call and the wind would snatch away any chance of being heard in the town.
The cell phone was useless – the lifeboat would never come out in time. There was only seconds to spare before the boat collided with the dock.
She started jogging, running for the shore, waving her arms above her head, trying frantically to attract the attention of the sailor who seemed to be totally oblivious to the danger he was in. Mari was shouting now, over and over. ‘Watch out, watch out’ but the words were flung back into her face by the bitterly cold winds which attacked her cheeks and eyes so that she could hardly see with the tears of winter blurring her vision. Her hat was long gone, blown away in the wind.
Her heart was beating so fast that she thought that she was going to pass out. Heaving lungfuls of cold air tipped with icy sleet, she reached the edge of the water and had to bend over at the waist, a hand on each knee, not daring to watch as the small boat was tossed violently from side to side like a plastic bath toy.
And she knew exactly what was going to happen next and the horror of what was to come filled her mind. She could not watch.
Her face screwed up in pain, ready for the terrible sound of the hull smashing against the jetty, her hands ready to press against her ears to block out the horror and the cries of anguish from the lone sailor. Eyes closed, she knew what was coming and yet felt so powerless to prevent it that the horror of the moment washed over her with a cold shiver which ran across her shoulders and down her back.
She waited and the seconds seem to stretch into minutes.
And then the minutes grew longer. And all she could hear was the smashing of the waves on the shore and the screeching of the herring gulls as they swooped down into the harbour in the wind.
Slowly, slowly, hardly daring to look, Mari lifted her head and pushed herself to a standing position.
Just in time to see a tall sailor step off his boat onto the jetty, coil the rope around a bollard on the pontoon one handed, and use his other hand to rake his fingers from his forehead back through his hair as if the wind had made a nuisance of itself by messing up his hairstyle.
The sail was down and neatly wrapped, the boat was perfectly aligned in a berth in calm waters and the sailor looked so calm he might have just stepped from a cruise ship on a lazy summer afternoon.
Stunned and totally bewildered, Mari could only watch in amazed silence as the tall man double checked the rope, glanced at his watch, and then turned around to stroll casually away from her down the walkway which led back to the town. And just for second she saw his face for the first time.
Her heart missed a beat.
Ethan Chandler was back in town.Text Copyright: © 2011 by Nina Harrington Cover Art Copyright: © 2011 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under licence.