Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family's bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can't let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she's swept away.
Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he's not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn't allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she's in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .
Morgan froze, staring at him. The slowly building heat in his gaze sure didn’t look like a joke, nor did the arm around her waist feel like just a friendly gesture—not when she was plastered against all that warm, brawny muscle. And honest to God, she hadn’t a clue how to react.
His eyebrows ticked up, then he sighed and withdrew his arm. “Sorry. I made you uncomfortable.”
“You just kind of surprised me.” Morgan swallowed past a lump in her throat. God, she didn’t want him to let her go. “But we seem to be making a habit of this, don’t we?”
He smiled wryly. “If twice constitutes a habit.”
She sucked in a deep breath and decided it was time for some frank talk. “You know I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the same, Ryan. Like practically every minute since I saw you on the ferry.”
“I hear a ‘but’ coming.”
How could she explain how terribly vulnerable she felt? Between her father’s death, her worries for Sabrina, and her insecurity about her own future, she was close to being an emotional basket case. How could she possibly risk a summer hookup with Ryan? That would lead to a world of hurt down the road—especially since he’d just made it blazingly clear that he avoided long-term commitments.
“But I’m . . . I’m not there emotionally, Ryan. I don’t think I could handle it, no matter how much I might want to. I’m kind of a wreck right now.” She briefly nestled her face against his shoulder. “I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t be. I get where you’re coming from.” Ryan gave his head a shake. “I’m just finding it damn near impossible to ignore all this crazy chemistry between us. Hell, sometimes it feels like I’ve got a grenade inside me.”
Boy, that was exactly how she felt. If Ryan grabbed her and kissed her now, she’d probably be lost. They’d end up naked on this pebbly beach, getting busy in plain view of every boater sailing down the channel.