from Chapter One
Sipping her martini, Holly decided to give herself a tour of the small home. Built into the hillside, all the rooms were on the second and third floors. Holly loved the couple’s attention to detail in the remodeling effort. The freshly decorated bedrooms had gleaming oak floors, polished golden, and antique brass beds.
Not ready to join the crowd downstairs, she tucked herself quietly into a cushioned Adirondack chair on the deck off the master bedroom. She could feel the vibration of the music and the dancing of the people on the landing just below. Holly blotted them out as she finished her martini and looked up at the few stars she could see twinkling in the night sky.
Despite the crowd below, Holly thought she had picked an isolated spot. She was startled when Sophie came out onto the deck carrying fresh drinks.
“I knew you’d be holed up somewhere. You should come on down. Everybody’s having a great time.”
Holly pushed her curls back from her face, and shook her head. “I’ll mingle in a bit. I’m not ready to have everyone ask me about Drew and his latest project.”
When Sophie gave her a hard look, Holly tilted her head, relenting. “I promise. I’ll come down.” Sophie did not push, but gave her a squeeze on the shoulder before rejoining the party. Holly drew up her legs and listened to the distant howling of dogs, coyotes, or some kind of feral animals.
She sighed audibly. It was all so hard. She had been part of Holly and Drew, or “The Burkes” for so long, it was difficult to think of herself as a single person. God knows, she was lonely at night but could not imagine answering any of those creepy Internet dating ads or going through a series of bad blind dates in search of Mr. Right.
When she heard footsteps coming toward the deck this time, she assumed it was Sophie coming back to cajole her into a better mood, but she was surprised instead to see the profile of a man, his face obscured by the darkness.
From what she could see, he was hot with a capital H. Why couldn’t someone like this tall drink of water spill into her life? The casual knit shirt he wore, pulled across broad shoulders, lay across a washboard flat stomach. Was that a sexy bomber jacket, too? She loved long, thick, dark hair, and his fell over his forehead in such a way that her hands itched to brush it back. His distressed jeans hugged him in all the right places. He had bad boy written all over him. She’d always been a good girl with bad boy fantasies. Maybe it was time to end her celibate period and indulge in a few.
“Holly, is that you?”
Wait, she knew that voice. “Nick?” she asked uncertainly.
When he stepped fully onto the deck, Holly’s breath stuck in her throat, then hissed out slowly.
Thank goodness. It was just Nick.
She could put off a close encounter with an available member of the opposite sex for another day.