Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Shannyn has published five books in her series, By the Lake, (The McAdams Sisters) including, Lakeshore Secrets, Lakeshore Legend, Lakeshore Love, Lakeshore Candy and Lakeshore Lyrics. She is currently working on a new series for 2016.
What inspired you to write your book?
Abby McAdams and Riley Boyd…what can I say? Through the first three books you meet the youngest of the McAdams sisters. A feisty and wild woman, who says exactly what is on her mind, but harbors a secret about her intentions with the mysterious man living above Mrs. Calvert’s bakery. And this man is mysterious. Riley doesn’t let anyone in, but somehow Abby has wiggled her way into his life, until the both of them can’t live without the other.
Here is a short sample from the book:
FEAR BUBBLED THROUGH Abby McAdams chest so forcefully; she sat straight up out of bed, gasping to catch a breath. It felt like her heart was about to burst.
I don’t want to be alone! Come back!
The t-shirt and jersey cut-off shorts she wore stuck to her trembling body, soaked in sweat. Panic thundered in her head so loudly it was as if there was someone knocking to get out. Fear gripped her every emotion like her own clenched fist prepared to defend.
Then she heard a groan slice through her panic; a deep, painful groan.
Her eyes flew open, blinking into the darkness, finding the shadow of Riley Boyd moving away from her and covering his nose. At the same time pain seared through her elbow.
Oh no. She’d whacked his face.
“Riley!” Abby ignored the urge to rub her elbow, instead scrambled off the couch and throwing the blankets to the floor. Feeling gross in her clothes, she yanked the material away from her skin and cringed as it stuck back.
Riley was on his knees backing away from her. She took the three steps to his side and dropped to her knees, reaching for his arms. Arms she knew by memory were inked in tattoos, but she was unable to decipher any of them now as her eyes adjusted to the dark.
Using her hands, she worked her way to his front, her fingers having the advantage of feeling every angle and dip of his muscular upper torso. He was shirtless and his warm, smooth flesh teased each fingertip like a game of Operation. Every slope gave her a shock of electricity. She liked this electricity. Seeing his rock hard bare torso on such occasions as fixing his motorcycle in the back alleyway and feeling it now were two entirely different things. It felt amazing.
What? Her fingers paused for a second. Where did that come from? Blame it on the daze of being jolted awake from another nightmare and scrambling off the couch in a hurry to check the injury to his beautiful face.
Where had she hit him? His nose? Was it broken? How hard had she hit him? Does he always sleep with his shirt off? Was he completely naked right now? Do not move your hands downwards Abigail McAdams.
Had these unwanted thoughts about him played in her mind before they’d become friends, she would have blamed it on the sheer want to sack him. That wasn’t who Riley was to her now thought. He wasn’t just another bed lay. No, he was her friend.
“Are you alright?” she asked, pulling her focus back to the present, back to her friend.
“Yes,” he snapped at her, making her forget the horror that had torn her from her sleep, but not coming anywhere close to assisting her at forgetting the hotness beneath her hands.
Riley was always cranky. Quiet and bad-tempered were Riley’s two personalities. Everyone got quiet, but only those who stuck around got the irritable side. Like her foolish self.
“Let me see.” Her hands moved up his arms and tried to ignore the tingling zapping her skin like the metal edges of the Operation game. His hands still covered his face. He was so warm…bed warm. Envisioning his long naked body throwing back the sheets sent a tingle through her, a delightfully, exciting tingle.
Riley pulled away. “How are you going to see anything in the dark?” Cranky, cranky, cranky. Although he made a good point.
Abby scrambled back beside the couch, reaching for the lamp sitting on the side table. Once light invaded them, she moved back in front of Riley. Now she could see him clearly. He was too distracted to catch her gazing at his inked tribal sleeve that traveled up his firm arms, around his thick shoulders and down his brawny back.
Abby, you smacked his face. Oh yeah.
She drew her wandering gaze up to his eyes. His dark, mysterious, and dangerous eyes. She loved the menace behind those eyes and loved the possibilities of why it was there in the first place even more.
“Problem solved,” she said, attempting to retain focus. “Now let me see.”
He was reluctant to move his hands, like he feared she might haul off and clock him again or he was just stubborn. More than likely the latter of the two. When his hands finally dropped from his face, blood stained his skin.
Abby sucked in her lips, horrified she’d fallen into such a deep sleep she’d…well…elbowed him in the nose. Hard. Blood hard.
Abby covered her mouth. “I’m so sorry,” she said, between the gaps of her fingers.
Riley looked down at his hands with his half-rigid sleepy face, that wasn’t nearly as rigidly set as during the day, and saw the blood. He cursed and stood, wearing only black boxers hugging his trim waist, settling her earlier debate.
His footsteps thumped across the old wood floor as he walked to the kitchen of the small one-bedroom apartment.
Mrs. Calvert had four apartments vacant above her bakery, but Riley was her only tenant. She’d owned the bakery as long as Abby could remember. Mrs. Calvert refused to deal with the crowds that landed in the small apartments above businesses or to tidy up after tourists during the summer months. The bakery was her dream and the hassle of messy, careless tenants didn’t appeal to her. Riley was neither messy nor careless and had Mrs. Calvert wrapped around his cranky pinky finger.
The current situation wasn’t funny…it really wasn’t. Abby had made the poor guy bleed. But she couldn’t help the smirk that took over her lips as she followed behind him, getting ice out of the freezer and wrapping it inside a towel for a homemade ice pack.
Abby was familiar with the layout of his apartment since she spent half the week sleeping on his couch like a college kid. She felt like the drop-out kid who just couldn’t figure out where life was taking her.
Abby leaned her back against the counter beside him, enjoying the view, as he splashed water on his face and scrubbed away the color staining his skin.
Who wouldn’t enjoy the view? Tall, lean, practically naked and now adding water against that tanned skin…yummy.
When he turned to face her the only sign of any injury was the redness around his nose. It didn’t look broken, that was a relief.
“That’s the last time I try to wake you up,” he growled the lie through his perfect white teeth and tight lips. Her exhausted mind wondered what her lips would feel like caught between those teeth and how delicious his tongue would taste plunged through the parted opening of her lips.
Exhausted was right!
Did her lips really just part open?
If Riley was in pain he didn’t show it, instead annoyance danced a regular routine across his concrete face.
Abby held the towel of ice toward him and he took it, sending her a humourless look that was intended to ward her off.
She ignored him.
“Why were you waking me up anyway?” She leaned her palms on the counter, tightly gripping the edge so her hands would reach out for him.
Reach out for him?
His nose looked tender as he pressed the towel against it and she flinched.
He did not.
“Because you were howling like a wild dog in your sleep.”
Howling like a wild dog?
Why did everything he say make her smile, even when it came out sounding like Oscar the Grouch? At the moment, she presumed it had to do with his grumpy tone pushing through the towel while comparing her to a wild dog. A wild dog. Why did that suit her so well?
It was the same dream again disrupting her sleep. The same one over and over and over, like a scratched disc that she wanted to throw across the room every time it stopped before the good part. No matter how much Abby tried she could not shake this dream…more like a nightmare. The nights Abby succumbed to sleep so deeply she found herself in the same dust-filled attic facing Gran, her grandmother. Gran’s floral kitchen apron was tied around her waist and the kind smile that lit her eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses transported Abby back nine months ago, before Gran died. The feeling of her presence in her dreams was so strong it was as though Gran was baking up a storm in the kitchen below. Right as Abby was starting to believe it was all good, once more, Gran would vanish, leaving her alone…again.
“I’m sorry I woke you. I can go home where my howling won’t bother anyone.”
She was only half serious. Abby did not want to go home, but found she was now wide awake.
For a quick moment she wondered what the hour was, but then she knew…it would be three. Gran had been an early morning riser, awake at three o’clock, before the sun even peeked up from the east. It was the same time Abby woke up each morning, like clockwork, since the day Gran died.
That morning, nine months ago, when fall was spreading its array of red and orange foliage throughout the town of Willow Valley, Abby had dragged her heavy feet and worried nerves out of bed earlier than usual. The strong smell of roasting coffee and frying bacon or the background noise of clanging mixing bowls and baking sheets had been yet to slowly welcome another day. Abby had found the kitchen empty, everything cold and no sign of Gran or her morning routine. She could still sum up the fear of that morning in her heart as her reluctant bare feet made their way down the short hallway of the two-bedroom bungalow, her worry assuming the worst, which was what she found: Gran wrapped in her handmade quilt like a cocoon, unmoving, unresponsive, and already gone.
It was unfathomable that Gran had left this world when she was still so full of life. She was always early to bed, early to rise and never taking for granted any moment in between.
Still, some mornings, over two-thousand and seventy-days later (yes Abby had every day that went by timed in her cell phone) Abby awoke and for a split second each day her mind was set back before Gran’s death. She found herself believing she would walk into the kitchen and find Gran. Abby could swear some mornings she could even inhale the smell of freshly baked pie before her eyes opened. Of course, it never happened and those were the hardest days, the ones where she woke up in her own bed, with the comfort of a life now gone, teasing her morning grog until the reality sprinkled down, souring it. Trudging through those hard days, forcing smiles so everyone thought she was fine and dandy, exhausted her. When night fell, leaving her alone, the sad thoughts caught up to her and she usually ended up knocking at Riley’s door. Like tonight. And now she’d woken him up and hit him in the nose.
Riley took the towel off his face and tossed it in the sink, the ice crashing loudly against the stainless steel, making her jump.
“What’s the point in that? We’re both awake now,” he growled. Growled like a wild dog. She grinned at the thought.
Abby remembered the first time she met Riley a couple years back. Mrs. Calvert had given no warning of the newest resident moving to Willow Valley. One day, when Abby and Gran were delivering Mrs. Calvert’s pie order, this random guy was pouring coffee behind the counter. He was tall, mysterious, hiding behind a beard and over grown hair, fresh meat in Willow Valley and not just some tourist simply passing through.
Abby’s curiosity had exploded with questions, startling the bejeezus out of him. He hadn’t said one word, simply staring at her like she was a mad person.
They’d been easy questions: Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here? Do you have a girlfriend? The last question was because he looked like the kind of trouble she wanted to toss her around in the sheets…or have him toss her around.
Mrs. Calvert, being the angel of privacy, had swooped in after Abby ignored Gran’s elbow in her side followed by a glare and Mrs. Calvert sidestepped all the questions Abby laid out for him. Mrs. Calvert had a way of doing that. She wasn’t a nosy person like the majority of locals in town and didn’t butt into other people’s business like the old cartel of ladies who occupied three tables at the bakery every morning from ten to eleven, tapping the sap of people’s lives from passing customers. Mrs. Calvert’s business was her own and Abby still didn’t have any of the answers about Riley and his past.
Except in regards to a girlfriend. Riley did not have a girlfriend. Was not looking for one and he did not want to toss around in the sheets…well not with Abby anyway.
After he cleared that up in regular Riley snappy, aggressive tone that only made Abby wrinkle her nose at him, Riley had turned out to be the friend she needed most after Gran passed. It had been a surprise and a blessing, almost like Gran pushed them together. Kind of like fate. Fate. Abby didn’t really believe in fate. She believed she planted her own path in life. However, when Abby’s life went through the cultivator it was as though the teeth of that tool had pierced her emotions and her head had spiraled, unsure how to deal with the loss. Riley had stepped in when she saw nothing but a future of being dragged through the dirt and he held her hand silently, comforting and helping her in a way no one else had been able to. He was still just as cranky as that first day they met, only she soon discovered his crankiness wasn’t as serious as he let on.
“What are we going to do then?” she asked, in her chirpy cheerful voice…even at the early hour.
What Abby should do was head over to The Old Town Soap Co. and finish the line of soaps she was working on. She was lacking inspiration and it seemed to have vanished along with Gran.
Normally Abby would eat. Sneaking down into Mrs. Calvert’s bakery with Riley’s key had become a daily early morning routine for her. She always left the exact change for all the sweets and tea she enjoyed in the peaceful darkness and would retreat back to the solitude of Riley’s apartment before Mrs. Calvert walked through the door at five. But Riley never went down with her and although he put her goodies through the cash in the morning he didn’t really like her sneaking inside while the bakery was closed. So she didn’t suggest that, but the idea made her tummy rumble for food.
“The question is what are you going to sucker me into doing?” See, there was his crankiness underlying with the sweetness he thought he was a pro at hiding.
Riley was convinced he was a big selfish jerk, but she knew better. No selfish jerk could ever handle her.
RILEY BOYD’S SHOES hit the sand, fast, trying to keep up with Abby. She was like lightening on her feet.
It figured that they couldn’t just do something normal like watch a movie or read a book. No, she had to go running along the beach…at three in the morning.
Who did that?
And if he hadn’t offered his presence the foolish woman would have gone running alone. That was wild, carefree Abby.
Going outside in the early hours of morning was dangerous, especially for a woman, especially during tourist season in Willow Valley when the population tripled.
Riley had once been that wild, carefree person taking risks at every crossroad, and he could almost relate to her drive. But he’d had to pay a price for being groundless and he understood now the importance of being cautious. Abby didn’t.
The morning breeze cooled the sweat he was producing running along the local beach and onto the private sands of the expensive cottages along the cliff.
Abby was ahead of him, only because his fast jog was at a steady pace while she would get a puff of energy and sprint in front only to turn around and backtrack…just like she was doing right now.
“Come on!” she hollered. “Pick up your pace Boyd!”
He glared at her, but she only laughed it off and circled around him. Laughed it off. No one just laughed off his glares…except Abby.
Right from the first time she’d stepped into the bakery and introduced herself, she’d ignored the fierce looks that kept everyone else from asking him personal questions, bringing up small talk, or trying to be friendly. Lord, this town was friendly and nosy and he wasn’t looking for either. Everyone caught on quickly…everyone except Abby McAdams.
Moving in front of him now, Abby jogged backwards, her large round umber eyes wired with energy. No wonder she was so tiny. She ran whenever the mood struck her and her moods blew hot and cold like the weather, one was never one-hundred percent accurate when a storm might hit.
Abby might be tiny as a toothpick, but damn she was sexy in all the right places. Her curvy hips, her rounded rear end, plus her never-ending, long trim running legs.
Riley shook his head. You have to stop doing that, acknowledging her gorgeous body. It seemed almost impossible, especially at this late…or was it early…hour. It is bad enough her ridiculous jokes make you laugh when you don’t deserve it, or the sweet compliments she gives chips away at the stone wall you’ve built around your emotions. He shouldn’t feel happy, joy, or pleasure because he didn’t deserve any of them.
“Doesn’t this feel great?” Her excited holler followed her into another sprint ten feet away, flaring her arms in the air like she won a marathon.
Just watching her was making him exhausted. She was like the Energizer Bunny twenty-four-seven. Some nights she barely got a wink of sleep and moved through her day on a high, no doubt a sugar high. Her morning routine consisted of pouring half a cup of sugar into her coffee or tea…maybe that was an exaggeration…but who knew exactly the amount when she tipped the shaker letting the sweetness pour out until satisfied with the concoction. But she also ate candy like a child loose in a candy store and she hid candy like a squirrel hiding nuts in a tree. There were stashes of candy throughout his apartment: in the cupboards, under the couch and behind the television. Behind the television? Let a logical person explain that one, he certainly couldn’t figure that one out. He could only imagine the Easter egg hunt through her own house.
“You should come running with me every morning.”
Riley used to run, but there were a lot of things he used to do.
Abby was back in front of him, jogging backwards again. The messy bun she had tied at the top of her head flopping with each bounce. That wasn’t the only thing bouncing around. Had his eyes really just trailed down the front of the t-shirt she was wearing? It was another one of her twin brother Avery’s, band t-shirts with the logo across the front that she’d taken scissors to, cutting away the sleeves and slicing slits across the sides. It wasn’t the cuts or slits holding his attention.
When Abby stopped running suddenly, not paying attention to him or noticing he was too busy staring at her chest to notice, he crashed straight into her.
Abby screamed at the impact, her hands latching onto his shoulder, digging her long painted black nails through his shirt and into his skin as they lost balance.
They fell backwards. He fell on top of her small body, but he managed to wrap an arm around her waist and protect her back from slamming into the ground, while the palm of his other hand hit the sand slowing the impact.
Damn it he liked her body against his.
Lying underneath him, Abby’s eyes stared up at him, startled at first, then a slow smirk found her lips and she craned her neck back laughing like he hadn’t nearly just crushed her.
It was kind of funny. But there was no way he was going to laugh.
Abby gasped, seeing the humor he hadn’t caught creeping across his face. “You’re smiling!”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re a klutz.”
“Whatever. You ran into me,” she accused.
“You stopped running without warning.”
Abby sighed and a smile followed. Abby owned particular smiles for each of her reactions to everything. This smile was by far his favorite. He’d learned the one that reached midway to her eyes, showing off her straight white teeth and lighting her eyes in a content manner, was her real smile.
It shifted to that mischievous brave smile and he braced himself for a smart remark to follow.
“If you hadn’t been staring at my breasts you might have noticed I stopped.”
She’d noticed the direction of his eyes and found amusement in it. He didn’t find the action amusing and lately he found himself struggling more each day not to notice things like that about Abby. He was a man after all and she was a woman, and an attractive one at that, but he wasn’t looking for a woman. Not now…not ever.
Tell that to the bulge in your pants. Damn it.
Abby laughed, pulling him from his thoughts. “Oh relax Riley. You’re a guy and I’m a girl…”
That was his reasoning exactly. Although when she said it, the words made it sound like he had no self control. He needed to get his self control in check.
“You’re going to notice these things. Don’t get those cute black boxers of yours in a twist.”
Cute black boxers? She’d noticed that was all he was wearing in the kitchen? She seemed as observant over him as he was over her. He’d noticed the jersey short shorts riding high up her thigh and the way her buttocks peeked out the back when she jogged in front of him on their way to the beach.
“Maybe if you got off of me you wouldn’t be struggling not to notice.”
He was still on top of her? Shit.
How did he not notice her full breasts pushed against his chest until just now, or that she was latched to him like a slug, holding her own weight against the entire length of his body?
As she relaxed he noticed how perfect their bodies mashed together. At that thought, only leading its way down a road of trouble, he let her go, dropping her the two inches onto the sand.
“Ouch! Riley! Dammit!” she cried, as if it hurt.
Riley climbed to his feet trying to maintain his composure and trying not jump away from her like she was too hot to touch. He was the one on fire and he didn’t want to burn her. She would get burned. What woman in his life hadn’t been burned?
Abby stayed on the ground all coiled up from her overreaction and directed her pursed lips twisted to one side at him. These were the looks that were chipping away at his wall and inviting feelings back into his body.
“Way to let a woman down.” These witty comments from Abby were a bulldozer crashing down the wall around his heart.
Riley offered his hand and her warm tiny fingers tightly gripped his as she jumped to her feet and dusted the back of her legs and high-rise ass that he couldn’t not notice.
She finished by slapping her hands together. “Before you tried to mount me on the sand…” She paused to wait for a reaction, which he wasn’t about to give her, she continued with a shrug, “…I was going to suggest racing up Blake’s beach stairs.”
Why didn’t this woman ask to go back home to bed? Like to sleep. Not in his bed. That image wasn’t hard to form.
“I’m not racing up Blake’s stairs.”
Abby tugged his hand and he tried to ignore the heat that friendly touch sent through his body. She managed to drag him to the bottom of the stairs that weaved up the cliff, without him noticing.
“Come on. I have a meeting with my sisters in the morning and I need to let off some steam.”
Riley didn’t need to ask why a meeting with her sisters required burning off steam. The little chatterbox had already informed him all about the gift show in September they were setting up for to wholesale their all-natural product lines to other businesses.
Abby continued on anyway. “I wanted to hand-make my product and personally sell it to people. My sisters want to mass produce it and ship it out across the country,” she complained, like it was a bad thing. They were going to be making a shit load of money. They were setting up at the trade show to get their product out and sell to small businesses, but their intention was to find wholesalers in order to ship the product out by the skid rather than by the box. He could relate to their desire to become established. He’d quickly made his mark in the independent label recording industry long before the night that changed everything. He’d had the desire, the drive, and the passion to succeed until everything had changed. It wasn’t about the money with Abby though. It was almost like she didn’t care about money at all.
He clenched his jaw. She didn’t listen to no. “Alright. But if I win we are going back home.”
Mischief glimmered in her playful eyes. “And if I win we are going swimming.”
Lord almighty, he better run.