Author: Serena Bell
Publisher: Jelsba Media Group
Release Date: January 23, 2020
Genre: Steamy contemporary romance
Seriously? This was the universe’s idea of a joke, right? The curly-haired woman sitting at his granddad’s bedside, glaring at him like he was something soggy a rat terrier had dropped on her shoes, somehow knew his granddad.
“This is your grandson?” She looked back and forth between him and his grandfather, as if desperate to reconcile the two things. Carl and him. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
He loved his grandfather, but the two of them couldn’t share more than a handful of genes. Unless Carl’s knack for losing money and his for accumulating it were two sides of the same coin.
“This is my grandson,” Carl affirmed. “Trey Xavier. Trey, this is Auburn Campbell—”
“We’ve met,” Auburn said.
Although technically they hadn’t met, exactly, because she’d never told him her name. If she had, he would have run the other direction because while he didn’t know Auburn personally, he knew all about her. She was his grandfather’s “adopted daughter,” his protege, and the woman—his grandfather had once been fond of saying—who would keep Beachcrest alive after his decrepit bones rotted to dust. As if Beachcrest were an important legacy and not just an overgrown shabby beach shack and two awkward, freestanding cottages trying on “inn” for size.
Thank God she’d turned him down last night. She would have caused him to break the most important rule in his book: never mix business and pleasure.
“You’ve met?” Carl’s head was on a swivel.
He was looking a little less elderly today. When Trey had first seen his grandfather shrunken under hospital sheets, it had clawed at some old emotion he’d prefer not to revisit.
“We ran into each other at Bob’s last night and Trey offered to buy me a drink.” Auburn glared.
She’d looked at him the same way in the bar last night—except last night there’d been something else mixed in. A different kind of challenge in her eyes. Like she wasn’t sure if she wanted to fight or … something else.
It had made him want to do both.
“So you know Auburn is Beachcrest’s manager.”
“I’m starting to get the picture.”
“Carl said you’re going to sell Beachcrest to some other egotistical, money-hungry ‘businessman’ who plans to build bland ticky-tacky boxes and sell them to equally unimaginative people.” She’d gotten up from her seat and now stood in front of him, arms crossed.
Whoa, okay, so they were going there, and fast. He might quibble with her descriptors, but at least he didn’t have to be the bearer of bad news.
“That’s right,” he said.
He should tell her the whole plan. She obviously genuinely cared for his granddad. If she knew why he needed to sell the inn and what was in it for Carl, maybe she’d see things differently. He wished it hadn’t taken his grandfather’s illness to give him a solution to his own business problems, but he was seriously grateful that the universe had stepped in with an answer when it had. And the fact that he could orchestrate things to leave his grandfather in the best possible situation—that was better than a billion-dollar valuation any day.
“I want to purchase it.”
“You want to purchase it,” he repeated. More to buy himself time than because he hadn’t understood. But it was incomprehensible to him. He’d stopped by to see it yesterday, as if to reassure himself it was really there, his salvation. The roof had been replaced sometime in the last ten years and the building exteriors looked sound. But the yard was scruffy—grass tufts in sandy soil—and the gardens were overgrown. Probably the word “gardens” was too generous. The rampaging flowers—every shape, color, and height—were an offense to Trey’s sense of order; the urge to rummage in the shed for pruning shears and clippers had been almost too fierce to resist. And when he’d gone inside—his fingers had itched with the urge to tear out every last scrap of finish work and put the beach “shabby chic” furnishings out on the curbside for pickup.
“Yes. I want to buy it from you.”
Her arms were crossed, pushing her tits up. He’d fantasized about palming those curves last night while he helped himself to the crush of his fist, and he’d come in fewer than ten strokes.
That was when he’d still been deluding himself that he’d ever lay hands on those breasts. They were a long way from that right now, and if she thought she was going to buy Beachcrest, they were about to be a lot further away still.
“I promised to sell her Beachcrest when I retired. That was the plan, before your grandmother died,” Carl said.
Trey wasn’t surprised. Of course he had. That was Carl for you, impulsive and impractical. He turned on his grandfather. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“It was before you bought in—”
“Then you should have told me that you’d made a promise you couldn’t keep. And you should have told her the truth, right away when I bailed you out and we added me to the title. That you didn’t have the right to make that decision anymore.” He turned to Auburn. “I’m not the bad guy here, I’m just making the best business decision.”
“You’re making the best business decision for you,” Auburn said. “You’re not making the best business decision for Beachcrest, because it will cease to be a business if you have your way. And maybe he should have told me, but he didn’t.” She squared her shoulders. “Now I know. And I can’t just let you sell it to someone who wants to tear it down.”
She was gutsy, he’d give her that. She didn’t flinch or back down. Her eye contact didn’t even waver. He’d have to shut this down right away. He needed this sale, and he needed it to be quick and easy.
“What are you going to do to stop me, exactly?”
For the first time, he saw uncertainty in her gaze. She bit her lip, a pearl of white digging into the soft red flesh. “I told you. I’m going to buy it.”
Oh, sweetheart, you have no idea who you’re dealing with.
About the Book:
The inn is her life. He needs to tear it down.
Auburn Campbell loves Beachcrest Inn. Working there saved her sanity as a teenager and got her back on her feet after a controlling relationship. So when Trey Xavier shows up, threatening to demolish Beachcrest, she’s ready to fight. Nothing riles her up like a hot guy in an expensive suit on a power trip—in the worst and best ways.
Trey screwed up. And now he needs this land deal or he’ll lose his business. He built his company from scratch so he could take care of his family the way his dad never did. But it would be a lot easier for Trey to stand his ground if Auburn didn’t tempt him so badly. He hasn’t wanted anyone like this in a long time. Maybe ever.
After a few days of summer sun, Auburn and Trey are both losing their heads—and maybe their hearts, too. Except they’re both out of practice at losing.
Only one thing’s certain: The Fourth of July in Tierney Bay will have plenty of fireworks this year.
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.
Serena’s books have earned many honors, including a RITA finalist spot, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.
When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.
Author social media links
Web site http://www.serenabell.com
Facebook Multi-Author Reader Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/CornerSmartSexy/
Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/serenabellbooks
Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/serena.bell.3954