Catherine Davenport Carlton needs a break. After dedicating her life to her political-minded family, shocking scandals from the past have shaken her to her core. Summer in the quiet town of Dyersport, Maine, is just what she needs, especially with a super-hot neighbor right next door…who’s none other than Brody Hollister, the boy she fell in love with as a teen. Cat wants nothing more than to pick up right where they left off eighteen years ago, but she’s still haunted by a terrible secret that could devastate Brody.
Brody Hollister spent years pining over Cat Davenport. They met young and loved passionately—until she disappeared from his life. Now she’s back, as spirited and beautiful as ever. But while Brody is determined to help Cat free herself from her family’s drama, his own family may be hiding something that could ruin their rekindled romance for good.
In Book Two of the Davenports romance series, sex and politics collide…with passionate results.
“I . . . uh . . .” Louisa’s stumbling words caught his attention. She was looking back and forth between them, confusion marring her face. “I guess you two know each other?” she finally asked.
Brody’s gaze met Cat’s. They nodded simultaneously.
“We know each other,” he said. “Though it’s been a long time.”
Cat nodded again, the anger he’d seen flash across her face softening back into surprise. “Long time,” she muttered.
And then her gaze skittered away.
Her lack of eye contact intrigued him, and he took the moment to study her appearance. Her makeup was just right: applied with a light hand but enough to come across as professional. Her hair, with its wide band perfectly matching her top and shoes, didn’t have a single flyaway strand.
And her stance screamed that she was important—only not so much as to not fit in with the locals. She wore her Davenport air, and from everything he’d seen over the last two decades, she should be standing there with a high level of confidence.
However, she was still focusing on anything other than him.
And then he got it. She hadn’t been spying on him for the last five days. She’d been ogling.
This brought a broad grin to his face. It had been nineteen years since he’d seen her. And yeah, he knew that people checked him out. He took care of himself. According to gossip at the college, he was a “hottie.” But to have Cat think so. After all this time. The very idea sent a rush of hot pleasure through his body.
And he could see it on her face when she peeked up at him once more. Her chin tilted stubbornly in the air. Catherine Davenport had just figured out that the guy she had the hots for was the very boy who’d once fumbled his way into her panties.
And she lived right next door to him.
The summer suddenly looked a whole lot brighter.
“Mr. Hollister,” a high-pitched voice said at his side. A small hand yanked on his belt loop, and in the next instant, multiple hands yanked on multiple belt loops, with additional “Mr. Hollisters” thrown in.
Brody looked down. He was surrounded by every kid who’d been sitting perfectly quiet only two minutes earlier. Not that he couldn’t handle them when they weren’t sitting quietly, they’d just caught him off guard. It would be only a matter of getting everyone calmed back down, and things would be fine.
He pried Amy’s tiny hand off his jeans while ignoring Cat still standing in the doorway. “What can I do for you, Amy?”
“Can the woman stay?” the girl asked.
“Yeah!” Fourteen other kids shouted the word in unison and began bouncing up and down, almost as one entity. “Let the woman stay,” they chanted. “Let the woman stay.”
A soft chime sounded overhead, and Louisa mumbled something about the front door. She was gone before Brody could ask for help.
Amy tugged on his belt loop again. “Mr. Hollister.”
“Yes, Amy?” Once again, he pried small fingers from the denim.
“I need to pee.”
Brody looked around, panicked, feeling suddenly out of control. He did not want to ask Cat for help. There was a certainty in him that if he let her in, even a millimeter, she would quickly become more than a pretty neighbor to secretly fixate on.
He shoved the thought from his mind. She may be next door, and he may still want her—no matter how they’d ended—but it didn’t mean he had to act on it. Even if one glance at her in close proximity had him thinking that he wanted to peel that innocent-looking white skirt from her body and see what she looked like in a teeny-tiny pair of bikinis.
It had nothing to do with her personally. It had simply been a while.
And men had needs.
“How about we all make a bathroom run?” he suggested. He stood tall and swept his gaze over the children. “Line up.” He motioned with his arms, each drawing out a line the kids should step to. “Boys on one side, girls on the other.”
Cat entered the room.
She reached out a hand for Amy’s. “I’ll take the girls.”
“There’s no need,” Brody started. He grabbed Amy’s hand before Cat could. “I can handle it.”
Sculpted blonde eyebrows rose before him. “So can I.”
She stared at him, and it was as if nineteen years slipped away into nothing.
Something had happened that summer that he’d never been able to replicate with another woman. Not even the one he’d been engaged to.
And it seemed to be happening again whether he liked it or not.
All of a sudden, he felt like the geeky teenager he’d once been. She’d been so out of his league. A Davenport. A year older. She’d had a license, for Christ’s sake.
Yet she’d been drawn to him, too. She’d become his best friend during those weeks. He would have followed her anywhere.
Fine. He silently relented. He narrowed his eyes at her as he released Amy’s hand. But I didn’t ask for your help.
He’d been proud even then. No father, a single, struggling mother. He’d needed to be on top of his game for the scholarships he sought.
Cat had needed to be pristine for her family’s reputation.
All of that had disappeared on their last day together.
Cat pasted on her fake, public smile now and proceeded to ignore him. She glowed down at the line of waiting girls. Each of them tittered in front of her as if in the presence of a princess. “Let’s make it a game,” she suggested in a secretive voice. “I’ll be the mama duck, and each of you are my ducklings. That means you have to hold on to your duckling sister in front of you.” She showed them how with one arm outstretched toward Amy’s shoulder. “And stay in a single-file line.”
The girls solemnly nodded and then assembled behind their leader, each with one hand on the girl in front of her. As they filed out of the room, the occasional soft quack could be heard coming from the hallway. Brody couldn’t help but smile.
When the last one disappeared out the door, he realized that he stood in the middle of five silent boys. All of them—including him—had fallen under Cat’s spell and were now staring awestruck in the direction she’d gone, tongues practically lolling out of their mouths.
Terrific. Nothing had changed. She had a way about her.
He looked down at Dylan, the oldest of the boys, who had lifted his head and was studying Brody intently. A quizzical expression was etched on the boy’s face.
“She’s pretty,” Dylan said innocently.
Brody nodded. “Yes, she is.” She had only gotten prettier since he’d last seen her.
“I like her,” the boy stated.
It didn’t take long to figure that out about Cat. Everyone liked her. Dread settled in Brody’s gut. He may have been only fifteen before, but she’d broken his heart in two.
I like her, too.
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As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, “The Gigantic Talking Raisin,” in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and then worked as a computer programmer. Now she’s living out her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She’s won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, has been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and has served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.
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