Melissa Foster Passionate Romance for Fiercely Loyal Hearts

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Deirdra de Messiéres lay in her childhood bedroom on Silver Island thinking about her upended life. She’d worked her ass off for the last several years as a corporate attorney for a tech firm in Boston, and after her promotion to assistant general counsel last year, she’d thought she was on the fast track to becoming general counsel when the slot opened up—until the GC had a heart attack and her slave-driver boss, Malcolm, had hired a referral from outside the company through his good-old-boy network.

The bastard.

He’d sprung that little nugget on her three days ago, after which Deirdra had announced her two-month hiatus, effective immediately. Everyone had been shocked, including Deirdra. She’d never taken time off and had made herself available in the evenings and on weekends since she’d first started with the company. She’d had to. It was a dog-eat-dog industry, and with six other attorneys on board—four of whom were men—she’d wanted to stand out. Yes, she was well aware that she was putting the company she’d given her all to in a pickle, especially since the new general counsel couldn’t start for another two months. But that was the point. Let them suffer without her impeccable mind handling everything under the sun. She was confident in her game plan and certain Malcolm would quickly see the error of his ways.

Well, pretty confident, anyway. Ninety percent sure.

Okay, seventy-five percent.

The truth was, she’d thought he wouldn’t let her walk out the door after her announcement. But her stern sixty-year-old boss had simply wished her a relaxing time and said she needed it. She’d already received dozens of calls and emails from colleagues who were shocked that she’d taken so much time off, but she struggled with disappointment over the ones that hadn’t come from her boss.

She still couldn’t believe Malcolm had said she freaking needed the break. As if she’d ever produced subpar work? That was a laugh. He’d had nothing but accolades for her jobs well done, and last year’s promotion had been proof of that.

Her frustration simmered to the boiling point. Ugh. She needed to stop overthinking the situation. Fat chance of that happening for a self-professed control freak. Deirdra not overthinking would be as weird as her younger sister, Abby, not seeing the bright side of things or their older half sister, Cait, trusting everyone at face value. Deirdra had a better chance of trying to transform into a bird and fly away.

If only . . .

She and her sisters were quite the trio, and they’d had a whirlwind few months. She and Abby had only discovered Cait existed in the spring, when they’d come back to the island to go over their mother’s will with one of their mother’s best friends, Shelley Steele. While Abby had embraced and trusted Cait unconditionally from the moment she’d met her, Deirdra had been cautious, given that their family house, restaurant, and meager inheritances were on the line. It had taken Cait some time to open up and trust them as well. But they’d gotten through those trials and tribulations and had become close. Cait was a wonderful addition to their family, and like Abby, she’d found solace and love on Silver Island.

Deirdra would not be following suit.

Beyond seeing her sisters happy, Deirdra had no interest in their family restaurant, the Bistro, or in the island on which she’d spent too many years trying to hold together the pieces of her alcoholic mother’s disheveled life, helping to run the Bistro and keep a roof over their heads. Deirdra had fled immediately after high school to attend Boyer University in Upstate New York with her bestie, Sutton Steele, and had finally started living her own life. But self-preservation had consequences, and Abby had been stuck caring for their mother in Deirdra’s absence. That sucked, but what choice had Deirdra had at the time? Stay on the rinky-dink island running a restaurant she resented and putting her drunk mother to bed while her dreams went to pot? Besides, Abby had encouraged her to go, and Deirdra had clung to that support like a lifeboat in her sea of guilt as she’d set out to prove herself to Abby and maybe even to stick it to her mother and show that she couldn’t hold her back.

Deirdra stared at the ceiling, discomfort simmering inside her. She’d thought her resentment toward the island and all that it represented might ease now that her mother was gone, but painful reminders lingered like ghosts in the wind, and the house and her bedroom were filled with them. Abby and Aiden had done a great job of sprucing it up. It was absolutely gorgeous. To anyone else it would seem warm and inviting, but there wasn’t enough paint on the planet to obliterate Deirdra’s painful memories. How many nights had she snuck out the window just to sit on the hill and look out at the water to keep from drowning in her mother’s wake?

Maybe she shouldn’t have come back, but she couldn’t do that to Cait. The start of her impromptu hiatus had lined up with the day Cait and all their friends were fixing up her new tattoo shop. Deirdra wasn’t big on manual labor, but she loved her sisters, and she’d needed to get out of Boston. She was glad she’d come, even if being on the island was uncomfortable. She’d gotten to witness Cait’s boyfriend, Deirdra’s childhood friend Brant Remington, get down on one knee in front of all their friends and propose. Deirdra couldn’t be happier for them, but come hell or high water, she was getting off this island tomorrow and going on a well-deserved vacation, the destination of which was yet to be determined.

The sound of the front door jarred her from her thoughts, and Abby’s giggles floated upstairs. She and her fiancé, Aiden Aldridge, couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Deirdra glanced at her phone. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. In the spring, Abby had moved back home from New York, where she’d worked sixty-plus hours a week as a chef. She’d met and fallen head over heels for Aiden in a whirlwind love affair. Together they’d revived the Bistro, and they were getting married in November.

Deirdra tried to focus on the distant sounds of Silver Harbor sneaking in through the open window instead of the cacophony of laughter, low conversations, and prolonged silences, followed by loud lustful sounds coming from downstairs. If only she were back in Boston. She preferred her noisy neighbor’s stereo blasting classic rock and oldies at all hours over this. At least that she could dance to.

Needless to say, she was a little jealous of her sisters’ love lives. Not that she’d had time for a man, or anything else besides work, these last few years. More noises floated upstairs. She closed her eyes, willing them not to have sex in the living room or, worse, in the kitchen. She had to eat at that table. Oh God, that’s probably what Aiden is doing. She squeezed her eyes shut. Deletedeletedelete!

What was she thinking, staying in her old bedroom? She should have stayed in the apartment over the garage. Why hadn’t she thought of that from the get-go?

A loud thud rattled the walls, followed by more laughter.

Deirdra flew out of bed. She was not going to listen to a play-by-play of Abby and Aiden having sex. She put on her silk kimono and headed downstairs, praying she wouldn’t catch them in a compromising position. She stopped on the bottom step, eyeing the trail of clothing that led past the steps and down the hall to their bedroom. Thank God. Hurrying into the kitchen, she snagged the key to the apartment off the hook by the side door and quietly slipped outside. She crossed her arms against the brisk September air as she climbed the steps to the apartment above the garage.

A streak of moonlight lit a path down the hallway to the bedroom. She took off her kimono and slipped under the warm covers, closing her eyes as she sank into the mattress. Something moved beside her, and her eyes flew open just as that something licked her face. She screamed and jumped out of the bed, flailing for the light switch. A bark rang out, and a cold nose hit her crotch. She swatted at it as she flicked on the lights, illuminating an amused Josiah “Jagger” Jones pushing languidly from the bed as his dalmatian, Dolly, nosed Deirdra’s privates. The twentysomething hippie worked at the Bistro as a part-time musician and part-time chef.

What are you doing here?” She twisted away from Dolly, her eyes catching on Jagger’s naked body. Holy mother of hotness. Broad shoulders and a few wordy tattoos on his ribs vied for her attention, but her eyes locked on the dusting of dark chest hair trailing down lickable abs, and her thoughts skidded to a halt at the impressive cock dangling between his legs. She couldn’t look away. Her loneliest parts clenched with desire, while her boggled mind tried to make sense of the perfect manscaping, which didn’t fit the image she held of the hemp-clothing- and sandal-wearing, too-damn-laid-back guy for whom she had no patience. Not that she’d ever imagined him naked. Well, not too often anyway. He may not be her type—give her a man in a suit any day—but she couldn’t deny that Jagger was hot, and he had a great voice, the kind that fantasies were made of. His hair wasn’t bad, either: dark, thick, and wavy. The kind of hair she’d love to hold on to while his face was between her legs.

Dolly licked her, snapping her back to the moment.

Holy crap. She was losing it. She was thirty years old, and he couldn’t be more than twenty-four or -five. She needed to get off the island and scratch that particular itch with a man who was more her speed . . . age . . . Holy cow, his body . . .

Dolly licked her again, jerking her mind back into submission.

“Dolly!” She turned away, glowering at Jagger, who was watching her with a big-ass grin.

“Like what you see?” he said far too casually. He lazily raked a hand through his hair, his leather and beaded bracelets slipping down his wrist.

“Why are you naked? Put some clothes on!” Dolly sniffed her butt, and Deirdra swatted at her.

“Chill, babe. Come here, Dolls.” He reached for his glasses.

“Don’t tell me to chill. Why didn’t she bark and warn me you were here?”

“She’s a lover, not a fighter.” He put on his glasses, which made him look sharper than a man who said things like chill, dude, and vibing and couldn’t commit to a permanent schedule because he liked to keep things loose.

Deirdra had no idea how Abby put up with any of that, but both her sisters loved the guy who had sauntered into town claiming to have been a good friend of their mother’s and that he had worked at the Bistro from time to time. Deirdra had yet to make sense of his friendship with her mother. Nothing fit. Kind of like the hot body he kept hidden under loose clothing.

He took a long, lustful look at her, and her traitorous nipples rose to greet him. “Damn, Didi, you look good in silk.”

Don’t call me that stripper name, and put clothes on!” She snagged her kimono and put it on over her camisole and matching sleep shorts.

“No one’s forcing you to look.” He reached for a pair of drawstring pants. “Why’re you so uppity? It’s just a naked body.”

The hottest naked body she’d seen in a very long time. It was totally unfair that it was attached to him. He pulled on his pants, tying them low on his hips, which made him impossibly sexier, irritating her even more. “Don’t call me uppity, either.”

He chuckled. “Whatever. You’re givin’ off that vibe.”

“Why are you here? I thought you lived in a van.”

He sat on the bed, and Dolly jumped up beside him, resting her head in his lap. He petted her, but his eyes never left Deirdra. It must have been way too long since she’d been touched by a man, because she felt oddly jealous over the affection he lavished on his dog.

“It’s a recreational vehicle,” he corrected her. “And it’s in the shop. Abby said I could crash here.”

“Someone could have told me that this afternoon.”

He shrugged. “You’re the only one who’s bothered by this. I’m enjoying the view.”

“Don’t look at me like that.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

“You have a lot of pent-up anger.” He patted the bed. “Lie down. I’ll give you a massage, work it out of your system.”

She scoffed. “Nice try.”

“It must be hard, carrying all that distrust around.”

He couldn’t know how true his words were. He pushed to his feet, closing the gap between them. Her pulse quickened, his eyes holding her captive, all brown and gold and gorgeous, looking so deeply into hers, she had a feeling she was wrong, and he knew exactly how true they were.

“You’ve been living in a world of games for too long, Dee.” He ran his fingers down her arm, sending heat slithering through her. “Trust is the foundation of everything good in this world. If I wanted to have sex with you, I wouldn’t pretend that I didn’t.”

“I’m not having sex with you.”

He arched a brow. “I’m not asking.”

Great. Now she felt stupid and irritated.

“What’s wrong with your bed, anyway? Abby and Aiden just redid your room.”

Nothing. They’re just too loud.”

He grinned. “Good for them. You can stay here. There’s plenty of room for the three of us.”

Deirdra rolled her eyes. “I’m not sleeping with you and your dog.”

“Okay. You do your thing, but the offer stands if you change your mind.”

“That’s not going to happen.” She stalked out the door, trying to push away the image of him naked. But just as no amount of paint could mask the ghosts of her past, nothing could take away the images that had seared themselves into her lust-addled brain.

She cursed at herself as she went back into the house. Murmurs came from Abby and Aiden’s bedroom as she stepped over the trail of clothing by the stairs, and she was hit with the sense of longing for something more that had been poking its ugly head out recently.

Hammering that unfulfillable emotion down deep, she traipsed up to her room, determined to figure out where she should spend the next two months, because she sure as hell wasn’t going to stay on this island.

To continue reading, please buy MAYBE WE WON’T

KINDLE | PAPERBACK | AUDIO

**FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

**This book is published by Montlake Romance (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle ereader app to read it (link below) or order the paperback.
Free Kindle eReader app ➜ http://bit.ly/FreeKindleApp1

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