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Forever Takes a While - Summer Lake Seasons Book 5 (ebook)

Forever Takes a While - Summer Lake Seasons Book 5 (ebook)

Sweet n Steamy Romance

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 516+ 5-Star Reviews

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Cassie always knew that she was meant to be a doctor. Colt always knew that he was meant to be a deputy.

They both thought they knew that they were meant to be together--forever.

But life got in the way. Their choices led them down different paths. Though, that was only supposed to be for a while.

Now, she's back in Summer Lake after more than ten years, and he can't understand why she won't even talk to him.

He respected her choice to pursue her career instead of coming back to build a life and a family with him. But after all this time and all that they shared, why doesn't she even want to be his friend?

Pick up your copy of this heartwarming romance today and join Colt and Cassie as they learn that, sometimes, forever takes a while.

Available to Read on Kindle, Nook, iThings, Kobo, Phone, Computer, Tablet, Etc! Your eBook will be delivered to your provided email address by BookFunnel. 

Forever Takes a While is the fifth book in USA Today Bestselling Author SJ McCoy's international hit Summer Lake Seasons series, loved by over 1,000,000 fans of sweet and steamy romances. 

Readers say:

"What an awesome story!"

"I loved every minute of this book and didn't want it to end."

"OH MY WORD! This is my favorite SJ book BY FAR! (And I've read all 37! Haha)"

"If you haven't read any of SJ McCoy's books yet, then you don't know what you're missing. Her characters all seem so real and very believable. And all of her stories are so full of heart. The people she writes about are far from being perfect, though. In fact, every single one of them have their own flaws in some capacity or another. But with the help and understanding of their good friends, they find a way to overcome them."

"McCoy will have you laughing and crying (happy tears). Enjoy!"

"Another home run."

"Excellent read. HEARTWARMING and feel good story. Thank you, SJ for another wonderful Summer lake visit. It was awesome! ❤️💗❤️"

"McCoy does it again, and again, and again. She's one of my favorite 1-click authors!"

"This is a beautifully written tale which is so much more than a 2nd chance love story, and I was totally captivated throughout this addictive page turner.

    Chapter One Look Inside

    Chapter One

    Colt pushed open the door to the bakery and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw her.


    She’d made a big point of avoiding him for months. They hadn’t exchanged more than a couple of words since she’d come back to the lake. That spoke volumes. It took a determined effort to avoid anyone in such a small town as Summer Lake, and, considering the fact that they shared the same group of friends, he knew the effort Cassie was going to was monumental.

    In the beginning, he’d tried to talk to her; he’d made several attempts to pull her aside. She didn’t want to straighten things out between them? He didn’t like that, but he could respect it. But refusing to even speak to him was starting to chafe him. He’d always thought of Cassie as a mature person—even when they were kids—but, in his mind, her behavior since she’d come back to town was nothing less than childish.

    He sucked in a deep breath and forced himself to avoid looking at her, instead smiling at Renée and April, who were standing behind the counter looking uncomfortable.

    “Good morning, ladies.” In his mind, the greeting included Cassie. It was up to her if she chose to ignore it.

    Renée smiled warmly. “Morning, Colt. I have your order ready.”

    Cassie picked up a box from the counter and turned to leave. Colt pressed his lips together to stop himself from making one more attempt to get through to her.

    To his surprise, she gave him a brief nod as she passed him on the way out. That was something, at least.

    When the door closed behind her, he let out the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

    “I wish the two of you would just get over it,” said Renée. “It makes it difficult for everyone. You were such good friends. I don’t know what happened, but I wish you’d let it go.”

    Colt scowled at her. “You’re talking to the wrong guy. I let it go years ago. Cassie’s the one who won’t talk to me.”

    “Yeah, sorry. I know that.” Renée gave him a sad smile. “But you’ve always been the peacemaker. The guy who can smooth over disagreements and bring everyone back together when there’s any trouble. Why can’t you do it now?”

    “I wish I knew. If I could make her talk to me, I’d love to make things right, but that nod she gave me when she left? That’s the most she’s said to me in years.” Colt shook his head sadly. “I think I have to resign myself to the fact that she’s not interested.”

    “Interested?” Renée raised an eyebrow. “Would you still be?”

    “Not like that. I meant she’s not even interested in talking to me, in being friends again. Anyway, you said you’ve got everything ready? I need to get those donuts to the guys.”

    Renée handed him a box that contained two dozen sugary reasons to hurry his ass to work. “Thanks.”

    “Are you coming out with everyone this weekend?” asked April.

    “You mean to the Boathouse on Saturday night?”

    “Yes. Clay’s going to sing with Eddie and Chase. He hasn’t done it for a while, and I think he likes it when it’s quieter.”

    “In that case, yeah. I’ll definitely be there.”

    “Great. We’ll see you then.”

    He slid the box of donuts onto the passenger seat and headed to work. He slowed just before he reached the end of Main Street when he saw Cassie walking. Why the hell was she on foot in this weather?

    He knew that she’d more than likely blow him off, but he had to stop and ask if she wanted a ride.

    He let down the passenger window when he reached her.


    She glanced at him but kept on walking.

    He pursed his lips and crawled along beside her. “Come on. It’s freezing out there. Let me give you a ride?”

    She turned and met his gaze. It wasn’t the hostile look he’d grown used to seeing from her. Instead, he could see hesitation in her eyes.

    “Go on.” He smiled. “You don’t have to say a word to me if you don’t want to. But I know how much you hate the cold. And if you keep walking, you’re going to freeze your ass off by the time you get to work.”

    His heart started to race when she stopped. He brought the car to a stop beside her and waited.

    “Thank you.” She opened the door and slid into the passenger seat.

    “You’re welcome.” He pulled away, wishing that the medical center was at least five miles away. He needed time to get her to talk. “How’ve you been?”

    She turned and looked at him but didn’t reply.

    “Jesus, Cassie. Say something. Anything. But please talk to me. This is driving me nuts!”

    She blew out a sigh. “There’s nothing left to say between us.”

    “Why?!” He gripped the steering wheel and tried to reel in his frustration.

    She stared out the windshield and didn’t even look as though she planned to answer.

    “Why are you so angry at me?”

    She shrugged. “I’m not.”

    “So why won’t you talk to me?”

    “Because there’s no point.”

    He blew out a frustrated sigh. “What’s the point in not talking to me? Why can’t we be friends?”

    He glanced over at her and was stunned to see that her eyes were brimming with tears.


    “Dammit, Colt! Why couldn’t you just let it be? This!” She swiped at her eyes angrily. “This is the reason I don’t want to talk to you. It’s the reason we can’t be friends.”

    He didn’t understand. “Because I make you cry?”

    She nodded. “Yeah. Because I don’t trust myself to be around you. I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry for everything that happened. And I’m sorry that I’ve been so damned childish since I came back here. All I was trying to do was avoid this—avoid letting you see that I’m still such a mess.”

    “Cassie.” He reached across and touched her arm, but she pulled it away as if he’d scalded her. “Why?” He didn’t understand. He got that she was still mad at him, but he didn’t get why it would upset her so much.

    She let out a strangled little laugh. “Because, apparently, I’m an idiot.”

    They’d reached the medical center, but Colt didn’t want to let her out of the car now. He drove by the entrance, planning to go around the block.

    “We’re there.”

    He shook his head. “I’m guessing you start at eight. You’re early. You wouldn’t have arrived for at least ten minutes if you were walking.”

    She shrugged. “So, what? You’re planning to drive me around for ten minutes?”

    “Yep.” He glanced over at her and caught the hint of a smile.

    “You’re still stubborn, then?”

    That made him smile back at her. “Not as stubborn as you are.”

    “I’m not stubborn; I’m just determined. I have to be if I’m going to get where I want to go in life.”

    All the hairs on Colt’s arms stood up. How many times had she said that to him when they were kids? It was her go-to. It was true, as well. She’d been determined that she was going to be a doctor, and here she was. “Is this where you want to be?”

    Her mouth opened and closed, and fresh tears filled her eyes. It made him grip the steering wheel tighter. He’d only meant did she want to be a doctor back here in Summer Lake, but now he wondered if she thought he was asking if she wanted to be here—with him.

    “Cassie, would you please tell me what your problem is?”

    She sighed, making him hope that she was finally going to tell him. “My problem is that you won’t respect my desire to have nothing to do with you anymore. The only thing we have left to say to each other is goodbye.”

    That felt like a dagger through his heart. He’d hoped that they were about to make a breakthrough—to find a way back to being friends. He’d almost come to terms with knowing that she’d never even consider being with him again, but he couldn’t imagine her living here at the lake and not even being part of his life in some small way.

    He turned the last corner that brought them back to the medical center. “Is that really what you want?” Even to him, his voice sounded sharp and angry. It wasn’t anger—it was pain—but it was better that she didn’t know that.

    She nodded. “It’s for the best.”

    “Okay, then.” He brought the car to a stop. “I don’t understand, but it seems that doesn’t matter to you. I thought … well, I thought a lot of things, but I guess none of those matter now either. I’ve always respected what you want. You know that.” He turned to look at her. She was even more beautiful now that she was older. In his mind, she’d always been the most beautiful girl in the world. But he’d loved her for so much more than her looks. “There’s so much I want to say, but if the only thing you want to hear from me is goodbye. Then …” He couldn’t help it. He reached across and touched her cheek. “Goodbye, Cassie.”

    She let out a strangled sound and scrambled out of the car, slamming the door closed behind her and hurrying away.

    He sat there and watched until she disappeared through the door, feeling as though his heart was breaking all over again. Damn. He’d told himself that he was over her. He had to be. It’d been so long. But even through the last few months when she’d refused to talk to him, his heart had refused to accept that they didn’t have another chapter to write.

    He blew out a sigh and gripped the steering wheel with shaky hands. Now, it seemed, he didn’t have any choice but to accept it.

    ~ ~ ~

    Cassie stumbled blindly into the waiting room. She was doing her best not to let herself cry. If she could just make it to her office …

    “Cassie! What’s wrong?” Abbie, the receptionist, came hurrying out from behind the desk. “What is it?”

    She sniffed and tried to compose herself. “Nothing. I’m … it’s …” So much for not letting herself cry! Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

    “Come and sit down.” Abbie took her arm and led her into her office. “Did something happen? Are you okay?”

    Cassie sucked in a deep breath and forced herself to get a grip. She handed the box of pastries to Abbie and gave her a weak smile. “I’m sorry. Everything’s fine. I’m just being an idiot. Do you want to take those through to the back, and I’ll come and join you in a minute?”

    Abbie frowned. “No. I don’t. I want you to tell me what the hell is going on. I’m worried.”

    “There’s no need. Like I said. I’m just being an idiot.”

    “What about?”


    Abbie put her hands on her hips. “Come on, Cassie. I’ve done my best to keep my nose out and respect your privacy. But you can’t get into a state like this and expect me not to care.” Her expression softened. “I do care, you know. I just want you to be okay, and you’re obviously not.”

    Cassie’s eyes filled with tears again, and she swiped at them angrily. “I will be. I promise. I think you know the reason that I’ve been so difficult since I came back to town.”

    Abbie nodded. “Colt?”


    “Can’t you just talk to him? I know you say you’d rather avoid him, but surely it’d be better to talk and sort out whatever you need to.”

    “That’s exactly what I just did.”

    “Oh! And it didn’t make things better?”

    Cassie laughed. “It did. I know it doesn’t look like it, but it did. It just makes me sad, that’s all.”

    “Do you want to explain?”

    “Not really, no, but I will. I’ve been avoiding him—”

    “Err, yeah. I know that much. So does everyone else in town.”

    “I know, and I’m sorry. I know I’ve been acting like an idiot. But … I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t talk to him because I knew that I’d end up like this.”

    “Like this?”

    “Bawling my eyes out and a total mess. I’m supposed to be cool, calm, collected Cassie, the one who has it all together and can cope with anything. But I’m not. Not when it comes to Colt. The only thing I can’t cope with is being around him and not being with him anymore. He was my best friend, my everything. I don’t know how to be just his friend; I don’t want to be just his friend. That’s all there could ever be between us now, and I’d rather have nothing.”

    “And this morning, you told him that?”

    “I did. And it was the saddest thing I’ve ever done. He didn’t understand, and I don’t think it even bothered him that much.”

    Abbie looked skeptical.

    “He said if the only thing I wanted to hear him say was goodbye …” Her voice wavered. “Then he’d say it.”

    Abbie came and put her arm around her shoulders as a fresh wave of tears rolled down her cheeks.

    “You lied, didn’t you?”

    Cassie met her gaze.

    “You didn’t want him to say goodbye. You wanted him to say that he loves you.”

    Cassie closed her eyes, but the tears leaked out between her lashes as she nodded. “I don’t want to be around him because I know he doesn’t feel that way anymore. It hurts too much, Abbie.”

    Abbie wrapped her in a hug, and for a moment, Cassie leaned against her and closed her eyes. It wasn’t her way to lean on anyone, in any sense, but at that moment, it helped to know that she had a friend.

    “I screwed it all up a long time ago. I wish I could go back and do things differently.”

    “You can’t go back, but maybe you could do things differently now?”

    She shook her head. “It’s too late.”

    ~ ~ ~

    Colt felt as though the day passed in a blur. By the time he got home, he couldn’t remember anything he’d done, not since Cassie had gotten out of the car this morning.

    He blew out a sigh and went to get himself a beer from the fridge. Why did she have to close the door on them completely? Better question: why had he made her get into the car? Made her talk to him? It’d been bad enough before, knowing that she was avoiding him. But that had still left him with hope—hope that, at some point, she’d soften toward him and they’d be able to talk their way past it like they always used to do. But no. He’d gone and pushed it, pushed too far so that the only choice she’d had was to tell him the truth. She didn’t want him in her life—in any capacity.

    He took a drink of his beer and wandered into the living room. He looked at the picture above the fireplace. He knew she’d love it. Santorini. They’d planned to go there someday. He’d gone alone a few years ago and spent the whole time wishing she was with him.

    He set his beer down and headed for the shower. He needed to get out of the house. If he spent the evening here, he’d only end up wallowing in memories.

    It was only seven o’clock when he got to the Boathouse. It was quiet, but that was no surprise on a Monday. The girl behind the bar greeted him with a smile.

    “Well, hello, Deputy. Have you come to keep me company on a slow night?”

    He forced a smile. He had kept her company on a couple of nights—and they’d been anything but slow. He’d told her that things weren’t going to go anywhere between them, but she wasn’t shy about letting him know that she was interested in whatever he did want to offer.

    “I’ve come for dinner.” That meant he could go and sit in a booth and not have to stay at the bar and talk to her.

    She shrugged. “Okay. Seat yourself.”

    He made his way to one of the booths in the back. It wasn’t likely that too many folks would be out tonight, but he’d rather be out of sight if anyone he knew came in.

    He shook his head in disbelief when he saw Ivan come out of the bathroom. He could hardly hide from him.

    “Colt. What are you doing here?”

    “Getting some dinner. I didn’t feel like cooking tonight.”

    Ivan grinned. “Awesome. Mind if I join you? Abbie’s mom’s in town, and I brought myself out of the way so they can have a girly evening.”


    Ivan followed him to a booth. “You can tell me to buzz off if you want. You don’t seem thrilled.”

    “Sorry. It’s not you. It’s me.”

    Ivan laughed. “You sound like you’re breaking up with me.”

    Colt shrugged.

    “What is it?” Ivan’s smile faded. “What’s wrong, bud?”

    Colt shrugged again. Ivan had become a good friend, but he didn’t feel like spilling his guts to him.

    “With anyone else, I’d say the look on your face meant girl trouble. But I know that’s not the case with you … is it? It is, isn’t it?”

    Colt rolled his eyes. “Jesus. Can you leave it alone?”

    “Whoa!” Ivan held his hands up. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to be an asshole about it. I just … I’m surprised.”

    “I’m the one who’s being an asshole. Sorry for biting your head off.”

    “That’s okay. You don’t want to talk about it. I can respect that.”

    His choice of words took Colt straight back. Cassie had told him that he needed to respect her desire to have nothing to do with him. He swallowed around the lump that formed in his throat. He would respect her, but he’d need a while to come to terms with it.

    He looked at Ivan. “Thanks. Maybe one day soon I’ll ask if I can bend your ear, but for tonight, I’m just looking to distract myself.” He smiled. “Or now that you’re here, you can distract me. Tell me a story, tell me what’s happening in your world. Tell me anything?”

    Ivan smiled. “Want to hear about the latest campaign we’re running?”

    Colt raised an eyebrow, not sure that he did.

    “It’s all about getting backpacks for foster kids.”

    Colt frowned, hoping that he wasn’t talking about bulletproof backpacks. As a law enforcement officer, he saw enough of the darker side of life, but he knew full well that the darker side of Summer Lake was a shining light compared to many parts of the country. He didn’t want to think about any of that tonight.

    “Did you know that when foster kids are moved, most of them only ever have garbage bags to put their stuff in?”

    It took Colt a minute to register what he was saying.

    Ivan nodded. “I know in the grand scheme of things, having a backpack to put your stuff in doesn’t seem like much, but think about it. It’s a big deal to them.”

    Colt smiled. He could see that. “I know you’re not touting for business, but sign me up. I want to help.”

    Ivan smiled. “You can stop into the office any time you like and make a donation. How about that?”

    “Sure. I’ll come in on my day off.”

    They both looked up when the server came to take their order. Once she’d gone, Ivan raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you sure you want me to tell you about the backpacks?”

    “I’m sure. Those kids have much more important problems than I do. I want to hear what you’re doing and how I can help.”

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