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Walking on Sunshine - Summer Lake Silver book 11 (ebook)

Walking on Sunshine - Summer Lake Silver book 11 (ebook)

Sweet n Steamy Romance

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SYNOPSIS

Damon, a former Marine, is struggling after a difficult divorce, but he's found solace in his new home in Summer Lake. He’s taken on two jobs to keep himself busy, working as a personal trainer during the day and bartending at Taryn's restaurant at night.

Jo has recently retired from her job as a portfolio manager and moved to Four Mile Creek to start a new chapter in her life. She’s done with her stressful career – and with her stressful marriage to a ruthlessly successful fund manager.

When Damon and Jo run into each other around town, they feel an instant connection. However, they don't believe the other could possibly be interested in them. Damon sees a high-powered businesswoman, and Jo sees a free spirit who doesn’t have time for a woman in his life – and who wouldn’t choose her if he did.

Fate brings them together when Jo hires a personal trainer and is shocked to find that it's Damon. As they work out together, they quickly become close friends. As they navigate their feelings for each other, they must also face the challenges of Damon's not-so-ex-wife and Jo's grown kids, who desperately want to reunite their parents.

The magic of Summer Lake is strong, with the support of good friends and the idyllic setting, but these two will have to navigate their pasts before they can hope to find happiness together in the present.

With its delightful cast of characters, feel-good storyline, and charming small town setting, Walking on Sunshine is the perfect read for anyone who believes in the power of love and the joy of finding it later in life. Sit back, relax, and let the magic of Summer Lake sweep you away.

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

Walking on Sunshine is the eleventh book in USA Today Bestselling Author SJ McCoy's international hit Summer Lake Silver series, loved by over 1,000,000 fans of sweet and steamy romances. 

 

    Chapter One Look Inside

    Chapter One


    As she walked across the square arm in arm with Damon, Jo wanted to pinch herself. She couldn’t risk actually doing it because … hello? ... Her arm was linked through Damon’s. He’d think she was crazy if he saw her doing that. But she was at least half convinced that she had to be dreaming. This could not be happening.

    After the ordeal of spending the weekend here with her daughter, she’d expected that her first night alone in Summer Lake would be spent sitting in her hotel room at the lodge. When Damon asked if she wanted to have a drink with him this evening, she’d assumed that he meant as a customer. He was the bartender in the restaurant at the lodge.

    The last thing she thought was that he was asking her to come back and go out for a drink with him. Was this a date? It couldn’t be!

    He slowed his pace and gave her arm a squeeze.

    “Are you okay? Am I going too fast for you?”

    Her mind raced. Going too fast? What did he mean?

    He chuckled. “I forget that most normal-sized people need to take at least three steps for every one of mine.”

    She laughed with him when she understood what he meant. “No. You’re fine. It’s fine.”

    He cocked his head to one side and smiled. It sent a little shiver down her spine. He was a good-looking guy, and when he did that, it felt as though all his attention was focused on her. That was a feeling she wasn’t used to.

    “How about we start over? I know there was a bit of confusion – I should have made myself clearer when I asked if you wanted to have a drink with me.” He winked. “Did you think that I was just looking to fill my tip jar on a slow night?”

    She smiled but had to drop her gaze. How could she admit that was exactly what she’d thought?

    “Aww, man!” He gave her a rueful smile. “We definitely need to start over.” He stopped walking and turned to face her. Extending his hand, he said, “Hi, I’m Damon. It’s nice to meet you.”

    She laughed as she shook hands with him. “It’s nice to meet you, too, I’m Jo.”

    “Well, Jo, I’m just on my way to the wine bar for a drink. Is there any chance you’d like to join me?”

    “I’d love to, thank you.”

    “Well, alrighty then, let’s go.”

    When he started walking, she was a little sad that he didn’t offer her his arm again. She needed to pull herself together. Just because he hadn’t invited her back to the bar as a customer, it didn’t mean that he’d invited her out on a date, either. There was a whole spectrum of possibilities in between. He was a friendly guy – that had been obvious all weekend. Whenever she’d gone into the bar at the restaurant, he’d been chatty and friendly, and not just with her – with everyone.

    “So, I know I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping on your conversation with your daughter earlier, but it was hard not to overhear that you’re moving here to Summer Lake.”

    “I am,” she said, hoping to move past the subject of her conversation with Mallory quickly. “I’ve just taken early retirement.” She wanted to kick herself. Calling it early retirement probably sounded as though she was trying to point out that she wasn’t that old. She hurried on, hoping to skip past that, too. “I’ve been coming up here to visit for the last couple of years, and when it came time to decide where I might like to settle…” She shrugged. “Summer Lake just felt like the right place. How about you? Have you lived here for a long time?”

    “Not long, no. I spent my whole career in the Marines. After I retired, I didn’t really have a plan. I was still married, but when I went back home, it turned out that she’d gotten too used to my absence and she didn’t want me around anymore. I talked to an old friend, Russ, and he suggested that I might like it here. I came to visit him, and Summer Lake just felt like the right place.”

    He stopped outside the wine bar and smiled at her. “I should warn you that I don’t know what this will be like. I suggested it because it’s the only place to get a drink over here that’s not the restaurant. But the few times I’ve been before, it hasn’t had a great atmosphere.” He shrugged. “If it’s terrible, we can go back to the restaurant if you like.”

    She smiled. “It’s okay. I know what you mean; Mallory and I came in on Saturday afternoon. It was quiet and a little dreary, but there’s nothing wrong with the place.”

    He held the door open for her, and she hesitated when she stepped inside. The only person she could see was a woman, looking dejected as she stood behind the bar.

    Another little shiver ran down her spine when Damon stepped close behind her and stopped. “Well, shoot. I didn’t expect it to be hopping, but this is…”

    She shrugged. “It’s fine. It’s totally up to you. We can have a glass of wine if you like – on the bright side, we won’t have to shout to make ourselves heard.”

    He chuckled. “That’s true. Okay, let’s have one drink and then see, shall we?”

    The woman behind the bar didn’t seem thrilled to see them. “Hi there. Take a table wherever you like, I’ll be right over.”

    Jo led the way to a booth in the far corner. Once she’d taken a seat, Damon slid in opposite her with an apologetic smile. “We can go somewhere else.”

    “It’s fine. Honestly.”

    After the woman had taken their order and went to get their drinks, Damon rolled his eyes. “I don’t like to criticize, but if I had an empty bar, and two customers walked in, I’d be a damn sight more enthusiastic than that.”

    Jo chuckled. “Perhaps you should offer to give her some pointers?”

    He shook his head rapidly. “Nope. I don’t like to criticize – and you can bet that’s how it would come across if I said anything. I’m a live and let live kind of guy.”

    “I can see that about you,” she said with a smile. It was true. He might be a big man – huge was probably a more appropriate description – he had to be at least six foot four, and his shoulders and chest were broad. He was all muscle… She dug her fingernail into her palm to bring herself back to the moment. She didn’t need to go getting all distracted by the way the man looked! And besides, his looks weren’t even the most attractive thing about him. Yes, he was big, but there was a gentleness about him, a warmth that drew her in.

    The girl returned with their drinks and set them unceremoniously down on the table. Jo did her best not to laugh when she turned around and left again without a word.

    Damon rolled his eyes but didn’t comment. Instead, he lifted his glass to her, and she clinked hers against it, wondering what he was about to toast to.

    “Here’s to starting over.”

    “Absolutely.”

    ~ ~ ~

    The way Jo smiled made Damon relax a little. So far, this wasn’t going anywhere near as well as he’d hoped it might. He’d felt attracted to her the first time she walked into the bar on Friday night with her daughter.

    At the time, he hadn’t expected that to mean anything to him other than a more enjoyable weekend than usual. He’d been right that she brightened his weekend – he’d found himself wearing a big smile every time he saw her. What he hadn’t expected was to learn that not only wasn’t she leaving – as most of the guests at the lodge did on Sunday afternoon – but she was actually moving here.

    When he asked her to come for a drink with him, he was thinking of it as a date. But when she showed up, it turned out that she wasn’t seeing it that way. She thought that he’d invited her to come back down to the bar while he was working – and her reaction earlier had made it clear that she thought he was just trying to drum up business.

    He took a drink of his beer; it was flat, which fit with the way he felt. He’d been looking forward to his first date in decades – the first since he and Karen got married all those years ago. Only it turned out that it wasn’t even a date.

    He sat up a little straighter. Just because he was disappointed, it didn’t mean that he couldn’t make a new friend. Jo still intrigued him, and he’d enjoyed her company whenever they’d chatted over the weekend. They could still have a fun time. And since she was new in town, she could probably use a friend.

    He set his glass down and rested his arms on the table as he leaned forward. “What do you plan to do in your retirement?”

    The way she wrinkled her nose made him laugh. “I have all kinds of ideas, but I’m doing my best not to plan anything in too much detail.”

    “Let me guess – you did enough of that in your working life?”

    “Yep. At work, and at home.”

    He cocked an eyebrow, and she blew out a sigh.

    “I suppose the fact that you overheard what Mallory was saying earlier might turn out to be a good thing – I don’t need to embarrass myself by explaining what happened.”

    “There’s nothing for you to feel embarrassed about. If your husband had an affair, he’s the fool.”

    She gave him a small smile but shook her head. “I know the logic, but …” She shrugged. “I still feel like a fool.”

    “Hey.” He reached across the table and covered her hand with his own, he couldn’t help it. “I get it – I really do.”

    She met his gaze. “You, too?”

    “Yeah. We were married for almost thirty years. Turns out that she’d been seeing other people for the last thirteen.”

    Jo’s eyes widened. “Wow! I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.”

    “That’s okay. I didn’t know what to say – or what to think even – for the longest time. I didn’t know about it.” He smiled. “I can see that’s what you’re wondering; if she was cheating on me all that time, did I just turn a blind eye? I didn’t, and I wouldn’t have. I think that’s the thing that gets to me the most. If I’d known, I would have ended it, would have moved on years ago.”

    He pulled his hand back when he realized that it was still resting on hers. He thought that he’d come to terms with everything that had happened – it was a long time ago – but this was the first time that he’d told someone he didn’t know about it.

    He gave her a rueful smile. “You know how I told you that you have nothing to feel embarrassed about? It’s the same for me. I know that I did nothing wrong but – it doesn’t stop you from feeling like a fool, does it?”

    She shook her head with a sad smile. “Isn’t it funny, though, that we can see that for each other, but can’t help feeling it ourselves?”

    He nodded slowly. “Yeah. But anyway, what ideas do you have for your new life here in Summer Lake?”

    “Well, I know that I’m going to be busy getting the house put together first. It’s a new build.”

    “Over this side of the lake?”

    “Yes. I knew that I wanted to buy over here rather than in town. When I came to look at the development, I didn’t see anything that was just right. The houses down by the water were sold out. The ones up higher, with the best views, were all too big. And …” She shrugged. “The ones in the main development are nice, but nothing special.”

    It was crazy, but he was a little disappointed that she was moving over here to Four Mile Creek and not to town – where he lived. “What did you end up with?”

    She looked a little embarrassed, but there was no mistaking the way her eyes shone with happiness when she said, “Exactly what I wanted!”

    He had to laugh. “Would I be right if I guessed that’s something of a novelty for you?”

    She nodded emphatically. “You would. After everything that happened, I realized that I’d invested my whole life in taking care of everyone else and making sure that they got what they wanted – while neglecting myself. I mean, I know that’s the way it goes when you have children. They come first. I have no complaints there.” She frowned. “But they’ve been out on their own for years, and … Well, I’m starting to think that I didn’t do a great job with them.”

    “What do you mean?”

    She made a face. “You saw Mallory this afternoon – if you didn’t know me, would you describe that girl as a credit to her parents?”

    He chuckled. “Ah.”

    She laughed with him. “That’s right; take the diplomatic route. And her brother isn’t much better. I think that perhaps I gave too much and expected too little, both with them and their father. I can’t blame them – I trained them all that I would give and give and give and take care of their every want and need.”

    Damon nodded. He felt the same way about Karen. He’d done everything he could to make her happy. Although, thankfully, his son hadn’t turned out like her. “It’s easy to make that mistake,” he said. “When you’re a born giver, you don’t realize that some people are takers.”

    “I certainly didn’t realize until it was too late. And to be fair, the only reason they didn’t know that I would have liked the giving to be a two-way street is because I never told them.”

    “If you ask me, there are two reasons. Yeah, you might not have spelled it out, but you didn’t need it spelled out for you, did you?”

    She raised her eyebrows.

    “Like I said, you’re a born giver. The difference is – they’re not.”

    He shouldn’t be talking to her like this. He admired her, but he shouldn’t say so. After what he’d heard this afternoon about her husband and his secretary, he wanted to build her back up – tell her that she was better off out of there, but it wasn’t his place. He took a drink of his beer and made a face as the warm, flat liquid went down.

    “Let me guess; the beer isn’t great?”

    “No, not great, at all.”

    She smiled as she looked at her wine glass. “I’d guess that she didn’t open a new bottle to pour mine.”

    He got to his feet. “Come on. We can do better than this. I don’t want this place to be your first impression of life in Summer Lake.”

    He almost apologized – he didn’t mean to decide for her, or to boss her around – but she got up to join him. He threw more cash than necessary on the table next to their half-empty glasses and gestured for her to go ahead of him.

    He looked for the girl who’d served them, but there was no sign of her behind the bar. When he turned back, he couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Jo’s shapely figure ahead of him. Just because it wasn’t a date, didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate the way she looked.

    ~ ~ ~

    They set off back down the cobbled walkway toward the lodge. Jo was a little disappointed that the evening had ended so abruptly, but she could understand it.

    “Do you want –?”

    As Jo turned to look at him, her heel caught on one of the cobbles, and she pitched forward. She closed her eyes and deliberately tried to relax – she’d always been clumsy, and she’d learned as she grew older that the more she braced against a fall, the more damage she did to herself.

    Instead of hitting the cobbles with a thud, strong hands caught her and set her back on her feet. She clung onto Damon’s arms.

    “Thank you!”

    “Are you okay?”

    The look of concern in his eyes sent that shiver down her spine again. She couldn’t remember the last time William had looked at her that way – if he ever had. She nodded quickly. She needed to stop reading too much into it. Damon was just a decent human being who was having a normal reaction to a woman almost falling, and William? William was just a cold fish.

    “I’m fine. Thank you. Although, you could have just stood back and let me bounce.”

    He gave her a puzzled look, and she realized her mistake when he asked, “What do you mean?”

    She shrugged, hoping that he’d let it go. No such luck, it seemed.

    He frowned and put his hands on his hips. He might look intimidating, towering over her like that, but she’d spent her entire career dealing with intimidating men. Granted, she hadn’t had to deal with any quite so large as him before but … She reckoned that humor was the way to go.

    “Has anyone ever told you that you look like the Jolly Green Giant when you strike that pose?”

    His frown deepened, and for a moment she worried, but then he threw his head back and laughed.

    “They haven’t,” he said when he stopped laughing. He tried to scowl, but there was no hiding his smile. “Most people wouldn’t dare.”

    She lifted a shoulder and gave him a sassy smile. “I’m not most people.”

    “I can see that.”

    Just when she thought that she’d gotten away with it, his expression sobered. “What did you mean about standing back and letting you bounce?”

    She shrugged again but couldn’t muster a smile to go with it. “It’s just an expression.”

    He didn’t say anything – he didn’t need to; his expression spoke volumes. “Can I ask you a favor?”

    “What’s that?”

    “Don’t talk about my new friend, Jo, like that when I’m around.”

    Her heart felt as though it melted in her chest.

    “Or ever, preferably.”

    She just stared at him.

    “Please?”

    “I can’t make any promises. I … it’s a habit.”

    “One that you need to break. I’m guessing that while you were so busy taking care of people and getting nothing in return, you also grew used to having so-called jokes like that directed at you.”

    She nodded; he was right.

    He held her gaze for a long moment. “No one should talk about you that way – not even you.”

    She patted her thigh. “You can see why though.”

    He scowled. “No, I can’t. No one should talk to anyone that way – and trying to pass it off as a joke just makes it worse.”

    She swallowed. He was right, but she’d learned to just roll with it. She’d been heavy her whole life. Some people joked about it or teased as they called it. She’d learned that it was easier – and hurt less – to make the joke herself before they got the chance.

    She was relieved when he held his arm out to her. “Anyway, want to hang on to me till we get past the cobbles?”

    She slipped her arm though his. “Thanks.”

    “Would you have any interest in coming over to the resort at Summer Lake with me? We can get a drink over there if you like.”

    She opened her mouth to say yes, but then a thought hit her that made her change her mind. There was a perfectly good bar right here in the hotel restaurant. If he wanted to take her somewhere else, that must mean that he didn’t want to bring her to the place where he worked. A little ball of disappointment settled in her stomach, but she couldn’t blame him.

    She forced a bright smile as she looked up at him. “Thanks but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll call it a night. I have a big day tomorrow.”

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