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Like a Soft Sweet Breeze - Summer Lake Silver book 7 (ebook)

Like a Soft Sweet Breeze - Summer Lake Silver book 7 (ebook)

Sweet n Steamy Romance

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Russ and Ria
Russ leads a pretty laid-back life these days. After serving his whole career in the Marine Corps, he came back to the town where he grew up and opened a gym.

He has a great house on the lake, he loves his business and what it does for his clients, and he has a great bunch of friends. Life is good.

Okay, so he doesn’t have a woman. He doesn’t need one. Doesn’t think he’d want one. He’s finally building a real relationship with his daughter. But she’s the only woman he can see in his future.

When Alexandria DuPont walks into the gym, all Russ sees is a stressed-out, aloof woman – but even then, he senses that there’s more to her. Perhaps she’s an acquired taste, like fine wine.

Alexandria DuPont is not in Summer Lake by choice, but of necessity.

Some people might not see it as necessity, but she most certainly does. She’s recuperating. She was rushed into the hospital at home in Napa just before Christmas with a suspected heart attack.

It wasn’t a heart attack. It might almost have been easier to face people if it were. But no, it was an anxiety attack. Her father would turn in his grave! He raised her to be stronger than that.

So, she’s in Summer Lake to recuperate – she’s not hiding out, not really.

She’s supposed to be taking it easy, but she doesn’t know how. She’s the matriarch of DuPont Wineries. She runs the company, it’s what she was raised to do, all she’s ever known.

A trip to the local gym is outside her comfort zone. The attraction she feels toward Russ is even further outside her comfort zone. As their friendship grows, Russ makes her wonder whether it might be time to leave her comfort zone behind and step into a whole new life.

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

Like a Soft Sweet Breeze is the seventh 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

    Alexandria stood in front of the windows, looking out at the way the last of the evening sun glinted on the lake. It was a beautiful scene. Much more beautiful than she had expected; more beautiful than she wanted to admit. She hadn’t expected to like this place. Hadn’t wanted to, if she was honest. But she couldn’t deny that Summer Lake had its appeal.

    Madeleine had been telling her about this place for a couple of years now. Madeleine’s son, Cole, had moved here when he met his wife, Laura. And Madeleine and her husband, Cole Senior, had bought this house so that they would have a place of their own to stay when they came to visit.

    And now, Alexandria found herself here. Not to visit, but to recuperate. She pressed her lips together for a moment before she remembered not to. At her age, she tried to avoid making facial expressions that would only speed the aging process. But still, occasionally she forgot. And the question of her recuperation made her forget most of her good intentions. She wasn’t technically recuperating, after all. Although she’d been rushed to the hospital, it hadn’t been with the heart attack she’d thought she was suffering. Oh, no! It was far worse than that.

    Anxiety. She closed her eyes and shuddered. Her father would turn in his grave. He’d raised her to be better than that. Stronger. She sighed and turned away from the window wondering why even after all this time she couldn’t break free of her father’s control. She knew better, she really did. She’d supported friends through difficult emotional times. She had all the sympathy in the world for anyone who struggled and suffered. Well, anyone other than herself. Her father may have passed sixteen years ago, but she still lived by his rules. Still saw herself the way he’d seen her.

    She blew out a sigh and went to the kitchen. It was too early to pour herself a drink. She had no desire to eat anything. She looked around, wondering what she could do. Nothing in the kitchen. She went out to the den and stood in front of the bookshelves. Half of them were filled with the same books she had at home. It made sense; Cole Hamilton had been raised in the world of wines just as she had. He’d run Hamilton-Groves for most of his life and had built it into a national brand just as she had with DuPont Wineries. She had to smile as she moved along the shelves. The point where Madeleine’s taste took over was clearly marked by the appearance of colorful paperback spines. Madeleine had confessed that she was addicted to reading romance novels. She’d even recommended that Alexandria might give them a try.

    She pulled one down from the shelf and let out a little oh sound at the sight of a perfectly chiseled, naked, male chest on the cover. If she’d expected anything, it might have been a couple dressed in period costume. She turned it over to read the back. Military romance? A member of an elite team of special forces was about to meet the love of his life in the middle of the jungle where she was being held by human traffickers. Alexandria pursed her lips and put it back.

    She could see that some women might want to be rescued, might want to feel that the male of the species was there to protect them, but … She blew out a sigh. She didn’t want to read anyway. She checked her watch. Six o’clock on the day after Christmas. The next couple of weeks stretched ahead, empty, and seemingly endless. The last three days seemed to have lasted forever already. If she was going to stay – and she was, she had to – then she was going to have to find ways to fill her time.

    She hurried to get her phone when it rang. She didn’t particularly want to talk to anyone, but at least it was a distraction from all the nothingness.

    She smiled when she saw Madeleine’s name on the display.


    “Hello Alexandria, how are you?”

    She blew out a sigh. “As well as can be expected. I still feel … well, you know. It’s embarrassing.”

    “You shouldn’t feel embarrassed.” Madeleine laughed. “Not that I’m telling you how to feel. I just mean that … oh, never mind. You know what I mean, and you don’t even want to hear it. So, let’s move on. What are you doing with yourself?”

    “Not a lot. I might quietly go out of my mind if I stay the full time.”

    Madeleine laughed again. “I had a feeling that you’d be getting that way. Have you checked out my books?”

    It was Alexandria’s turn to laugh. “I have. Does Cole know that you’re reading about military men swooping in to save damsels in distress?”

    “He does. I don’t mind telling you that we’ve had some fun when I’ve read him scenes from those books.”

    Alexandria swallowed. That wasn’t the response she’d expected.

    “What? It’s true. The kids call those books my mommy porn.” She chuckled. “Am I embarrassing you?”

    “No! No, not in the slightest. I … honestly, I think that’s wonderful.”

    “So do I. You should have a read.”

    Alexandria glanced back at the bookshelf. “I might just do that.”

    “But even if you enjoy them, I know you; reading isn’t going to be enough to keep your mind busy. What else are you going to do?”

    “I was thinking that I might drive over to the lodge on the other side of the lake. I imagine that a place like that will have a fitness center. I really will go crazy if I don’t get my daily exercise.”

    “Oh. I should have thought about that. I don’t think that what they have over there will be enough for you. They have a couple of stationary bikes and a treadmill, I think.”


    “Don’t worry, there’s a wonderful gym in town. Smoke’s a regular there.”

    It took Alexandria a moment to figure it out. Smoke was the name that they’d all taken to calling Madeleine’s eldest son, Cole Jr.

    “Cole goes whenever we’re there for more than a few days, too. I haven’t been in myself; you know me, I’m happier sitting on the sofa with my book and my bonbons.”

    Alexandria had to chuckle. That was Madeleine. “Yes, but you’re wonderful just the way you are.”

    “Well, aren’t you sweet?”

    “No, actually I’m not, and we both know it. But never mind that. Do you mind if I ask how long it took you to get used to calling him Smoke?”

    “Hmm. Not long. It was after … well, you know everything that happened. He came back into our lives when he first met Laura. She called him Smoke; all their friends did. We were so very wary of everything. We didn’t want to mess up again. So, we went along with it. And to be honest, I’m glad it worked out that way. We started a whole new relationship with him, and the new name just felt like a natural part of that. Why do you ask?”

    “Because of Victoria.”

    “Oh, that’s right. Tori.”

    Alexandria closed her eyes. “Apparently.”

    Madeleine chuckled. “I wouldn’t get caught up on it, if I were you. It’s just one way for them to express their individuality, to assert themselves in their own lives. I think it’s their right, don’t you?”

    Alexandria hadn’t thought about it that way before, but now that she did, it gave her pause. “Did you ever consider shortening your name? Did you ever want to be a … Maddie or a Lynn?”

    “No. But it’s different for me. I’m lucky.”

    “How so?”

    “I’ve always been just fine with who I am. I come from a loving family. All my parents ever wanted for my brother and me was for us to be who we are. I met Cole when we were very young, and he loved me for who I am right from the beginning. I never wanted to be anything – anyone – else. So, I’m fine with my name. It fits me.”

    Alexandria nodded. It made sense. Madeleine was more at home in her own skin than anyone else she knew. It had bothered her in the early days of their friendship. She’d wanted Madeleine to want more for herself, to want to become something more than a wife and a mother. But she’d learned that Madeleine had everything she wanted, as far as she was concerned, there was nothing more to want. She had it all.

    “What about you?”

    She frowned. “I can’t say that I’ve ever given it any thought.” She let out a short laugh. “Although, you know my reasoning isn’t the same as yours. For me, it’s the name my father gave me. As such, it’s not something to be questioned.”

    Madeleine didn’t say anything for a long few moments.

    “Are you still there?”

    “I am. I was just wondering if it might finally be time for you to start questioning everything that your father decided for your life.”


    “Don’t get annoyed with me.”

    She had to smile. “I’m not. I appreciate it. I know I’m not the easiest person to talk to. Especially to suggest something like that to, but …”

    Madeleine laughed. “We’ve known each other far too long for me to worry about being on the receiving end of your icy disapproval. Even when I overstep, I know I’ll be able to warm you back up sooner rather than later. I just think that it’d be a shame for you to waste this time in your self-imposed exile. You could take stock. See if you can figure out where that anxiety came from, and if you can’t eliminate the source.”

    Alexandria blew out a sigh. “I think I’d need a therapist before I dared to go near any of that.”

    “I’ll bet we could find you one.”

    “No! Thanks, Madeleine, but no. I do have some reflecting to do but …”

    “Don’t push. I know. I won’t. But how about you at least promise me that you’ll go to the gym tomorrow. It’s not exactly what you’re used to, but it’s a good place. Summer Lake is full of good people, and the man who owns the gym is former military. I’m sure it’ll be up to your standards.”

    Alexandria couldn’t help smiling. “Are we back to your books again? I can assure you, even if you have a thing for military men, I don’t.”

    Madeleine laughed. “No! That wasn’t what I meant. Just that it’s an orderly place, you know.”

    “I do. I was teasing. I’ll go and take a look tomorrow.”

    “You do that. I have to go, but I’ll call again soon.”

    “Thank you, Madeleine. Not just for calling but for … everything.”

    “You’re welcome. I’m glad to be able to help. I’d have come with you if you wanted me. But don’t worry. I know you don’t. Let’s talk again soon. Bye for now.”


    ~ ~ ~

    Cal came and leaned on the pillar next to Russ and rolled his eyes. “Can you believe those two?” He jerked his chin to where Manny and Ryan were running side by side on the treadmills.

    Russ just laughed. He had to. “I’m used to it by now. I’d have thought that you would be, too.”

    Cal rolled his eyes again. “They were better behaved when we were still working.” He raised his voice so the other two would hear him over the sound of their thundering feet as they tried to outdo each other. “Neither of them has any self-discipline since they retired.”

    Russ laughed again as Manny and Ryan slowed their machines and came over, looking puzzled.

    “What’s up, boss?” Ryan asked.

    Manny clipped the back of his head. “He’s sick of you acting like a kid,” he said with a grin.

    “Me?” Ryan grinned at Russ. “He was talking about Manny, right?”

    Russ held his hands up. “I’m staying out of it.”

    Manny checked his watch. “Are we nearly done?”

    Cal nodded. “Yeah. I want to get back home. Terry will be up by now.” He turned to Russ. “She asked if you want to come over tomorrow night. She’s inviting a few people. She says she wants to brighten up the lull between Christmas and New Year, but I think she really wants help eating all the extra stuff she bought in.”

    Russ laughed. “That sounds about right with Terry. I’ll be there.”

    “Great. Elle and Donovan are coming and,” he made a face at Manny and Ryan who were wrestling each other over something, “I think the children here are coming.”

    Ryan straightened up and grinned. “It’s not my fault, he…” His words were cut off when Manny’s arm came around his neck and pulled him down into a headlock.

    “For fuck’s sake, you two!”

    Russ was chuckling at their antics when movement in the mirror caught his eye. Shit. There was a woman standing near the front desk, watching. She did not look impressed. Whether that was with the behavior or the language, he didn’t know. It didn’t matter either. She looked as though she’d just bitten into a lemon as she turned around to leave. He was tempted to let her go. If that was her reaction to a bit of horsing around, then she probably wouldn’t enjoy this place. But considering that it was seven-thirty in the morning a couple days after Christmas, and he’d never seen her before, he’d guess that she needed rather than wanted a place to work out.

    He pushed away from the pillar and hurried to catch her before she reached the door. “Can I help you?”

    When she turned around, he wished that he’d let her go. Her lips were puckered, and her eyebrows drawn together. “No, thank you.”

    Russ stared at her. She was a total contradiction. She looked perfect. She might never have been in here before, but it was obvious that she worked out hard somewhere. If he had to guess, he might have thought that she’d been a dancer, she had the long lean muscles and moved with that kind of grace. But the energy coming off her in waves was all bad vibes; she looked irritated, if not angry. She was as closed off as anyone he’d ever met. But despite her expression and her clipped tone, there was something about her, something that made him want to help.

    He gave her a rueful smile. “Sorry about that in there. We’re not actually open, and the guys were just fooling around.”

    Her lips pressed into a straight line. “Perhaps when you’re not open, you might consider locking the door. I apologize for entering unaware.”

    He stared at her, not sure if she was complaining that he shouldn’t have allowed her to stumble into that, or apologizing that she had. He shrugged. “We took a little break for the holidays, but we’ll be open again tomorrow at six if you still want to come in.”

    She met his gaze and then looked away. “Thank you.” With that, she turned around and left.

    Russ went back to the guys with a puzzled look on his face.

    “Sorry about that,” said Manny. “Did we just cost you a customer?”

    Ryan punched Manny’s shoulder. “I told you, you need to quit fucking around.”

    Russ had to laugh. “It’s fine. She’s probably a tourist. I told her we’ll be open tomorrow. I don’t think she’ll be back, though.”

    Cal shook his head. “Sorry about those two. I know you like to make this place welcoming to everyone.” He made a face at Manny and Ryan. “You guys probably gave her the impression that this place is full of dumb meatheads pumping iron.”

    Russ had to laugh and walk away when they went for a two for one attack on Cal. He’d only seen them try that one a handful of times. And, as of yet, he hadn’t seen them win.

    He went back to the office. He needed to do some computer work before he went home. He looked out the window and stopped when he saw the woman outside. She was standing beside a Mercedes that looked familiar for some reason. He couldn’t place it, though. He watched her look up and down the street. He had no idea why, but he felt bad for her. She hadn’t exactly been friendly, but he’d guess that she had her reasons. She seemed stressed.

    He shook his head and went to sit at his desk. Maybe he was just imagining that she was stressed because some part of his mind wanted to play with scenarios of how he could help her relax. She was a good-looking woman, no question about it. But he didn’t need to start thinking about her that way. He’d most likely never see her again.

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