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Chase the Blues Away - Summer Lake Seasons Book 4 (ebook)

Chase the Blues Away - Summer Lake Seasons Book 4 (ebook)

Sweet n Steamy Romance

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 432+ 5-Star Reviews

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Ivan’s finding that small-town life suits him.

He didn’t think he was the kind to settle down, and certainly not in a place like Summer Lake.

But he loves his new job, he loves his new house—even if it doesn’t feel like home yet.

He’s not looking for a woman to love, but he’s open to dating.

Abbie’s not proud of the way she’s lived her life but she’s trying to make up for it.

She’s back at the lake to help her mom after her dad passed away.

She’s ready to settle down; all she needs is a suitable guy.

Ivan’s gorgeous. As an added bonus he’s kind and caring, too.

But she’s had her fair share of sexy, unsuitable men.

She thinks he’s not what she needs. He discovers she’s everything he wants.

But will Abbie’s insistence on making amends for the past mean they can never have a future together?

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

Chase the Blues Away is the fourth 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:

"I just cannot put her books down."

"Love this series and can’t wait for more."

"I can’t wait to see who falls in love next at the lake!"  

"This is a beautifully written story which had me hooked and intrigued throughout this addictive page turner, and I highly recommend for all readers."

"If you love romance then this is a must read."

"SJ has a way of drawing you into the story and making it come to life as you read. If you are looking to be swept away, grab à blanket and settle in for an amazing book!"

"Read in one sitting as usual, can never wait to get to the end and know I won't be disappointed. Top class stories from a top class. Author! Recommended highly!"

"Another great book !!! 2 people absolutely perfect for each other. And leaves you with a real Christmasy feel!"

"Great Christmas romance!

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter One

Ivan set the weights back on the rack and rolled his shoulders. He was tired tonight. He’d told himself that he’d finish his workout with a run on the treadmill. It’d been too cold to run outside for over a week now—or at least, that’s what he’d kept telling himself. He didn’t mind lifting weights; he enjoyed it, but he was too quick to make excuses about getting his cardio in. He looked around as he wiped the bench and the weights down. It was quiet in the gym tonight. It was later than usual, though, too. He smiled to himself. Maybe if he got out of here, Russ would be able to close up early.

He started making his way to the locker room, giving the row of treadmills the side-eye as he went. He could come in on the weekend and do an hour then instead.

His stride faltered when the door to the women’s locker room opened. His heart rate, which had been returning to normal, picked right back up at the sight of the woman who came out. It was Abbie! He stopped and smiled as she came closer, but she didn’t notice him. She had earbuds in her ears and was looking down, occupied with her phone. She walked by him without lifting her gaze and got on the first treadmill.

Ivan hesitated only a moment before following her. He’d intended to get some cardio in, after all. She was just the motivation he needed. He thought better of getting on the treadmill right beside hers. There was no need to crowd her. He left two empty and got on the fourth one in line. He doubted anyone would come in and get between them.

He started the machine up at a brisk walk and glanced over at her. She turned, and her eyes widened in recognition when she saw him. A shot of adrenaline coursed through his veins as her gaze locked with his. He wanted to smile or say hello or do something—anything—that would count as normal human interaction, but there was nothing normal about that moment. Her expression said she recognized him; they’d been introduced a couple of times. But something inside him told him that he recognized her, too. There was something about her. Something in those big brown eyes of hers that spoke to him. She wasn’t just the quiet, reserved girl who worked at the doctor’s office. She was someone who’d walked on the edge. She might not be there anymore, but she had a past—just like he did. He nodded, wondering if she felt it, too. Her curt nod suggested that maybe she did. She returned her attention to the treadmill and cranked it up until she was running at a fair pace.

Ivan’s heart was racing far faster than his walking speed warranted. What he couldn’t figure out was why. He’d seen her around, spoken to her a couple of times. He found her attractive. He’d known that since the first time he saw her. But from what he’d been told, and what she’d portrayed until tonight, she was quiet and reserved. A hometown girl who lived with her mom. Not the kind of girl he’d normally go for. But that look she’d just given him? Maybe he was imagining things? No. If he had to put money on it, he would. That had been the look of a woman who’d seen more of life than she should have. He rolled his shoulders and turned his head from side to side so he could take another peek. He needn’t have worried. She was oblivious to him, gaze fixed ahead in a thousand-yard stare as she ran.

It wasn’t the way a sweet, hometown girl ran to keep in shape. She looked more like a woman who was giving everything she had to keep just one step ahead of her demons.

~ ~ ~

Abbie checked her watch. Twenty-seven minutes done. She’d planned to run for an hour. Now she was in negotiations with herself. She should keep focused and run on, but it was hard to focus with that Ivan guy running a few yards to her left. She was surprised that she hadn’t seen him in here before. His body made it obvious that he must spend a lot of time here. She did her best not to notice men these days. Most of the time, she succeeded, but there was something about Ivan. He was her type. Tall and dark and built. He wasn’t conventionally handsome. He looked more like a street fighter than anything else, but there was something magnetic about him. She’d felt it the first time they were introduced. And because of that, she’d mostly avoided him since. Her days of hanging with the bad boys were over.

She looked at her watch again. Twenty-nine minutes. She could make up the time another day. Ivan was too distracting. She adjusted the controls and slowed the machine down to a walk. She’d cool off for a couple of minutes and then go and get changed and leave.

Of course, when she got off the treadmill, Ivan got down from his. He came toward her with a smile. Her breath caught in her chest. That was a very sexy smile. She couldn’t help but smile back.

The silence lengthened while she looked into his eyes. She waited, not wanting to be the one to break it, wondering what he might say. There was no denying the electricity crackling in the air between them.

“Do you want to go get a drink?”

Even though she’d half expected it, his question sent a jolt of excitement through her. The way he looked at her made it clear that a drink wasn’t all he wanted to have with her. Her stomach tightened at the thought of running her hands over his muscled chest, of his big arms closing around her and … She pulled herself together. “No.”

He chuckled. “Wow. No hesitation whatsoever? Sorry. I read you wrong.”

She couldn’t help but smile back at him. “Don’t apologize. And for what it’s worth, I think you read me perfectly. That’s why I said no so quickly. I’m not that girl anymore.”

He nodded slowly. “I don’t know who you were. I’d like to get to know who you are now.”

She pursed her lips. There was something about him. He was like the guys she used to date. Sexy, upfront, but there was more to him than that. He felt like a kindred spirit—which was as crazy as it was undeniable. “The girl I am now wouldn’t go out with a guy just like that, and she sure as hell wouldn’t go home with him afterward.”

He nodded again. “The guy I am now wouldn’t ask you to go home with him afterward. But he would like to buy you a drink. Learn about why there’s such a difference between who you were and who you are.”

For some reason, she felt like he would understand. She shrugged. “Okay, then. Why not?” He was new in town. He’d only arrived a few months ago. Perhaps it’d do her good to make a new friend. “I’ll meet you at the front desk in twenty minutes.”

As she emerged from the locker room, she was negotiating with herself again. She shouldn’t go with him, but if she did, she should stick with being the new Abbie—the new, improved version, the girl her mom was proud of. The girl who’d never let anyone down. The girl who didn’t run around with bad boys.

Her stomach tightened again when she saw him waiting. He’d looked great in his workout gear. He looked just as good in dark jeans and a black leather jacket.

He smiled. “Do you want to go to the Boathouse?”

She thought about it. If people saw them there together, they’d be the talk of the town. She wasn’t sure she wanted to face that.

He raised an eyebrow. “Someplace else?”

He had a point. That was the trouble with Summer Lake, there wasn’t really anywhere else to go. Giuseppe’s had a small bar, but the trouble with going there was that someone would see you anyway—and then the gossip would include the fact that you were sneaking around.

“You don’t want to be seen out with me? You don’t want people to talk?”

She gave him a rueful smile. “We’re not going to give them anything to talk about, are we? The Boathouse is fine.”

If she wasn’t mistaken, he looked a little disappointed. She felt it, too. Part of her would like to suggest that they should go to his place—that way no one would see them, but they could do things that would make people talk if they knew.

~ ~ ~

As he watched Abbie slide into the booth and then took a seat opposite her, Ivan had to wonder what was going on here. She shrugged out of her jacket and gave him a questioning look. “What’s up?”

He shrugged. “I’m not the kind to beat about the bush. I’m trying to figure you out.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Like I said earlier—who you are, who you were, and why you talk as though that’s two completely different people.”

She held his gaze for a long moment. “Who do you think I am?”

“From what I’ve been told, from the little I’ve seen, you’re Abbie. Sweet, hometown girl. A little quiet and reserved. You work at the doctor’s office. You live with your mom. A good girl.”

He didn’t miss the smirk on her face before she covered it with her hand. “And that’s who I am, these days.”

The server greeted them with a smile. “Hi, guys. What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a beer,” said Abbie.

“Make that two,” added Ivan.

“And can I get you some menus?”

“No, thanks.” Abbie looked at Ivan. “Not for me, anyway.”

“No. I’m good.”

Once the girl had gone, he met Abbie’s gaze again. “Who were you?”

She shrugged. “A girl who lost her way; let a lot of people down.”

He nodded. “Mind if I ask what motivated the change?”

To his surprise, her eyes filled with tears.

He held up a hand. “Hey. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry.”

“Damn!” She swiped angrily at her face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think I’d react like that. This is going to sound crazy. I’ve been back here for just over a year. I’ve worked hard at becoming someone my mom can be proud of—someone I’m proud of, but …” She shook her head. “Sorry. You seemed like someone who might understand. You probably think I’m nuts, some kind of psycho.”

“Not what I was thinking at all. You seem like someone who’s put herself under a lot of pressure to put up a front. I’m curious why.”

She blew out a sigh. “I left town. Moved to the city. Had a lot of fun. Partied. You know. Went off the rails a bit. My parents were disappointed in me. Then … then my dad died. I came back. I need to take care of my mom—be the daughter I should have been to both of them. I can’t make it up to my dad. It’s too late. But I can still make it up to my mom.”

“I’m sorry.”

The server came back and set their drinks down on the table. Abbie picked hers up and took three long gulps before she set it back down. “It is what it is.”

“That’s all anything ever can be.”

“Yeah. Anyway, what about you? I know you work for Seymour Davenport, but you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who took a direct route to becoming a chauffeur to a billionaire.”

Ivan laughed. “No. I did anything but that.”

She leaned her elbows on the table and leaned forward. Her dark hair fell around her face, and he had to resist the urge to tuck it back behind her ear. “What’s your story?”

“I was in the army, military police. After I got out, I lost my way for a while. When I got clean, I was in a program that helps people get back on their feet, find work, a place to live. Mr. D hired me as his driver. I’ve done that for six years now. At least, until we moved up here. Now, he doesn’t need me to drive for him, I’m helping run his charity office.”

She nodded and took another drink. “I was right, then. You’ve walked on the dark side, too.”

“Yeah. I guess we recognized it in each other.”

She blew out a sigh. “So, I guess I haven’t changed as much as I thought I had.”

“I wouldn’t say that. I believed that you were the quiet, reserved, live-at-home-with-momma girl until tonight.” He wondered if he should tell her and decided that he would. “I thought you were hot, but not my kind of girl.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Not your type?”

He let his gaze travel over her. She was tall and lean, long dark hair framed a pixie face. Exactly his type. “I don’t mean physically.”

She nodded. “You’re not my type either. Not anymore.”

The way she said it set his nerves on edge. The little hairs on the back of his neck stood up and sent a shiver down his spine. He smiled. “You don’t mean physically either, do you?”

She gave him a sad smile. “I mean that the new Abbie wouldn’t fool around with a guy like you.”

He chuckled. “I’d love to know what the old Abbie would do.”

She set her drink down. “I wish she were still around to show you. But you’re the kind of guy …”

He shook his head. “I’m not, though, am I? I’m the new Ivan as much as you’re the new Abbie. I’m not that guy anymore.”

She gave him a sad smile. “Then I guess we can keep each other’s secrets, huh?”

“I guess.” For a crazy moment, he wanted to tell her that maybe he could help her figure out how to become a new version of herself without becoming someone else completely. It seemed to him that rather than bettering herself, she was denying who she really was. “Would you like to do more than that?”

“Like what?”

He smiled. “See each other again. Go out on a date.”

She shook her head sadly. “We both know I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to, but I think it’s best if we don’t.”

Ivan was surprised at the ball of disappointment that settled in his stomach. “Why?”

“Because we’re too alike. You see who I am. And what you see is what I have to hide.”

“Why hide it? You can’t just become a whole new person; all you can do is become the best possible version of yourself. That’s what I try to do, every day.”

“Maybe you weren’t all that bad, then. I was. I can’t be that girl anymore.” She looked into his eyes for a long moment and brought the bottle up to her lips and took a drink before she added, “And you make me want to be.”

He shifted uncomfortably. She must have been deliberate in the way she’d taken a drink like that—either that or he was too horny after a long dry spell and was reading too much into it. She was teasing him at the same time she was saying she couldn’t go there. He shrugged. He didn’t want to play games. If her answer was no, he’d respect it. “So, is this new Abbie never going to date again?”

She made a face. “Someday, but only nice guys.”

He chuckled. “Are you saying I’m not a nice guy?”

She gave him a rueful smile. “You’re much nicer than I thought you’d be, and that makes you even more dangerous. I have to be responsible, sensible, and dependable, date a nice guy, get married and have two-point-four children. That’s not what you’re looking for in life. If we went out, it’d be for fun—and I don’t doubt we could have a lot of fun, but I’ve already had my fair share; it’s time for me to grow up.”

Ivan nodded sadly. “Okay, you got me. I’m not asking you to marry me and produce offspring.” He held his bottle up to her with a smile. “But if you want a friend in the meantime. If you want to talk to someone who understands how hard it can be to come in from the cold, I’ll be around.”

The way she smiled at him made him wonder for a second if he was admitting defeat too easily. But no. If she wanted to condemn herself to a life of domesticity and boredom, that was her choice. It wasn’t a path he wanted to go down.

“I appreciate the offer. It’s nice to think that there’s someone in this town who I can be real with. You seriously wouldn’t mind if I look you up sometimes when it all gets a bit much?”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I minded.” He smiled. “I’ll buy you a drink and help you chase the blues away when trying to be someone you’re not gets too much for you. But I still think you’d be better off just being who you are and making different choices. Better choices than you used to.”

She held his gaze for a long moment. “You’re probably right.”

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