A delightful new friends-to-lovers romance is coming next week from author Samantha Young, and I have a sneak peek for you. It’s the story of a young woman from Chicago who, after several personal disappointments in her life, decides to take a chance on a bookshop holiday advertisement and book a holiday in the lowlands of Scotland. But her plan to swear off men for a while is foiled the moment she meets a sexy farmer with a heart of gold, their growing attachment, as well as all the friendships she forges along the way, showing her that home is truly where the heart is. I never wanted to leave these characters!
It was the first week of June and the end of my third week in England.
A gentle breeze kissed my bare arms and legs as I clasped the old photograph in my hand and shook with laughter.
“Give it here,” Roane demanded. “Caro, you’ll pay for this.”
Caro, wearing a light summer dress that still managed to cover everything but her arms and throat, giggled. “I’m sorry. I felt it was in Evie’s best interest to see this side of you. I wouldn’t want her to think you’re perfect.”
I snorted and shot him a teasing look. “I’m keeping this.”
Just as he had last Sunday, Roane decided to take a day off to join me on a walk along the beach. Considering my attraction to him had only deepened over the last week, I felt it prudent to invite Caro to join us. Shadow danced in and out of the water, entertaining us with his exuberance.
And then Caro had produced an old photograph of Roane she’d found.
She told me he was fourteen years old in the photo.
Once upon a time Roane was a gangly, long-limbed, skinny teen whose face hadn’t quite grown into his ears.
Oh, and he was wearing a Spider-Man costume in the photograph.
Scowling, Roane turned to Caro. “Mum and Dad guilted me into wearing that costume for your bloody birthday party because you loved Spider-Man. I took shit from everyone for it and this is the thanks I get.”
She giggled harder.
Sensing he’d get no remorse from his cousin, he narrowed his eyes on me. “Give it here. I’m destroying the evidence.”
“No!” I held the photo behind my back. “This is priceless.”
“Evie, give it here,” he warned, striding toward me.
I stumbled back into the tepid sea, my sandals in one hand, the photo in the other, and held the latter out of his reach. “You’ll have to fight me for it.”
Something flashed in his gaze. “Challenge accepted.”
Suddenly he was on me, forcing me farther into the sea, my feet sinking into wet sand as the water encircled my calves. Roane wrapped one arm around my waist, hauling my body against his as he attempted to reach around my back for the photograph with his other hand.
I’d been laughing until that moment.
Any amusement died as soon as my breasts crushed against his hard chest.
We both stilled at the contact, our eyes locking.
The crest of Roane’s cheeks turned red, and he swallowed hard. His voice was hoarse as he practically begged, “Give it to me, Evie.”
Dirty-minded me gasped at the request.
Roane squeezed his eyes closed, his arm tightening around me as he let out a little groan. When he opened his eyes, his voice was thick as he clarified, “The photo. Give me the photo.”
The sensible side of my personality was screaming to wriggle out of his hold, but the part that wanted to reassure him stayed where I was. “I like it. You’re adorable.”
“Every man’s dream, that,” he said gruffly. “To be called adorable.”
“You were a boy then. You can be adorable when you’re a boy. What you did for Caro is adorable. If I give it back, don’t destroy it. It means something to your cousin.”
“I wouldn’t destroy it,” he replied, his eyes dropping to my mouth. “It was just an excuse to put my arms around you.”
My eyes widened at his confession, and he gave me a self-deprecating smile as he gently let me go and stepped back.
“But that wasn’t such a great idea after all.”
Disappointment I tried to hide washed over me.
As if he read my mind, Roane whispered, “It’s a form of torture, Evie.”
Aware that Caro was still on the beach with us, within hearing distance, I could only gape at him like a landed fish.
“Evie!” A voice carried along the beach, interrupting the tension-fraught moment.
My befuddled gaze moved past Roane. First, I saw Caro, who was watching me and her cousin with open fascination. Beyond her was a stretch of sandy beach, shadowed beneath high sand dunes.
Hurrying alongside the bottom of the dunes was Penny.
I strode out of the water, avoiding contact with Roane, and hurried to meet Penny. Shadow beat me to it, almost knocking Penny over with his exuberance. She laughed and petted him, but her eyes never left mine. I’d sensed Roane and Caro following me and knew they were at my back when Penny’s eyes moved over my shoulder.
“Hey, what’s up?” I asked as the bookstore owner and I drew to a halt a few feet from her.
Shadow loped away from her, pressed his cold nose to my hand, and then stopped beside Roane, who absentmindedly petted him. He was too busy staring at Penny in concern.
In truth she looked agitated, which was concerning.
Penny gave Roane and Caro a tight smile before turning her attention to me. “Evie, can we speak in private?”
My pulse started to race.
What if Penny needed to cancel the last week of my vacation?
I wasn’t ready to leave yet.
Heart pounding, I tried to hide my distress as I suggested to Roane and Caro that they walk on ahead and I’d catch up with them.
They seemed reluctant to leave, but they did, with Shadow bounding through the shore ahead of them. Worry seized my chest.
Roane and Caro, Millie and Dexter, and Penny had all become important to me so quickly. I didn’t know if it was because I needed people to cling to during a difficult time in my life, or if I’d genuinely found special friendships with them all.
No, that wasn’t true.
I knew for a fact that I’d found something special with Roane, and I was afraid of it. Yet, thinking of leaving him, now or in a week, was a scary thought.
I reluctantly faced Penny. “What’s going on?”