Sneak Peek – Embraced at Seaside
Passion ignites every time Jana and Hunter are together, but the closer Hunter gets, the faster Jana runs. When Hunter lays on the charm, Jana throws out a challenge she’s sure he can’t meet, and Hunter steps up to the plate, forcing her to face her hurtful past or let go of him forever.
PLEASE NOTE: “Embraced at Seaside” is true sweet with heat. Jana and Hunter’s story is the steamiest in the series, and remains true to the characters’ personalities. As with all Addison Cole novels, “Embraced at Seaside” does not include any explicit scenes or harsh language (with the exception of an occasional “damn” or “hell”).
THE SCENT OF patchouli hung in the air as Jana Garner slid silently from the sheets in the unfamiliar room. A thin glow from the streetlights seeped between the heavy curtains, cutting a path across Hunter Lacroux. She couldn’t help but admire his powerful physique one last time. Something to draw upon later when she would surely berate herself for hooking up, yet again, with the unfairly irresistible pigheaded man.
One beautifully sculpted arm arched across his forehead, and the other stretched across the pillow on which she’d slept, revealing the tattoo of the four essential life elements wrapping around his bicep. She’d asked him about it once, and he’d said he was an earthy guy. She didn’t linger on his tattoo for long. His broad chest was too tantalizing, and it led to ripped abs. Abs that, even when he was sleeping, were perfectly defined. The sheets were bunched across his danger zone, which was an ideal location for them, because there were two things about Hunter Lacroux that drove Jana wild: his wickedly dark eyes that made her forget all the reasons why she should never touch him and that certain part of his anatomy that brought such immense pleasure, and kept her coming back for more.
Hunter Lacroux was the one man on the planet she should stay away from and the only one she seemed unable to deny. She tiptoed around the bed and picked up her miniskirt and top, searching for her bra and panties and wondering how she’d ended up here again. She’d been out with her sister, Harper, her friend Sky, and Sky’s fiancé, Sawyer, at a bar in Provincetown, when Sky’s brothers Hunter and Grayson and their friend Clark had shown up. She vaguely remembered getting into a heated debate with Hunter. Don’t we always? Hunter knew Jana had been training under her brother Brock, a local boxing champ, for almost three years, and he’d been intent on giving her a hard time about women infiltrating a man’s sport.
The next thing she knew they were several shots of tequila to the wind and stumbling along Commercial Street to…? She looked around the room. This place, wherever that was. It looked like a motel bedroom, but in reality, knowing Hunter, it could have been a friend’s house where they’d crashed for the night.
Tequila. It was always her undoing. She should know better than to do shots of it anytime—but especially when he was around. She momentarily wondered why her sister hadn’t dragged her away from him. Harper knew she had fallen into bed with him before and had sworn off him. Darn her.
She glanced at her reflection in the mirror above the dresser. Her long blond hair was knotted and tangled, and her eyes were bloodshot. I really need to stop doing this. Her eyes dropped to the reflection of Hunter. Especially with you.
If she were honest with herself, she’d admit that she needed to stop blaming Harper, too, and take some responsibility for her actions. She was twenty-five, for goodness’ sake, not sixteen.
She stole another glance at Hunter, remembering the way he’d fisted his hands in her hair, tugging until her scalp stung, and nearly growled her name when they were fooling around. The man was an animal in the sack, better than any man she’d ever been with. She didn’t do relationships, not after a string of horrible breakups and hurt feelings. She’d sampled enough men over the years to be certain of two things. Men as talented in bed as Hunter were hard to come by, and if she were looking to settle into a monogamous relationship, which she definitely wasn’t, it wouldn’t be with a player like him.
She pulled on her clothes and sank down to her knees, looking under the furniture for her panties. Where the heck were they?
She tiptoed back around the bed, grabbed her purse from the chair and picked up her flip-flops. She glossed over his jeans lying by the foot of the bed and his T-shirt by the door in one last search for her lingerie. Her eyes danced over the chair in the corner, the dresser, the…Ohmygosh.
Her stomach dipped as she plucked her bra from the top of the lampshade in the corner of the room, where he must have tossed it last night. He was definitely an aggressive and fun lover. Two admirable traits—if they weren’t attached to bullheaded Hunter. She didn’t know what it was about him that pissed her off, but every time they were together they clashed like oil and water, then tangled in the sheets like starving castaways fed for the first time in years.
One last sweep of the room confirmed that her panties were a lost cause. It wasn’t the first time she’d left panties behind—and it probably wouldn’t be the last.
She opened the door as quietly as she could and stepped into the brightly lit hallway, tiptoeing out the front door. The sign out front read, We rent rooms by the hour! Grab a date and come on in!
Holy cow. That was a new low, even for her. She ducked her head and continued on her thankfully short walk of shame to her car, where she found a piece of paper shoved in the crack of the door. She recognized Harper’s perfectly scripted writing.
J, I tried to dissuade you. Call me later, you big ho! Xox, H
Jana climbed into her car and closed her eyes, letting her head fall back against the headrest. She probably should have thought about the busy day she had today before she’d picked up the first shot last night. She had boxing practice at seven with Brock, and she’d agreed to help out this week at Undercover, her brother Colton’s bar. She started the car, and a quick glance at the clock told her she had four hours until she was supposed to meet Brock, which meant she might be able to catch two hours of shut-eye if she was lucky.
Her cell phone vibrated with a text. Caller ID revealed the name DO NOT RESPOND! She cringed, remembering that she’d programmed that in after the last time she’d slept with Hunter. She opened and read the text anyway. You snuck out again? Seriously? At least when I do that I remember my underwear.
The smiley face at the end of the text told her that she’d now officially hooked up with Hunter too many times. He was getting comfortable, and that was the last thing she needed.
HUNTER PULLED UP in front of Grunter’s Ironworks at ten after eight and parked his younger brother’s truck. He and Grayson had been in the metalworking business together for years, and he still never tired of seeing the Grunter’s Ironworks emblem on the building.
He climbed from the truck and checked his phone one last time. He hadn’t expected Jana to respond to his text, but that didn’t stop his gut from knotting at the thought of the saucy little blonde ignoring his message. She was a spitfire of annoyance and sensuality that was hard to ignore. He shoved his phone into his front pocket, chuckling to himself about the little package he’d left for her on his way in to work, and headed into his shop.
Clark Shelton was sitting at his desk with his back to the door, talking on the phone. Hunter and Grayson had grown up with Clark, and they’d hired him to run their business after college. Hunter headed to the back of the shop to begin work on a sculpture he was designing for a local competition. He’d been trying to conceptualize the project for a week, and nothing felt right. But the competition was too big to walk away from. The winner would not only have their work featured in a community beautification project, but would also be awarded a major art contract with a national children’s foundation.
The beautification project, and the competition, were funded by Parker Collins, an actress who was building a summer home in Wellfleet. The project was her way of appeasing local residents who were dismayed over the size of her sprawling summer home. The project included creating massive gardens and a gazebo for outdoor concerts across from the harbor. Hunter was designing a sculpture for the competition, and Grayson was working on designs for the gazebo.
Grayson was leaning over the drafting table. He lifted serious eyes to Hunter.
“Jana get home okay last night?”
“I assume so. Why?”
“You assume so?” Grayson smirked. “She left before you woke up again, didn’t she?”
Hunter scoffed. “Why do you care?”
“Maybe because she’s like a sister to Sawyer, our sister’s fiancé, remember? I don’t want you to mess up their relationship.”
“Let me worry about that, little brother. Trust me, she was all in. It’s not like I took her against her will.” In fact, she’d been all over him, tearing at his clothes before they’d even made it into the rented room.
“A’right, but if you hurt her, you know Sawyer will go crazy, and I’m not protecting you.” Grayson laughed. He and Hunter were both over six feet tall, with athletic physiques, but unlike their other brothers, Pete and Matt, they’d spent their lives out alphaing each other. While their brothers seemed to morph into responsible adults the day they became teenagers, Hunter and Grayson had accepted that role in their professional lives, but their personal lives were a different story altogether.
“Yeah, I’ll remember that.” He laughed at the idea of Grayson protecting him, but he knew his brother was right. Not only had Sky become close with both Jana and her sister, Harper, but she brought them to almost all their get-togethers, too. It seemed like Jana was always around, and she was the last person he should be hooking up with, considering he usually slept with a woman a few times at most, then closed that door. But flames ignited every time he and Jana were in the same room, and she had some kind of crazy hold over him that he’d been unable to escape.
Grayson lowered his gaze to the designs again. “I drew up the plans for the detail around the arches.” While neither Grayson nor Hunter was interested in settling down in their personal lives, when it came to their business, they had a whole different attitude. They’d worked hard to build a reputable business that they could be proud of. Their love of their craft showed in their exceptional designs, and that kept them in high demand.
“Cool.” Hunter came around the table to check out the designs. The competition required only designs and a small scale model of the gazebo, while the sculptures were expected to be full-size and ready for display by the competition date, which was a little more than five weeks away.
They had gone back and forth about the finite details for the gazebo, initially thinking about using a seashell theme, then moving to more of an overall oceanic theme, until finally they’d agreed on something more naturalistic. When Hunter had presented the idea of tangled vines interspersed with fish and shells, as well as clusters of berries and leaves, Grayson had loved it.
“You any closer on the sculpture?” Grayson asked.
“I’m working on something, but it still doesn’t feel right. I figured I’d fabricate some of the pieces and see if I start to feel good about it.”
He needed to get on the ball, but for some reason his creativity was at a standstill. Hunter was a perfectionist. This carried over to his clients to the nth degree. He sometimes spent hours laboring over the slightest angles or twists of metal.
The fact that Hunter did not go to the same lengths for a relationship wasn’t lost on him.