It was supposed to be a month in a cottage by the lake in Maine. For Peyton Gerard it was time to recover from not one but three disastrous breakups and try to find her muse again. A successful romance novelist needed to believe in romance to write about it believably, and Peyton had lost her faith in it.
For Dixon “Dix” Amendola it was supposed to be time to rehab his injured thigh from a SEALs mission that fell apart, to mourn the two team members who were killed and to deal with his guilt. Learning the mission had been compromised did nothing to ease the burden of blame he carried.
The problem: the cottage had been rented to both of them by accident.
Put two stubborn people in close quarters—a hot SEAL and a an appealing author, add in moonlit nights by the lake and suddenly they don’t mind sharing. But then reality intruded, Dix returned to lead a repeat of the mission and all Peyton could do was pray it was successful and that when he returned, he’d come back to her.
Copyright 2015, Desiree Holt. All rights reserved.
Eileen opened the folder she carried. “I have both leases and both checks right here with me. Fortunately we hadn’t made today’s deposit yet. Whichever one of you is willing to look at some other fantastic places I’ve got available, I’ll tear up the contract and rent you any place you want at the same rate.”
“That won’t be me,” Dix said immediately.
“Nor me,” the redhead said, her chin set in a stubborn line. She looked from one to the other. “My family rented this cottage for years. I practically grew up here. I should get first dibs.”
Under other circumstances Dix might just have acquiesced. After all, one place was probably as good as another. But he was mentally distraught, he’d just driven seven hours to get here and he wanted nothing more than to unpack, unwind and get on with rehabbing his body and his brain. Here. Right here.
He folded his arms, mimicking her stance. “Well, see, that’s a problem, because I have no intention of leaving.”
Eileen looked from one to the other. “You have no idea how terrible I feel about this but we have to come to some type of agreement here.”
Dix sighed. He just wanted to unpack and go sit on the dock. He had the kernel of an absurd idea taking root in his brain, one he was sure he’d go to hell for, but he wasn’t about to start looking at other places. He was done for the day.
“Let’s take a look inside,” he suggested.
“What good will that do?” the redhead asked.
“I want to see it,” he repeated stubbornly. “Maybe I want to see what I might be giving up.” As if.
“Fine.” She turned around, unlocked he door and opened it. “Come on in then.”
Dix felt at home the minute he walked inside. A feeling of peace he hadn’t felt in weeks stole quietly over him. This was exactly what he was looking for. There was absolutely no way he as giving this up. He walked through it slowly, taking in every bit of it. Comfortable furniture, a lot of wood, lots of windows. The porch had obviously been remodeled to serve as both a dining room and a kitchen. A partially open door gave onto a bedroom. He noticed the redhead’s clothes strewn on the bed. Immediately an image popped into his brain of her without any clothes on at all, those lush curves so naked and tempting.
Shit, Dix. Stay out of trouble.
Another door opened to an also obviously renovated bathroom. No tub but a large shower he was itching to jump into. Certainly a cold one if he didn’t change the direction of his thoughts and if his cock didn’t stop begging to have fun.
He pointed to the narrow staircase along one wall. “Where does that lead?”
“To the second bedroom,” Eileen told him. “It’s nice and big. Runs the entire length of the second floor.” She looked from one to the other, calmer than when she first arrived. “I can’t apologize enough for the mess. We’re usually much more organized than this, I promise you.”
The redhead gave an unladylike snort.
He was obviously crazy because even that sounded sexy to him.
Dix walked to the big eat-in kitchen at the front of the cottage and stood looking out the windows. The lake was bathed in late afternoon sun, the golden light reflected on the water. There was a smattering of boats out there, people paddling or rowing (people still rowed?), a couple of boats with outboard motors further out. It was so damn peaceful out here, exactly the environment he was looking for.
He turned to look at Eileen and the other woman.
I have to be crazy. Just fucking crazy. Someone shoot me. Please.
“We’ll both take it,” he said.
“What?” the redhead screeched. “Are you for real?” She gave her head a vehement shake. “No way, Jose. Nuh uh. Nein. Not happening.”
“Well, it appears neither of us is planning to leave so what else do you suggest? There’s plenty of room.” He gestured around the space. “I’ll take the upstairs. You can have the bedroom down since you’ve already appropriated it. We can have a schedule for the bathroom.”
She stared at him. “Have you lost your mind? I’m not staying here with you.”
“Okay, then. I guess you’re leaving, right?”