Surrender My Love (Love in Bloom_ The Bradens)(6)

By: Melissa Foster


“What the hell did I just witness?” Tegan asked as she reached for the door.

“Nothing.” Everything. She shook her head to try to clear the image of his handsome face from her mind. She couldn’t afford to be focused on anything but getting her life back together.





Chapter Two


COLE SET ASIDE his computer and rose from the chair where he’d been reviewing patient files. Concentrating was a futile effort. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Leesa since he’d met her at Jazzy Joe’s. He looked out over the deck of his waterfront home, wondering why she was still on his mind. He’d worked all day, spent two hours sanding the sailboat with his father and Sam, one of his younger brothers, and still she was front and center in his thoughts. She was beautiful and incredibly cute when she was nervous, the way she blinked up at him from beneath her wispy blond bangs, and she had a killer body, not stick skinny like so many women around the harbor. She had hips he was dying to feel beneath his hands. But there were plenty of women with nice bodies; that wasn’t something that usually held his attention this long. There was more to her. He’d felt it the first time they’d met, when he’d caught sight of her intelligent green eyes, which held a strange mix of caution and seduction.

He pulled his vibrating cell phone from his pocket and read a text from Mackenna Klein, the woman he’d dated for two years before he’d left for medical school.

Can’t we forget the bad stuff and catch up? For old times’ sake?

She’d texted him a number of times over the last few days, and he had yet to respond with more than a few words, none of which should encourage a get-together. He hadn’t seen her in years, and he wanted to keep it that way. He had no idea why she was coming back to Peaceful Harbor, and hoped it was a temporary move. He’d thought she was it for him. The woman he’d love for the rest of his life. But she’d shattered that hope the summer before he left for medical school, when she’d said she wanted an open relationship. She wanted to sow her wild oats and wanted him to do the same. The problem was, Cole hadn’t started dating her until he was twenty, and he’d had his fill of fast women and too much to drink. He wasn’t looking for more of the same. His heart had been wrapped up in Kenna—but somewhere along the way, she’d forgotten about her heart altogether.

Cole had no interest in being someone’s fallback plan.

He shoved his phone in his pocket without responding to the text and walked down to the beach. He loved the sounds of the waves at night, the cool sand beneath his bare feet. He’d grown up in Peaceful Harbor, and he’d always known that he’d return and settle down in the small town, with its community days, fall festival, and winter wonderland carnival. His parents owned a microbrewery in town, along with several others on the East Coast, and each of his five siblings had also settled in the area. Although his youngest brother, Ty, a professional photographer and world-renowned mountain climber, traveled so often they only caught up between trips.

He walked down toward the water and sat in the sand, watching the moon’s reflection dance across the rippling water and thinking about his life. He had a good life, a warm and wonderful family, and an enviable medical practice. Hell, he even got along famously with his boisterous business partner, Jon Butterscotch, where many of the docs he knew weren’t as lucky.

Cole wanted for nothing.

Almost.

The truth was, he missed having someone special in his life. He dated plenty of women, but something was always missing, and he was smart enough to know that when his brothers gave him a hard time about being too damn picky, they were probably right. That is, if wanting to find a woman who was as serious as she was funny, as intelligent as she was sensual, was too picky. He wasn’t looking for a model. He was looking for a woman with a brain—a smart woman was a hundred times sexier than a sexy bimbo. Then he had the issue of finding someone who was intellectually stimulating and didn’t want him for his status in the small town or for his family’s wealth.

His phone rang, and he pulled it from his pocket, hoping it wasn’t Kenna. She had yet to actually call instead of text, but he assumed that she eventually would, and he wasn’t looking forward to that conversation. She never gave up easily.

He was pleasantly surprised to see the name of his youngest sister, Shannon, on the screen.

“Hey, sis, how’s it going?”

“Really, really good, Cole, but I miss you guys.” Shannon was a year older than Ty. She was staying at their uncle Hal’s ranch in Weston, Colorado, while working on a project monitoring red foxes, and she’d already been gone for several weeks.

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