Surrender My Love (Love in Bloom_ The Bradens)(8)

By: Melissa Foster

“Leesa?” He closed the distance between them. She was dressed in a pair of jeans, rolled up above her ankles, and a loose sweater. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in natural golden waves, giving her a softer, even more feminine look than she’d had earlier in the day. And her eyes, those gloriously green havens of emotion, once again perplexed him as they darted away. He couldn’t decide if she was shy or evasive.

“Hi.” She tucked a notebook beneath her arm, slid her fingers into her pockets, and shrugged her shoulders. “Are you out for a walk, too?”

“I was out for a sit, actually.” He pointed to his house on the dune. “I live there. How about you? You’re staying with Tegan? Does she live nearby?” He realized that just seeing her again made his body thrum with desire. It had been too long since he’d been this attracted to a woman, and man, did he like the tripping of his heart and the heat coursing through his veins.

“She lives on Second Street.” She pointed back the way she’d come. “It’s not far from the beach.” She shrugged her shoulders again with another tentative smile, and he realized that the look in her eyes was one of careful assessment rather than shyness.

“I know Second Street. I grew up here.” He lifted his chin toward his house. “Want to come up for a glass of wine?”

She crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her gaze to the water. “Um, no, thanks. I don’t think that’s a good idea. I mean, I barely know you.”

He smiled. Careful, definitely careful. “True. A walk, then?”

She looked up and down the beach, then back at him with a genuine smile this time. “Sure.”

They walked in silence for a few minutes, and Cole tried to focus on the sounds of the breaking waves and the breeze as it tickled over his skin, instead of Leesa’s sweet scent, but even the salty sea air that he loved so much couldn’t distract him from his attraction to her.

“So, what brought you to Peaceful Harbor?”

She didn’t answer for a few minutes, and although Cole didn’t push her, he’d learned to read as much into what people didn’t say as what they did. He wondered what she was hiding.

“I needed a change, and Tegan suggested I visit to see if this was someplace I’d like to move to.”

“Where are you from?” Her brows knitted together, and he said, “You don’t have to share that with me.”

“It’s okay. I don’t really like to talk about myself very much. I’m from Towson.”

He changed the subject to try to put her at ease. “What do you think of Peaceful Harbor?”

She stopped walking and stared out at the water again. “It’s pretty here. A world away from Towson even though it’s only a few hours away.”

“Want to sit and talk?” He reached for her hand without thinking and felt her fingers stiffen.

She looked at their hands, then sank down beside him in the sand, leaving a good six or eight inches between them. She set the notebook in her lap and pulled her knees up to her chest. Sometimes Cole wished he didn’t read so much into what the actions or silence of others meant, but that came with being a physician. He learned as much from a person’s facial expressions and breathing as he did from their words, and Leesa’s discomfort was palpable. He hadn’t meant to make her uncomfortable, but he definitely wanted her right there beside him.

“Sorry for grabbing your hand.”

She closed her eyes for a beat and sighed. When she opened them, she met his direct gaze. “I’m sorry. I’m not usually this weird.”

“I don’t find you weird. Guarded maybe. Beautiful definitely. But not weird.” He smiled, and the tension in her face turned to embarrassment. Her lips curved up and she dropped her eyes again.

“What are you usually, if not who you are right now?” Cole asked, intrigued by her evasiveness.


IF I COULD answer that, my life would be a lot easier. Wrongly accused ex-teacher? Defender of my reputation? That’s what she’d felt like for most of the past year, and even though she knew she was so much more than that, she was having a hard time separating who she’d had to become in order to survive from who she was at heart.

Not wanting to share her past, she told him what she knew to be true. “I’m a nature lover, a runner, and probably not the best friend in the world, since I left Tegan alone to come out by myself tonight. Oh, and a bookaholic.”

“A bookaholic? That sounds like serious business.” He bumped her knee with the tease. “Is that who you usually are, or just who you are now?”

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books