Some Like It Hot

“Wrong for each other” never felt more right…

Even a lifelong traveler like Harper Summerville has to admire the scenery in Razor Bay, Washington. There’s the mountains. The evergreens. The water. And Max Bradshaw, the incredibly sexy deputy sheriff. Still, Harper’s here only for the summer, working covertly for her family’s foundation. And getting involved with this rugged, intense former marine would be a definite conflict of interest — professionally and personally.

Max’s scarred childhood left him determined to put down roots in Razor Bay, yet one look at Harper — a woman who happily lives out of a suitcase — leaves him speechless with desire for things he’s never had. He might not be big on talking, but Max’s toe-curling kisses are getting the message across loud and clear. Harper belongs here, with him, because things are only beginning to heat up…

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July 30, 2013
Harlequin
ISBN-10: 0373777760
ISBN-13: 978-0373777761

Awards + Kudos

“Andersen pens a hot, sexy, yet touching story of two lovers who must come to terms with making changes in their lives in order to be with the person they were meant for. A sexy, surprising romance that goes to some unexpected places, with details, conflicts and characters that flesh out a story that is all the better for them.”

Kirkus Reviews (posted 7.17.13)

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       Some Like It Hot

Chapter One

Oh, my God. Is he coming here?

Before Harper Summerville glanced out her front window to see Max Bradshaw striding up the sun-dappled trail between the evergreens on the inn grounds, she’d been enjoying her day off. It was fun puttering around the little playhouse-size one-room-plus-loft cottage that was part of her employee compensation as the summer activities coordinator for The Brothers Inn. She loved, loved, loved the glimpses she could catch from up here of the fjord that was Hood canal and the soaring Olympic mountains beyond it. The spectacular scenery was what brought people to the little resort town of Razor Bay, Washington.

Seeing a huge unsmiling man bearing down on her, however, made that enjoyment falter. And her heartbeat inexplicably pick up its pace.

He looked different than he had during their previous two brief meetings. Plus, the first time she’d seen him, as well as on the handful of occasions when she’d glimpsed him around town, he’d been wearing his deputy sheriff’s uniform. But there was just no mistaking a guy that big, that hard looking, that intense and contained for anyone else.

She blinked as he suddenly left the path and disappeared from view, then shook her head at herself. Oh, good show, Harper. Conceited much? Because despite her cottage being the only one up here before the trail wound into the woods behind it, it apparently hadn’t been Bradshaw’s destination. Breathing a sigh of relief—right?–she plugged in her iPod ear buds and turned back to the couple of boxes she’d put off unpacking.

Within moments, she’d revived her earlier enjoyment. She loved seeing new places, loved meeting new people and diving into a new job that was never quite like any other. Since she’d structured her life to do exactly that, she was generally a happy woman.

Harper sang along with Maroon 5 as they played through her earbuds. As she efficiently unpacked the boxes of odds and ends her mother had insisted on sending her, she swiveled her hips and bopped in place in time to the music.

Thoughts of her mother’s hopes and expectations for her, however, elicited a sigh in the midst of crooning along with Maroon’s lead singer Adam Levine. Gina Summerville-Hardin refused to believe that Harper could live very contentedly without a permanent base or a host of belongings, since making a home had been her way of coping with the constant moving from place to place that had been part and parcel of her husband’s work. Neither Gina nor Harper’s brother Kai had loved the adventure of seeing new countries and meeting new people the way Harper and her dad had.

Still, Harper had to admit that she adored the throw pillows and candles her mom had sent. They added a whole new touch to her minuscule cabin. Admitting as much certainly didn’t take away from how she chose to live and honor her dad’s memory.

All the same, when the song ran its course, she thumbed through her playlist and pulled up her father’s one-time theme song.

“Papa was a rolling stone,” she sang along with the Tempations, as she focused on finding a place to put the other items her mother had sent, given that storage space was at a premium in the tiny cottage. “’Wherever he laid his hat was his—

Something warm brushed her elbow. Her heart climbing her throat like a monkey riding a rocket, she jerked her chin downward. She stared at the rawboned, big-knuckled masculine hand touching her.

And screamed the house down.

“Shit!” Max Bradshaw’s voice exclaimed as she ripped the earbuds from her ears and whirled to face him.

He was in the midst of taking a long-legged step away from her. His big hands were up, palms out, as if she had a Howitzer aimed at his heart.

“Ms. Summerville—Harper—I’m sorry,” he said in a low, rough voice. “I knocked several times and I heard you singing, so I knew you were here. But I shouldn’t have let myself in.” Slowly lowering his hands, he stuffed them into his shorts pockets and his massive shoulders hunched up. “I sure didn’t mean to scare the sh—that is, the stuffing out of you.”

Even through the embarrassment of knowing he’d seen her shaking her butt and singing off-key, it struck her that this was probably the most words she’d ever heard him string together at one time in her presence. Drawing in a deep breath and dropping the hands she’d clasped to her heart like an overwrought silent film heroine confronted by the mustache-twirling villain, she pulled herself together. “Yes, well, intention or not, Deputy Bradshaw—

“Max,” he interjected.

“Max,” she agreed, wishing she’d simply said that in the first place. After all, not only had they been introduced at the baseball field on the day she’d interviewed for her job at the inn but they’d attended the same barbecue just a couple weeks ago. “As I was saying—

Her already open front door banged against the living room wall and they both whirled to stare at the man barreling through it. From the corner of her eye, Harper saw Max reach for his right hip, where his gun no doubt usually resided.

The stranger’s forward momentum carried him across the threshold and into the small room, the screen door slapping closed behind him. As he left the glare of sunlight flooding the porch, he coalesced into a tall, gangly man in his mid-thirties.

Then he was blocked from view as Max stepped in front of her. She leaned to peer around him.

“Are you okay, miss?” the man demanded, glancing about wildly. She assumed his eyes had adjusted to the dimmer interior lighting, for it was obvious from the way they suddenly widened that he’d gotten his first good look at Max. His prominent Adam’s apple rode the column of his throat as he swallowed audibly.

For good reason. Max was six-four if he was an inch and probably weighed in the vicinity of two-twenty.

Every ounce of it solid muscle.

But Harper had to give the resort guest credit. He was clearly outmatched, yet while he looked as though he’d give a bundle to go back out the way he’d come in, he instead moved closer and ordered firmly, “Step away from her, sir.”

“Oh, for God sake,” she heard Max mutter, and hysterical laughter bubbled up Harper’s throat. She swallowed it down as she watched Max do as directed.

Then she looked at the resort guest. “I’m okay,” she said soothingly. “It’s really not what you must think.” She ran him through her mental database. “You’re Mr. Wells, right? I believe your wife is in my sunset yoga class.”

“Sean Wells,” he agreed, shedding some of the tension that caused him to all but vibrate.

“This is Deputy Bradshaw,” she said. “I screamed because I had my earbuds in and he startled me.”

Sean relaxed a bit more, but he shot Max a skeptical look as he took in the bigger man’s khaki cargo shorts, black muscle shirt and the tribal tattoos that swirled down his right upper arm from the muscular ball of his shoulder to the bottom of his hard biceps. “You don’t look like a deputy.”

The dark-eyed gaze Max fixed on him froze the other man in place. “It’s my day off,” he said with his usual “Just the facts, ma’am” directness.

Harper had no idea why she found that so damn titillating.

“I just came by to ask Ms. Summerville to dinner,” he added and shock whipped her head around.

She gaped at him. “You did?” Crap. Was that her voice cracking on the last word? She hardly ever lost her poise. But in her own defense, during their previous encounters she’d gotten the impression Max viewed her as a mental lightweight. She would have sworn, too, that she hadn’t even registered on his Attraction-O-Meter.

“Yes.” Dull color climbed his angular face. “That is, Jake sent me. Jenny’s having a dinner party tonight and wants you to come.” Glancing away, he leveled an are-you-still-here? look on Sean Wells.

The man immediately mumbled an excuse and melted out the door.

“Thank you,” Harper called after him, then quirked an eyebrow when the deputy turned back to her. “You sure know how to clear a room.”

“Yeah.” The shoulder with the tattoo lifted and dropped. “It’s a talent of mine.” He gave her his default let’s-cut-through-the-bullshit look. “So, what do you want me to tell Jenny? You in or you out for tonight?”

“I’m in. What should I bring?”

“You’re asking me? I’m the guy who usually shows up with a six pack of beer.”

She grinned at him. “I’ll call Jenny.”

He didn’t smile back–yet something in his expression lightened, which might be his version of one. Hard to tell, since his deep voice contained its usual all-business crispness when he said, “Good idea. I’ll leave it to you to let her know you’re coming, then. So.” He gave her the terse nod she remembered from their earlier encounters. “Sorry about scaring you. I guess I’ll see you tonight.” He turned for the door.

“I guess you will,” she murmured to his already retreating back. She trailed in his wake as far as the screen door and watched through it as he strode down the path. She didn’t turn away until he disappeared around a bend.

Wow. Nothing, not even the photograph she’d seen of him in the dossier the Sunday’s Child’s investigator had sent her, could adequately describe the sheer impact of the man in the flesh.

Then a small smile curved up the corners of her lips and she shook her head. “At least this time he didn’t call me ma’am.”

***

Max banged through the door to the upstairs room that his half-brother Jake used as a workspace. Striding right up to the long desk where Jake sat, he stopped, slapped his hands down on its surface and leaned his weight on them. “She said yes. She’ll come.” He sternly ignored the way his heart rate continued to rev from those brief moments spent with Harper. “I still don’t know why the hell you couldn’t just invite her yourself—it’s your fiancé’s party.”

“Like I told you, bro.” Jake dragged his attention away from the computer monitor he’d been studying. “I’ve been home four lousy days and they’ve got me on one of the tightest deadlines of my life.”

“What’s their big rush?” he demanded, all jazzed up and more than willing to take it out on his younger half brother. God knew that had been their mutual M.O. up until a few months ago. “Hell, you only lasted ten days of the three weeks you were supposed to be gone before you turned around and came home again. Shouldn’t they have all kinds of extra time?” Pushing back, he folded his arms over his chest and gave Jake an assessing gaze. “For a guy who was in such a red hot rush to get out of Razor Bay, you sure seem to have developed a taste for it.”

“Yeah.” Jake smiled. “You can blame Jenny and Austin for that.”

“No fooling.” His half brother had come back this spring to claim his newly orphaned, then-thirteen-year-old son Austin, whom he’d walked away from when he was just a teenager himself. His plan to haul the kid back to New York with him had hit the skids when he’d instead fallen head over heels in love not only with Austin but with the Inn’s manager Jenny Salazar, who had been a sister to his son in everything but blood.

Thinking about their relationship set off the something’s not adding up instincts he never ignored. “Why do you think Jenny decided on a dinner party when she knows your deadline?”

“Beats the hell outta me.”

He found that hard to believe and simply fixed Jake in his best I-can-read-your-mind cop gaze.

And was tickled to see his half brother squirm.

“Okay,” Jake said, giving the monitor a concentrated attention Max found suspicious, considering how rapidly he opened and closed the photo thumbnails, “I may not have stressed to her how short my deadline is.”

“Seriously? Didn’t stress or didn’t mention it at all?”

“I might have forgotten to mention it.” Jake essayed a negligent shrug, then gave up pretending to work. “Hey, if Jenny wants a party, then a party she gets.” His smile was so fatuous Max was embarrassed for him.

“Okay. But getting back to your cut short trip, what’s National Explorer’s hurry?”

“Unlike you, they never really expected it to take me the entire three weeks to do the job. And it was always understood I’d turn in the preliminary shots for them to choose from within a week of my return.”

“So what you’re saying is it isn’t really the tightest deadline of your life.”

Jake frowned up at him. “What the hell, Max—you gonna break out the hose and bright lights next?”

“Hey, I’m just trying to get things to add up. Like, if you knew that seven day deadline thing going in, why aren’t you further along?”

“Uh, I might have spent most of it getting it on with Jenny.”

“Jesus, do not tell me stuff like that!” Max involuntarily shuddered. “It makes me wanna scrub my brain with industrial strength bleach to get the image out of my head.” Until his brother had rolled into town, he’d never once thought of Jenny as a sexual being.

Jake snorted. “Please. You’re just jealous because you’ve got no women to roll around with.”

Max’s mind immediately went to the woman in the little cabin nestled just this side of the woods in the back acre of the resort. Harper. Of the beautiful creamy light brown skin. Of those big olive green eyes and dark spiral curls. That smoky voice. He’d give his left nut to roll around—

With a rough, impatient roll of his head to shake her image out of it, he said, “Hey, I could get a woman just. . .like. . . that!” He snapped his fingers under Jake’s nose. Except he wasn’t interested in any of the ones he could get. He was fascinated by Harper Summerville, and had been since he’d first clapped eyes on her when she’d shown up at Team Photo Day with Jenny.

He scowled at his brother. “Next time find somebody else to run your errands. You’re a dad, for God’s sake. Why didn’t you just order your kid to do it?”

“Would’ve if I could’ve, bro, but it’s summer, he’s fourteen and he’s off in his boat somewhere with Nolan and Bailey, and bound to be gone all day. Besides–” Jake shot him a sideways glance “–didn’t I carve some precious time outta my schedule to make coffee for you?”

“Big whoop.”

“Hey, I showed you my work. Shared the genius of my very efficiently taken-in-ten-days photographs with you. I don’t do that for just anyone, you know.”

“And it was real special.” He deliberately made his tone sardonic, but the truth was, getting to see his half brother’s talent in a behind the scenes way. . . well, it really had been a treat. It wasn’t every day a guy got to see hundreds of freshly downloaded photos taken in various locations throughout Africa by a well-known National Explorer magazine photographer.

He walked over to the open window of The Sand Dollar, the luxury cabin Jake had been renting on the Brother’s Resort grounds since he’d come to town, and faked an interest in the eagle flying through the compound with a seagull and several crows hot on its tail. Watched as the summer breeze sent the heavy boughs to swaying in the evergreens that dotted the grounds.

Then he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and looked over his shoulder at his half brother.

Damned if even under deadline pressure, Jake didn’t look like Mr. Upscale with his expensively cut sun-streaked brown hair and his pale green hundred dollar silk T-shirt the exact same shade as his eyes.

Max still found it amazing that he and Jake were developing an honest to God relationship after almost an entire lifetime spent hating each other’s guts. Who would have ever predicted that? Not him, that was for damn sure. Yet the fact that they were made it easier to turn around and admit, “It really was pretty righteous to see some of your process for winnowing down all those photos.” His eyebrows drew together. “Doesn’t mean you don’t still owe me though.”

“Right,” Jake said in a tone that was desert dry. “It being so tedious and all, having to talk to a pretty woman.”

“She’s not pretty, you idiot, she’s beautiful. And have you forgotten the other two times you’ve seen me talk to her?” The way he’d lost all verbal skills when he’d found himself thrown in her company those times was nothing short of pathetic. He was a damn deputy sheriff—hell, a former Marine, for God’s sake. He could usually talk to anyone.

Except the silver spoon girls.

“Oh.” Jake sobered. “Yeah. You were really pitiful.” He gave him a decisive nod. “Okay. I do owe you.”

“Damn straight,” he muttered. “Although I will admit I didn’t do as badly today. Which is a damn good thing,” he said dryly. “Embarrassing myself like that again doesn’t bear thinking about. Not when I’ve got such ready access to an entire arsenal I could use to put myself out of my misery.”

Jake raised skeptical brows. “Yeah, right, like you’d ever eat your gun.” He shot Max a white smile. “Get real. You and I both know you’re too much of a hard-ass pragmatist—never mind that law and order thing you’re so wedded to–to ever choose such a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Jake shot him a cheerful smile. “And look on the bright side, bro—you can only improve.”

“Hell, yeah,” Max said sarcastically, heading for the door. “How can I not, with encouragement like that to prop me up? Get to work. I’ve got stuff to do, too—I can’t hang around here all day. I’ll see you at Jenny’s at seven.”

But as he loped down the staircase to the first floor he thought, From your lips to God’s ear. Because improvement couldn’t come quickly enough to suit him. He let himself out the front door of the Sand Dollar, allowing the screen door to bang shut behind him. Not nearly quickly enough.

For he was sure as hell tired of acting more tongue-tied than a horny thirteen-year-old with his first crush every time stumbled across Harper Summerville.

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Some Like It Hot is available in the following formats:

Harlequin

Jul 30, 2013