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Sea Breeze

The Gentle Surf Series Book 1

The Wild Rose Press

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 45,615
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Brought up under the strict regime of business first and personal relationships a waste of time and effort, Reginald followed in his father’s footsteps—until now. Like a bee to honey, he is drawn to a mysterious lounge singer. Her poise and elegance lift her above the crowd. Despite his looming engagement to further the family empire, he can’t stay away.

After the death of her mother and falling out with her father, Elleah flees to escape the shackles of matrimony as a business deal. In 1950 post-war America, she will not settle. She can’t deny the attraction to Reginald, but he is everything she has sworn off—a drinker, hardcore businessman—the embodiment of New York society, never mind being as close to engaged as a person can be without the ring.

Only with each other do their masks come down. Can Reginald step out from the shadow of his family and become the man he was meant to be? Will Elleah see through her misconceptions to give him a chance?

Excerpt

When it came time to present Elleah into this “polite” society, her mother had to grovel for a place for her daughter. Right to the end, her mother seemed to beg for a position which should have been established and not have to be constantly earned.

“You’re wrong, you know.” He lowered his brow to touch hers. “You’ve created memories based on assumptions.”

“Have I?”

“Gossip,” Arthur countered.

“Like a knife, words wound, too.”

Arthur lifted his head and nodded.

Was he done with the argument he realized he couldn’t win?

“She was better than all of them.” He pulled her into a hug and rested his cheek on the top of her head. “You’re better than all of them.”

Elleah melted into his familiar embrace, the fight dissipating. “Then leave, Arthur. Forget you found me. Make him understand I had to go. I need a life of my own where I am judged for who I am really. Not who I am because of a name. Not the badge of our father’s business mistake.”

Arthur jumped back and held her shoulders at arm’s length. “Mother was never a mistake, don’t say that. Not ever!”

Throat tight, Elleah hung her head, her hair swinging forward. “I know,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

Arthur shook her slightly. “Don’t say that again. Not ever. Don’t even think it.”

She met his gaze and nodded. The lump of emotion clogged her breath and the words wouldn’t form.

“He won’t give you up,” Arthur said, gripping her shoulders hard enough to bruise. “You’re his daughter. He loves you. He won’t walk away.”

She wouldn’t flinch. Inhaling deeply, she filled her lungs and again stepped back from his touch. Head high, she strode across the room, stopped at the heavy door and swung it open. Swallowing back the thickness in her esophagus, she locked gazes with her brother. “He has to. Forget about me. Leave me to live a life I carve out for myself. Independent. Free.”

Arthur followed her and then paused briefly on the threshold, pulled her tight against him, and kissed her brow. Then his heavy step echoed down the corridor.

She watched him depart. Elleah lingered, one foot in the hallway, hand on the jam. He didn’t look back. Once he had taken the turn to the stairwell, with a heavy heart, she turned back to her hotel room. Mid-stride, she stopped, surprise making her gasp.

Across the hall, another door stood open. Just inside the doorway, a tall man with heavy brows and a stern chin stared with open curiosity. Thick hair, bed-tousled, made her wonder if he’d just woken up. His forearm braced against the jamb while he raised a glass with amber liquid to his mouth. Lips upturned in a casual smirk, he sipped. Over the crystal brim, his daring gaze coldly travelled the length of her flowered silk robe in frank appraisal.

Without confirming the robe had indeed fallen open to drape loosely across her breasts, Elleah turned on her heel and closed the door with a decisive click.