Safe Harbor

( 25 )

Overview

A mysterious newcomer, a reclusive doctor, and a troubled gay teenager learn about love, friendship, and trust during one tumultuous summer in Provincetown. Reese Conlon, LtCol USMCR, is the new sheriff who has heads turning amidst speculation as to who will be the first woman to capture her attentions. Doctor Victoria King has been betrayed by love once and refuses to risk heartbreak again. Brianna Parker, the teenaged daughter of Reese's chief, fears her father’s wrath when he learns that she loves another ...
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Safe Harbor

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Overview

A mysterious newcomer, a reclusive doctor, and a troubled gay teenager learn about love, friendship, and trust during one tumultuous summer in Provincetown. Reese Conlon, LtCol USMCR, is the new sheriff who has heads turning amidst speculation as to who will be the first woman to capture her attentions. Doctor Victoria King has been betrayed by love once and refuses to risk heartbreak again. Brianna Parker, the teenaged daughter of Reese's chief, fears her father’s wrath when he learns that she loves another girl. As these three women struggle to live and love in freedom, they risk their hearts and souls to give one another a Safe Harbor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933110134
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 737,305
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Radclyffe has published over thirty-five romance and romantic intrigue novels as well as dozens of short stories, has edited numerous romance and erotica anthologies, and, writing as L.L. Raand, has authored a paranormal romance series, The Midnight Hunters.

She is a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist in romance, mystery, and erotica—winning in both romance (Distant Shores, Silent Thunder) and erotica (Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments edited with Stacia Seaman, and In Deep Waters 2: Cruising the Strip written with Karin Kallmaker) and a 2010 Prism award winner for Secrets in the Stone. She is a member of the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, an Alice B. Readers’ award winner, a Benjamin Franklin Award finalist (The Lonely Hearts Club), and a ForeWord Review Book of the Year Finalist (Night Call 2009; Justice for All, Secrets in the Stone, and Romantic Interludes 2: Secrets 2010). Two of her titles (Returning Tides and Secrets in the Stone) are 2010 Heart Of Excellence Readers’ Choice finalists.
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Read an Excerpt

Tory continued to probe along Reese's forearm, aware of the well-developed muscles under her fingers. "You're lucky you're in such good shape-your muscle mass protected you. Still, we'll need to watch for compression injuries. You're going to get a lot of swelling." She rocked back and studied Reese's face, brushing a lock of hair off Reese's forehead. The sheriff was pale, but her gaze was clear. "You've got a laceration through your eyebrow. We need to go back to the procedure room so I can take care of it. Can you walk?"

Reese nodded, holstering her gun awkwardly with her left hand, as she carefully pushed herself to a standing position. She extended that hand to assist Tory to her feet.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am, Sheriff," Tory began as they moved to the rear of the clinic.

"It was a lesson worth learning, Doctor," Reese said grimly. "Having a gun sometimes makes you overconfident. A well-trained martial artist is a real threat in close quarters. That's what you are, isn't it?"

"Sit here." Tory indicated, motioning to the operating table in the center of the room. She was silent as she opened gloves and a suture tray. "Are you allergic to any drugs?"

"No." "Lie back. I just need to clean this up a bit." As she set about her work, she answered, "Hapkido. Do you know it?"

"Some. I'm trained in jujitsu," Reese replied, wincing slightly at the sting of the novocaine injection. "Hapkido. That's Korean, isn't it?"

"Uh huh," Tory responded as she placed the sutures. "It's a combination of aikido and tae kwon do. Fortunately for me, it also teaches the art of the cane."

"Well, it's certainly effective," Reese said flatly. "You'll have to show me sometime."

"If you like. There, that's it. I'll need to take these stitches out in five days." Tory pulled the stool over and sat down facing Reese. "What are you doing here?"

"I happened to be driving by, and I saw your Jeep. The place was dark. I was worried. You're not supposed to be here alone, remember?"

Tory sighed. "I know. We ran so late I sent everyone home an hour ago. I had literally just finished and was heading out the door when I heard you. I am so sorry-"

"Please," Reese said, pushing herself up to a sitting position. Thankfully, her head felt clear. "I'm glad to know you can take care of yourself so well. Let's just leave it at that, okay?"

Tory stood, reaching for an alcohol swab. When she cupped Reese's chin in one hand, Reese tensed.

"You've got blood on your neck," Tory said quietly, wiping the skin gently.

"Thank you," Reese murmured, her eyes meeting Tory's deep hazel ones. She was acutely aware of the warmth in the doctor's touch.

Tory stepped back quickly, averting her gaze as she broke their contact. The withdrawal was so abrupt, Reese shivered involuntarily. Tory frowned. "You need to be in bed. Come on, I'll drive you home."

"I'm okay," Reese muttered, jumping down from the table. Her light-headedness returned unexpectedly, and she reached out unsteadily toward the table for support. If Tory hadn't slipped an arm around her, she would have fallen.

"Not quite, you're not," Tory said firmly, loosening her grasp as Reese regained her balance but keeping her hand on the other woman's back. "You may be strong, but you're not made of steel. You've had a nasty blow to your head and with that impaired arm, you're not fit to drive. I mean it."

"I can't leave my cruiser on the road," Reese protested.

"I'll drive it. I know the house you're fixing up and it's not that far. Come on."


"Go get into bed," Tory said when Reese led them into the living room of her new home. "I'll get some ice for your arm. Kitchen through there?" She indicated with a nod of her head.

"Yes, but I can get it-"

Tory rounded on Reese, her eyes flashing. "Look, Sheriff, you can save the butch routine for the bad guys. I know you can get it. The point is that I want you to lie down, so I'm going to get it."

Reese stared at her, an uncomprehending look on her face. "I…I'm not trying to be butch. I'm just used to doing things for myself."

Tory's features softened, and a smile curved her full lips. "Yes, I'll bet you are. But tonight you don't have to. Now go on-please."

A few minutes later, Tory found Reese in her bedroom, awkwardly trying to hang her gun belt and uniform in the closet. Her right arm was still uncoordinated and visibly swollen. She had managed to pull on a faded cotton tee shirt, USMC stenciled over her left chest. Her legs were bare below the hem of the shirt. Tory tried not to stare at the expanse of smooth skin and tightly muscled limbs, finally deciding she couldn't avoid looking at her unless she suddenly went blind. Taking the hanger from Reese's fumbling grasp, she said firmly, "Bed."

Tory folded the trousers carefully and hung them up in the precisely ordered closet. Shirts and pants were neatly segregated—dress clothes to the left, casual clothes to the right. She stared thoughtfully at the crisp judo gis and the carefully folded hakamas on the top shelf. The mysterious sheriff was more than a casual martial artist.

Turning, Tory observed Reese propped up in bed, her injured hand resting on the sheets that covered her to the waist. She was watching Tory carefully, her face inscrutable. Tory stared back at her, thinking that this woman spoke volumes with her silence.

"What?" Tory asked softly.

"I was watching you study my closet with such interest. Are you always so observant?"

"Occupational hazard," Tory chuckled. "Being a doctor is a little like being a detective-you have to learn not to overlook the subtle details. How about you? Always so neat, ordered, and controlled?"

Reese laughed. "Yes. Fifteen years of the Marine Corps will do that for you. However, it might be hereditary. My father is career military."

"And your mother is an organizational systems manager?" Tory joked.

Reese grew suddenly still, her expression thoughtful. "No, my mother is an artist. I'm afraid I didn't inherit anything from her."

Tory saw the subject was clearly off limits, and once again, a vast distance settled between them. "Here," she said, approaching the bed with the plastic bag of ice in her hand, "hold out your arm." She wrapped a towel loosely around Reese's forearm, then applied the ice pack, securing it with another towel. "Keep this on as long as you can. If you have more pain during the night or the numbness worsens, call me. It's unlikely you'll have a problem, but I don't want to take any chances."

"Uh huh. What's your phone number?" Reese asked politely. She had no intention of taking up any more of this woman's time. From the outset, the whole ridiculous situation was her own fault. No one had ever taken her by surprise like that before.

"Just yell. I'll be on your couch."

Reese shot straight up in bed. "You are not staying here."

"Listen to me carefully. My Jeep is at the clinic. I'm extremely tired, and I'm starting to get cranky. I intend to go to sleep immediately. Don't worry; you won't even know I'm here."

"That's not the point," Reese exclaimed. "You've already done too much for me."

Tory raised an eyebrow. "And just how would you define too much, Sheriff? Is any help at all too much? Just tell me where the sheets are—I'm beat."

Reese pointed to a military footlocker pushed under the windows. "Bedding's in there, Doctor. Only what the PX had to offer, I'm afraid. I've only been a civilian a short time, and shopping off base has not been high on my list of priorities."

"It'll do for a night. Thanks," Tory said as she headed for the door. "Now, lights out, please."

"Yes, ma'am," Reese sighed, realizing she had been out maneuvered in more ways than one that evening.


At five a.m. in May on the north Atlantic coast, sunrise was still a long way off. Reese stood in the dim light reflected from the kitchen, looking down at Tory King. She slept on her side, arms wrapped around the pillow. Her tousled hair framed a face soft and youthful in sleep. Though clothes were tossed haphazardly over a nearby chair, she kept her leg brace and cane leaning within arm's reach. Reese was captivated by how peaceful she appeared. Before Reese could move away, Tory rolled onto her back and opened her eyes, moving from sleep to full wakefulness almost instantaneously. She saw the curiosity in Reese's face before all expression fled.

"What?" Tory asked. "Is there something strange about the way I sleep?"

Reese contemplated her for a moment, aware that Tory was naked under the light covering. The curve of hip and the slight swell of breasts were outlined in light and shadow. Reese knew she was staring and forced her eyes to Tory's face.

"Well, you don't just sleep. You seem to embrace it, as if it were nourishing you." Her voice trailed off. She had no words to express how beautiful the woman had been. "I didn't mean to disturb you," she finished awkwardly.

Tory sat up, holding the sheet to her chest with one arm. With the other, she brushed her hair back from her face. "I think I felt you in my sleep, but it didn't disturb me." She looked at Reese uncertainly. She was sure the sheriff hadn't touched her, but her skin tingled with the sense of a lingering caress. Abruptly, she swung her legs to the floor. This was getting ridiculous. Too much turmoil in the last twenty-four hours had her imagining things.

"I need to be up anyhow," Tory said more sharply than she intended. "Right. I'll let you get dressed," Reese said, turning away, nonplussed by the abrupt change. "Coffee?" She asked as she retreated quickly to the kitchen.

"Please," Tory called after her.

She joined Reese in the kitchen a few moments later, taking in the details not noticed in her earlier quest for ice. They pleasantly surprised her. The room, newly renovated, was modern and equipped with professional appliances. "What a great kitchen. You must cook."

Reese grinned, ducking her head shyly. "A secret vice." She handed Tory a steaming cup of freshly ground French Roast.

"However did that happen? Weren't you forced to eat in the mess hall or something?"

Reese laughed, warming Tory with the rich timber of her voice. Tory relaxed, leaning against the large center cook-island that dominated the space. She sipped her coffee as she examined Reese in the early morning light. The sheriff was in uniform again, the creases in her sleeves and trousers razor sharp, her tie knotted exactly under a crisp collar. The surface of her shoes sparkled with a flawless shine. She seemed flawless, too. Her black hair was trimmed precisely around her ears and above her collar. The full front fell rather dashingly over clear blue eyes, a straight nose, and full strong chin. She was handsome and beautiful at the same time, and warning bells began clashing in Tory's brain.

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Average Rating 4.5
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    Best work by author

    I read the honor series and this is by far the better read.

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