Safe Harbor/A Cold Creek Homecoming [NOOK Book]

Overview

WHO DEFINES FAMILY? 

To Tina Harrington, the definition was simple: anyone she loved was a part of her family. Including all the people—and animals—she'd invited into her home when they'd had nowhere else to go. She was their safe harbor, and they were hers. And she would protect them from whoever challenged their right to be a family—namely her new neighbor, the handsome and high-powered Drew Landry. 

Drew was determined to ensure ...

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Safe Harbor/A Cold Creek Homecoming

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Overview

WHO DEFINES FAMILY? 

To Tina Harrington, the definition was simple: anyone she loved was a part of her family. Including all the people—and animals—she'd invited into her home when they'd had nowhere else to go. She was their safe harbor, and they were hers. And she would protect them from whoever challenged their right to be a family—namely her new neighbor, the handsome and high-powered Drew Landry. 

Drew was determined to ensure that Tina wasn't taking advantage of her vulnerable houseguests. But as soon as he met Tina and her unconventional family, he realized he'd made a big mistake. Because he was drawn to her like a ship to a sheltered shore. And he'd set in motion a series of events that could destroy everything she held dear…. 

BONUS BOOK INCLUDED IN THIS VOLUME! 

A Cold Creek Homecoming by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne 

Quinn Southerland still hadn't forgiven Tess Claybourne for the way she'd treated him years ago. But the woman tending his ailing mother was not the same girl he'd known. Could this be their second chance?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460338537
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/26/2014
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 5,578
  • File size: 441 KB

Meet the Author

With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.


New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including four RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

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Read an Excerpt


It had all started with Sam.

That was it, Tina decided, throwing herself into one of the antique wicker chairs overlooking the pool and perfectly landscaped terrace. The palm trees with their limply hanging branches seemed to reflect her mood perfectly as she stared dolefully at the thick vellum papers in her hand. She only barely resisted the urge to crumple them up and throw them for one of the cats to bat around the lawn, possibly straight into the pool's sparkling turquoise water. It would be a fitting end to the documents. As for her bad habit, it seemed there was no end in sight.

It had all started twenty years ago, back when she was eight and that scrawny marmalade kitten she'd named Sam had made its way to her front door. It had meowed so pitifully that not even her father had been able to resist Tina's pleas to take it in. Ever since then, she'd been adopting strays.

Sam had been followed by Penelope, the gerbil who was about to be sent away to who-knew-what awful fate by her best friend, then by Sam's totally unexpected litter of kittens. Bandit, who barked as though he had laryngitis, had limped in with a thorn in his front paw and stayed for nearly ten years, bringing home friends when it suited him.

By the time she'd left for the University of Florida, the house had looked like a damned menagerie, according to her amazingly tolerant parents. They might not have known where the next mortgage payment was coming from, but they'd always found room in their hearts and food scraps for one more of Tina's pets.

They should see me now, she thought with a sigh as she reread the letter from the Florida Department of Children and Families. The letter was filled with legal jargon, but what it boiled down to was an accusation that she was taking in human strays without benefit of a license, followed by a stern admonition that she should cease and desist promptly or risk penalties meant to scare the daylights out of her. The threats only infuriated her.

She glared at the paper. Those pompous, meddling fools! Of all the ridiculous, simpleminded…

"Tina, dear, I've brought you a nice glass of iced tea," Grandmother Sarah said as she set down a tall, frosted glass, then sat herself and waved a lilac-scented, lace-edged hankie to stir the still, humid air into a slight breeze. "My, but it's a scorcher today. I'll be so glad when we get another cold front through here to cool things off."

"The minute the temperature goes below seventy you complain that your arthritis acts up," Tina reminded her with a gently teasing smile.

"Posh-tosh. My arthritis acts up all the time. I'm an old lady."

"Some days I think you're younger than I am," Tina said with a heavy sigh that drew a sharp-eyed glance from Grandmother Sarah.

Grandmother Sarah, with her wisps of flyaway white hair surrounding a weathered face, her sparkling periwinkle blue eyes and her flowered print dress, wasn't Tina's grandmother at all. They had met a year ago while walking on the beach and had started talking. It hadn't taken long for the gregarious and unceasingly curious Tina to discover that the spirited, elderly woman with her spry manner and tart tongue was about to be thrown out of her soon-to-be-demolished rooming house and had nowhere to live. She'd invited Sarah home as casually as she'd admitted Sam all those years ago. She hadn't regretted the spontaneous suggestion for a single minute. It had been like she'd always imagined having a real grandmother would be.

Tina gazed at Grandmother Sarah fondly and took a long swallow of the cool drink. The way she was feeling, it probably should have been a mint julep at the very least. Maybe even straight bourbon. If the ominous tone of the letter she held was any indication, she had a feeling she was in for the fight of her life.

Intuitive as always, Sarah picked up on her mood.

"Dear, if you don't mind my saying so, you look a mite peaked. Is it the weather or is something wrong?"

Tina shook her head.

Grandmother Sarah regarded her critically. "Your nose is growing, child. Fibbing is not becoming."

"I didn't say a word."

"Exactly."

"Okay, there is a problem. But it's nothing for you to worry about."

Sarah's eyes narrowed and she retorted spiritedly, "Of course it is. I'm your friend, aren't I? If something has you all in a tizzy, then the rest of us certainly want to help."

Tina didn't have the heart to explain that the rest of them were the problem. Grandmother Sarah was only the tip of the iceberg. There was slightly dotty Aunt Juliet, also no relation, as well as little Billy and old Mr. Kelly, to say nothing of Sam's great-grandchildren, one of Bandit's descendants and Lady MacBeth, a parrot who had the vocabulary of a drunken sailor.

No matter how she looked at it, Tina admitted, it was not your typical household. But that didn't mean she was breaking the law, although clannish, well-moneyed Palm Beach seemed to have a whole encyclopedia of etiquette and a long list of specialized zoning regulations all its own.

It had been five years now, but she'd never quite gotten used to the transition she'd made from her barely middle class childhood in West Palm Beach to the wealthy island enclave across the bridge. Her three-year marriage to Gerald Harrington had given her instantaneous social status, financial security, an estate that edged the Atlantic Ocean and, most of all, a joyous, storybook love.

Gerald's accidental death in the crash of the company jet two years earlier had devastated her. At twenty-six, she was left rattling around in a huge old house, surrounded by staff who refused to even sit down and play a card game with her. They put her meals on the table, then retreated to await the tinkle of a bell. The cook would have been horrified if she'd known that Tina would have preferred to eat in the kitchen. The butler would have been equally shocked if she'd suggested he join her at the imposing dining room table. As a result of their stuffy sense of station, she'd been faced with an intolerable loneliness at the end of every long, tiring day she spent at Harrington Industries.

Then a year ago, just when she'd thought things were at their bleakest, Grandmother Sarah, Aunt Juliet and the rest had come along needing the kind of assistance and friendship she could easily offer. Now she felt as though her life were worth living again. No one was going to take that away from her.

"You got another one of those letters, didn't you?" Grandmother Sarah said, her sharp gaze falling on the paper that Tina had tossed defiantly on the table.

"Yes," she admitted, reluctantly conceding that there was no point in denying the obvious.

"Who's this one from?"

"The state."

"My, my. He is pulling out the big guns, isn't he?"

He, of course, was Drew Landry, her new neighbor and the man behind this letter and a whole series that had preceded it. The man was attacking her way of life with tactical efforts worthy of a marine commander and the persistence of a pit bull.

"I just don't understand it," Tina muttered. "What difference could it possibly make to Drew Landry if I have a few houseguests?"

Grandmother Sarah lifted her eyebrows. "Okay," Tina muttered defensively. "So you're not exactly house-guests in the traditional sense. You didn't drop in from Monte Carlo or London or Boston. You're not just here for the annual Red Cross Gala. I still don't see what business it is of his or the State of Florida."

"Why don't you talk to him, dear? Explain about all of this. I'm sure he's a reasonable man."

An image of Drew Landry flashed in Tina's mind. Her tall, dark, jet-setting neighbor with the formidable scowl and the well-toned, impressively proportioned body struck her as anything but reasonable. On the one occasion when they'd met, long enough for her to offer to pay for the window Billy had broken with the best-hit ball of his Little League career, Landry's extraordinary blue eyes had flashed angrily, the nostrils of his patrician nose had flared and his full, sensuous lips emitted a string of oaths her parrot would have envied. Tina, who was rarely intimidated, had literally quaked under the impact of his fury. It was not a scene she was anxious to repeat.

"I don't think talking to Mr. Landry will accomplish a thing. He seems pretty set in his ways."

"Fiddlesticks! How can a thirty-seven-year-old man be set in his ways?" Grandmother Sarah argued.

Tina shot her a startled look. "How do you know how old he is?"

"I read the papers. He's been in the gossip columns nearly every day since he got to town." She gave Tina a sly, assessing glance. "Quite a hunk, if you ask me."

"A hunk?" Tina snorted derisively. "Looks aren't everything, you know."

"Oh, I know that well enough, but if you ask me, you could use a hunk in your life. It's time you put Gerald behind you and got on with things. Juliet and I were discussing it just the other night. You're far too young to be shut away here with only us old folks for company."

"Billy's only thirteen," she reminded Sarah, "and my social life is just fine, thank you very much."

"If you're into—what's the word you use all the time about some of your lily-livered board members—wimps."

Tina's brown eyes flashed, but she couldn't put much spirit into her defense. "Martin is a very successful man. He is not a wimp."

"He does a fine job of impersonating one," Sarah declared. "How can you say that man's successful? He's living on his daddy's money. I'll bet he's never gone out and earned a dime himself. And the way he dresses…" She shook her head sadly. "I'll bet that man has never once gotten his hands dirty. Now what kind of a man is that?"

"We are not talking about Martin," Tina retorted in exasperation. She'd heard Sarah's opinions of her companion often enough. "We're talking about Drew Landry and his ridiculous notion that we're destroying his property value or something. He just bought the place three months ago, for heaven's sakes. He hardly needs to worry about the selling price now."

"What makes you think he's worried about his property value?"

"What other reason could he have for meddling in something that's none of his business?"

"I have no idea, but I still say you ought to talk to him and find out. You could settle this thing once and for all," Sarah suggested with a sudden gleam in her eyes. Tina eyed her nervously and waited for the rest. It didn't take long.

"In fact," Sarah said, "why don't you go over right this minute and invite him for dinner tonight? I'll bake one of my cherry pies. There's not a man alive who can resist warm cherry pie topped with homemade vanilla ice cream."

"Drew Landry strikes me as the type who'd only appreciate Cherries Jubilee and champagne."

Grandmother Sarah was obstinate as a mule. "I'm telling you, the cherry pie will do it. Go on, Christina Elizabeth," she persisted in her very best grandmotherly, don't-cross-me tone. "Before you lose your nerve."

"Lose it?" Tina muttered as she reluctantly set off across the sweeping lawn. "I don't have any nerve to lose. The man scares me out of my wits."

Then she thought about the stakes, about Sarah and Juliet and Billy and Mr. Kelly, to say nothing of the assorted pets, and a tiny flare of anger sparked to life in the pit of her stomach. She fanned it for all she was worth. By the time she'd slipped through a widening in the hedge—when Gerald had been a boy, his best friend had lived next door—she was ready to make Drew Landry rue the day he'd ever set out to destroy her perfectly happy if somewhat unorthodox household.

The gray-haired, tight-lipped butler who answered the door was so stiff she was afraid he'd shatter if he cracked a smile. He definitely was not the type to settle down and spend an evening playing gin rummy. She wondered if he and the man she'd finally fired, along with the cook, were related. They'd clearly been turned out of the same mold.

His narrowed eyes took in her skimpy, turquoise one-piece jumpsuit and he virtually sniffed his disapproval. She was surprised he didn't ask her to go around to the kitchen entrance.

"Mr. Landry is on the terrace, miss. If you'll follow me." It was less a suggestion than a command. Tina obeyed, trying to control a practically irresistible urge to giggle.

Even after five years in Palm Beach, during which she'd grown accustomed to the often ridiculous dictums of high society, it had never ceased to amaze her that the servants were sometimes even stuffier and more class conscious than their bosses. She'd seen chauffeurs stand by the family Mercedes or Cadillac or Lincoln on Worth Avenue and look down their haughty noses at each other, while their mistresses shopped in elegant boutiques or lunched together in fancy restaurants.

She didn't have time to explore this social phenomenon too closely because she was suddenly on the terrace. Mr. Landry was not sipping tea and eating fresh scones or using his cell to make million-dollar business deals as she'd half expected. Instead, he was swimming laps in a pool that curved like a lagoon amid an abundance of palm trees and bright yellow hibiscus. Her breath caught in her throat as she watched his lean, tanned body slice through the sparkling water with practiced ease, creating hardly a ripple…except along her spine, which she instinctively straightened in the hope the sensation would go away. It didn't.

Tina barely noticed when the butler left. Her eyes traveled slowly from the shoulders that glistened in the late afternoon sun, taking in the muscles that moved with sleek grace, the long legs that kicked with controlled power. A wayward image of those legs tangling with her own in the heat of passion ripped into her mind creating a feverish tension. She sighed softly.

As the annoyingly wistful whisper of sound escaped, Drew Landry swam to the side of the pool and gazed straight into her eyes, the knowing cobalt blue of his taunting her as he lifted himself out of the water and stood before her like someone waiting to be admired.

The disarray of his damp black hair caught the sparks of afternoon sunlight like coal turned to diamonds. Rivulets of water ran down his muscled torso, lingered in the dark hairs that were matted on his chest, then continued over his flat stomach to be captured by the band of a barely decent, skin-hugging bathing suit. Tina was fascinated by those trails of water, her pulse beating ever faster as her gaze followed their path, then froze on that skimpy piece of material.

"Is there something you wanted?" The lazy drawl was filled with amused innuendo.

Tina shook her head, meeting laughing eyes.

"I mean yes," she mumbled, fighting embarrassment and a disturbing desire to run a finger along the tempting path created by that trail of water. She was not going to let Drew Landry have the upper hand for even a split second. She certainly was going to keep her hands to herself. She jammed them into her pockets, just to be sure.

"We have to talk," she said in the firm, decisive voice she'd trained herself to use when she wanted to tactfully persuade the board of directors of Harrington Industries to heed her advice.

Drew Landry lazily rubbed a towel over his awesome body, and Tina forced herself to look at the branch of lovely pale lavender orchids hanging from a tree just beyond his shoulder. In the end, though, she couldn't resist sneaking just one more peak. Grandmother Sarah was right. He was a hunk.

"We do?" he said skeptically. "Am I supposed to know why?"

"You're trying to destroy my family. I want to know what you're up to."

"My dear Mrs. Harrington."

"So, then, you do remember me?"

He grinned, and her heart lurched in what had to be an infuriatingly Pavlovian reaction.

"How could I forget?" he was saying when she finally managed to concentrate. "Our first meeting was rather…inauspicious."

She gazed at him sharply. "You say that as though I were some sort of criminal you'd caught stealing the family silver. It was only a kitchen window, for heaven's sakes, and Billy didn't mean to do it."
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