After a near death experience makes him reassess his life, big wave rider Dylan Wakefield returns to Leyton’s Headland to win back the love of his life, hoping to be the man to give Hope Irving everything she’s ever wanted. But Hope has moved on—with his best friend and business partner, Matt Kendrick.
Hope was devastated when her relationship with Dylan ended, and Matt was right there to comfort her. But what was supposed to be a simple friends-with-benefits arrangement has become much more, so when Dylan returns to reclaim her, Hope has a big decision to make.
As for Matt, he’s been in love with Hope for years and he’s not willing to let his chance with her pass—not even for his best friend. When Hope proposes an alternative solution, the men could balk, or give her everything she needs in the bedroom and out.
Each story in the Wild Crush series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Unforgettable Summer
Book #2: Irrepressible Jasmine
Book #3: Eternal Brand
Book #4: Imperfect Penelope
Book #5: Unbreakable Hope
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Ten years later
"You'll never guess who Kelly saw in Sanderson's today."
Glancing up from her computerized booking system, Summer Campbell followed her employee's gaze to the building across the street, the real estate office of AJ Sanderson. "Nope, I have no idea."
Penny Irving leaned on the counter between them, her voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper even though their last client for the day had left. "Ty Butler."
Summer schooled her expression to remain unchanged even as her breath hitched. It's not true. The thought helped her hang on to her equilibrium. After all, it wasn't the first time such a rumor had surfaced, only to be revealed a falsehood. Ty Butler was a legend around Leyton's Headland, the small-town boy who'd made it big in professional surfing. Over the years sightings of him had taken on an air akin to folklore, like sightings of Elvis Presley.
Penny prattled on. "Apparently he was looking at properties — to purchase. So I guess he might be moving back here."
Feigning boredom, Summer returned her attention to the list of tomorrow's appointments. "Oh really? And will Big Foot be coming with him? What about the yeti or that black lion that has the opposite of albinism?"
"I'll have you know that last one's not a hoax. I saw it on Facebook."
"Didn't you hook up with your last boyfriend on Facebook? Tell me again how that turned out."
Penny rolled her eyes. "It turned out he was a teensy bit married. When are you going to let me forget that?"
"Penny, it was last month."
"Practically a lifetime ago in dating circles." Penny eyed her with faux haughtiness. "Not that you'd know anything about that."
"You don't need to be a dating expert to know Facebook might not be the best place to start a serious relationship."
Penny sighed and tucked a strand of her short blonde hair behind her ear. "Given recent events you might be right. At least I'm trying."
Summer groaned. "Please don't start."
"Fine. I won't say 'you're divorced, not dead' or 'let me set you up with a really cute guy'."
Summer felt the imprint of Penny's green eyes on the side of her face as she straightened the items on the front desk of her naturopathy practice, Summer's Retreat. She ignored her employee's stare, lining up the business cards and fridge magnets just so, readying the clinic for the next day's trading.
Summer scowled, recognizing the pleading look on Penny's face. "Absolutely not."
"Oh come on! He's really cute this time, not at all overweight, bald and living with his Aunt Agnes. I have it on good authority he's a catch."
"So who threw him away?"
"Nobody. He's single, gainfully employed and a fan of classic rock music."
"He sounds great. Why don't you date him?"
"Because I already have a date with Bryan, a fine specimen who is most definitely not married. He's new in town and his brother is dying to meet you."
Great. Penny wanted her to date someone who got his own brother to pimp for him. She muttered, to nobody in particular, "Save me now."
"Come on, pleeeeaaaase. Double dating is so much less stressful."
Rounding the counter, Summer approached Penny and placed her hands on the taller woman's shoulders. "Penny, I do not need a man to be happy. You do not need a man to be happy. We are strong, independent women, professional women with rich, fulfilling lives. Falling in love is not something you can force or choose. You're twenty-four. Stop being in such a hurry."
Penny sighed. "It's just that I thought I'd have someone by now, but they all seem to be duds. I really, really want to fall in love, Summer. Or maybe I want someone to fall in love with me. That'd be nice."
Summer wasn't so sure that there was anything to recommend either of those situations. The one time she'd fallen head over heels for someone, it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Certainly the last word she'd use to describe that tornado of emotion was "nice". It hadn't been good for her relationship with Jasmine, which to Summer's mind had never been the same after suffering the fissure caused by their mutual longing for Ty Butler.
Summer shook off the memory. That was well and truly in the past, rumors of the man's appearance notwithstanding. She'd moved on from that teenage infatuation, and moved on from her marriage too. All she wanted to do now was live life on her terms.
Penny said quietly, "He really hurt you, didn't he?"
An image of Ty Butler flashed through Summer's mind, his cheeky smile and kind eyes. His words echoed through her too, a hangover from the past. Promise you'll meet me tomorrow.
She hadn't met him, because it would have been the wrong thing to do. There were days she wondered, if what she'd done was so right why did she still feel a pang of regret every time she thought about Ty?
Summer let out a slow sigh. "It wasn't his fault."
"It must be hard, dissolving a marriage."
Summer froze. Of course Penny thought it was her short-lived, regrettable marriage to Duncan Heyworth that had caused her heartbreak. How could she know that her feelings for Duncan had never run deep enough to touch her soul?
More guilt to carry. Sometimes Summer wondered if she could ever do enough to atone for the mistakes she'd made in the past.
"It's getting late," Summer said, her voice flat. "Let's lock up and go home."
It didn't take long to do the few remaining chores, and both Penny and Summer left via the front door on the dot of five o'clock. Waving, Penny turned left, heading toward her parked car. Turning in the opposite direction, Summer began the six-block walk to her apartment located on the outer rim of Leyton's Headland's business center.
As she passed the offices of AJ Sanderson, she had to wonder something else. Would she ever be able to hear Ty Butler's name without reliving the past?
"Medium chai latte and a fig cookie?"
Summer approached the counter and collected her order. Thanking the server, she grabbed a couple of sugar packets and slipped out of the cafe. The warm morning air hit her as she stepped into the street. It was the first week of autumn, but the heat and humidity in the air said that Leyton's Headland promised to hang on to the remnants of summer for as long as possible.
As she passed the resort-wear boutique a few shops up from her clinic, the door to the real estate office across the street opened. The morning sun glanced off the plate glass, momentarily obscuring Summer's vision as a man emerged from the interior. A man with brown hair streaked by the sun, the style too long to be called conventional. His shaggy fringe swept low over his forehead, touching the top of a pair of dark wraparound sunglasses. He wore a white T-shirt filled out by broad shoulders and a pair of kneelength, black-and-white board shorts.
Summer's stride faltered. The man stopped to look in the office window, perusing the houses-for-sale listings. His muscles were more developed than ten years ago, but Summer knew the set of his shoulders, the indolent way he had of carrying himself. Even though he had his back to her, there was no doubt in Summer's mind she was staring at Ty Butler.
Someone bumped into her, making Summer aware she'd been standing stock-still in the midst of pedestrian traffic. Muttering an apology, Summer moved out of the middle of the footpath, shifting back against the boutique window while she gathered her breath and her wits.
When she'd moved from Sydney back to Leyton's Headland a few years ago, she'd known running into Ty was a possibility. His parents still lived here — his mother Irene came to Summer's Retreat for massage once in a while. But the rumor mill had let her know pretty quickly that Ty spent most of his downtime split between a place on the Gold Coast and another one in Southern California. And his visits to Leyton's Headland had evidently been few and far between, because she hadn't seen him once in the three and a half years since she'd opened her business. Not once in ten years, as a matter of fact.
He looked healthy, fit and strong, like the professional athlete he was. Her heart rate spiked a little as a memory of leaning her head against one of those well-muscled shoulders popped into her mind. Forcibly, Summer tamped down the reaction. Darn Penny and her gossiping. She'd put thoughts of Ty in her brain again, and seeing him now so soon after was a bit like being confronted by a ghost — the ghost of her teenage indiscretion.
Summer briefly considered wandering across the road to say hi, but decided against it. She wasn't as cool or collected as she wanted to be. Her heart beat an impetuous tattoo in her chest and she couldn't draw a deep breath. She had no idea what she'd say anyway. So she headed on down the footpath toward her clinic, telling herself she wasn't hiding from him.
Telling herself and not quite believing it.
"Is it really you?"
At the question, Ty Butler turned from the real estate window and saw the gobsmacked face of a kid who couldn't be more than fourteen. He tilted his lips. "Depends who you think I am."
The sound of his voice must have confirmed the kid's suspicions, because he broke out into an ear-to-ear grin. "I was right. Wow, Ty Butler here in Leyton's Headland for real."
"In the flesh."
"What are you doing here? Did you catch that killer swell out near Wategos this morning?"
"Haven't had a chance to hit the waves yet."
Ty had only gotten into town yesterday, crashing at his parents' house like he did on the rare occasions he came back to Leyton's Headland. He had his place in Kirra Beach, a couple of hours north, which is where he preferred to stay when he was in Australia. But his parents were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary soon, and Ty had decided to surprise them with a visit. While he was here, he thought he'd check out investment properties.
He'd kept in loose contact with his old school buddy Aaron, who now ran his father's real estate business. Aaron had assured Ty the market around Leyton's was more depressed than it had been in recent years so it was a good time to get in before proposed developments caused prices to skyrocket again. Ty knew from experience that when he had funds it was best to put them into something solid. He hadn't been so smart when he'd first started on the tour, and he'd pissed a lot of those early winnings away.
"I'd love to catch you in action," the kid continued. "I don't care what they say, you cutback better than Burrow on his best day. And that aerial art you performed in South Africa last year? Magic."
That aerial maneuver off the lip of a ten-footer was a last-ditch effort to best Kelly Slater in the semifinals. It hadn't been enough — on that occasion. But Ty always figured as long as he went down with a bit of in-your-face finesse, it was a good day. "Thanks, kid."
"It's Damien. Hey, could you sign my shirt?"
With chagrined good humor, Ty waited while the kid grabbed a permanent marker from his school bag and handed it over. Damien presented Ty with his back and Ty scrawled his autograph. As he was adding the little squiggle at the end of the r, something across the street caught his eye.
The little squiggle became an ugly black streak as Ty's hand slipped.
Not seeming to notice the mistake, Damien turned and thanked Ty profusely. Ty smiled as the kid walked off, but he was distracted now. He could only see the woman from behind, but instinct told him who she was even before his eyes caught the business name painted above her and his brain put two and two together.
Damned if he wasn't staring at Summer Campbell.
"I'll be buggered." He thought she'd moved away years ago, to Sydney with that husband of hers. Apparently, she was back.
A flash of memory flitted through his mind. Summer in the front seat of his old Holden, her hair falling like fluid silk through his fingers, her mouth open and giving, her breathy little moans driving him crazy, making him do reckless things that got them both in serious trouble. No woman he'd met since had possessed the precise combination of innocence and eager sex appeal that had made him fall for Summer Campbell against every ounce of common sense he had in him.
Telling himself the slight weakness in his knees had nothing to do with it, Ty leaned on the window behind him and watched Summer's awkward attempts to juggle a paper cup and some wrapped treat so she could dig in her shoulder bag, presumably for her keys. A gentleman would go over there and help her out. Ty stood for a moment, trying to decide if he was gentleman enough to do it. She had broken his tender young heart years ago, and Ty wasn't sure he wanted to be so accommodating.
In the end he wasn't needed. A willowy blonde approached Summer and took the keys. While the other woman worked at the lock, Summer glanced over her shoulder. She jolted when her gaze connected with his. Then her eyes skittered away.
Had she already seen him — and decided to pretend she hadn't? Ty didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed, his mood falling somewhere between the two. What reason did she have to avoid him after all this time?
What reason do you have to be standing here watching her avoid you?
With a muttered curse, Ty pushed off the shop window and headed down the street. He refused to give in to the urge to take one more look back at Summer's Retreat and find out if the business's namesake was watching him walk away.
I should not be doing this.
The thought loitered in the back of Summer's mind, trying to draw her attention away from the exhilaration of Ty's kiss. The rush of blood pounding in her ears drowned it out. Oh God, Ty's lips ... They were so warm, so intuitive. He knew exactly when to stroke hers softly, when to apply pressure. His tongue dipped inside her mouth, a velvet-soft entry that stole her breath and made everything inside her draw tight with longing.
Had he practiced this art on Jasmine?
Where her conscience had failed, the very thought of her sister chilled Summer. Abruptly she wrenched her lips from beneath those of her sister's boyfriend. Her sister's boyfriend, no matter that Ty and Jasmine had broken up. They broke up all the time — or at least "didn't limit each other", that was how Jasmine put it. Summer had never understood how Jasmine could be so blasé at the prospect of Ty seeing other girls. If he were her boyfriend, she'd be crazy jealous.
He's not yours.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." To her humiliation she was crying again. Her cheeks were wet, her words falling into the thick air on the back of pathetic little hiccups. This was crazy. She was not the emotional sister, the dramatic one. She was sensible, level headed. She didn't date boys, let alone fall in love with them.
Perhaps she should have dated someone. Maybe then she wouldn't have fallen head over heels for her sister's man.
"Don't say sorry. This isn't your fault."
"How is it not? This is wrong. I'm so awful."
"Nah." Ty still held her cradled against him, one hand stroking her hair while the other gripped her hip. His fingers made hot imprints on the denim of her skirt. His thumb rested slightly above the waistband, on her bare flesh. His breath was hot on her temple as he stroked that thumb back and forth. "We didn't mean to do this."
"But I should have ..." Summer's protest trailed off as the meaning of his statement penetrated. She lifted her head and searched his face. "We?"
The irrepressible smile that always made her heart catch appeared. His hazel eyes glittered in the muted light inside the car. "You didn't think you were the only one going crazy did you?" She'd had her suspicions Ty was as tortured by feelings as she was, and she'd feared it too. But to have it confirmed was like music to her pained heart. "Oh, Ty. What are we going to do?" He dipped his head again, nuzzling her earlobe. "We'll think of something. I'm not going to lose you, Summer. Not now."
Summer melted as Ty's breath caressed her neck. She clutched at his shoulders, breathless, as his hand moved upward, slipping beneath the hem of her T-shirt.
Could it be so simple? Now that she knew Ty had real feelings for her, Summer let herself start to believe in the possibilities. Her father might come around. Her sister might not think it was such a big deal ... maybe. She'd yell and rant but in the end she'd forgive Summer. They were sisters, and nothing would change that.
She wanted to believe it was all possible. She wanted it so bad, almost as much as she wanted Ty's hand to keep moving up, and up ...
Excerpted from "Unforgettable Summer"
Copyright © 2013 Sami Lee.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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