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Sweet Heat at Bayside

By:Addison Cole

Chapter One


SERENA MALLERY FIDGETED nervously as she walked from the parking lot of  Bayside Resort, where she worked, toward Summer House Inn to meet her  friends for breakfast. She embraced the sounds of their laughter and of  Cosmos, her friend Desiree's scruffy little dog, barking from his perch  on the dune overlooking Cape Cod Bay. She spotted the objects of the  pup's attention. Her bosses, Rick and Drake Savage and Dean Masters-the  owners of the resort-were sprinting up the path toward the inn after  their morning run. This was how she'd greeted most days for the past  several years, surrounded by her best friends, whom she loved like  family. This time next week she'd be living in Boston, greeting the days  alone but starting her dream job.

Her nerves flared as she stepped into the fenced-in area beside the inn, as excited as she was nervous to deliver her news.

"Hey, Serena." Mira stood by Emery at the far end of the yard. At six  months pregnant, Mira looked radiant in a cute maternity dress. Her skin  really did glow. Even her dark hair looked fuller. "Des and Vi will be  out in a sec. Is that the shirt you bought in P-town last week? It looks  really cute."

Mira was Drake and Rick's younger sister. She and Serena had been best  friends forever. Emery had moved to the Cape last summer. She taught  yoga at the inn, and she was still dressed in her yoga pants and sports  bra from an early class.

Serena looked down at her flowing white top, with cut-out shoulders and  lace edging around the neckline and sleeves. It had quickly become one  of her favorites. "Thanks. We have excellent taste."

Emery glanced over as she pulled the elastic from her hair, sending her  golden-brown hair tumbling past her shoulders. "I think it looks hot."  She shifted her gaze back to Dean, whose eyes were locked on her as the  guys approached.

"Stalking your fiancé?" Serena asked.

Emery's eyes lit up. "Look at all that yumminess. Do you blame me?"

She knew Emery was talking about her bearded, heavily muscled fiancé,  but Serena had grown up with Dean, Drake, and Rick. There was no doubt  they were all good-looking, and as water sports fanatics and hard  workers, they kept in prime shape. But the only one Serena had ever  crushed on was Drake. She watched him stalking across the dune. His  powerful body was covered in a slick sheen of sweat. His thick, wavy  dark hair blew in the wind. He always looked like he was in need of a  trim, and he never seemed to care, which made him even hotter.

"Morning, Serena," Desiree said as she stepped outside, pulling Serena  away from her fruitless infatuation. "I've got cherry-cheese croissants,  your favorites." She set a plate of croissants on the table.

Serena's mouth watered. "They smell delicious."

Desiree cooked for them nearly every morning, and it was no secret that  the quality of her elaborate breakfasts was tied to the quality of her  sex life. Mornings when there was only cereal available, everyone  grumbled at Rick. Not that Serena felt bad for him. He and Desiree were  blissfully happy, they had incredible careers, and they had each other.

At least I'm on my way to the career I've always wanted. Finding my soul mate will just have to wait.

"You should have heard the headboard banging this morning." Violet set a  pot of coffee on the table. In biker boots, cutoffs, and a black tank  top, with her colorful arm and thigh tattoos on display, she looked  every bit the artist she was-the complete opposite of demure Desiree in  her floral sundress. "Sounded like a train was taking down the inn."

"Geez, Violet!" Desiree chided. They might be half sisters, but they were as different as oil and water.

"I see Vi's jealous again," Rick said as he sat down beside Desiree and  pressed a kiss to her cheek. "How's my gorgeous fiancée?"

Dean hauled Emery into his arms. "Hey, babe. How was yoga this morning?"

Serena loved living on the Cape, but it was also small and transient,  which made for few opportunities to meet guys who weren't just looking  for a quick hookup. At thirty-one, after watching most of her friends  fall head over heels in love, she wanted a chance at that happiness,  too. As a teenager, she dreamed of marrying smart, musically inclined,  sexy-as-sin Drake. Even though he had blown her off years ago, making it  perfectly clear that she'd been friend-zoned for life, she'd thought  again about the possibilities when she'd started working for him at the  resort. But he'd never made a move, and four years was long enough for  her to accept reality. It was time to move on.

Emery giggled, and the next thing Serena knew, Dean was hauling Emery against him, kissing her deeply.         

     



 

"Can we please keep the lovey-dovey frickery down to a minimum while I'm eating?" Violet asked.

Serena's nerves got the better of her as Drake closed the distance between them.

"Hey, Supergirl," he said as he sat down.

She tucked away the endearment. She'd miss all of her friends, but she'd  miss seriously frustrating and insanely hot Drake the most. Of course,  there was no way she'd tell him that. As they'd worked together over the  past few years, he'd become one of her closest friends. When they were  out as a group, he watched over her like a hawk, treating her like a  younger sister who needed protecting and making it hard for her to meet  guys. It was time she moved on, physically and emotionally. The miles  between them should make it that much easier.

Drake grabbed the back of her shirt, tugging her down to the chair  beside him, and leaned closer. His masculine scent surrounded her as he  said, "Ready to talk about store number five?"

In addition to setting up the infrastructure and handling administrative  work for the resort, Serena helped Drake with the design, layout, and  administration of his chain of music stores. The grand opening of his  fifth store was a few short weeks away, and today they were finalizing  the store layout.

"Definitely," Serena said. "But I think it's time you start calling it Bayside Music and Arts."

"Good point." He poured her a cup of coffee, then poured one for himself.

As everyone loaded up their plates, she felt queasy at the prospect of  delivering her news. Before she could lose her nerve, she blurted out,  "I'm moving to Boston for an interior design job."

Her friends fell silent, and all eyes turned to her. Her stomach  pitched. The girls looked confused. Rick and Dean were exchanging  displeased glances and eyeing Drake, whose jaw was clenched so tight, it  had to hurt.

Oh geez. She felt like she was betraying everyone and reminded herself she wasn't.

"You guys knew I took the job at the resort only temporarily, to help  get it off the ground," Serena reminded them. "That was four years ago,  and I told you last summer that I was applying for interior design jobs  to finally get my career moving in the right direction."

"Yes, but I thought you were looking around here. You're moving to  Boston?" Mira said with a pained expression. She'd been Serena's best  friend since childhood, and they'd always been there for each other. She  placed one hand on her burgeoning belly and said, "I'm happy for you,  but I'm going to miss you."

"I know. I'll miss you, too," Serena said, feeling the heat of Drake's  stare. She tried to distract herself from looking at him by mentally  ticking off a list of things she had to do to get ready for her  impending move. At the top of which was finding someone to fill her  position at the resort. She hoped to still help out with the music  stores. "I promise to come back as often as I can and of course when the  baby is born, and we'll FaceTime a lot."

"You better," Mira said in a softer tone. "Our new baby will need Auntie  Serena around, and Hagen will miss you so much." Hagen was her  eight-year-old son.

"I'll miss him, too," Serena said.

"Poor Matt," Mira said. Matt was her husband. "Forget gaining baby  weight. I'll probably pack on another twenty pounds from ice cream as I  eat my sadness away."

"Enough guilt tripping. This is great news," Rick said with a genuine  smile, which faded as his gaze shifted to Drake. "It's what you've  always wanted." He seemed to direct his comment at Drake instead of her,  as if reminding him of her plans.

"I know. Ever since I was a little girl. Isn't it fantastic? I'll miss  you guys so much, but I couldn't turn down an interior design job with  Kline, Heinan, and Bruce, or rather, KHB. They're one of the most  sought-after design firms around."

"You've wanted a career in the big city for as long as I've known you,"  Desiree said. "So even though I'm going to miss you, I'm happy you found  something so amazing."

"Boston?" Violet said. "Our small-town girl's growing up."

"Congrats, Serena," Dean said as he draped an arm around Emery's shoulder. "I appreciate all you've done for us."

It wasn't lost on Serena that Drake hadn't said a word. "Thank you. I  still can't believe they called. I had almost given up." She'd  interviewed with KHB last winter and had thought they'd written her off.  The resort had only a few winter clients, which had freed her up to get  back into the industry by working part-time for Shift Home Interiors.  Although she loved the work she'd done for Shift because it included  space planning and helping to set up offices from scratch, and not just  decorating work, the owner had recently had a baby and cut back to  working only part-time. She couldn't afford to hire Serena full-time.  But even with a degree and several years of design experience prior to  her current job, most of the bigger firms had turned her down.         

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