Authors: Shelli Stevens
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Short Stories & Anthologies, #Short Stories, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction, #Single Authors
Huge thanks to
l A Creigh, USCGR for letting me
tap your mi
nd again and again for Coast Guard information while I wrote this story—you’re so incredibly patient and sweet. A
Ana Avery RN, BSN for
being my nursing source. T
o Kendra Egert
for creating this beautiful cover and your patience with me. To Megan and Danielle for being my editing eyes. And a big, massive thanks to my wonderful readers who requested that this book be written! Ryan Wyatt definitely needed his story told and I had a blast writing it.
Copyright © 2011
by Shelli Stevens
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Ryan tilted the bottle of beer to his lips and finished it off, his gaze scanning the scene before him.
were smiling, laughing
issing. It was all a little nauseating. And at the center of the scene were his cousin Todd and his brand new wife Kate.
From his corner of the room
watched the newlyweds slow dancing around th
dance floor of the Wyattville Ocean front pavilion. He shook his head. Three weddings in less than a year.
“You look a little flabbergasted there, cuz.”
Tyson Wyatt sidled up beside him, his trademark grin on his face as he handed Ryan another beer.
Ryan grunted and didn’t disagree. The hairs on the back of his neck lifted and he slid his glance across the room. Just like a few minutes ago, the same brunette stared at him. She was cute. Maybe interested. An out of town relative of Kate’s maybe? He didn’t recognize her.
When she realized she’d been caught staring, she jerked her gaze away and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
Tyson followed his gaze. “Better be careful, Ry guy. There’s something in the water. I’ve got a feeling you’re next.”
Not likely. He still wondered how in the hell every one of his bachelor cousins found themselves shackled and chained in holy matrimony
. Wasn’t it just a few months ago he’d been bitching with Todd about Tyson and Trevor settling down?
Maybe Tyson was right—there was something was in the water. Which was why he was staying the hell away from it.
He set the empty bottle of beer down on a nearby table and twisted off the cap on the new one. “Guess I should congratulate the newlyweds.”
“Ah you’ve got time.” Tyson settled beside him and they both stared out at the floor together. “So any new gals in your life?”
“I’m actually in between at the moment, Sheriff,” he drawled.
Until Todd had fallen head over heels with Kate, he and Ryan had been like twins rather than cousins. They’d both lived and loved life to the fullest—including the girls that came with it. How many times had they been each other’s wingman? Too many to count. Damn. And now he was flying solo.
He checked again to see if the brunette was still staring. Yes
she was. This time her cheeks filled with color before she looked away and seemed to mutter something to herself.
Then again maybe he’d do just fine on his own.
“Excuse me, cuz.” He grinned and slapped his oldest cousin on the back. “I think I may have to see
filling that vacancy for a girl in my life.”
. He was coming over!
Ciara bit back a groan and resisted the urge to flee, since the floor opening up and swallowing her wasn’t likely to happen.
What’d you expect by staring at him like he was some sex god from another planet?
But, jeez, how could she not? He was ridiculously hot. Was he one of the Wyatt brothers? She’d heard there were only three, but when one of the known Wyatts had walked over to him, there was no denying the resemblance. The blond hair and blue eyes.
“How’s your beer?”
... she blinked as he arrived beside her. “I’m not actually drinking a beer. This is punch.”
“And see that’s a problem, which is why I brought you one.” His mouth curved into a sinfully sexy smile as he handed her a bottle. “You are old enough to drink the stuff, right? My cousin isn’t going to have to come arrest me for supplying a minor with alcohol?”
Wyatt was the Sheriff, so that meant this guy wasn’t one of the brothers, but a cousin.
“I’m twenty-three, so no laws are being broken.” She accepted the beer with a quirked brow. “Now tell me, does your beer trick actually work on women?”
“You know, I’ve never actually tried it before tonight. How’s it working?”
Oh honey you could’ve handed me a bottle of vinegar and I would’ve melted a little.
“I’ll let you know. I’m Ciara. So you’re one of the famous Wyatts?”
“Ryan Wyatt, but I wouldn’t say I’m one of the better known ones.”
Somehow she had a hard time believing Ryan was a wallflower. “Nice to meet you, Ryan. I haven’t been here long, but it sounds like anyone with the last name Wyatt in a place called Wyattville stands out a little.”
“Hmm. Maybe. What brings you here?”
“Family.” Interesting change of topic, one she wasn’t too thrilled with either. Time to change it again. “Or did you mean the wedding?”
“Actually both. But on the wedding topic, are you friends with the bride or groom?”
“Bride, though only just recently. I met her at the salon last week when she was getting her hair highlighted. We hit it off fabulously and she invited me to her wedding.” Ciara smiled and took a sip of beer. “Seemed a little crazy, but she assured me it’s totally not weird in a small town.”
“Not weird at all. I’m surprised she didn’t make you a bridesmaid.”
She laughed and caught his gaze. His eyes were twinkling with amusement now and definite interest. Her stomach fluttered. Oh god he was sexy.
You didn’t come
to Wyattville for this, Ciara. K
eep your head on straight.
“The reception is winding down and there’s an awful lot of sugar to eat around here,”
“Well Kate does own a bakery.”
“A damn good one, and I’m glad to see it’s open again after that fire.”
“Fire?” She hadn’t heard about a fire at Kate’s bakery.
“I’ll tell you all about it over a burger.”
“You want to bail on your cousin’s wedding?”
“Reception. All that’s left is the throwing of the bouquet and garter toss, and I’m not in
to that stuff. Unless you are
That was one of her favorite parts, but it’d be hard to admit it now.
Yeah, I’m totally that girl who knocks chicks down while trying to grab the bouquet.
Step aside, bitches!
“Oh, god, no. I usually skip that part,” she lied breezily. But that certainly didn’t mean she could accept his invite for lunch. “Actually I am kind of hungry.”
And so much for keeping your head on straight.
His smile turned self-assured in a way that should’ve warned her. But the truth was it wouldn’t kill her to flirt a little, and Ryan was a good distraction right now. She just needed to
make sure it didn’t go beyond a little harmless flirting.
“Great. Let’s wish the n
ewlyweds well and then we can head out.”
When Ryan slipped an arm around Ciara’s waist, she didn’t protest. Triumph seared through his blood.
She’d be in his bed before sunset without a doubt.
A cute girl, stranger to town, she probably didn’t have a clue about his reputation. Not that he was some psycho off the street, but the term bad boy had been tossed in his direction more than once or twice.
He enjoyed women, partying, and living life to the fullest, and to hell with anyone who tried to tell him to settle down a bit. And he’d never had a problem with finding willing women to sleep with him.
So even if Ciara
known him, it may not have deterred her.
They reached the dance floor where Kate and Todd were just finishing up another dance.
“Hey, cuz.” Ryan slapped his cousin’s back and grinned. “Congrats again on this holy matrimony thing.”
No matter how much he wanted to believe his cousin would never settle down, there was no denying that the guy was basking in love’s glow.
Nothing that a few shots of Captain Morgan’s wouldn’t fix.
“Thank you, Ryan.” Todd pulled Kate closer to his side and she snuggled up eagerly against him. Her eyes were shinning and she looked real pretty today—no, not pretty, beautiful. Marriage—or maybe just Todd—suited her.
He watched Kate’s gaze slide over to Ciara and then to him, open curiosity and calculation in them. Nice, she was probably figuring out how to set them up.
Wasn’t going to happen. Not for more than a night anyway.
“We’re going to head out,” Ryan said briskly.
Todd’s brows rose. “Together?”
“Yeah, that’s the plan.”
Was it his imagination, or was that unease th
at flitted across Todd’s face?
Todd had never had a problem with his reputation before—hell they’d had cloned reputations—so why was he
looking unsettled by the idea now
But then his cousin nodded and smiled again. “Sure, no problem.
And being one of the groomsmen
Like I would’ve refused.
This day is epic for you, never thought I’d see it.” Ryan winked.
“Seriously, thank you!” Kate grabbed Ciara’s hand and squeezed. “I’m so glad we’ve had the chance to get to know each other. We’ll have to keep in touch after you leave.”
Ciara laughed softly. “Definitely.”
“Have a great time on your honeymoon in the
” Ryan gave his cousin another back slap before leading Ciara toward the exit.
“Wow, you weren’t kidding about getting out of here and grabbing that burger,” she muttered, glancing up at him.
“Weddings make me itch.”
She burst out laughing and shook her head. “You’re trouble, Ryan. I’m not really sure why I’m leaving with you.”
Because you want to find out what I’ll be like in bed?
They stepped outside and the spring breeze caught her hair. His smirk died and the breath in his throat caught.
He’d thought her cute earlier, but really, up close now, she was gorgeous. Her face alone was striking. A mix of innocence and beauty. Her dark hair fell past her shoulders in a trendy cut, and her heart shaped face held a small nose, and the biggest, deepest doe eyes with long sooty ashes.
She’d said she was twenty-three, which was still pretty young, but definitely old enough to know what she was doing.
“That’s a good question. Why
you leaving with me, Ciara?” Who knew what drove him to ask it, but there it was.
She shrugged and then glanced up at him from beneath her lashes. “Maybe I believe in spontaneity.”
He grunted. Maybe she did this kind of thing a lot—going home with a guy she barely knew. For some reason, that bugged him more than it should.
“Your car or mine?”