A couple of Octobers ago, my husband and I spent a weekend on Padre Island, and I came up with the idea of writing a series about people who lived in a beach town year-round. Where would they work? What would they do for fun? I like to write blue-collar characters, so that’s the direction I’m going in, for now. The story ideas have been sitting in my notebook…until now. Welcome to my new series, The Off-Season, and the first book, The Love I Want to Be In (from a Jason Aldean song).
Single mother Brioney Dawson has learned about responsibility the hard way, working as a maid in the motel in the small beach town of Avalon Island, Texas and looking after her younger brother. Local jack-of-all-trades Blue Ramsey was her sister's high school boyfriend, but stayed behind when she went off to college. He's now drawn to Brioney, admiring her drive, her determination to give her daughter the best life she can. But will Brioney look past his beach-bum facade to see who he really is?
They reached his bike and he climbed on first, then twisted around to hold out a hand to her. She put her hand in his, his palm hard and strong, and swung her leg over the seat. She shifted, trying to find a comfortable spot. He reached back and hooked his hands under her knees, drawing her forward, hooking her legs over his bare thighs so her fabric didn’t catch in the motor.
“You good?” he asked.
She wrapped her arms around his waist, her palms resting on his bare stomach. His hard, bare stomach, those tight abs. She resisted the urge to slide her hands up his chest as he started the engine. He needed to focus on getting them to his place.
She’d never been on a motorcycle before, and knew that he was going slow for her sake, but she kind of loved the freedom of the wind blowing her hair, of the bike dipping as it turned this way and that way. She loosened her death-grip on him, and he must have understood her signal, because he picked up speed, and she laughed, pressing her mouth to his shoulder as she watched the island flash by.
The ride was over too soon, and they pulled in front of his apartment, which was really a converted store with an apartment overhead. The store had long been empty. As Brioney recalled, the last occupant had been a souvenir shop which had gone out of business when the bigger one was built on the main road to the beach. In addition to Blue’s place, the motel was nearby, a taco place, a burger place, a seafood place, a t-shirt printer. The beach was only steps away, and the rhythm of the waves was relentless. This building was the only thing occupied at this hour.
Blue pulled the bike parallel to the curve and Brioney unwrapped her legs, but he caught them quickly, before he put the bike stand down.
“Motor’s still hot, so be careful.”
She nodded and swung her legs wide to jump off the bike and onto the cracked sidewalk. Then Blue was beside her, his hand on her waist, and nerves fluttered to life again.
“You ready to come upstairs?”
He was giving her a chance to walk away, to change her mind. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was absolutely willing to take her home, to end this.
She didn’t want to end this.
“Take me upstairs.”
Readers, don't forget! You can pre-order your copy of this boxed set and read the whole story of Briony and Blue the moment it's released later this month!
Barnes & Noble