Tryst Island, Book 5
by Sabrina York
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9891577-8-0
When sexy minx Tara Romano catches Devlin Fox’s attention he wants her. But Tara doesn’t “do” commitments. Her suggestion that they be “friends with benefits” annoys him. So he hits upon a plan to turn their no-strings-fling into something lasting. A series of tantalizing dares—dares Tara cannot resist.
Tara Romano hurried up the narrow stairs toward the galley of the ferry, hunting in her purse for her phone. Damn it all. Where was it—
The air gushed out of her lungs as she turned the corner and plowed into a stone wall.
No. Not a stone wall. A chest as hard as stone.
She bounced off and reeled back. Panic flooded her as she teetered on the brink of the platform. Strong hands grabbed her arms, keeping her from tumbling down the narrow staircase. She gasped and clutched at her savior. “Thank you…” But the words caught in her throat. Her heart seized as she looked up into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. They crinkled at the corners as he smiled and her attention flickered to his lips.
Holy Hannah, this was one cute guy. Sculpted, tanned features, a blade-like nose and short, spiky, nut-brown hair. And his body—lord have mercy. This close, she had the perfect view of his chin. It was bold and square and covered with a hint of golden brown fuzz.
Something in her belly fluttered.
She loved fuzz on a guy. She loved bold square chins. She was tempted to nibble, but resisted the urge.
The wind whipped through the girders and gusted into her. The boat lunged. She teetered again.
His grip on her tightened. Heat seared her at his touch. And fantasies? They seared her as well. Hot, steamy visions of the two of them entwined in—
“Careful,” he said, his voice low and laced with humor. He stepped back and eased her onto the narrow platform. “It’s choppy.”
Tara blinked. “Hmm?” Yeah. Words. Not flowing.
“The sea. It’s picking up. You might want to go inside.” He pushed open the door to the inner deck, stepping back so she could pass.
“Oh. Right.” Why her mood dipped was a mystery. He was only being polite. The wind had kicked up, and with it, the chop of the sea.
But it had been nice, being melded against his chest for a moment.
A brief moment. A flash of time.
Pressed against that hard warmth.
Drawing the scent of him deep into her lungs…
Yeah. She probably needed to get laid. Since she’d given Chet the heave-ho her love life had been rather sparse. It was her choice, and it was a damn good choice. Right now she needed, above all things, to focus on salvaging her failing business. Men were a distraction. Relationships, an annoyance. She had no business thinking about this man, much less fantasizing about doing wicked things with him.
But it had been a while. Too long, maybe, judging from the ache in her womb.
She sucked in a deep breath and firmed her resolve. “Thank you,” she said, dipping her head to hide her raging blush. Good lord, she’d practically curled herself around him, right there on the surging platform, and tasted his chin.
She readjusted her purse, patted down her wind-blown hair and entered the inner deck of the boat, trying very hard not to glance over her shoulder at that Greek God.
That he was still standing there, holding the door, and watching her walk away—more specifically, with his eyes glued to her ass—was a balm to her ego. He looked up and caught her staring at him. His lips quirked into a wicked grin.
And he winked.
She-it. Devlin Fox let the heavy door close on the vision, but it was damn tough. He’d seen her earlier, boarding the ferry with a group of friends. They’d all been drop dead gorgeous, but this one, this petite angel with long brown hair caught up in a swishy ponytail, had snagged his attention. Her laugh, something wild and musical, had curled around his gut like a fist, and yanked.
And then, to have her come bouncing up the stairs—not watching where she was going and utterly unaware of exactly how much she was bouncing—and plow right into him… It had been breathtaking.
She’d felt divine plastered against his body from tits to groin and though it had only been for a second, he had no doubt it was burned on his memory forever.
The ferry only had one stop left, so he knew where she was going, and excitement scudded in his veins.
She was heading to Tryst Island. She’d probably be there the whole weekend.
Surely that was enough time for a seduction.
And he was between flings. Perfect timing.
He bounded down the stairs to the car deck, fishing his keys from his pocket. He’d left his tablet in the trunk, which had been stupid. Whenever he left his tablet, he had ideas. And this one had been brilliant. Though, at the moment, he had to struggle to remember what that brilliant idea had been. His collision with a little slice of heaven had wiped it from his mind entirely. But then, ah, yes, he remembered.
The béarnaise had been flogged like a slave and drizzled over limp asparagus desperate to escape the plate.
The perfect description for the entrée he’d suffered through last night at a new frou frou eatery.
It had been a dismal meal.
Anticipation swirled. He loved when the meals were dismal. It made his job as an irreverent food critic much more interesting.
Writing good reviews wasn’t nearly as much fun.
Of course, he’d made a lot of enemies with his review blog. Likely, at some point, he wouldn’t be able to get a meal in Seattle at all…unless he wore a disguise. But people weren’t interested in good reviews. At least, not judging from the comments on his postings.
Judging from the comments on his postings, people loved snark. And the snarkier, the better.
Fortunately, Devlin Fox excelled at snark.
Especially when it referenced execrable edibles. Or pretentious presentation. Or substandard service.
Last night’s meal had been all three. He was aflame with ideas for this review. Literally. Aflame.
He grinned to himself as he wove his way to the car and grabbed his tablet, stopping to tap in a few of his more pithy observations right there on the car deck. One never knew where inspiration could strike, and it paid to capture a thought while the ember glowed bright.
And it paid well.
It had never been his intention to be a food critic. In fact, he’d diligently studied literature with every intention of becoming a bestselling author of critically acclaimed fiction. Life had intruded on that aspiration in the form of his friend Christopher Moss who, over drinks one night, had been impressed by Devlin’s diatribe on a dingy hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant featuring egg foo yong Frisbees and pot stickers that could double as hockey pucks. Chris had appreciated the sports references and offered Devlin a job writing occasional reviews for his Seattle Spotlight Magazine.
His column was an instant hit with the hipsters, the grungers, and the local tech nerds teeming in the region. It quickly morphed into a standalone blog on Chris’ website with a following of over two hundred thousand fans, many of whom didn’t even live in Seattle.
Even though he enjoyed the success of this accidental career, he still dreamed of writing that novel. But honestly, there was no time.
He refused to contemplate the bubbling fear that his imaginary novel might not be as successful as his rants on desiccated chicken breasts and greasy-haired servers beset with the winds.
With a sigh, he headed back up the stairs to the main deck, thrusting all thoughts of his ridiculous pipe dream from his head, and focusing on his review of La Boucherie, home of desperate asparagus, curdled béarnaise and prime rib so undercooked it was still chewing its cud.
He slipped into the booth he and his friends Parker and Richie had staked out in the ferry cafeteria—though those two were nowhere to be seen at the moment—and tapped in a few more notes. Then he pulled out his cell phone, quickly flicking through his messages. He did that often, as he composed in his head. The cell phone required little concentration. Without much thought at all, he deleted texts from Ann and Marjie and Alice, none of whom seemed able to grasp the concept that it was over. But he kept the naked picture of Shayla. Strictly for sentimental reasons.
He was thinking about those reasons, smiling a little crookedly, when Parker pushed in from the outer deck and plopped into his seat with a shudder.
“It’s cold out there.”
“Dude. It’s summer.” Devlin looked out the wide windows at the ice-blue waters of the Sound, the bird’s egg sky flecked with puffy white clouds. It wasn’t often sunny in the Pacific Northwest, but when God decided to make a nice day, he made a damn fine one.
“I know.” Parker pulled on his jacket. “But it’s windy.”
Devlin eyed his friend. He wasn’t skinny, per se, but he could gain a little weight. “Maybe you need to eat a burger.”
Parker snorted at the running joke. “Yeah. I read your review of Ferry Food.”
“It’s not all bad…”
“Hmm. I believe someone once said, ‘There’s a reason they sell beer and wine in ferry cafeterias.’”
The two shared a grin. He and Parker had known each other since they’d pledged the same frat in college. Over the years, their casual acquaintance had deepened into friendship. Parker was a stand up guy. Dependable. Decent.
Parker never talked about his past, and Devlin never asked, but he knew there had been some dark moments. The mark on his cheek—the exact size and shape of a man’s ring—was nearly unnoticeable, but the mottled scars on his neck, peeping over the turtleneck he always wore, spoke to a shitload of anguish. Devlin knew the pain he carried within was worse.
Everyone in Parker’s family had died when he was a boy. Though he was now a successful lawyer for a large Seattle law firm, it was only because Adam Bristol, their friend Ash’s dad, had taken him under his wing.
“Well, the coffee’s good…” Devlin offered. “And the pastries are almost fresh.”
Parker snorted a laugh. “Almost fresh. Devlin, you do have a way with words.”
“Yeah.” He glanced back down at his phone. “That’s what they say.” The inconvenient desire to write something meaningful and important rose again and Devlin pushed it down. Restaurant reviews were plenty meaningful enough. People had to eat, after all. And, come to think of it, so did he.
And the money was good. Artists starved, didn’t they?
“What a world. What a world.” Richie threw himself into the seat next to Parker. A cloud of alcoholic vapor, twined with stultifying cologne, wafted around him.
Parker waved his hand in front of his face. “Holy crap, Richie. What have you been drinking?”
Richie pulled out a flask and waggled it. “Vodka. Want some?”
“No,” Parker said on a laugh. “Isn’t it a little early?”
“S’never too early to start drinking my friend!” Richie tipped to the side and clapped Parker on the shoulder. It took him a moment to right himself.
Devlin and Parker exchanged a glance. When Richie drank, he drank. They’d probably have to carry him to Ash’s house. Which was a charming thought. Because Richie stank. It wasn’t that he didn’t use deodorant. Unfortunately, a deodorant strong enough to cover his manfunk had not yet been invented. The cologne he bathed in didn’t help matters.
Richie wasn’t Devlin’s favorite person, but Ash had invited him to spend the weekend at his house on the island, so they were stuck with him. At least for the weekend. Devlin fixated on the ascot Richie had tied jauntily around his neck. Richie was the kind of guy who couldn’t simply be what he was. He always needed to pretend to be more.
Apparently he thought lots of jewelry and an ascot marked him as a wealthy playboy.
Devlin knew several wealthy playboys. None of them wore ascots.
“Didja see those hot foxes?” Richie nodded to the far corner of the cafeteria. The effort nearly tipped him over again.
Devlin turned in that direction and stilled. His mouth went dry as he set eyes on her. Damn, she was fine. She shook her head and her ponytail swished. He didn’t know why it affected him the way it did, that ponytail. He wanted to grab it, wrap it around his fist, and hold on.
That vision swamped him. Only in his vision, they were both naked. She was before him on her hands and knees and he had a tight grip on the reins and was sinking in deep…
Yeah. A boner this hard should be illegal in public.
He was about to look away—really, he was—when she turned her head and their gazes clashed. He thought he saw her smile, a mere twitch of those rosy lips. He thought he saw a delicate blush creep up her cheeks.
She was all the way across the deck. He was probably only imagining things.
But hell, he had a damn fine imagination.
He was definitely—definitely—going to have to find her this weekend.
And seduce her.
He could do it. He had a way with words. Everyone said so.
And women loved him.
Oh yeah. He would have her this weekend. No doubt about it.