Published by Montlake Romance
Title: Come Home To Me
Author: Liz Talley
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Summer Valentine has returned to Moonlight, South Carolina, a very different woman from the naive wallflower who left years before. These days she’s straightforward and savvy, determined to do right by her son, David, even if that means cashing in her struggling music career in Nashville and returning to the town that drove her away. Sure, she took a fall. But at least she now knows where she stands . . .
Despite her anger over the past, Summer believes David deserves a relationship with his father, Hunter “Hunt” McCroy. Though Hunt’s illustrious career has faded, privilege still protects him from his worst mistakes.
Someone else is back in Moonlight too: Rhett Bryan, the golden boy of Hollywood, who’s taking stock of his own life after a tragic accident. As his rekindled friendship with Summer quickly deepens, she must reconcile the painful history that ties her to both men—one she’s finally forgiven, one she’s afraid to love—to claim healing and happiness.
Right as Summer lifted the glass to drain the last of her chardonnay, she heard something outside. A thump. Or maybe a scratch.
Alarm prickled her neck hairs, and she set the glass on the narrow end table, rising and creeping toward the window. After her earlier scare in the afternoon, her senses remained on high alert.
Likely it was the raccoon that had been plaguing her garbage can. The bastard was crafty and had figured out how to pry off the lid, causing her to spend money she didn’t have on a bigger, more secure can. Then again, there had been a rash of burglaries a few communities over. They lived far from the gatehouse, and Pete slept like a dead man, disproving any claims he made about being a light sleeper. The man couldn’t hear thunder.
The porch light illuminated the cement stoop but not much beyond. The Carolina palmettos and lacy Spanish marsh melted into the inky darkness, but the open door of Rhett’s rental car provided enough light for her to see him sprawled on the edge of the crushed shell drive, rolling back and forth on his haunches.
What the hell?
Summer slid the chain from the front door and stuck out her head. “Rhett?”
She heard a string of curse words. She shoved the flip-flops waiting beside the worn mat onto her feet and inched onto the stoop. “Rhett?”
“What?” His voice was sharp. Or maybe holding pain?
She walked outside, fanning away moths, and made the journey to the horseshoe loop in front of Pete’s house. The Carolina golden boy with his perfect body and too-white smile now lay on his side, clutching his big toe, hair stuck to his forehead, a horrible grimace on his face. “Stubbed my toe on that stump. Shit, it hurts.”
She squinted at where he cupped his big toe. “Is it broken?”
“I don’t know.”
“What were you doing out here?” she asked, squatting beside him and drawing his hand from cradling his toe. She couldn’t see much in the scant light. “I can’t tell how bad it is. Come inside and let’s take a look. Can you walk?”
“Of course I can walk,” he said, dropping a knee and rising. But even as he rose, she could see he wobbled. Made her wonder if he’d had too much of the bourbon he’d been nursing earlier.
Summer clasped his elbow to steady him. “Okay?”
He nodded, dangling the offending foot and hopping toward the car where he’d left his other moccasin. Looked like the pair she’d given Pete for Christmas last year. The older man had never worn them, electing to wear the raggedy ones he’d had for too many years. “Except for my damned foot throbbing like a son of a—”
“Yes, everyone on the island knows. Now, hush so we don’t wake up David or Pete. I’ll get you some ice and something for the pain.”
Rhett did as suggested, hopping toward her open door, where no doubt mosquitos and moths were migrating inside by the dozens.
Once in her living area, Rhett collapsed on the couch, plunking his big foot down on her coffee table. Summer stifled her frown and went to the freezer for a bag of beans. Covering the Jolly Green Giant with a thin dishcloth, she went back to the living area, perched on the edge of the couch, and peered at Rhett’s swollen right toe. The man had his head back with eyes closed. He looked out of place, and she felt a crazy inclination to shove him out the door, hurt toe or not.
Gingerly, she ran a finger over the top of his toe.
“Does that hurt?”
“The whole damned thing hurts.” He cracked open a bleary blue eye, and she wondered if he were talking merely about his toe or … everything.
“We need to stop the swelling. Let’s try this.” She carefully set the makeshift ice pack atop his foot. “I have aspirin. Can you take that?”
“I have something stronger in my shave kit. That’s what I was after when I ran into that damned stump.”
“I’ll get it for you,” she said, starting for the door.
“Don’t bother. I can get it when I leave. I’m better now.”
She hesitated. “You sure? You seem like you’re in a lot of pain.”
Truer words had likely never been spoken. If anything was certain, it was that Rhett’s toe was the tip of the iceberg when it came to the pain in his life.
“Come sit by me. I’d like that.” His voice sounded somehow seductive.
“Rhett,” she said, caution in her tone.
“Just sit by me. You know how long it’s been since someone sat beside me and didn’t want something from me? You don’t want anything, do you, Summer?”
“I want a lot of things, Rhett, but none from you.” She meant the words when she said them. Or maybe she lied to herself, because who looked at a gorgeous man sprawled on a couch, a man she’d once loved to near distraction, and not want a damned thing from him? Summer had always been good at telling herself what she shouldn’t want. Actually doing that was quite another thing. Her judgment wasn’t always the best. She’d learned that the hard way.
“Then sit by me. It makes me feel better. Tell me about Nashville. About David. About anything other than me probably breaking my toe or any of that shit that went down in California.” His voice carried weariness shaded with a dash of desperation.
Summer sat. Not too close, but close enough to smell a mixture of bourbon and expensive men’s cologne. Close enough to feel his warmth. Close enough for him to reach over and take her hand. “You have calluses. I noticed them on the deck earlier.”
“From the guitar.”
The pad of his thumb stroked the side of her hand and did utter magic. She couldn’t lie
about the pinpricks of heat in her belly, the lava flow of desire sliding into her pelvis. Summer could chalk it up to a lack of a man in her life for the past year, but truth lay in the fact it was Rhett Bryan stroking her hand.
To her, he was the guy she’d fallen in love with senior year and couldn’t shake from her heart because his smile, his bluebonnet eyes, his very essence had clung to her like stink on a dead oyster. No amount of scrubbing had erased her desire to have him. This was why he was so dangerous. This was why her words seconds ago were an absolute lie.
A finalist for both the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart and RITA Awards, Liz Talley has found a home writing heartwarming contemporary romance. Her stories are set in the South, where the tea is sweet, the summers are hot, and the porches are wide. Liz lives in North Louisiana with her childhood sweetheart, two handsome children, three dogs, and a naughty kitty. Readers can visit Liz at www.liztalleybooks.com to learn more about her upcoming novels.
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