Tarnished Saints Series – Book 5
Simon Taylor saves the life of a woman who falls overboard from a cruise ship. Little does he know she is about to show up in his hometown of Sweet Water, Michigan and cause big waves.
Piper Westbrook never expects to see Simon when she arrives at Thunder Lake to close down the marina. But when she realizes it’ll affect not only Simon and his family but the entire town, she starts to have second thoughts.
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Excerpt From Saving Simon:
When Piper was sure Simon was going to lead her back to the car, he led her in the opposite direction. That is, toward the lake instead.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“To the pier.”
“By the water?” She felt a little apprehensive about being so close to the water again after the spill she’d taken from the cruise ship. Her body was still sore in places that she never even knew existed, and the thought of her almost dying in the process still rattled her nerves.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. The water by the pier is shallow enough to stand in, so you won’t drown. Besides, I’ll be there to protect you.” He put his arm around her waist as they walked.
“You don’t have to protect me from everything all the time, Simon. You’re not on the cruise ship any more so you don’t have to be the safety police around me.”
“All right, already. I get it.” He took his arm from around her and with it went the warmth that was emanating between them. Now she was angry at herself for saying anything at all.
“I didn’t mean it that way. Really.” Piper tried to apologize but could tell she had hurt his feelings.
He walked down the dock and then onto a pier that looked old and rickety and started toward the larger of the two sailboats that were docked there. There were nearly two dozen piers up and down the water with slips for the boats. Some of the piers were in good condition and there were others she wouldn’t set foot on if someone paid her.
“Come on, Pippa, we’re here,” he said stopping alongside the sailboat and holding out his hand, coaxing her down the pier.
She had on her two-hundred dollar pair of designer jeans with the rhinestone bling on the back pockets and her good pumps and didn’t want to get them wet or dirty. It was already bad enough she’d foolishly knelt in the dirt at the cemetery.
“I don’t want to get my shoes or jeans wet or dirty,” she told him and saw him roll his eyes and shake his head before coming back to get her.
“Are you coming or not?” he asked.
She looked at the pier again and sincerely wondered if it was going to collapse if she stood on it. “I don’t think so.”
“I thought you said you wanted to see where I spent the night.”
She looked down the dock again and realized what he had done. “Please don’t tell me just because I told you that you couldn’t stay in the cabin, you came and slept on the boat?”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“You’re crazy, Simon Taylor to sleep on a boat.”
“No, I’m not,” he said. “It’s got all the comforts of home.”
“You’re just teasing me.”
“Want to find out for sure or not?”
She looked at the pier again and then at the boat bobbing up and down in the water. “I told you, I don’t want to get my shoes or jeans wet or dirty.”
“Then you won’t have to.”
Before she knew what was happening, he’d swooped her up off her feet and cradled her in his arms. She let out a little squeal and clasped her hands around his neck. The contact between them felt wonderful, but she knew he meant to take her onto the boat.
“Simon, put me down. Please.” Her heart beat rapidly in her chest and she wasn’t sure if it was from the excitement of being in his arms or from her fear of the water.
“Not until you’re on the boat.” He walked down the pier quickly and with the grace and stealth of a wildcat he mounted the boat with her in his arms, never once wavering. He put her gently down on her feet, and she almost felt disappointed not to be in his embrace anymore. “Well, here we are. Home sweet home,” he said with a proud smile.
The boat swayed in the waves as a speedboat went past, and she almost lost her balance and grabbed on to Simon with both hands. He steadied her and wrapped his arms around her body in a protective hold.
“Okay, take me back to shore now. I’ve had enough.”
“Not until I show you the cabin.”
“This is scary. I want to go back.”
“Pippa, for god’s sake we’re still docked. It’s not like we’re in the middle of the ocean. Actually, you showed less fear when we were in the middle of the ocean.”
“That was before I experienced what it was like to almost drown. Besides, it was a much bigger boat than this.”
“It was a yaht, or ship. Not a boat, sweetheart.”
“Whatever. I felt safer on that even in the rain storm than I do on this.”
“Come on,” he grumbled, not taking no for an answer.
He guided her down through the door at the front of the boat, and they both had to bend over to enter the small space. Immediately she felt claustrophobic and wanted to turn around and run out but Simon’s wide shoulders were blocking the exit and it was too cramped to move.
“Sit down,” he told her, holding out his hand and offering her a seat on a padded bench. She felt like she was going to fall again and quickly sat down just so she wouldn’t end up on her butt on the dirty floor. He sat down on a padded bench across from her and their knees touched. His body filled up most of the cabin and took her breath away.
“You weren’t kidding,” she said, finding it hard to believe that people actually slept on boats.
“I told you. Nice, isn’t it?”
“That’s not the word I had in mind.”
“I’ll give you a tour. There’s the stove and sink,” he told her, pointing to the small area next to her.
“How?” she asked.
“There’s a water tank hooked up to the boat and the stove is propane.”
“Next you’ll be telling me there is a bathroom in here too.”
“What do you think is under that cushion you’re sitting on?”
“I’m sitting on the toilet?” she asked, cringing when she said it.
Simon laughed then, and she loved the sound of his deep voice rumbling through the small cabin. “What more could you ask for?” he said. “It even sleeps five.”
“Maybe this would sleep five if Snow White and her dwarves were staying here, but I can’t even understand how one person can sleep here without being a contortionist.”
“I never said it could sleep five comfortably,” he said with a grin.
“Unbelievable,” she said, looking around to see a small table on metal poles stuck into the wall and also several windows, one on each side and one in the front over a spot that looked as if it could sleep two together very cozily. “I suppose that’s the master bedroom up there.”
“It is. Want to try it out?”
She felt herself getting very hot all of a sudden and the thought of making love on a boat was floating around in her head like jetsam on the water.
Piper was sure Simon was going to lead her back to the car, he led her in the opposite direction. That is, toward the lake instead.