Wasted Summer – Cathryn Fox
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Wasted Summer

Book Cover: Wasted Summer

Stone Cliff Series, Book 2

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When Broken meets Beautiful.

Melody Spencer has a plan: work hard, stay focused and save enough money to get out of Stone Cliff and the rumors that surround her. Wounded and distrustful, she's learned the hard way that if a guy is nice to her, it means he's only after one thing.

Until Ryeland Montgomery cruises back into her resort town, beautifully protective as he insists they get to know each other better.

Ryeland's future is in the palm of his hands. Problem is it's the future his hard-nosed father has chosen for him, not the one he wants. Warned by his folks to steer clear of the local girls who will do whatever it takes to escape the sleepy mountain town, he's always played the good son and kept his distance.

Until he sees Melody, sweet yet tough, standing on the road side, drenched and furious—a girl he knows he has to have.

Soon this unlikely pair find themselves lost in each other, and after a whirlwind summer of passion and pleasure, he vows to protect her from everything and everyone. But when secrets unfold, Melody is forced to make the toughest decision of her life and Ryeland must determine whether he's wasted the summer on nothing more than a beautiful lie, or if they can move past the deceipt and rebuild the wreckage that has become their lives.

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Excerpt:

He raked his hands through thick, dark hair, his glance moving over her face before settling on her eyes. "You're soaked."

"Way to state the obvious," she huffed out. "I guess you really are as smart as they say."

The corner of his mouth twitched. "Uh, did I do something to piss you off?"

"Look, I was already running late for work when your friends thought they'd get their kicks by soaking me, so I don't have time for this, okay?"

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Something dark moved over his face, but she wasn't about to take the time to examine it, not when the clock was ticking and her job was on the line. Instead, she pushed past him but he touched her arm to spin her back around. She flinched, and every muscle in her body tensed, ready to put her self-defense classes to work. Shifting her stance, she prepared to fight, recalling the last man who'd tried to touch her without her permission. She had been only thirteen at the time, and well… Her stomach clenched as painful memories intruded.

Forget it, Mel…just forget it.

Ryeland stepped back. "Whoa, sorry."

"What do you want?"

Looking confused, he shifted back and forth in his designer sneakers, his pale blue polo shirt rasping over his broad shoulders. Silence lingered for a moment, and his forehead creased, probably because he was trying to figure out why she wasn't falling all over him like every other girl he'd gifted with his presence. He opened his mouth, then closed it again, and when she was about to turn back around and hike up the hill, he finally spoke.

"I'm sorry my friends are such assholes, but all I'm trying to do here is give you a ride to make up for it. You don't have to go all Karate Kid on me." He dipped his head and his voice was soft when he said, "I'm trying to help."

Surprised, Mel narrowed her eyes to really look at him. Was he for real? He wanted to help her? Surely there had to be something in it for him. Maybe he was tired of the rich, Barbie doll blondes falling all over him and thought he'd go slumming this summer.

"Why would you want to help me?" she asked bluntly, her back straight, shoulders squared, still on the defense.

He stared at her for a moment, an equal mixture of confusion and intrigue backlighting those fascinating pewter eyes of his. "Why wouldn't I?"

While she could stand there and list a dozen reasons, mainly how those from his social circle didn't associate with girls from the wrong side of the tracks-except to sleep with them-she knew she had to get a move on it.

She backed up an inch. "You know what, I don't know you and you don't know me, so let's just both be on our way. Besides, I'm sure your friends are wondering where you are."

"You're wrong, you know."

"Wrong? What am I wrong about?"

His thick bicep muscles flexed as he drove his hands into his pockets, pushing his jeans a little lower on his hips. While she tried not to glance down-some unknown force pulled her gaze to the flash of tanned skin between his shirt and pants-he took a small step forward, moving into her personal space. He was close, too close, and while she knew she should turn and hightail it out of there, her stupid legs took that moment to betray her. Unable to drag herself away, she exhaled slowly and wondered what the heck was going on with her.

"I know you," he said, his voice so low, so incredibly soft, it momentarily caught her off guard.

She held his gaze, and when warmth moved over his handsome face, softening the hard angles, a strange, unfamiliar sensation mushroomed inside her belly. What the hell?

Despite the fact that she wanted to end this conversation, she blurted out, "How do you know me?"

He gave a lazy roll of one shoulder. "Everyone does."

"Right." She shook her head and berated herself for momentarily letting down her guard. Good God, she never let down her guard. Ever. Otherwise the things people said behind her back might get to her. Things like "slut", "town whore", "no good drunken mother", and "deadbeat dad".

Oh yeah, everyone knew Mel Spencer. Or at least they thought they did. Although she had to admit, some of the rumors were true. She mentally kicked herself for thinking he might actually be different, that he might actually know something other than the stories people spread behind her back. But how could he? She never let anyone get too close. Not anymore anyway. And truthfully, why did she even care what Ryeland Montgomery thought? He meant nothing to her, and his opinion mattered about as much as her broken nail.

"I'm Ryeland."

"I know," she answered and turned to go.

"So you know me, then?"

She caught a pebble in her flip-flop, stopped to shake it out, and moved on. "No," she lied, tossing the words over her shoulder. "I don't know you."

He jogged ahead and stepped in front of her, once again blocking her path.

Mel planted one hand on her hip and tilted her head to meet his gaze straight on. "Do you mind?"

His white teeth flashed in a smile and instead of answering he said, "You know my name and you said I was as smart as everyone says."

"And…?"

He stepped closer, closing the gap between them. Holy hell, did this guy know nothing about personal space? He dipped his head, and as she became the sole object of his focus, an unexpected curl of heat wound through her, chasing the chill from her body.

"And…that kind of tells me you do know me," he explained.

"You're kind of legendary around here. But I don't know you."

She folded her arms but when he slanted his head, the boyish, totally sexy way he looked at her weakened her knees. God, no wonder everyone was crazy about him.

Her gave her a lopsided grin that set off a chain of events inside her body, none of which she welcomed. "You think I'm legendary?"

She was about to put an end to this conversation when the skies opened up and did it for her. Cold hard rain pelted them, but Ryeland didn't race to his Jeep like the pretty boy son of a rich lawyer who couldn't look less than one hundred percent put together. Instead he stood there, like he had all the time in the world to annoy the hell out of her.

Rain plastered his thick hair to his head, pushing his bangs into his eyes. She nodded toward his vehicle. "You'd better get in your car before your gel runs."

His grin widened and, despite herself, she couldn't help but smile back. Score one for the townie.

"I'm not going without you." Undeterred, he rooted his feet and folded his arms.

She tightened her grip on her paper bag, ready to tell him for the last time she wasn't going anywhere with him. But before she could voice those words her box of tampons pushed through the wet brown paper and fell into a puddle with an undignified splash.

Ryeland's gaze dropped to the ground and he scrubbed his hand over his jaw like he was trying not to laugh. She groaned low in her throat as embarrassment raced through her. Dear God, could this day get any worse?

Another rumble serrated the heavy air and Mel looked skyward, willing the next electrical bolt to hit her. Right between the eyes.

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