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Authors: Donna Kauffman

Half Moon Harbor

BOOK: Half Moon Harbor
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Also by Bestselling Author Donna Kauffman

The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap

 

T
HE BACHELORS OF
B
LUEBERRY
C
OVE
S
ERIES

 

Pelican Point

 

C
UPCAKE
C
LUB
S
ERIES

 

Honey Pie

 

Babycakes

 

Sweet Stuff

 

Sugar Rush

 

H
OT
S
COT
T
RILOGY

 

Unwrapped:
“Santa in a Kilt”

 

Off Kilter

 

Some Like It Scot

 

Here Comes Trouble

 

A Great Kisser

 

Let Me In

 

H
AMILTON
S
ERIES

 

The Naughty List:
“Naughty & Nice”

 

Kissing Santa Claus:
“Lock, Stock & Jingle Bells”

 

To All a Good Night:
“Unleashed”

 

U
NHOLY
T
RINITY
S
ERIES

 

The Black Sheep and the English Rose

 

The Black Sheep and the Hidden Beauty

 

The Black Sheep and the Princess

 

T
HE
C
HISHOLM
B
ROTHERS
S
ERIES

 

The Great Scot

 

Bad Boys in Kilts

 

M
EN OF
R
OGUES
H
OLLOW
S
ERIES

 

Merry Christmas, Baby:
“Making Waves”

 

Catch Me If You Can

 

Bad Boys Next Exit: “
Exposed”

 

Jingle Bell Rock:
“Baby It's Cold Outside”

 

Bad Boys on Board:
“Going Down”

 

I Love Bad Boys:
“. . . And When They Were Bad”

Half Moon Harbor
D
ONNA
K
AUFFMANN

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

For Terri & Kathy

 

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters . . .”

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A special thank-you to all who helped me with the research on this book, most especially the folks at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath and the inspiration of the tall ship
Margaret Todd
in Bar Harbor, her captain, and crew. I couldn't have done this without each of you. For the sake of the story, I have made a few tweaks to some of the details you all so helpfully provided. Please forgive me. And of course, any inaccuracies are all mine.

Chapter 1

T
he morning of Brodie Monaghan's one-year anniversary as a resident in Blueberry Cove, Maine began with a hard-on and a surprise visitor. Unfortunately for him, those events occurred in exactly that order.

Living right on the wharf in Half Moon Harbor, he loved waking to the sounds of herring gulls and the guillemots calling back and forth as the tide eased up past its peak and began its rapid descent. The sun gloriously making its way over the horizon in the wee early hours, accompanied by the low, reverberating thrum of Blue's lobster boats chugging out toward Pelican Bay, was the best alarm clock known to man.

Brodie stretched fully, not minding as the linen sheets and his grandmother's old, faded quilt slid to the hand-hewn cypress floorboards in a tangle. Restless night. Again. He let the chilly May morning air ripple over his heated, bare skin, but it did little to calm down his body's morning state of affairs. He rubbed a hand over his face, felt the scratch of his morning beard, knew it was a match to the shaggy condition of his hair, then glanced down through barely open eyes. “Aye, yes, I know. I've been neglectin' ye, I have.”

The part of his anatomy to which he'd directed the comment twitched as if in response, making Brodie grin, even as he sank his head back into his goose-down pillow and let his eyes drift shut. He was considering taking matters into his own hand—a poor substitute, but he was a man who believed in taking gratification where and when he could—when a loud clatter on the docks below brought the rest of his body upright, as well. Grunting, he rolled out of his bed, which was located in the newly added loft of his converted boathouse. Well, one of his boathouses. All of which happened to be situated on his docks. His privately owned docks.

Probably the ruddy pelican again, getting his claws caught up in the frayed old ropes still piled out on the back piers. Damn bird apparently hadn't found a mate this go-round so had chosen to make a summer bachelor pad out of the small boat shed at the end of the central pier. Been making a noisy nuisance out of himself since. “That's likely why the rest of yer flock gave ye the heave-ho,” Brodie muttered. “Of course, we'd both likely be in better spirits if we could get ourselves well and truly laid.”

Still, he didn't want the great winged beast getting hurt. He'd meant to get the old ropes hauled out the previous fall, before they'd frozen into miniature piles of ice as winter descended, but that season happened earlier in Maine than he'd realized, and then hung around quite a bit longer. It was well into spring with summer just around the bend, but the mornings still had quite the nip to them, and the water was downright frigid. However, in recent weeks the sun had returned consistently enough to fully defrost his happy little patch, and he made a mental note to give Owen a call down at the hardware store and see who might be available to help with removing the old, half-rotted heaps.

Before he could cross the narrow space to spy out the porthole window and see exactly what had happened on the docks below, there was a louder thud, followed by some very inventive swearing. As far as Brodie knew, Auld Eán, as he'd taken to calling the pelican, could grumble like an old man, but hadn't as yet managed that particular feat

His grin returned. Partly because, as an Irishman, he respected anyone who was as passionate in their cussing as he was, but more so because he was fairly certain the colorful curser in question was a woman.

It was respect for the fairer sex more than any modesty on his part that had him grabbing and pulling on the pair of faded green-and-blue plaid pajama bottoms he'd dropped beside the bed before climbing between the sheets. “Down, boy-o,” he said to his still invigorated manhood, which also apparently approved of passionate, swearing women. “I promise I'll end the drought and soon enough. But for now, behave. We've company.”

He climbed down the circular iron stairs to the open area below. He'd had the main floor converted into kitchen and living space. The corner area, where the picture windows in the east and south walls came together, was dedicated to his drafting table and work desk.

Normally he grinned every time he looked over the newly finished space, sending silent thanks to fellow new Blueberry Cove resident Alex MacFarland for her fine craftsmanship and dedicated work ethic, but for once, his thoughts were mercifully on another woman.

Perhaps I'll get lucky and this one won't already be spoken for.

He flipped up the oversized iron latch, slid open the large plank door that was original to the boathouse, and stepped out onto the docks. And immediately wished he'd also grabbed a sweatshirt. And his wellies. The steady breeze coming off the water was quite brisk. His nipples went stiff, but that was the only thing interested in staying that way. Folding his arms and rubbing his warm palms over his chest, he jogged down the pier and around to the docks on the far side where the noise had come from.

“I should have left you in the car,” he heard as he neared the back corner of the boathouse.

Definitely a woman
. One with a decent bark, too. Despite the gooseflesh covering his bare torso, his morning mood grew decidedly cheerier.

“Pants are ruined, heel busted. And I'm pretty sure I'll need some help getting these splinters out.
Ouch!
Damn, that one's deep. Seriously, how does someone your size cause so much trouble?”

Brodie slowed his pace. Ah, so she had wee ones. Or a wee one, at least. Those usually came with a father of some sort. Present company excepted.
And doesn't that just figure?

“I have one moment of weakness—
one
—and this is what happens. I get you.”

Just like that, Brodie's smile faded, as did every ounce of his respect. No child should be talked to that way, made to feel unwanted—as if they'd had a choice in the matter—even in the heat of the moment. Especially in the heat of the moment.

He rounded the back corner intent on . . . well, he wasn't sure, exactly, but no one was going to shout down a tiny tot on his docks, or anywhere else in his presence. “Excuse me, miss,” he said, taking the short ladder up to the higher pier in a single hop. “This is private property and you'll be wantin' to watch your tone with the wee one if ye don't wish to make a direct exit, seaside.”

She hadn't heard him. “Aw, come on now, there's no need for—cut it out with the look, okay? That's what got me into this mess in the first place. You're killing me here. Oh, no.
No!
I didn't mean—don't you even think about—
augh
!”

Brodie took one look at the woman sprawled all over his dock, tangled up in a pile of ropes—and the small, scruffy mutt presently planted on her chest, tail wagging like mad, giving lots of wet, slobbery doggie kisses to his owner, and his goodwill was instantly restored.

“You tell her, laddie,” he said with a chuckle. “That's a good boy.”

At the sound of Brodie's voice, the wee bit of scruff looked up, spied him, and set off down the dock in a dead dash toward him, barking the whole way.

“Whomper! No! Stop! Down! Something! Hell, what's the right command? He's friendly!” she called out as the dog increased his speed. “But be careful, because he can jump really—”

At that exact moment Whomper launched himself from the dock, and in an amazing display of vertical prowess that would make any of those lads in the NBA quite envious, he landed squarely against Brodie's chest.

“High,” she finished, limply.

Brodie instinctively caught and clutched the tiny terror, staggering back a step, but remaining upright in the end. He simultaneously realized two things. One, he still wasn't wearing a shirt, and two, the dog's claws were remarkably sharp. Then he got a whiff of Whomper and realized a third thing. The tiny rascal had apparently found a dead fish he liked . . . and had gotten quite cozy with it.

In danger only of being asphyxiated by the smell of wet canine mixed with fish guts and possibly licked to death, Brodie immediately held the thing away from his body. “Whomper, me boy.” He shook his head and grimaced at the stench. “Not even the tide would take you out, mate.”

“I'm so sorry,” the woman called out. “He's kind of. . . exuberant.”

“She's being kind to ye now that ye've gone and made a scene.”

His pronouncement was met by bright dark eyes and a lolling tongue, along with a still wagging stub of a tail. Part terrier, part harbor doxy, most likely. His white scruffy fur was marked with the occasional splash of black and brown, yet the wee bit still managed to be quite the dashing rascal. One pointed ear and one with a rakish tilt at the tip didn't hurt matters any, either.

Brodie felt a certain kinship to the mutt, despite being half frozen and smelling like a fishing net left out in the hot sun. “Aye, 'tis a charmer you are, born and bred. Gets you out of a lot of scrapes, does it?” He grinned and gave the little fellow a fast wink when the dog yipped in response. “Yes, I know. Comes in handy, that, eh?” The dog wriggled with renewed adoration.

Still holding him at arm's length, Brodie strode down the dock toward the pup's entangled owner, who was still cussing under her breath as she tried—and failed—to extricate her feet and heeled shoes from the frayed edges of the heavy ropes.

“Might take both of our charms combined to get you out of this one,” he murmured to the dog. “That and a hot shower. With lots of something exceedingly sweet-smelling.” He shuddered. Their commingled fishiness was impossible not to breathe in. “Good Lord, but we reek.”

“I'm really sorry,” the woman said, teeth gritted as she worked to get the strap on her shoes free. “He's very well behaved, but only when he wants to be.” She glanced up at the dog and gave him an arch look. “Like when luring unsuspecting women into taking him home.”

Brodie grinned at the wriggling dog. “Well, mate, I'm finding you more interesting by the moment.”

She eyed both dog and man. “Perhaps he'd be happier with a fellow hound to room with, then.”

Brodie barked a laugh at that. “I can see why you picked her from the crowd,” he told the dog. “Women who know their own minds and aren't afraid to speak them are infinitely more interesting.” He bent down and set the pup on the docks. “Now, be a good lad and don't run off whilst I free your mistress here. You've a bit of making up to do, I'd say, but we'll get ourselves cleaned up first, aye?”

Whomper planted his butt on the dock, tail going in a furious spin, panting happily as he looked up at Brodie like he'd caused the sun to rise all by himself. Laughing, Brodie glanced from dog to owner. “You had no chance,” he told her as he crouched down beside her. “You realize that.” He swiftly pulled the knotted rope fibers free from the buckles on the side of her heels.

She sighed. “I never thought of myself as a sucker for strays, but I guess there's always that exception.”

She glanced up just then, and with the angle of his head blocking the bright beams of the rising sun, looked directly into his eyes for the first time.

Suddenly, he was the one all tangled up—only he wasn't quite sure why.

There was nothing extraordinary about her eyes. They were hazel, in fact, not quite distinctly green or blue, and possibly leaning a bit toward brown. Or gray. She was pretty enough in that her features were all lined up just right. Her hair was a shiny sable brown and long enough to likely do justice to a man's pillow when spread across it, but being as all those lovely strands were presently pulled back tightly against her head in a way that took them out of the equation entirely, collectively there wasn't really anything about her that would turn a man's head in a crowd.

And yet, in that singular moment, he couldn't quite look away. Without breaking their gaze, he deftly slipped her shoe with the dangling heel from her hose-clad foot.

“Thank you,” she said, and if there was a hint of breathlessness in her tone, he was quite certain he'd imagined it. “I should have worn something more sensible, I guess. I didn't think I'd be encountering any particularly tricky terrain this morning.”

He said nothing to that and their gazes continued to hold tight. Then she completely and quite surprisingly dazzled him by flashing a full-on smile. “I guess I was wrong about that. In more ways than one.”

His smile spread more slowly, but ended just as broadly as her own.

“I'm Grace Maddox, by the way. Aren't you cold?”

“I passed cold several minutes ago. I would have said I was numb . . . only that smile of yours is like a blast straight from the sun, so that can't be the case now, can it?” He eased up from his crouched position, offering his hand to pull her up next to him. Her fingers were slender, but her grip was quite strong, and there were calluses on her palms. He'd barely registered the surprise of that before she slipped her hand from his and began brushing at her long black coat and crisp linen slacks that now sported a greasy black stain on one knee.

She gave up as quickly as she began, with a roll of her eyes and a wry slant to her mouth. “Given it smells like rotting fish now, the state of my good coat is kind of irrelevant, isn't it?”

He'd taken a step back, telling himself it was to save her from having to smell the fish on him, then realized she was right. She'd been equally tainted. Yet a bit of distance seemed wise, at least until his equilibrium returned.

“I should let you get back to . . . wherever it is you came from,” she was saying, “and get warmed up. And cleaned up. I'm really sorry about that. Thank you for the rescue. Please accept my—and Whomper's—apologies for disturbing your sleep.”

Brodie ran a hand through his tousled hair, realizing that between the bed head, the morning beard, and pajama pants, he presented quite the rumpled picture. “It's not often I'm awakened by a damsel in distress, but I can't say I minded it.” His lips curved. “Your smile was payment enough. Glad I could be of service.”

BOOK: Half Moon Harbor
7.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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