Waking Up To Love (Lakeside Porches Book 4)

BOOK: Waking Up To Love (Lakeside Porches Book 4)
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Table of Contents

WAKING UP TO LOVE

Lakeside Porches Series Book Four

KATIE O’ BOYLE

SOUL MATE PUBLISHING

New York

WAKING UP TO LOVE

Copyright©2015

KATIE O’ BOYLE

Cover Design by Leah Kaye Suttle

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Published in the United States of America by

Soul Mate Publishing

P.O. Box 24

Macedon, New York, 14502

ISBN: 978-1-61935-
942-0

www.SoulMatePublishing.com

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

To my brother-in-law, Jim,

the real cook in the family!

Acknowledgements

So many people have contributed to the writing of this book. First, last, and always, warm thanks (and promises of more good books to come!) to my beta readers Anne and Martha. Kat Drennan, Katie O’Connor, and Carrie Padgett provided constructive, professional critiques that greatly improved the book at an early stage. Special thanks to the judges of the 2013 HeartBeat Contest who deemed Waking Up To Love a Finalist.

Chapter 1

Just short of the cliff top, the dirt path narrowed to the width of a hiking shoe. Clumps of grass bordered it to the right and a rocky bank, studded with vegetation, to the left.

Before taking the next step, Lyssa paused to steady herself. Lifting her face to the wind, she embraced the rush of air, the chill on her cheeks, the cry of the gulls, and the pounding of the waves eighty feet below.

How can I leave this place? And this man?

“Kyle, I love it here so much.” She turned to him and caught him studying the path, his forehead creased with . . . what? Worry? About work?

When he raised his head, she could swear there was moisture—could it be tears?—in his eyes. He smiled then, that sweet wide smile that showed the crinkles by his mouth. “The Cornish Coast brings out your wild spirit, luv.”

The lift of his eyebrow made her grin.

“And your copper curls.” He brushed a stray tendril from her cheek.

“Do you like it natural like this?” She’d had to keep the curls in check for filming and appearances, until her post-doctoral fellowship ended last month. She’d made two public-broadcast series on financial literacy for women—The Savvy Spender and The Wise Woman Investor. If she had her way, she’d never use a flat iron again.

“I rather prefer this wild free Lyssa.” He teased her with his warm gray eyes.

“Kyle, I’m so torn about taking the job back home in the States.”

“And I as well.” He gazed out to the restless sea. “I’m being a martyr, I know. It came up so suddenly. You never told me how you heard about it.”

“Justin Cushman called me out of the blue last week.”

“Justin?” His shocked tone rocked her back a step.

“You know who he is?”

“Er—”

“Oh, of course, you met him. Last November when he and Gwen were in London. The meeting I took you to.”

Kyle’s forehead had beaded with sweat. “Yes, yes, of course.” His eyes were flint. “I wouldn’t have expected this of him.”

What’s that about?
“Well, Justin’s not your average billionaire.” She laughed nervously.

“So you got a call from Justin . . .” His voice had an edge as he gestured for her to walk on.

“Right.” She took a careful step forward. “He has an important role at the college in Tompkins Falls, where my sister lives. Trustee or something.” The wind had strengthened, and the curls batted her eyes. She held them back with one hand.

“He said they’d just received funding for a grant that includes a visiting economics professor. And right away he thought of me. He said the job uses all my strengths and promises to move my career forward.”

“He probably thought of you when he
applied
for the grant,” Kyle muttered.

“Why would you say that?” When Kyle made no response, she waved it away. The curls blew back in her face. “Bother. Anyway, I have first dibs on the job, assuming I do well on the interview.”

Kyle stayed quiet.

“Which is the day after tomorrow.” She could barely hear his tread behind her over the roar and thump of the waves. A glance at the sky showed dark clouds filling the horizon to the west.

“Tell me all the things that excite you,” Kyle said. “About the job, I mean, and the move.” An angry undertone belied his upbeat question.

“You know I’d love to stay here in the UK, but none of my inquiries have gotten so much as a nibble. And I wouldn’t want to wait tables or work in an office, now that I have the Ph.D. So the fact that this is a job in my field is a plus. A big one.”

Breakers foamed and sprayed the face of the cliff, before dying back into the sea. Lyssa quelled her sudden vision of plunging onto the rocks.
God, this is not the time to panic. Help me out here
. She reached her free hand to the bank on her left.

“Frightened?” Kyle asked, his voice gentle now.

“I’d forgotten how narrow it is along here.” The wind tore the words from her mouth. Her heart hammered. “The wind is killer.”

“I can walk ahead of you if you want. Or we can turn back.”

“No, I’m good.”

“There’s the thrill-seeker in you.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze.

She jumped, surprised he was so close behind.

“Sorry, I won’t do that again. So, one feature of the job is the professional importance of the work. What else?”

“The location.”
Good, he’s more cheerful now
.

“Which is where?”

“The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. The area is gorgeous, not wild like this, but serenely beautiful. And the college is in Tompkins Falls, where my sister Manda lives. We’ve spent exactly six hours together since we were teenagers.”

“That’s pathetic.”

“She and I talk on the phone and text a lot.”

“But siblings should see one another and do things together at every opportunity. I would, if I had any.”

“So you understand why I want to try this?”

“Blast.” He kicked a stray stone off the path with more force than needed. “I’ve just given you one more push to go, haven’t I?” He heaved a sigh. “But I do want you to follow your dreams, luv. We must pay attention to our deepest desires.” His voice trailed off.

She nodded, too choked up to say anything more.
Give me a reason to stay, Kyle, and I will.

The path angled to the left and rose in three crude stone steps to a broad grassy sweep of land. They’d walked here together just once, on a sunny day in May, when yellow wildflowers bloomed on the bank. Stonecrop, he’d called it. She’d begged him to bring her back here today, her last day in Cornwall.

“Careful there. There’s a bit of moss on the stones that makes them slippery.”

She ascended effortlessly, but the force of the wind slammed her when she reached the high, flat ground. “Doesn’t look good up here.” She reached a hand back to him.

“But you look very good up here.” He teased with his eyes as he came beside her.

Lyssa gestured to an ominous cloud issuing rain as it approached the headland. “I mean that doesn’t look good.”

“Squall closing in fast.” He sniffed the air.

Lyssa smelled it, too, the intoxicating odor of rain off the Atlantic.

“We need to head back. Unfasten your jacket, luv, and put it on.”

She fumbled with the knot in the arms of the windbreaker tied around her waist, but just as it loosened, a gust of wind tore the garment from her hands. She lunged for it and slipped down the stone steps with a scream.

Instinctively, she released the anorak, planted one foot on the path and grabbed for a handhold. Heart pounding, she clung to a tuft of coarse grass and collapsed against the bank with a moan as pain registered in her ankle.

Kyle scrambled to her side and lifted her to her feet. “I’ve got you, luv.” He pressed her back against the safety of the bank.

When she wrapped her arms around his muscled shoulders, his heart thudded against her. She sobbed into his neck as the wind swirled around them.

Kyle gasped for breath. “Thank God you didn’t follow your anorak on its break for freedom.” His hands trembled as he stroked the thin cotton of her T-shirt. “No worries, eh?”

“Hold me, don’t let me go.” The scream of a gull diving for shelter echoed her plea.

The leading edge of the squall peppered them with frigid raindrops. “We’re in for it now. Catch your breath quickly.” His tone was gentle. “Then we’ll get ourselves back to the house.”

“I can’t go back this way. I’m afraid.”

“Nor is it safe on the path in a squall like this. But you saw the size of that raincloud. It’s not going to let up for a good hour or more. We need to get off the cliff straightaway.”

The sea pummeled the rocks below, and spray shot into the air. “Oh God.” She buried her face in the curve of his shoulder.

“God may have our backs, Lyssa, but we’ve got to do the footwork.”

He stroked her back, and she held him hard against her, loving the feel of him pressed against every curve and crevice of her body.
Why did it take a fall for him to put his arms around me?

“Take one more deep breath, and we’ll be on our way.”

“I c-can’t,” she stammered.

“Lyssa,” he barked, “suck in a breath.”

She did.

“One more just like that.” He breathed along with her and put some space between them, while the downpour soaked her hair and clothes. “Good. Let’s be off now.”

“No, I can’t do it, Kyle.” She would have stamped her foot if it weren’t throbbing.

“Yes, you can. We’ll go up the three steps to the top and then take the back way off the cliff. Not much adventure, but there’s a wide safe track, nowhere near the cliff edge, that runs down to the road. It’s a bit longer, but we’ll be perfectly safe, I promise you.” He struggled to strip off his jacket as the wind tore at it. “Put this on.”

“You need it.”

“Luv, your white T-shirt is now transparent in the rain, and I cannot keep my hands off you for the forty minutes it will take us to get back to the house. Put on the jacket.”

Her skin showed through the now-translucent cotton, the lacy bra barely covering her full breasts and hard nipples.
He really
is
into my body. Why hasn’t he ever made a move?
She hated that they’d never been intimate and wished he’d kiss her, right there on the edge of the cliff in the pouring rain.

Kyle’s jaw was set. He held the jacket out for her. With reluctant surrender, she drew it on and zipped it to her neck. “Ready.”

He made the climb up the three slippery steps with care. When he turned back to her, his face streamed with rain.

Lyssa took a step forward and winced as her right foot protested the weight.
Suck it up, Lyssa
.

“Can your ankle make it?” Kyle shouted over the wind. He crouched low and stretched his hand down to her with an encouraging smile.

Angling her body to face the roiling sea, she ascended each stone step in turn, keeping most of her weight on her good left foot.

Once she made the cliff top, he braced her with his arm. “It’s easy from here.” The wind roared as loud as his voice.

“I’m good now,” she told him, grateful for his calm.

“We’ll cross the cliff top, there.” He pointed to a spot fifty yards from where they huddled. “It’s a short drop to a good wide track. I’ll help you down.”

“Let’s do it.” She welcomed his protective arm across her back as they set off against the wind.

Pennington House was a haven of silence and warmth at the end of their trek. “Thank you, God,” she whispered on an exhale.

Both she and Kyle were drenched and shivering. Her ankle was still swollen, though it had stood the walking once they’d reached the track.

Kyle closed the front door quietly behind them, but the staff had been on the lookout.

“Yer mum’s worried, Mr. Kyle,” the housekeeper scolded as she bustled from the kitchen. She dried her hands on a big linen towel and scowled at them.

“I’ll go to her first thing. Lyssa needs a hot bath and something to wrap her ankle. Tea and sandwiches, too. You’ll see to that, Fiona?”

“Yes, sir, straightaway.”

He strode up the broad staircase and continued toward his mother’s quarters without a backward glance.

“Ye’ll not go again into that weather without a jacket.” Fiona clucked her tongue.

“I took my anorak, Fiona, but the wind blew it out of my hands. Kyle gave me his, and he’s soaked to the bone.”

“As are ye, miss.” Fiona pointed a finger as Lyssa unzipped the jacket and said with a lusty chuckle, “I can see why he gave ye his to wear. Upstairs with ye now.”

“He sounds angry, doesn’t he?”

“He’ll brighten up after he’s settled his mum and had a bit of brandy.”

The blood drained from Lyssa’s face. She’d been sober more than a year now, but sometimes, like now, when she stood wet and trembling with cold and regret, a shot of something sounded like a good idea.
Better that Kyle have his brandy alone
.

She struggled with the laces of her hiking shoes and finally freed her feet from the wet, muddy boots. “I’m afraid I’ve ruined these by slipping on the path. Shall I leave them here?”

“Right ye are. We’re used to ruined shoes. Himself will do what he can,” she said, referring to her husband of twenty-two years, Padraig Murphy from County Cork, Ireland. “Up ye go now. Can ye manage yer bath, and I’ll bring up a tray?”

“That’ll be grand.” Lyssa gave her a warm, but weary, smile. “Thank you, Fiona, for everything.”

“Perhaps one day ye’ll teach Mr. Kyle to do that,” Fiona said under her breath.

“What? Kyle has a beautiful smile. Doesn’t he smile for you?”

“I shouldn’t have said, miss. Get away with ye now. Yer shivering with the cold.”

Upstairs in her suite, Lyssa drew her bath, heavy on the rose bath salts, before peeling off Kyle’s jacket and her own clothes. She sat on the rim of the huge, old, claw foot tub and slid in, fanny first, submerging her whole body in the steamy warmth for a few seconds. Head back above the surface, she reached for a bottle of conditioner and worked a grape-size dollop into the wet, snarled nest that had started the day as a sleek, long-layered bob.

She rested her head against the porcelain, and let the heat and salts seep into her strained muscles, throbbing ankle, chilled limbs, and torso.
Move on, Lyssa
.
Kyle’s not interested in anything more than you’ve had.

BOOK: Waking Up To Love (Lakeside Porches Book 4)
13.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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