Safe Harbor, страница 1
Table of Contents
Praise for Jennifer Moore
Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Melanie figured his uncertainty was a sign
of guilt. “Why did you go behind my back? You didn’t have to ride in on your white horse and rescue me. I don’t need your help.”
“I know.” He tightened his jaw.
“So why?” Tears burned behind her eyes, but she would sooner marry Graham Stewart than let Seth see them. She held his gaze, using every bit of her energy to keep her tear ducts from overflowing. Her breath rasped in short bursts, and she fought to control that as well.
Seth squinted and scratched Daisy behind her ears. “Have you ever seen Atlantic puffins?”
“I don’t…what?” His question was so unexpected Melanie could only stare.
“Puffins. Water birds. They have colorful beaks and come ashore to lay their eggs. This time of year—”
“I know what puffins are.” She spoke more sharply than she meant to.
“Have you ever seen them?”
“No. But I don’t—”
“Daisy and I were just headed out in the boat. Come with us.”
Melanie would have stomped her foot if it wouldn’t have ruined every bit of her credibility. “Seth, I don’t want to see any birds. I came here for an explanation.”
“And I’ll give you one. But I want you to see the puffins.” He turned and walked into the house, leaving the door open.
Praise for Jennifer Moore
“Another great Lobster Cove novel from Jennifer Moore. Shy, secretive Barista Melanie Owen has had enough of the take-charge “hero” type. Fixer Dr. Seth Goodwyn only wants to protect her. He was completely wrong for her, so why was he so right? SAFE HARBOR is a small-town romance to savor.”
~Marilyn Baron, author of Landlocked
The Lobster Cove Series
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Jennifer Moore
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by Tina Lynn Stout
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Sweetheart Rose Edition, 2016
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0917-0
The Lobster Cove Series
Published in the United States of America
the Red Warrior
Dr. Seth Goodwyn stepped into the cool night air, grateful his paperwork was finally caught up and he could go home. He closed the clinic’s glass door behind him, tugged to make sure it locked, and walked through the parking lot, fishing the keys from the pocket of his khakis. He put his laptop bag into the back seat and closed the door. Out of habit, he glanced up First Street, past the hospital to where he could just see the darkened windows of Sang Freud Coffee House in the glow of the streetlights.
Every morning, whether he was scheduled to work or not, he stopped in at Sang Freud’s for an Americano with cream. But the outstanding coffee wasn’t what brought him back time and again, nor was the friendly banter with Carlos Young, the coffee house owner. Rather, a particular strawberry-blonde barista, Melanie Owen had hijacked his thoughts.
He swung his gaze through the park and to Murphy’s Bar on the cross-street, Oak Avenue. Or more specifically, the windows on the second floor where Melanie lived.
He squinted, tipping his head as a shadow moved in front of the upper window. Is she awake this late? Clicking the fob, he locked the car and slipped his keys back into his pocket. Maybe Melanie was on her way out. Headed down to the bar?
After stepping over the curb, he continued on the sidewalk in the direction of Murphy’s, one of the few places still open at this hour. The small community of Lobster Cove did not exactly have a thriving night life. The quiet and the charming atmosphere were what had drawn him to this town on the Maine coast in the first place.
The possibility of having an actual conversation with Melanie, instead of the polite, brief exchanges he both dreaded and anticipated, sped his heart rate.
The petty dialog was not a result of Seth’s lack of trying. He thought every morning of something witty to say that might elicit more than Melanie’s typical one-word response. But for weeks, he’d left with a warm cup of coffee, a chocolate chip muffin, and a jaw tightened in frustration.
Still, his hope of an encounter with Melanie drove him onward. Since he first saw her a few weeks earlier, Seth had felt drawn to the woman. He and every other single man in town. Catching the gorgeous barista’s attention had become an unspoken contest among Lobster Cove’s bachelor population, but her disinterest caused most of their efforts to wane.
Seth didn’t need a psychiatrist to tell him why he continued to obsess over her. Melanie was shy, almost secretive. She hardly met anyone’s gaze directly and dodged personal questions about herself. The way her gaze darted to the coffee house door each time it opened and then relaxed once she saw who entered were all symptoms of a woman with a past. Melanie was afraid of something—or more likely, someone.
And Seth was a fixer. His need to take care of people, to save them, was the original reason he went into medicine. Not that he wanted to delve too deeply into the underlying issues behind his hero complex. Some things were simply too painful to deal with.
If only he could earn Melanie’s trust, he would take care of her. He could protect her from whomever she was afraid of; he’d find out what she was hiding from.
Seth stopped at the corner of the bar and glanced up at the apartment’s open window. A breeze fluttered the light curtain, and a shadow moved again. Irritated with himself, he blew out a huff of air and turned to go. What am I doing? Standing in the street in the middle of the night? Staring at a woman’s window like a weird stalker?
A cry of pain sounded from inside the apartment.
Seth recognized Melanie’s voice and whirled.
The shadow behind the curtain moved quickly this time. “Stop!” she screamed. “No! No! No! Stop!”
He bolted into the alleyway between the buildings and up the metal stairs. When he reached the landing, he tried the door, but it was locked.
Another cry of “No!” gave him the jolt of adrenaline he needed to kick near the doorknob, splintering the frame. Seth pushed open the door, breaking off chunks of wood as he burst into the room.
Melanie screamed again.
The apartment was lit dimly by a small television set.
Seth slid his hand up the wall and flipped on the light. He glanced around for a weapon and grabbed an umbrella from a nearby hook. With his pulse pounding in his ears, he swept his gaze around the room.
Melanie cowered in the corner of the couch, holding a throw pillow in front of her.
With a gasp, she scrambled over the arm of the couch, pressing herself down into the little space next to the wall. “I’m calling the police!”
Good. Seth nodded and turned to the two darkened doorways. His heart raced. He shoved open one door, hoping to catch the attacker off guard, and then flipped on the light, revealing a small bathroom. Peering behind the door and batting aside the shower curtain revealed nobody, and he turned his attention to the other doorway.
He held onto the knob, his breath coming fast and his hands quivering. Was the attacker armed? Behind him, he could hear Melanie’s voice.
“…broke into my apartment…yes…Dr. Goodwyn…”
Luckily, he had arrived when he did. He shoved the door then burst into the room, fumbling for the light switch. He looked behind the bed and whipped open the closet door, but Melanie’s attacker was nowhere to be seen. Seth moved to the open window and stuck out his head, but he couldn’t see anyone in the alley below. Relief poured over him, and his muscles eased as he returned to the living room.
Melanie had climbed back from behind the couch and was pressed against the wall behind the TV, moving in the direction of the front door. She held the phone to her ear.
Seth rounded the couch. “Melanie.”
At the sound of his voice, she flinched and moved faster, stumbling over the cords. She glanced back at him with wide eyes and pulled her brows together tightly, making furrows above her nose. “Yes, he’s still here,” she said into the phone.
Seth shook his head. “No, he’s gone now.” He moved to intercept her, wanting to comfort her now that the danger had passed.
She cringed back, her gaze moving past him to the door. She squinted a bit but didn’t relax her stance. “Who?”
“Your attacker must have climbed out of the window.”
“My attacker?” She squinted tighter. “You…”
For a horrible second Seth froze. His thoughts stilled then raced at unbelievable speed as the reality of the situation crashed over him. Was there no intruder? Had she been alone? He glanced at the umbrella in his hand and then to the broken doorframe. I’m the attacker. He shook his head. “But you screamed. I heard you. You were screaming for someone to stop.” He pushed the words through his dry throat.
A flush crept over her cheeks. She motioned toward the television. “I guess I was caught up in the game.”
Seth’s emotions somersaulted as his horror at what he’d done was infused with amusement. “You were screaming over a baseball game?”
“The first baseman missed the ball in the pickoff play.” She shrugged and dropped her gaze with a soft smile.
Seth squinted at the TV. A laugh bubbled up in his chest. “Don’t tell me you’re a Yankee’s fan.”
Her shoulders were still tensed, but the terror was gone from her face. “The man who broke into my apartment really shouldn’t be pointing fingers.”
Seth reached a hand toward her. Maybe she needed to sit down. “I’m sorry, I really thought—” He bit back a groan. What must she think of him? And what would happen when word got out that the town’s doctor had broken into a woman’s apartment?
The sound of the door creaking open made them both turn.
“Lobster Cove P. D.” Officer Harris stood in the doorway, his hand resting on the gun at his waist.
Melanie glanced down at the phone she still held.
The officer motioned with a jerk of his head. “Doc, step away from the lady.”
Seth’s stomach dropped. “There’s been a mistake, Nate. I thought—”
“Put down the umbrella and step away.” Nate Harris’s typically friendly brown eyes were dark and serious.
Seth dropped the umbrella and held up his hands. Sweat broke out over his forehead.
“You been drinking tonight, Doc?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. Let me explain.”
“Explain down at the station.” Nate pulled the cuffs from his belt and stepped toward Seth. “You hurt, miss?”
“No. He didn’t hurt me, Officer.” Melanie moved away from the wall and folded her arms. “I think he was trying to protect me.” She glanced up at Seth.
He nodded, warmth spreading from his chest at her shy smile.
Nate glanced back and forth between the two then bent his head to the side and spoke into the mike on his shoulder. He listened, his expression changing from stern to confused, and finally softening into a smirk. “Dispatch heard everything. You busted in here, guns blazing to rescue a woman yelling at a baseball game?” As he rested his forearm on the butt of his gun, he laughed. “Well, that’s definitely a first.” His stance relaxed. “I take it you’re not pressing charges, Miss Owen.”
Melanie shook her head then smiled at Seth.
A genuine grin with a little added sass. Not just a polite smile, but an expression of camaraderie at their shared experience—strange as it was. He grinned back. He hadn’t only broken through her door, but through the barrier she used to distance herself from people. Some of her shyness was gone. She even held his gaze without looking away immediately. Maybe his screw up hadn’t been a complete disaster.
Nate glanced at the game on the TV. “Stupid Yankees deserved that loss tonight.”
Melanie blew out a breath and turned off the game. Frowning, she tossed the remote onto the couch. “Thanks a lot,” she muttered. “A broken door, and now you ruined the game I recorded.”
“Welcome to Red Sox country, Miss Owen.” Seth held out a hand.
She shook it, raising a brow. “Maybe I will press charges after all.”
Her expression brought a smile to his face. She still spoke softly, and her shy nature was apparent, but he felt as though he’d scored a victory, making her laugh, seeing her smile, and being at the receiving end of her teasing.
“Long as I’ve still got my cuffs handy, I should arrest you for owning a teddy bear wearing a Jeter jersey.” Nate motioned with his chin toward the couch. “That’s just an offense against decency.”
Seth liked Nate Harris, but he thought the officer’s banter was moving from good-natured teasing to outright flirting. And the idea bothered him. “Thanks for coming so quickly, Nate.” He held out a hand to shake.
The corner of Nate’s mouth ticked, but he shook Seth’s hand. “Next time, let the police do our job.” He turned to Melanie. “If you need anything at all, you know where to find me.”
“Thank you.” Melanie ducked her head.
“I’ll leave you two to sort this out.” He flicked his hand toward the door frame as he left.
Seth glanced at Melanie and then walked to the door. “Wow, it really is broken. I didn’t realize I was so manly.”
Melanie rubbed her arms. “Thank you, Doctor. For what you did—even though you didn’t need to. The effort…I appreciate it.”
Her shyness had returned, and he wondered if it was because they were alone. He pulled at the splintered wood, breaking off a chunk. “Listen, I can’t leave you here alone without a way to lock your door. You could sleep in my guest room tonight, and I’ll get this fixed tomorrow.”
Her gaze darted to his and then away. She wrapped her arms tighter, shaking her head. “I don’t think so.”
“Sorry, I…um…could I check you into a hotel?”
“No, thank you. I’ll be just fine. I’ll move the couch in front of the door or something.”
He tapped his chest. “I’ll sleep on the couch.”
Her head jerked up. “Not necessary, I’ll—”
“I insist. Just because this is a sleepy town doesn’t mean you can leave your front door wide open.”
“I really don’t feel comfortable with that arrangement.”
Seth turned fully toward her. “It’s either the couch, or I
She pushed her lips together, blinking.
He thought she looked like she was thinking of an argument. “Lock your bedroom door.”
“A lot of good it did me last time.” She raised her brows as she glanced toward the broken front door.
Seth smiled. She wasn’t completely comfortable, but at least, she wasn’t arguing.
Melanie disappeared into her bedroom and returned with a pillow and blanket, setting them on the couch. She didn’t look directly at him. “You know where the bathroom is. And there’s cereal and milk if you get hungry. And bananas.”
“Thanks,” Seth said, thinking her attempt to act as hostess in the bizarre situation was adorable.
“Good night.” Melanie shut the door and clicked the lock.
“Night.” Seth pushed a kitchen chair against the front door to hold it closed. He turned off the light and laid on the couch, tacoing the pillow behind his head and inhaling the smell of Melanie Owen. Feeling something lumpy beneath his back, he twisted and pulled out the teddy bear. Even the damn Yankees couldn’t snuff out the glow left behind by Melanie’s voice.
Melanie woke to the sound of digital birds chirping. She felt around the nightstand for the disposable phone, turned off the alarm, and sank back into her pillow, wondering why she felt so tired. The events of the night before came back in a rush, bringing a slew of emotions—from fear to embarrassment to something that she couldn’t describe, but it made her stomach flutter. She sat up, scooting back against the headboard and hugging her knees. Her gaze moved to her bedroom door.
Seth Goodwyn is asleep on my couch.
She remembered his face when he crashed into her apartment. His eyes were intense and…worried? The stomach flutter came again. And this time, she fought against it. Dr. Goodwyn was the last person she wanted to be involved with. Sure, he was handsome possessing purposely mussed blond hair with bleached tips, sky blue eyes, tanned skin, and broad shoulders. And that smile…Looks-wise, he was perfect. But Seth was absolutely wrong for her.
He was a take-charge kind of guy, strong, a protector. Someone who would tell her what to do—or even do it for her. That type, she avoided like the plague. Some girls liked being taken care of, but Melanie had been running from men like him her entire life.