Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
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Sea Glass Secrets

Book One

 

 

 

 

 

  Searching
for
Sea Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teal Wingate

Night Owl Novels

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations in articles or reviews – without the permission in writing from its publisher, Night Owl Novels.

 

All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. I am not associated with any product or vendor in this book.

 

Cover Art by Ramona Lockwood

 

Published By Night Owl Novels

Books so good they keep you up all night.

Prologue

 

 

Sea Glass Towers

 

 

“Come back to bed,” demanded the petulant blonde. She wasn’t used to waking up alone. And she didn’t plan to become accustomed to the experience. Not even for this man.

She pushed the fall of expertly highlighted blonde hair out of her eyes. She hitched the thousand-thread bespoke Egyptian sheets up to accentuate, rather than hide, her surgically enhanced breasts. She looked over at the night table littered with the ripped remains of foil condom wrappers. Obviously it was going to take more than what she’d already done to secure his interest. That was not a problem. She was willing to do whatever it took.

He had been her only goal since she’d been a poor sorority legacy ten years ago. Those prissy Texas oil princesses despised her back then. A lot of them still did. So much for lifelong sisterhood. But there’d been nothing they could do to keep her out of their little exclusive club. And she’d loved grinding their aristocratic noses in that knowledge.

Her mama might have disgraced her family and married down. But Leanne Simmons would not. No, she would marry up, way, way up. She was going to be Mrs. John Deacon McIntyre. He was a prize well worth waiting and working for. Even if the hunt wasn’t going quite as smoothly as she’d anticipated.

She settled a come-hither smile upon her lips. She knew it worked. She’d practiced the gesture in her mirror for several days before getting on the private jet with McIntyre. Just for good measure, she’d tried it out on her pool boy. The poor kid never knew what hit him.

“Honey, come on back to bed. I want you,” she purred. Her voice was just loud enough to carry through the open Italian glass door.

Through the thick watercolor panes the man was a dark, solid silhouette outlined by the full spring moon. Unabashed by his nakedness, he stood with his hands propped against the railing of the penthouse’s deck. The muscles in his broad sculpted back rippled and bunched as he arched his big body over the confining half-wall of glass bricks to study the sand below. Apparently he found something out on the beach fascinating. More interesting than the lush blonde sprawled on his bed.

An irritated moue forced Leanne’s newly botoxed lips to plump out even more. She dragged the scented sheets up around her. She wrapped one end of the bed linen around her waist and tucked the other up over her spray-tanned shoulder. With as much grace as she could muster, she stalked out onto the balcony.

With one candy-apple red fingernail, she traced the valley of his long tight spine. He ignored her. She huffed her displeasure. The gesture had no effect on the man.

“You know, most girls would expect something from you, JD. Something tangible. Especially after what I just did for you in that bed.” She tried very hard to keep the irritation out of her honey-smooth southern drawl. She almost succeeded.

But JD MacIntyre was no ordinary man. Even discounting his devastating good looks and old-money family, he was a man to be reckoned with. And one impossible to manipulate. Certainly by an amateur like Leanne Simmons. He’d known what she was after the moment she’d
accidently
run into him at the Dallas Black and White Ball last month. He should have bluntly told her she didn’t need the ruse of spilling a glass of Cristal on her secondhand Chanel gown.

Once he’d seen the dollar signs she had for eyes, he’d been intrigued to see just how far he could push the voluptuous blonde. Just how demanding could he be before she finally balked? So far, her inhibitions were nonexistent. It was a little game he played these days. One that made sex more than just another boring bodily function. He supposed an essential part of his soul was numb lately. Or maybe some vital part of him had always been insensible.

“Honey, you know what I’m talking about. You know how I feel about you. How I’ve always felt about you. But I need something from you, JD. I can’t be the giver in the relationship all the time. I need you to give too.”

She was talking again. The man could think of much better uses for that wide wet mouth of hers. And Leanne’s words had taken on a distinct whining quality. JD turned to her. Something in his hard face must have scared her. She took a few steps back. A shaft of moonlight fell across his face like an exotic mask. It illuminated his narrowed gray eyes.

“We are not in a relationship. I told you before we started, I don’t do relationships. I do sex. And that is all I do. If you feel slighted, I’ll have my secretary send you a bank draft.”

“I’m not a prostitute,” Leanne gritted out. “I don’t want your money.”

He shook his head and chuckled, dark and low. The sound tore right across the woman’s already frayed nerve endings. She’d been told McIntyre was dangerous. She’d made herself believe his danger was only to his business rivals. She’d been mistaken. This man was a predator, pure and simple. And at the moment, he had his killing eyes trained upon her. She took another step back. The cold surface of the glass door slapped her sweat-dampened back. The salt breeze from the ocean below teased at her tangled hair.

The man pushed himself away from the railing. He prowled towards her. His body was a living piece of erotic art. Even now, after all the mindless sex they’d just shared, she wanted him. That made his coldness towards her all the more cruel. His eyes never left hers. Just when she was sure he was about to shove her up against the door with his rigid body, he stopped.

“You’ve serviced me what, five times tonight? How about five hundred thousand?”

The woman in the sheet felt an involuntary shiver go down the length of her body. Later she wasn’t sure if it had been caused by the chill wind off of the beach, the sheer animal masculinity of the man standing before her, or the obscene amount of money he’d just carelessly offered her. A half million dollars was a lot of money. She was speechless.

“Yeah, I thought that might appeal. It’s always about the money Leanne. Always,” he said in that distinct low rumble of his. “Pack your things. Have the driver take you to the jet. Don’t be here when I get back.”

“Wait,” she begged. She reached out to grasp his hand. She reverently laid it over her bare breast. “I think… I think I love you.” Even to her own ears the words sounded desperate and needy. Just the way she felt. He couldn’t be leaving her like this. He just couldn’t. Not when every single plan she had for her entire future depended upon her being JD McIntyre’s wife.

He smirked down at her. He shot a hard look to her red-nailed grip. “That line never works Leanne. Not on me. Nor does the one about your being accidentally pregnant. Or the one where you’re really dying and just sought me out to ease your way into eternity.”

“You bastard,” she hissed.

He shook his head. “You’re not the first woman to call me that. But I’m legitimate. My mother was much more subtle and more successful than you, when she pursued my father. Feel free to call her for some advice when you choose another wealthy man to dupe.”

“You’re going to be sorry. Really, really sorry. I’ll make sure of it. Nobody treats me this way and gets away with it. I’ll make you wish you were never born.”

He gently cupped her face. He smiled down into her eyes. But there was no warmth in his own. “That already happened a long, long time ago Leanne. Don’t do anything stupid. You’ll find I make a very bad enemy.”

 

 

Chapter One

 

Sunny Murphy took another long pull from the brown bottle. She turned the smooth turquoise stone over in her hand. It was a piece of sea glass. The chunky, artistic necklace she wore all the time was made of similar pieces. Her father said there was so many of the multi-colored baubles at Murphy’s Point because the local fishermen liked their beer. The shattered bottles, in all their many hues, got polished by the tides and sand. They eventually ended up on the beach. Sunny chose to think each piece was a watercolored miracle.

She looked for them just about every night. She’d roam the water’s edge with her flashlight. She kept them in an old empty gallon jar. It was tucked in the back of her closet. Nobody knew about it. Which was probably a good thing. If her daddy knew how much it meant to her, he’d dump it in the bay.

She dug her bare toes deep into the cold sand of the dark deserted beach. She leaned her head back as far as she could. She gazed up at the bright constellations filling the clear sky. Even with a full moon, the black night sparkled.

The relentless waves glittered where the moon’s glow traced their crests. Every so often a curious crab snuck a quick look at her from the safety of its hole hidden in the sea grass. The smell of the fertile ocean helped rid her clothes of the aroma of fried foods. She’d worked a double shift today at her folks’ little shack of a seafood café.

But now she was free. Free in the best sort of way. Free to just sit here, do nothing, and think about her future. The treasured letter from the Gulf Coast Ballet Company was tucked safely in the recycled denim bag. The faded one that dangled at a crazy angle from the rusted handlebars of her bike.

The old beach cruiser had been her main means of transportation for years. Once a year, she painted it with a partial can of spray paint from the hardware store. The old man who owned the store was good about giving her the returned cans. This year the cruiser sported a wonderful muted turquoise hue. The same color as her favorite sea glass. She’d want to see about getting her bike to Mobile. She’d need it, once she settled in the dorm there.

“Are you old enough to be drinking?” asked a deep voice from the edge of the shadows.

It was a man’s voice and one Sunny didn’t recognize. But she wasn’t concerned. A lot of down-on-their-luck folks slept out here on the beach. And everyone she’d met, in the cool short hours before dawn broke over the water, had been nice. This was Murphy’s Point, after all. Nothing happened here.

“In this state anybody can drink anything they want. No matter their age. It’s all about
buying
and
drinking
in public.”

“This is public,” he said.

“It was private until a few minutes ago,” she said, tipping the bottle back again. “Come on over and join me. I’ve got another one, if you’re thirsty.”

Once she made the offer, she was sorry. Because the man took her up on it. And when he walked out of the darkness, he didn’t look anything remotely close to
nice
. Far from it.

His face was every bit as handsome and remote as one of those ‘Sexiest Men’ in the annual magazine. And he wasn’t quite dressed. It was true all his man bits were covered. But the low-slung jeans clinging to his lean hips, his only piece of clothing, dipped perilously close to revealing all he had. And if that heavy bulge under his zipper was any indication, he had plenty. And his chest, my Lord, she wanted to fan herself.

He must be one of those underwear models she’d seen on the billboards out by the highway. Nobody else had abs that perfect. It wasn’t natural. He must be slumming if he was here at Murphy’s Point.

She’d heard celebrities did that occasionally. The weight of their fame and fortune became so confining, they had to escape to the boonies. Just so they could breathe and not be surrounded by their adoring fans. This man looked to be the type who was regularly worshipped by a horde of lusting females.

Sunny didn’t want or need to be included in their number. She had plans for her life. Good solid plans that did not include older guys with hot bodies and loose morals. She needed to establish that fact, right up front. She had no intention of being another nameless notch on his bedpost. But he spoke before she had the chance to assert herself.

“What is a barely legal girl doing out by herself on an empty beach in the middle of the night? Do your folks know you’re out here all alone?” His attitude was surly as he strode up to her.

Sunny got to her feet. She made him wait while she took another swig from her long-necked bottle. When she was finished, she wiped the back of her hand over her mouth to draw out the moment.

“I’m not
barely
legal.  As of today, I’m eighteen. I come out here almost every night. And it’s nobody’s business. Especially not yours. Who are you anyway?”

“John,” he answered. His mouth kicked up on one side.

“Just John?” she cocked her head. A thick honey-colored braid dangled over one shoulder.

“Yeah.”

“Fine, be that way
John
. I’m Sunny Murphy. You’re welcome to sit here with me and enjoy the beach. If you promise to keep your hands to yourself, I’ll even go fetch that bottle from my bike for you.”

She waited to hear what he’d say. If he became aggressive, she’d have no compunction using a few of those self-defense moves Maude Evelyn’s gentleman friend had taught her. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d kicked a man where it did the most good. She watched as the stranger rolled his wide shoulders. The moonlight caught the taunt ropes of muscle playing over his chest and arms. He looked tired. She felt the first stirrings of compassion. She firmly shoved those feelings aside.

“What’s it going to be? A nice cold drink or will I need to lay you out in the sand?” She looked up at him. And it was a long, long way up. He must be six five or thereabouts. And that was in his bare tanned feet.

The beautiful man snorted. He rolled his eyes. They were very nice eyes, now that she could see them. She’d seen a tabby cat once, with eyes like that. Silver gray and aloof.

“I’ll take the drink.” He folded his long, hard body bonelessly down onto the cool sand. He laid out with his hands stacked under his head, as if he had not a care in the world. Sunny envied him that. She wished she was so carefree. Life was hard. And it took grit and persistence to make it through. Didn’t he know that? Maybe the lives of celebrities were different from the lives of everyday working people.

Sunny pondered all this while she retrieved another brown bottle from her bag. It had no label. But then it wouldn’t. She brewed it herself in her mama’s kitchen. And she had no extra money for fancy labels.
She
knew what she was drinking. That was enough. She made her way back to the man. She handed him the bottle. Before he could screw the cap off of it, she sat down in the sand a respectable distance away from him.

He watched her with those steady light eyes of his. She felt as if he could see who she really was all the way down to the bone. She wondered if he could see into her very soul and pick out all her secrets. There were a few she didn’t want to see the light of day.

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

The words were a low grating rasp over her already heightened senses. She swallowed hard. She took a quick sip from her bottle. She didn’t look at him.

“What was your name?”

The girl cleared her throat. “Sunny. Sunny Murphy. Really, it’s Elizabeth Sumner Murphy. But everybody just calls me Sunny.” She bit her lip to stop her inane chatter.

“Sunny, I’m not going to hurt you.”

She tried very hard to squelch the outrageous giggle that bubbled up in her throat. She didn’t quite manage to hide it. “Isn’t that what all serial killers say? Right before they pull out their switchblades and slice open their dumb victim’s throat?”

He chuckled. And the dark, delicious sound of it made her stomach flip. And it made her panties damp. She’d never had that reaction before. But suddenly her skin seemed to hot and tight for her body.

“I’m not a serial killer.” He twisted off the cap of the drink. He tilted it to his lips.

It was all Sunny could do not to stare with her mouth wide open as the muscles of his throat worked the liquid down. She barely managed to clamp her lips together before he shot her a sardonic look over the top of the bottle.

“Root beer?” he mused. His chuckle rumbled across to her again.

“The best to had in Murphy’s Point. I make it myself,” she said. She was glad there wasn’t a hint of awkwardness in her speech.

“You mean Sea Glass Point?”

“No, Murphy’s Point. I know that gazillionaire developer is trying to turn the beach out here into some kind of playground for the rich and famous. I’ve heard all I want to hear about him, thank you very much. The folks at the café are all agog to meet him. But he’s too high and mighty to come down here and mingle with the common horde. If you ask me, he’s just taking advantage of a poor economy and a wide spot in the road that’s not too far off the highway.”

“He sounds like an asshole,” John said without looking her way.

Now he was staring out at the ocean with what she’d once heard described as a ‘thousand-yard stare’. Maybe the poor guy was a veteran with PTSD. She’d met more than one at the café. They were always drifters. And most of them were hard and lonely, like John seemed to be.

“I don’t know him personally. But I do know he came to Murphy’s Point a few years ago and bought up the beach for pennies on the dollar. Then he built those two monstrosities over there.” She pointed to the massive multi-storied towers.

“Monstrosities?”

She heard the bite in his voice. But Sunny was so caught up in her narrative, she didn’t quit talking. She probably should have. “Yeah, those things are probably taller than the Empire State Building. What does he think is going to happen the first time a hurricane wipes the beach?”

“They’ll keep standing? The emergency generators will crank up? The towers will provide shelter for the whole community?” He bit out each hard word.

Sunny had a faint sense that she’d offended the man. But for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out how. “Maybe McIntrye is altruistic. Who am I to say? You could probably find work over there. Just about everybody in town works for him now.”

“So you know the man’s name?”

“Yeah, everybody does. He’s JD McIntrye. According to the gossip, he was born into oil money. But that’s just a fraction of what he’s worth now. He probably paid for the beach and the towers out of his petty cash fund. If you’re into that kind of thing, the man’s a legend.”

“He must be an old guy.” There was a speculative tone to John’s words. He quietly took another sip of root beer. It wasn’t the hundred-year-old Scotch he’d been sipping earlier in the evening. But the company was a lot more entertaining.

“Yeah, I guess. Aren’t most billionaires really old? Doesn’t it take a while to cheat other people out of that much money?”

The man choked on the drink. He was probably only ten years her senior. He’d skirted the raw edge of legality a time or two in his business dealings. But he’d never knowingly cheated anyone.

“You’re an idealist.” His words were more accusation than compliment.

“Not really. I know everybody needs money. I just don’t think it should be your god. Some people just want enough to get by. They just want enough money to pay their light bill and raise their kids. Other folks just want to do more noble things with their lives.”

“Like you?”

“Me?” She shook her head. “No, I’m not noble. Far from it. I want to be a ballet dancer. And I will be. That’s one of the reasons I’m celebrating tonight.”


This
, is your idea of a celebration?” He swung his arms wide.

“Yeah, of course,” she answered emphatically.

“So you’re out here in the dark, alone, with a bottle of home-brewed root beer celebrating your eighteenth birthday?”

It didn’t sound much like an occasion of note to him. It was nothing like the lavish cotillion he’d thrown for his sister when she’d reached eighteen. There’d been an orchestra, and too much rich catered food, and diamond pendants as party favors for all the women.

“It’s not just my birthday. I graduated from high school today too. I’m going to be my best friend’s birthing coach in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see that baby be born. And…,” she drew out the word with a twinkle in her eye. “The best thing of all, I got my acceptance letter from the Gulf Coast Ballet today.”

“Show me,” he said.

He knew her expressive eyes would dance with pleasure when she handed him the letter. He’d like to see that. He’d like to see a lot of things with this artless, innocent girl. Things he’d not wanted with the blonde tigress so lately in his bed. Things he’d never wanted with the hundreds of women he’d used and discarded in the past. Dangerous things.

Sunny happily got up to fetch the letter from her bag. She’d almost returned when she noticed him standing, watching her. There was a small intricate tattoo on the left side of his chest. It caressed the deep masculine curve over his heart. The thing looked vaguely familiar to her. But she couldn’t remember where she’d seen it before. It was an ornate M with an arrow running through its center. A chain of Celtic knots circled the monogram. It was masculine and beautiful, all at the same time. Just like its owner.

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
12.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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