Read Love After Dark Online

Authors: Marie Force

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction

Love After Dark

BOOK: Love After Dark
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Love After Dark

Gansett Island Series, Book 13

By: Marie Force

Published by HTJB, Inc.

Copyright 2015. HTJB, Inc.

Cover Design: Courtney Lopes

Cover Models: Ashley and Bryan Lopez

Pamela Sardinha Photography

E-book Layout by Holly Sullivan,
E-book Formatting Fairies

ISBN:
978-1942295334

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at
[email protected]
.

All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.

marieforce.com

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Need a refresher of Who’s Who on Gansett?
View the Who’s Who list
, which is also included in the back of this ebook.

View the McCarthy Family Tree here!

The Gansett Island Series

Get the entire Gansett Island Series

McCarthys of Gansett Island Boxed Set, Books 1-3

McCarthys of Gansett Island Boxed Set, Books 4-6

Book 1:
Maid for Love

Book 2:
Fool for Love

Book 3:
Ready for Love

Book 4:
Falling for Love

Book 5:
Hoping for Love

Book 6:
Season for Love

Book 7:
Longing for Love

Book 8:
Waiting for Love

Book 9:
Time for Love

Book 10:
Meant for Love

Book 10.5:
Chance for Love
A Gansett Island Novella

Book 11:
Gansett After Dark

Book 12:
Kisses After Dark

Book 13:
Love After Dark
 

Book 14:
Celebration After Dark
,
A Gansett Island Holiday Novella

Chapter 1

Paul Martinez loved everything about September on Gansett Island—from the cornflower-blue sky, to the cool fresh air and the quiet of the island returning to normal after another busy summer. The year-rounders got their island back in September. The tourists went home, back to school and work, after playing on Gansett all summer. During three crazy months, the island’s regular population of a few hundred hardy souls swelled to thousands.
 

As he drove home following a long day of landscaping work, Paul appreciated that the island roads had returned to “normal,” with hardly any cars, mopeds or bicycles impeding his ride. Islanders appreciated the tourists and the boost they brought to the economy. But they were also happy to see them go after Labor Day, when a collective sigh of relief greeted the cooler days and nights of September.

As the co-owner of Martinez Lawn & Garden, spring and summer were Paul’s busiest time of year, followed closely by autumn, when the leaves turned brilliant colors before they dropped into yards that needed to be cleaned up before the winter set in. By the first of next month, the pumpkins would be in and ready to harvest.
 

A lot still had to be done before they settled in for the long, cold winter on Gansett. Other than plowing snow, their business slowed to a crawl in the winter, which was why Paul loved those months best of all. By the time the snow came, he was ready to sleep for months.

This fall promised to be extra busy with his older brother Alex’s upcoming wedding to Jenny Wilks and their move into the house they’d been building on land near the house where he and Alex had grown up. Paul hadn’t expected to still be living at home in his early thirties, but his mother’s dementia had derailed a lot of his plans, including having a family of his own.

Alex’s relationship with Jenny had given Paul hope that it might still happen for him, too, but he wasn’t holding his breath waiting for Cupid to strike, even if a lot of their friends had taken the plunge in the last few months.

His future sister-in-law had gone so far as to try to fix him up with her friend Erin, the island’s new lighthouse keeper. They’d hung out with Alex and Jenny a few times. He liked Erin and admired her resiliency after losing her twin brother—who had also been Jenny’s fiancé—during the 9/11 attacks on New York City. But he didn’t feel that spark of something extra with her, no matter how much Jenny might love to see both Martinez brothers fall for lighthouse keepers.

It wasn’t going to happen between him and Erin, and she knew it as much as he did.
 

He’d had drinks a few times with Chelsea, the bartender at the Beachcomber. As much as he liked her and found her attractive, he didn’t get the sense that she was into him that way, so he hadn’t bothered to pursue it.

Every time he got his hair cut at the Curl Up & Dye salon in town, Chloe, the owner, flirted with him. Once he’d suggested they get together sometime, and she’d said she would love to, but it had never happened. Maybe he should’ve taken it a step further and actually asked her out, but something held him back. He suspected that flirting with guys as she cut their hair was part of her professional gig, and she probably wasn’t into him at all.

Women were as vexing to him in his thirties as they’d been in middle school, when he first started to notice the way they looked at him and his brother. He’d been told on more than one occasion that they were good-looking guys. Well, he was, anyway. Alex was kind of ugly when it came right down to it.

Paul laughed at that thought. Some things never changed. He and his brother had been busting each other’s balls for as long as they’d been talking. But Paul gave thanks every day to Alex for coming home to Gansett when things started to get really bad with their mom. Paul had never been so happy to see his brother, who had given up an awesome job and a satisfying life in Washington, DC, to come home to help him run the family business and manage their mother’s illness.

Alex had been extremely unhappy about the changes he’d been forced to make—until he met Jenny and became the happiest bastard on the island. Not that Paul would begrudge his brother the happiness he deserved. However, he couldn’t help but look on with envy from time to time, especially with the lovebirds nesting—among other things—in the room next to his until their house was finished.

Paul had never been more thankful for earplugs and headphones since Jenny moved in with them. Some things a brother just shouldn’t have to hear. He’d trained himself to sleep with music blasting in his ears. The alternative was listening to the two of them go at it constantly.
 

He couldn’t recall the last time he’d gotten laid, so that was contributing to the general malaise that gripped him lately. Living with the gleefully engaged sex fiends had only made him more aware of how long it had been since he’d had sex. How pathetic was it that he couldn’t even remember the last time? Between dealing with his mom’s illness, running the business and serving on the Gansett Town Council, it was all he could do to find the time to sleep and eat every day, let alone think about sex.

But it had been on his mind lately, nagging at him and reminding him that, despite his many responsibilities, he was still a healthy young man with needs. It might be time to call Chelsea or Chloe and get serious about dating again. Now that he and Alex had the help of Hope Russell, the full-time nurse they’d hired to oversee their mother’s care, he was able to have a social life again.

If he’d met Hope under different circumstances, she’d be first on his list of women he’d like to date. But their dad had always hammered home the importance of not dating women who worked for them. Hope wasn’t exactly in the same league as the college girls who worked in their retail store, but the last thing he or Alex needed was to give Hope a reason to leave them. So he kept their relationship friendly, not romantic. But he found himself thinking about the sexy single mom a lot more often than he should for someone who had no plans to pursue her.
 

As he pulled into the long driveway that led to Martinez Lawn and Garden as well as the family’s home, Paul decided to make it a goal in the off-season to start dating again before he woke up one day to discover he’d missed the chance to find love and have a family. After a brief stop to make sure the retail store was locked up for the night, Paul continued on toward home, where he found Hope’s seven-year-old son, Ethan, sitting on the top step waiting for him.

Paul smiled at the predictable sight of Ethan running toward him, full of excitement and energy that Paul envied. He wished he could bottle the kid’s energy and keep some of it for himself. “What’s the good word, my man?” Paul asked him, as he did every night.

Ethan greeted him with a fist bump that Paul returned. “The good word is school stinks, and I want summer vacation back.”

“Oh, that’s a tough one. Want to help me unload and we can talk about it?”

“Sure.”

“Those aren’t your school clothes, are they?”

“No way. I take that crap off the second I get home. Thank God it’s the weekend.”

Paul had to hide his grin from the boy. He had been exactly the same way when he was Ethan’s age. He’d run home from school, change as fast as he could and wait for his dad to come home to pick him up so he could “help” all afternoon. Thinking about that brought a pang of sadness for the father he missed so terribly.

He and Ethan talked about everything and nothing as they unloaded the tools and equipment from Paul’s truck. He was careful not to give the boy anything too heavy or sharp.
 

“Can we go check on the pumpkins?” Ethan asked when the truck had been unloaded and the equipment stored in the aluminum shed.

“Sure. Go tell your mom where you’re going.”

Ethan scampered off toward the house, running at full tilt while Paul took a seat on the tailgate of the truck to wait for him. The boy’s interest in the pumpkin patch amused Paul and again reminded him of himself when he’d driven his father crazy for weeks every autumn asking when it would be time to harvest.

“I can’t wait for Halloween,” Ethan said a few minutes later as they crossed the yard to the fields behind the retail store. Off to the far left, Alex and Jenny’s beautiful new colonial-style house was nearly ready for move-in, and not a moment too soon as far as Paul was concerned.

“What’re you going to be this year?”

“I don’t know. I was thinking about a Jedi warrior, but Mom said we might not be able to find a lightsaber on the island.”

“I have one in the attic.”

Ethan stopped short and looked up at him, agog. “
You
have a
lightsaber
?”

“Don’t say that like I’m a hundred years old or something. I’ll have you know that
Star Wars
belonged to my generation long before it belonged to yours.”

“Huh?”

Paul laughed at the face Ethan made at him. He was a cute kid with freckles from the summer sun, dark hair that fell over his brow and big blue eyes that never missed a thing. Ethan ran ahead of him into the field where the pumpkins were growing right on schedule. With a quick glance, Paul could see they were still a dark yellow, but well on their way to the deep orange they would become in a few short weeks.

BOOK: Love After Dark
11.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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