SUNSET POINT is HERE!!! Read Chapter 1 from Breaking Point (Book 5)
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Lexa Fox lost her childhood the day her mother took her and fled Sunset Point. Twenty-three years later, she’s returning to claim her inheritance from a father she barely remembers, in a place she doesn’t belong.
Detectives Beau Rivers and Diego Mendez grew up in ménage families and always knew they’d be a trio if they could find the right woman. They’d found her once, but fate took her out of their lives long before they were old enough to stake their claim. No woman since has ever managed to live up to their memories of Lexa, so when fate brings their childhood sweetheart back into their lives, they do everything they can to convince their gray-eyed, world-weary beauty to stay.
There are dangers to be faced and enemies to overcome, but in the end it’s up to her men to show her that some hearts never give up hope, and some loves have no Breaking Point.
The ferry felt almost empty. There had been only a dozen or two passengers onboard, and Lexa was the only one still lingering outside. The rest of the passengers had eyed her with idle curiosity as they’d left their vehicles and headed indoors, no doubt enjoying the ship’s air -conditioned comforts while they ate and passed the time doing whatever rich people did when they were at sea.
Occasionally someone would open one of the doors and she’d catch a whiff of something heavenly being cooked in the restaurant, and Lexa’s stomach would start gurgling again, loudly protesting the fact she hadn’t had anything to eat since the previous evening. The motel last night had emptied her bank account, and the ferry ticket had taken the last of her cash, leaving nothing leftover to afford anything more than a vending-machine-brewed coffee for breakfast.
Lexa just wrapped her arms around herself and willed herself to ignore the hunger. It wasn’t the first time she’d gone hungry in her life. She’d spent most of her childhood teetering on the ragged edge of poverty, and it was a place she never wanted to be again. There’d been good times when there had been food and clothing and a warm place to sleep, but Lexa had spent far too many nights curled up in the backseat of her mom’s little hatchback, hungry and cold.
All that was going to change now. She was the new owner of Dolphin Bay Marina, and after a lifetime of barely getting by, Lexa was now a rich woman, at least on paper. A gift from Chris Fox, her father, a man she barely remembered and hadn’t seen or heard from since she was eight years old. There’d been a time she would have given anything to have him in her life, or better yet to swoop in and carry her back home to Sunset Point, where life had been warm and full of laughter and safety. She used to dream he’d come for her, but that dream had died a long time ago, and now it could never happen. Her father was dead and gone, and now that it was too late, he’d finally found a way to bring her home.
Lexa dashed the tears from her eyes with the back of one hand. No crying. Crying is for weaklings and I am not weak, she scolded herself. She flicked the tears into the blue-green waters of the Atlantic Ocean and gave herself a mental shake. I already look totally out of place here. If I add in blotchy cheeks and red eyes, they’re likely to send me right back to the mainland before I contaminate their exclusive little community.
As if her thoughts had summoned it out of the ocean depths, the island of Sunset Point shimmered into view. Lexa stared, suddenly feeling a yearning she hadn’t felt in a very long time, the longing to come home. The warm breeze on her face and the tang of salt in the air sang to her heart and whispered to her that no matter what her head was saying, this had been her home all along.
I don’t have a home, she reminded herself and then swore as she realized she was standing outside in the blazing Southern sun without a scrap of sunscreen on. She was so fair skinned, she was only a shade or two up from zombie, and Lexa knew that if she didn’t slather on some sunblock right away she was going to look like a parboiled lobster by the time they docked.
She fished around in her oversized purse until she found the travel-sized bottle and coated her arms, face, the back of her neck, and even her ears with a liberal amount. The faint scent of coconut stirred memories she’d long buried, and she found herself leaning against the railing, straining to see the details of an island she’d not seen in more than twenty years.
“Welcome back to the island of sin, sex, and wickedness,” she whispered under her breath, using her mother’s favorite phrase to describe Sunset Point and its inhabitants. “I wonder if it’s the same as it was back then. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.”
On the way to the ferry terminal they passed the marina, and Lexa drank in every detail. There was her house sitting on a small rise overlooking the expanse of docks, boats, and blue water. The docks themselves looked familiar, but that was all she felt, a feeling of familiarity and a few fleeting images. The memories she knew she must have of this place refused to surface from whatever part of her mind they’d been safely buried.
Once they were tied up, she picked up her few belongings and joined the other walk-on passengers as they were herded down the ramp and onto the dock. Large signs pointed the way to the parking lot and points beyond, and Lexa followed the directions as she headed up the dock and onto dry land. She was still on American soil, but her father’s lawyer had warned her that things here were a little different.
“Closely guarded for the sake of the residents’ privacy” had been his exact words, and Lexa was starting to think that was something of an understatement. There were security cameras strategically placed around the dock area, and she saw two uniformed security guards watching over things. It seemed like overkill considering that there hadn’t been more than thirty passengers on the entire ferry, and that included the noisy, sticky fingered munchkins she’d seen bouncing from window to window.
She hefted her single, battered suitcase in one hand, tossed her long, black ponytail back over her shoulder, and kept walking. The lawyer had said he’d meet her at the parking lot, which was a good thing since Lexa had had to sell her car to scrape up the money for the flight from Reno. This was it, her last big shot at making a life for herself. If things didn’t break her way this time, Lexa was going to be buried under the tidal wave of her mother’s medical bills and bad debts.
“Alexandra Fox? Excuse me, are you Miss Alexandra Fox?” The question pulled her out of her thoughts and back to the present.
“That’s me,” she said and looked up to find herself facing her past squarely in the eye. Memories of ice cream and swing-sets and laughter flashed through her head and it was a moment before she could find her voice as the first flashes of her past suddenly reemerged. “Uncle Sam?” Her voice cracked as she looked up into a face she’d forgotten until this moment.
“I wasn’t sure you’d even remember me.” The older man smiled and Lexa could have sworn he looked like he was going to cry for a second. “You look just like your mother.”
“I didn’t remember you, not until I saw you. But you were friends of my parents, I remember you used to take me for ice cream sometimes.”
“Strawberry ripple,” he said and grinned, the smile making him look years younger and bringing back more memories of him. “You do remember.”
“So you’re my father’s lawyer? Why didn’t you tell me who you were?” The man she’d called Uncle Sam wasn’t really her uncle, but she did remember he’d been like part of the family. It was disturbing to realize just how much of her past she’d buried and forgotten.
“I said I was a friend of your father’s, but when you didn’t react to my name I knew you didn’t remember me. You were so young when your mother took you from us.” He paused. “I mean when your mother took you away from Chris. I thought it would be easier to tell you everything face-to-face.” He nodded to her suitcase. “I’ll carry that over to my car and we can go straight to your dad’s place. I’ve had a maid service in to get it all cleaned up for you.”
Lexa winced. “I hope they weren’t too expensive, I’m a little low on funds for a maid right now.”
Sam leaned back and she felt him taking a good, long look at her, from the tips of her worn-out sneakers to the dollar store sunglasses resting on top of her head. “I’ll bill it to the estate, not to worry,” he said in a comforting tone. “I had the kitchen restocked, too, so you should have plenty to eat for a few days before you need to hit a grocery store.”
At the mention of food, Lexa’s stomach rumbled and she blushed. “Sorry, I skipped breakfast.”
“Then let’s get you home and settled. I was going to go over the paperwork today, but I’d say you’re more in need of food and rest than to listen to an old lawyer natter on in legalese when it’s clear you’re travel weary. If you come by the office tomorrow I’ll walk you through all the hoops, and then I think you and I should talk about…well, anything you want to know.” Sam cleared his throat and gave her a wistful smile. “You’ve been gone a long time. There’s things you should know, and a whole lifetime I want to catch up on.”
Lexa just nodded, grateful that Sam didn’t seem to be judging her. She’d learned a long time ago that too many people in the world would have taken one look at her and dismissed her as being beneath their notice. As a bartender at a busy casino back in Reno, she’d been damned near invisible to the people she served. Unless there was a problem of course, then they were quick to point fingers and accuse her of being incompetent or worse, and those had been mostly ordinary people, tourists, and gamblers.
As Lexa looked around her at the beautiful, and clearly wealthy, people that called Sunset Point home, she couldn’t help but feel like she was the only stray at the dog show, and any minute now someone was going to come along and tell her she didn’t belong here.
Sam took her suitcase and then glanced back at her. “Travelling light?”
Lexa decided to be honest and answered, “Living light. I’ve never really stayed too long in one place, not since Mom and I headed out on our own. I guess I have more in common with my mom than just looks. I seem to have inherited her itchy feet too.”
Sam started walking, leading the way toward a vintage Jaguar convertible, and as he set her suitcase in the back he gave her a thoughtful look. “I hope your feet stop itching now that you’re here, Lexa. Chris always hoped you’d find your way home one day. He left you everything, the house, the marina, the rental business. He never managed to find you or your mother, but he never stopped trying. It was his dying wish that I keep looking for you. He made me promise to bring you back here one day.”
Lexa froze, her heart hammering against her ribs as a strange buzzing sound filled her ears. That couldn’t be right. If he’d been looking for her all this time, surely he’d have found her before now, after all it had only taken Sam eight months to track her down.
“I’m not staying,” she declared and got into Sam’s car when he opened the door for her. The moment he shut it, she folded her arms across her chest and repeated what she’d just said. “I’m not going to stay here any longer than I have to. I intend to sell the business and the house and then go back to the mainland. I have financial obligations I need to see to, and this isn’t my home anymore.”
Sam sighed and settled into the driver’s seat. “We’ll talk about this more tomorrow. For now, let me just say that I’m very glad to see you again. I’ve missed you.”
Lexa didn’t know what to say to that, and so she just tugged her sunglasses down over her face and leaned back into the soft leather of her seat.
“We’ll take the scenic route, maybe it’ll bring back some childhood memories.” Sam turned over the engine and soon they were purring along a road that hugged the coast, the warm wind blowing across her face and drying tears that silently fell as she drank in the sight of the places she’d only seen in her dreams for the past twenty-three years. She may not be planning on staying, but she couldn’t deny this was as close to a home as she’d ever had. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to stick around for a little while, at least until she could find a buyer.
* * * *
“Where the hell is it coming from?” Beau stared at the handful of drug-laced candies, all individually wrapped, that littered the surface of his well-worn desk and then swept them into an evidence bag with one gloved hand. He sealed it, signed it, and then dropped it into a second bag and tagged it for drop-off to the evidence locker.
“If we knew that, we’d be a lot closer to catching the sons of bitches who are bringing this poison onto our island.” Beau’s partner, Diego, ran a hand through his dark hair, leaving it standing up in spikes that seemed to fit his frustrated mood perfectly. “What kind of sick bastard spikes jelly candies with designer drugs anyway?”
“You nailed it. A sick bastard. One who is marketing this crap to kids and doesn’t give a damn if it kills them. At least everyone else that sampled this latest batch is going to make it,” Beau said. “I got an update from the hospital earlier.”
“Thank God. I can’t imagine how that kid’s parents are coping right now. Losing a child that way is just brutal,” Diego said and then changed the topic to something less depressing. “Speaking of parents, Terry’s were here earlier to see if they could post bail for him. I told them they’d have to wait for his bail hearing tomorrow. They didn’t take it very well.”
“At least their son is still alive, which is more than can be said for his friend.” Beau sighed as he stood and stretched until his spine cracked. “Now we need to go find the little bastard who sold him the drugs. What was his name?” He checked another piece of paper. “Right. George Timmins.”
“Damn man, you’re forgetting names and creaking and popping like an old man.” Diego shook his head. “You need to stop letting the waves win when we go surfing or you’re going to be in a nursing home by the time we’re forty.”
“Naw, I just need to find a woman to take care of me and I’ll be fine.” He shot Diego a meaningful look. “We’d be a lot further along in our search if you’d stop holding every woman we meet up to impossible standards. I swear, your laundry list of “must-haves” is getting longer every year. At this rate we’re going to be single together forever, and frankly you’re just not what I’m looking for in a wife.”
Diego snorted with laughter. “If I were a woman, I’d sure as hell be looking to do better than you, buddy. And I’d like to point out that I’m not the one who broke up with Tamara last year. That was all you. C’mon, let’s go round up the Timmins kid and see if he’s willing to cough up the name of his supplier.”
“Tamara was a vegan. There was no way in hell I was going to consider a long-term relationship with a woman who got queasy every time I fired up the barbeque. Admit it, you were only eating her couscous because she had a great pair of—afternoon, sir.” Beau stood a little straighter as Lieutenant Jackson Stone appeared at their office door.
“Rivers, Mendez.” His gaze moved from Beau to Diego. “I heard you two might have some new information about our designer drug problem.” His gaze dropped to the evidence envelope and back up to Beau, who felt the intensity of his lieutenant’s stare drilling right through him. They were all working their asses off to try and find the source of the new drugs that had started to appear on the island less than a year ago and had rapidly gone from a trickle to a flood.
These days there wasn’t a club or beach party where the drug, commonly called Giggles, didn’t make an appearance, and on more than one occasion the user had wound up in the hospital or as of last night, in the morgue. Addictive and dangerous, they’d made almost no progress in tracking down how the drugs were getting onto the island or who was supplying them.
“Yes, sir,” Diego stepped in. “We were just on our way to pick up George Timmins. He was the one who supplied Terry Clark with the stuff for last night’s party. We’re hoping that he can give us the name of his supplier and we’ll finally be able to work our way up the food chain.”
“George Timmins Junior? Well that’ll be fun. His father’s going to be down here with a team of lawyers before you’ve had time to get more than the kid’s name.”
“We were hoping to have a chat with him before we got back here…” Beau started to explain and then stopped as the lieutenant held up a hand.
“I don’t want to know. I don’t want to hear it. I was never here. Just find out who’s bringing this crap onto my island so we can put a stop to it.”
“We’re on it,” Beau said and grinned at Diego. “Come on, I’ll bet you lunch that little shit is down by the pier with the rest of the brat pack right about now.”
“No bet. That’s been the hangout for every dumb, wannabe troublemaker on the island since before we were born. I’ll bet you lunch that he bolts on us.”
“You’re on. It’s too damned hot for anyone to be running today.”
“Who said he was going to run anywhere? I said bolt. I figure he’s going to go right over the side of the pier the minute he lays eyes on us, and by my count it’s your turn to go in after him.”
“No way!” Beau argued as they headed out into the midday sun. “I went in last time to fish out Patterson after he stole that plate of cupcakes from Liz’s shop, remember?”
“I do. And the week after that I had to haul out Jasper after he got drunk and was skinny-dipping down by the ferry terminal.”
“Shit, I’d forgotten about that.” Beau sighed. “I really, really don’t want to go swimming today. Let’s hope George Junior feels the same way.”
“I just hope he’s feeling chatty. We really need to get a break on this case before the lieutenant gets any crankier.”
They were driving toward the pier when they spotted Sam’s vintage Jaguar purring along the coast road. As they passed, Beau caught a flash of dark hair and a lovely face mostly hidden behind a pair of dark glasses. Before he could say anything Diego turned to look at him, a wistful expression on his face. “Do you think there’s any chance that was her?”
Beau shook his head and swallowed back a sense of regret. “Every time you see a woman with black hair, you ask me the same question. She’s not coming back, man. It’s been more than twenty years. Wherever she is, she’s a grown woman, probably with a husband and babies and a house with a white picket fence by now. You need to forget about Lexa Fox.”
Diego snorted. “That’s never going to happen, and you know it. Or do I need to point out that you’re the one who turns into a horndog the moment a petite, dark haired woman appears anywhere near you. She was the one, Beau. She was the only woman who ever felt right.”
“I hate to point out the obvious, but we were all kids back then. We were best friends, but what the hell did we know about anything? We were riding bikes and eating popsicles, not dating. We were as thick as thieves, but who knows what would have happened when we grew up. Not even her dad dying brought her back, and it’s been what, almost a year now? She’s long gone.” Beau didn’t want to admit it, but he had never gotten over Lexa any more than Diego had.
He’d not even really noticed it until a few years ago when his mother had taken him aside and told him it was time they let go.
He’d tried, but it was hard to move on. Something kept holding him back from really trying to connect with anyone else. And if Beau found it hard, Diego found it nearly impossible. They may have only been kids, but when he and his best friend had finally talked about it, Diego had sworn that Lexa was the love of his life. So here they were, past thirty and still doing a double take every time they spotted any woman who looked the slightest bit like their long lost friend.
“I’m not ready to give up on her yet.” Diego gave his partner a wry grin. “She’s out there, somewhere, and someday she’s going to come home.”
“If she ever does come back, do you think she’ll even remember us?”
“Fuck, I hope so. If I’ve spent twenty-three years dreaming about a woman who has forgotten I exist, I’m going to be very unhappy with the state of the universe.”
“I hear that,” Beau muttered and added a silent prayer.
If she’s ever coming back, please let it be soon.
BUY LINK: http://www.bookstrand.com/sunset_promo
Coming to Amazon and Barnes & Noble in October!!
Check out Book 1: Point of Seduction
and Book 2: Cross Point
and Book 3: Hearts and Handcuffs
and Book 4: Tattoos and Cupcakes