Also available in paperback.
Please note that this sweet romance includes 5 bonus scenes!
Forgiveness. Second chances…and secrets.
Resort manager Zoe Ward has spent the past year throwing her broken heart into rescuing abandoned pets and ensuring vacationing couples have the trip of their dreams. She even helps engaged couples create their happily ever afters, something she’d believed she was going to have with Ashton Wallace before he left with barely a word about why. But now he’s back and looking for a second chance.
Ashton can’t stop thinking about Zoe. He knows all she wants is marriage and a family, and he was certain he could provide it. However, when his past life came crashing in before he could pop the question, he left Indigo Bay in order to protect Zoe. But now that things have settled out again, he’s back and looking to turn his biggest regret into a happy ending.
Will Zoe find room in her heart for forgiveness? And can Ashton prove that this time he’s here to stay? Because he’s been keeping secrets that could ruin everything…and Zoe knows it.
This is the tenth novel in the Indigo Bay series, but all books can be read as standalones.
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Sneak Peek of Sweet Forgiveness!
How many cats make you a cat lady?
Zoe Ward looked at the question she’d typed into the search bar of her work computer’s browser, then slowly backspaced over it with a sigh.
As the owner of five cats, she was fairly certain she was already more than halfway there. But at least her rescued felines hadn’t claimed she was moving too fast when she’d fallen for them. Not that her ex-boyfriend, Ashton Wallace, had actually said that. But enough men in the past had, so she’d understood the signs when he’d suddenly withdrawn despite the way he’d been talking about them moving in together.
Why was she even thinking of Ashton? It had been almost a year, and quite frankly she should be over him. She needed to go find someone nice, get married, adopt some kids, since she was probably too old to have her own now, and call it done. The problem was, she’d truly believed Ashton was the real deal, and now nobody seemed to measure up.
“There’s my favorite employee!” called a deep voice.
Zoe swiveled in her office chair, spied her boss approaching and wondered how long she’d been staring at her computer, off task and in plain sight of anyone moving through the resort’s lobby. Dallas Harper, the resort owner, leaned against one of the marble columns Zoe’s guest services desk was set between. He was in his mid-thirties, trim, tall and, as always while at work, sporting a peacock-blue polo shirt with the resort’s logo on the breast pocket.
“Not taking a coffee break?” he asked. “Is this because of the stunned bird that little girl brought in earlier? I can watch it for you.” He leaned over her desk to check for the box containing the ruby-throated hummingbird that had flown into one of the building’s glass doors earlier, distressing their young guest. Since then, Zoe had cut out a dozen bird silhouettes and taped them to the windows and glass doors of the main building to act as a bird deterrent.
“I released it back into the South Carolina wilds about thirty minutes ago,” Zoe said, clutching her insulated cup of sweet tea. Technically, it was indeed time for her afternoon break, but she generally took it at her desk these days due to the pathetic fact that she couldn’t face the cinnamon buns from Sweet Caroline’s, which more often than not arrived in the break room by three. Dallas’s mother, the owner of the café, baked a large batch for resort guests, and any leftovers went to staff. The buns were like tasting heaven itself, and it had been Zoe and Ashton’s mutual love of the dessert that had led a matchmaking guest, Ginger, to set them up on their first date. Seeing those sticky, yummy buns each afternoon—something she used to share with Ashton during her breaks—reminded her how naive and oblivious she’d been. She’d believed that he’d been keeping pace, and that everything was fine. Perfect even, when he’d started contacting Realtors to find them a place to share.
Obviously, everything had not been fine. He’d gone away one weekend to take care of something in the city, and had returned seven days later to break up with her. A week after that he’d married someone else.
Zoe slammed her cup down a little too hard onto the desk’s granite surface.
“Are you okay?” Dallas asked gently.
“Sorry, did you need something?” Zoe asked, taking a soothing breath and ignoring his familiar, concerned look. He knew Ashton was a taboo subject, especially after he’d spent weeks following the August breakup insisting that there had to be more to the story, since she claimed she’d scared him straight into marrying someone else. Which, of course, Dallas took as evidence to support his case that there was more to the story.
Zoe crossed her arms, wishing away the familiar stab of betrayal that hit her square in the heart whenever she thought of Ashton and how quickly he’d moved on.
She was happy now, right? She got to do things such as organize weddings at the resort, and ensure couples didn’t have to deal with the pressure of last-minute details, which could lead to breakups. She helped others reach their happily ever afters.
Sure, she was a bit lonely at times, but at least Ashton hadn’t waited until their wedding rehearsal dinner to dump her, like her ex-fiancé, Kurtis, had over a decade ago. That had been a truly heart-numbing experience.
It would have been unnecessarily complicated if Ashton had left her after they’d moved in together. Really, the breakup had been a blessing in disguise.
But she still did half-wonder if Dallas was correct about there being more to the story…
Zoe took a plate of coconut-and-chocolate cookies—haystacks—from her desk drawer. “I baked something for you.”
“Are you looking for a raise?” Dallas said with a chuckle. He’d already snatched the plate from her, peeled back the wrap and was sinking his teeth into one of the small clusters. His eyes rolled, the stress that had been etched in the lines of his face softened. His moan of happiness warmed her insides.
She smiled. “Just saying thanks. Again.”
“I couldn’t leave you homeless,” he said around a morsel. “Not for my favorite employee.”
Two weeks ago a broken pipe had flooded her small house while she was at work. She’d come home to find a foot of water in the house and seven yowling kitties perched atop cupboards and bookshelves. Her collection of signed science fiction books had been ruined, and it had taken Mishka, a Persian, a week to forgive her for the injustice of not only being flooded out, but for having to move to a new home, too. The feline, however, hadn’t minded Zoe handing off the two playful orange tabbies she’d been fostering to another rescue volunteer.
Luckily, Dallas had allowed her and her five remaining felines to stay in one of the resort’s oceanside cottages while insurance fixed the mess. The deal was she had a free place to stay as long as she didn’t go over his five-cat limit, and that she’d do a deep cleaning when she moved out. Plus if a long-term reservation came their way, she’d be out with barely a moment’s notice.
“Totally my favorite,” Dallas said again.
“What are you up to, Dallas Harper?” She knew from experience that when he called her his favorite employee it typically meant he had a project for her—such as organizing a wedding—or bad news.
“Nothing. We should probably talk about your cottage, though…”
A spike of worry flashed through Zoe. The unit was an older one, at the back of the resort. It was rarely booked unless there was a conference or large wedding. And right now, even though a small conference was taking place, nobody had needed the cottage—she’d checked that morning, like she always did when she arrived at her desk, and again before she left it at the end of the day. Was the cottage up for more renovations?
“Before we get into that,” Dallas said, helping himself to a second haystack, “I have a little project I’m hoping you can help with. A newsletter.”
That didn’t seem big enough to explain the way he’d suddenly begun avoiding eye contact. Nope. There was definitely something else going on, and she had a feeling whatever it was would leave her without a place to live.
“Do I need to move?” Zoe asked Dallas, just as a tall man came up to her desk. She turned to him with a smile, frustrated by his timing. “Hello, may I help you?”
The man had a long, faint scar running down his cheek, but a friendly smile. “Has Quentin Valant checked in?” he asked.
Zoe considered sending him to Margie at the reservation desk, but with Dallas right beside her, she quickly brought up the list of bookings, tempted to skip over to her cottage’s to see if anything had popped up over the past few hours. “Sorry, I don’t see a reservation under that name. When are you expecting him?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll check again tomorrow.” The man crossed the lobby and headed back into the heat of the bright June sun.
Dallas brushed chocolate crumbs from around his mouth. “You know you could have sent him to Margie at the main desk.”
“Your favorite employee wouldn’t have shuffled a potential guest off like that.”
He chuckled and asked, “So what do you think? A resort newsletter that can be emailed here and there? It’s long overdue.”
It was a good idea. They could remind past guests of all they offered—deals, retreats, honeymoons, the works. Maybe even a behind-the-scenes or employee feature to make the place feel like home rather than some faceless corporation.
“I’m on it. When do you want the first one to go out?” Zoe turned back to her computer and brought up her browser, glad she’d removed her earlier cat lady search query, and typed in “How do you start a newsletter?”
Dallas came around her desk to peer over her shoulder. “Do you know how to do this?”
“Nope. But I will by tomorrow.”
“That’s why you’re my favorite.”
Her smile faltered as she scanned the search results. Wow. There was a pile of information, warnings, tips and legalities. She had no clue what DKIM, sequencing or double opt-in meant. She didn’t even know which software program to sign up for.
“Looks like a headache,” Dallas said, slowly backing away.
“Are you sure I should be doing this? Maybe the guy who does our website should take care of it.”
“Ethan Mattson? He doesn’t do newsletters. I already asked. But I leave it in your capable hands to learn and achieve, or whatever else you usually say about projects like this.”
Zoe leaned back in her chair. “I’m not sure my hands are capable in this regard.”
“Take all the time you need.”
She sighed. Dallas knew she’d take on this project, just like she did anything he sent her way.
He was already starting to sneak off, the plate of treats in hand.
“Hey!” she called after him. “What were you going to say about the cottage?”
Dallas stopped and glanced back at her, but his eyes darted to the right like they did whenever he had something he didn’t want to tell her.
“There’s a reservation on it, isn’t there?”
Zoe caught movement outside the foyer’s glass doors—a flock of gulls lifting into the air. She’d almost returned her attention to Dallas when the man who’d scattered the birds came into view. It was someone tall, handsome and very familiar.
Ashton Wallace. The most recent man to break her heart.
* * *
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