Hey! Thanks so much for having me, and I just want to thank Dreamspinner for letting me write a book for their States of Love competition. I’ve lived all over the country, but one of my favorite states has always been and will always be Delaware (I was there earlier this month). Whether you’re interested in outlet shopping or cracking open blue crabs Delaware has a little bit of something for everyone!
Find out more in this exclusive excerpt from my new book The Shore Thing.
To the west there was a wonderland of lush greenery and the sharp buzz of a hundred million mosquitos ready to descend out of the swamp. Seagulls croaked and cried in the shadows, while high overhead a bird of prey made smooth circles against the sun. The swamp was full of red-tailed hawks and falcons, but more eagles were coming back every year.
To the east there was nothing but asphalt and row after row of fancy vacation houses all painted the dusky gray color of the Regency Resorts Homeowner’s Association. He turned a corner, and his heart thudded twice. His house might be only 900 square feet, with a dumpy little addition off the back and a broken AC unit, but he wouldn’t trade it for any of Regency’s fair‑weather mansions.
“Home sweet home.”
“It’s pink,” Nico said.
“Flamingo.” He’d painted it in a drunken stupor after an encounter with Regency’s HOA president. The dumbass had called his peeling white paint a blight on the horizon.
The paint wasn’t peeling anymore, and even when he was sober, it provided Dale with a never-ending source of delight to think of all the stuffy Regency summer people in their fine houses staring out at his little piece of paradise.
He parked in front of his place and hustled his guest inside the old frame house. It was only a little before seven o’clock, but it felt closer to midnight. He was both amped and exhausted at the same time, and he couldn’t begin to imagine how Nico felt.
He still didn’t have any shoes on. His clothes were covered in salt and grime. His eyes were barely open. Cleaning up was definitely on the agenda, but Dale didn’t know whether he wanted to leave him alone in the bathroom.
In his state, he might hurt himself by accident… or on purpose.
“There’s an outdoor shower in the back,” he finally said. “So you don’t get sand in the drains.”
And so he could keep an eye on his new guest. He still didn’t know what had compelled him to bring Nico home. Maybe he’d just felt sorry for the poor bastard. He wouldn’t leave anyone to Dr. Acers’s ministrations. The woman might be a medical expert, but her bedside manner could use some work.
Of course that still didn’t explain the little surge of excitement he felt when Nico put a hand on his arm and allowed himself to be led outside.
Fuck. He swallowed back a groan as he shoved Nico into the shower and shut the door.
There was a moment’s silence, and then he heard the slip-flop of Nico’s shirt being peeled off his body and the wet thud of his pants hitting the ground. Pipes rattled. The water sputtered for a moment, then started gushing outward over the ground.
Behind the rough wooden door of the outside shower, Nico let out a little moan.
Forget excitement. That little sound was Dale’s ticket on the fast train to Bonerville.
At least that’s the way the teenage assholes he managed would put it.
Dale really needed to get some friends his own age.
He left the sliding door to the deck open as he went inside to grab a navy blue towel, a pair of comfy black sweatpants, and a plain gray T-shirt. Nico would be swimming in his clothes, but at least they were clean. When he was done, he walked back outside.
There was a two-foot gap between the faded deck boards and the shower door, plenty of room for clouds of fluffy white suds to float out. Nico’s bare feet were visible. The day’s dirt had been washed away to reveal high arches and clean nails. Dark hair coated his lower legs. His skin was pink from the heat.
“Open up.” Dale knocked twice before popping the door open a few inches and thrusting the stack of clothes inside. A good man would have shut his eyes. He enjoyed the little bit of view he got—pale skin and more of that thick hair.
Thank God, and a strong Italian heritage, for small favors.
Sunburned Delaware native Dale Seward spends his summers wrangling lifeguards and cracking crabs. His winters are a whole lot colder.
Nico Travelli’s never even seen the ocean, but when his family’s plans for him get derailed, he realizes his future in their upscale Italian restaurants might be over, and it’s time for something new. He’s hypnotized by his first look at the Atlantic—until a wave takes him out. Luckily, Dale’s there to pull him to safety.
Dale knows better than to fall for a summer person, but that doesn’t mean he can’t show Nico a good time. Between the ice cream cones and the put-put golf, these two lonely hearts soon find themselves in over their heads.
But when Nico is tempted by a second chance at the life he always thought he wanted, will he be brave enough to give it up for the possibility of true love with Dale? And what does the sexy lifeguard do during the winter? In a state as small as Delaware, secrets are bound to come out.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
A.R. Barley lives in the Motor City with a dog (who’s currently annoying the cat), a cat (who’s doing his best to avoid the dog), and an engineer. She likes hot drinks, hotter novels, and ice cream. She writes seven days a week (when she’s not playing referee to the dog and the cat) and is always happy to hear from readers on Facebook and Twitter.
She loves the ocean.
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