THIS CAN’T BE LOVE
WHISPERING BAY ROMANCE Book 5
Coming April 18, 2017
Luke Powers has a stellar career, a loaded bank account, and the perfect girlfriend. Or so he thought until she gives him a marriage ultimatum. Unfortunately, he’s just not the marrying kind. After working six months non-stop, all he wants now is a few weeks of R&R in the beach house his late grandfather left him in his hometown of Whispering Bay. But when he shows up late one night, he finds something totally unexpected—a naked blonde in his bed.
Sarah Jamison is the antithesis of perfect. She’s a college dropout, a bit of a slob, and annoyingly opinionated. But she also makes the best macaroni and cheese Luke has ever tasted. A roommate wasn’t in Luke’s summer plans, but she’s here, so she and her macaroni might as well stay.
One thing Sarah knows for sure is that she’s never going to end up like her mother who’s spent years hopelessly in love with a man who deserted her. Sarah is in Whispering Bay long enough to help out a friend, then she’s off to greener pastures. Spending a few weeks with the attractive, but acerbic Luke, won’t be any skin off her nose. Except, the two of them have more in common than she originally thought, and those blue eyes of his have a way of making her panties melt.
As things between them begin to heat up, Sarah and Luke have to admit they’ve definitely fallen in lust with one another. But in love? No way.
Sneak peek! (this is an unedited version)
Luke Powers was recovering from a bout of marathon sex when the gorgeous brunette lying next to him sat straight up in bed and hit him with those dreaded words no guy ever wanted to hear. “I think our relationship needs to go to the next level. Otherwise…” The ultimatum hung in the air, sucking up all the oxygen in the room.
He stifled a groan and took a deep breath. He knew exactly what the otherwise implied. It was a scene he should be used to. Every few months, Torie would break up with him. He’d take it like a man, and then after a few days or even a week, she’d call, wanting to get back together and they’d resume their relationship like nothing had ever happened. After three years, however, the pattern was getting a little old.
“Give me a few more minutes and I’ll be happy to take it to whatever level you want,” he joked, hoping she’d go for it.
Unfortunately, she didn’t. “Luke. You know what I’m talking about.”
They weren’t kids anymore, so yeah, he knew exactly what she was talking about. But he’d always been honest with her. He wasn’t the marrying kind. Way back when, he’d made a point of telling her that on their second date.
“Either we get married or we break up for good.” Her big brown eyes were shiny with tears. “Don’t you care about me?”
Hell yes, he cared. How could he not? Torie was nearly perfect in every way. Beautiful, smart, accomplished, funny, kind. She was every man’s dream.
“Do you love me?” she whispered.
“I love everything about you, Torie,” he said, using the nickname that only he was allowed to use. To everyone else she was Victoria.
She slipped out of bed and began pulling on her clothes.
“Don’t.” She spun around and stabbed him with a glare that bordered somewhere between anger and hurt. “The thing is, Luke, I’m thirty-four and while you might think this is my biological clock ticking away, it’s not. I love you. And I thought… I thought that you’d fall in love with me, too. I thought if I just gave you enough time you’d come around.” She laughed, a sad little laugh that tore at his gut in a way he’d never felt before.
“So that’s it?” he asked. “We either get married or we’re through?”
“Yeah, that’s it.” She didn’t look angry anymore. More like resigned. Like a part of her had expected this.
He could tell her he loved her. Hell, who knows? Maybe he did. He’d never told anyone he loved them before. In high school he’d been too busy making good grades and playing sports to pay much attention to girls. And then he’d hit college and there was a different girlfriend every month. But he’d graduated summa cum laude from Duke with his civil engineering degree without ever saying those three little words to any of the pretty co-eds he’d been with.
Then he was off to grad school at the University of Charleston to get a masters in marine biology and the pattern had repeated itself. Lots of girls, but no one special. After school, he’d taken a job with a civil engineering firm that specialized in marine construction. He’d worked hard in those first few years to build up a reputation of excellence. He’d also played hard. While all his buddies were settling down with nice-girl-next-door types their mommas would approve of, Luke found that that he enjoyed the single life. He liked going out with a different woman every weekend. Going to nice restaurants and having lots of nice sex. But he also liked coming home to his nice empty apartment where he could kick back and relax after a hard day in the field.
Eventually, he quit his job and together with a friend from grad school they’d opened their own consulting firm. For the past seven years he’d traveled around the country, making more money than he’d ever dreamed possible. He had an upscale condo in Atlanta, a beach house in north Florida, and a couple of million dollars tucked away in investments. He and Torie had a good thing. They saw each other exclusively and were together most of the time he wasn’t away from Atlanta traveling, which he had to admit, could sometimes be weeks at a time. For the most part, he missed her when he was away, and he’d been faithful to her. Maybe love was as simple as that.
She finished dressing, then turned to face him. “I love you, Luke, but I can’t be with a man who doesn’t feel as strongly for me as I do for him.”
He went to say something, what exactly, he didn’t know, but she cut him off by leaning over the bed and planting a kiss on his cheek. “It’s all right, I know you care about me.” She gave him a shaky smile. “But it’s just not enough anymore.”
Leave it to Torie. Always classy, never making a scene.
“The thing is, I know that one day you’re going to fall in love. And I hope you’re happy. I really do. But…and I hate to say this, a part of me hopes that she breaks your heart into a million pieces, because I want you to know what I’m feeling right now.”
He watched as she picked up her overnight bag then walked out the door. A part of him said she’d be back. After all, she’d done this before. But something deep in his gut told him that this time she meant it. Torie was walking out of his life and never coming back.
Should he stop her?
He was sad, no doubt about it, but the simple truth was he didn’t want to get married. He didn’t even want to live together. And if he didn’t want those things, then he couldn’t be in love with her.
The whole thing felt surreal. Unsettling, in a way he couldn’t quite describe.
And then it hit him.
Torie was right to leave him. She was the full package and she deserved a man who could reciprocate her love. But she was wrong about the other part. If he hadn’t been able to fall in love with someone as perfect for him as Torie, then it was never going to happen for him. He was thirty-seven years old. Most of his friends were married. A few of them were already divorced from wife number one and onto wife number two. His sister, Mimi, was two years younger and had been married for eighteen years, with a couple of kids and a surprise baby on the way.
Marriage and kids… they weren’t for Luke Powers. Neither was forced monogamy, dirty diapers and making nice with your mother-in-law on Thanksgiving.
He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He had a good life. Hell, he had a great life. There was no need to force something he simply wasn’t capable of feeling.