One Summer
Contemporary erotic romance
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Copyright by Rayne Forrest   
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Holly Thomas has a simple plan for the summer—take care of her
favorite aunt and celebrate Burkesville’s centennial. Her
immediate attraction to the town’s newest resident quickly
proves problematic. Joe Mercer’s keeping secrets behind his
blue eyes.

Holly’s instincts are good. Joe Mercer’s reasons for coming to
Burkesville are two-fold. On the surface he’s the pub owner he
looks to be, but he’s also undercover for the government. Holly’s
everything he wants in a woman and he’s trapped. He can’t
confide to her that he’s in the middle of this little covert
assignment, and he can’t stay away from her.

When the deal goes down, Joe scrambles to stay on the right
side of everything. Holly has it all wrong but he’s in too deep to
back out of the operation. It’s all coming to a head and he’ll be
able to tell her everything—if he can just hold on to her for one
more day.

“So, Captain Joe, can I hang my poster in your establishment?”

“Only if you agree to have lunch with me.”

“Oh ho, ho. You’d blackmail me? You? An officer and a gentleman?”

That slow, lazy grin spread across his face again. The man had no right to look that good. Maybe if he
shaved that would help. He probably wouldn’t have half so much appeal without those scruffy dark
whiskers on his cheeks.

“I retired from being an officer and a gentleman, Ms. Thomas. I can blackmail you into lunch and still sleep
with a clear conscience.”

“You know, Captain Joe, there are any number of places in Burkesville just clamoring for one of my
original, collectable pieces of artwork.” She held the poster up in front of her. “You could put it right on
the inside of the door where everyone would see it as they left.”

“What about lunch? It’s on the house. I serve a great chicken salad. I can even put that on one of those
fancy croissants. You look like a lady who’d appreciate a crois-sant.”

He was certainly persistent.

“Do you have chocolate silk pie for dessert?”

“Sorry, no. I’m a little lacking in the dessert department. I’ve not found a lady willing to bake for me.”

Of course. It made sense Joe didn’t actually cook everything in his own kitchen. He was the new customer
the owner of Maggie’s Deli had raved about. He bought every-thing from her and just served it.

Now she understood why Maggie was in drool mode over the new customer, too.
She was headed down a path that led straight to trou-ble. Big trouble. She had a new job, and she needed
to buck-le down and finish her doctorate. She didn’t want to be dis-tracted by anything. Her best course of
action was to simply steer clear of Joe Mercer.
He gripped the poster, his long fingers a fraction of an inch inside hers. His nails were square, neatly cut
and well-tended.

Holly wished she hadn’t noticed his nails. How a man cared for his fingernails was a big insight into his
character. The thought of those fingertips trailing slowly over her skin sneaked into her consciousness.
Her nipples tingled and peaked. Thank all the stars the poster was between them and he couldn’t notice
because the thin cotton of her tee-shirt would surely give her away. She wished he wasn’t having such an
effect on her. Truly.

She wished she could just keep her mouth shut, but the words just seemed to fall out.
“You should call Thelma Stein. She bakes the most in-credible stuff.”

Joe glanced out the window. “The lady across the street?”

“The same. She’s been retired less than a year and the word is she’s looking for something to do. You can
mention my name to her, if you like.”

He gave her a calculating look. “I suppose dropping your name around Burkesville will open a lot of

“The old guard is what it is, Captain Joe.” She shook the poster. “Can I put this on your door?”

“Nope. I’ll put it up.” He plucked the poster from her grasp. “You’d probably want to use sixteen-penny
nails and make big holes in my brand new, expensive, oak door.” He shook in an exaggerated shiver.

Holly smiled at him. “Thanks, Joe. I’d better be going. I want to get home and check on my aunt. Then I
have to grab more dry posters, and make a few more calls. I’ll take a rain check on lunch, though.”

“Okay.” He met her gaze, and nodded as he opened the door for her.

She paused just over the threshold. “See you around, Joe Mercer.”

Joe nodded and watched her cross the street before he closed the door. He’d hang her poster, then he’d
go see if he could help clean up the debris on the other side of the street. That would give him an
opening to introduce himself to Mrs. Stein. He found some smaller finishing nails and, wincing at the
thought of damaging his new door, hung the poster.

“Oh yeah, Holly Thomas. You’ll see me. Count on it.”
One Summer

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