Blaine & Tiffany
Welcome back to Gansett Island!
Series favorite Tiffany Sturgil steals the spotlight in Longing for Love as her new boutique Naughty & Nice opens in downtown Gansett, right in time for the annual spring Race Week festivities. Finally divorced and ready for a new beginning, Tiffany wonders if sexy Police Chief Blaine Taylor thinks of her as often as she thinks of him since their explosive encounter last fall. Back then he directed her to call him the second she was officially divorced, but the opening of her store and her unconventional advertising “campaign” have put the island’s lingerie queen at odds with the town’s top cop. Despite their clashes, when these two finally get together after months of steamy build up, readers will need to keep a fire extinguisher close at hand!
Blaine has been burned in the past by love affairs gone wrong, and he’s wary about risking too much too soon. But he quickly discovers that Tiffany’s sarcastic rejoinders and bitter outer shell hide a badly wounded heart of gold. He also discovers she’s a “sex-toy fraud” and convinces her she can’t possibly sell the merchandise without trying it out first… While he finds himself thinking of her all the time, the mayor is after him to curb her sexy advertising and his mother worries that Blaine has taken on another “project” who will break his heart.
As Blaine and Tiffany fight for their happily ever after, readers’ favorite characters from past books are back for more island adventures. Joe and Janey return to Gansett for the summer and discover the big secret his mother has been keeping. Evan learns that Grace hasn’t told her parents about him. Stephanie’s restaurant is ready to open in the renovated Sand & Surf. Dan keeps showing up to “visit” Kara at work, Mac is worried about Maddie’s upcoming meeting with her deadbeat dad and a Race Week catastrophe reminds everyone what’s really important.
The McCarthys of Gansett Island takes a decidedly erotic turn in this seventh book! If hot, sexy men in uniform cavorting with hot, sexy women who sell sex toys for a living aren’t your thing, this book might not be for you!
Longing for Love
(Gansett Island Series, Book 7)
By Marie Force
Tiffany Sturgil stood outside her new shop and watched two workmen secure the hand-carved sign over the display window. Drivers on Ocean Road slowed to take a look at what was going on, but there wasn’t much to see yet. Tiffany had kept paper over the store’s window to maintain the surprise until the last minute. But once the sign was in place, it would be time to unveil her beautiful new shop.
Her heart raced with excitement and anticipation and a tiny bit of dread. What if she failed? What if she’d poured every dime she had—and then some—into the store only to fall flat on her face? “I can’t let that happen,” she muttered, determined to believe in herself or no one else would. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder what her mother and sister would think about the shop, not to mention Jim, her soon-to-be ex-husband, who’d definitely have something to say about it. Not that she cared about his opinion. Not anymore.
“Ready?” one of the men called to her.
“Absolutely!” At those words, excitement immediately trumped the insecurity. This was it—the moment she’d waited for since that horrible night with Jim, the night she’d landed in jail and then let the island’s ridiculously hot police chief get her off in the kitchen. A tingle of desire heated her core as she remembered that explosive moment. Tiffany shook off the memory, as she had every day since, to focus on the store.
“Here we go!”
The two men tore the paper cover off her sign and stared at it, dumbfounded.
“Seriously?” one of them said. “On Gansett Island?”
“What?” Tiffany asked.
“Naughty & Nice?” the younger of the two men said, snickering.
“It’s catchy,” Tiffany said.
“It’s raunchy,” the older one said to guffaws from the other.
Suddenly, she wanted them gone. No one was going to rain on her parade. Not today, not on the day when all her dreams were about to come true. “How much do I owe you?”
“I’ll get you a check.” She stepped into the space that had occupied most of her waking moments for months. Working long hours seven days a week in between her mothering duties, she’d painted and buffed and polished until the place gleamed. Scented candles burned throughout the store, sending a hint of spicy cinnamon apple into the air. Racks of luscious, frothy lingerie in every style, shape and color, bins of panties, baskets of bras, lotions, potions and candles… Everything she’d imagined and then some. Through a beaded curtain, other treasures awaited, designed to bring ultimate pleasure.
“What do you need, boss?” asked Patty, the nervous young woman Tiffany had hired to help her out a few hours a week. Her mousy brown hair was cut into an unfortunate style that only exacerbated her other unexceptional features. Tiffany had makeover plans for her assistant as soon as things let up a little.
“A check for fifty dollars, please.” She handed Patty the business card the men had given her.
“Coming right up.”
Patty had been the only one to apply for the job. Tiffany hoped she’d eventually be able to leave the store in the other woman’s hands so she could take an occasional break to spend time with her daughter. Her mother and future stepfather Ned had been great about helping out with Ashleigh while Tiffany was getting the store ready to open and were willing to keep her whenever Tiffany needed help. Once she got the store up and running, Tiffany also hoped to jump-start her social life. If the explosive orgasm she’d experienced at the hands of Blaine Taylor had taught her anything, it was that she’d been missing out on far too much during her years with Jim. She was determined to do something about that, as soon as she had some free time.
Tiffany leaned over to sign the check and tore it from the ledger. “Thanks, Patty.” On her way back outside to pay the men, she pulled the brown paper off the inside of the store window and went out to find the two idiots ogling the nearly naked mannequins dressed in racy lingerie. She’d gone with a red theme for her first window—lacy teddies and silk nightgowns, sets of bras and panties, a large bottle of massage oil and lube that heated on contact.
“Holy smokes, lady,” the older one sputtered. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing here, but this ain’t that kind of island.”
Tiffany forced a smile when she really wanted to scream. “What kind of island is it?” she asked sweetly. “The kind where no one has sex?”
He stared at her as if he couldn’t believe she’d said that. Snatching the check from her hand, he tilted his head to tell his partner to get in the truck.
Tiffany happened to glance down to find the younger man sporting an erection. She smiled when his startled eyes met hers. “Come on back soon,” she said in her best baby-doll voice, “and buy something sexy for your lady—and yourself.”
Flustered, he bolted to the truck. They left rubber in their haste to get out of there.
Watching them go, Tiffany experienced a twinge of apprehension. What if everyone in the conservative island town reacted the same way?
The next morning, she got up early to shower. As she spent extra time on her hair and makeup, her heart pounded with excitement and anticipation. Opening day! She’d planned and prepared for this day for months, and everything was set. From ads in the paper beginning today, to balloons out front, to special events to tout her sensual offerings, Tiffany was ready to announce her arrival.
“Look out world,” she whispered to her reflection. She’d chosen a sexy red silk blouse over a black pencil skirt with stiletto heels for the opening. Applying lipstick in the same shade of racy red as her top, Tiffany took one last measuring look in the mirror before she grabbed her purse and headed downstairs. Ashleigh had spent the night with Jim, so Tiffany was free and clear to focus on opening day.
Her heels echoed like shotgun blasts inside the empty house. In one of the more acrimonious moves in their divorce proceedings, Jim had shown up one day with a moving truck and taken all the furniture, leaving her and Ashleigh with their beds and not much else. Until he’d done that, Tiffany had retained some hope that they might patch things up. Now she couldn’t wait to finally be free of him. Any day now, her lawyer, Dan Torrington, had assured her. Couldn’t happen soon enough for Tiffany.
With all her money tied up in the store, it would be some time before she’d be able to replace the furniture. What did it matter? They had what they needed, although she’d been astounded by how fast her savings had dwindled once she started buying inventory, shelving units, a computer, a cash register and everything else she needed to open the store.
“It’ll all be fine once the money starts rolling in,” she reminded herself in a sing-song voice.
For the millionth time since their encounter in the kitchen, Tiffany thought of Blaine and how much she wished she could share her excitement with him. Why him? Well, why not him? If he could make her come like a cannon with just his fingers, imagine what he could do with his tongue or that impressive shaft he’d pressed against her. Just the thought of it made her tremble with need.
And the way he’d looked at her with such yearning, as if he wanted something he couldn’t allow himself to have. Then there had been the time at Luke and Syd’s house last fall when he’d cornered her on a dark deck and told her to call him the second she was free of Jim. For a brief moment, she stopped to wonder if he was still waiting for her to call. Who was she kidding? A guy who looked like him could have his pick of women. He’d probably moved on a long time ago when he got tired of waiting to hear from her.
She took a deep, shuddering breath and closed the front door. No time for negative thoughts today. Although, spending months surrounded by lacy negligees and thick dildos had left her twitchy with unfulfilled desire. “Someday soon,” she said as she approached her little red car with the new NAUGHTY vanity plate. If Blaine wasn’t interested in her anymore, she’d find someone else who was. Tiffany was sick and tired of feeling down about herself in the wake of her disastrous marriage. The store was the first step in a whole new life, and she was more than ready to get started.
Tiffany smiled, thrilled with the sun, the cloudless sky, the fragrant late spring breeze. She couldn’t have handpicked a day better suited to starting her fabulous new life and had to curb the urge to wave to everyone she passed on the road.
On the way to the shop (she loved saying that—the shop), she thought over her to-do list before the noon opening. She’d chosen to open on a sunny Saturday in early May in the hope that people would be out, about and curious. It was also important to have all the bugs worked out before the Gansett Island Race Week festivities later in the month. The island would be overrun with people in town for the annual sailing regatta.
Driving through town, Tiffany thought about how much she loved Gansett Island and how happy she’d been when she and Jim returned home to the island after he finished law school—that was until everything went to crap between the two of them for reasons still unknown to Tiffany. Perhaps she’d never know. Over time, she’d begun to make peace with that possibility.
Gansett’s waterfront downtown included the requisite New England white-steeple church, a large park next door to the redbrick town hall, and the combined police and fire station. Tiffany’s shop was located down the hill from the police station, which she passed daily, hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of the sexy police chief. But she hadn’t laid eyes on him since the night on Luke and Syd’s deck. His elusiveness had led her to wonder—more than once—if he was intentionally avoiding her because he’d changed his mind about being interested in her.
She could still remember the gravelly tenor of his voice when he’d grabbed her by the waistband of her jeans and pulled her in close to him on the dark deck. A shiver went through her when she thought about what he’d said. “The minute you’re free of him, the very same second it’s final, you’re going to call me.” Before that, she never would’ve thought a dominant man would turn her on. Now she knew otherwise. But since he’d made himself scarce ever since, she was left to wonder if he still felt the same way.
She pushed that unpleasant thought to the back of her mind, and the last half mile of the ride to work passed in a blur of plans and exhilaration and eagerness. As she pulled into the parking space she’d decided would belong to her as the owner and proprietor of Naughty & Nice, she hoped the women in town would be curious enough to come check out the latest thing.
Rounding the corner to unlock the front door, Tiffany came to a dead stop.
“Oh my God. No.” Multicolored paint, as if shot from a paintball gun, was splattered all over the white brick front wall of her store, on the window and splattering her beautiful new sign—the sign she’d paid a thousand dollars to have hand-carved. Viewing the damage, white-hot rage overwhelmed her. Who could’ve done such a thing?
A gasp from behind her had Tiffany spinning around to find Patty holding a dozen red balloons and covering her mouth with her hand. “Oh, no. No, no, no!” Patty’s eyes were shiny with tears. “I’m so sorry, Tiffany.”
“So am I.” Tiffany gritted her teeth to keep from shrieking and jammed the key in the lock to open the door. Marching to the storage room in the back of the store, she found an unopened can of white paint and a new roller. She glanced down at her expensive silk blouse and skirt. Since she was unwilling to ruin her gorgeous new outfit, she rummaged around, looking for the gym bag she thought she’d left there the week before.
“Damn it,” she muttered when she couldn’t find the bag or anything else to change into. Moving to the front of the store, she checked the wall clock. Two hours until opening. Right when she decided it was worth it to ruin her good clothes to repair the damage, her eyes landed on a saucy French maid costume on one of the racks. Glancing to her scarred window and then back to the outfit, she knew exactly what she had to do.
“They want to screw with me? Well, two can play at that game.”
“Boss?” Patty said warily. “Are you all right?”
“I’m just fine.” Tiffany grabbed the outfit off the rack and headed for the changing room. “Start getting the wine and cheese ready.”
Patty watched her with wide, doe-like eyes caught in headlights. “We’re still going to open?”
“You bet your booty we are.”
Across the street in the grocery store parking lot, Blaine watched from an unmarked police vehicle.
“What are we doing here, Chief?” Patrolman Trainee Wyatt Abrams asked. “The place was hit by vandals. Shouldn’t we take a report?”
“Hang on. I want to see what she does about it.” Blaine tilted a neck gone tight with tension. When he first saw what some idiot had done to Tiffany’s store, he’d ached with dismay and had to resist the urge to fix it before she saw it. That was what the old Blaine would’ve done. The new-and-improved Blaine kept his distance from “projects” and didn’t get involved. From a police standpoint, there wasn’t much he could do besides assign additional patrols in the area, which he’d done the minute he first saw the damage.
As he watched Tiffany drive up, seeing the spring in her step and then the devastated curve of her shoulders, Blaine’s heart had broken for her. Then he saw her get mad, and he was proud. Now he waited anxiously to see what she planned to do about it. Ten more tense minutes passed before the door swung open. A paint can and roller preceded Tiffany out the door.
“Oh. My. God,” Wyatt whispered. “What does she have on?”
Blaine couldn’t speak as he stared at Tiffany in a black lace bustier with fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and a bow tie around her neck. Her dark hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, and the lithe dancer’s body he remembered in vivid detail after the night he saw her naked was on full display. The skimpy outfit reminded him that she was made up of miles of creamy-white skin and long, muscular legs. His erection pressed against his fly, letting him know it approved.
“She’s not really going to paint in that getup, is she?” Wyatt asked, his tongue practically hanging out of his face.
As she bent over to open the paint can, Wyatt got his answer.
Blaine saw red. What the hell was she thinking, parading around like that? This wasn’t that kind of town, and he could only imagine what the mayor and town council would have to say about it.
As he was reaching for the door handle to go have a word with her, the squeal of tires and the crunch of metal connecting with metal snapped Blaine out of the stupor he’d slipped into.
“Holy shit!” Wyatt said, his voice high-pitched. “She caused a freaking accident!”
Blaine reached for his jacket in the backseat and threw open the door. “Go take statements at the accident,” he said. “Call the paramedics if there’re injuries, and get some backup over here to handle traffic.”
“I could take care of her if you want to handle the accident,” Wyatt said with a cheeky grin as they ran from the car to the scene.
Blaine shot the patrolman a glower that succeeded in shutting him up. He noticed Tiffany was watching the two drivers shriek at each other with a horrified expression on her face. She’d been so happy when she first arrived at the store, and now it was all going to crap. Well, project or not, he couldn’t let that happen.
He and Wyatt reached the street and went their separate ways. Blaine darted through cars brought to a stop by the accident and approached Tiffany, who seemed frozen with shock. Wrapping his jacket around her shoulders, he tried to ease her toward the shop door.
All at once, she snapped out of it and pushed him away. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Taking you inside.”
She shook him off, which caused her barely covered breasts to shake, too.
Blaine peeled his eyes off her jiggling flesh while trying to suppress the memory of how her skin had tasted, and the delicious raspberry-colored nipples that were threatening to break free at any second. He’d spent a ridiculous amount of time over the last ten months thinking about those nipples.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got to get this mess cleaned up before I open at noon.”
Her green eyes shot fire at him, but mixed in with the anger, he saw desire. Oh yeah, she’s thought about me, too.
“It’s either this or naked.” She tossed his coat back at him. “Take your pick.”
Blaine swallowed hard as he remembered the sight of her naked and handcuffed to her scumbag of a husband. “I choose neither,” he said through gritted teeth as he realized they were drawing a crowd of spectators who’d figured out that Tiffany’s outfit had caused the crash. The two drivers were arguing with a red-faced and flustered Patrolman Abrams.
“You may not be aware that this town has decency laws,” Blaine said.
“All the important stuff is covered,” she retorted, bending over to fill the roller pan with paint.
At the sight of her rounded bottom, a surge of lust hit Blaine right in the groin. “It’s not covered well enough.”
“So write me a ticket and be on your way. I’ve got work to do and not much time to do it.” Running the roller through the glossy white paint, Tiffany began applying it to the splotches of red, green and yellow that marred the front of her store. Up went the roller, down went the front of the black bustier.
Blaine wasn’t sure what was going to happen first: either his head was going to explode or her boobs were going to bust free of that thing she called decent. “Tiffany, please. Come on. We’ll get someone over here to do the painting.”
“Who? Who will we get to come help the woman who had the nerve to open a sex-toy shop on this button-downed, sexless, freak-show island?”
He stared at her, his brain attempting to process the words as he began to sweat in earnest. “I thought this was a lingerie shop,” he somehow managed to say. “You didn’t say anything about, um, toys.”
“I said lingerie and other items.”
“Is that how you managed to get it past the town?” he asked, mesmerized by the sway of her breasts as she worked the roller. A bead of perspiration traveled from the base of her neck straight down to the valley between her bountiful breasts. Despite his best efforts to keep it under control, his dick surged to full hard-on status. He shifted his coat so it covered the front of him.
“They’ve been so busy trying to keep Jumbo Mart from invading their pristine island that they barely noticed me.”
Blaine glanced at the knot of traffic, the mangled cars, infuriated drivers and his rookie attempting to bring order to the chaos. Relieved to see two more cruisers heading toward the scene, Blaine returned his attention to her. “I think it’s safe to say they’ve noticed you now.”
“That’s the goal,” she said with a saucy grin.
“You caused an accident!”
“Um, no, the person who wasn’t watching where he was going caused the accident.”
Blaine anchored his free hand to his hair to keep the top of his head from blowing off. “You need to put some clothes on, or I’m going to have to cite you.” He couldn’t charge her with anything other than creating a public nuisance, but she didn’t need to know that. Besides, his threats of law and order had hardly stopped her from finishing the job.
Tiffany covered the last of the red splotches with a wide stroke of the roller. “You know, whoever decided to redecorate my shop has actually done me a favor.”
“How do you figure?” Blaine asked, exasperated that she refused to take him seriously.
“Well, I needed to repaint and didn’t have anything else to wear. Who knew this little number would get me so much free publicity? Maybe a little ‘creative advertising’ is just what I need to make a name for my new shop.”
Now Blaine was not only sweating but also wondering why the idea of her parading around half dressed in the center of town made him so damned mad. It wasn’t like she belonged to him or anything. But if she did—belong to him, that is—you could bet your ass that she wouldn’t be showing her ass to anyone but him. “Sweetheart, it’s safe to say you’ve made a name for yourself that’ll be remembered on Gansett Island for years to come.”
“Listen, I’m trying to help you here.” Once again, he tried to cover her with his coat, and once again she pushed it away.
“I appreciate your whole hero-to-the-rescue act, but I’m all set. Go do your job, and I’ll do mine. I’m very busy, and you’re going to scare all my customers away with that nasty scowl on your face.”
Now that just made him mad. “This isn’t over.” He was dying to ask about the status of her divorce, but this wasn’t the time or the place.
Bending to pour the remaining paint from the roller tray back into the can, she gave him another view of her superb backside. When she stood upright again, she turned to him, her face red and flushed from heat and exertion. “Sweetheart,” she said in a mocking tone, “it was over before it started.”
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge