Lost Harbor Alaska Box Set (Books 1-3) - Jennifer Bernard - E-Book

Lost Harbor Alaska Box Set (Books 1-3) E-Book

Jennifer Bernard

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Beschreibung

Welcome to the faraway town of Lost Harbor, where hearts are lost and love is found on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness. This box set includes the first three books in this sexy fun contemporary romance series.


“I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the Lost Harbor, Alaska series!” 5 stars


“These characters just welcome you into their world.” 5 stars



MINE UNTIL MOONRISE


It’s a fine line between feuding and flirting. Ever since single mother Megan Miller first arrived in stunning Lost Harbor, Alaska, she’s been at odds with hottie boat captain Lucas Holt. Until one of Lost Harbor’s wild storms tosses everything up in the air, and a rescue becomes a passionate affair.
YOURS SINCE YESTERDAY


Padric Jeffers never expected to return to his hometown of Lost Harbor, Alaska—not after the scandal that sent his family fleeing. But once he sets eyes on the stunning grown-up version of his childhood best friend, his mission is clear: do whatever it takes to have her—and keep her—this time around.
 
SEDUCED BY SNOWFALL


Firefighter Nate Prudhoe and Dr. Bethany Morrison had one unfortunate “locked out of her house in a towel while trying to take a photo of a moose” encounter when she first moved to Lost Harbor. Bethany is sure they have nothing in common. But when an early blizzard hits—but they’re about to find themselves Seduced by Snowfall.

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Lost Harbor Alaska Box Set Books 1-3

Jennifer Bernard

Contents

Foreword

Mine Until Moonrise

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Yours Since Yesterday

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Seduced by Snowfall

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

About the Author

Also by Jennifer Bernard

Foreword

Welcome to the faraway town of Lost Harbor, where hearts are lost and hope is found on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness.

MINE UNTIL MOONRISE

 It’s a fine line between feuding and flirting. Ever since single mother Megan Miller first arrived in stunning Lost Harbor, Alaska, she’s been at odds with hottie boat captain Lucas Holt. Until one of Lost Harbor’s wild storms tosses everything up in the air, and a rescue becomes a passionate affair.

YOURS SINCE YESTERDAY

Padric Jeffers never expected to return to his hometown of Lost Harbor, Alaska—not after the scandal that sent his family fleeing. But once he sets eyes on the stunning grown-up version of his childhood best friend, his mission is clear: do whatever it takes to have her—and keep her—this time around.

SEDUCED BY SNOWFALL

Firefighter Nate Prudhoe and Dr. Bethany Morrison had one unfortunate “locked out of her house in a towel while trying to take a photo of a moose” encounter when she first moved to Lost Harbor. Bethany is sure they have nothing in common. But when an early blizzard hits, they’re about to find themselves Seduced by Snowfall.

1

It couldn’t be good that Megan’s passengers were singing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island—“a tale of a fateful trip.” Or that two of them were snoring loudly. Halfway back to Lost Harbor and they still hadn’t sighted anything for the tourists to write home about. She’d better come up with something fast, or her online reviews were going to be brutal.

They were just passing Bird Rock, where thousands of birds congregated in the summer. Surely there had to be at least one species that her passengers could get excited about. Guillemots, auks and sea ducks only went so far. Megan fished under her bright yellow rain jacket for her binoculars. She didn’t mind the way the ocean spray misted her face and sent her hair into a soggy, bedraggled frizz—but her precious Zeiss Victory SFs had to be protected at all costs.

“Stop the boat!” she shouted a second later. “I got something!”

The Forget Me Not lurched to half its previous speed. Her passengers slid across the bench seats, clutching each other and laughing.

Still captivated by the shape that had just caught her eye, Megan gestured an apology at her passengers. “Sorry, everyone, I get carried away when I spot something extra special.”

Luckily, her boat was an old tub built to ride out the worst Alaska storms. Her passengers were unlikely to go overboard, although the chances of springing a leak were essentially a hundred percent. Her boat pilot—she thought of him as Captain Kid, since he’d just barely reached the age at which he could legally captain a boat—had warned her of a new one just this morning.

After a quick check to make sure everyone was still onboard, she aimed her binoculars off the starboard bow. “This is a very lucky day, you guys. Do you see that blob of white just on the tip of that cliff face?”

Everyone looked in the direction she was pointing, to the jagged fortress of rocks. Waves crashed at its base, while seagulls tilted and wheeled above it. Their crying made a lonely sound, even though they were probably just chatting about the nearest bed of oysters.

“That’s called Bird Rock, for a good reason. Hundreds of species stop here over the course of the summer. Some of them nest, some are just passing through. But today…” She focused closer on the elegant white plumage with the black cap and deep orange bill.

“Looks like the entire cliff is white,” said one of her tourist passengers.

“Yes, there’s a lot of bird poop everywhere,” Megan answered absently. “You can smell it if we get close. Should we get closer? Ben, can we get closer?”

“Sure thing.” Ben—Captain Kid—answered from inside the wheelhouse as he turned the Forget Me Not toward Bird Rock.

“Mama, can I drive just this little bit?” Ruby piped up from her usual spot next to Ben. Her little eight-year-old city girl had a new goal in life—getting permission to pilot the Forget Me Not.

Not happening. Definitely not happening.

“In ten years, absolutely,” Megan called to her daughter from her spot on the stern deck. The tourists laughed sympathetically.

“Sweet saints alive. I see it. Is that…a Caspian tern?” one of them exclaimed. “Unusual to see them so far north, no?”

Megan smiled under her binoculars. Moments like this told her she’d done the right thing coming to Lost Harbor. These passengers—mostly elderly retirees with a passion for nature—were her kindred spirits. Where else could an entire boatful of people—okay, so she only had five customers today, but the season was still early—sigh in unison at the rare sighting?

The Forget Me Not was now close enough to Bird Rock so that she could clearly make out the Caspian tern’s ruffled plumage.

“Ruby, come on out here, I want you to see this.” She beckoned to her daughter. Ruby came skipping out of the wheelhouse in her brown rubber boots and her polka dot slicker and once again Megan experienced that overwhelming sensation of being exactly where she was supposed to be.

Ruby loved Alaska. She loved Misty Bay and the glacial peaks of Lost Souls Wilderness arrayed on the other side of the bay. She never got seasick the way Megan sometimes did. The cold didn’t bother her. She never got bored on the water. When things got slow, she curled up in the wheelhouse with a backpack full of math books.

I made the right choice coming here. Just look at that face!

Smiling, Megan held out her hand to Ruby, whose face glowed as she darted across the deck.

And then everything happened at once.

Another boat roared between them and Bird Rock. A cloud of cawing birds flapped into the air. The wake of the passing boat rippled toward them in a curl of white. Ruby’s boot hit a patch of water and she wheeled her arms to keep her balance. Megan flung herself across the deck to grab Ruby’s arm. Even though her daughter was laughing hysterically, Megan’s imagination had already conjured up the image of Ruby launching over the railing into the ocean.

“Hey!” she yelled at the boat. Through the spray misting the air between the two vessels, she recognized the culprit. Of course. The F/V Jack Hammer. Fishing charter to the wealthy. Her nemesis. Destroyer of peace. Ruiner of everything.

Standing on the back of the deck, a dark-haired man in sunglasses and full waders raised a gloved hand in apology.

Lucas Holt.

The first time they’d met, he’d rudely called her an “ignoramus” and lectured her about a “Boating Basics” class. Things hadn’t gotten any better since then.

Had she really just been thinking that Lost Harbor was exactly where she was supposed to be? It would have been absolutely perfect except for one person—the man pretending to be sorry for nearly capsizing them.

“I don’t accept your apology!” she shouted after the boat. Its stern seemed to mock her, the giant twin engines thumbing their noses at her. Had Lucas intended to mess with her Caspian tern sighting? She wouldn’t put it past him, even though he probably had no idea how exciting it was to see one.

Scratch that. Of course he knew. Lucas had grown up here and knew quite a bit about the wildlife. As he’d put it to her once—“the birds help me find the fish. The fish help me find the money. So yeah, I’ve learned what I need to know about birds.”

God, she hated him.

“Mama!” Ruby tugged her arm out of Megan’s grip. “You’re squishing me.”

“Sorry, sweetie. I thought you were about to go over the side.”

“I’m wearing my float vest.”

“Of course you are.” Megan wouldn’t let Ruby step foot on any boat without a PFD. “But that water would turn you into an ice cube in about twenty seconds.”

“The Caspian tern is gone.” The disappointment in her passengers’ voice made her heart sink. There went half her tips. All thanks to Lucas Holt and his irresponsible boating practices.

“We can hang out here for a little bit and see if he comes back.” Megan glanced back at Ben, who was busy navigating the wake of the Jack Hammer.

Jack Hammer. Was there ever such a stupid name for a boat? It had been named by Lucas’ father, Jack “the Hammer” Holt—someone arrogant enough to name a boat after himself.

Maybe arrogance ran in the family.

“But we have lunch reservations,” said one of the tourists.

“Oh, that’s not a problem. Lunch is included.” She waved her hand at the cooler that sat against the wheelhouse. “Juice boxes and a selection of healthy sandwiches.”

The passengers glanced amongst themselves. “Yes, but our reservations are for all-you-can-eat King Crab legs.”

“Right. Of course.” She caught Ben’s eye and jerked her head in the direction of the harbor. If she had her wish, she’d head the other way, toward the point, where she’d once spotted a Wandering Tattler and an orca had surfaced about three yards away.

But not everyone had her stamina when it came to wildlife viewing. Some people actually had lives, and lunch reservations.

Captain Kid, looking relieved, swung the wheel so the Forget Me Not headed for the harbor. He probably had lunch plans too.

Well, so did she. She planned to eat sandwiches out of a cooler with Ruby. Because at this rate, that was all she could afford. Unless business started to pick up, she wouldn’t even be able to fuel the Forget Me Not. It would become the Fuel Me Not.

“Why are you laughing, Mama?” Ruby tugged at her hand. “It’s that weird laugh when you’re thinking something mean. You aren’t mad at Lucas, are you? I didn’t go overboard.”

“No, but you could have. Thanks for reminding me. I’m going to talk to him as soon as we get back to the harbor.”

Ruby tilted her head up, her wide dark eyes sparkling. “Mama, he’s actually pretty nice. You just don’t believe it.”

“Maybe he’s nice to you, which I appreciate. But not to me. I’m going to talk to him, and then depending on what he says, report him to the harbormaster.”

“You already did that.”

So she had—and the sound of the harbormaster’s laughter still echoed on certain late nights when she relived the whole saga of her and Lucas.

“And I’ll do it again. Someone’s got to speak up.”

Ruby shrugged, losing interest. “I’m hungry, Mama.”

The Forget Me Not hit a swell and its aluminum frame vibrated with the impact. Megan grabbed the railing with one hand and Ruby with the other. Her binoculars bumped against her chest. “We’ll eat as soon as we tie up.”

“Pizza?” Ruby asked hopefully.

“Sandwiches. Lots of sandwiches.”

2

The Forget Me Not, carefully following the five-mile-per-hour no-wake rule, glided through the harbor toward the slip Megan rented. Before she’d come to Lost Harbor, she’d never imagined all the costs associated with running a boat. She hadn’t needed to, since she’d been hired as a naturalist guide. But just after she’d arrived, when she was still getting her bearings, everything had changed.

With only a few weeks left in the season—it was late August—the owner had gotten into a huge fight with her life partner, packed up all her belongings in her RV and offered the business to Megan.

Megan had, of course, discussed it with her ex-husband, Dev. Although she had primary custody of Ruby, Dev was still very involved in Ruby’s life. She and Dev had met in grad school—she’d been studying ornithology, he’d been studying business. Their marriage had been the only impulsive thing Dev had ever done. Megan, on the other hand, specialized in “impulsive.”

Just look at the way she’d fled to this faraway Alaska outpost.

Even though their marriage had only lasted a few months, Megan appreciated many things about Dev. He was financially responsible. He didn’t do drama. He loved Ruby. He respected their agreements.

They’d never gone to court to settle custody issues. Instead they relied on a professional mediator back in San Francisco. Poor Eliza Burke had the patience of a hundred saints.

Her move to Alaska had required three sessions with Eliza.

“I get why you want to leave the Bay Area,” he’d grumbled after they’d hammered out a plan. “But why does it have to be Alaska?”

“We need a change.”

She needed a change. And he knew the reason perfectly well, though they never talked about it.

“If Ruby doesn’t like it, she can always come stay with me.”

“That’s the thing—it was her idea. That’s why I considered it in the first place. Talk to her yourself, you’ll see!”

In the end, Dev had given his consent and offered financial help. He still thought it was insane, but Ruby had talked him into it. He was such a sucker when it came to Ruby.

Not that she was any better. As they passed Last Chance Pizza, with its deck overlooking the harbor, Ruby made a pleading face at Megan.

She rolled her eyes in a gesture Ruby knew how to read perfectly well. Fine. You win. Pizza with Zoe, the owner of the restaurant, was no hardship, after all. Zoe was Megan’s closest friend in Lost Harbor, the only one who’d accepted her immediately. She’d tried to win over the other “harbor rats”—people who worked on the boardwalk—with cupcakes and kindness, but it was a slow process.

They cruised past more businesses along the boardwalk that ran the length of the harbor. Ice cream shops, local crafts stores, restaurants, fishing charter offices, bear-viewing outfits.

When Dev had done his analysis of the business environment of Lost Harbor, Alaska, he’d been very impressed. “They do an excellent job catering to the tourist traffic. The fishing charters in particular do very well. Can you transform the Forget Me Not into—”

“No.”

“But the ROI would likely be exponentially—”

“No. I’m not here to fish. I want to use my almost-degree in a way that allows me to spend time with my daughter. It’s perfect, Dev.”

“Fine. But I estimate you have about a twenty-one percent chance of making a profit.”

“Really? That actually gives me hope, Dev. Thanks. I figured it was more like negative five percent.”

“That might be more accurate,” he admitted.

She hated to say it, but Dev was probably right. Her main problem was that the cost of fuel kept rising. Or maybe it was that boat repairs were expensive and the Forget Me Not had more leaks than a salad spinner.

Or that she couldn’t steer a boat and be a guide at the same time, and therefore had to hire Captain Kid. Or that she couldn’t afford her own office and therefore had to rent a virtual closet in the back of the Jack Hammer Fishing Charters office. The receptionist, Carla, only answered the Forget Me Not Nature Tours phone line when she wasn’t busy. Plenty of potential bookings went straight to voicemail.

Or maybe her biggest problem was that her marketing efforts screamed “science geek.” Or that…but why keep torturing herself? Sure she had challenges, but what new business owner didn’t? The summer season had just begun—her first full summer running nature tours out of Lost Harbor. It wasn’t over yet. She could still make this work.

Miracles could happen.

The Forget Me Not bumped against the side of the float, which had a long strip of carpet fastened to it to cushion the impact. She jumped out and grabbed the bow line. As soon as the Forget Me Not settled into place, she wound the line around a cleat. Ruby had followed her off the boat and was doing the same thing to the aft line.

Aft line. She’d never even put those two words together until she’d come to Lost Harbor.

She offered Ruby a high five. Her daughter slammed her palm a little too hard, as she always did. Captain Kid came out of the wheelhouse and unlatched the gate on the starboard side. Together, they all helped the passengers off the boat and onto the float. The guests said things like, “Lovely trip,” “Too bad about that Caspian tern,” and “Where’s the nearest restroom?”

She was in the midst of pointing it out when Lucas Holt strode past. He’d shucked his waders and wore work pants tucked into rubber boots, along with an obviously hand-knit sweater the color of smoke.

It smelled like smoke, too—like wood smoke curling through crystal clear air on a winter’s night. She had a quick image of him kneeling next to a campfire, blowing on the flames, while she snuggled under a blanket to keep warm.

She shook it off. It was just a fantasy, because she and Lucas Holt would never find themselves camping together, anywhere. She’d rather run into Lost Souls Wilderness across the bay and take her chances with the bears.

Usually Lucas ignored her and her passengers. They weren’t his speed; they didn’t bring coolers of beer on the boat or boast about the size of their last catch. But this time he paused and cast a charming smile across her little crew of elderly naturalists.

“Sorry about the close call out there. I’m training a new guy. He still has a few things to learn. I hope no one got wet because of that bonehead move.”

Lucas had dark hair and dark stubble and dark eyes and no wonder she secretly called him Lucifer. But he was good-looking; she had to admit that.

Not that it mattered. Character was what counted. Not looks.

“You’re seriously going to blame your crew?” she asked.

A hint of irritation crossed his face. She hated the way he always looked at her—as if she was a frivolous birdbrain hippie chick. She had part of a PhD, for pete’s sake. But that seemed to mean nothing to him, even though she’d mentioned it more than once.

“Just explaining what happened. He got a little carried away. He won’t do it again.”

“I hope not because I have witnesses. And I’d really prefer not to go the harbormaster again.”

His dark eyebrows quirked together. “On the one hand, I doubt that’s true, because I’m sure it gives you a special kind of joy to report on me. On the other hand, maybe it is true because I hear it didn’t go so well the last time.”

She gritted her teeth together. Unfortunately, he had a point. After her third trip to the harbormaster’s office, she’d decided there had to be better ways to handle her feud with Lucas.

Sadly, she hadn’t figured them out yet.

“I am not easily deterred,” she said stoutly. “Especially when it comes to Ruby’s safety.”

Lucas smiled down at Ruby, who glowed back at him. Darn him. That smile changed things in an unfortunate way. If he ever smiled at her like that…

She sighed. Luckily, there was no chance of such a thing.

3

Lucas kept his gaze fixed on Ruby. At least one of the Miller women didn’t think he was an irredeemable piece of crap. “Are you okay, kid? I saw you slip-slide around that deck like a pro.”

“I’m fine.” The little girl’s skin glowed gold in the reflected light from the water. Her skin was darker than her mother’s, which had made him give some thought to who her father might be. And where. And what the mother-daughter duo’s story was. They’d appeared in Lost Harbor late last summer and no one had expected them to stay long. But here they still were. Still plugging those bird-watching tours. Still reporting him to Bob.

He’d first run into Megan shortly after his father’s death, when he was still reeling. He’d been a complete dick to her. He’d been a dick to pretty much everyone at that point, but that was no excuse. Later, he’d wanted to repair the damage he’d caused, but it was too late. Their adversarial path had been set.

Besides, it was kind of fun sparring with the pretty newcomer. Kept things interesting around here.

“Someday you’ll have to come out on a real craft,” he told Ruby. “Something that can go faster than a go-cart.”

“Really? Can I?” Her face lit up as if he’d just told her Santa was coming down the boat ramp.

“Any time—”

“Over my dead body,” Megan interrupted. “Sorry, Ruby. It’s not a safe situation.”

He snorted. If she had any idea how many times he’d snuck onto her boat and patched a leak that her baby captain hadn’t noticed, she’d lose her shit completely. “The Jack Hammer has a perfect safety record.”

“Not a single drunk venture capitalist has ever gone overboard?”

“Not unless they deserved it.”

A whisper of a smile sketched across her lips. And yes, of course he’d noticed her lips. They were full and lush, with an up-curve that disappeared when he came along. “You probably pay the Coast Guard to ignore all your infractions.”

“Now there’s an idea. Does it work? Because I think I spotted a problem with—” He gestured toward the water.

“Shhhht!” She jolted toward him, her eyes cutting toward the small group of senior citizens waiting on the ramp. In a rapid undertone, she told him, “That’s been resolved and there’s no need to mention it. It’s very unfair that you would even bring it up but I guess I should expect nothing less from you.”

He had no idea what she was referring to. Great. Now she thought he’d intended to bust her for some infraction in front of her passengers. No wonder she hated him.

“I was talking about the baby sea otter hanging out on the breakwater.” He raised his voice so the passengers could hear. “Did you all get a look at the little guy?”

She blinked at him, clearly trying to reorient herself. Man, he enjoyed surprising her. She so clearly looked down on him that catching her off guard was very satisfying.

“Oh. No. He was gone when we passed. We nearly, uh—anyway…” She turned to her passengers, who were listening to their back and forth with expressions of fascination. “Lunch reservations, right? Captain Crabbie’s is that-away. I recommend the salmon chowder if the crab legs are a little too creepy for you. I always think they look like giant spiders.” She waved her hand at the boardwalk while Lucas tried not to laugh. Captain Crabbie’s should definitely not hire Megan to do their marketing.

The seniors launched into their goodbyes and thank yous.

“Wait,” Lucas said when there was a pause in the chatter. “I have something for you all. By way of apology.”

He dug in the pocket of his work pants for his phone, then scrolled through his photos. He presented it to the closest passenger, a lanky man in a herringbone cap who peered at it through wire-rimmed glasses.

“Well, look at that,” the man marveled. “Fantastic shot of our Caspian tern. Did you take this?”

“I did. We spotted him on our way out to the fishing grounds. Got a video too. Anyone who wants a copy, just make sure Megan has your email address. You’re welcome to it.”

The joy on the faces surrounding him made his gut twist. These retirees were roughly his father’s age. But he’d never get to see a smile on old Jack’s face again. Not that his father had been a big smiler to begin with, unless he landed the biggest halibut of the day, or when he cracked open his first Shipyard ale.

The elders ambled away toward their lunch, and he turned to find Megan staring at him with narrowed eyes, hands on her hips. She wore her usual gear of rain pants and a fleece overshirt. Tiny diamonds of moisture were scattered across her hair, which was twisted into a thick braid. Its color landed somewhere between teak and mahogany, a fine woodsy brown. Other than her eyes, the blue of forget-me-nots, she had a vividly expressive Marisa Tomei vibe.

“That was nice,” she accused.

“Sorry?”

“What’s your angle? Are you trying to steal my clients?”

“That wouldn’t be very sporting. You have few enough as it is.”

A flush burned in her cheeks, and he wished he could take that back. He knew her business was struggling; everyone on the boardwalk knew it.

“Look, I spotted the tern and knew you’d be excited, bird nerd that you are. So I took a photo. If you don’t want it, no worries. I can just delete it—”

“No!” She literally jumped across the ramp at him, like a panther from a tree. “Don’t you dare delete it. My email address is Megan at Forget Me Not dot net.”

He punched in her address and sent the photo.

So he had her email address now. He could have gotten it before, but now she’d given it to him. Imagine the trouble he could cause with that.

“Is it okay if I add you to the list of boardwalk volunteers?” he asked innocently, hand poised over his phone. “There’s a dog poop cleanup day coming up.”

“Yes! Yes!” Ruby jumped up and down. “I want to clean up dog poop! Mama, can we get a dog, please?”

Megan gave him another look of death. “No dogs. Lucas knows that. He’s just mentioning dogs because he’s…well…I’m sure there’s a good word for it.”

Honestly, teasing her was almost too easy. And yet, still very enjoyable. “It’s okay, Ruby, you can play with Fidget any time you want.”

“Where is Fidget? Didn’t he go fishing with you today?”

“Nope, I gave him the day off. Barking at fish can really wear a dog out.” After Jack Holt’s death, no one else had stepped up to take care of his old Irish setter. One more responsibility landing splat on Lucas’ shoulders.

“I want to see him bark at fish!”

“And you will, when you come out on the Jack Hammer with us. Just pick your time, we’d love to have you onboard. You’d be a big help. You can handle filet knives, right?”

When Megan blanched, Lucas decided his work here was done. A good deed, mixed with some jokes and a few jabs, just to keep things even.

Megan’s phone pinged. “That’s so crazy, it took that long for an email? We’re standing about six inches from each other.”

He spanned the space between them with one hand, though he was careful not to touch her. Honestly, he was slightly afraid of how actual contact with Megan Miller might affect him.

She jerked a bit, as if she too was afraid of potential contact.

“Sorry, city girl. That’s the way things are here in the wild. We have to chop our own wood and emails take up to a minute to get here. Crazy, right?”

She rolled her eyes at him, then put her hand on Ruby’s shoulder. “I know I should thank you for the Caspian tern photo.”

He tilted his head in exaggerated expectation.

“I…I’m grateful.”

He looked at Ruby. “Help her out here, kid. What’s that thing you say when you’re grateful?”

But instead of playing along with him, she crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m not falling for that.”

He burst out laughing. “Smart kid.” Sometimes he forgot how smart. Rumor had it she was some kind of math prodigy. It was easy to forget when he saw her running around the harbor boardwalk like any other kid.

Megan gave him an unfriendly look, along with a “move along” gesture. “Thank you so much for the photo, now have a nice day. Happy now?”

He tucked his phone back into his pocket, wondering once again what it would take to start fresh with Megan. She wasn’t exactly the most popular person in town. She’d shown up in Lost Harbor like a whirlwind trying to change things that had existed for decades. Not that all her crusades were bad—he’d supported her push for recycle bins and bike racks on the boardwalk. But he’d put his foot down when she lobbied for extra slip surcharges to pay for waste oil removal. She didn’t understand how hard it was for fishermen simply to make a living. Adding too many fees and extra charges would put some of them out of business.

“I’m heading in the direction of Captain Crabbie’s if you need a guide,” he told the crew of seniors. He offered one exhausted-looking woman his arm; she leaned on it gratefully. With a wink he added, “I’ll give you my card in case you ever want something more exciting than bird-watching.”

At a leisurely pace, they moved toward the ramp that led to the boardwalk. Behind him, he could sense Megan fuming.

What was he doing, poking at her like this? Her nature cruises didn’t affect his business. They were no skin off his nose. He was back in Lost Harbor for one reason only, and it wasn’t to spar with an admittedly cute bird nerd. It wasn’t even for the fishing. It was for his father. Even in death, the bastard couldn’t leave him alone.

No one else in the family was stepping up to deal with everything Jack Holt had left behind—the business, his mother, the homestead, the decades’ worth of junk stored there. Only Lucas had put his life on hold and come back to Lost Harbor.

Just lately he’d been wrestling with something else. How had a lifelong ocean lover and fisherman like Jack Holt drowned in the harbor next to his own boat? It had been ruled an accident, but something felt wrong.

Which reminded him that he had an appointment with Lost Harbor’s only detective. He already knew what she was going to say. To accept the ruling and get on with his life.

Too bad he hated anyone telling him what to do—another gift from the old Jack Hammer.

4

Megan kept a tight grip on Ruby’s shoulder as they wended their way through the lunch crowd at Last Chance Pizza. She’d discovered, since arriving in Lost Harbor, that she didn’t much like crowds. Living mostly in cities, she’d never noticed it because it was always there in the background. But the relief of being on the water, with nothing but the vast arch of sky overhead and open ocean in all directions, had opened her eyes: she didn’t like crowds.

Most especially after what had happened at the university exactly a year ago.

Don’t think about that. Moving on. Moving on.

She forced her thoughts into another direction.

What if Forget Me Not Nature Tours went bust? Would she have to move back to a city to get work? Could she handle the crowds? She didn’t know, which was one more reason to make sure that didn’t happen. She didn’t want to go back. Couldn’t go back.

Zoe spotted them and waved them toward a table in the back. Even though the little restaurant was mobbed, she showed no signs of stress. She still moved at the leisurely pace of someone who only did exactly what they wanted to do. Zoe did not like to be rushed, and if anyone ever tried it, they might find themselves out on the boardwalk with no chance of pizza.

Most people liked to hang out at the front of the restaurant where the brick oven dominated the space. But Ruby always loved the back because the large picture windows looked out on the alleyway that ran behind all the boardwalk businesses. It was like a secret village that only the locals got to see.

Zoe’s place sat between a shop that sold native Alaskan crafts and a fish-cleaning station. Several such stations were scattered throughout the harbor for use by the public, but this one—and a few others—was reserved for the charters. Here, the deckhands cleaned and filleted the halibut and other fish that their customers had caught. They packed them into insulated containers and handed the booty back for transport to the “Lower Forty-Eight.”

It was bloody, squishy work and Ruby loved watching the workers in their rubber aprons twirling their knives so expertly. Sometimes Lucas joined them, and Megan had to admit, she took a few peeks herself when that happened.

“I snagged a couple of leftover slices for you, you want?” Zoe appeared at their table with two paper plates loaded with cheese-oozing pizza.

“Ooh, yes.” Megan accepted them eagerly and set them down between her and Ruby. “I know I should be eating those turkey-on-wheat sandwiches my clients completely ignored, but this looks a lot better. Can you sit?”

“No, there might be a riot if I take too much time. But I had to come say hi. I haven’t seen you two in ages. Been busy?”

“Sure,” Megan said, not really wanting to get into her lack of customers.

Zoe lifted one eyebrow. “That bad, huh?”

Megan bit into the pizza so she didn’t have to answer.

“Hey, it’s okay. Takes time. Did you put your name in for the show?”

“The ahh??” she asked through a mouthful of cheese. She held up a hand, asking for a pause, and chewed as quickly as she could. “The what?”

“That travel show everyone watches. I don’t even know what it’s called because TV just annoys me.”

“Wait…are you talking about Trekking?”

“Yes, that’s the one. Apparently they’re coming here to Lost Harbor and they’re looking for subjects to film. Shoot. Whatever. They want to follow people around with cameras for a day. They asked me and of course I said ‘hell no.’ I have enough business. Any more and my head would explode.”

Megan suppressed the automatic rise of envy. “No one told me about it.”

“Really? I think they wanted to profile one of our local fishing boats. I mean, it wouldn’t be Lost Harbor without one. I’m pretty sure they talked to Lucas. Why wouldn’t they? He’s the most photogenic of the bunch, that’s for sure.”

Megan’s envy turned to something more like bitterness. “Of course they would want Lucas. He’s the perfect choice. I can’t even argue with that. He grew up here. He’s gorgeous. He can turn on the charm when he wants to.”

Zoe lifted an eyebrow at her. As a part-Italian, part-Greek woman, she prided herself on her unapologetically thick eyebrows. She could express so much with those eyebrows: skepticism, curiosity, disapproval, excitement. “Did you just call Lucas Holt gorgeous? My ears must have glitched for a minute.”

“Oh stop. I never said he wasn’t attractive. I said he was a jerk. Don’t confuse the issue here.”

Zoe exchanged a knowing glance with Ruby. Megan found it infuriating and swiped her hand between the two of them as if she could erase that moment from existence. “Ruby, eat your pizza. You pestered me enough for it.”

“I don’t pester,” Ruby said with dignity as she lifted her pizza closer to her mouth. “I plead.”

And just like that, all of Megan’s irritation melted away. God, she loved her daughter. More than seemed humanly possible sometimes. “I stand corrected. Now eat.”

Ruby obediently guided the pointy end of the pizza into her mouth. She had her own technique for eating everything, pizza included. She had a three-corners approach; she liked to rotate bites at each corner, creating more and more sides to the pizza.

“I should have mentioned the show to you earlier,” Zoe told Megan. A customer was trying to get her attention but she ignored the man. “I should have figured you’d get overlooked.”

“Because no one likes me.”

“Because you’re new,” Zoe corrected. “No one ever thinks newbies will stick around.”

“Last winter doesn’t count?”

“Sorry, no. One winter is a kind of bare minimum base level commitment. Anyone can last one winter. It’s all a big adventure when it’s just one.”

It definitely had been an adventure, and to be completely honest, Megan and Ruby had spent several months of it in the Bay area. “Well, I’m sorry, but Ruby needed to see her father and—”

Zoe put up a floury hand to stop her. “Believe me, I don’t care how long you’ve been here. I’m just glad you are.”

“Really?” Megan blinked at her gratefully. Establishing herself in Lost Harbor had been tough—still was. Mostly she’d encountered skepticism and even some hostility. “I think you might be the only one.”

“Ignore the doubters. We still wouldn’t have recycle bins if you hadn’t shown up. And Lucas would have no one to argue with.” Zoe flashed her a wink, then sighed as someone back near the brick oven called for her. “I’d better get back to work. I’m training my twin sisters.”

Megan craned her neck to catch a glimpse of two dark-haired girls covered in flour and laughing hysterically. “Haven’t met them yet. How old are they?”

They’re sixteen and they’ve aged me about twenty years this week.”

Megan smiled affectionately at her friend. “You should come by for dinner and let us feed you for once.”

“I’ll do that. Hey, if I could get you a meeting with the show producer, would you want that? You could try to convince him that their viewers would rather see birders than halibut-hunters.”

“Could you really do that?”

“I can try. He left me his card.” A shout of alarm came from the front of the restaurant as a puff of smoke burst from the brick oven. “Can’t I step away for a damn second without them setting fire to the place? I’ll talk to you later.”

Not even smoke could get her to rush. With no hint of hurry, she strolled back to her station like a queen surrounded by her subjects.

Megan watched her with envy. As far as she could tell, Zoe didn’t have an anxious bone in her body. She used to be that way too—carefree and impulsive, adventurous. But that was before Ruby had arrived. And definitely before the—

Don’t think about that.

Settling in one place had become important to her, and she’d come closer to peace here than anywhere else. She glanced toward the next-door crafts studio. The owner was watering the flowerpots on the back deck. Behind him glittered the silver-washed blue of Misty Bay. The bay and the jagged ridge of snowy peaks on the other side—Lost Souls Wilderness—had a way of taking her breath away when she wasn’t prepared. All that extravagant beauty just minding its own business while the harbor workers went about their mundane tasks.

Sometimes she’d glance up while doing something basic like filling up her car and just laugh at the outlandish glory splashed across the bay like an artist’s backdrop. It was almost too spectacular for her eyes to take in.

Pulling her gaze away from the flowerpots next door, she switched to the neighbor on the other side of the pizza shop.

And there her glance landed on a different kind of work of art.

Lucas Holt cleaning fish. Lucas Holt without a shirt as he cleaned fish. The sun was beating down on his bare back. Holy halibut, did he have to be so bronzed and muscly? His head was bent over the white plastic folding table with the hose mounted to it. His rubber-gloved hands moved quickly and efficiently, cutting, rinsing, tossing bits to the waiting seagulls. He frowned as he worked; she got the impression that his thoughts were far away.

He was probably thinking about how much more money he was going to make when he starred in Trekking.

The worst part was that her parents watched every episode of Trekking. Maybe they’d finally accept her choice to live in Alaska if they saw her on TV.

But no, they’d be watching Lucas instead of her, and so would every travel hound in America. Would he take his shirt off for the show? Maybe he was practicing for his starring moment.

On impulse, she propped open the window and called out to him. “Hey Holt, don’t you know Trekking is a family show? Your cheap tricks won’t work.”

He glanced up in surprise, his hands stilling. “Spying, Megan? Or just enjoying the scenery?”

Her cheeks warmed. “I’m just giving you fair warning. I want that spot on Trekking and I’m going to work my ass off to get it.”

“Guess I’ll have to step up my game.”

“You will. I’m a very competitive person, you know.”

“I picked up on that.” He pulled out a handful of fish guts and dropped it in a five-gallon bucket. “Sorry to say they already scheduled a shoot with me. So you’d better get your ass in gear.”

“You shouldn’t refer to my ass.”

“You referred to it already.”

“That’s different. It’s mine. I can refer to it all I want. Like, kiss my ass, for instance.”

He laughed, gazing at her from the lower deck like a Romeo in oilskins. The sun glided across his bare chest picking out dips and ridges like an artist. “You trying to light a fire under my ass?” He paused. “I can refer to my own ass, right? You don’t have a problem with that?”

She had a problem with everything he did, to be honest. Perhaps because he always surprised her and that made her nervous. “I have no problem with that. Except it’s not going to work. I’m going to grab that spot if it kills me.”

Ruby crouched next to her, a warm little bundle at her side. Megan startled. She’d momentarily forgotten about her own daughter. Why was she talking about “asses” within earshot of Ruby? “If what kills you, Mama? Hi Lucas!”

“Hi there.” Lucas waved his fillet knife. “How’s the pizza?”

“You should come have some with us.”

Megan nearly panicked at the thought of Lucas sitting down with them. No no no. But of course she shouldn’t have worried.

“That’s nice of you, Ruby, but I’m all tanked up.” He brought a handful of fish guts halfway to his mouth and pretended to dive in for a voracious bite, like a pirate.

“Ewww.” Ruby laughed and squealed, and so did a few nearby patrons. Megan caught the sound of a camera clicking. Photogenic Lucas Holt was going to appear on someone’s Instagram.

Well, he was probably used to it. All the fishing charter customers took tons of photos. She’d even noticed a photo of a much-younger Lucas on the bulletin board in the harbormaster’s office—apparently he’d caught a record halibut when he was a teenager. Making headlines even as a kid.

She couldn’t exactly compete with that, could she?

“Come on, Ruby, let’s finish our pizza and let the fish surgeon finish his operation.”

“Fish surgeon. Not bad, Bird Nerd.”

Megan gritted her teeth and dropped the window closed. With Lucas, she always tried to get the last word and yet so rarely succeeded. He was almost as good with the verbal jabs as he was with his fillet knife.

“Mama, what did you mean ‘if it kills you’?” Ruby wore a worried look as she scooted across the wooden bench back to their plates.

“Oh, it’s just a silly expression. It’s an exaggerated way of saying I really want something.”

“Want what?”

“To win. To beat Lucas.” She laughed at how competitive that sounded. “No, what I really want is the opportunity to be on a TV show that could be very helpful to the Forget Me Not.”

She had to keep her priorities straight here. Beating Lucas wasn’t the point. Keeping her business afloat was.

“Couldn’t you both be on the TV show?”

“I don’t know. It’s possible, but Zoe said they wanted to profile one boat. If they only pick one, it will probably be the Jack Hammer.” She was so used to being overshadowed by Lucas and his charter business. He had the most desirable slip, the prime advertising spot on the Chamber of Commerce brochure, the most prominently located office on the boardwalk. It made sense; everyone knew the Jack Hammer and no one cared about nature tours. But sometimes she got discouraged. “I think that’s a great solution, sweetie. I’ll see what I can do. Now what do you say we go to the beach and walk off this pizza?”

“I wish we had a dog to walk,” Ruby said mournfully as they clambered down the scrubby path that led to the shoreline. “Or at least Fidget.”

Megan suppressed a sigh. If it wasn’t Lucas, it was Lucas’ dog. If it wasn’t Lucas’ dog, it was his boat. Lost Harbor was obviously Lucas Holt territory, and where did that leave her?

5

Lucas met with the detective the next morning. Maya Badger had been a year ahead of him in high school, and they’d actually dated for about three months—a time they never talked about anymore. She’d always been smart but quiet, and he never would have pegged her for a future police officer.

Showed what he knew, because she’d joined the tiny police department right out of school and worked her way up to lead—and only—detective at a rapid pace. Her quiet manner worked in her favor. She knew how to drain the drama out of a situation and get suspects to spill incriminating secrets.

But so far, she hadn’t been able to get Lucas to drop his quest to find out if there was more to his father’s death than the official ruling of “accident.”

Maya showed up at the Jack Hammer as he was setting out a bowl of food for Fidget, whose nose was already twitching with delight. “Morning, Officer. Nice and sunny today.”

“Let’s do ourselves a favor and skip the weather portion of the conversation,” she said dryly.

He shrugged and brushed his hands on his pants. “If no one in Lost Harbor talked about the weather there’d be a lot of silence.”

“No, there wouldn’t. There’d be endless drama filling the gap. I’m pro weather convos because they don’t generally go off the rails. But right now I don’t have time.”

“Do you at least have time for some coffee?”

He already had a pot brewing in his little onboard galley.

“Got decaf?”

“For you, Officer…” He gave up. “No. Sorry, I don’t think I have any decaf on board. I might have an ancient mint tea bag from circa 2003.”

“Pass. Thanks.” She tucked a strand of hair into her bun. Maya was one of a handful of African-Americans who had attended his high school, maybe five in a class of a hundred graduating seniors. He’d often wondered what that had been like for her, but even when they were dating they’d never talked about that. “So. Mr. Hammer Junior.”

He winced. “Thank God that’s not an actual nickname.”

“I could work on that. Spread the word in a few key spots around town.” She fixed him with a mildly threatening look. He’d always appreciated her sneaky sense of humor.

“Now that’s just mean. Am I really causing that much trouble?” He sank down onto the cushioned starboard seat and rested one arm along the gunwales. She didn’t sit, but kept her boots braced apart on the deck as the Jack Hammer gently rose and fell.

“Here’s the thing, hotshot. I investigated your dad’s death personally. I mean, of course I did because who else was going to? It’s my job.”

“And you did a good job. I know you did. I’m not casting doubt on that. You know that, right?”

“Not really. If you believed that, you wouldn’t be wasting your time the way you are. I mean, I heard you wanted to interview the coroner. He drowned, Lucas. He fell off his boat and drowned. He was extremely drunk. He was often drunk. You know all this.”

The sentences came at him like jabs of a knife. “I know this,” he agreed tightly. No one knew it better than him.

“So why’d you start up with this ten months later? Maybe I just answered my own question. You’re following in your dad’s footsteps. Jack Holt never let go of anything in his life, did he?”

“He let go of me.”

That came out starker then he’d intended. Her face softened. “He had to. You left Alaska. He still talked about you, though.”

His throat tight, he nodded. Fuck, why did talking about his dad get him so worked up? They’d fought until they were each bloody and bruised—sometimes literally. They’d fought until the rest of the family fled or put on headphones or blasted the radio. One of the things they’d fought about was the Jack Hammer. Lucas had never wanted to take over the damn thing. He’d left so he didn’t have to. Started his own business. Made a decent amount of money. And yet here he was, after all that, running the Jack Hammer. Fuck, what kind of idiot was he anyway?

“Did you ever think that maybe you’d be better off talking to a counselor than trying to solve something that doesn’t need solving?”

“Funny thing is, I have, Officer.”

“You don’t have to call me that all the time.”

“Detective?”

“That either.”

“I can’t just call you Maya. You’re an officer of the law. That’s requires some respect. You earned a title, right?”

The corners of her mouth lifted in a pleased expression. “When you put it that way, sure, I’ll take the title. Officer Badger.”

“That’s both appropriate and oddly adorable,” he murmured, then winced. “Adorable” didn’t seem to go very well with the “respect” part. “Sorry.”

“Don’t sweat it. Anyway, back to my main point. People are grumbling. They don’t like being interrogated by a civilian. It’s awkward.”

“I’m just asking questions. I don’t want to put anyone on the spot. I’m just trying to piece together a timeline of that night. Who he talked to, who he was drinking with, who he was feuding with.”

“Your father had a dozen feuds going at a time.” With a huff of frustration, she pulled a black leather bound notebook from her pocket and scribbled on a page. She tore it off and handed it to him. “Talk to Nate Prudhoe. He was the first firefighter on the scene. First to examine your dad. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe him.”

Her exasperation gave him a stab of guilt. “This isn’t personal, Officer Badger. I mean, it is personal in that it’s my father. But not when it comes to you. I know you did a thorough investigation. I just can’t—”

“What? Can’t what?”

“Can’t get his voice out of my head,” he admitted. “I never thought he’d go that way. Not yet, anyway. Falling out of his own boat—drowning—it’s too sudden. That’s not how it was supposed to end.”

“This isn’t a movie, Lucas. Things end when they end.”

He winced at her bluntness. “I’m guessing you don’t do a lot of notifications of loved ones?”

“I’m about ‘tough love,’ you know that. You’re grieving, Lucas. I see that. But you’re starting to rub people the wrong way. Not just me, not just my boss, but other people around town.”

Lucas felt that familiar “Hammer” stubbornness settling into his bones. When that happened, there was no budging a member of the Holt family.

“Maybe you should give me a list of those people. Maybe there’s a reason they don’t like me asking questions.”

With a giant roll of her eyes, Maya flicked the piece of paper she’d given him. “Not happening. You talk to Nate, then you stand down.”

He knew Nate. They’d played hockey together. It would be good to catch up with him. “How about this? I won’t bug anyone. I’ll simply listen. Observe. Drink a few too many mugs of beer at the Olde Salt Saloon. If I pick something up, I’ll—”

“Come to me.”

“Come to you,” he agreed reluctantly. “I don’t like taking up your time, though.”

“You won’t. Because there won’t be anything. Because there’s no mystery here. No crime. No foul play. It was an accident.”

He gave her a neutral nod as she stepped over the railing onto the ramp. “Thanks for stopping by, Officer Badger. If you need any halibut for your freezer, give me a call.”

“Can’t stand halibut. Nasty flabby-ass bottom feeders. See you around, Lucas. Be good.”

“Yes ma’am.”

6

After Maya left, Lucas set to work on the right-hand eight-cylinder, thirteen-thousand horsepower MAN marine engine, which had been misfiring more than he liked. He unscrewed the casing and set it carefully to the side. His father had taught him how to fix engines starting around the age of eight. Jack Holt would crack open a beer and bask in the sun while Lucas took an outboard apart and put it back together again.

Occasionally he’d grab a part and toss it overboard.

“Now do it without that. Jerry-rig it. You’re out on the water, engine fails, what do you do?”

“Call the Coast Guard?”

“Sure, but the nearest Coastie’s all the way around Far Point and the wind’s picking up. You gotta get that engine going.”

“We have two engines. I’d just use the other one and go half as fast.” It seemed like a brilliant idea to him.

“I said a storm was coming.” That irritable voice, the crunch of a hand tightening on a beer can…

Lucas ignored the signs. “So I’d go into a cove or something until the storm was over.”

“Do you have to argue about every fucking thing? Fix the damn engine.” Lucas ducked as something went flying past his head.

“Hey, that was my lunch from Mom!”

“Yeah well, you can go crying to her when the job is done.”

“Hey! Holt. We’re heading to the Olde Salt for a quick one.”

Lucas jerked his head up, the memory of his father darting away like an eel slipping underwater. Three of his father’s friends clustered next to the Jack Hammer. In their fishing boots, flannel shirts and unruly beards, they were a motley crew. “It’s not even nine yet.”

“By the time we get there, doors will be open.”

Good God. Why was he even surprised? Many fishermen liked to drink, especially the older generation. Jack Holt had probably spent a million hours in the Olde Salt Saloon over the course of his life.

But he didn’t want to go against Officer Badger’s orders quite so soon.

“Sorry, guys, I just got into this engine. Save a spot for me.”

One of the fishermen—Lenny—peered into the cabin. “Looking good in there. Jack would hardly believe his eyes.”

“Yeah, I’ve done some upgrades.”

He’d cleaned and ripped out the moldy old seat cushions. Painted. Installed some new brass fittings. Mostly cosmetic fixes, but enough to attract a more modern clientele.

Old Crow, whose hair was still as black as ever, shaded his eyes and scanned the interior. “Hardly looks like Jack’s boat anymore. Not even his suitcases are left.”

“Suitcases?”

“Yeah, he was sleeping on his boat a lot before he drowned. Kept hauling suitcases down here. Guess your mom must have grabbed ‘em.”

“Guess so.” Suitcases? What the hell? Why was he just now hearing about this? Could that be a clue of some kind?

He should have invited the fishermen onto the Jack Hammer months ago.

“Catch you in a bit,” he told them as they headed off for their morning pick-me-up.

Suitcases. What could that signify? Mom had never mentioned anything about any suitcases, but he knew his father had been sleeping on the boat. Everyone had told him about that, including Mom.

Was he meeting someone here? Carrying on an affair? Smuggling contraband? Developing dementia?

It might mean nothing. But he didn’t remember seeing any suitcases when he’d first stepped onto the Jack Hammer. So it could be significant.

Would Officer Badger be unhappy that he had a possible new lead? Probably.

Was he going to see where it went? Definitely.

Something bumped against the bow of the Jack Hammer. He sighed. He knew exactly what it was, because the same thing happened every week or so. He climbed out of his boat and strode to the tie-up ahead of him. The stern of the damn Forget Me Not was kissing the bow of the Jack Hammer, the barest brush of wood against fiberglass.

Grumbling, he unfastened the line from the cleat and drew the boat tighter against the ramp. It wasn’t completely Megan’s fault. Their boats both needed bigger spaces, but an influx of wealthy sports fishermen had made summer slips hard to come by. But still—she needed to be more careful about tying up her boat.

He tightened the lines and coiled the end neatly next to the cleat. Then he went back onto the Jack Hammer and found one of his business cards. He wrote a note on the back and wedged it between the line and the cleat.

This time when he went back to work on his engine, he couldn’t suppress his smile. He could already picture the face she’d make when she saw his note, her woof of exasperation.

Forget how to knot? He’d written. Private lessons available.

He’d be lucky if she didn’t try to dump him overboard after that. This feud was pretty ridiculous. But also kind of fun.

7

If any of Megan’s friends ever came to Lost Harbor for a visit, they’d probably think she’d lost her mind. The cabin she rented barely had running water, and you had to wait a good fifteen minutes for the on-demand water heater to make enough hot water for a shower. For washing dishes, often she saved time by heating water on the stove.