Authors: Jennifer Gracen
Tags: #romance, #Fiction
A Summer in New York Romance
Copyright © 2015 Jennifer Gracen
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To the people of Long Beach, Lido Beach, Point Lookout, and the other South Shore beach towns of Long Island, NY that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. It was one of the darker times, but everyone banded together and has (mostly) recovered. Because Long Island is Strong Island, and New Yorkers are fierce, resilient, and amazing.
Thank you so much, Tule Publishing, for asking me to write another story. I love writing for you! Thank you so much, Jane Porter, for your all around fabulousness, your spirit, and your support. Thank you, Meghan Farrell and Lindsey Stover, and hugs to you both. Thank you, Sinclair Sawhney, for your editing skills and insight, and helping me make this story into something more.
Huge thanks to Jeannie Moon, who helped me when, at first, this story just wasn’t working. We broke it down to scraps and you got me on the right path with it. You’re my savviest writing sister, my most trusted beta reader, and you have no problem kicking my ass when I need it. Love you. Thank you to my other writing sisters, Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett, for taking another fun ride on the Tule-NY-stories-merry-go-round with me. #Fab4
And thank you, most of all, to the readers. Without readers, this all would just be me throwing words into an empty void. I am so grateful for you.
he sun seemed
brighter here. Gavin McKinnon had been to beaches before, of course, and seen the ocean with his own eyes. Ireland had gorgeous coastlines to boast of, and he’d been to beaches in several countries over his twenty-nine years. But the way the sunlight reflected off the soft beige sand and churning, dark blue-grey Atlantic here in Long Beach, New York… he felt almost blinded by it. Squinting even behind dark sunglasses, he tipped his head back to breathe in the thick, salty air. Breezes caressed his skin as warm water rushed up over his bare feet before flowing back out, wave after wave. It was wonderful. After over six hours on a plane, then getting through the sticky heat and chaos of Kennedy Airport, standing on the beach and watching the sunlight glimmer off the waves, felt like paradise.
“Seen enough yet?” came his younger sister’s voice beside him.
“You kiddin’?” He flicked a glance and a grin her way. “I could take in this view for hours, Anna.”
“Well, yeah, but it’s already been fifteen minutes. And your precious Irish skin is gonna burn to a crisp quick if we don’t get ya some sunscreen, trust me.” She ran her fingers through her bob-length hair. When she’d picked him up at the airport, Gavin had been mildly surprised to see she’d dyed the ends of her blonde hair a loud shade of blue, but Anna had always done things like that. She grinned back at him now. “And if you want to have dinner with me before my shift, we should get goin’, or you’ll be eating by yourself.”
Gavin chuckled. “You’re as impatient as ever.” His arm wrapped around her shoulders to pull her in for a hug. “It’s bloody good to see ya, Annie.”
“It’s good to see you, too,” she said into his shoulder. She pulled back and smiled. “C’mon, then. You’ve got to be hungry.”
“Starved, actually.” He admitted. His stomach gave a fierce rumble as if on cue. “Let’s go.”
Turning their backs to the ocean, they ambled up the beach. Gavin took in everything around him—the sounds of the waves crashing, seagulls squawking and swooping overhead, bits of voices from beachgoers taking in the late afternoon sun… how soft and warm the sand felt between his toes. His daily life in the city seemed a million miles away. He couldn’t be happier. That was exactly what he’d wanted.
When he and Anna got to the where the beach ended and the street began, they brushed the sand from their feet, slipped their flip-flops back on, and began to walk. Anna lived in New York City, but was spending her summer bartending on Long Island. She’d done it last summer and had a blast, so she was doing it again. Through a friend, she’d found a room to rent in a beach house along with a few other single friends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. She’d told him Long Beach was a big beach town, and that she lived down in the West End; the “fun part of town”. Gavin could see why as they walked up West Beech Street. Crowded with restaurants, bars, shops, and houses, it was bustling with activity. There were young and old, mothers pushing strollers, people walking dogs and bicyclists whooshing by… a vibrant seaside community with the casual vibe that beach lovers worldwide seemed to share.
“This is great,” Gavin remarked. “No wonder you like spending the summer here. You must have a great time.”
“I do,” Anna grinned. “That first time I came out to hang with Wren, I thought, ‘Why can’t I be here? New York City in the summer is a pisshole!’ So I made it happen.”
“Never let it be said that we McKinnons aren’t resourceful,” Gavin said. “Good for you. And Sean’s fine with it?”
“Aye, the traffic in the bar over the summer is lighter anyway,” she said. “He didn’t even need to replace me.” She grinned again. “He can’t wait to see ya.”
“And I him,” Gavin said. He’d last seen his older brother at his wedding in October. Sean and Cassandra had married in a huge, lavish affair at an estate somewhere further east on Long Island. They now lived happily in an apartment near Washington Square Park, deeply in love with each other and with New York City. Before the wedding, it’d been almost two years since he’d seen Sean. “When are we seeing them, anyway?” Gavin asked, dodging around a group of teenagers laughing loudly as they walked.
“Monday,” Anna said. “Sean and Cassandra are coming out here for our big Fourth of July bash. You got here in time for the big holiday weekend, remember?”
“It’s only Thursday,” Gavin pointed out.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Anna said with a snarky grin. “No kidding. But it’s a big holiday weekend here. It pretty much starts tonight. People go away for the long weekend, etcetera. Especially this year, since the fourth actually falls on a Monday. Manhattan’ll be a ghost town.” She grasped Gavin’s arm and linked it through hers as they walked. “They’re going out east tomorrow, gonna spend most of the weekend out in the Hamptons with Cassandra’s family and friends, then come here to us on Monday. They’ll be here ’round noon.” She smiled and bumped her hip against his. “I’ve got it all worked out, don’t ya worry.”
“Aye, I’m sure you do.” Gavin wiped sweat from his forehead. He wasn’t used to this kind of hot weather. He suspected Anna was right, and he’d be sunburned in no time if he wasn’t careful, but he’d be damned to admit she was right out loud. If he did, he’d never hear the end of it.
She stopped in front of a huge place in what seemed to be smack in the middle of all the activity. “This is it,” she said, sweeping a hand towards the white and wood building. A big brass sign over the wide doors announced
THE EAGLE’S NEST
. “C’mon in to the Nest, my summer home.”
Gavin was grateful for the burst of air conditioning that washed over them as they went inside. High ceilings, polished wood floors, brass railings, lots of windows. He liked it, it wasn’t dingy.
“Bar is to the left,” Anna said over the pop music playing. “Restaurant is to the right. We’ll go have dinner in a minute, but let’s say hi to Wren.” She pulled him through the door on the left, and the music got even louder. The bar was mostly empty, with only a few patrons sitting inside. As if reading his mind, Anna said, “It’s empty now ’cause it’s dinner hour, but by eight, it’ll start gettin’ crowded. By ten, it’ll be packed.”
“That’s why you work the night shifts, then,” Gavin surmised. “More people, more money.”
“You bet your arse,” Anna nodded. “HI!” she shouted merrily to a tall girl behind the bar with purple hair. Purple Hair Girl squealed in delight.
“This is him?” She rushed from behind the bar to get to them. Her pixie haircut was a bright shade of purple, and she wore it well. Her long, skinny frame was dressed in a tight, black tank top and black and white striped leggings. Light glinted off a tiny stud in her nose, similar to Anna’s. Her brown eyes went as wide as her smile as she hugged Anna in greeting. Then, quick as a flash, she threw herself at him and hugged him also, almost knocking the wind out of him. “I’m Wren, it’s so nice to meet you! Anna’s been so excited for you to come visit.” The New York accent was strong. She openly looked him up and down, in what seemed to be approval. “Damn, you McKinnons have good genes. Yet another gorgeous, blue-eyed hottie.” Looking to Anna, Wren asked, “How many brothers do you have, again? And are they
“She has no shame,” Anna said to him before answering Wren with, “Four brothers, m’dear. Three older, one younger.”
“Not to mention three more sisters. Big family.” Gavin grinned at Anna’s gregarious friend. “Nice to meet you.”
“You have a good flight?” Wren asked him.
“Aye, it was fine, just long,” he said. He took off his silver-rimmed glasses and cleaned the lenses with the edge of his T-shirt. “Anna just took me for a stroll on the beach to unwind. Now I’m ready for a beer and some supper.”
Wren blinked at him, staring, before saying, “That Irish accent is going to kill me. Oh. My. God. So hot!”