Any Fin For Love by Petie McCarty Genre: Contemporary Romance
She could almost hear the fish laughing at her . . .
Cody Ryan’s father never missed fishing the annual Loon Lake tournament until his unexpected passing. This year, Cody packs up her how-to fishing videos and her dad’s old johnboat and gives him one final entry.
Gage Connor needs some R&R away from his coast guard deployment catching drug smugglers along the Louisiana coast, so he borrows a bass boat from his buddy and heads to Loon, Alabama to do some fishing.
When Gage and Cody meet at Loon Lake, their attraction is immediate and intense—until the two discover there is only one boat slip left on the lake and they both need it, and there’s only one vacant hotel room left in Loon and they both want it. And so, their competition begins. Both vow to keep their distance from the other for their own peace of mind, but fate has other plans. The tournament pairing party picks the two-man teams and chooses Gage as Cody’s partner.
Far better than Cody could have imagined, the hotel room offered a four-poster bed, antique dresser and end tables, and a floral-print area rug in green and mauve hues. Two partially open doors claimed the wall opposite the queen-sized bed. Behind one hid a small closet and behind the other a private bath with an awesome pedestal sink and a small shower.
“Perfect!” Cody declared.
Velma grinned and the two women trooped back down the stairs. A tall dark-haired man leaned on the check-in counter and faced an exact replica of Cody’s hotel guide.
The obvious twin behind the counter glanced up. “There you are, Velma! I thought you were watching the desk.”
“I was until I had to show this young lady a room.”
The smiling twin froze.
“What’s wrong, Delma?” Velma hustled to the counter, Cody tight on her heels.
“I sort of promised the last room to this man.” Delma pointed shakily.
Cody’s heart sank. What else could go wrong?
The gentleman straightened away from the counter, and she faced Mr. Patience-All-Gone from the marina.
Well, that answered her question. Her stranger’s emerald eyes darkened, and Cody squared off with him in front of the counter for round two. Okay, why did that give her such a jolt of excitement?
“You’re too late this time.”
The stranger’s rumbling growl teased all Cody’s unmentionable places. His gorgeous green eyes pinned her to the spot and stilled the air right in her lungs. How had she missed those amazing green eyes back at the lake? Maybe because they had been black with impatience at the time.
She sighed. “N-no, I’m not. I arrived here first.”
The aforementioned amazing eyes glittered dangerously. “Did you give Velma a credit card?”
“Not yet,” she admitted.
“Then you’re too late.”
He was so close his low growl swathed Cody’s cheek with warm air, stirring a shudder deep inside her. A sensual shudder of all things. Yikes.
“Well, I would have,” she sputtered, “but I had to see the room first.” She could feel the flush bringing unwelcome color to her neck and cheeks.
“I did insist,” Velma admitted.
“Well, I gave her my credit card.” Mr. Still-No-Patience jerked his head at Delma. “And she took it, so you’re too late.”
Good grief, this man was obnoxious. So why did his mere proximity send delicious shivers down Cody’s spine to warm her from the inside out? She frowned. Snatch him bald as her Aunt Sarah used to say. That’s what Cody should do.
“I did take his credit card,” Delma said with chagrin.
Feeling the hotel room being yanked out from underneath her, Cody lost her grip on her temper. “I don’t care. I arrived here first.” She wheeled on Velma. “Tell him.”
Velma had a hard time meeting the man’s glittering green eyes, and Cody feared the worst. “Velma, you have to go with the first person who arrived here, and that was me.”
Velma visibly wavered, and her gaze bounced between Cody, Mr. Never-Had-Any-Patience, and her twin, who looked ready to burst into tears.
“It’s not your fault, Sister.” She patted Delma’s hand. “You didn’t know we were upstairs. I’ll handle this.”
Velma faced her two potential guests and announced, “We’ll flip for it.”
Delma immediately beamed.
“What?” Cody cried.
“Fine by me,” the stranger snapped and crossed his arms on his oversized and quite muscular pecs. Not that Cody was staring.
Velma reached into her apron pocket and drew out a silver dollar. She smiled at Cody. “Since you were here first, you can call it, and you can have heads if you want. I always liked heads in a coin toss, and I always got lucky calling heads.” Her eyes twinkled at Cody.
“Fine. Heads it is,” Cody said.
The coin flipped high in the air. Velma deftly caught it with her right hand and smacked the coin on top of her left. “Heads it is,” she proclaimed.
Cody blew out a sigh of relief.
“Hey, wait a minute,” the stranger complained.
“See for yourself.” Velma angled her hand for him to snatch a glimpse and then chucked the coin back into her pocket.
Cody stared him right in the eye. “I win.”
He eased closer—almost nose to nose—and she reconsidered her idea to gloat. His emerald eyes darkened, turned almost black, and locked onto hers. She could hear and feel each breath he took, because she held hers. Waiting.
“Share it with me.”
His gaze never wavered. She could feel it, almost like a caress.
“I promise I won’t touch you . . . if you don’t want me to.” The latter implied he wanted exactly the opposite.
Petie spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World—"The Most Magical Place on Earth"—where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.
Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband and an opinionated Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in No Angels for Christmas.