Somebody To Love
Journey's End Lovers
Journey's End Lovers, Book 1
As a die-hard romantic cynic, chef Sean Baldwin no longer believes in love and ridicules friends who settle down and get married. The idea of a dream woman strikes him as complete nonsense. Until he glimpses Amber Garvey through a crowd in small-town Journey’s End and experiences an unprecedented lightning bolt moment.
Given her disastrous history with romance, Amber plans to avoid the dating world at all costs. Until an unexpected interlude with sexy and irresistible Sean causes her to rethink her doubts about ever finding somebody to love…
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Read an Excerpt
Sean Baldwin yawned and tried to get his bearings as he entered the bustling Journey’s End train station for his two-hour trip alongside the Hudson down to Manhattan, his early morning brain not quite up to speed. He’d just returned his rail pass to his wallet and begun to wonder whether he had time to grab a quick coffee when he saw her walking in his direction, not five feet away.
“Whoa. It’s you,” he blurted, overcome by such a powerful desire to make contact with this woman before she disappeared again that he: a) lost all his hard-earned game, reverting from a thirty-one-year-old dating pro to a high-school sophomore with zits and a voice prone to cracking at awkward moments; and b) forgot that it wasn’t cool to approach complete strangers in a public place and act like you knew them.
“Excuse me?” she said, hesitating as she gave him a dismissive once-over, the frost in her throaty voice exceeding that on this chilly late November morning by a factor of about a thousand.
Sean floundered for several reasons, his thought processes skidding to a stop the second she hit him with those big baby browns, disdainful as they currently were.
First of all, he wasn’t caffeinated yet, so there was that.
Second, it wasn’t that easy to get up the nerve to talk to beautiful women in general, much less one who was tall and willowy, with flowing black hair beneath her blue knit cap, perfect caramel skin, delicate features and who, to top it all off, glided around with her perfect posture and indifferent expression as though the world was her runway.
Third, and this was the real issue, he couldn’t very well confess that he’d caught a glimpse of her through the crush at Java Nectar, the local coffeehouse, the other day and had damn near swallowed his tongue, going so far as to start to follow her before she disappeared from sight. Whereupon he’d felt a crashing disappointment with no basis in reality for any sane person and had spent every waking moment since scanning crowds for another sighting of the face that currently regarded him as if he’d shown up smelling like rotten fish.
“I, ah…” Sean scratched the back of his neck, stalling for time as his cheeks began to heat. “I’ve seen you before.”
Scoffing laugh from those luscious lips. “Aren’t you a little old to still be ogling lingerie catalogues? Or were you referring to the bridal magazines? You’re a big fan of those, are you?”
Hold up. Did this…did this mean she really was a model?
He shook his head. “No. I saw you the other day. In Java Nectar.”
Now she blinked, possibly deciding that he’d been stalking her this whole time.
“And I, ah, just wanted to say hi,” he concluded lamely, wondering when he’d ever had such a spectacular flameout. She had a way of looking right through him that made him feel simultaneously invisible and also exposed, as though someone had rented every billboard in the Upstate New York area to post nude photos of him.
But she wasn’t done with him yet.
Those delicate brows hitched up. “Why?”
The answer was because he would dearly love to fuck her. God knew that no one had ever accused him of being a genius, especially when he was busy flunking out of law school seven years ago, but it didn’t take a Stephen Hawking to know that now wasn’t the time for such a heartfelt confession. Nor was it the time for confessing that there was something about her, buried beneath all this frosty exterior, that called to him for reasons that eluded explanation at this moment.
Sean opened his mouth. Came up with nothing.
She rolled her eyes. “Let me help you out. Before you hurt yourself.”
That seemed like a good idea.
“You think I’m pretty,” she continued. “You thought to yourself, ‘I wonder if I could hit that.’”
Sean gaped at her.
“Maybe that’s not the best reason for saying hi.” She made quotation marks with her fingers. “Maybe I’m not worth the trouble. Maybe I’m your worst nightmare. Maybe I’m a bitch. Ever think of that?”
He was starting to, yeah.
“Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m the Fatal Attraction woman who likes to boil small animals to make a point. What then, Romeo?”
“You seem to have a lot on your mind this morning,” he said, beginning to recover his tongue and eyeing her with increasing fascination. “Bad day?”
“Maybe I’m sick of people judging me by my looks.”
“Hazard of the job?”
She flinched, now regarding him with a wary new respect.
They stared at each other for a beat or two, during which he’d swear he saw a drop or two melt away from her frosty shell.
“Look,” he said quickly, determined to take advantage of her new ambivalence. “Sorry if my approach needs work. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“Well.” She adjusted the shoulder strap of her bag, a flush beginning to color her cheeks. “Now you know.”
“Now I know.”
She nodded with grim satisfaction just as he heard the approaching roar of the train and realized how quickly his clock was running out. He paused, opening and closing his mouth again. She cleared her throat, glancing back at the tracks.
Neither of them walked away.
He decided to man up and not be such a loser for once. To do his best not to let this woman disappear into another crowd, leaving him in that purgatory where her strained features were all he could see no matter where he looked.
“Guess we’re both going down to the city, eh?”
“Yeah,” she said, nodding.
His nerves flared again, sitting like a bull elephant on his chest. But, hey. No guts, no glory. “Mind if I sit with you? We could, ah, talk.”
She took a second or two to answer, regret or something like it flashing in her eyes.
“I don’t think so.”
He nodded in his best impersonation of an understanding person. No big deal. She probably had work to do. It was a commuter train, wasn’t it?
“What about drinks later?”
She wavered, that thing flickering in her eyes again. His hopes rose. Until she hiked up her chin, stiffened her spine and spoke with an unmistakable finality that even he, in his hormone-soaked state, couldn’t miss.
“No. Thanks.” She gave him half a smile to soften the blow, but that was no consolation at that dark moment. “Travel safe.”
She walked off. The crowd parted for her, male and female heads alike swiveling to stare after her because she was that girl with her jeans, heeled boots and killer leather jacket. Sean tried to find some solace in the fact that he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t take his eyes off her, but it was hard to break free of disappointment’s hold on him. He watched numbly as she climbed into the nearest car and took a good chunk of his ego with her. Then he stood there like a fool, staring after her as though the air somehow contained an imprint of her body and getting jostled by every commuter in the station as they streamed past him onto the train.
Meanwhile, the scathing voice in his head, which had gone into a polite and welcome remission for the last couple of years but had recently returned, triggered by Sean’s thus-far fruitless job search, found a megaphone and got back to work.
Loser, it said.
Freaking Charlie Brown-ass loser.
Don’t go there, man, he told himself, but that nasty voice answered to no one.
Just be glad Mike ain’t here. She sure as shit wouldn’t turn him down. Mike’s not a loser. He’s somewhere winning right now.
Then he gave himself a swift mental smack upside the head, shoved all images of his oh-so-perfect older brother away and hurried into the car with only seconds and inches to spare before the doors slid shut on his ass.
He meant to go into the connecting car and dismiss her from his mind. Sort of. But if he’d been able to put his heart into not thinking about her, he would have managed it in the last several days. So he took a cursory glance at the other car, ignored the smattering of empty seats, diagnosed it as full and headed into her car.
Where a new sight sent his fragile morale plummeting even further.
A smarmy, Tom Ford sharkskin suit-wearing MF’er with slicked back hair, manicured brows, loafers that probably cost more than the rent at Sean’s last apartment and an entitled, God’s gift to the earth swagger slid into the seat next to her. The hits kept on coming when Sean’s challenger checked his watch in an ostentatious display of an NFL player or rapper-worthy Rolex and flashed his seductive smile in her direction.
Sean froze, consumed by a sudden wave of bloodlust that was fueled by the fact that he’d seen this dude climbing out of his loaded Mercedes G-Wagon out in the station’s parking lot earlier, which meant that he, unlike Sean, probably had a job. A good job. And the money to afford a woman like that.
Sean lingered in the aisle, his breath held as he waited to see what would happen.
His girl (now why was he thinking of her as his girl?) pointedly ignored the male peacock’s presentation of his dazzling fan of tail feathers and made a production out of pulling her earbuds from her bag.
The tension in Sean’s lungs eased, allowing him to breathe again.
The peacock frowned, recovered quickly, hitched his smile back into place and extended his hand, forcing Sean’s girl to look up and acknowledge his existence. Which she did with the enthusiasm of a woman cleaning puppy diarrhea off of her freshly shampooed white carpet.
Sean snorted back a laugh and watched as she nodded at the peacock and shook his hand before quickly returning to her earbuds and phone.
Consternation crossed the peacock’s face. He seemed to have a tougher time recapturing his smile this time. But the man was nothing if not tenacious, leaning in to say something conspiratorial or possibly flirtatious.
Sean’s girl said nothing and kept tapping on her phone.
The peacock spoke to her again.
Sean’s girl heaved a dramatic sigh, lowered her phone to her lap and nailed the peacock with all her disdain and three words that Sean could easily lip-read from his spot several feet away in the aisle.
Leave. Me. Alone.
The peacock looked startled.
A burst of euphoria gave Sean a push between the shoulder blades to get him going. Not that he had any idea of what he was about to do—only that the time had come to do it. He started walking with the vague notion of grabbing one of the empty seats a couple rows behind his girl’s, and that was when she looked up. Saw him and brightened as though she’d answered a ringing doorbell to find the prize patrol on her front porch.
In that one second out of time, as their gazes connected and he discovered that she was as happy to see him again as he was to see her, Sean realized both that he might have a problem with his reactions to this one woman and that he couldn’t wait to see where the problem took him.
“There you are,” she said, putting her phone and earbuds aside and rising to meet him with open arms. “Took you long enough.”
And Sean, so drunk on her glorious smile and her berry-scented hair that it didn’t bother him that this part of the proceedings was an act, missed zero beats as he pulled her in for a hug and lingering kiss on the cheek.
“Sorry I’m late, Sweetness,” he said as he let her go. “What did I miss?”
They both looked at the peacock.
To his credit, the man managed his disappointment surprisingly well.
“You can’t blame me for trying,” he said with a wry smile as he rose and shook Sean’s hand on his way to one of the other empty seats nearby. “You’re a lucky guy. But you probably already know that.”
“I do know that,” Sean said with heartfelt agreement as he noticed the new sparkle in his girl’s eyes and the creeping flush across her cheeks as she looked at him. “I’m a very lucky guy.
Somebody to Love Excerpt © 2019 by Sally Young Moore