Annie Rains has an exciting excerpt of Sunshine on Silver Lake, the fifth book of her 7-book Sweetwater Springs series for Frolic’s readers. It is a second-chance romance between a quirky café owner and a handsome park ranger.
About Sunshine on Silver Lake:
With summer just around the corner, Emma St. James is eagerly planning a 5K run at the Sweetwater Springs National Park. But first, she needs the help of one charming, rugged and handsome park ranger. Her brief high school romance with Jack Hershey may have ended in heartbreak, but Emma can’t deny that he still gives her butterflies. So when Jack responds to her request with an all-too-tempting plea to pretend to be his girlfriend for the summer, how can she say no?
Jack would do anything for his sister — even pretend to give up his bachelor life to care for his nephew. Passing his days with his high school sweetheart guarantees one long, hot summer — but only because every moment together leaves him wanting a real relationship. He can’t imagine spending another season without Emma by his side. Can he convince her to give their love a second chance before the summer draws to a close?
The doorbell rang, and Barnaby took off running. Emma headed to go answer.
“Hi,” Jack said when she opened the door. He was wearing a pale blue polo shirt that made his dark hair appear even darker. She wanted to reach up and run her fingers through it to see if it felt as silky as it looked. Jack’s tan also seemed darker, the way it always did in the summer months, making his blue eyes brighter.
“Hi.” She remembered to breathe, settling the unrest in her body. “I, um, prepared some sandwiches and chips. A picnic of sorts. I have enough for Sam too, even though I doubt he’ll join us.”
“The boy can eat,” Jack said. “If not, I’ll eat his share.” He winked, and she practically melted in a puddle at her doorstep.
“I’ll get the basket of food, and we can go.” She turned, forcing herself to rein in her hormones and emotions.
She turned to face him and then noticed him pull a hand from behind his back and offer her an arrangement of flowers.
“I almost forgot these,” he said.
“What is that?”
“Wildflowers. I stopped into Halona’s shop, and I guess it was my lucky day. She was arranging some of the older flowers to give away. She said they’d last about a week longer.” Jack shrugged. “Anyway, she told me to use them to brighten someone’s day.”
“So you brought me old flowers, huh?” she teased as she reached for them.
Jack looked mortified. “No, well, I…”
“A pretend girlfriend doesn’t get the new ones?” she continued.
“You’re more than a pretend girlfriend, Emma,” he said. “If I’d have thought you’d be okay with it, I’d have bought you a dozen roses. The red ones, not the yellow.”
Her lips parted. She didn’t quite know what to say as she cleared her throat and looked down at the wildflowers in her hands. “I love flowers from Halona’s shop. Thank you. Although I’m sure your mom would’ve appreciated them too.”
Jack nodded. “Maybe so. But choosing you was selfish on my part.”
She looked up at him. “Oh?”
“I guess seeing you smile brightens my day, so it’s a win-win.”
Emma frowned. “We can’t do this, Jack.”
She lowered the bouquet. “I’m not sure what we’re doing, but we shouldn’t be. Almost kissing. Flirting.” Her heart was suddenly hammering in her chest. It felt like she couldn’t breathe, not until she got everything that was on her mind out in the open. “If we’re going to pretend we’re dating, we need to set some boundaries. This is just for show. When there’s no one else around, we should just be us.”
He was watching her with a serious expression, the kind he got when he was thinking something over. “What exactly does acting like us entail?”
“You know. The way we’ve always been. At arm’s length. No flirting or bringing each other flowers. No kissing as research.” She pulled her gaze from his. No hand-holding or fantasies about running her hands through his hair and over his muscled chest. “That’s the only way this will work. Neither of us wants a relationship.”
“What makes you think I don’t want a relationship?” he asked.
She shifted the arrangement of flowers to her other hand. “Because you never keep anything romantic going for very long. You flirt and go on a couple dates, and then lose interest.”
“Only because it’s never a good fit.”
“Well, neither are we. Not romantically, at least. I’m too busy with my café and now planning this event. And considering your dating history, getting involved with you would never last. It would ruin our friendship, which I happen to value.” They’d stopped being friends for a while after he’d stood her up, and she didn’t want to lose him again.
He nodded. “I value what we have too.”
“Then there’s my dad…,” she said, as if she needed any more justification for why this fake relationship of theirs needed to remain that way.
“He hates me,” Jack agreed. “I’ve received that message loud and clear.”
“I wouldn’t say he hates you. I’d say he strongly dislikes the idea of you and me together.”
Jack looked away. “Well, then it’s settled. We only need to pretend in the presence of others. When we’re alone—”
“Which we should keep to a minimum,” she cut in.
He met her eyes. “Right. When we’re alone, we should just be us.”
About the Author:
Annie Rains is a USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional places in her home state of North Carolina. Currently, she’s spending a lot of time in Sweetwater Springs. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s living out her own happily ever after with her husband and three children.
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