Wednesday, February 4, 2015

One Summer by JoAnn Ross

Shelter Bay #2

Gabe came to Shelter Bay to take photos at Cole Douchett's wedding. They were in the Marines together. Gabe became famous for the photos he took during his deployments in war torn countries. Now that he is out of the service, he is touring the US taking photos in every state.
He meets a beautiful woman at the reception but doesn't get her name. But he doesn't have time for women. As he is heading out of town, a van throws a dog out and then drags it underneath the van for a bit. Gabe rescues it and takes it to the vet's office which turns out to be a beautiful Victorian house. 
Charity, the woman from the reception,  is the vet. She left the reception after catching the bouquet which she was not happy about, to do a Cesarean birth on a bulldog that had been found in a trash can. She had just finished when Gabe drove up. 
She tries to talk him into keeping the dog. He says no, but Charity is very persuasive. The next day he comes back the next day to pay her and he ends up asking her out but had been interrupted by her mother, who had just left her husband. They go out the next night but their plans got messed up when she had to put a dog suffering from cancer down. He got some take out and took her to the beach. Eventually Gabe and Charity decide to have a sexual relationship. Nothing more. But you know how that goes. 
She says if you are staying around can you help with a summer camp for two weeks. He agrees to teach the kids to use cameras. Surprisingly, Gabe has fun. But it's time for him to leave.  Will he?

I liked this story a lot. 

From the author:

It was supposed to be nothing more than a brief encounter…

Former U.S. Marine photojournalist Gabriel St. James doesn’t see the world as others do. His work reflects the heart of a dispirited, disillusioned loner. When he arrives in Shelter Bay to help out a fellow Marine, the last thing he expects is for that cynical veneer to crack. Then again, he never expected to meet a woman like Charity Tiernan.

A veterinarian with a past that would have defeated a less resilient woman, Charity still possesses a heart as generous as her name. She’s known men like Gabe before—a guarded soul with an elusive nature. With a shared attraction impossible to deny, Charity and Gabe agree to a simple affair with no expectations.

But as summer unfolds, and Gabe finds reasons to extend his stay in Shelter Bay, he and Charity realize that there’s nothing simple about falling in love, and nothing easy about the choices of the heart.

Chapter 1
After having spent over a decade in war zones and other hot spots around the globe, Gabriel St. James was an expert at zeroing in on a shot. Even when that target was in a bustling crowd of people, as this one was. Unlike most people on the planet, Gabriel hated weddings. Although there were those in the military who’d called his ability to nail the perfect shot preternatural, and he was more than capable of lowering his cone of silence to shut out the bedlam of merrymaking, weddings were just a screwup waiting to happen. There were too many people. Too many variables. Too many chances of someone stumbling between himself and his target.

But against his better judgment, he’d signed on to this mission solely due to loyalty. When you’d been in the trenches with a guy, when you became even closer than blood brothers, you owed him.

Simple as that.

Semper Fi.

The bride and groom were dancing. Twirling around the floor, like a couple on top of a wedding cake come to life. He was looking down at her in a besotted, goofy way that suggested if he dropped dead at that moment, he’d die a happy man.

She was smiling up at him as if she felt the same way.

Damn. Gabe really hated to see another one bite the dust.

Not that it was any of his business. This was a mission. Same as any other.
Yeah. Right.

He narrowed his field of vision, cutting out the musicians, the guests, along with the rest of the wedding party. Then further.

Gone was the bride’s fairy frothy white lace princess dress. And the groom’s snazzy military uniform with the shiny brass buttons and colorful field of service ribbons.

He’d closed his focus down to two faces, which were about to be frozen in time.

Gabe took a deep breath, the way Marine sniper scouts were taught to do before taking a shot. Steadied his heartbeat.

Put his finger on the trigger.

Because he was a professional, and because they were lost in their own lovey-dovey world, neither the bride nor the groom noticed him.

Or his camera.

“You know,” a woman’s voice behind him said, “you are allowed to enjoy yourself at a wedding.”

“I happen to be working.”

He tilted the Nikon to portrait and took a vertical shot. God. Was a dip the most clich├ęd photo ever?

But the bride had been very specific about what the bride wanted, and apparently big tough Marine Cole Douchett wasn’t about to deny her anything her little heart desired. In fact, Gabe’s former battle buddy was so besotted, Gabe wouldn’t have been surprised if when he printed the photos, little pink hearts would show up dancing around their heads.

“I’ve noticed. You’re very diligent.”

When she paused, as if expecting him to comment, Gabe remained silent, hoping she’d go away. She didn’t. Nor did her scent, which reminded him of a summer meadow blooming with lavender and wildflowers.

“You’re not like any other wedding photographer I’ve met,” she said conversationally.

“Thank God for that.” Oh, hell. Not the garter shot. Why didn’t they just take him out and shoot him so he could get this day over with? “Met a lot of wedding photographers, have you?”

Read more here.

Pages: 540 Large Print Version
Published: 2011

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