Trusting Will

Trusting Will

Skye Taylor

May 2015 $14.95
ISBN: 9781611946314

The Camerons of Tide’s Way Series, Book 3

Falling in love could break her heart.


Our PriceUS$14.95
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

Back Cover Blurb

Brianna Reagan’s life fell apart when her husband, an Army Ranger, was killed in combat. Now, three years later, she and her young son, Sam, have started a new life in Tide’s Way. She’s determined to protect herself from more heartache.

But then she meets Sam’s Cub Scout leader, tall, sexy Will Cameron. Will takes one look at the gorgeous blonde and decides his hunt for a temporary apartment is over. There’s a space available in Brianna’s building.

Sam adores Will and has become best pals with Will’s nephew, Rick. Brianna quickly learns that Will is a North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper, excelling on and off the job in activities that challenge him mentally and physically. He relishes living life on the edge: rock-climbing, sky-diving, riding motorcycles, and pushing himself to be the best at whatever he does.

He’s putting himself in the line of danger, just as her late husband did. And he’s hoping for a promotion that would transfer him to a state-wide task force, meaning he’ll say goodbye to her, Sam, and Tide’s Way.

As she struggles to remain "just a friend,” Will brings tender, patient romance into her life—with the promise of hot passion, when she’s ready.

Can she resist? And what happens if her worst fears come true?

Skye Taylor has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1995 and of the Ancient City chapter in St. Augustine, Florida, for the last six years. Her publishing credits to date include several non-fiction essays about life as a Peace Corps Volunteer, one mainstream political intrigue, WHATEVER IT TAKES, and the Tide’s Way series.


"Once again Ms. Taylor writes characters you can't help but fall in love with.” -- Karie Deegan, Netgalley



Fort Benning, Georgia, three years earlier

BRIANNA REAGAN woke with a start. Her heart raced as she sat up, her chest tight with apprehension. She listened for something unusual. Something unexpected. But there was nothing.

Nothing but the sound of her heart thrumming in her ears and her son playing in the next room. And morning sunlight slanting in across her bedroom floor.

Sam’s piping five-year-old voice issued orders to his army of tiny sol­diers. He had always loved the little figures his father had given him, but since the day they’d taken Ed to the airport at the start of his most recent deployment, the little green men had become an obsession.

"Guess what, Daddy? I’m going to be a general when I grow up,” Sam an­nounced, nodding his head in determination. "And you’re going to be really proud of me.”

"I’m real proud of you already,” Ed replied with a sheen in his bright blue eyes. He stiffened into a formal salute, then, unable to maintain the distance, scooped Sam into his arms and hugged him hard before putting him back on his feet and turning to Bree.

Bree dismissed the vivid memory and swung her feet over the side of the bed. As she reached to shut off the alarm she hadn’t needed, she stopped a moment to gaze at Ed’s photo next to the clock. It was his formal military portrait, but even in that solemn pose, Ed hadn’t been able to keep the merry twinkle out of his eyes. Sam was a miniature of his dad. Same dark hair, same blue eyes. Same mischievous sparkle. Bree blew the portrait a kiss and slid to her feet. It was time to get Sam mov­ing, get some breakfast into him and head off to work.

At her dresser, Bree dragged a brush through her tangled blond hair and considered the possibility of cutting it. Except that Ed loved it long. She pulled it into a ponytail, worked an elastic band around its thick bulk, and leaned forward to check for new wrinkles. Twenty-seven wasn’t old, but already little lines fanned out from the corners of her dark eyes. Too much worry and stress,she thought as she reached for her robe and headed for the hall.

The solid thunkof a car door shutting out in front of their base-housing duplex made her pause. Who would be coming here this early? She hesitated a moment longer before moving toward the glitter of sunlight streaming in the window.

She squinted against the glare, and her heart froze in horrified de­nial.

Bree’s world telescoped into a narrow tunnel focused on the flat gray-blue tops of the dress uniform caps moving purposefully up her front walk. Desperately, she tried to think of any other reason two offic­ers in dress uniforms would be coming to her door so early on a Monday morning.

But her heart already knew. There could be only one reason these men had come.

Her chest constricted in pain. Her eyes ached, but there were no tears. Not now. Not yet. She raised a clenched fist to her mouth, knuck­leswhite with strain as her heart plunged into the unavoidable knowledge that her life would never be the same again.

Chapter 1

Tide’s Way, North Carolina, today

WILL CAMERON turned onto Carlisle Place, a big looping drive lined with townhouses and condos built with the southern charm of Tide’s Way and coastal North Carolina in mind. Even at this time of year, the tunnel of live oaks dripping with moss created a shady retreat from the glare of the Carolina sun as Will slowed to go over the speed bump and continue on around the drive.

A couple months back when he’d followed a suspected stolen car into the development, it had occurred to him that if you couldn’t afford to live on the beach in Tide’s Way, this would be a pretty sweet second choice. In the center of the loop, beyond the tennis and basketball courts and half-hidden behind a thick stand of pampas grass, were two pools, one built for toddlers, the other with diving boards and slides. At the moment, both were covered with canvas tarps, but that would change soon, and the sounds of splashing and giggling would be added to the dribbling thunk of basketballs and the sharp pop of yellow tennis balls. Kids at play always made Will smile. Probably because his mother was right, and he was just a big kid himself.

"There’s where Sam lives,” Will’s eight-year-old nephew Rick spoke up, pointing to a shallow set of stairs leading up to a small porch at the far end of the condo complex.

Will pulled into a slot and turned off the engine in his rugged all-terrain four-by-four. He rode a motorcycle for work, but with two small boys to drive to their Cub Scout meeting, he’d taken his Jeep in­stead.

"Will Sam be watching for us and come on out?” Will hooked an arm over the back of the seat to speak to his nephew.

Rick made a face.

"What’s that for?” Will chuckled at the look of disgust.

"We gotta go in and get him. Sam’s mother worries a lot. Like she says she’s gotta be sure who he’s going off with. Even my dad has to go in, and he’s been here a bunch of times.”

Poor Sam, Will thought. "Even though she knows we’re picking him up?”

"Yup.” Rick unbuckled his seatbelt and opened his door.

Will hurried to join Rick as he dashed up the short flight of stairs and into the entryway of the building. It was a double-door entry. The kind you have to call up and wait for someone to buzz you in if you don’t have a key to the inside door. Another nice feature, the cop in him noted, even in a place like Tide’s Way where crime was pretty rare.

Rick pressed the bell and hopped impatiently from foot to foot. While they waited, Will surveyed the patchwork of notices posted on a corkboard next to the bank of mailboxes. One, he noted, advertised one of the units in the building was available for short-term lease.

Maybe he should grab one of the tear-off tabs. His current and very ideal dwelling was being sold out from under him, and he was going to have to find at least temporary digs until he figured out where he was going next. At the age of thirty-four, maybe he should have been think­ing about buying instead of just renting. But if he landed a spot on the new Rapid Response Team that the North Carolina State Highway Patrol was putting together, it might require a move away from his hometown. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but the details weren’t set yet, and he couldn’t be sure. One advantage of renting in this build­ing would be that he could walk across the street to the best little diner in Tide’s Way when he got sick of his own cooking or hop on his bike and be at the beach in less than ten minutes.

"Yes?” a delightfully musical voice came over the speaker. How could anyone make a single word sound like an invitation to something fun or maybe even naughty?

"It’s Will Cameron. Here to pick up Sam?” Will’s heart pattered a lit­tle faster than it should have.

"Will Cameron?” The voice sounded confused.

"That’s me,” he confirmed. Why should his name invoke confu­sion? "Rick told me he told Sam we’d pick him up on our way to the Cub Scout meeting.”

The door buzzed, and Will pushed it open. Rick ducked under his arm and moved toward the elevator, one finger poised to punch the up arrow.

"Elevators are for ladies and old men,” Will told him, heading through the door to the stairwell. "They’re only on the second floor, right?”

Rick grinned. "Bet I can beat ya.” Then he scooted past and started up the stairs.

Will let Rick get a head start before taking the stairs two at a time and almost catching up. Rick beat him to the top by a hair and turned to grin triumphantly.

"So, what—do I—win?” Rick gasped.

"We didn’t put any money on it. You don’t win anything. But you did get some great exercise.”

"Dad says I get exercise throwing sticks for Kip.”

"Kip is getting most of that exercise. You’re just building up your throwing arm.”

Rick stopped at a door on the left at the end of the hall, but before he could knock, the door opened, and Rick’s friend Sam Reagan stuck his head out.

Sam opened the door wider and gestured them inside.

The woman, who had to be Sam’s mother, was gorgeous. Stun­ningly gorgeous. If Will had been wearing his hat, he’d have been in­clined to sweep it off his head and offer a totally uncharacteristic bow. As it was, he struggled not to gawk. The long, wavy blond mane and striking whiskey-colored eyes looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t believe he’d have forgotten her if he’d ever met her before. Not a woman this heart-stoppingly beautiful.

"Will Cameron,” he introduced himself and held out his hand.

"Brianna Reagan,” the head-turning stunner reciprocated and placed her hand in his. "But please, call me Bree.”

Her hand was slight and soft. Will felt as if he might crush it if he weren’t careful. When Bree looked down at their clasped hands he real­ized he’d been holding hers too long for mere politeness. He let go. Mr. Reagan was one lucky son of a gun. A terrific kid like Sam and a wife that must turn heads everywhere she went.

In the few months Will had been den father to a pack of energetic eight-year-old Cub Scouts, he’d tried hard not to let Sam become a favor­ite. But it wasn’t easy. Sam was bright, eager to learn, full of ques­tions, and always cheerful. He was also quick to notice when other boys less talented than himself were having trouble, and he’d drop his own stuff to help out. Will had never met Sam’s dad and often wondered if the man knew what a genuinely nice son he had.

"I’m sorry for my confusion,” the pretty woman interrupted Will’s vaguely jealous thoughts. "You look just like Rick’s father. I forgot there were two of you. I mean—” She broke off and colored slightly. "Be­sides, I thought it was Ben that took over the Cub Scout den when Mr. Hudson got transferred so suddenly.”

"Knowing my brother, he probably would have, but with Meg out of the country, he was already pretty stretched, so I stepped up to the plate instead. It’s been fun, and I’ve really enjoyed it. The boys are ter­rific. I had no idea. Now, of course, Ben’s ragging on me, telling me I need to find a wife and have some kids of my own, but—” Will shut his mouth abruptly. In another minute he’d be telling this woman his life story. Something she definitely didn’t need to hear.

"I must have seen you at Jake’s wedding,” she said, "but I never real­ized. Zoe said you were twins, but—”

That’s where he’d seen her before! At his brother Jake’s wedding to Zoe Callahan last fall. Must have been the chaos of family and kids, otherwise he’d definitely have remembered this woman.

"You were Zoe’s maid of honor.”

"Matron of honor,” Bree corrected.

"Are we going to get going, or what?” Rick interrupted.

"Yeah, right.” Will shook his head and turned his attention to Rick and Sam, both immaculately attired in their Cub Scout uniforms, stand­ing impatiently by the door.

"It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Reagan.” Will started to tip his hat and remembered he still wasn’t wearing one.

Her pretty face clouded briefly. "Just Bree,” she said after a mo­ment.

"It was nice to meet you, Bree,” he answered dutifully. "Will it be okay if we stop for ice cream on the way home? I promised Rick, and I assure you, I’ll have Sam home by eight.”

"I guess that would be okay.” Bree smiled, and the corners of her eyes crinkled.

Will nodded and followed the boys out into the hall. Rick explained about the elevator being for ladies and old men, and the boys peeled off and started clattering down the stairs. Will followed, his senses still reel­ing from his reintroduction to Brianna Reagan.

"Mom’s got a date tonight,” Sam said over his shoulder as he beat Rick to the first landing. "He’s such a dork.”

Rick mumbled something Will couldn’t hear, but Sam’s comment about the date stopped Will in his tracks. If Bree was married, why was she going out on a date? Surely Sam wouldn’t talk that way about his own father.

"She thinks I need a new father,” said Sam, as if answering Will’s un­spoken question. "Like I need a dork for a father. I have a father. He just happens to live in Heaven is all.” His last words ended on a hic­cough.

Rick wrapped his arm about Sam’s shoulders.

Bree was a widow. And Sam had lost his father. Will’s heart suddenly ached for both of them—the boy he’d been working with for over two months who still grieved for his missing dad and the woman whose pretty face had clouded over when called Mrs. Reagan. How long ago? he wondered as he pushed open the first of the two doors to the outside.

He’d almost reached the top step outside when he remembered the notice. He turned back and snatched one of the tear-off tabs with the phone number for the apartment for rent.

How could he not have known about Sam’s dad?

BREE TOOK ONE last bite of her Alfredo and then followed it with a sip of wine. Bob Cahill droned on about his newest client, a bigwig with offices in Wilmington and Raleigh and a huge and complicated tax re­turn. Bob was clearly bursting with pleasure about the deal. It was proba­bly why he’d decided to treat her to dinner at the country club instead of the local diner.

Bree glanced about the posh interior of the restaurant with its thick, sound-swallowing carpets and snowy white table linens. This was so not her kind of place, but Bob thrived here. She was happy for his success. Happy that he was feeling on top of his little world at least, but he’d been going on about this guy for the entire meal. Maybe by the time coffee was served he’d get past it, and Bree would get an opening to bring up her big question.

Her big favor, actually.

Sam had come home from his last Cub Scout meeting with a Pine­wood Derby kit, and it was still sitting on his desk untouched. Up to now, none of Sam’s activities had required expertise she didn’t have, but she’d taken one look at the small square block of wood and knew she was out of her league. Sam needed someone with more know-how than she possessed to help him create anything with a chance of making it to the end of the track, never mind having a chance to win. It was a guy sort of thing, and Bob was a guy.

Bob liked Sam. He made an effort to draw him out in conversation when they were together and had taken him to a baseball game once, but perhaps asking Bob to help with a model race car was pushing things. Bob was a nice guy, but he’d never been married. Never had kids. Maybe spending time helping an eight-year-old with his scouting project wasn’t something Bob would enjoy all that much.

It might be pushing things in more ways than one. While Sam had not been all that enthusiastic about Bob’s attempts to engage him, Bree wasn’t certain where her own relationship with Bob was going.

She’d started dating him because Sam had arrived at an age where boys began to need a male influence in their lives, and perhaps it was time for her to consider letting another man into hers. Someone safe. Someone who wouldn’t end up breaking her heart.

They had met at the Jolee Historical Society meeting right after she joined the group. They clearly had at least one thing in common—an interest in preserving history, specifically the history of Tide’s Way and the Jolee Plantation. Reserved and easygoing, a CPA with a reputation for reliability, Bob was unlikely to get involved in the kinds of things that got people hurt or killed. He was a gentleman, maybe a little old-fashioned and chauvinistic, but in a courtly sort of way that made her feel appreciated.

The waiter came and began clearing their dishes. He asked if they would like to see the dessert menu. Bob agreed without consulting her. A sudden image of her late husband’s taut six-pack abdomen flitted into her head followed just as quickly by another unexpected recall of Will’s trim, flat stomach, obvious even beneath his bloused scout leader’s shirt. She shook her head to dispel the images and forced herself not to dwell on the soft roll of flesh that spilled over the edge of Bob’s belt. It wasn’t like he was grossly overweight. Just a little soft.

Will Cameron had looked anything but soft, but she had no business thinking about Will Cameron’s tall, sexy body. Or anything else about him beyond his role as den father to her son. She knew next to nothing about him or what kind of a man he was.

Bob ordered them both a slice of warmed peach pie with vanilla ice cream and coffee. He folded his hands and looked earnestly at her.

"You’ve been awfully quiet. How’s the new position at Kett’s go­ing?”

Her job at Kett’s was going well. Really well. She loved the chal­lenges and the people she worked with, but she knew Bob thought women were best employed as secretaries, not program managers. Alt­hough he’d never said it in so many words, he’d given her the impression that when women worked at all, it should only be from necessity. A true lady would be far more concerned with making her husband’s home his castle than making a name for herself in a man’s world. Another reason she’d begun to question her relationship with Bob and where it might be going.

"It’s going okay.” She took a deep breath and hurried on before she could change her mind. "But I was wondering. I have a favor to ask. I . . .” She hesitated.

"A favor?” Bob urged helpfully.

"Sam needs someone to help him with his Pinewood Derby racer.”

Bob frowned. "What’s a Pinewood Derby racer?”

"Weren’t you ever a Boy Scout?”

Bob shook his head. "I was in the math club.”

Didn’t seem like the two were mutually exclusive, but Bree didn’t say so as she launched into an explanation of the Pinewood Derby. "It’s a really big deal for the Scouts. Each boy has to make his own race car from the kit, and then they have a big race day.”

"From a kit, you say?”

The waiter returned bearing pie and coffee. Bree sat back and waited for him to finish serving.

"Have you ever done anything like that?” she asked.

Bob’s eyebrows rose. "No. But I’m sure I can figure it out if it’s a kit like you say. I’d be glad to help Sam. I’d be especially glad to help him out for his mom’s sake.” He reached across the table and laid his hand over hers.

Bree wanted to pull her hand free but didn’t. "Thanks. I appreciate it.”

Bob patted her hand and then drew his back to attend to his pie. "Sam needs a man in his life. So does his mom.”

ALONE IN HER room, Bree stepped out of her skirt and reached for a hanger. The look in Bob’s eyes when he’d walked her to her door and repeated his comment about Bree needing a man in her life made her uncomfortable. His obvious insinuation had caught her off guard, and the feeling of unease grew stronger as she reviewed the evening and tried to remember if she’d said anything to lead him on.

She liked Bob, but she didn’t know if she was ready for their relation­ship to go where he seemed to be headed. Bob didn’t light any fires in her that needed quenching. Which should be a good thing consid­ering she didn’t want her heart getting broken again. But neither was she eager to become intimate with the man. She wasn’t into sex without at least some passion. Maybe all that was needed was a little more time before she felt that kind of desire, but Bob didn’t appear to need more time. Tonight he had definitely been sending out signals that he’d like to share her bed and possibly a whole lot more.

What would it be like to become Mrs. Robert Cahill? To have a nice, safe husband who would come home every day at the same time and never once give her a reason to worry, either over his safety or his fidelity? Although passion had not yet been part of their relationship, if she was to become his wife, there would be intimacy and perhaps more children. She would like more children. She would enjoy the busyness of a growing family and the comfort of sharing her nights with someone again. So, maybe Bob didn’t fill her with the heady desire Ed had once evoked in her, but he would be good to her, and she wouldn’t be so alone. She should be happy with that, shouldn’t she?

Without invitation, the lean, powerful image of Will Cameron as he’d stood in her doorway with one hand on Sam’s shoulder, apologiz­ing for being five minutes late, totally eclipsed the picture of Bob stand­ing in the same doorway angling to kiss her good night. A kiss she let him have but hadn’t been able to muster any enthusiasm for.

All she could think of now was the ice cream sundae Will had thought­fully brought for her and the admiring look in his sky-blue eyes that had nothing to do with either apologies or ice cream. What would Will’s mouth feel like if he’d been the one doing the kissing?


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