Deborah Grace Staley

May 2015 $14.95
ISBN: 9781611946291

Wilde Dunes, Book 2

Our PriceUS$14.95
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

Back Cover Blurb

Bar owner Jack McTeer has never managed to get over his high school sweetheart, Sara Vance. Ten years ago, she broke his heart. Yet, every time she crooks her finger, he comes back for more. Because ‘more’ with Sara is mind-blowing! It’s not a great set-up, but Jack can live with the way things are. Until one wild night changes everything . . .

For Sara, Solomon’s Island is a place of regrets—and loss. So, when she returns home for her sister’s wedding, her plan is to leave as soon as possible. Only family responsibilities make that impossible. She has to stay, at least for a while. But once Jack figures out her little secret, there’ll be no getting out . . .

Deborah Grace Staley lives in a 1925 Mission-Style Bungalow near the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to being an award winning and bestselling author, Deborah loves spending time with her family and playing with her two rescued dachshunds. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and a Bachelor’s degree from King College. She writes full-time and teaches. Please visit her website,


"Staley pens a great love story." –RT Book Reviews

"A true storyteller's voice."—New York Times bestselling author Jo Ann Ross

"Her writing style was easy to fall into and the story line was very engaging and held my interest the whole way through. Sara and Jack's chemistry was undeniable from the start, and I really enjoyed watching their story unfold.” -- Misty Pascoe,Amazon

"More than a typical second chance at love story…” -- Donna Bayar Repsher, Goodreads

"I loved this book! This is the first book I’ve read by Deborah Grace Staley. But it won’t be my last!” -- Mary Mattson, Maisie’s Book Report

"SMOLDER is a witty, sensual contemporary romance that is certain to turn up the heat.” -- Dottie Jones, Romance Junkies Reviews



JACK MCTEER watched her fingertips caress the polished wood of his pool table as she considered her next shot. Several men had approached in the past hours. All had walked away, desire firing their eyes as they watched her move. Languid, sensual, deliberate, solitary. Sara Vance had sucked Jack into her vortex when he was a teenager. The fact that she’d ripped his heart out hadn’t changed a thing.

Jack tipped the longneck to his lips, letting the cold, tangy drink slide down his throat. The late hour meant most everyone had left the bar. Without customers to distract him, his focus never shifted from Sara.

She wore white shorts that left her long, tan legs bare and a lacy red tank that flirted with her low hip-hugging waistband as her top swung loose around her hips but never quite covered her tanned stomach. Something sparkled in her navel. Her piercing. A hot memory of Jack teasing it with his tongue flared in his mind.

Sara stopped at the corner of the table and lifted her bottle of beer to her lips. Her heavy-lidded gaze drifted to Jack’s. As if she read his thoughts, a smile teased the corners of her full lips.

She set her drink down, blond hair and hips swaying as she moved in for the shot. Jack held his breath when she leaned over the table to align the pool stick with the cue ball. She pulled the stick back once, twice, then struck. The red ball sank into the corner pocket. Sara straight­ened, smiling as she re-chalked her stick.

Jesus. He could swear the temperature in the bar spiked. Sweat broke out on his body. He tipped his beer back again, but the bottle was empty.

"Last call,” he said.

The few remaining customers threw bills onto tables and stood. Their gazes focused on Sara as they downed the last of their drinks and headed for the door. Jack cleared tables, thankful for the distraction.

He heard coins drop in the jukebox. The thud of the bass line pulsed through him and then he listened while JT sang about ‘bringing sexy back’.”

So, they were doing this. It was Sara’s cue. She’d come in alone, wait until closing time, then play a sexy-themed song to let him know. If he were stronger and smarter, he’d send her away and get a long, cold shower. Past experience had proven he’d just lie awake all night and regret it. They weren’t a couple anymore, but they had this. Brief, intense encounters that tapped the valve on the heat still firing between them.

It had been ten years, give or take, since their split. They’d both moved on, dated other people, but neither had found the same intensity or connection they had together. The deadbolt clicked loudly as Jack locked up. When he walked into the back room, Sara lounged against the jukebox, and the rhythm pounded a sensual tempo through him. Raw desire darkened her green eyes as she watched him approach. Jack didn’t stop until he was close enough to feel her heat, smell her perfume.

He hooked his hand behind her neck and pulled her up for a kiss. Right now, in this space, nothing that had come before and nothing that would come in the future, existed. There was only this moment. This feeling. This space where everything made sense.

When his lips touched hers, his world righted itself. Feeling flooded the numbness in his soul. Light pierced the darkness in his mind. As his breath mingled with hers, he felt alive again.

Her fingers speared into his hair, and she cupped the back of his head, her body straining against his. He kissed her and slid his hand down her back. He palmed her ass and lifted. They spun around and he set her on the edge of the pool table. She hooked her legs behind his thighs and pressed her core to his erection. That shock of contact felt new every time. The wave of emotion and pure desire, stronger and sure. A force that only existed between them. If only that force could heal them. . . .

Sara slid her palm up his abdomen. The feel of her hands on him cen­tered his thoughts on her touch. She broke the kiss and dragged her mouth down his neck. "Why do you have to be the sexiest man I’ve ever met?”

Jack eased his hand into the leg of her shorts. "I ask myself the same question about you.” He traced the edge of a lacy panty down to her inner thigh. "Asking questions is a waste of time.”

Sara moaned as his fingers moved closer to where he knew she needed his touch most. "Acknowledge and accept it as part of our own personal truth?”

Sounded like psychobabble to him. Her slick heat coated his fin­gers, and he slipped one inside her. She clenched around him. Now he was the one moaning.

"Most days, I try not to think about it—you. But then you walk into my bar, work every man in the room into a hot mess, then start pumping quarters into my jukebox and play sex songs.”

She shifted to give him better access. "Don’t stop,” she said, her breath hot against his ear.

Jack flicked her swollen nub with his thumb and she exploded. Head thrown back, moaning his name, flushed, exquisite. His for now. She fisted the waistband of his shorts as she rode the pleasure.

Jack kissed her cheek, the line of her jaw, felt her pulse banging out a rhythm in her neck before moving on to her collarbone, then lower. He heard a button pop and a zipper lower, then his shorts were around his ankles. Her hands skimmed the waistband of his boxers and moved down his hips. Next, she was wiggling out of her shorts and panties and kicking them over their heads.

"Now,” she demanded.

"Upstairs.” He tried to lift her, but she resisted.

"Now,” she repeated, guiding him into her. At least there were no windows in the back room. She peeled off her shirt—Jesus, no bra— wrapped herself around him, and started to move using his shoul­ders for leverage.

He started to say, "Protection,” but she fused her mouth to his and devastated him.

Jack spun around, stumbling with her until he found a wall and rocked into her. He’d always lost his mind when they were together, but it had never been this intense.

He cupped the back of her head, protecting it as he moved. Her eyes were open and full of emotion she couldn’t hide when they were this close. She let him see everything—the desire, the pain, the love, the grief of all they’d shared and lost. Then her eyelids lowered, she arched, taking him deeper, and gave him everything.

When she clenched around him, he came with her. They held onto each other as wave after wave of pleasure carried them to that place where nothing but the two of them and the connection they shared existed.

Sara pressed her face to his neck and clung to him, her legs tight around his hips as the spasms eased. He smoothed a hand down her long hair while she mumbled something.

He tried to shift so he could look at her, but she held on tighter, not letting him. He could have sworn she’d said those three words that had held his heart in a vise for more than a decade. He loved her, too. Always had. Always would. But this was all they’d ever have. Moments stolen from reality. A brief space where only this existed.

Jack cradled Sara against his heart, carried her upstairs, and settled her in his bed. They fell asleep wrapped around each other, made love in the dark of the night, slower this time, tenderly savoring each other.

When Jack woke, the sun was spilling the harsh light of morning into his room. His arms, his bed, and his life were once again empty. He flung a forearm over his face, squeezing his eyes shut. Had she been a dream? He turned, buried his face in the cold pillow next to him and inhaled her scent. No. She’d been real enough.

He flung the pillow across the room and sat up, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. He wanted to blame her for the gaping wound she’d ripped open, but he’d been a willing participant, too weak to send her away.

He jerked the sheet off and stumbled out of bed, unable to get to the computer in the corner of his room fast enough. There, he poured out all the emotion and feeling he couldn’t verbalize into his only sol­ace—words on the screen. In this space, he put reality on hold and lived in a place where the emptiness didn’t exist.

Chapter 1

Three Months Later

"SARA’S GONE,” Emma Vance, Sara’s sister and Jack’s best friend since high school, was saying. He cradled the phone against his shoulder and put the last of the bottled beer in the cooler.

"Oh, uh, everything okay?” he asked, trying to play it cool. He hadn’t seen Sara since that night three months ago when she’d had one thing on her mind and had gotten it. God. I am so easy.

"Yeah. She’s just taking a few weeks off. And I’m having to do her job and mine.”

Jack zoned. He wondered where Sara had gone. Probably to some pricey resort where she would drive all the men crazy with her unique brand of sex appeal, beauty, and vulnerability. She drew people to her. She was irresistible. That had turned out to be a curse for Jack.

"Wait. What?” he said to Emma.

"Hook me up with one of your friends.”

"Hook you up?”

"Don’t sound so shocked. Girls have needs too, and I am a girl.”

"Hell no! I’m not hooking you up with a friend.”

"Why not?”

"Because when it goes south, I’ll have to kill him, and then I’ll lose a friend.”

"You know you’re going to go all big brother on me anyway. This way, at least you’ll know the guy.”

"No,” he repeated. "And what’s brought this on?”

"Oh, damn,” Emma whispered into the phone.


"Gotta go.”

Jack held the phone away from his ear and checked the display. "Call ended.”

He set his cell on the bar and mumbled, "Vance women. What kind of idiot voluntarily signs up for this kind of crazy?”

He spun around and looked at the picture of the three of them that hung behind the bar along with other pictures of locals. They’d been all smiles and so young. He and Emma, seniors. Sara, a year younger. It had been the day he’d signed with the University of Georgia to play football. They’d had a lifetime of possibilities ahead of them then. But a few months later, he and Sara took a wrong turn. She’d been lost to him ever since.

Six Weeks Later

JACK PLAYED THE guitar as Emma walked across the beach to the tall, dark man who looked at her with adoring eyes. Emma Marie Vance was marrying William Anderson Wilde IV on the beach at sunset at her family’s resort, Wilde Dunes. The wedding was the perfect hap­pily-ever-after to their brief courtship. A full-on romantic fantasy, ex­cept this was reality. Emma would marry the man she loved. A man who loved her so much he’d sold the Atlanta law firm he’d spent his entire adult life building to open a small practice over in Couper’s Pointe, Georgia.

Jack shook his head, smiling as he continued to play. Emma looked up at her fiancé, his love for her shining in his eyes.

Jack, the best man, glanced over at Emma’s sister, the maid of honor. She looked cool and beautiful, as always. Sara wore an indigo blue dress that fell loosely from her shoulders to her ankles. She held Emma’s bouquet of roses, smiling. When he caught her gaze, he saw the tears making her eyes bright and had to look away. He knew what she was thinking. This could have been us. Should have been us.

Sara had a sun-kissed glow. Her vacation must have been good for her. She’d gained a little weight. Her breasts and hips were more rounded. He felt himself stir and had to clench his jaw. That familiar pull would not take him under. Not today.

Jack stopped playing as the minister began to speak. No. He would fo­cus on Emma. This was her day. He’d be happy for her if it killed him.

After the vows were said, a few pictures taken, and hugs shared, the happy couple boarded a boat and sailed off into the sunset.

Jesus, could this wedding be any more cliché?

"So romantic,” Sara mumbled.

Jack gave her a sideways look. "Whatever.”

"Jack McTeer. How can you be cynical when your best friend, my sis­ter, is so blissfully happy?” She looked back toward the boat as it bobbed on the gentle waves of the Atlantic. "It gives me hope,” she whispered.

"I lost that hope about ten years ago.”

Sara shot him a look, and he saw the pain his words had inflicted be­fore she could turn and walk away.

"Damn it,” Jack mumbled. He followed Sara to the edge of the beach, grabbing her arm to stop her progress. "I’m sor—” The tears she swiped at with the back of her hand brought him up short. "Jesus, Sara. I’m sorry.”

She sniffed, pulling away from his touch. "No, you’re not. I get it, Jack. I hurt you, and you’re never going to forgive me.” She stepped into him, all fire and anger. "You know what? That’s fine, because I’ll never forgive myself. I killed us.” She pressed a fist against her chest, then hit herself. "Idid that.”

"Don’t.” He tried to grasp her wrist, but she stepped back, out of his reach.

"If either of us could move on, it might be easier. Emma did it. She got her heart broken and found love again. Why can’t we do that?”

Because we still love each other.

The unspoken truth hung between them like a cancer that had embed­ded itself years ago.

The ocean breeze plastered Sara’s dress against her body and the pro­nounced curve of her stomach. She turned, walking quickly toward Wilde Dunes. Jack stood motionless, trying to process the facts. Sara had disappeared three months after they’d had sex. Unprotected sex. Six weeks later, she returned having gained weight? Or could she be preg­nant? Hope leapt in his heart like a flame.

Jack jogged after her. He halted her progress on the resort’s out­door terrace. Sara sidestepped him, but he caught her arm, spinning her around. He put his hand on her stomach. Sara bowed her back, curving inward against his touch.

"You’re pregnant,” he breathed.

"Don’t touch me.”

A waiter gave Jack a look and took a step forward. Jack held up his hands, and the guy stopped.

"You’re making a scene,” Sara hissed, "and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

"Then let’s take this to your office where we can talk without me making a scene, because I’m not leaving until you explain.”

Sara turned and started walking. Jack followed. "I don’t owe you any explanations,” she said.

"The hell you don’t.”

She kept walking until she was in her office. Jack shut the door be­hind them, unable to take his gaze off Sara’s abdomen.

"Don’t make me call security,” she said.

"How long have you known?” Jack asked, ignoring her warning.

"It’s none of your business.”

"This is why you left.”

"You need to forget this, Jack. I’m leaving tomorrow.”

"It’s mine,” he breathed.

"It doesn’t matter,” Sara returned emphatically.

Jack took a step back as if she’d slapped him. "How can you say that?” he said around the emotion clogging his throat.

"I’m leaving,” she repeated. "I wouldn’t be here if not for the wed­ding.”

"Don’t go,” he said softly.

Sara crossed her arms, turning to look out the window.

"Are you keeping it?”

Only a sharp intake of breath gave away her reaction to his ques­tion. After a moment, she responded. "That’s my decision.”

"My God . . . it’s my baby, too, Sara.”

"You don’t—know that . . . ,” she began, but choked on the words.

Jack got in her space and took her face in his hands. "It’s a second chance, Sara. A chance for us to do things right this time. The way we should have . . .”

Jack saw a tear fall down her face before she jerked away from his touch and put some distance between them. "The way it should have been if I had wanted our first baby? Is that what you were thinking?” Sara raked a hand through her hair. "This isn’t a do-over, Jack. You’ve spent all these years making sure that I’ve paid for what happened. I was seventeen, Jack. We were too young.” Her tears flowed unchecked now. "I begged you to understand—to forgive me for not telling you about the pregnancy. But you wouldn’t—couldn’t.”

"How could I?”

"Because—” The words broke in the back of her throat. She sucked in a breath and sat on the couch, all the fight leaving her. "I didn’t know what to do. You had a scholarship to play football. You were leaving. I had my senior year coming up . . .”

Jack knelt in front of her. "I would have stayed.”

"And blamed me for losing your opportunity to play college ball.”

"I wouldn’t—”

"Of course, you would! You’ve blamed me all these years for every­thing that went wrong between us. You’ve withheld your forgiveness from me. And that, along with having to live with the choices I made, has killed me inside.” She touched her stomach and Jack’s gaze went there, staring at her in wonder. A baby. His baby. Their baby.

"Now, there’s another life inside me, and I’m praying that at last I’ll be able to live again. Free of the guilt. And free of your condemnation,” she said firmly as she raked her hair back from her face. "You’ve refused to forgive me. I accept that. You’ve given me no other choice.”

Jack grasped Sara’s hand, not letting her pull away. "Sara . . . ,” he be­gan, years of regret lacing his words.

Sara stood and went to the door, breaking all contact with him. "I’m leaving tomorrow.” When she looked at him, there was no feeling, no life in her eyes. "Goodbye, Jack.”

Jack stood. When he came close to her, she refused to look at him. What could he say? She was right. He had made her pay. And now, it was his turn.


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