COMING HOME: A Mirabelle Harbor Duet is Book 6 in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series, and it features two novellas—ROCKET MAN and SOMEONE LIKE YOU—but these books and all of the contemporary romances in this completed series can be enjoyed as standalone stories.
There’s double the trouble in this romantic story pairing when ex-lovers, Abby Solinski and Chandler Michaelsen, both return to their hometown of Mirabelle Harbor, only to find that the happily ever after they thought they’d given up may, in fact, still be a possibility…just not with the person they’d expected!
Abby had a crush on “Rocket Rick” Zimmerman way back in high school, but he was her brother’s best friend and graduated a couple of years ahead of her, leaving town for an international life of top-secret, science-nerd intrigue. She didn’t understand a fraction of what he did professionally, and he wasn’t allowed to tell her anyway. Abby, meanwhile, meandered around the country with her then-boyfriend, Chandler, eventually winding up alone and working at a couple of part-time jobs in Florida. She’d resigned herself to being single forever and living on the sunny Gulf Coast, a thousand miles away from her Midwestern origins.
But when her parents need her help back in Mirabelle Harbor, she flies home for a week and runs into Rick again, who’s back in the Chicago area for a big physics convention. Immediately, she’s caught up in a surprising game of “Booster Ignition and Liftoff,” where the object seems to be an answer to this scientific question: Just how fast can things heat up between them without somebody getting burned?
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
As for Chandler, he had no intention whatsoever of coming back to Mirabelle Harbor. When he and Abby broke up, he headed north on his motorcycle from Sarasota to Atlanta, and a life on the road was how he wanted to roll. But then his twin brother, Chance, goes and gets himself engaged, and the groom insists that Chandler needs to be the best man. Fine. He’ll drive back for a few days, for the sake of his twin, but no one had better expect him to stay in town. Of course, that’s before he knows his dream woman—beautiful bookstore owner, Jaleina Longoria—is going to be at the wedding.
Jaleina is not only eight and a half years his senior, she’s also the ex-fiancée of his eldest brother, who’d broken up with her to marry someone else years earlier. That never stopped Chandler from considering Jaleina to be his Ultimate Fantasy. Getting her to stop thinking of him as the restless teen boy he’d once been, however, is going to prove quite a challenge. Especially since the restlessness is still there, even though he’s now a very passionate—and very determined—full-grown man.
Sometimes what you think you’re returning to isn’t what you’d really left behind. COMING HOME, a pair of Mirabelle Harbor stories.
**NOTE: All of the romances in the Mirabelle Harbor series take place over roughly a two-year time frame, and every book listed below can be read as a standalone story. Details on each book and links to excerpts & extras can be found on Marilyn’s website HERE.
Take a Chance on Me (Chance & Nia) – April/May
The One That I Want (Julia & Dane) – June/July/August
Stranger on the Shore (Marianna & Gil) – June/July/August
You Give Love a Bad Name (Blake & Vicky) – September/October
Going for It – Kindle World Bonus Story (Trevor & Tina Marie) – June
One Night Love Affair (Sharlene & Declan) – July
Rocket Man – Coming Home (Abby & Rick) – October
Someone Like You – Coming Home (Chandler & Jaleina) – December
**This is from Chandler & Jaleina’s story, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, a sexy contemporary romance and a modern nod to Austen’s PERSUASION. This scene is from Chandler’s point of view and takes place at Jaleina’s house after the rehearsal dinner for Chandler’s twin brother (Chance) and Jaleina’s friend (Nia), the romantic couple featured in the first Mirabelle Harbor book, TAKE A CHANCE ON ME. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek!!**
I slipped out of the reception hall and into the big lot, where I’d parked my Harley, grabbing my leather jacket from the coat room on the way and praying none of my siblings would question my departure.
Thankfully, I escaped unseen, and I was on Jaleina’s doorstep within ten minutes.
“Chandler,” she said when she swung open the front door, looking momentarily reluctant to let me in. Reminded me uncomfortably of Abby’s reaction when she first saw me at her new place earlier this week. Maybe I should get the message and just leave everybody the hell alone.
But then Jaleina said, “You must be freezing,” and she motioned me inside.
“I just really wanted to see you tonight,” I told her, my heart beating like I’d been sprinting to her townhouse, rather than riding my motorcycle the whole way. “I was hoping we could talk.”
“Talk, huh?” She raised a single eyebrow. “Looks like you could use a little coffee or tea to warm up. How about I make us a cup of something hot?”
She was all the “something hot” I needed. Her lips on my mouth would warm me up plenty fast, but I wasn’t about to tell her that and, maybe, get myself shoved back out into the cold.
So, I just smiled at her and said, “Either would be great, thank you. And, oh!” I pulled the wrapped baklava out of my pocket and a handful of chocolate candies. “I brought us a couple of Greek pastries and some Hershey’s Kisses. Thought you might like a sweet treat.”
I caught her swiping her tongue across her bottom lip at the sight of the honeyed dessert and the chocolates, then glancing between these offerings and my face. I was sure there was no way I was disguising my desire for her. She had to be able to read it in my eyes. Fuck. A fifth grader would be able to tell how much I wanted her. But, again, I didn’t say any of what I was thinking.
Not: Every chocolaty kiss I ate tonight made me think of you.
Not: I wanna rub honey on your body and lick it off.
Not even: Have you been wondering what it’d feel like if I took you up against the wall? ‘Cuz I have. Repeatedly…
And Jaleina—instead of speaking one of my fantasy lines and saying, Who needs sweets when I’ve got you here?—only said, “Thanks. That was thoughtful.”
I forced myself to exhale slowly. There was no damn way my lungs were getting enough air in this room. It was too small, especially with her so close to me at last, and my inhalations were shallow to the point of near panting. I had to try to breathe more deeply.
She walked toward her kitchen, and I trailed after her like a kid, unable to stop staring at the gracefulness of her movements. I watched as she made us some kind of minty herbal tea.
“No caffeine for me this late at night,” she explained, handing me a steaming mug.
I wasn’t much of a tea guy in general, but I didn’t care what we drank tonight. Hell, I’d happily sip carburetor fluid, if that was what she wanted to serve. And when she suggested that we take the tea and baklava into her living room, I followed her there, too.
It was a woman’s place. Bookshelves dominated the walls, and they were filled top to bottom with enough novels to rival the number of books in the aisles of her store. In between the literature, there were delicate and girly things, placed just so. Ceramic and porcelain items I didn’t dare touch for fear of breaking them. Petite dolls. Fine china teapots. Glass figurines.
A man had obviously never lived here—at least not recently. And I was overwhelmingly grateful for that.
“So, how was the rehearsal?” she asked, motioning for me to sit down on her sofa. I knew she was being polite and probably didn’t give a shit about those details—or maybe that was just me—but I tried to answer her truthfully. And briefly.
“There was a lot of excited squealing,” I said. “From the women mostly. Hugging family members they hadn’t seen in weeks or months. Cooing over how cute the youngsters were in their flower girl or ring bearer duties. And jumping around, plotting last-minute changes to the decorations or whatever. Basically, several hours of exhausting minutiae followed by food and more squealing.”
She smiled at that description, which lit up her whole face like a bulb, and the heat of that smile went right to my balls. God, how long did I have to wait to touch her again? To kiss her?
I took a gulp of my tea and burned the back of my throat. Damn.
“Well, tomorrow should go smoothly then,” she said. “It sounds like everyone knows what they’re supposed to do.”
I nodded. “Chance and Nia are gonna be happy together. For me, that’s all I really needed to know.”
“Me, too,” she murmured.
And then…there was silence.
I scrambled to think of something else to say that wasn’t either overtly sexually suggestive or completely out in left field. For half a minute, I drew a blank.
Then, finally, I remembered my original excuse for coming over.
I set my mug down on the end table on top of a Dr. Seuss coaster. The Cat in the Hat himself grinned up at me, as if guessing how absurd I was going to sound when I spoke. But I did it anyway. “So, you mentioned you had a computer issue. Would you like me to take a look?”
She narrowed her eyes at me, ever so slightly, but she stood up and said, “Sure, thanks. It’s just down the hall.”
In her bedroom? I could only hope.
The computer—a decent, standard home brand, geared toward customers who didn’t need extra memory for gaming or extensive features for manipulating images—was in a second bedroom that she’d transformed into an office.
She turned on the system for me and explained the issue she’d been having. “Ever since I got the new printer, there’s been this glitch,” she told me, waving her hand in the direction of the system tray on her desktop and chattering about the “weird spinning” that the icon in the taskbar had been doing.
I fought back a laugh. She was so damn adorable.
The fix was beyond easy. The printer driver just needed to be updated, since there’d been a recent upgrade for the model she was using, and the computer had been trying to notify her of that. It took me all of three minutes to download the new software, install it, and reboot.
Jaleina blinked when I told her it was done. “What? That was it? It won’t do that thing anymore?”
“Nope. It won’t do that thing.”
“Oh, Chandler, thank you.” She looked so surprised, I almost felt guilty for fixing it so quickly. But truthfulness and pride wouldn’t allow me to pretend it was harder than it was.
“It was no problem, Jaleina. Really. Glad I could help.”
She was staring at me strangely, as I typed in a few things to check the security of her firewalls, and adjusted them accordingly. Didn’t want her getting a nasty virus. When I paused for a moment to explain what I was doing, something in her expression shifted.
“What?” I asked.
She shook her head.
“Yeah, it’s just…um, your hands.” She gave me another curious look, along with an embarrassed chuckle. “This is going to sound really dorky, I know, but watching you type so fast—you have really strong, lovely hands.” She shrugged. “I’m sure people tell you that all the time.”
No, they didn’t.
My throat was suddenly so dry, I wished I could drink some more scalding tea. “No,” I managed to say. “Not really.”
“Well, they should.” She turned swiftly away from me and started fussing with a stack of papers on a table nearby.
I could barely stop myself from reaching out to her with the hands she’d just admired. I wanted to trail my fingertips across her skin. Push into her softness. Feel her wetness and warmth. Caress her with my palms.
But I held back. I needed to do this just right.
There were plenty of girly things in her office. But, unlike the living room, there weren’t floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. In fact, one wall to our left was almost completely empty, except for a small wooden plaque hanging about seven feet up. It showed a pair of entwined doves with the word “Peace” carved beneath the image.
I pushed myself to standing and removed the carving from its hook on the wall. “This is pretty,” I told Jaleina, setting it by the keyboard. “But it needs to be taken down for tonight.”
“Because I don’t want it falling on your head.” And I held out my hand for her, waiting.
After what felt like an infinity of microseconds, she touched her fingertips to my palm and let me close my hand around hers. Then I drew her toward me, turned her so her back was to that empty wall, and positioned her against it very gently.
Her eyes widened, but she didn’t object.
I did a quick sweep of the windows in the room, making sure all the blinds were closed, and then stepped up to her, bringing my thumb to the side of her cheek. I traced an imaginary line from her earlobe along her jaw to her chin. Paused. Continued down to the tantalizing hollow of her throat. Then further down to the space between her breasts.
I paused again and met her gaze.
She didn’t look afraid or try to pull away, so I let my strong fingers do the next thing they craved—pop the buttons on her burgundy blouse.
“Mi corazón late rápidamente por estar a tu lado,” I whispered, telling her of my beating heart, as her shirt fell open. There was only her exquisite, smooth, olive skin showing underneath. And her cream-colored bra. I’d get rid of that next.
But first…first, I’d do what I could no longer wait to do. I bent to kiss the tops of her breasts, and the heat from her skin when my lips touched her flesh was nothing short of scorching.
Jaleina gasped as we burned each other—mouth to chest, chest to mouth.
The flimsy blouse, the cream bra, the dress slacks…they all had to go. I used both hands to remove, unhook, unzip, and discard, until she was wearing only her pink panties, leaning against the wall, breathing heavily, and letting me kiss freely every inch of her exposed skin.
Buy Links and Additional Excerpts:
If you’re interested in reading more from COMING HOME: A Mirabelle Harbor Duet, I’ve got 2 additional excerpts (one from each of the novellas) on my website HERE. The ebooks are available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo—they’ll be released September 10th—and the paperbacks are out now: Here!
Two winners (open internationally) will have their choice of an ebook copy of one of the earlier books in Marilyn’s Mirabelle Harbor series! The winners may select an epub, mobi, or pdf edition of Take a Chance on Me, The One That I Want, You Give Love a Bad Name, Stranger on the Shore, or One Night Love Affair.
Please comment on this post and we will pick a winner August 27, 2017! Good Luck!
Thank you so much to Margie for inviting me here and to all of you for taking time to visit!! xo
Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and mystery. In 2013, she was named Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves Sherlock Holmes, travel, music, chocolate, and all things Jane Austen. Her Austen-inspired debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE, won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award, and Buzzle.com named it one of the 100 Best Romance Novels of All Time. She’s also written several light comedies, like PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH and its sequel, PERFECT BET. Her latest releases are the sexy contemporary romances in her “Mirabelle Harbor” series, set on the shores of Lake Michigan near her home in the Chicago suburbs. She also has a short story included in RWA’s newest anthology, SECOND CHANCES, just out this month! For updates, please visit her website: www.marilynbrant.com