Lakeshore Candy (The McAdams Sisters, Book #4)

Abby McAdams can’t sleep. She keeps having nightmares about her grandmother. Cuddling up beside her friend, Riley, helps to ease some of the fears. Well, cuddling and the candy she keeps hidden around his apartment. She can’t help but feel an attraction to Riley too, but they are just friends…right?

Riley has his own past that haunts him, but she thinks he might want to get to know Abby on a deeper level too. As they fight their own desires to be together, the past comes back to slap them in the face.

When they finally give in to their lustful cravings, will their love be enough to erase their pasts or will it be just another broken heart for both of them?

“Lakeshore Candy” is the fourth in the “By The Lake” series, about the McAdams sisters, from author Shannyn Leah.


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Chapter One

FEAR BUBBLED THROUGH Abby McAdams chest so forcefully; she sat straight up out of bed, gasping to catch a breath. It felt like her heart was about to burst.

I don’t want to be alone! Come back!  

The t-shirt and jersey cut-off shorts she wore stuck to her trembling body, soaked in sweat. Panic thundered in her head so loudly it was as if there was someone knocking to get out. Fear gripped her every emotion like her own clenched fist prepared to defend. 

Calm down.

Then she heard a groan slice through her panic; a deep, painful groan.

Her eyes flew open, blinking into the darkness, finding the shadow of Riley Boyd moving away from her and covering his nose. At the same time pain seared through her elbow.

Oh no. She’d whacked his face. 

“Riley!” Abby ignored the urge to rub her elbow, instead scrambled off the couch and throwing the blankets to the floor. Feeling gross in her clothes, she yanked the material away from her skin and cringed as it stuck back.  

Riley was on his knees backing away from her. She took the three steps to his side and dropped to her knees, reaching for his arms. Arms she knew by memory were inked in tattoos, but she was unable to decipher any of them now as her eyes adjusted to the dark.

Using her hands, she worked her way to his front, her fingers having the advantage of feeling every angle and dip of his muscular upper torso. He was shirtless and his warm, smooth flesh teased each fingertip like a game of Operation. Every slope gave her a shock of electricity. She liked this electricity. Seeing his rock hard bare torso on such occasions as fixing his motorcycle in the back alleyway and feeling it now were two entirely different things. It felt amazing.

What? Her fingers paused for a second. Where did that come from? Blame it on the daze of being jolted awake from another nightmare and scrambling off the couch in a hurry to check the injury to his beautiful face.

Where had she hit him? His nose? Was it broken? How hard had she hit him? Does he always sleep with his shirt off? Was he completely naked right now? Do not move your hands downwards Abigail McAdams.

Had these unwanted thoughts about him played in her mind before they’d become friends, she would have blamed it on the sheer want to sack him. That wasn’t who Riley was to her now thought. He wasn’t just another bed lay. No, he was her friend. 

“Are you alright?” she asked, pulling her focus back to the present, back to her friend.

“Yes,” he snapped at her, making her forget the horror that had torn her from her sleep, but not coming anywhere close to assisting her at forgetting the hotness beneath her hands.

Riley was always cranky. Quiet and bad-tempered were Riley’s two personalities. Everyone got quiet, but only those who stuck around got the irritable side. Like her foolish self. 

“Let me see.” Her hands moved up his arms and tried to ignore the tingling zapping her skin like the metal edges of the Operation game. His hands still covered his face. He was so warm...bed warm. Envisioning his long naked body throwing back the sheets sent a tingle through her, a delightfully, exciting tingle.

Riley pulled away. “How are you going to see anything in the dark?” Cranky, cranky, cranky. Although he made a good point.

Abby scrambled back beside the couch, reaching for the lamp sitting on the side table. Once light invaded them, she moved back in front of Riley. Now she could see him clearly. He was too distracted to catch her gazing at his inked tribal sleeve that traveled up his firm arms, around his thick shoulders and down his brawny back.  

Abby, you smacked his face. Oh yeah.

She drew her wandering gaze up to his eyes. His dark, mysterious, and dangerous eyes. She loved the menace behind those eyes and loved the possibilities of why it was there in the first place even more.

“Problem solved,” she said, attempting to retain focus. “Now let me see.” 

He was reluctant to move his hands, like he feared she might haul off and clock him again or he was just stubborn. More than likely the latter of the two. When his hands finally dropped from his face, blood stained his skin. 

Abby sucked in her lips, horrified she’d fallen into such a deep sleep she’d...well...elbowed him in the nose. Hard. Blood hard.

Abby covered her mouth. “I’m so sorry,” she said, between the gaps of her fingers. 

Riley looked down at his hands with his half-rigid sleepy face, that wasn’t nearly as rigidly set as during the day, and saw the blood. He cursed and stood, wearing only black boxers hugging his trim waist, settling her earlier debate.  

His footsteps thumped across the old wood floor as he walked to the kitchen of the small one-bedroom apartment.

Mrs. Calvert had four apartments vacant above her bakery, but Riley was her only tenant. She’d owned the bakery as long as Abby could remember. Mrs. Calvert refused to deal with the crowds that landed in the small apartments above businesses or to tidy up after tourists during the summer months. The bakery was her dream and the hassle of messy, careless tenants didn’t appeal to her. Riley was neither messy nor careless and had Mrs. Calvert wrapped around his cranky pinky finger. 

The current situation wasn’t really wasn’t. Abby had made the poor guy bleed. But she couldn’t help the smirk that took over her lips as she followed behind him, getting ice out of the freezer and wrapping it inside a towel for a homemade ice pack.

Abby was familiar with the layout of his apartment since she spent half the week sleeping on his couch like a college kid. She felt like the drop-out kid who just couldn’t figure out where life was taking her. 

Abby leaned her back against the counter beside him, enjoying the view, as he splashed water on his face and scrubbed away the color staining his skin.

Who wouldn’t enjoy the view? Tall, lean, practically naked and now adding water against that tanned skin...yummy.

When he turned to face her the only sign of any injury was the redness around his nose. It didn’t look broken, that was a relief. 

“That’s the last time I try to wake you up,” he growled the lie through his perfect white teeth and tight lips. Her exhausted mind wondered what her lips would feel like caught between those teeth and how delicious his tongue would taste plunged through the parted opening of her lips.

Exhausted was right!

Did her lips really just part open?

If Riley wasin pain he didn’t show it, instead annoyance danced a regular routine across his concrete face.

Abby held the towel of ice toward him and he took it, sending her a humourless look that was intended to ward her off.

She ignored him.

“Why were you waking me up anyway?” She leaned her palms on the counter, tightly gripping the edge so her hands would reach out for him.

Reach out for him?

His nose looked tender as he pressed the towel against it and she flinched.

He did not.

“Because you were howling like a wild dog in your sleep.” 

Howling like a wild dog?

Why did everything he say make her smile, even when it came out sounding like Oscar the Grouch? At the moment, she presumed it had to do with his grumpy tone pushing through the towel while comparing her to a wild dog. A wild dog. Why did that suit her so well?

It was the same dream again disrupting her sleep. The same one over and over and over, like a scratched disc that she wanted to throw across the room every time it stopped before the good part. No matter how much Abby tried she could not shake this dream...more like a nightmare. The nights Abby succumbed to sleep so deeply she found herself in the same dust-filled attic facing Gran, her grandmother. Gran’s floral kitchen apron was tied around her waist and the kind smile that lit her eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses transported Abby back nine months ago, before Gran died. The feeling of her presence in her dreams was so strong it was as though Gran was baking up a storm in the kitchen below. Right as Abby was starting to believe it was all good, once more, Gran would vanish, leaving her alone...again.  

“I’m sorry I woke you. I can go home where my howling won’t bother anyone.”

She was only half serious. Abby did not want to go home, but found she was now wide awake.

For a quick moment she wondered what the hour was, but then she would be three. Gran had been an early morning riser, awake at three o’clock, before the sun even peeked up from the east. It was the same time Abby woke up each morning, like clockwork, since the day Gran died.  

That morning, nine months ago, when fall was spreading its array of red and orange foliage throughout the town of Willow Valley, Abby had dragged her heavy feet and worried nerves out of bed earlier than usual. The strong smell of roasting coffee and frying bacon or the background noise of clanging mixing bowls and baking sheets had been yet to slowly welcome another day. Abby had found the kitchen empty, everything cold and no sign of Gran or her morning routine. She could still sum up the fear of that morning in her heart as her reluctant bare feet made their way down the short hallway of the two-bedroom bungalow, her worry assuming the worst, which was what she found: Gran wrapped in her handmade quilt like a cocoon, unmoving, unresponsive, and already gone.  

It was unfathomable that Gran had left this world when she was still so full of life. She was always early to bed, early to rise and never taking for granted any moment in between.

Still, some mornings, over two-thousand and seventy-days later (yes Abby had every day that went by timed in her cell phone) Abby awoke and for a split second each day her mind was set back before Gran’s death. She found herself believing she would walk into the kitchen and find Gran. Abby could swear some mornings she could even inhale the smell of freshly baked pie before her eyes opened. Of course, it never happened and those were the hardest days, the ones where she woke up in her own bed, with the comfort of a life now gone, teasing her morning grog until the reality sprinkled down, souring it. Trudging through those hard days, forcing smiles so everyone thought she was fine and dandy, exhausted her. When night fell, leaving her alone, the sad thoughts caught up to her and she usually ended up knocking at Riley’s door. Like tonight. And now she’d woken him up and hit him in the nose.

Riley took the towel off his face and tossed it in the sink, the ice crashing loudly against the stainless steel, making her jump. 

“What’s the point in that? We’re both awake now,” he growled. Growled like a wild dog. She grinned at the thought. 

Abby remembered the first time she met Riley a couple years back. Mrs. Calvert had given no warning of the newest resident moving to Willow Valley. One day, when Abby and Gran were delivering Mrs. Calvert’s pie order, this random guy was pouring coffee behind the counter. He was tall, mysterious, hiding behind a beard and over grown hair, fresh meat in Willow Valley and not just some tourist simply passing through.

Abby’s curiosity had exploded with questions, startling the bejeezus out of him. He hadn’t said one word, simply staring at her like she was a mad person.

They’d been easy questions: Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here? Do you have a girlfriend? The last question was because he looked like the kind of trouble she wanted to toss her around in the sheets...or have him toss her around.

Mrs. Calvert, being the angel of privacy, had swooped in after Abby ignored Gran’s elbow in her side followed by a glare and Mrs. Calvert sidestepped all the questions Abby laid out for him. Mrs. Calvert had a way of doing that. She wasn’t a nosy person like the majority of locals in town and didn’t butt into other people’s business like the old cartel of ladies who occupied three tables at the bakery every morning from ten to eleven, tapping the sap of people’s lives from passing customers. Mrs. Calvert’s business was her own and Abby still didn’t have any of the answers about Riley and his past.

Except in regards to a girlfriend. Riley did not have a girlfriend. Was not looking for one and he did not want to toss around in the sheets...well not with Abby anyway.

After he cleared that up in regular Riley snappy, aggressive tone that only made Abby wrinkle her nose at him, Riley had turned out to be the friend she needed most after Gran passed. It had been a surprise and a blessing, almost like Gran pushed them together. Kind of like fate. Fate. Abby didn’t really believe in fate. She believed she planted her own path in life. However, when Abby’s life went through the cultivator it was as though the teeth of that tool had pierced her emotions and her head had spiraled, unsure how to deal with the loss. Riley had stepped in when she saw nothing but a future of being dragged through the dirt and he held her hand silently, comforting and helping her in a way no one else had been able to. He was still just as cranky as that first day they met, only she soon discovered his crankiness wasn’t as serious as he let on. 

“What are we going to do then?” she asked, in her chirpy cheerful voice...even at the early hour.

What Abby should do was head over to The Old Town Soap Co. and finish the line of soaps she was working on. She was lacking inspiration and it seemed to have vanished along with Gran.

Normally Abby would eat. Sneaking down into Mrs. Calvert’s bakery with Riley’s key had become a daily early morning routine for her. She always left the exact change for all the sweets and tea she enjoyed in the peaceful darkness and would retreat back to the solitude of Riley’s apartment before Mrs. Calvert walked through the door at five. But Riley never went down with her and although he put her goodies through the cash in the morning he didn’t really like her sneaking inside while the bakery was closed. So she didn’t suggest that, but the idea made her tummy rumble for food. 

“The question is what are you going to sucker me into doing?” See, there was his crankiness underlying with the sweetness he thought he was a pro at hiding.

Riley was convinced he was a big selfish jerk, but she knew better. No selfish jerk could ever handle her.