Lakeshore Love (The McAdams Sisters, Book Three)

Jake Stow is a runner, but Sydney loves him anyway. He ran out of Sydney’s life years ago, but is back now and she cannot contain the feelings she has for him. When Jake finally confides he has similar feelings for her, Sydney gives in to the spark. Although she fears he’ll run again, she is powerless to the passion between them.

Will the secrets he refuses to divulge continue to keep them apart or will their love overcome the mysteries he keeps hidden? It’s a chance Sydney is willing to take, but will Jake commit finally to her or will he run like he has before? 

“Lakeshore Love” continues the “By The Lake” series about the McAdams sisters from author Shannyn Leah. 


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Chapter One

WATERPROOF MASCARA...CHECK. Tissue...check. Sunglasses...check. Camera...

Sydney McAdams paused from adding the contents from her mental list into her black satin clutch. She didn't have a camera. In fact she hadn't had a camera in years. Where was she going to get a camera last minute when they were practically walking out the door?

“Mom, are you ready?”

At the sound of her daughter’s soft voice, Sydney turned from her current dilemma and found Haylee standing under the kitchen archway looking all grown-up and absolutely gorgeous in her knee-length, rhinestone-embellished, teal green formal dress.

Get the tissue. Get the tissue!

She could feel the tears working their way to her eyes as her heart swelled with pride. Her daughter was graduating middle school with honors. If that wasn’t enough to be proud of Haylee was also giving a speech, which she’d been working on for weeks, at the ceremony. Haylee was book smart brilliance. What mother wouldn’t be overwhelmingly proud, bringing on tears? Sydney’s sensitive, emotional self was getting the best of her. She was prepared for the knowing looks from her family for her continual stream of tears during today’s events too. The same kind of look Haylee was sending her right now.

“Seriously, Mom if you start crying now, what are you going to be like at the ceremony?”

A waterfall guaranteed. A thunderstorm like no other. The crashing waves hitting the shoreline during a severe rainstorm.   

Sydney pulled a tissue back out of her purse and dabbed the edges of her eyes. Waterproof mascara...what a wonderful invention. 

When she felt her voice could produce words without choking on her emotions, she told her daughter how beautiful she looked. In Sydney’s eyes her daughter was beautiful, inside and out with a pure heart of innocence, sweetness and true kindness. Today that aura especially radiated around her, an exciting anticipation in her smile.

Haylee did a little spin and her long blonde curls, identical to Sydney’s, soared around her shoulders as the dress soared around her legs.

“Thanks, Mom.” Haylee looked Sydney over approvingly and flashed her pearly whites. “You look beautiful too, Mom. So...” She paused, tweaking her nose, seemingly looking for the right word. “...sophisticated.” She smiled, pleased with the definition that clearly wasn’t part of Sydney’s down-to-earth wardrobe of lace, pearls, and soft pastels. Today Sydney wore a gorgeous open-lace, grey, knee-length dress that had stylish class instead of the bohemian dresses lining her closet. She barely registered her daughter’s compliment as the tears threatened to return.

“I can't even take a picture of you because I don't have a camera.” Her dilemma.

Haylee shook her head, but a smirk tugged her lips as she crossed the room and grabbed Sydney’s cell phone off the antique pine harvest table. She waved it in front of her mother. “Your cell phone has a camera.”

Sydney frowned. Of course it did. She was losing her mind under the stress of her daughter growing up way too fast. While Sydney was the proudest a mother could ever be with the accomplishments of her daughter, she was scared at the same time of all the hills of life her daughter was about to journey up and down−good times and bad, easy and hard.

“You take pictures on your cell all the time,” Haylee reminded her in a teasing tone making a clicking action with her hands and adding a know-it-all wink.

Sydney snatched her cell. “Don't be smart with me,” she said, capturing the sides of her daughter’s face in her hands, mostly just to have a moment to reflect at her beauty. Haylee was the spitting image of a younger Sydney with her porcelain skin and long blonde hair. Haylee’s fell naturally straight while Sydney’s naturally curled and waved like beach-hair after a day tanning under the sun, but they both possessed a quiet, polite demeanor.

“My baby is graduating.” Sydney kissed her cheek. “I have a mother’s right to be a bit frazzled.” She kissed her other cheek.

Sydney could still remember Haylee’s first day of kindergarten. Her daughter’s tiny hands wouldn’t part with hers as she hid behind Sydney’s legs, shy and unsure, peeking around at the new scary surrounding. Now in the fall, Haylee would be walking through the high school doors with goals of becoming her own person, finding her own dreams and preparing for her own life. That was all terrifying enough on its own, but add boys to the equation, plus everything else that put a parent on the edge of sanity during those years, and Sydney’s sanity was unfolding before her eyes.

Sydney was grateful her daughter was focused on her grades and determined to graduate with a veterinarian degree. She hoped Haylee would by-passed most of the high school drama...not getting pregnant at sixteen, like herself, would be a huge step in the right direction.  

Haylee cringed with each kiss, trying to pull away. “Mom, my hair! My make-up!”

Reluctantly, Sydney dropped her hands and Haylee flew to the mirror behind her, examining her appearance to make sure no strands of hair were astray or makeup smudged.

Haylee had been pampered all morning by one of Sydney’s older twin sisters, Peyton, a retired hair and make-up stylist. Peyton had transformed Haylee into a runway model, styling a half up/half down hairstyle, applying the perfect amount of make-up for her age, painting a French manicure on her fingers and a silver glitter pedicure on her toes. All the while Peyton was five months pregnant...with twins!

When Haylee was satisfied with her appearance, she posed as Sydney took a few pictures...with her cell phone.

“Grandma should be here any minute. Let's wait outside.” Sydney looked down at the cell phone burning with dropped it in her purse.

As they stepped into the breezy summer sunshine, they found a limousine parked along the street in front of the house waiting for them. A tall, gorgeous man dressed in a designer charcoal-colored suit was leaning against the black limousine. His thick muscular arms were folded across his wide torso and his legs were crossed at the ankles showing off a pair of leather loafers. Leather loafers! When did he get those? And that suit was rare on him, but stunning.

He was a vision of a woman’s deepest fantasy...definitely one of Sydney’s fantasies...even more so the last few months.

A whirling heat of excitement spun a web throughout her body and her breath caught in her throat. She didn’t even notice her tongue was running across her lips with a longing desire to make contact with his lips. This was the reaction her body was generating lately, whenever he was around...or simply visions of him popped into her head.

How was it even possible that Jake Stow could look even more handsome now then on any regular day She supposed taking away the denim and t-shirts that he was accustomed to wearing and replacing them with the suit tailored to fit his gym-ripped body to perfection was a start. Not to mention his regularly tousled hair was trimmed and he’d shaved away his daily five o’clock shadow...but she loved his daily five o’clock shadow. That smooth chin was certainly making her heart flutter though too.  

He was gorgeous. It was wonderful torture.

“Don't be weird with Uncle Jake,” Haylee said, slashing into the very sensual thoughts that were becoming a standard fixture in Sydney’s mind.

Weird? Why would she be weird? Oh, you know why. Did staring at him like he was a bike she wanted to get on and ride count as weird? Yup, that was weird...but wonderful.

“I don't act weird with your uncle.” Sydney casually waved at Jake to prove her point, wondering how and when Haylee had noticed they were acting strange with each other. Probably the day after you woke up naked next to him.

When he waved back, it was accompanied with his melt-your-toes grin, that had never made her toes liquefy into her black heels like they were in that instant. She was sure that accounted for some of the weirdness her daughter was referring to.

Oh, great.

Did Jake see that she was acting weird around him?At least if he did he would know why. If he only knew the underlying thoughts that followed the weirdness...wishing for the memory past the kisses, wishing her fingers could run along his magnificent torso, and worst of all, regretting running off so quickly the morning after!

Yes, she regretted running away, but how could she tell him that revelation now after she’d made it clear a relationship between them was not on the table. Although if he laid her on the table, that would definitely persuade her to rethink that decision.

Sydney had to get out of this zone and back to reality where she had to work harder at not being weird.

Haylee sent her an adolescent look that meant “Whatever” before saying, “You both have been acting weird lately.”

Oh, thank goodness! I’m not the only one. That was only half comforting.

She’d been so busy trying hard not to act weird around Jake that she hadn’t even noticed that he was matching the weirdness. She almost laughed at the notion of them acting like young foolish teenagers wanting to make-out and trying their darndest not to show it. Make-out? What was she back in high school? Maybe, cause making out sounded heavenly.

“We have not,” Sydney denied at the same time pondering the possibility that everyone saw the strain between them. It was quite possible if Haylee was getting the vibes, then Joan was and so was everyone else around them. How embarrassing.

Sydney wasn't exactly good at hiding her emotions which commonly played across her face during situations. Shoot. And she'd been trying so hard ever since that night...more like that morning. Aw, that morning. It was a sweet horror. Waking up with her cheek against his warm chest and feeling his strong arm wrapped around her shoulder like a shield of protection, while their legs were tangled in a web of nakedness. She remembered the silky warmth of his naked upper body against her naked chest and how she had been ready to jump up and mount that bike again for another ride of her life. Only her common sense had rushed in and slammed reality into her and she was forced not to indulge in spontaneous acts that would not only affect them, but also Joan and Haylee.

He was Haylee’s uncle! There could be no quickies or one-night stands or another mistake like that night.

Would his naked torso ever leave her mind?    

“Yes, you do.” Having the final word, Haylee skipped down the porch stairs as Joan, her grandmother, emerged from the limo wearing a white pencil-line dress under a matching blazer, professionally tailored for her petite body. Her wavy blonde hair was styled, her nails groomed and her poise proper as always. She fit the profile of the well-off lady she was.

It was a pleasant shock to find she’d accompanied Jake since the two didn't get along all that well. For a step-son and step-mother who had shared the ownership at the Cliff House, a bar and grill, for the last ten years, it was surprising they didn’t get along better...or hadn’t strangled each other by now.

I guess, Sydney thought, making her way down the porch stairs trying to calm the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. She felt like she was going to talk to her teenage crush for the first time. I can accomplish not being weird with Jake today if the two of them can manage to be civil to each other.

When Sydney stopped in front of them, Jake’s outdoorsy pine soap scent swept over her, reminding Sydney of his bedroom where the smell was deliciously overwhelming. She could see herself packing a bag and pitching a tent with this man in a wooded bush.

Joan’s attention was solely on Haylee. She doted over how lovely her granddaughter looked in the dress they’d gone shopping for and chosen together. Joan touched Haylee’s hair, commented on her nails, admired the diamond stud earrings, a graduation present from Joan, and couldn’t hug Haylee enough.

Sydney and Haylee were lucky to have Joan in their lives. After Joan’s son (Haylee’s dad), Kyle died in the car crash that also took Joan’s husband, the widow, the pregnant sixteen-year-old and the baby on-the-way had been united together under unfortunate circumstances and had been the beginning of a treasured life together.

Jake swooped in for his turn to hug Haylee and to congratulate her, but she was more ecstatic about the awesome ride. Awesome ride. More like overpriced and absolutely sweet of Jake who normally didn’t flaunt his money. But, today, for his niece, Sydney understood why. Jake loved Haylee from the moment he was introduced to the little one, who shied away and tucked her head in Sydney’s shoulder, but never took her eyes off Jake. Sydney would never forget that afternoon he walked through the Cliff House doors looking exhausted and like he’d aged ten years but hadn’t even been gone for two. It had been a day of relief, a day of wonder, and a day to start new beginnings.

Joan and Haylee jumped inside the limousine for a better look leaving Jake and Sydney alone for the first time since that night.

Jake slid the black sunglasses from his face and his lake-blue eyes bore into her deepest awareness of him like a shovel digging out all the events of that night she could remember, even as she was trying so hard to forget them...just for this one afternoon to avoid any more weirdness.

Stand straight. Square your shoulders. Smile. Not too much. She could see how this was going to get weird really fast.

“Syd, you look amazing.” His appreciative eyes matched his words as they traveled over her body, obviously checking out her lace-covered curves. She’d done the same to him, maybe even twice while he had been distracted by Haylee.

How were they not going to be weird when he was looking at her like that and she was looking at him like that and they had agreed not to mention what had opened their eyes to each other in the first place? Oh Lord!

“Thank you.” She pretended not to notice the way his eyes were lingering or to let the giddiness that was bubbling up in her chest least she hoped it wasn’t showing.

“And, you don't look so bad yourself.” Good, try to stick to casual. Oh my gosh Jake, you’re drop dead gorgeous. Don't say that. “You clean up nicely.” Did he ever, like a stainless steel sink after a good baking soda and vinegar rinse: shiny, shimmery and giving you the desire to want to stare at the reflection.

Jake pulled the front of his suit and, with a low husky tone, said, “This old thing?” Haylee’s slang word, whatever crossed her mind. That suit was brand new and he couldn’t fool her. She knew he’d purchased it just for this occasion.

Sydney grabbed the purple tie in a teasing manner, regretting it the second the back of her hand felt the heat of his body through the shirt.

Before that night if she had touched his tie like this it wouldn’t have set off fireworks in her body. They were close friends and the joking, teasing, and touching was always platonic and never sexual. Until they’d actually ended up sexual and the embarrassment had kept her avoiding Jake now for four months. Four long, lonely months without her best friend. Staring into his familiar, comforting eyes she discovered she missed him more than she knew, like wanting the sun to peek through the clouds on a long winter day but not realizing how fantastic it really was until the clouds parted and the sun graced your face. She wanted to share all the exciting stories from the soap shop with him and regretted not finding him sooner to talk.

Sydney decided today was the day she was going to force herself to quit hiding from him and make an effort to resume their platonic relationship so she could see him on a regular basis again. They had slept together and it was a mistake...wasn’t it? What difference did it make now? It was in the past and many aspects of her life were results of the past, so she wasn’t adding their relationship to that pile.

Taking a deep breath she felt confident she could tone down her thoughts and be his friend again. She forced past the exciting flutter from their contact, no doubt plastered all over her face, to continue with her wit. 

“You randomly have purple ties hanging in your closet?” That was good, a joke, teasing...keep it up. Platonic, not sexual. Platonic, platonic, platonic!

Jake bent down closer to her and she felt their casual interaction being engulfed by sexual tension.

Oh man, this closeness sent her thoughts right back to his king-size bed!

“You'd be surprised what you can find in my closet.” His low husky tone was a staple the corresponded with the mysterious persona he retained and it swooped into her stomach and slammed every inch of her body into hotness overload.

Double oh man!

She forced a friendly chuckle, accepting his firm hand and climbed into the limo. She collapsed on the leather wrap-around seat like it was forty plus degrees out there. She waved her purse across her warmed face creating a breeze and doing the same with the edge of her skirt to generate a cool breeze for the throbbing below.

She was grateful when Haylee and Joan were too busy in their own limo world to notice how flustered she was.

Darn it. How was she going to focus on her new plan when she found herself wondering exactly what surprises she would find in that mans closet?