FINDING HAVEN by T.A. Foster
Power. Money. Control. Love.
He has all but one.
When movie star, Evan Carlson, discovers his girlfriend’s picture with another man splashed on the cover of gossip magazines, he decides he’s had enough of his fishbowl life and attempts to outrun the media frenzy his relationships have become. Driving until the road stops, he ends up on the remote and quaint Perry Island, where a heartthrob can blend in like the locals and be a beach bum as long as he wants. All that changes when Evan meets Haven Owen, aspiring songwriter and the girl he just can’t get enough of. A summer romance turns into something much deeper and Evan gets tangled in his own web of lies to keep Haven in his life. But when his ex tracks him down, Evan learns there are some things you just can’t outrun.
Is the cost of love, losing all control?
“Hi.” The customer who belonged to the footsteps stood in front of her. His voice was deep.
She flattened the tear-stained apron against the tops of her thighs and pulled her shoulders back.
“Hi. Can I help you?” Hopefully, he would rent a snorkel set and would be out of here in two minutes. She needed a moment alone to regroup. Being blindsided by so much emotion at once left her feeling off-balance.
“As a matter of fact, I was wondering if you have any job openings. I know it’s a long-shot, but I’m here for the summer and could use a little extra spending money.”
Haven looked at the guy. He was vaguely familiar. She thought she remembered him from a couple of weeks ago, but he didn’t have that beard and it was hard to remember all of the customers who walked through the store’s doors.
“You heard all of that, didn’t you?” She didn’t believe him for a second. Her level of embarrassment rose to an all-time high. She hoped he had only caught the end of the disagreement between her and her father.
He adjusted his sunglasses to the top of his head. “All I heard is that you are in charge of hiring, and I am here to be hired.” He smiled, and Haven tried to figure out what the look was in his eyes. They were warm, soft, and a gray-green color that blended in with the water on the horizon.
Yes, she definitely recognized that grin. He had been here before and forgotten a case of beer.
“Do you have a name?” She took in the curious stranger. He had sandy brown hair that probably hadn’t seen a cut in a few weeks. He reminded her a little of Pearce Hudson on the Carolina football team. It was the height and the broad shoulders.
“Jay. What about you?” He searched her apron for a name tag.
“Haven. Haven Owen.” She pointed to the sign behind his head. “Part of the great Owen’s General Store dynasty.”
“That seems like a pretty cool gig. You get to work out here all summer. Not a bad view.”
She noticed his eyes were locked on her and not on the boats in the marina or the waves out in the ocean. It made her neck warm, and she wondered if the color had risen to her cheeks.
“What are you doing here this summer, Jay with-no-last-name? Do you have any retail experience?” If he was truly interested in taking Travis’s position, the least she could do was vet him a little.
He took his time with his words. Nothing about this guy said, “I’m in a hurry.” For someone not from the island, he seemed at ease on the docks.
“I’m a writer. Spending the summer on Perry to—uh—write.” He shoved his hands in his pockets.
Her eyes shot to his. “Writer? You’re an actual writer? What do you write? Books? Are you a journalist?” Bubbles of adrenaline shot through her. “Any chance you write music, because I’m a songwriter.” Haven knew she was pelting him with question with no space between to answer, but this was exciting. An actual writer. It didn’t matter if he wrote menus, he wrote.
“I—uh—I’m working on a book.” He gave her a cautious reply.
Haven tried to picture the scruffy, athletic-looking man buried behind a laptop, or scribbling out words in a notebook. “I can’t believe this. A writer. But if you’re working on a book this summer, why do you want a job here?” She knew this might mean he wasn’t a successful writer.
He shifted in his flip-flops. “Like I said, I need a little extra summer spending cash, and it sounded like you needed some help. I can fill in for a few weeks until you find someone more permanent. That way you can keep those Thursdays.”
Her stomach twisted. He might have heard the entire conversation. How mortifying.
“What about your last name? Would I know any of your books?” How cool would it be if she had actually read something of his?
She could tell he was searching the boat slips behind her, but she didn’t know for what.
“It’s Grady. Jay Grady. And it’s my first book, so you wouldn’t have heard of me. I’m still an unknown.”
That didn’t matter to her. She was an unknown.
“That’s ok. All writers have to start somewhere. So what’s it about?”
“What’s what about?” He tilted his head.
Haven dropped her hands from her hips. “Your book. What’s the story?”
“Is this your standard job interview?” He cocked his eyebrow.
“Right. Sorry.” It was official. She was blushing now. The word “writer” had derailed her line of questioning. She stopped for a second.
“But you haven’t even asked what the pay is or the job. Don’t you want to know what the responsibilities are? Hours? That kind of thing?”
“I’ll take it. Doesn’t matter.”
“I mean, yeah it matters, but it’s temporary.” He leaned on the counter with his elbows and winked. “Does this mean I got the job?”
This was the first job interview Haven had ever conducted, and she wasn’t sure this was the typical protocol for hiring, but she wasn’t going to second-guess herself. For some reason, a flirty writer with a shaggy beard, but undeniably cute smile had appeared out of nowhere—of course he got the job.
“Yes, you’re hired.” She reached a hand toward him. “Welcome to Owen’s General Store.”
“All right. What day do you need me to start?” He shook her hand.
“Right now. Aprons are on the hooks in the employee hallway. Go grab one and meet me back here. I’ll give you the tour. We can start training this morning.” After a crappy morning, things had turned around rather quickly. The sickening pit that had formed in her stomach when Travis quit had been replaced by something that was hard to describe. It was like warm honey soothed her anxiousness every time he smiled.
“Right now? As in you want me to start working today?” His eyebrows arched.
“You do want the job, don’t you?” For someone who was persistent a minute ago, he was certainly backpedaling.
“Yep. I’m on it. Going to get that apron right now.” He smiled, filling her with that soothing feeling again.
She watched as he walked away, his shadow following his long frame on the pier. She bit into her lip, wondering if hiring a total stranger off the docks was the best decision. Something about him felt undeniably right, like the song she had written last night—slow and easy. And with all the tension swirling in her life right now, there was nothing she needed more.
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T.A. Foster is a Southern girl whose heart and spirit are connected to the beach. She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children and two canine kiddos.
Her long love affair with books started at an early age, and as soon as she was able, she transformed imaginative stories into words on paper. Time Spell is T.A.’s debut novel, and the first in a series about a very adventurous, clever, and magical girl named Ivy.
T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing or planning her next beach trip.
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7164289.T_A_Foster