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Second Chance Summer
By Jill Shalvis
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Don’t miss this unforgettable New York Times bestseller about sisters, loss, and the search for home that Library Journal calls “a hands-down winner!”
Lily Danville’s life is crumbling around her. With no money and no home, her only choice is to go back to the one town she swore she’d never see again: Cedar Ridge, Colorado. Back to the memories of her sister’s tragic death. Back to the place where, ten years ago, she shared an unforgettable kiss with Aidan Kincaid-the man her sister once loved.
A new job at the town’s hottest resort is just the fresh start Lily has been looking for…until she discovers the resort is owned by none other than the Kincaid family. How can she possibly see Aidan every day without feeling as if she’s betraying her sister?
But as secrets from the past come to light and Lily starts to realize the truth, she can only hope it’s not too late to find love, family, and forgiveness.
“Second Chance Summer is sexy and packs a powerful emotional punch.” — Fresh Fiction, Top Pick
“Sassy, funny, and down-to-earth sexy, this lively romance is one readers won’t be able to resist. A hands-down winner and a terrific launch to the author’s latest series.” — Library Journal
“Shalvis knows all the right buttons to push…The flubs and flaws are hilarious, the grief feels credible, and the sparks fly in this solid, light romance from the always-reliable Shalvis.” — Publishers Weekly
After fighting a brush fire at the base of Cedar Ridge for ten straight hours, Aidan Kincaid had only three things on his mind: sex, pizza, and beer. Given the way the day had gone, he’d gladly take them in any order he could get them.
Not in the cards.
He and the rest of his fire crew had finally managed to get back to the station. They’d been there just long enough to load their plates when the alarm went off again.
“What the hell!”
“Gonna break the damn bell and shove it up someone’s—”
“This is bullshit…”
Whoever said no one could outswear a sailor had never lived in a firehouse. Ignoring the grumbling around him, Aidan pushed his plate away and met his partner Mitch’s gaze.
“Gotta be a full moon bringing out the crazy,” Mitch said.
“Maybe the crazy just follows you,” Aidan suggested.
In turn, Mitch suggested Aidan was number one. With his middle finger.
They’d been playing this game since first grade, when Mitch had stolen Aidan’s lunch and Aidan had popped him in the nose for it. As punishment they’d had to pick up and haul trash for the janitor for two weeks.
The two of them had become best friends and had spent the next decade being as wild and crazy as possible.
Eventually they’d grown up and found responsibility, going through the fire academy and now working as Colorado Wildland firefighters for their bread and butter, volunteering on the local search-and-rescue team as needed. And here in Cedar Ridge they were needed a lot. Lost hikers, overzealous hunters, clueless novice rafters—you name it, they’d been called to save it.
Tonight’s fire call came in as a possible suicide jumper off the courthouse, which at five stories was the highest building in town.
As they pulled up, they could see a woman had climbed out a window on the fifth floor. She stood on a ledge that couldn’t have been more than a foot wide. Wearing nothing but her bra and panties.
“Well, at least Nicky left her Victoria’s Secrets on this time,” Mitch noted.
Nicky was a bit of a regular.
And Mitch was right. The last time Nicky had gotten upset was after finding the town’s councilman she’d been sleeping with going at it on his desk with his assistant. She’d stripped all the way down to her birthday suit before covering herself in Post-it notes. Aidan wondered what had set her off this time.
“I changed my mind,” she screamed, jabbing a finger down at them. “I don’t want to die! He’s not worth it!”
No Post-it notes this time. A bonus. The police had blocked off traffic, but the scene was still chaotic.
“Somebody get up here and save me!” Nicky yelled. “If I fall and die, I’m going to sue every one of you for being so freaking slow! Honest to God, what does a girl have to do to get a rescue around here?”
“So she’s changed her mind,” the captain said dryly to Aidan and Mitch. Aidan and Mitch exchanged glances. No one could reach her from inside the window. And climbing out on the ledge wasn’t an option; it was too narrow—and decomposing to boot. And thanks to the layout of the building and the hillside, their truck couldn’t get close enough to the building to be effective either.
They all knew what this meant. One of them was going to have to follow the half-naked crazy chick out onto the ledge. There were a few problems with this.
Aidan and his team had a reputation for being unflappable and tough as nails, but the truth was, plenty unnerved them—including a half-naked crazy chick on a ledge five stories up. They’d just learned to do whatever needed to be done, no matter what.
“Let the fun begin,” Mitch muttered.
Plan A was for the captain to head inside and attempt to talk Nicky back inside the window. Since Plan A had a high potential for going south, Plan B was to be run simultaneously—head to the roof and begin setting up rigging for an over-the-roof retrieval.
Through it all, Nicky never stopped screaming at them, alternately begging them to hurry and hurling insults their way.
Then came the cap’s radio message: “Yeah, so she’s declining to crawl back in the window because there’s no press here yet. Last time she was front-page news.”
Onward. The team found a good anchor spot on the roof. As Mitch and Aidan were the two most senior members of the unit, one of them always took lead. Mitch looked at Aidan. “Okay, go make like Spider-Man and rescue the damsel in distress.”
“Why me?” Aidan asked.
“It’s your turn.”
“Hey, you’re the one who likes her undies,” Aidan pointed out. Not that he objected to a rescue, any rescue, but this one had shit show written all over it.
“I weigh more than you do,” Mitch said logically.
Only because he was six foot four to Aidan’s six two, but whatever. The team got the line set up, and then Aidan got into his five-point harness and hooked himself to the first of the two lines. Mitch hooked up to the second one just in case Aidan got into trouble, and the rest of the unit prepared for go time.
Aidan dropped over the edge. The plan was to rappel him down until he hung ten feet above Nicky. He’d then kick out from the building at the same time that his team lowered him eleven more feet, bringing him to just below her, putting him between her and the fifty-foot drop. He’d attach a harness to Nicky, and the team would give them enough slack so that Aidan could rappel down with her.
And the team indeed lowered Aidan to just above Nicky. Aidan kicked out. But as usual, nothing went to plan. Just as he started to swing back toward the wall, Nicky leapt off the ledge like some rabid raccoon and wrapped herself around him.
Not more than a hundred and ten pounds, she clung to him like a monkey as they hurtled at neck-breaking speed toward the wall. Aidan managed to grip her tight and twist in midair so that he was the one to slam into the brick.
Even as lightweight as she was, it still hurt like hell.
“Jesus Christ,” Aidan heard the captain and Mitch say in stereo as they watched helplessly—one from above, one from below, at the window.
They didn’t know the half of it. With Nicky’s legs wrapped and locked around Aidan’s waist, her arms squeezing his head like a grape and her breasts literally suffocating him, he couldn’t breathe. Somehow he managed to turn his head sideways to suck in some air, but he still couldn’t see. “I’ve got you,” he said. “I’m not going to let go, but you need to loosen your grip.”
Nicky was too busy screaming in his ear to hear him, not loosening her grip at all. “Omigod, don’t you fuckin’ drop me or I’ll sue you the most!”
Mitch had dropped over the edge as soon as Nicky leapt onto Aidan’s back. He was rappelling down as fast as he could, laughing all the way. Aidan couldn’t see shit but he could hear him clearly, the asshole.
“Got his six,” Mitch said into the radio as he came even with Aidan, still laughing. “Though I can’t tell where Aidan ends and Nicky begins.”
You can kill him later, Aidan promised himself. “Listen to me,” he said to Nicky. “I’ve got you. I need you to stop yelling in my ear and look at me.”
She gulped in a breath and relaxed her hold only enough to look at him. Her eyes were wide, wet, and raccooned from her mascara.
“I’m not going to let go of you,” he assured her, staring into her eyes, doing his best to give her an anchor. “You hear me, Nicky? No one’s falling to their death today.”
She nodded and started to cry in earnest at the same time. Aidan preferred her screaming.
“She’s not attached to anything,” the captain reminded them via radio.
“You don’t have to worry about that, Cap,” Mitch responded. “She’s not letting go of Aidan.”
Nope, she wasn’t. She’d embedded her nails into him good, and her legs were crossed and locked at the small of his back, but at least he could breathe. “Just get us down,” he said.
As the team lowered them, Mitch kept alongside, offering encouragement, cracking his own ass up as they went.
On the ground, Aidan’s new companion was peeled off of him and taken away for further evaluation. Aidan took his first deep breath since the rescue had begun. Aching in more muscles than he’d realized he even had, he gathered his gear.
“You okay?” their captain asked. “You took a few hard hits up there.”
“I’m fine.” He could feel where he’d have bruises tomorrow, and he was pretty sure his back had been scraped raw from the demolition derby collision with the brick wall, but he’d had worse.
Mitch grinned at him. “Man, you just had your bones totally jumped by a nearly naked chick. We almost had to resuscitate you. ‘Fireman Asphyxiated by Boobs, news at eleven.’”
Their captain eyed Mitch, and then Aidan. “You remember we have a strict no killing each other policy?”
Aidan reluctantly nodded.
“I’m going to lift that rule for a one-time exception,” the captain said, cocking his head at Mitch.
Mitch’s smile faded. “Hey.”
But the captain had walked away.
“Whatever,” Mitch said to Aidan. “If you kill me, you’ll never find out what I know.”
Aidan slid him a glance. “You never know anything.”
“I know lots, starting with a rumor that you’re about to get a blast from the past.”
“Yeah. I hear Lily Danville’s back,” Mitch said.
Aidan froze at the name he hadn’t heard in a very long time. Years. Ten of them to be exact.
Mitch raised a brow. “Gray hasn’t mentioned it?”
No, Aidan’s older brother had not told him a thing, which raised the question.
“How did you hear?” Aidan asked.
“Lenny. He caught the gossip at the resort. Your family runs the place, how did you not hear this?”
Lenny had gone to high school with them and now worked at the Kincaid resort as a big-equipment driver. Aidan stared at Mitch, unable to process that everyone had known before him.
Lily Danville… Damn. Turning, he started to walk away.
“It’s no big deal,” Mitch said. “It’s not like you’re seeing Shelly anymore, right? You’re a free agent, so if you want to try to get Lily back… Hey, wait up.”
Aidan didn’t wait. And it was true he wasn’t seeing Shelly anymore. Technically, they’d never been “seeing” each other. They’d had a satisfying physical relationship whenever they both felt like it, and neither of them had felt like it in over a month now. He hadn’t thought about her once since.
But Lily Danville…
He hadn’t seen her in forever, and yet he still thought about her way too often.
“Hold up,” Mitch called out. “Your half of the gear’s still—” He broke off when Aidan kept walking. “Seriously?” And when Aidan didn’t so much as look back, Mitch swore and worked to gather the load, making some of the newbies help. He was quiet on the ride back to the station but only because they weren’t alone and also because he was playing a game on his phone.
Aidan reached over and swiped his finger across Mitch’s screen.
Mitch swore, nearly lost the phone out the window, and then turned to glare at Aidan. “You owe me a Candy Crush life.”
“Tell me more about Lily being back.”
“Oh, now you want to talk? You done pouting then?”
When Aidan just gave him the I-can-kick-your-ass gaze, Mitch grinned. “You know you were.”
“It’s all over Facebook,” one of the guys said from the back. “The news about Lily.”
“Aidan forgot his password,” Mitch said. “A year ago.”
Aidan ignored him, mostly because his brain was on overload. Lily. Back in town…
He’d long ago convinced himself that whatever he’d felt for her all those years ago had been just a stupid teenage boy thing.
Seemed he was going to get a chance to test out that theory, ready or not.
Fake it ’til you make it, that had always been Lily Danville’s motto. And it’d always worked too.
Until the day it didn’t.
Which was how she found herself driving through the Colorado Rockies low on gas, money, and dignity.
She really hated when that happened.
But she could throw herself a pity party later. For now it was survival of the fittest—or in her case, not quite as fit as she used to be.
She planned to work on that.
It’d been a damn long time since she’d driven the narrow, curvy highway into Cedar Ridge, ten years to be exact. But she had it memorized, including the dangerous and terrifying S-curve near the top of the pass.
Hundreds of feet of sheer face rock shooting straight up to the limitless blue sky on her left and a stomach-tightening drop-off on her right with nothing but a tiny rail between her and certain death.
Once upon a time, Lily had known every inch of these rugged, isolated peaks, including the most infamous of all of them—Dead Man’s Cliff. Hell, she’d once hiked up the back side of the dangerous peak and then free-climbed down the face with no more gear than her own wits, which, granted, in her teenage years wasn’t saying much.
Luckily, she’d grown up enough to recognize danger. There would be no free-form rock climbing in her near future. Hiking, most definitely. Risking her life? No, thank you.
As she made it over the last summit before coming into town, Lily rolled down her window and sucked in the mountain breeze. Yep, June in the Rockies still smelled like cedar and pine and air so fresh it hurt.
Or maybe the pain came from being back for the first time in a decade. Her gut twisted at the thought and all the implications that came with it. Telling herself that it was hunger and most definitely not grief, she drove into the town proper. There were ten thousand residents scattered across a county that easily had far more wild animals than people. This didn’t include the influx of crazy that went on during ski and board season. During those times, Cedar Ridge’s population could triple in size. Most of the tourists spent their time up on the slopes, though, a five-minute drive and two thousand more vertical feet above town.
Lily had no intention of going any farther up the mountain. At all.
Instead, she pulled into the first of the three gas stations in town and took a glance at herself in her rearview mirror.
Ack. Her hair had started off decent only because she’d flat-ironed all the natural frizz out, but somewhere between California and Colorado she’d gotten hot and had twisted the unruly mess up on top of her head, holding it there with the stylus stick from her tablet. Strands had escaped and rebelled back to their natural habitat of Frizz City.
Hmm. Not exactly runway-ready after two days on the road. But really, who cared? Probably no one would even remember her.
Buoyed by the thought, she stroked a hand down her clothes to smooth out the travel wrinkles. She wore a sundress and cute blazer out of habit, because that’s how they’d done it at the San Diego beauty salon where she’d worked until The Incident. They’d dressed nice to match their upscale clientele, a uniform of sorts.
And now being dressed nice was also her superhero cape. She figured if she looked well put together on the outside, people would assume the inside matched…
For the record, it didn’t.
Stretching after the long drive, she looked down at herself. Crap. She rubbed at the four suspicious stains on her blazer that might or might not be fingerprints directly related to an earlier Cheetos mishap. Note to self—give up Cheetos or buy some wet wipes to keep on her. She shed the blazer and eyed the sundress. Damn. There were two more Cheetos finger spots on a thigh. She licked her thumb and tried to rub them out, but this only made it worse. Apparently some things, like Cheetos finger stains and the searing pain of grief, couldn’t be fixed.
She was shedding her hard-earned urbanness moment by moment, transforming back to the rumpled, come-what-may, adventurous but oblivious mountain girl. She started to get out of the car, but stopped when her cell phone buzzed an incoming call from Jonathan, her childhood best friend.
“You here yet?” he asked.
Physically, yes. Mentally…well, she was working on that. “Sort of,” she said.
“What does that mean?” He paused at her silence. “You know you can do this, right? That you’re one of those rare people who can do whatever they need to?” he asked.
True, she’d learned this very skill at an early age, the hard way. But what she needed felt overwhelming and daunting—something that would get her out of the rut that was her life. “I might have come up against my limits this time,” she admitted in the understatement of the day. Hell, understatement of the year.
“Buck up, Lily Pad,” he said. “Things are about to get better. I promise.”
“Yeah.” She shook her head. “And how exactly is that going to happen again?”
“Because you’ve got me at your back now,” he said, a smile in his voice. “Trust me.”
She could trust him, she reminded herself, warming a little as she sighed. Besides, what choice did she have? “Okay, but you’d better be right.”
“Always am,” he said. “Always am. See you soon.”
Lily disconnected and started to get out of the car but realized her feet were bare. She looked around, but apparently along with her city shell she’d also lost one of her wedge sandals. Maybe it was wearing an invisibility cloak. The search led to some swearing and a lot of digging into the luggage in the backseat, and she finally grabbed the next thing she came to.
A pair of Uggs.
She had to laugh as she slid her feet into them. Uggs with a sundress. In San Diego dressing this way would have raised eyebrows, but it was par for the course in Cedar Ridge. Or at least it had been. Torn between hoping things hadn’t changed and that they had, she headed into the convenience store, planning on getting in and out without seeing anyone she knew.
There were a handful of other customers in the place, but no one looked familiar. Grateful for small favors, she grabbed an armful of her two favorite food groups—chocolate and salt—then made her way to the front counter to check out.
The convenience store clerk gave her a big eyebrow raise as she dumped her loot on the counter, but either he had sisters or a girlfriend because he didn’t say anything as he started to ring her up.
She didn’t recognize him, but that didn’t surprise her. Ten years was a long time. The thought brought a new wave of anxiety and had her grabbing one more thing that she didn’t need—a package of cookies from the counter display.
“Nice,” the clerk said without a smidgeon of judgment in his voice as he rang her up. “I especially like the way you’ve got the entire junk food pyramid represented here. That’s not easy to do.”
She had a pack of donuts, two pies—one lemon, one cherry—a pint of caramel delight ice cream, a family-size bag of chips, and now cookies as well.
“Bad breakup?” the clerk asked.
“No.” Only a little bit of a lie. Because there was bad and then there was bad bad. And hers had definitely been the latter.
“Smoking too much wacky-tobacky?” he asked.
She could one hundred percent understand why he might think so, but she again shook her head in the negative. No, she was attributing this junk food fest to getting fired from the upscale San Diego salon where she’d worked until three weeks ago.
Apparently she was going to eat her feels about that whole situation.
“Maybe you’re having a party?” the clerk asked and flashed a smile. “FYI, my name is Cliff, and I like parties.”
“Sorry,” she said. “No party.” She took a moment to eyeball the rack of candy bars on display.
Cliff laughed. “Listen, don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but you have repeat customer all over you, so you should know that we’re open twenty-four seven. Which means you really don’t have to buy us out of stock right this very minute. Also, at midnight the candy bars go on sale—two for one.”
“Do I look like the sort of person who’d go out at midnight for a sale on candy bars?” she asked.
She sighed and handed over her debit card, aware that a line had formed behind her. Not glancing back, she said a quick little prayer that her card went through the first time and let out a breath of relief when it did.
Getting fired sure had put a crimp in her style.
“Do you want a bag?” Cliff asked. “We charge for them now. Ten cents each.”
She had at least a dozen bags in the back of her car. Not that she’d remember them. “Not necessary.” Since she always forgot her bags, she was an expert and scooped the loot into her arms. Everything fit but the bag of chips.
Cliff helpfully added them to the top of the pile. Lily thanked him, pressing her chin down on the chips so as to not lose any of her precious cargo. “Got it,” she assured him.
Cliff lifted his hands and she started to leave, sidestepping to avoid bumping into the customer coming up to the register. Lily was halfway to the door when something made her glance back at the line.
Which was how she saw the very last person on earth a woman wanted to see when she felt like roadkill, didn’t have on her good moisturizer or her lucky lip gloss…
The guy who’d once upon a time starred in all her fantasies as the man of her dreams: Aidan Kincaid, wearing cargo pants and a dark blue T-shirt with a Search-and-Rescue emblem on the pec, a radio on his hip, looking dusty and hot and tired and sexy as hell.
Her heart began a slow and way too heavy beat, and she whipped her head around to face forward again.
“Lily? Lily, is that you?” a woman just in front of her asked.
Lily blinked at her.
“Mrs. Myers,” the fiftyish woman said helpfully. “Your high school English teacher.” She beamed. “Why, I haven’t seen you in years. How are you doing, dear?”
Lily’s mind raced, leaving her unable to formulate a thought past her instinct to flee. She’d hated English. She’d paid her sister to read the books and write her papers, and in return, Lily had done all of Ashley’s math and science and taken on her work hours at the resort their dad had run. “Uh…”
“Is your mother still happily retired and traveling around?” Mrs. Myers asked. “I lost track of her after…” The woman trailed off and her face filled with sympathy. “After…everything,” she finished gently.
There Lily stood in a dress and Uggs and crazy hair, with Aidan probably watching this entire debacle, and Mrs. Myers wanted to casually discuss the single most soul-destroying incident that had ever happened to Lily.
Over a mountain of crap food that she was holding on to with her chin. And those Cheetos stains weren’t going anywhere…
Thankfully, Mrs. Myers’s cell phone rang, and she got busy searching for it in a purse the size of Texas.
Lily let out a breath and stole a quick peek at Aidan, nearly collapsing in relief because he didn’t appear to see her.
Miracles did happen…
Before her luck could run out, she said a quick “Nice to see you” and hightailed it to the door.
Lily Danville was most definitely back in town. Because he couldn’t help himself, Aidan watched as she rushed to the door balancing an armful of junk food. Nice to know some things hadn’t changed.
Clearly she was trying to avoid him—a plan he could get behind. He had no desire to take a walk down Memory Road either, especially when that road had ended in a spectacular crash with no survivors.
Just the walking dead.
Still, after all these years she looked the same, hauntingly vulnerable and yet somehow tough at the same time. It was that willowy, curvy body coupled with those drown-in-me green eyes that she so carefully didn’t turn his way.
She almost got away, too, and then neither of them would have had to face each other, but someone jostled her at the doorway. Lily staggered backward, right into a five-foot postcard display of the Colorado Rockies.
The entire thing began to wobble.
With a gasped “Oh, no!” Lily reached out for it, sacrificing her bag of chips to do so. The bag hit the floor and then a package of donuts slipped out of her arms as well, landing next to the chips.
And that was it. The domino effect came into play, and sure enough the cherry pie went next.
The very last thing to go was the postcard display itself, falling over with dramatic flair, scattering postcards and Lily’s armload from here to Timbuktu, leaving her standing there, a junk food massacre at her feet.
“Damn,” Cliff said. “That always happens.”
“I’m so sorry!” Lily bent and began to scoop up the postcards.
"Sassy, funny, and down-to-earth sexy, this lively romance is one readers won't be able to resist. A hands-down winner and a terrific launch to the author's latest series."—Library Journal on Second Chance Summer, starred review
"Shalvis knows all the right buttons to push. ...The flubs and flaws are hilarious, the grief feels credible, and the sparks fly in this solid, light romance from the always-reliable Shalvis."—Publishers Weekly on Second Chance Summer
"Second Chance Summer is sexy and packs a powerful emotional punch."
—Fresh Fiction, Top Pick
The first Cedar Ridge book is flawless. This author knows romance, and readers can always expect her to deliver humor, heat and a kick-ass story.
—RT Book Reviews on Second Chance Summer
"Fall in love with Jill Shalvis! She's my go-to read for humor and heart."—Susan Mallery, New York Times bestselling author
"Count on Jill Shalvis for a witty, steamy, unputdownable love story."—Robyn Carr, New York Times bestselling author
- On Sale
- Jun 30, 2015
- Page Count
- 368 pages
- Grand Central Publishing