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Rescued by Love

By:Melissa Foster

Rescued by Love (Love in Bloom_ The Ryders)_ Jake Ryder - Melissa Foster
Chapter One





ADDISON DAHL LEANED against the outdoor bar, surrounded by all the beauty an evening wedding on Elpitha Island, a small stretch of land off the coast of South Carolina, had to offer. Couples danced beneath twinkling lights, children darted across the lawn with sparklers in hand, laughing and making designs against the night sky. With ocean views as far as the eye could see, island music sailing through the air, and a lighthouse standing sentinel, Addy’s best friend, Gabriella, married her forever love, investor Duke Ryder. Tonight was bittersweet. Addison had worked as Gabriella’s legal assistant for several years, and now Gabriella was talking about starting a family and cutting back on her practice. She and Duke were leaving for their honeymoon in a couple days, and Addy was leaving for ten days of soul-searching in the mountains of Upstate New York. She couldn’t help wondering how different their lives would be when they returned from their trips.

“They look happy, don’t they?” Trish, Duke’s younger sister and Addy’s friend, joined her by the bar. A lock of her dark hair swept across her cheek with the breeze, and she tucked it behind her ear, her eyes dancing with excitement. She’d been absolutely glowing since her fiancé, rock star Boone Stryker, had proposed to her earlier in the evening. He’d surprised her not only with a ring, but also with a wedding that was scheduled to take place the day after tomorrow right there on the island.

“Blissfully happy,” Addy agreed. Duke, an investor, was beautifying Elpitha, where Gabriella had grown up. He was single-handedly making all of Gabriella’s dreams come true. Addy was happy for her friend, but her needs were vastly different. As the daughter of a world-renowned fashion designer, she didn’t want or need a man to take care of her. She’d had enough of that for a lifetime. At almost thirty years old, she doubted she’d ever meet a man fierce, smart, and passionate enough to hold her interest for a week, much less forever. Addy had never felt anything beyond turned on for any man, and at this point she assumed it was just how she was wired. Which, apparently, was vastly different from the head-over-heels-in-love women she was currently surrounded by.

“I’m so glad Boone decided to get married here,” Trish said dreamily. “I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic setting.”

Elpitha was the epitome of romantic, but life moved too slow for Addy on the tiny island, and the Internet moved even slower. She needed excitement the way others craved downtime, which was what she loved most about living in New York City.

“Speaking of romance,” Trish said conspiratorially, “Jake hasn’t taken his eyes off of you all night.”

Addy forced herself not to glance at Trish’s older, arrogant, fast-talking, hotter-than-sin brother she’d been hard-core fantasizing about since she’d met him several months ago. She really needed to get him out of her head once and for all, because he was starting to mess with her mind. It didn’t help that he hit on her every time they were together, which was often, because Addy joined Gabriella and Duke, along with several of his siblings—almost always including Jake—for drinks or dinner about every other week. Hopefully her ten days away would get the sexy player out of her head for good.

“Oh!” Trish exclaimed. “My fiancé is finally done dancing with my mom.” She lowered her voice and said, “I can’t get enough of saying that. My fiancé. I’ll catch up with you soon. I want to get in his arms before one of Gabriella’s pretty cousins tries to snatch him up.”

Trish crossed the lawn with a bounce in her step, leaving Addy alone with her thoughts. A cool breeze swept up the bluff, lifting the hem of her royal-blue halter dress clear across her thighs. She felt the heat of Jake’s gaze before she raised her eyes, catching sight of him striding confidently in her direction. Chin held high, eyes dark as night, every step full of potent male swagger, he zeroed in for another round of innuendos. The man had a homing device for all things sexual. Pretending not to notice the heat of his stare searing through her normally impenetrable nerves, she looked around for something to distract herself, wishing she had her phone so she could at least scroll through Tumblr. She’d spent more than a handful of nights trolling the naughty pages of nearly naked—okay, and maybe a few naked—men as a distraction from the one coming closer by the second.

Jake moved like a lion, stealthy and powerful, seemingly oblivious to the excited voices and laughter all around him as he patiently stalked his prey. Being hunted by a man who looked like he could take down a predator with one hand tied behind his back was an exhilaratingly dangerous feeling. And hunted was the only way to describe the way he came just close enough to mark his territory without physically staking claim. Not that Addy wanted him to stake claim.

That’s not entirely true.

She’d like him to drive his stake into her but not claim her. They’d been playing this seductive game for months, giving her plenty of time to decipher her feelings. Or rather, her impulses. Addy didn’t do feelings toward men. But she couldn’t deny that over the past few months she’d seen more in Jake than just his badassery and ability to weaken knees with a single glance. She’d come to admire the way he protected his siblings, was always there for his brothers’ significant others, and the way he acknowledged the accomplishments of others, both male and female. Addy was used to working with men who were too wrapped up in themselves to see past their own noses, and she’d grown up with a father who had never allowed women the need to make decisions, much less accomplish anything significant.

She couldn’t help comparing her understated father, who moved like the wind, silently handling every aspect of her and her mother’s lives before they even had a chance to think, to Jake, a bull in a china shop with no airs about him. She admired Jake’s open appreciation for both beauty and brains as much as she admired his brooding, alpha tendencies. She’d love to know if he packed the same dose of virility in between the sheets as he did when he was flirting. He had an edge about him that never seemed to soften. Even the appearance of a smile on his impossibly chiseled face knocked her off-kilter. It came across as a wicked invitation, one she’d like to take him up on, if not for the fact that he scared the shit out of her.

The spicy scent of Jake’s cologne overrode the aroma of grilled meats and casseroles Gabriella’s relatives had spent all day preparing. Jake rested his elbow on the bar beside her, brushing his muscular forearm against hers and sending ripples of awareness to her core.

Who was she kidding? There was no distracting herself from the biggest distraction of them all.

“I think there are still a few guys you haven’t danced with.”

Of course Jake would go straight to pushing her buttons.

“I’ll have to take care of that, won’t I? Gab’s brother, Niko, is looking awfully hot tonight.” Niko was the epitome of a Greek heartthrob. Tall, dark, handsome, and as touchy-feely as the rest of Gabriella’s warm and loving family. He was also a shameless flirt.

Jake ground his teeth together, nearly paralyzing her with a blistering stare.

“I haven’t seen you dance all night. What’s the matter? Not into sexy island girls? Because I’m pretty sure that guy over there by the tree bats for the other team.” She enjoyed taunting the lion, even if she didn’t want to get too close. Her pulse beat wildly, and her fingers ached to grab him by the collar of his dress shirt and yank him down for what she knew would be an incredibly hot kiss. She tried to keep from dropping her eyes lower, but she was no match for the enticing ever-present bulge beneath his zipper. The one that became even more prominent when they were near. And damn, she liked knowing she had that effect on him.

He leaned in close, his warm breath coasting over her cheek. “I’m not into dancing, but if you keep looking at me like that you might find yourself getting up close and personal with more than you can handle.”

She lifted her eyes to his, which had gone coal black, and she swallowed hard against the lust threatening to pour out of her mouth. Addy was used to controlling every interaction and reveled in holding her own and taking what she wanted where men were concerned. Or at least she always had, until the King of Hotness standing next to her came into the picture. Jake definitely threw her off her game. Lately, when they were together, she caught herself wondering if what she was experiencing were actual emotions rather than impulses. That was one thing that had kept her from taking their flirting to the next level. His relationship to her best friend was the other. But boy did she want to cross that line. It had been way too long since she had been with a man, thanks to Jake. Every time she came close to satisfying the urge to feel the weight of a man pressing down on her and get lost in the throes of passion, goddamn Jake swam into her mind, stealing her focus and killing the moment. Her fantasy had become her own personal cockblocker.

In an effort to reclaim the upper hand and prove he did not rattle her, she dragged her eyes over his chest again and said, “I have yet to meet a man who comes close to being what I can handle, much less more.”

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