Exclusive Excerpt from Owned by the Sea
by L.M. Somerton
“Hey, everyone—Jonty’s gonna do an art auction fundraiser for the lifeboat. Who’s in?”
There was a general yell of support.
Tears prickled in Jonty’s eyes.
“You can use this place to coordinate, have meetings, that kind of thing,” Kelly offered.
“When were you thinking?”
“The last week in April. Not the exact date of the anniversary—the closest weekend, maybe, so more people can make it.”
“Have you spoken to anyone at the lifeboat station yet?”
Jonty shoveled down more food before answering. “No. I was going to ask if you knew anyone. I didn’t want to just wander in there.”
“What you mean is, you’re too shy.”
Jonty blinked. “Maybe.”
“Well, you could be in luck, because Jed Curnow will likely be in before long—he comes in most nights for hot chocolate and a natter or to eat. He’s the deputy coxswain on the crew.
You can run the idea past him.” Kelly glanced at the counter where a queue was forming.
“Better get back to it. You’ll know Jed when he comes in—you can’t miss him—he’s six feet six.”
Jonty focused his attention on the remains of his meal. He was scraping the last remnants from his bowl when the door opened, letting in a blast of cold air. There was no doubting that the new arrival was Jed. He had to duck to get through the door. Jonty didn’t want to get caught staring so he tried to get a good look from beneath his lashes. Jed was broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped with a thatch of dark brown hair and a strong chin dusted with stubble.
His lips curved naturally into a smile and his eyes were dark, though Jonty couldn’t tell what color from where he sat. Jed had a commanding presence and, while he waited patiently for Kelly to serve him, he scanned the room. His eyes rested on each individual for a moment then moved on. When his gaze rested on Jonty, it took all Jonty’s courage not to hide beneath the table. He stared at a fixed point on the floor, counted to ten and when he raised his head, Jed’s attention was elsewhere.
Letting out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, Jonty tried to decide whether to stay or make a run for the exit. Before he could make up his mind, his light was blocked by someone standing in front of his table. He hardly dared look up but he found the courage from somewhere.
Blue. His eyes are blue. Like cornflowers on the cliffs.
“Kelly said you’d like a word.” Jed held out a hand. “Mind if I join you?”
Jonty allowed his own hand to be engulfed by Jed’s huge paw. The crushing grip Jonty feared didn’t happen. Jed’s hold was gentle and warm.
“I…yes…no… I mean I don’t mind at all, please do.” Jonty shuffled his seat to one side to make more room. He couldn’t help but notice how Jed’s thighs, wrapped snugly in faded denim, only just fit beneath the table. “I’m Jonty.”
“The artist from Cliff House. I know.” Jed grinned. He put his mug of hot chocolate on the table. It was topped with a pile of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. “Every man needs a vice. Kelly’s chocolate is mine. He makes it properly—none of that powdered rubbish.
He melts chocolate into the milk while it heats.” He took a sip and cream clung to his lips.
Jonty had a sudden urge to lick them clean and lost the power of speech. Continue reading