Hutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas. When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.
IT WAS always beautiful in Mangrove. Even on gray, overcast days when it rained cats and dogs, even when the wind whipped through the trees and you could hear chimes ringing up and down the street, and even when nothing moved or stirred and it was simply a hot, sticky, humid mess, no one could look around and say the view wasn’t stunning. Having grown up in International Falls, Minnesota—before I moved to Boston for school and then to Buffalo to work—I appreciated the entirety of Florida but loved the sleepy little coastal town I called home. The days were warm, the nights were filled with stars, and I made sure to make time to watch the sun go down. Being outside should have made anyone happy, so hearing crying when I walked out my back door caught my attention.
Peeking over the side of the fence that separated my backyard from my new neighbors’, I checked to see who was doing all the bawling, and it was then that I saw the girl. She was sitting on her back steps, face in her hands, with sobs absolutely racking her slight body.
I didn’t want to be nosy, but when I turned away, she did the staccato breathing thing and began all over again. There had to be more from me than walking away. One did not leave a weeping, obviously needy angel.
“Hey,” I called over to her.
Her head snapped up and she almost choked on how much water she was producing.
“Are you all right?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, her voice thick with tears. “I didn’t mean to bother you.”
She was adorable. Huge brown eyes, cute little button nose, dimples, and even though I couldn’t see it at the moment, I knew when…