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Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible

The first book in the Lucky Harbor series, 2010

To another middle child, the middle sister,

the middle everything. To Megan, the peacemaker,

the warrior princess, the fierce, loyal protector

of our hearts.

Chapter 1

“I chose the path less traveled,

but only because I was lost. Carry a map.”

PHOEBE TRAEGER

Maddie drove the narrow, curvy highway with her past still nipping at her heels after fourteen hundred miles. Not even her dependable Honda had been able to outrun her demons.

Or her own failings.

Good thing, then, that she was done with failing. Please be done with failing, she thought.

“Come on, listeners,” the disc jockey said jovially on the radio. “Call in with your Christmas hopes and dreams. We’ll be picking a random winner and making a wish come true.”

“You’re kidding me.” Maddie briefly took her eyes off the mountainous road and flicked a glance at the dash. “It’s one day after Thanksgiving. It’s not time for Christmas.”

“Any wish,” the DJ said. “Name it, and it could be yours.”

As if. But she let out a breath and tried for whimsy. Once upon a time, she’d been good at such things. Maddie Moore, you were raised on movie sets-fake the damn whimsy. “Fine. I’ll wish for…” What? That she could’ve had a do-over with her mother before Phoebe Traeger had gone to the ultimate Grateful Dead concert in the sky? That Maddie had dumped her ex far sooner than she had? That her boss-may he choke on his leftover turkey-had waited until after year-end bonuses to fire her?

“The lines are lit up,” the DJ announced. “Best of luck to all of you out there waiting.”

Hey, maybe that’s what she’d wish for-luck. She’d wish for better luck than she’d had: with family, with a job, with men-

Well, maybe not men. Men she was giving up entirely. Pausing from that thought, she squinted through the fog to read the first road sign she’d seen in a while.

WELCOME TO LUCKY HARBOR!

Home to 2,100 lucky people

And 10,100 shellfish

About time. Exercising muscles she hadn’t utilized in too long, she smiled, and in celebration of arriving at her designated destination, she dug into the bag of salt and vinegar potato chips at her side. Chips cured just about everything, from the I-lost-my-job blues, to the my-boyfriend-was-a-jerk regrets, to the tentatively hopeful celebration of a new beginning.

“A new beginning done right,” she said out loud, because everyone knew that saying it out loud made it true. “You hear that, karma?” She glanced upward through her slightly leaky sunroof into a dark sky, where storm clouds tumbled together like a dryer full of gray wool blankets. “This time, I’m going to be strong.” Like Katharine Hepburn. Like Ingrid Bergman. “So go torture someone else and leave me alone.”

A bolt of lightning blinded her, followed by a boom of thunder that nearly had her jerking out of her skin. “Okay, so I meant pretty please leave me alone.”

The highway in front of her wound its way alongside a cliff on her right, which probably hid more wildlife than this affirmed city girl wanted to think about. Far below the road on her left, the Pacific Ocean pitched and rolled, fog lingering in long, silvery fingers on the frothy water.

Gorgeous, all of it, but what registered more than anything was the silence. No horns blaring while jockeying for position in the clogged fast lane, no tension-filled offices where producers and directors shouted at each other. No ex-boyfriends who yelled to release steam. Or worse.

No anger at all, in fact.

Just the sound of the radio and her own breathing. Delicious, glorious silence.

As unbelievable as it seemed, she’d never driven through the mountains before. She was here now only because, shockingly, her mother’s will had listed property in Washington State. More shockingly, Maddie had been left one-third of that property, a place called Lucky Harbor Resort.

Raised by her set-designer dad in Los Angeles, Maddie hadn’t seen her mother more than a handful of times since he’d taken custody of her at age five, so the will had been a huge surprise. Her dad had been just as shocked as she, and so had her two half-sisters, Tara and Chloe. Since there hadn’t been a memorial service-Phoebe had specifically not wanted one-the three sisters had agreed to meet at the resort.

It would be the first time they’d seen each other in five years.

Defying probability, the road narrowed yet again. Maddie steered into the sharp left curve and then immediately whipped the wheel the other way for the unexpected right. A sign warned her to keep a lookout for river otters, osprey-what the heck were osprey?-and bald eagles. Autumn had come extremely late this year for the entire West Coast, and the fallen leaves were strewn across the roads like gold coins. It was beautiful, and taking it all in might have caused her to slide a little bit into the next hairpin, where she-oh, crap-

Barely missed a guy on a motorcycle.

“Oh, my God.” Heart in her throat, she craned her neck, watching as the bike ran off the road and skidded to a stop. With a horrified grimace, she started to drive past, then hesitated.

But hurrying past a cringe-worthy moment, hoping to avoid a scene, was the old Maddie. The new Maddie stopped the car, though she did allow herself a beat to draw a quick, shuddery breath. What was she supposed to say-Sorry I almost killed you, here’s my license, insurance, and last twenty-seven dollars? No, that was too pathetic. Motorcycles are death machines, you idiot, you nearly got yourself killed! Hmm, probably a tad too defensive. Which meant that a simple, heartfelt apology would have to do.

Bolstering her courage, she got out of the car clutching her Blackberry, ready to call 911 if it got ugly. Shivering in the unexpectedly damp ocean air, she moved toward him, her arms wrapped around herself as she faced the music.

Please don’t be a raging asshole…

He was still straddling the motorcycle, one long leg stretched out, balancing on a battered work boot, and if he

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