The deeper you dive, the sweeter the reward
When college offered an escape, Lily fled her hometown of Coral Beach and never looked back. Now a marine biologist, she must return there on a job to preserve the reefs that give the town its name. But going back means dealing with her past, her family, and worst of all, Sean McDermott. As teens, while Lily passed through an especially awkward phase, Sean--attractive and self-assured--was her constant tormentor. Lily doubts that things will have changed. But Lily's awkward phase is long over . . . and though she finds that Sean still makes her blood boil, it's for very different reasons.
As mayor, Sean knows how important it is to maintain the town's natural beauty--and if the return of Lily Banyon is the price he has to pay, so be it. He can overlook her cold shoulder and give back as good as he gets. What's harder to disregard is the fact that Lily has grown into a smart and beautiful woman, as passionate about saving Coral Beach as she once was about leaving it. While working closely together, it becomes obvious to Sean that if he and Lily can put the past behind them, they could have a passionate future. . . .
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April 28, 2003
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Excerpt from Night Swimming by Laura Moore
It was a long hallway. Sean's secretary caught him at the top of the marble steps, in front of the town hall's double doors. Evelyn Roemer was firmly convinced Sean's responsibilities were far too pressing to wait until he was seated behind his desk. She walked abreast of him, talking a mile a minute as they passed the Florida and U.S. flags, the framed photographs of previous mayors, and old, oversized and slightly yellowed maps detailing Coral Beach and the surrounding county.
"I printed out your upcoming schedule, Sean. You've got two meetings this morning. The first is with the reps from the waste management union. The sanitation workers' contract is up for negotiation. I highlighted in yellow the major trouble spots in your copy of the contract. Your next appointment's at ten, with Chief Reynolds and the CPCB, the Concerned Parents of Coral Beach. The parent organization wants the police department to explore new safety initiatives for next spring's senior prom. Roadblocks, compulsory handing over of car keys, etc. The folder's label is highlighted in blue--just think blue for police. That'll bring you to eleven a.m., just enough time to get to the airport for your flight to Atlanta. Your speech is in a folder on your desk. The label's highlighted in . . . ," Evelyn paused.
"Orange?" Sean hazarded a guess. Evelyn's color theories were something of a mystery.
His secretary shook her head. "No, pink," she corrected. "I got a new batch of pink highlighters yesterday. The old ones just weren't doing the job."
Evelyn Roemer had a real thing for highlighting. A few might even call it an obsession. Whatever it was, though, it was difficult to ignore. Someone, at some point, started a rumor that Evelyn had invested heavily in whatever company manufactured those thick, fluorescent markers. As rumors went, this one was just plausible enough to be accepted as Gospel.
As she walked, Evelyn's index finger, its nail lacquered a bright fuchsia, tapped loudly against the sheet of paper. "Where was I?" she muttered under her breath. "Oh, right." And lungs replenished, she dove back into her rapid-fire monologue. "You come back from the mayors' convention in Atlanta on the first flight Thursday, which should get you back in the office by ten. The press will be ready and waiting. Then, at eleven-thirty, there's a brown-bag lunch with the Department of Transportation. Should be a long one. Matt Jacobs wants to go over anticipated traffic reroutes due to upcoming construction. How the town will handle the extra traffic once the season starts is beyond me, but that's your headache. The fun really begins at two-thirty. The high school's holding a school-wide forum on civics this month. You, Sean, you lucky thing," she chirruped brightly, "are delivering the keynote speech. You're to speak for twenty minutes on what made you decide to dedicate yourself to public service. Questions and answers to follow--"
Here Evelyn was forced to pause once more. This time because the two of them had reached the door to the office suite they shared. Of solid oak, the door had "Mayor Sean C. McDermott" neatly stenciled in gold paint on its panel. Sean turned its brass knob, then held it open so Evelyn could precede him. He grinned down at her. "And good morning to you, Evelyn. That's an extremely becoming shade of yellow."
In fashion as well as highlighters, Sean's secretary went for eye-popping. Although she often favored electric blue to offset hair dyed somewhere between a vivid scarlet and a delicate rose, today her couture color of choice was lemon yellow: tight yellow pants stretched over her pencil-stick legs, her shirt a matching hue, emblazoned with larger than life daisies.
"Thank you, Sean," she replied, smoothing the vibrant daisies over her hips. "Now, tell the truth, did you hear a word I just said?"
" 'Course not," Sean replied amiably. "You know politicians can't multitask. Let me sit down, then I'll give you my undivided attention." Sean followed Evelyn through her own office to the adjacent, slightly larger one, shrugging out of his jacket as he walked. He draped it over the back of his leather office chair, unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, and gave the knot on his tie a hard yank, feeling immensely better when it gave.
"All set now? Oxygen flowing properly? Oh, silly me, of course not, you haven't had your morning shot. Coming right up," Evelyn said, already moving toward Sean's cherished espresso machine.
"Could you make it a double, Evelyn? Who knows when I'll get a fix as good as yours over the next two days?"
"Flattery will get you reelected," Evelyn quipped.