Not everyone has to go looking for love...for a lucky few, love finds them.
In any other circumstance, Jennifer Jones's first meeting with Maclain Moore would have been called serendipity, a happy coincidence. She's looking for a new roommate; he's looking for a place to live. It doesn't hurt that he's sexy as hell, either.
But the man who crosses her threshold isn't there to sign on the dotted line--he's the bearer of news bad enough to shake the very foundation of her life. A life built around a fierce sense of independence, born of a violent incident from her past.
Mac is no stranger to heartache. His career in social work immerses him in it, plus he has his own share of skeletons rattling around in his closet. His attempts to comfort Jennifer bring the two of them closer together. With each touch, she becomes harder to resist. Mac's body's response would try the patience of a saint. And a saint he's not.
Baring her soul isn't high on her list, but she finds herself opening up to Mac in ways that make it hard to hold him at arm's length. And as her life spins out of control, their growing passion becomes the only tangible thing she can cling to...
This book has been previously published and has been revised and expanded from its original release.
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May 10, 2010
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Excerpt from Shelter from the Storm by Samantha Sommersby
"Stop!" Antonio laughed. "You're killing me!"
"Let me guess, you're sharing my story."
"I couldn't help myself," Mike said.
Mac nodded. "Let's all have a great big laugh at Mac's expense."
Antonio quickly sobered. "You mean it's true?"
He threw his hands up in the air. "Is there anyone here who hasn't heard about my humiliating experience?"
Ava stepped into the office. "Sorry, Mac. I think we've pretty much all heard. I just came from the deli across the street and they're even talking about it in there."
Mac rounded on his office mate. "Mike, I swear you're like an old woman! Can't you keep anything to yourself?"
Before Mike could answer, the nervous administrative assistant stepped between them. "I hate to break this up. But the boss just got a call about a new case and Mike's next on the roster." She pushed the glasses that were forever sliding down the bridge of her nose back up.
Mike took a step backward. "Sorry, guys. Duty calls."
"Don't worry," Ava quietly assured Mac. "I won't tell anyone you're moving in with a prostitute."
"I am not--" He rounded on Mike. "We'll finish this when you get back."
"Will there be spanking? If so, can I watch?" Antonio asked with a great big smile on his face.
Mike scowled. "If there is to be any retaliation, it will involve manly punching or crude practical jokes. I'm telling you, Antonio, you keep joking like that? Someone's going to think you're gay."
As soon as they were alone, Antonio shut the office door. "Your half of the office looks like it's occupied by a monk."
Mac pulled out his chair, sat down and propped his feet up comfortably on top of his desk.
"I'm still getting a feel for the space."
Decorating his office was the last thing on Mac's mind. He had transferred to San Diego from Los Angeles County a few short weeks ago and was far more concerned with completing the training for his new job.
"I could loan you my New York firefighter's wall calendar. That would cheer the place up."
"I'll think about it." Mac absently picked up a Rubik's cube and began to fiddle with it.
"A family photo would be nice. Or, maybe one of those little miniature Zen gardens like Zoe has."
"Why doesn't Mike know you're gay?"
"He's a bit homophobic." Antonio perched on top of Mike's desk. "It would make him nervous, so he stays comfortably in the land of denial."
"But the other night, when we were at your apartment playing poker, you introduced Mark as your partner."
Antonio shrugged. "People see what they want to see."
"But, you and Mark live together."
"In a one-bedroom apartment."
"What kind of partners does he think the two of you are? Business partners?"
"Like, by day you're a mild-mannered social worker and Mark is a third-grade teacher, but during off hours you band together to... What?"
"Oh, this is fun. Maybe we fight crime like Batman and Robin, those two were obviously gay. Besides, I've always wanted a big, latex codpiece."
"Batman and Robin?" Mac mulled it over for a moment. "I think you might be right. No self-respecting straight guy would walk around wearing tights or trying to resist the temptation of Cat Woman."
Mike walked back into the office. "Cat Woman? We're talking about comic books now? So what's your pleasure, Michelle Pfeiffer or Eartha Kitt?"
Antonio moved so Mike could sit back down. "Actually, I was just about to hear Mac's version of yesterday's events."
"Bloody hell!" Mac brought his feet back down to the floor and leaned forward in his chair. "All right! Here's the long and short of it."
Antonio eagerly rubbed his hands together. "I'm all ears."
"I get off a bit early yesterday and head back to my Uncle Henry's place where I've been staying. I get in the elevator and there's this bird--"
"Translation," Mike interjected, "hot chick."
"Oi! Who is telling the story?"
"The elevator door opens and we both get out on the same floor. Apparently she lives across the hall from my uncle. Just as we get close to our respective doors the bottom falls out of her grocery sack and stuff goes everywhere. Course, being the helpful bloke I am, I start to help her gather her belongings--"
"And here's where the story really begins. I swear this is like one of those movies with Doris Day and what's his name?" Mike asked.
"Rock Hudson?" Antonio suggested.
"Go on, sweetie," Antonio encouraged.
"She says something about my being her four o'clock. She unlocks the door and invites me into the apartment. My arms are full of the chit's groceries."
"So he follows her inside," Mike added.
"Right. I start to lay the stuff out on her counter. Next thing I know, she's pointing out the way to the bedroom and saying something about hoping the queen-size bed will be sufficient. She tells me to go on in and she'll join me in a minute."
"So you think she's offering..."
"Nookie!" Mike leaned back in his chair. "I swear this never gets old. Tell him what you said!"
"I think it was something profound, like, 'huh'?" Mac admitted. "Then she says, 'I assumed you'd want to, you know, see stuff before filling out the application. I mean, there's no need to fill out an application if you're not interested.'"
"And here's the best part. Our Romeo says, 'Oh, I can't imagine there's a bloke alive who wouldn't be interested in this offer, blondie.'"
"And, that's when she gave me the application to rent the room in her apartment," Mac finished.
Antonio shook his head. "You left out the part about the ball gag and leather pants."
Mike grinned. "I might have embellished a bit."
The Rubik's cube sailed through the air, narrowly missing Mike's head.
"Does the young lady have any idea you thought she was a hooker?" asked Antonio.
"No! And she'll never know!" Mac pointed back and forth between the two of them. "Got it?"
"Right! It'll stay between you and me and the rest of the Department of Social Services." Antonio rolled his eyes. "Our little secret."
"Man, you're lucky you were actually looking for an apartment." Mike retrieved the toy that had rolled under his desk. "Where is this place?"
Mac started to turn his attention back to his e-mails. "Over on Goldfinch, in Mission Hills. It's a great old building, lots of character. My uncle's been there for years and apartments don't open up often."
"Goldfinch?" Mike looked down at the paper he held in his hand.
"Yeah, 4435 Goldfinch." Mac selected the newest item in his inbox. It contained a long list of names, cases he would be assuming responsibility for as of January second. "Looks like they're not wasting any time assigning stuff to me." He pulled a pad of paper and a pen out of his top drawer. "I'll have to hit the ground running after the holiday. No more slacking off for me."
"We're too short-staffed to let you just sit around looking pretty." Antonio pulled his ringing cell from his pocket. "Hi, honey, I'm almost ready to call it a night."
"Mac? What did you say your new roommate's name is?" Mike asked.
"Jennifer Jones, like the actress." He finished scribbling down the list of case numbers. "Only this one's a blonde. Why?"
"I'll be damned."
Mac turned around. "Do you know her?"
Mike held up the sheet of paper. "My new assignment. Seems she's the only living relative of a court dependent from L.A."
"No shit. They want someone to go down there in person and talk to her about taking the kid."
Mike nodded. "Otherwise they've got to find long-term placement on New Year's Eve. You know that's going to be damn near impossible."
"Why wouldn't they call her? That's what they normally do." Mac stood and walked over to Mike.
"There are extenuating circumstances. This is strictly a courtesy request. Seems like the girl's mother passed away. They found the kid in the apartment, locked up with the deceased. She'd been there a few days."
"The coroner notified the next of kin, it was the deceased's estranged husband. He's the one who gave CPS the name of your Jennifer as the girl's sister," Mike explained.
"I take it he's not the girl's father?"
"No, it says father unknown. The worker from L.A. thought it would be best to deliver the news to Jennifer in person."
Mac reached for the report and frowned as he reviewed the details. After a moment he looked at his new friend. "Why don't you run along home to that pretty wife of yours? I'll have a chat with Ms. Jones and call L.A. back."
"You're sure?" Mike started to put on his coat. "It's my case and--"
"You have plans. I don't. Go."
Mike slapped Mac heartily on the back before heading for the door. "Thanks, buddy. I owe you."
"It's still your case. I'm just doing this one thing, got it?" Mac shouted out, only Mike was long gone.
Antonio hung up the phone. "Sweetie, tell me I didn't hear what I thought I heard."
"You were talking on the phone the entire time. How could you have possibly tracked our conversation?"
"I can multitask. It comes in very handy when trying to eavesdrop."
Mac stood and slipped on his leather coat. "Well, there's no good time for news like this. Might as well get it over with. Seems I'll be searching for an apartment again."
"Happy New Year!" Antonio called after him as he took off down the hall.