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All Summer Long

Cover of All Summer Long

All Summer Long



Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he'll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool's Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he's frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous...assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family--yet she can't move toward the future while she's haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?


Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he'll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool's Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he's frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous...assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family--yet she can't move toward the future while she's haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?
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    "Don't take this wrong, but seriously, a cat of your size needs to keep all four paws firmly on the ground."

    Charlie Dixon continued up the ladder, aware that Daytona was watching her with serious contempt in his large, green eyes. The black-and-white cat was about twenty-six pounds of attitude. His climbing skills might be excellent, but his ability to get down a tree left much to be desired. At least once a month he got his big furry butt to the top of Mrs. Coverson's sycamore and yowled to be rescued. About an hour later, the old lady would panic and call the fire department. Daytona, named for Mrs. Coverson's love of all things NASCAR, glared and hissed and threatened, but in the end, he submitted to being safely carried to the ground.

    "Come on, you," Charlie said, climbing the last two rungs of the ladder. "You know you're getting hungry and I'm your ride down to your food bowl."

    On cue, the cat flattened his ears and gave an impressive growl.

    "Cheap talk, big guy," Charlie said, then reached for the cat. Daytona took a swipe at the back of her hand, but the movement was halfhearted at best. He was already inching toward her, then allowed himself to be picked up and held against her.

    "Don't worry," someone called from the sidewalk. "I've got your ladder."

    Charlie sighed heavily. "Civilians," she muttered. "How do they always find me?"

    Daytona didn't offer a response.

    Charlie looked down and saw some guy hovering by the base of her ladder. "I'm fine," she yelled. "Step back."

    "Someone needs to hold the ladder," the dark-haired man insisted.

    "Not really."

    Charlie tucked Daytona securely under one arm and started her descent. She went quickly, aware that Day-tona's attention span was often shorter than the trip to safety. When he started squirming, they were both in danger of tumbling. This time she cut it a little too close.

    Daytona pushed all four paws against her, then twisted in an attempt to climb down the rest of the way by himself. Charlie hung on. Not only didn't she want to fall herself, there was no way she was going to face old lady Coverson with a less-than-perfect Day-tona beside her.

    "Stop it!" she told the cat.

    "Need me to come up?" the guy asked.

    Charlie briefly wondered how much trouble she would be in for kicking him with her steel-toed boots and if it would be worth it. Some of her best friends were civilians, but honest to God, there were people who totally lacked common sense.

    "Stay back," she yelled. "Step away from the ladder and don't interfere."

    "I'm not interfering. I'm helping."

    Before Charlie could respond, several things happened at once. Daytona gave one final push for freedom. Charlie leaned over to make sure she kept a grip on the squirming cat. The ladder lurched, the idiot below started up and everyone had a moment to rediscover the power of gravity.

    Daytona fared the best. He used his claws to dig in to the side of the tree, then scurry down. Charlie came in second. She was maybe six or seven feet from the ground. It came up fast, but instead of hitting the sidewalk or even the grass at the base of the tree, she slammed into the guy who'd been trying to "help."

    As she lay on top of the idiot and sucked in air, Charlie watched Daytona stroll over and give a last annoyed hiss. The cat stalked away, his tail high. Charlie rolled off the guy, aware that at five-ten and well-muscled, she weighed a whole lot more than was considered fashionable. No doubt...

About the Author-
  • New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan's prose "luscious and provocative," and Booklist says "Novels don't get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling." Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.SusanMallery.com.

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