Book 2 in the Love On The North Shore Series if Out
Everyone in North Salem thinks they know Jessie Quinn. She is the town’s quintessential girl next door. The woman you can always turn to when you need a helping hand. Nobody knows that she’s spent years overcoming the emotional scars left by her last boyfriend.
As a single dad and task force officer with the FBI, Mack Ellsbury moves back to North Salem to be closer to his family, not to find love. Then Jessie Quinn returns to his life. Soon Mack no longer sees Jessie as the quiet girl he once tutored in high school but rather the woman he is falling in love with.
Mack’s love helps Jessie erase the scars she’s carried around for so long, but when his ex-wife decides she wants reconciliation, their relationship is put in jeopardy.
“Need a break already, O’Brien?” Mack emerged from the house, a backwards baseball cap covering his dark hair. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old.”
For a moment, Jessie spiraled back fourteen years and her tongue went from being a useful organ to a giant bowtie just like it had every time Mack had tutored her in geometry during study hall. A senior, and one of the most popular guys in school, Mack was the number one crush of most of the girls in her freshman class—including her. Not that he ever noticed any of them. Why would he when every cheerleader in North Salem and Danvers were constantly throwing themselves at him?
“Hi, Mack. Congratulations on the new house,” Jessie said once the knot in her tongue loosened.
Mack’s forehead creased and his eyes searched her face. “Jessie?”
Jessie let Mack’s surprise go over her head. After all, he hadn’t seen her in a while.
Sure, he visited his family frequently with his daughter, but he didn’t make a habit of stopping in at the hardware store. In fact, before today, the last time they’d seen each other had been six months ago when he’d come in for the security videos. Back then, she’d still had long hair and glasses. Not to mention, she’d been wearing her favorite oversized cranberry sweater and a long skirt, a fact she shouldn’t remember but did because, well, this was Mack so he wouldn’t have noticed the weight she lost.
“It’s nice to see you. Your parents must be happy you’re moving back.”
“Yeah. Grace, too. She already has plans to spend every weekend at my parents’ house. They haven’t agreed yet, but she’s well on her way to convincing them.”
“She does adore your mom,” Jessica answered, thinking of all the times she’d seen Mrs. Ellsbury with her granddaughter.
“You’ve met Grace?” Mack asked with surprise.
“This is North Salem remember? Your mom brings Grace to my grandmother’s every Sunday for quilting club if she has her. And your dad comes in the store with her.”
Another look of surprise passed over Mack’s features. “I didn’t know that, but it makes sense.”
“She even started her own quilt. Your niece did, too. Your mom brings her over on Sundays sometimes, too.”
Jessie waved at another of Mack’s friends as he came down the front steps. “Hi, Tony.”
“Hey, Jessie.” Tony Bates smiled as he walked toward them. “Unless you ladies want to finish alone, get your asses in gear. I’ve got things to do this afternoon.”
“I gotta go anyway.” Jessica took a step backward. “Will I see any of you at the block party tonight?” Once a month, starting in late spring, their community threw a block party on the Town Common, shutting the whole area down to traffic.
“Not me. Too much work at the house, but have fun,” Sean answered. “I’ll see you later.” With that, he went back to the moving truck.
“I might pop in. If I do, I expect you to save me a dance,” Tony said.
Jessie rolled her eyes. She never took anything Tony said seriously, especially not lately. Ever since she’d lost the weight and ditched the glasses, he’d been saying things like that, but she knew better than to get into any kind of relationship with Tony. While he was a good guy, he didn’t understand the concept of monogamy. He went from one woman to the next much like the way people changed their underwear.
“Bates, get your ass over here and help me with this,” Sean called from the truck.
Unable to contain her smile, Jessie glanced at the ground. Whenever Tony flirted with her, Sean went into his protective guardian role. Thanks to her close relationship with his sister, Charlie, Sean treated her a like a baby sister.
“I might take Grace if she’s not too tired. I think she’d like it.” Mack waved at a car that passed by the house.
“She loves it,” Jessie answered, looking back up.
“And your sister.”
“I should’ve known.” Mack readjusted his baseball cap, a habit he’d had for as long as she could remember. And she could probably remember every time he’d done it. Yeah, she’d had a big-time unrequited crush. Apparently, that hadn’t faded too much because he was still the hottest guy she’d ever seen.