The Summer of No Attachments
Part of the Summer Friends
The Summer of No Attachments
This story is loosely related to The Somerset Girls.
Part of the Summer Friends
The heartwarming story of two best friends who cross paths with a pair of new-in-town brothers with one angry ten-year-old boy in tow. A story of second chances at life and love, with found family and rescued animals.
A note from Lori: The Summer of No Attachments is set in the same town as The Somerset Girls. Although one of the characters from The Somerset Girls makes a cameo appearance, the book, overall, is a stand alone.
Reviews of The Summer of No Attachments
The Summer of No Attachments
is Part of the Summer Friends
The full series reading order is as follows:
- The Summer of No Attachments
- The Somerset Girls
Read An Excerpt
The Summer of No Attachments
Ivey stood with Hope in the driveway, taking in the outside of the one-bedroom house. She loved the setup for Hope, and judging by her friend’s expression, Hope loved it, too.
Though the rain had stopped, steady drips still fell from everywhere, leaving both women damp. The difference was that Hope’s glossy, baby-fine hair only went a little limp, while Ivey’s turned to dandelion fluff.
“There are no outside stairs, which makes it a little more secure,” came a deep male voice from around the house.
Ivey took in the congenial smile of an extremely handsome man, then quickly transferred her gaze to the boy following behind him.
“You enter from inside the garage,” the man said, gesturing toward it. “Either by using the garage door opener, or the door around the side. That one has a keyed lock. I can show you how to manually open the garage door, too, in case the power goes out, but that’s only likely to happen in bad weather…like today’s storm.”
Going mute, Hope stepped a little closer to Ivey.
Ivey held out a hand. “Hello. I’m Ivey Anders. I work with Hope and came along to see the place.”
Six plus feet of striking masculinity stepped forward. The humid breeze had mussed his brown hair, and his eyes were golden brown above his smile. “Corbin Meyer. Nice to meet you.” His much-larger hand held hers only briefly before he reached back and gently brought the boy forward. “This is my son, Justin.”
Wearing a ball cap backward, hands shoved into the pockets of his loose cargo shorts, tennis shoes a little ratty, Justin muttered, “Hi.”
In the normal course of things, Ivey didn’t pay that much attention to men, but she was shopping around again—right? Not that a single father seemed like a great idea…unless he looked like Corbin.
Hope nudged her.
“Oh yes. Sorry. It was a long day.” She worked up a smile to cover the awkwardness. “This is Hope Mage. You spoke with her. She’s actually the one interested in the place.”
“I hope you like it.” Flexing some nice muscles, Corbin easily lifted the double garage door. “Room for two cars, or whatever. I believe the previous owner had a car and a golf cart. They were elderly and used the golf cart to get to and from the lake for fishing. By the way, if you do take it, you’re welcome to do that. Fish, I mean.” He waved toward a spiral staircase in the far left corner. “That leads up to the main living area.”
Ivey glanced at the boy who, instead of following, stepped over to the side of the driveway and lifted a wiggling earthworm that had washed up with the rain. Fascinated, she watched him carry it to the base of a tree where an exposed root broke through the grass.
When he released it, Ivey put a hand to her heart. “What a heroic thing to do.”
The boy glanced at her in surprise. So did Corbin and Hope.
“What you just did was so kind. Thank you for that, Justin. I always do the same when I see the poor things out of the ground.”
“You pick up worms?” Justin asked.
“Absolutely. For the same reason you just did.”
“Because they dry out otherwise.”
“Indeed they do. Birds like to find them, so sometimes it’s okay. Circle of life and all that. But I can never resist saving them when I can.”
Swiping his hand on his shorts, Justin sidled closer. “Do you save bugs, too?”
“Of course.” She nodded at Hope and said in a conspiratorial whisper, “Neither of us are squeamish about bugs.”
“Even cicadas?” Justin looked at Hope with glee. “Do they make you scream?”
Hope laughed. “I don’t mind most bugs, but yes, those little devils are creepy. I don’t scream, but I do dodge them when I can.”
A huge smile broke over Justin’s sweet face. “My mom used to scream real loud.” He straightened his shoulders. “I always had to get the bugs before she squashed them.”
His mom used to? Ivey wondered about his mother, but of course she didn’t ask. “I imagine here by the lake, you’ll find a lot of insects. Snakes, too. Are you familiar with snakes?”
“We didn’t see none in the city.” He turned to scrutinize Corbin. “You afraid of snakes?”
Without missing a beat, Corbin said, “Remember I told you my brother and I grew up near a lake? We saw a lot of snakes. Snapping turtles, too. It’d probably be a good idea for you to know the safe ones from the ones you should avoid.”
“Avoid them all,” Hope suggested. Then to Ivey, “I’m so glad we don’t deal with reptiles.”
“I’m a veterinarian,” Ivey explained to Justin. “Mostly dogs and cats, but also farm animals.”
Blue eyes widening, Justin asked, “You get to work with dogs and cats?”
“What a perfect way to put it. Yes, I get to. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah.” He shot another sly glance at Corbin. “I’ve never had a pet.”
Again, Corbin seemed to skate right through the awkwardness of that disclosure. “How about you and I discuss it, maybe after we’ve shown the house?”
Justin’s mouth fell open, his expression turning to exhilaration. “You mean it?”
With a smile to rival his son’s, Corbin nodded. “I won’t ever say anything I don’t mean, okay?”
Such an odd exchange. It almost seemed like father and son were strangers. Ivey and Hope shared a brief look.
As if unfazed by the monet, Corbin waved them on. “Right up these stairs.”
Ivey took the lead, followed by Hope, Justin and then Corbin.
“I had it cleaned, but not much else,” Corbin said. “The paint still looked okay to me, but if you take it, feel free to brighten it up.”
The stairs opened onto a living room/kitchen combo to the right with a three-quarter bathroom to the left and the only bedroom straight ahead. The space was small but had definite charm. Ivey noted the way Hope glanced into the bathroom, then moved quickly into the bedroom as her excitement built. A mirrored closet ran the length of the wall opposite from where a bed would probably go.
Ivey followed Hope as she entered the corner kitchen. It was certainly big enough for one petite woman, but it would make entertaining difficult. Not that Hope ever entertained. Other than occasionally grabbing a meal or seeing a movie with Ivey, she spent her evenings at home alone.
In the living room, sliding doors opened to a deck over the garage. The multitude of windows amade the rooms feel bigger, and with the woods off the back and along one side the lake on the other, the small house offered plenty of privacy.
Hope turned to where Corbin stood back, arms folded, just outside the kitchen, giving her a chance to look around. “I love it.”
“Glad to hear it.” He moved closer but still gave Hope plenty of space. “Justin and I only recently moved in ourselves, and we still have a lot to do to the main house, but I figured this place was ready to go.”
“It is, and if you don’t mind, I’ll take it.”
“Well, that was easy.” He glanced down at Justin. “We don’t mind at all, do we?”
Taken aback by the question, Justin lifted his narrow shoulders in uncertainty. “Guess not.”
Casually but also with caution, Corbin put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “We were going down to the lake to check it out, and we already have plans over the weekend. Monday and Tuesday I have errands to run and I don’t know how late I’ll be. We could finalize paperwork next Wednesday, if that works for you.”
“I understand. You’ll want to do a background check.” Hope dug into her purse. “I brought my proof of income and a letter from my employer.”
“Me,” Ivey said, lifting one hand.
As Corbin accepted the paperwork, he fought a grin and lost. “So Wednesday works?”
“Yes…as long as you promise to hold it for me?”
“Consider it yours.”
Blowing out a deep breath, Hope laughed. “Thank you.”
Ivey grinned, too. Obviously Hope loved the place. She knew it was as much the private location as it was the nearness to work. Hope liked people, dealt well with pet owners, but preferred not to run into locals after work.
Just as they were heading out, Ivey’s phone started ringing. She saw it was Geoff and rejected the call. Before she could get it back in her purse, it rang again. Locking her jaw, she silenced the phone.
When she looked up, she found Corbin watching her. The man had the most compelling brown eyes. His irises were caramel, circled by a darker brown. Thick black lashes, too. Kind eyes, she thought. But also…bedroom eyes.
When his mouth quirked, she realized she’d just been standing there staring at him. Heat flooded her face. “Sorry about that. I was just…taking in the view.”
She gestured lamely at him, up and down his body. Then, realizing what she was doing, she dropped her hand. “I’m sure you’re used to it.”
Clearly holding back a grin, he nodded at her purse where she’d stuffed the phone. “Everything okay?”
Her tone sent one of his thick eyebrows up but he looked more amused than offended.
“Sorry.” It wasn’t Corbin’s fault that Geoff was a pain in her backside. “Just a pesky ex.” Oh my God, just shut up, Ivey.
“Not taking no for an answer?”
Appalled at herself, she pressed her lips together. This was why she needed to go it alone for a while. It seemed when it came to men, she had no filter. Geoff claimed that was one of the things that had annoyed him most. The ass had rattled off a list once she told him she was done. As if by naming all her faults, she’d suddenly…what? Realize she was to blame for their failed relationship and be thrilled to have him after all?
Corbin was still watching her, so she said, “Conversation is only important if he’s talking. Otherwise, he doesn’t listen.”
“Then I imagine he misses a lot.”
Why the hell was she detailing her breakup to a perfect stranger? “Ignore me. Sometimes I speak without thinking.”
“Or with sarcasm.” He grinned.
Ivey did a double take. “I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said you’re hot.”
He actually laughed. “Somehow I missed you saying that.”
“But you knew what I meant. Why else would I stare?” Her phone buzzed with an incoming text. Growling, she turned it completely off.
“I meant,” Corbin said carefully, “you were a little sarcastic about your caller. But I’d say you’re allowed, especially when provoked.”
Doing her utmost to rally, Ivey hitched her purse strap over her shoulder. “I promise, I’m better with animals.”
“And rescuing bugs. Two admirable traits.”
Admirable? She realized Hope was heading back down the stairs, Justin following her, so she felt safe whispering, “If you do decide you’d like a pet, let me know. I can point you in the right direction.”
His gaze warmed even more. “Thank you, Ivey.”
The way he said her name, all deep and husky while looking into her eyes, started a slow burn. My, oh my.
Was he flirting? Or was she just desperate for an ego boost?
And seriously, did she want a single dad flirting? At the moment, she didn’t understand his and Justin’s dynamic at all. Corbin seemed like a terrific, attentive father, but then at times he and his son behaved more like visitors toward each other rather than family. Very odd.
Before she got ahead of herself, she should find out more about him. With that decision in mind, she headed down the stairs, aware of Corbin right behind her.
When she stepped out of the garage, an early evening sun had broken through the clouds, turning every wet surface into a sauna. It made her hair frizz even more. If she were flirting with Corbin, that would bother her.
But she wasn’t. No, definitely not. Her rioting hair didn’t matter and was inescapable anyway.
Oblivious to the weather, Justin hunkered down on the lawn to look for more bugs. He was a cute kid, with his innocent blue eyes and loads of curiosity.
“If you find any that are dead,” Ivey suggested, “put them aside and you can feed them to the fish later.”
“Found one,” he said immediately, and to everyone’s consternation, he stuffed it into his pocket.
Corbin winced. “Guess I better go find him a container. Thank you both for coming out. I’ll see you Wednesday, Hope.” His gaze shifted to Ivey, lingering a moment. “And maybe we’ll see you around town.”
Despite everything she’d just told herself, she sort of hoped he did.