Home > Hideaway Heart (Cherry Tree Harbor #2)

Hideaway Heart (Cherry Tree Harbor #2)
Author: Melanie Harlow








I’ll just admit it. I’ve got an ego.

I’m not a jerk or anything—in fact, I think I’m a pretty good fucking time—it’s just that I have a lot of confidence that if a thing can be done, I can do it. And I tell it like it is.

But I’m also a nice guy. I believe in fair fights, second chances, and paying my debts. So when Kevin Sullivan called me that Wednesday night for a favor, I didn’t hesitate.

“You don’t even have to ask twice, Sully,” I said as I opened the sliding glass door and went out onto the patio, still sweaty from a run. “Name the time and place.”

The voice from my past laughed. “Don’t you want to know what it is first?”

“Won’t matter. I know what I owe you.” My right leg bore scars that served as a daily reminder of two things—the heroism of the man I was talking to and how close I’d come to dying six years ago.

“It’s a job,” he said.

“Talk to me.” I grabbed the top of my right foot and stretched out my quad. Those five miles had been a little rough today, had taken me a little longer. I blamed the late August heat. Or maybe my injury. Definitely not my age—I might have been thirty-one, but I felt eighteen.


“I know you’ve been out of the game for a while, but—”

“Not that long,” I told him. “I just left Cole Security about six months ago.”

“That’s what I heard. You moved back home? Opened a bar?”

“The bar isn’t quite open yet. I bought it over the summer, but it needed pretty extensive renovations. If all goes according to plan, opening will be three weeks from tomorrow.” Which meant I really didn’t have time for a side gig right now, but that didn’t matter. If Sully needed me, I was going to come through. “Tell me about the job. Is it domestic or international?”

“Domestic. Practically right in your backyard.”

“My backyard?”

That didn’t make much sense. Currently, I was living with my dad in the house where my four siblings and I had grown up. I glanced at the lawn I’d mowed a thousand times, at the rose bushes our mom had loved and our dad maintained in her memory, at the towering maple tree my brothers and I used to climb while our little sister cried that she wanted to play pirate ship too.

My plan had been to move out over the summer, but the bar was eating all my savings. I even had my eye on a house not too far from my brother Austin and his family, but I’d had to choose between making a down payment and getting the sound system I really wanted for Buckley’s Pub—and I went for the sound. I wanted the place to be comfortable but high-end, somewhere you could wear your ball cap and team jersey but drink expensive-as-fuck whiskey while you watched the game.

“I’m in Cherry Tree Harbor, Michigan, Sully,” I told him, dropping into one of the chairs on the patio. “Who needs security way the hell up here?”

“My little sister.”

I tried to remember if Sully had ever mentioned a sibling. We’d known each other a couple months before I got injured, but as the newest guy on our SEAL platoon, he’d understood he was expected to be seen and not heard. “I’m not sure I knew you had a sister.”

“Her real name is Kelly Jo Sullivan, but professionally she goes by Pixie Hart.”

“Pixie Hart, the country music singer? That’s your sister? How did I not know that?”

“I don’t talk about it much,” he said. “People can get weird about it. And I’m protective of her.”

“I get it.” I was protective too, but fucking hell. A celebrity?

I scowled as I recalled the one and only time I’d agreed to provide security for a rock band. They’d ignored every single safety precaution, trashed their hotel rooms, and generally behaved like drunk, entitled brats, making it impossible for me to do my job. I’d vowed I’d never take another celebrity gig again.

But it was Sully—I couldn’t say no.

“So what’s the deal?” I scrubbed a hand over my beard. “She need security for a concert or something? Music festival?”

“No. She needs a twenty-four-seven bodyguard during her two-week vacation.”

“Twenty-four-seven for two weeks?” The job got even less palatable. “I want to help, Sully, but I’m about to open a business. I can’t leave town.”

“You wouldn’t have to,” he said quickly. “She rented a place outside Petoskey for the first two weeks of September. That’s near you, right?”

“Yes,” I said warily.

“She should not stay there alone, no matter what she says.”

“And what does she say?”

“She’s a bit resistant to the idea.”

“What’s ‘a bit?’”

“I believe her words were, ‘I don’t want some Navy SEAL goon up in my business while I’m on vacation.’”

I laughed. “That seems like more than ‘a bit.’”

“She needs you, Xander. Paparazzi follow her and bang on her car windows. Weirdos go through her trash. She just got back from a sold-out tour where she was mobbed wherever she went.”

I frowned. “Didn’t she have security?”

“She did, but they were a bunch of clowns hired by the label. At least one of them was selling information to photographers—what hotel she was staying at, when she’d be coming and going, where and when she had restaurant reservations, where she was shopping.”

“Assholes,” I muttered.

“They were all fired, but one of them is threatening to sue her. She’s also got a dickhead ex-boyfriend who still thinks he owns her.”

My hackles went up. “Who is he?”

“Duke Pruitt.”

“That guy?” I could feel my face prune up like I’d smelled something bad. “His music sucks.”

“I’m not a fan.”

“Is he harassing her?”

“She says it’s nothing she can’t handle, but the guy’s a dick. I don’t trust him. He treated her like shit for years, and now that she finally left him for good, he wants her back.”

“Maybe now isn’t the best time for a vacation,” I suggested.

“We’ve told her that, but she insists she’s fine, even though she’s five-foot-nothing and has zero self-defense skills, besides a loud voice. And the way she posts on social media all the time, I feel like people are going to figure out where she is.”

I exhaled. “She should stay off social media.”

“She claims that’s impossible and unnecessary.”

Of course she did. Because she was a celebrity who knew everything. “Does she at least have security cameras at this vacation house?”

“Apparently not.”

I exhaled again. Louder this time.

“Look, I know this is a lot to ask. If I was in the states, I’d go with her. But I’m deployed—about to go off the grid—and my gut is telling me it’s a bad idea for her to be up there alone. I trust my gut. You would too, if it was your sister.”

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