Raven's Cove, Book 2
Release Date:

Jul 16, 2024

ISBN:

978-1-962707-26-8

More From Dani →

Forgiving Her First Love

by

Dani Collins

They have a past they’d both rather forget…

When Logan Fraser arrives to save the marina she manages, Sophie Peterson is skeptical and determined not to count on him. She spent her childhood crushing on Logan, and they even had a brief affair when he came back to Raven’s Cove the summer she graduated high school, but he left again, breaking her heart.

Logan escaped Raven’s Cove to design luxury yachts in Florida. He was done with the relentless rain and a childhood of feeling responsible for other people’s unhappiness. His mother stuck out her difficult marriage for Logan’s sake, even when his father had yet another affair. When Sophie looked to Logan for her happiness, he escaped knowing it was every man for himself. Now Logan’s profligate father has died, leaving him an orphaned sister and a financial mess that demands a Herculean effort with with his estranged brothers to resolve.

He doesn’t want to hurt Sophie, but he needs her help. She needs the job to support her son and grandfather. Can they follow their own rules when their chemistry still feels explosive?

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Prologue

April 2nd

As Logan Fraser stepped out into the overcast day, he wondered how he had thought getting pissed to the gills last night would help his situation. He was so hungover, he was liable to throw up in the weeds before he’d walked to the end of the driveway, let alone all the way to the marina.

Prior to crawling out of bed this morning, he had thought yesterday was the worst day of his life. The truth was, ‘worst days’ had been growing exponentially since he’d received the call three days ago that his father had been killed in a small plane crash.

Logan had immediately departed the sunny humidity of the Florida Keys to wake jet-lagged in the frigid damp of Victoria, BC. When he had arrived at the lawyer’s office yesterday, and met up with his two half brothers, Reid and Trystan, he’d had to let go of his dim hope that Wilf Fraser’s death was an April Fool’s Day prank. Their father’s death had become all too real, especially when they were introduced to their baby half sister.

Quarter sister? What did you call it when your father made a fourth child with yet another woman? No matter how they were related, Storm was literally a baby, one who had crapped all over a boardroom table and, metaphorically, all over their lives.

The reading of Wilf’s will had forced Logan to accept that his father was genuinely dead, and that he would never get to tell him what he really thought of him.

Maybe that was for the best, since what Logan thought kept changing. As the gravity of Dad’s finances had piled up, so had Logan’s acrimony. It had reached critical mass when they’d been forced to fly up here to Raven’s Cove, a tiny island among many in the middle of the BC coast.

Traipsing around the collection of buildings they had called home throughout their childhood, they had discovered things were far, far worse here than the lawyers and accountants in Victoria had warned. The house they’d grown up in was showing its age. Wilf’s almost wife, Tiffany, had started making updates, but the renovation had been halted mid-construction due to nonpayment of invoices.

It was the same story at the lodge where sports fishermen had always filled the utilitarian rooms, topping up the company coffers while they caught their limit. Tiffany had talked Wilf into upgrading the whole resort, hoping to draw higher-end visitors and ecotourism.

She was trying to gentrify a truck stop roadhouse on the otherwise desolate West Coast. Raven’s Cove was a place to gas up, restock the galley, or get an emergency repair. Plenty of summer traffic was leisure craft, sure, but they were headed to more populous places like Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, and farther north to Alaska.

Raven’s Cove’s lifeblood was commercial fishing vessels or other working boats. No one flew this far for a family vacation that didn’t offer roller coasters or white sand beaches. There were more accessible places to go whale watching.

Tiffany seemed to have taken an “if you build it” attitude, but who knew what she had been thinking? She had lost her life in the same plane crash.

Logan and his brothers had flown here to Raven’s Cove expecting to use the days leading up to their father’s service to prepare this place for sale and extract an inheritance—not for themselves, but for their sister.

Wilf had given each of his sons money for school when they had left for university. They’d all used it wisely. Logan had expected Wilf to use his own money wisely, not throw it away on costly upgrades that left the whole place under water.

Selling Raven’s Cove it wouldn’t cover it’s debts. No, they had to bring this place back into the black so they could sell it at a profit or there would be nothing for Storm’s upbringing and head start as an adult. There was no one to physically look after her, either. Aside from the three of them, she had a nanny who trembled more than a Chihuahua on a frosty morning, and an absent aunt who may or may not be in trouble with the law.

Logan didn’t know how they would turn this place around and find her a guardian, only that it had to be done. That overwhelming reality was sitting like radioactive waste in his stomach.

Of course, that curdled sensation might also be the cheap scotch and IPA chasers he’d downed last night. Or the guilt baked into hating a man who was beloved by all the people who had stuck around and spent time with him.

Logan passed Moody, the short order cook, heading into the pub. He also looked worse for wear after last night, stubbled and heavy-lidded, but he smiled and waved. Last night, Moody had told Logan that Wilf had paid for him to go to Rupert for some much-needed dental work last year. Quinley, one of the servers, said Wilf had covered the consultation fee for a divorce lawyer, when her ex-husband had tried to move their kids to Nova Scotia.

Umi was coming out of the coffee shop as Logan passed it.

“Morning.” She waved and turned into the first door on the marina building, heading up the stairs inside to the resort office where she ran accounting. She had told them that Wilf had paid her salary without interruption, even when her pregnancy complications had forced her onto bedrest.

Randy, the apprentice marine mechanic, was opening the hardware store that fronted the machine shop. He had screwed up his dates and missed an exam, nearly putting his certification back a semester. Wilf had paid the fee to write the makeup test and arranged for him to get back to Nanaimo to do it.

Everyone seemed to have a story like that, and they had all been eager to share them with Logan and his brothers. Maybe they had thought it would help with the grief, but mostly they left Logan feeling more infuriated with his father than ever.

Wilf had always been a spendthrift. He had wanted to be loved, so he had purchased affection. How could they not see that? If he was so compassionate, how had he been so stupidly thoughtless so many times to the people he was supposed to love?

As he rounded the corner of the marina building and looked at the boatyard in the watery light of morning, all Logan saw was the giant mess that Wilf had left, one that he and his brothers would have to clean up.

Oh Christ. He wasn’t going to make it upstairs to the marina office. He’d only had coffee, but it refused to stay down. Better to lose it out here, rather than inside.

He hurried behind the brick building and leaned a hand against a tree trunk while he retched out all sorts of poor life decisions.

Above him, where the road rose up the bank toward the one-room schoolhouse, a young voice asked, “Are you okay?”

This was why he loathed this town. It wasn’t even a town. It was a hundred and fifty people living cheek by jowl in a cluster of houses around a marina. The military had built this place on First Nations land during World War II, to service the navy. It was still the only place to repair a boat within a day’s sail from anywhere. Nobody wanted to be here. If your boat broke down, you were stuck here. It shouldn’t be a sentence, but for most it was.

Not him, though. Nope. No way. He was giving it one week. That’s all.

Please let it only be one week.

“I’m fine,” he lied, spitting and straightening to look up at the boy of seven or eight. He wore a blue raincoat with dinosaur skeletons on it, rubber boots, and a red backpack.

“My mom gives me ginger ale when I’m sick. Do you want some?”

“You got some in your backpack?” Something in the kid’s big, earnest eyes tickled a memory in Logan’s chest.

“No.” He chuckled. “I can go to the store for you.”

“Thanks, but I’m not sick. I’m suffering the consequences of my actions.” A cold ginger ale sounded amazing, though.

“I thought you were having a hangover.”

“I do have a hangover. How do you know what a hangover is?”

“My grandpa has one. Mom is really mad.”

Oh shit. Now he was going to retch for an entirely different reason.

Those eyes. He knew those eyes way too well. And that helpful personality, the one that wanted to take care of him. His entire youth and a very hot angry week in his early twenties had been cushioned by big brown eyes exactly like those ones.

A piledriver had arrived to pound the knowledge into the back of his screaming skull, reminding him that yesterday was not the worst day of his life. That would be today, but he still asked with faint hope, “Who’s your grandpa, little man?”

“Arthur Marshall.”

“Thought so. I was drinking his scotch last night.” He regretted it even more now.

“Is that like butterscotch? Is it good?”

“Not really. Your mom is Sophie Hughes?”

“Mmm-hmm.” He nodded his head inside the hood of his raincoat.

“How old are you?” Logan was doing math that he’d done several times. The first time had been eight years ago, when his mother had told him Sophie was pregnant. He’d run the same figures four years later, when he’d seen her at his mother’s wedding. Sophie had been there with another man and a preschooler who had disappeared after an hour. She had ignored Logan the entire evening.

“I’m seven.”

“And who’s your dad?”

“Nolan Yantz. Do you want to know my name?”

“Brian?” Logan recollected vaguely.

“Everyone thinks that. No. It’s Biyen. Bye-En,” he pronounced slowly. “My dad picked it.” In the distance, the school bell rang. He looked up the hill. “I should go or I’ll be marked late.”

“Okay. Seeya later.” I’m going to stand here and lose a little bit more of the guts your mother hates.

Sophie wouldn’t have lied to him about something as important as whether he was the father of her kid. He had to believe that. She wouldn’t have lied to her mother or his. Not to her grandfather, either. Or her own kid.

Which meant she really had leapt from his bed into another man’s, despite a crush on him that had lasted a decade. A crush he had crushed beneath his Nike runners on his way to the ferry slip.

He had no right to be hurt or disgusted or even curious about her life or her son. He was the one who had left. He would do it again inside of a week.

Whatever had been between him and Sophie back in the day was very much over.

But his belly twisted with one more spasm. He had another spit before he rallied himself to walk inside and face her.

End of Excerpt

This book will begin shipping July 16, 2024

Forgiving Her First Love is available in the following formats:

ISBN: 978-1-962707-26-8

July 16, 2024

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