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Summer at Willow Lake
Summer at Willow Lake (Lakeshore Chronicles #1)
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

Susan gives an overview of the book:

Real estate expert Olivia Bellamy reluctantly trades a trendy Manhattan summer for her family's old resort camp in the Catskills, where her primary task will be renovating the bungalow colongy for her grandparents, who want one last summer together filled with fun, friends and family. A posh resort in its heyday, the camp is now in disarray and Olivia is forced to hire contractor Connor Davis — a still-smoldering flame from her own summers at camp But as the days grow warm, not even the inviting blue waters of Willow Lake can cool the passions flaring or keep shocking secrets at bay. The nostalgic joy of summers past breathes new promise into a special place and people…a promise meant to last long after the season ends.
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Real estate expert Olivia Bellamy reluctantly trades a trendy Manhattan summer for her family's old resort camp in the Catskills, where her primary task will be renovating the bungalow colongy for her grandparents, who want one last summer together filled with fun, friends and family. A posh resort in its heyday, the camp is now in disarray and Olivia is forced to hire contractor Connor Davis — a still-smoldering flame from her own summers at camp

But as the days grow warm, not even the inviting blue waters of Willow Lake can cool the passions flaring or keep shocking secrets at bay. The nostalgic joy of summers past breathes new promise into a special place and people…a promise meant to last long after the season ends.

Read an excerpt »

Welcome to Camp Kioga

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "America's greatest contribution to the world is the summer camp." Anyone who visits Camp Kioga discovers this for himself. Camp Kioga is a place where dreams still live and breathe, where you can dive into the crystalline waters of a pristine lake, hike to a mountaintop and lift your eyes to heaven, gaze into the brightly glowing embers of a campfire at night, and imagine all that life has in store for you.

Camp Kioga Rules

Camp Kioga flies three flags -- the official camp flag, and the flags of the state of New York and the United States -- which are raised each morning at sunrise and saluted by all campers at reveille. When flags are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the right of the flag of the United States. When the flag is half masted, both flags are half masted, with the U.S. flag at the midpoint and the other flags below.

Prologue

Olivia Bellamy tried to decide what was worse. Being trapped at the top of a flagpole with no help in sight, or having help arrive in the form of a Hells Angel.

Her plan to raise the flags over Camp Kioga for the first time in ten years had seemed so simple. Then the cable and pulley snagged, but Olivia was undaunted. She had set up an old aluminum ladder and climbed to the top, only to discover she still couldn't reach the snag. Shinnying up the pole was no big deal, she told herself -- until she accidentally kicked over the ladder.

You idiot, she thought, hugging the pole for dear life. It was a long way down, and this was not exactly the Batpole. The galvanized steel was old and corroded, and if she slid down, she'd rip the skin from her hands and inner thighs.

She had just begun to inch toward the ground when a loud snort of unmuffled exhaust sounded from the road. She was so startled that she nearly let go of the pole. Instinctively, she clung tighter and shut her eyes. Go away, she thought. I can't deal with whoever you are right now.

The blast of the engine grew louder, and she opened her eyes. The intruder turned out to be a biker clad in black leather, his face concealed by a menacing black helmet and shades. Behind the black-and-chrome motorcycle, a rooster tail of dust rose in a tall plume.

Just my luck, she thought. Here I am in the middle of nowhere, and Easy Rider comes to my rescue.

Her arms and shoulders were starting to tremble. So much for all those hours of strength training at the gym.

At the base of the flagpole, the biker stopped, dismounted and engaged the kickstand. Then he leaned back to look straight up at her.

Despite the circumstances, Olivia found herself wondering what her butt looked like from his perspective. Growing up as she had, comforting herself with food until she'd earned any number of unflattering childhood nicknames, she'd never quite gotten over feeling self-conscious about her figure.

Play it cool, she decided. "Hey," she said.

"Hey. What's up?" Though she couldn't see his face, Olivia thought she detected a grin in his voice. She became sure of it when he added, "Okay, sorry. Couldn't help myself."

Great. Just her luck. A wise guy.

To his credit, he didn't make her suffer. He picked up the ladder and leaned it against the flagpole. "Take it slow," he coached her. "I'll hold this steady."

Olivia was sweating now, having reached the limit of her endurance. She scooted downward inch by inch, while her denim shorts rode upward. She hoped he wouldn't notice they were giving her an enormous wedgie.

"You're almost there," called the stranger. "Just a little more."

The lower she shinnied, the less he sounded like a stranger. By the time her foot touched the top rung of the ladder, she was having seriously bad premonitions about this guy. She hadn't been anywhere near this place in years, this camp where she'd found both her wildest dreams and her worst nightmares. These days, she didn't know a soul in the remote mountain wilderness . . . did she?

In true neurotic fashion, she couldn't stop thinking about the fact that she hadn't done anything to her hair that morning. She wasn't wearing a smidge of makeup. She couldn't even recall whether or not she'd brushed her teeth. And the denim cutoffs she was wearing were too short. The tank top, too clingy.

Climbing down the ladder, she knew with each step that what awaited her at the bottom would be, at best, awkward humiliation. In order to reach solid ground, she was forced to descend into his waiting arms, which were braced on either side of the ladder to hold it steady. He smelled of leather and something else. The wind, maybe.

Her muscles, which had been screaming in protest a moment ago, now threatened to go slack with exhaustion. She used the last of her strength to give his arm a push so she wasn't trapped. He let go of the ladder and held up his cyborg hands, palms out, as if to show he came in peace. They were huge, in their black gloves. Darth Vader hands. Terminator hands.

"Okay," he said. "You're safe now."

She leaned back against the ladder. When she looked up at him, the ground beneath her feet didn't feel so safe. Nothing felt safe.

He was huge, his bulk enhanced by all that leather, including chaps. A biker in chaps over faded Levi's, the leather worn to softness in all the most interesting places. She eyed the ripped T-shirt visible through the half-open jacket. His battered boots appeared as though they belonged to a man who actually worked in them. Except for the chains. She could see no earthly purpose for that bit of bling, except that it was sexy. Oh, God. It was.

"Thanks," she said, quickly stepping out from between the guy and the ladder. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come along." In his mirrored glasses, she could see her own reflection -- flushed cheeks, wind-tossed hair. She wiped her hands on her shorts. "What, um . . ." She fumbled. Maybe it wasn't him. Maybe all this fresh air and sunshine had muddled her brain. She adopted a neutral tone and decided to play it cool. "Can I help you?"

"I think it's the other way around. You left a message on my voice mail. Something about a construction project?" With that, he peeled away the sunglasses, then unstrapped the helmet and took it off.

Oh, God, Olivia thought. I wanted it to be anyone but you.

He removed the gloves, keeping his eyes on her as he tugged them off, finger by finger. He squinted. "Do I . . . have we met?"

Was he kidding? she wondered. Did he really not know?

When she didn't respond, he turned away and expertly raised the flag. Immediately, the wind filled it like a sail.

Watching him, Olivia forgot to move. To breathe. To think. With one look at those heartbreaker eyes, she was hurled back in time, the years peeling away like pages from a calendar. She wasn't looking at Easy Rider. She was looking into the face of a man, but in those ice-blue eyes, she could see the boy he was so long ago.

And not just any boy. The boy. The one who owned all the firsts, every significant milestone of her troubled and painful adolescence -- the first boy she'd ever loved. The first she'd ever kissed. The first she'd ever -- The first to break her heart.

Her whole body flared to life with a fiery blush. Maybe that was why the term "old flame" had been invented. Somebody always got burned.

"Connor Davis," she said, speaking his name aloud for the first time in nine years. "Fancy meeting you here." Inside, she was thinking, I want to die. Let me die right here, right now, and I'll never ask for another thing as long as I live.

"That's me," he said unnecessarily.

As if she could forget. The promise of the boy he had been was fulfilled in the man standing before her. He would be twenty-eight now, to her twenty-seven. Lanky height had filled out with solid breadth. His cocky grin and twinkling eyes were still the same, though the GI Joe jawline had been softened by a day's growth of beard. And he still -- Olivia blinked, making sure she wasn't seeing things -- yes, he still wore a tiny silver hoop in one ear. She herself had done the piercing, thirteen years ago, it must have been.

"So you're . . ." He studied the back of his left hand, where it appeared that he had scrawled something in purple ink. "You're Olive Bellamy?"

"Olivia." She prayed for him to recognize her the way she had recognized him, as someone from the past, someone important, someone who'd had a life-changing impact on his future. God, someone who'd risked getting sent home from camp for piercing his ear.

"Yeah, sorry. Olivia." He studied her with blatant male appreciation. He clearly misinterpreted her look of outrage. "Didn't have a piece of paper handy when I checked my messages," he explained, indicating the purple ink with which he'd scrawled a message on his hand. Then he frowned. "Have we met before?"

She gave a short, harsh laugh. "You're kidding, right? This is a joke." Had she really changed that much? Well, okay, yes. Nearly a decade had passed. She'd lost a ton of weight. Gone from nut brown to honey blond. Traded her glasses for contacts. But still . . .

He just stared at her. Clueless. "Should I know you?"

She folded her arms, glared at him and summoned a phrase he'd probably remember, because it was one of the first lies they'd ever told each other. "I'm your new best friend," she said, and watched the color drain from his tanned, handsome face.

His gorgeous blue eyes narrowed and then widened in dawning wonder. His Adam's apple rippled as he swallowed, then quickly cleared his throat.

"Holy shit," he said in a low murmur. His hand went up in an unconscious gesture and touched the little sliver hoop. "Lolly?"

Camp Kioga Code of Conduct

Everyone is expected to participate in all planned activities as defined by the camp schedule and to be in regulation dress. Counselors are responsible for ensuring that campers participate in all sessions of the planned program activities, unless excused by the camp nurse or the director.

One

Summer 1991

"Lolly." The tall, lanky boy hiking up the trail behind her spoke for the first time since they left base camp. "What the hell kind of name is Lolly?"

"The kind that's stenciled on the back of my shirt," she said, flipping a brown pigtail over one shoulder. To her dismay, she felt herself blushing. Cripes, he was just a dumb boy, and all he'd done was ask her a simple question.

Wrong, she thought, hearing a game-show buzz in her head. He was pretty much the cutest boy in Eagle Lodge, the twelve-to-fourteens. And it hadn't been a question so much as a smart remark designed to rattle her. Plus, he said hell. Lolly would never admit it, but she didn't like swearing. Whenever she tried saying a swearword herself, she always stammered and blushed, and everyone could instantly see how uncool she was.

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Susan

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island,...

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