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Sweet Little Lies: Heartbreaker Bay Book 1

Jill Shalvis

  Copyright © 2016 Jill Shalvis

  Excerpt from The Trouble With Mistletoe copyright © 2016 Jill Shalvis

  Cover photograph © Lee Avison/Arcangel Images

  Author photograph ©

  The right of Jill Shalvis to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  First published in this Ebook edition in 2016



  Published by arrangement with Avon Books,

  An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

  Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

  All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

  eISBN 978 1 4722 4291 4


  An Hachette UK Company

  Carmelite House

  50 Victoria Embankment

  London EC4Y 0DZ

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  About the Author

  Praise for Jill Shalvis

  By Jill Shalvis

  About the Book


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33


  A sneak peek of The Trouble With Mistletoe

  Relax at Cedar Ridge

  Welcome to Lucky Harbor

  Find out more about Headline Eternal

  About the Author

  New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis is the author of many novels including her acclaimed Lucky Harbor, Animal Magnetism and Cedar Ridge series. The RITA winner and three-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe.

  Visit her website at for a complete book list and daily blog, and for other news, or follow her on Twitter @JillShalvis.

  Jill Shalvis. Delightfully addictive:

  ‘Packed with the trademark Shalvis humor and intense intimacy, it is definitely a must-read . . . If love, laughter and passion are the keys to any great romance, then this novel hits every note’ Romantic Times

  ‘Heart-warming and sexy . . . an abundance of chemistry, smoldering romance, and hilarious antics’ Publishers Weekly

  ‘[Shalvis] has quickly become one of my go-to authors of contemporary romance. Her writing is smart, fun, and sexy, and her books never fail to leave a smile on my face long after I’ve closed the last page . . . Jill Shalvis is an author not to be missed!’ The Romance Dish

  ‘Jill Shalvis is such a talented author that she brings to life characters who make you laugh, cry, and are a joy to read’ Romance Reviews Today

  ‘What I love about Jill Shalvis’s books is that she writes sexy, adorable heroes . . . the sexual tension is out of this world. And of course, in true Shalvis fashion, she expertly mixes in humor that has you laughing out loud’ Heroes and Heartbreakers

  ‘I always enjoy reading a Jill Shalvis book. She’s a consistently elegant, bold, clever writer . . . Very witty – I laughed out loud countless times and these scenes are sizzling’ All About Romance

  ‘If you have not read a Jill Shalvis novel yet, then you really have not read a real romance yet either!’ Book Cove Reviews

  ‘Engaging writing, characters that walk straight into your heart, touching, hilarious’ Library Journal

  By Jill Shalvis

  Heartbreaker Bay Series

  Sweet Little Lies

  The Trouble With Mistletoe

  Cedar Ridge Series

  Second Chance Summer

  My Kind Of Wonderful

  Nobody But You

  Animal Magnetism Series

  Animal Magnetism

  Animal Attraction

  Rescue My Heart

  Rumour Has It

  Then Came You

  Still The One

  All I Want

  Lucky Harbor Series

  Simply Irresistible

  The Sweetest Thing

  Head Over Heels

  Lucky In Love

  At Last

  Forever And A Day

  It Had To Be You

  Always On My Mind

  Once In A Lifetime

  It’s In His Kiss

  He’s So Fine

  One In A Million

  Merry Christmas, Baby &

  Under The Mistletoe Omnibus (e-novella)

  About the Book

  What if you fall for the one guy you can’t have?

  As the captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru Harris can handle rough seas – the hard part is life on dry land. Especially when it comes to resisting her growing feelings for her new friend, Finn O’Riley. He’s kind, he’s gorgeous and he’s Mr Right – for anybody but her.

  Pru has a particular reason for wanting Finn to find happiness and it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But things get tricky when it becomes clear that, when it comes to Pru, there’s more than friendship on Finn’s mind – because she’s been keeping a secret that could change everything . . .

  Want more warm, funny romance? Visit gorgeous Cedar Ridge, spellbinding Lucky Harbor or experience some Animal Magnetism in Sunshine, Idaho in Jill’s other unforgettable series.

  To HelenKay Dimon for being a real friend (the very best kind!) Also for introducing me to May Chen, the new love of my life.

  Thanks for sharing her.

  And to May Chen, for bringing back my love of writing.

  Chapter 1


  Pru Harris’s mom had taught her to make wishes on pink cars, falling leaves, and brass lamps, because wishing on something as ordinary as stars or wishing wells was a sign of no imagination.

  Clearly the woman standing not three feet away in the light mist, searching her purse for change to toss into the courtyard fountain hadn’t been raised by a hippie mom as Pru had been.

  Not that it mattered, since her mom had been wrong. Wishes, along with things like winning the lotto or finding a unicorn, never happened in real life.

  The woman, shielding her eyes from the light rain with one hand, holding a coin in her other, sent Pru a wry grimace. “I know it’s silly, but it’s a hit-rock-bottom thing.”

  Something Pru
understood all too well. She set a wriggly Thor down and shook her arms to try and bring back some circulation. Twenty-five pounds of wet, tubby, afraid-of-his-own-shadow mutt had felt like seventy-five by the end of their thirty-minute walk home from work.

  Thor objected to being on the wet ground with a sharp bark. Thor didn’t like rain.

  Or walking.

  But he loved Pru more than life itself so he stuck close, his tail wagging slowly as he watched her face to determine what mood they were in.

  The woman blinked and stared down at Thor. “Oh,” she said, surprised. “I thought it was a really fat cat.”

  Thor’s tail stopped wagging and he barked again, as if to prove that not only was he all dog, he was big, badass dog.

  Because Thor—a rescue of undetermined breed—also believed he was a bullmastiff.

  When the woman took a step back, Pru sighed and picked him back up again. His old man face was creased into a protective frown, his front paws dangling, his tail back to wagging now that he was suddenly tall. “Sorry,” Pru said. “He can’t see well and it makes him grumpy, but he’s not a cat.” She gave Thor a behave squeeze. “He only acts like one.”

  Thor volleyed back a look that said Pru might want to not leave her favorite shoes unattended tonight.

  The woman’s focus turned back to the fountain and she eyed the quarter in her hand. “They say it’s never too late to wish on love, right?”

  “Right,” Pru said. Because they did say that. And just because in her own personal experience love had proven even rarer than unicorns didn’t mean she’d step on someone else’s hopes and dreams.

  A sudden bolt of lightning lit up the San Francisco skyline like the Fourth of July. Except it was June, and cold as the Arctic. Thor squeaked and shoved his face into Pru’s neck. Pru started to count but didn’t even get to One-Mississippi before the thunder boomed loud enough to make them all jump.

  “Yikes.” The woman dropped the quarter back into her purse. “Not even love’s worth getting electrocuted.” And she ran off.

  Pru and Thor did the same, heading across the cobblestone courtyard. Normally she took her time here, enjoying the glorious old architecture of the building, the corbeled brick and exposed iron trusses, the big windows, but the rain had begun to fall in earnest now, hitting so hard that the drops bounced back up to her knees. In less than ten seconds, she was drenched through, her clothes clinging to her skin, filling her ankle boots so that they squished with each step.

  “Slow down, sweetness!” someone called out. It was the old homeless guy who was usually in the alley. With his skin tanned to the consistency of leather and his long, wispy white cotton-ball hair down to the collar of his loud pineapples-and-parrots Hawaiian shirt, he looked like Doc from Back to the Future, plus a few decades. A century tops. “You can’t get much wetter,” he said.

  But Pru wasn’t actually trying to dodge the weather, she loved the rain. She was trying to dodge her demons, something she was beginning to suspect couldn’t be done.

  “Gotta get to my apartment,” she said, breathless from her mad dash. When she’d hit twenty-six, her spin class instructor had teasingly told her that it was all downhill from here on out, she hadn’t believed him. Joke was on her.

  “What’s the big rush?”

  Resigned to a chat, Pru stopped. Old Guy was sweet and kind, even if he had refused to tell her his name, claiming to have forgotten it way back in the seventies. True or not, she’d been feeding him since she’d moved into this building three weeks ago. “The cable company’s finally coming today,” she said. “They said five o’clock.”

  “That’s what they told you yesterday. And last week,” he said, trying to pet Thor, who wasn’t having any of it.

  Another thing on Thor’s hate list—men.

  “But this time they mean it,” Pru said and set Thor down. At least that’s what the cable company supervisor had promised Pru on the phone, and she needed cable TV. Bad. The finals of So You Think You Can Dance were on tomorrow night.

  “’Scuse me,” someone said as he came from the elevator well and started to brush past her. He wore a hat low over his eyes to keep the rain out of his face and the cable company’s logo on his pec. He was carrying a toolbox and looking peeved by life in general.

  Thor began a low growl deep in his throat while hiding behind Pru’s legs. He sounded fierce, but he looked ridiculous, especially wet. He had the fur of a Yorkshire terrier—if that Yorkshire terrier was fat—even though he was really a complete Heinz 57. And hell, maybe he was part cat. Except that only one of his ears folded over. The other stood straight up, giving him a perpetually confused look.

  No self-respecting cat would have allowed such a thing. In fact, the cable guy took one look at him and snorted, and then kept moving.

  “Wait!” Pru yelled after him. “Are you looking for 3C?”

  He stopped, his gaze running over her, slowing at her torso. “Actually,” he said. “I’m more a double D man myself.”

  Pru looked down at herself. Her shirt had suctioned itself to her breasts. Narrowing her eyes, she crossed her arms over her decidedly not DDs. “Let me be more clear,” she said, tightening her grip on Thor’s leash because he was still growling, although he was doing it very quietly because he only wanted to pretend to be a tough guy. “Are you looking for the person who lives in apartment 3C?”

  “I was but no one’s home.” He eyed Thor. “Is that a dog?”

  “Yes! And I’m 3C,” Pru said. “I’m home!”

  He shook his head. “You didn’t answer your door.”

  “I will now, I promise.” She pulled her keys from her bag. “We can just run up there right now and—”

  “No can do, dude. It’s five o’clock straight up.” He waved his watch to prove it. “I’m off the clock.”


  But nothing, he was gone, walking off into the downpour, vanishing into the fog like they were on the set of a horror flick.

  Thor stopped growling.

  “Great,” Pru muttered. “Just great.”

  Old Guy slid his dentures around some. “I could hook up your cable for you. I’ve seen someone do it once or twice.”

  The old man, like the old Pacific Heights building around them, had seen better days, but both held a certain old-fashioned charm—which didn’t mean she trusted him inside her apartment. “Thanks,” she said. “But this is for the best. I don’t really need cable TV all that bad.”

  “But the finals of So You Think You Can Dance are on tomorrow night.”

  She sighed. “I know.”

  Another bolt of lightning lit the sky, and again was immediately followed by a crack of thunder that echoed off the courtyard’s stone walls and shook the ground beneath their feet.

  “That’s my exit,” Old Guy said and disappeared into the alley.

  Pru got Thor upstairs, rubbed him down with a towel and tucked him into his bed. She’d thought she wanted the same for herself, but she was hungry and there was nothing good in her refrigerator. So she quickly changed into dry clothes and went back downstairs.

  Still raining.

  One of these days she was going to buy an umbrella. For now, she made the mad dash toward the northeast corner of the building, past the Coffee Bar, the Waffle Shop, and the South Bark Mutt Shop—all closed, past The Canvas tattoo studio—open—and went straight for the Irish Pub.

  Without the lure of cable to make her evening, she needed chicken wings.

  And nobody made chicken wings like O’Riley’s.

  It’s not the chicken wings you’re wanting, a small voice inside her head said. And that was fact. Nope, what drew her into O’Riley’s like a bee to honey was the six-foot, broad-shouldered, dark eyes, dark smile of Finn O’Riley himself.

  From her three weeks in the building, she knew the people who lived and/or worked here were tight. And she knew that it was in a big part thanks to Finn because he was the glue, the steady one.

  She kn
ew more too. More than she should.

  “Hey!” Old Guy stuck his head out of the alley. “If you’re getting us wings, don’t forget extra sauce!”

  She waved at him, and once again dripping wet, entered O’Riley’s where she stood for a second getting her bearings.

  Okay, that was a total lie. She stood there pretending to get her bearings while her gaze sought out the bar and the guys behind it.

  There were two of them working tonight. Twenty-two-year-old Sean was flipping bottles, juggling them to the catcalls and wild amusement of a group of women all belly up to the bar, wooing them with his wide smile and laughing eyes. But he wasn’t the one Pru’s gaze gravitated to like he was a rack of double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

  Nope, that honor went to the guy who ran the place, Sean’s older brother. All lean muscle and easy confidence, Finn O’Riley wasn’t pandering to the crowd. He never did. He moved quickly and efficiently without show, quietly hustling to fill the orders, keeping an eye on the kitchen, as always steady as a rock under pressure, doing all the real work.

  Pru could watch him all day. It was his hands, she’d decided, they were constantly moving with expert precision. He was busy, way too busy for her, of course, which was only one of the many reasons why she hadn’t allowed herself to fantasize about him doing deliciously naughty, wicked things to her in her bed.

  Whoops. That was another big fat lie.

  She’d totally fantasized about him doing deliciously naughty, wicked things to her in bed. And also out of it.

  He was her unicorn.

  He bent low behind the bar for something and an entire row of women seated on the barstools leaned in unison for a better view. Meerkats on parade.

  When he straightened a few seconds later, he was hoisting a huge crate of something, maybe clean glasses, and not looking like he was straining too much either. This was in no doubt thanks to all that lean, hard muscle visible beneath his black tee and faded jeans. His biceps bulged as he turned, allowing her to see that his Levi’s fit him perfectly, front and back.

  If he noticed his avid audience, he gave no hint of it. He merely set the crate down on the counter, and ignoring the women ogling him, nodded a silent hello in Pru’s direction.