The magic of Potter Lake strikes again when Evonne Girard— cosmetologist and obsessed podcast fan meets Taj Wright— Registered Nurse and musician following a nasty fall in the parking lot at the Curl & Dye. There are jokes, there is flirting, lingering stares abound… but neither thinks they’ll see the other again any time soon.
When Evonne takes a step toward adulting and moves out of her parent’s home, she discovers that the cute house she’s renting belongs to the handsome, sexy nurse with the eyes she can’t forget. But she’s not in Potter Lake to meet a man. She’s on a mission to prove to her parents that she isn’t the failure that showed up on their doorstep ten years ago.
Taj is delighted to rent his guest house to the pretty, snappy former patient he can’t stop thinking about. Potter Lake was a place to run when his dream died, a haven to start over and give back what was given to him. When the opportunity to live that dream again rolls around, Taj isn’t sure that he wants it to come true.
Evonne and Taj are forced to live in close quarters during a severe storm and quickly become more than landlord and tenant. When the same storm drives them from Potter Lake to a beachside retreat, worlds collide.
One shared secret could change the trajectory of something beautiful. On a rainy night in Georgia, two hearts meet. They’re never the same again.
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Ebony followed closely behind me in the rental truck
while I drove the rest of my belongings in my car. I pulled
into the driveway and she parked behind me, then hopped
right out with her mouth wide open. I could understand her
reaction— the house was a beautiful stone stucco with huge
windows facing the street.
“This is what we’re doing now, Vonnie? This is how we
livin’? Started in the basement, now we here?”
“The owner said he left the key in the mailbox. Let’s grab
them and I’ll give you a tour.”
“Oh, he’s a he, is he?” Ebony followed. “He’s probably
rich, too with this big ass house. Living here all by his lonesome.
Have you met him?”
“Not yet. He’s a doctor or something so I’ll probably
never see him.”
I reached into the mailbox and felt hard metal. I pulled
out a set of keys and shook them in Ebony’s face. She
frowned and swatted them away.
“A doctor? If you don’t
snatch him up, I will.”
“The lease said the house was owned by some holding
company, so I don’t know his name.”
“I hope he’s nice. You know, not one of those thinks he’s
“Me too, considering he lives so close. As long as he stays
on his side of the property, we’ll be good.”
“Unless he’s cute, then he can be on all of the property, if
you know what I’m saying.”
I took the path along the outside of the house, toward
the front door. It was standard white metal, but it felt like
the entrance to freedom to me. I inserted the key in the
deadbolt and then the knob lock and swung the door open.
A scent hit my nose, something light and clean. After
walking around for a few minutes, I found the source: air
freshener plug-ins, the Clean Linen scent. A small bouquet
of bright yellow and white daisies sat on the kitchen counter
along with a brief note: Welcome Home. We’ll meet
I loved the friendly gesture. My landlord and I were
going to get along fine.
I set the note down and turned a full revolution, taking it
all in. Ebony walked through the place, swooning at everything
from the picture windows to the view of the backyard.
“Ooh, Vonnie! You can do your videos here!” She dipped
into an alcove space off of the kitchen. It was almost a room,
the perfect amount of space.
“Yeah, I thought that would be a good spot. I’m going
to get something to dress up the back wall. I’ll do those
open bookcases for products and display stands for my
wigs. I can mount the ring light on this wall,” I tapped the
wall nearest me. “And I’ll set up a shelf for the camera to
sit. I can edit the videos anywhere, so I’ll probably do
A rich tenor that I hoped wasn’t attached to someone
standing inside my place called into the house. I glanced at
Ebony, eyes wide. She bounded out of the alcove.
“Eb! Wait—” I wanted to grab her, in case it was a serial
killer who haunted small towns and kidnapped cute black
“Hey. We’re back here.” Brilliant, Eb. Tell him exactly
where to find us, chop us up and bury us in the backyard. “Who’s
Footsteps sounded on the tile just inside the door. “Hi.
I’m here for Evonne.”
I followed her around the corner. “Way to tell a stranger
exactly where we are, Ebony. You know that’s how that girl
got murdered on last week’s episode of The Butler Did It.”
My eyes sought out anything I could use for a weapon, if
I needed it. But then I realized that I wouldn’t. Need a
weapon, that was.
Because I knew the man standing in my kitchen. I could
never forget his soulful eyes, gorgeous dark skin, full lips…
and the blue scrubs that seemed cut to fit him specifically,
the way they stretched across his chest and cradled his arms
in such a nice way.
“Nurse Dude,” I finally said, when I could find my voice.
He was such a pleasant sight, considering that he was probably
not a serial killer.
“Nurse Dude? Miss Girard?” Ebony repeated, swiveling
her head from me to him and back. “You know him?”
“I-I-I…how... what...” I stuttered, then shook my head to
arrange my thoughts and cajole my mouth into forming a
complete sentence. “This is my new place. Do you live
“Yes, I’d say I live close.” He laughed, showing all of his
teeth. “I own the place. I left you the flowers and the note…
I snapped my fingers and pointed. “TW! Taj Wright,
“The one and the same,” he said, with a modest nod. “I
intended to be here when you pulled up. I don’t normally
work day shift, but I switched so I could be here. We had a
last minute walk-in and—”
He waved a hand, then tugged at the hem of his scrubs.
“So, welcome. Let me know if you have any questions. And
you’ll want to pull the moving truck into the driveway. It
sticks out into the street and the neighbors...”
He hummed, wagging his head side to side while rolling
his eyes. “I’m not leaving again tonight, so use my space.”
“Ebony?” I hinted, since she had the key to the truck, but
she stood there, her hands propped on her hips and her
chest pushed up and out. “Ebony! Go move the truck!”
“Oh, right!” She pulled the key from her pocket and
teetered out on her stilettos. “Be right back!”
I moved into the kitchen and leaned against the counter
in front of the dishwasher. The scent of the air freshener hit
me again and I realized that he had been inside my home. It
didn’t feel like a violation, considering the house belonged
to him. It was weird though, knowing that he had set things
up for me, bought flowers, wrote a note.
“So...” He mimicked, moving around the outside of the
kitchen, leaning a set of meaty forearms onto the counter,
muscular without hulking out like an NFL fullback.
Whew. I was going to be living mere feet from him? Look
“So...” I repeated, wishing I had a bottle of water because
my survey of him had me parched. “You didn't think you
should let me know that you, in fact, are TWM, LLC, the
holding company referenced on the lease? And that you
own this house and would be renting to me? And that it was
the same you that treated me at the clinic?”
He shrugged strong shoulders and smirked. “I put the
house under my LLC for tax and privacy purposes. And
there’s no law that says a nurse can’t rent a house to a former
patient. Speaking of—”
He straightened, stretching out his arm. “Let me
examine that cut. You didn’t come back to the clinic and let
me check it out.”
“Oh…” I clutched my still-tender hand to my chest. “No
need. It’s fine.”
“Then let me see it.”
“It’s okay. You did a fine job.”
“Then let me see it. Did it not heal okay?”
“Is this what it’s going to be like? You coming down here
to randomly check me for a fever?”
He laughed, dropping his hand. “Not at all. I take that
very seriously. I only came in tonight because the door was
open and someone was here to tell me to come in.”
“In the future, don’t do anything Ebony tells you to do.
She has ulterior motives. She plans to kidnap you and make
you her sex slave or Sugar Daddy.”
“Wait until you find out I’m only halfway kidding.”
He laughed again, so hard this time that the corners of
his eyes crinkled up. “So… well, I’ll let you unpack and get
settled. I came down to tell you about the truck. Would be a
terrible way to meet the neighborhood busy bodies.” He
moved toward the door, talking as he walked. “Let me know
if you have any questions. My cell phone number is on the
lease, so call any time.”
But suddenly I wasn’t ready for him to leave. “Hey, if you
want to check this,” I offered, waiving my injured hand in
the air. “For checking’s sake. It does still hurt.”
His brow furrowed. He came around the counter toward
me and immediately cupped my hand in his. He was warm
and his skin was soft. He’d been wearing gloves when he
“Any sharp pain? Like a stabbing feeling or throbbing?”
“More tender, not constant throbbing pain. But if I press
on it—” I did so, then flinched, sucking in air through my
“Well, then don’t do that.”
He peeled back the bandage and inspected the progress.
“Hmmm. It shouldn’t be this red, but it could be irritated by
using the hand a lot. Try to give it a rest tonight and leave
the bandage off. Let it breathe. Let’s see how it looks tomorrow.
It seems to have closed up fine.”
“You think I’ll have a scar?”
He peered closer, tipping his head one way and then the
other. “Hard to tell. Why?”
“They’re often on camera, so—”
“Camera?” His eyes rolled up, meeting mine. “Will you
be shooting any low budget films?”
I laughed, yanking my hand back from his grasp. Then
regretted doing so, not from the twinge of pain but because
he was so warm. “I have a web channel. Hair by E. I do
beauty and hair reviews and stuff. Aside from that, I need to
be able to use both of my hands at the salon.”
“You should be fine, Miss Girard. But let me know if you
need a referral to a plastic surgeon.” A beautiful brown,
lushly lashed eye winked at me.
“See, there you go. Giving me shit.”
He laughed. “You make it so easy.”
“If y'all are done flirting,” Ebony interrupted, a large box
labeled WIGS, 1 of 4 in her arms. She didn’t seem amused at
how close Taj stood to me or how friendly we seemed to be
toward each other. “We need to unload that truck so I can
return it tonight. I’m not letting my car sit at the rental place
“I’ll let you get to it. Holler if you need anything.” Taj
sauntered out of the kitchen and out of the front door,
pulling it closed behind him.
I made a half turn, trying to decide where to start. “That
box is wigs, so let’s start a stack along that wall.” I pointed
toward the hallway leading to the alcove. Ebony smirked,
slowly sauntered past me and set the box down, then
pushed it against the wall.
Then she turned to me, a hand propped on one hip.
“Don’t start, Eb. I’m going to grab some boxes. Did
Daddy put his dolly in the truck?”
“Nuh uh, Vonnie.” Stubborn, she folded her arms across
her chest and planted her stance, her head tipped to the
side. “You weren’t going to tell me about the super cute
chocolate nurse with the face and the arms and the chest
and the eyes and shit? And how he lives next door?”
“He was my nurse at the clinic the night I fell, Ebony. He
bandaged my cut, that’s all.”
“Had to be more than that. Y’all got nicknames for each
other. Miss Girard.”
I rolled my eyes to the ceiling, noting the beautiful, hand
cut wooden fan for the first time. The design details in the
house were impressive. “I flipped him shit. He flipped it
back. He happens to own this house, which I told you I
didn’t know when I rented it. Can we unload this truck
“Fine. But expect me to be out here visiting a lot. I might
need a lot of personal health care from your landlord.”