I Love How You Love Me (The Sullivans #13)

by Bella Andre

CHAPTER ONE

Grace Adrian needed Dylan Sullivan. Badly enough that when the babysitter she’d scheduled to watch her ten-month-old son bailed on her at the last second, she strapped Mason into the backseat of her car and headed down to the Seattle harbor with him.

Fifteen minutes later, she pulled into the parking lot beside Dylan’s boathouse. Mason, who had been happily gnawing on his favorite stuffed giraffe during the drive, immediately lifted his arms to her when she opened the rear door.

“I’ve got to unstrap you first, cutie.” The second he was free, he all but jumped into her arms. She closed her eyes as she caught him and cuddled him close. The past year and a half hadn’t been easy, but she wouldn’t trade her son, or her immense love for him, for anything.

Grace had plenty of regrets...but Mason wasn’t one of them.

She was just shifting him to her hip so that she could straighten out her navy-blue suit when he whimpered. “Do you want to take your giraffe with you?” She handed it to him, but he batted it out of her hand. “We’ll have to clean him before you put him back in your mouth,” she said in a gentle voice as she picked up the stuffed toy from the ground and put it into the car, “but don’t worry, I have another one of your favorite toys.” Mason immediately began to shake the multicolored circular rattle she handed him.

Grace did her best to adjust her clothes, then ran a hand through her long, dark hair in an effort to look as professional as possible while she spoke with Dylan. At least, she hoped she was going to speak to him today, given that he hadn’t returned a single one of her phone messages over the past week. She would have sent him an email if she could have found a website or email address for him, but he was one of the few people on the planet who didn’t seem to have either. Which was, she’d decided, just plain weird. How did he run his business if people couldn’t reach him?

“Time to go track down the elusive Mr. Sullivan,” she said to Mason as they headed together across the parking lot.

Her son bore down hard with his gums on his toy by way of response, but it was good enough for Grace. She’d become a master at one-sided conversations during the past ten months, and it was amazing just how much she could find to say on her end, even when the only response she ever got was a gurgle, giggle, or wail.

“Let’s pray that he’s nice and willing to cooperate.”

The strange thing was how little information she’d been able to find about Dylan. No interviews, nothing where he was talking himself up. What kind of man didn’t want to promote himself? Especially when he was not only one of the most respected wooden-sailboat makers on the West Coast, and a multi-winning sailboat racer, but he was also related to some of the wealthiest—and most well-known—people in the world, including a movie star, two rock stars, and a billionaire CEO.

It was only one of the many questions she needed to ask him.

But while she hadn’t been able to find much written information about him on the Internet, she’d found plenty of pictures. Grace had vowed never to be wowed by a pretty face ever again, but that didn’t mean she didn’t notice a good-looking guy when she saw one. And there was no doubt whatsoever that Dylan was a very attractive man.

Still, she couldn’t help but think he’d be a heck of a lot more attractive if he actually returned one of her phone calls.

As she carefully dodged one of the puddles from the previous evening’s rainstorm and breathed in the sweet yet salty sea air on the surprisingly warm and muggy day, she thought again how happy she was about her move to Seattle. Sure, it rained quite a bit, but she loved how dust never had a chance to settle. Plus, constant rain meant there was water pretty much everywhere. She’d grown up on a farm half an hour outside of Washington, D.C., and had loved playing in the river and streams, but the only time she’d been out on the ocean had been with her ex a year and a half ago. She’d loved the sea breeze and the feel of the water rushing beneath the sailboat. Unfortunately, the sail had barely lasted fifteen minutes because her ex had gotten green around the gills and ordered the captain to take them back to shore.

A seagull swooping toward the water just a few feet in front of them brought her back to the present. Mason dropped his toy to point at it excitedly and she agreed, “It is very exciting!” even though the gull came up empty-beaked. But when Mason looked down at his hand a few seconds later and realized his toy was gone, his face crumpled.

Uh-oh. The last thing she needed was to be holding a crying baby when she finally met Dylan.

Grace quickly bent down, and her pre-baby suit skirt tightened even more around her hips as she picked up the rattle. Normally she would never give the toy back to Mason without washing it thoroughly first, but when he started to cry, she simply tried her best to shake off the dirt before he shoved it back into his mouth. She reminded herself that she’d eaten plenty of dirt growing up on a farm and had lived through it just fine.

Not, unfortunately, that the toy seemed to be making any difference as Mason let loose with a loud wail, then chucked the plastic rattle so that it landed with a loud bang on the wooden dock.

“Mason, sweetie, don’t cry. Please don’t cry.” She brushed a hand over his hair, then across his wet cheeks. “We just need to spend a few minutes here and then we’ll get you home for your nap.” But the more she tried to soothe him, the more Mason fussed in her arms.

“Everything okay out there?”

She looked up at the dark-haired man who had stepped out of the boathouse…and literally lost her breath. Dylan Sullivan was a million times better looking in person than he’d been online. And he’d been pretty amazing looking on her computer screen.

She’d wondered what a boat builder’s uniform was, and now she knew: T-shirt, worn blue jeans, and heavy work boots. The dark hair beneath his ball cap was a little too long and just unruly enough to make a girl want to drop everything to run her hands through it. But given that she had taught herself to be fairly immune to good-looking men, his movie-star looks alone wouldn’t have been enough to send her breath whooshing from her lungs.

It was the concern in his eyes as he took in Mason’s distress that completely undid her.

“Everything is fine, thanks.”

Mason turned to look up at her, then, and even though he couldn’t yet speak, she could clearly read his mind. I am not fine! Her son followed up his silent message with a far less silent one that echoed off the surface of the water in a shockingly loud way.