Needing an escape from her grandfather’s outdated and patriarchal views on a woman’s proper place, Dana Campbell flees to her cousin’s cottage on the Nova Scotian coast for some uninterrupted reflection. A trust fund and a prominent name isn’t her idea of happiness, especially if it’s tied to her grandfather’s archaic ideals of marriage. After a failed engagement to a gold-digging fraud, Dana just wants a quiet place where she can evaluate her life and wonder whether she can ever be open about her closeted pansexuality.
A trans man who has faced hatred, Avery D’Eon is happy being inconspicuous. A bad divorce and a family who shuns him make him wary of being in any kind of a romantic relationship. Despite making life altering choices about his body, as well as finding his tribe in the form of his employee, he still battles a sense of emptiness. His world is tossed off kilter by a vivacious and sultry woman sauntering into his store. One look into her beautiful brown eyes, and Avery sees the missing link in his life—someone to love and cherish.
Despite denying their attraction, Avery and Dana find what they need in a hurricane of desire.
But a tragedy close to home forces Dana to make a life-shattering choice—her wealthy family, or the man she adores.
The whooshing of the water sloshing around the bridge ricocheted in Dana Campbell’s ears, and the fragrance of the sea surrounded her as she peered over the fence alongside of the now inactive power plant in Annapolis County. A long tendril of her black hair whipped in the strong wind, brushing her cheek. She absently tucked it behind her ear, turned her gaze back to the water and lifted her camera to take a few snapshots of the grandeur.
It was her first time visiting what used to be the only tidal power generating plant in the world, and it was awe-inspiring. The rushing water flowed backwards into the Annapolis River, the churning white water creating a dangerous looking riptide that was probably unsafe for swimmers. If her memory was correct, the plant had closed a few years ago, due to its danger to the creatures living in the Bay of Fundy and the mouth of the Annapolis River. Its turbine had killed a number of marine life over its thirty-four-year run, way too many for the province’s comfort.
Seeing the building and knowing what used to happen at that site was still phenomenal for Dana. Tidal power wasn’t something Albertans saw regularly. The land-locked province didn’t have an ocean shoreline. Only freshwater lakes and rivers graced its prairie and mountainous features.
She shifted on the balls of her feet, unused to nature photography while wearing heels, and let out a pleased hum as she locked her lens on a bird floating on the water. She twisted the lens on the camera, noting the bird was a type of gull, riding the low waves at the junction between fresh water from the river and salt water from the Annapolis Basin.
The bird was a lot braver than she was. Dana had only swum in the northern Atlantic a few times in her thirty years, and she was terrified of any kind of riptide. Lakes were much safer than rivers or the ocean. Pools were safest of all. She hated swimming in water where she couldn’t see the bottom, so when visiting the beaches in Nova Scotia, she only sunbathed or waded.
Too bad her cousin didn’t have a pool at his cottage in Granville Ferry. He said it was too much work to maintain just for a small vacation spot. Although Dana could see Ewan’s logic, she would have preferred to have an area with clear water in it to cool off. Nova Scotia summers were horribly humid, and this June was no exception. She could feel her blouse sticking to her back despite the breeze blowing off the water, and her skirt stuck to her bare legs. The pastel blue suit with white high-heeled sandals seemed like a pretty traveling outfit while she was on the plane heading east, but she wished she had worn something more sensible, like a tank top and shorts instead.
She flipped her waist-length hair over her shoulder and snapped a photo of the two-storey, rectangular building that had rounded ends, one facing the road, the other facing the Annapolis River. The Canadian flag featuring the well-known red eleven-pointed maple leaf whipped in the wind, creating an amazing foreground to one of the most Canadian and unique scenes in the world. Only the Bay of Fundy had enough punch in its tidal flow to generate electricity, and this building was so small compared to other dams she had seen. The Hoover Dam in Nevada was so much bigger, but somehow didn’t give Dana the awe this small former power plant inspired.
She shifted her feet on the pavement and winced when she felt a soreness. She glanced down and noticed she had a blister forming on her left heel.
“Great, just what I needed.” Securing the camera’s strap around her neck, she proceeded to limp toward her rental, a compact yet peppy car in a midnight blue hue. She took the keychain out of her skirt pocket, popped the lock, and opened the door. With a sigh of relief, she flopped down on the seat and kicked off the offending shoes. She had Band-Aids in the dash compartment. With a groan, she turned her feet into the car and reached for the handle.
“Excusez-moi, but you dropped something.”
Dana jumped in the seat, startled at the voice. It was deep, rich, and purely male, with a slight accent.
She whipped her head around and latched her gaze on to a man’s hand at her eye level. His fingernails were clean, crisp, and looked manicured, and the fingers were strong. Her gaze moved upwards to see a firm, masculine chin covered with the tiniest bit of dark blond stubble, to firm lips, a strong, almost Grecian nose, and locked with the bluest eyes she had ever seen, framed with thick blond lashes. Dark blond hair brushed his tanned forehead in the wind and almost covered one of his eyes. His grin was open, friendly and relaxed, and showcased straight white teeth.
A shot of something hit Dana hard in her stomach and lodged itself into her chest. She had seen some striking men in her time, but something about this man made the rest of them seem plain. He was beautifully perfect in her opinion.
Dana swallowed hard and blinked at him. “I’m sorry?”
His grin widened as he held up her shoes. “You dropped these.”
Damn, his voice was smoother than silk. She cleared her throat a few times and realized the accent she heard was French. “Oh. Thank you.” She held a hand out for them.
His fingers brushed hers when he gave her the sandals. An odd tingle travelled up her arm into her chest. It was a weird feeling, one Dana had not experienced before.
She shook it off and tossed the offending shoes over her shoulder on to the passenger seat. “I was getting a Band-Aid for a blister—I wasn’t going to leave them.”