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Book 3: The Day He Stopped In (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

Book 3: The Day He Stopped In (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

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Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town...

This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

About THE DAY HE STOPPED IN: A widowed park ranger, her twelve-year-old son, and the Chief of Police who's secretly kept an eye on both of them...He figures if he just keeps stopping in on them, she might finally start to see him too. Do Adam and Janey have the courage to take their relationship out of the friend zone?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

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“I don’t want to go,” Adam Herrin said, but his best friend would not be deterred.

“Come on,” Matt said, that perpetual smile still stuck to his face. “You like the Fall Festival.” He nudged him, making Adam slop milk over the side of his cereal bowl. “Besides, you can pretend like you’re already on the force. You know, scan for vandals and all that while I find the prettiest girl there and ask her to dance.”

Adam grunted and wiped the spilled milk from the countertop of the apartment they shared. He’d been back in Hawthorne Harbor for just over a month, and he’d just finished his final round of police interviews.

“I’m starting work on Monday,” he told Matt.

His friend whooped and sent his spoon clattering into his cereal. “You got on? They hired you?”

Adam let a smile spread across his face. “Yeah. I found out last night.”

“And you’re just now telling me?”

“You were out really late with Bea.”

The joy on Matt’s face disappeared as if Adam had flipped a switch. “Yeah, well, not tonight.”

“You mean we won’t be out late?” Adam’s heart lifted, as he preferred the early-to-bed, early-to-rise method of living.

“Of course we’ll be out late,” Matt said. “I just meant not with Bea.”

“You don’t like her?”

“She’s not my type.”

Adam pictured the tall, beautiful blonde that he and Matt had grown up with. Both men had gone away to college and then returned to their hometown, and they were both settling back into the social scene of the small, beach-side town of Hawthorne Harbor. Bea Arnold had gone to college too, but only for a couple of years. Just long enough to get an accounting certificate so she could handle the finances of her father’s hardware store.

“Well, if she’s not, good luck finding someone here,” Adam said, picking up his bowl and rinsing it out in the sink.

“There are lots of women here,” Matt said, his blue eyes taking on that glint that said Adam wouldn’t like what was about to come out of his mouth. But he said nothing. Just re-focused on his breakfast.

Adam didn’t need a lot of women; he had his eye on one: Janey Burns. He’d known her for as long as he could remember, as she was his youngest brother’s age. Just a few years younger than him, and still single. She’d been back in town for a few months, and she was already putting her Natural Resource Management degree to use at Olympic National Park, just a few minutes away from Hawthorne Harbor.

He’d had a crush on Janey since his junior year of high school. She was beautiful and kind and smart. But she’d had a boyfriend on the football team, and Adam had graduated before her and left town while she still had three years of high school to finish.

But tonight...

He banished the treacherous thought and said, “I'm going to go running.”

“Again?” Matt lifted his eyebrows and Adam shook his head and started down the hall to his bedroom to change. “You already got the job!” Matt yelled after him, with a loud bit of laughter coming with it.

Sure, Adam had gotten the entry-level policeman job with the Hawthorne Harbor Police Department. But he wouldn’t stay there for long. Oh, no. Adam had plans to climb that ladder until he stood at the top of the department, and that meant he had to maintain his top physical condition.

So he ran. His favored route took him right past Janey’s house, which sat near the beach. He told himself it wasn’t stalking, because she didn’t even live there anymore. Her parents did though, and he waved to her mother as she worked in the rose garden to prepare it for the winter ahead. Though it didn’t snow in Hawthorne Harbor, because the town sat right on the northwest edge of the North American continent, it got plenty cold.

Adam loved the cool sea spray in his face as he ran, the homes eventually fading behind him and the cliffs coming into view. High above the water sat the Magleby Mansion, where he’d worked mowing lawns and raking leaves as a teenager.

Without a job to fill his time, Adam spent the day working out and making plans for his first day on the job in just a couple of short days. When Matt knocked on his door and said, “Are you coming?” Adam couldn’t wait to get out of the house.

They arrived at the Fall Festival, which took place in the square in downtown Hawthorne Harbor. The shops on Main Street seemed to glow among the twilight as dusk came quicker now that autumn was upon them.

He hunched his broad shoulders and stuck his hands in his pockets, his eyes constantly scanning for danger. Okay, fine. He wasn’t looking for danger. Not tonight, at least. He let his mind have a brief fantasy of this time next year, and if he’d be on duty like the two officers he spotted hanging out near the face-painting booth.

The scent of freshly juiced apples hung in the air, along with a heavy dose of cinnamon. Matt brought him a cup of hot apple cider, and Adam wrapped both hands around it, back to searching the crowd for the one woman he wanted to see.

Janey Burns.

Tonight was the night. He was going to ask her to dance, and not just because they’d been old friends. His pulse picked up, and he couldn’t make sense of what Matt had said. His friend handed him his plastic cup of cider and pressed through the crowd to an auburn-haired woman Adam couldn’t quite remember.

Her name sat on the tip of his tongue, and he watched as Matt smiled and laughed and somehow knew exactly how to casually touch Nina—aha! Nina Goodwin—on the back as they walked out to the dance floor that had been laid over the grass in the park.

A band sat down on the other end, where a temporary stage had been erected. The slow warblings of a ballad filled the air, and Adam turned away from the blissful couples swaying together.

Carved pumpkins glittered with candlelight, and he smiled at their garish faces as he passed. Families were finishing up with the pony rides and petting zoo, and he leaned against a fence post as the day crowd thinned and the evening festivities took over.

A flash of brilliant brown hair the color of unroasted coffee beans caught his eye, and he finally saw Janey squeezing between two people as she headed toward the food booths. A jolt shot through Adam’s bones and muscles, somehow kickstarting him into following her.

She was with one of her sisters, and he kept his eye on Anabelle’s head, as she stood quite a bit taller than Janey. They stopped for funnel cakes, and he paused as if he were going to get a hot dog.

This is stupid, he told himself as the two women turned. Anabelle looked right at him and so did Janey.

“Hey, Adam,” she said, a brilliant smile lighting up her whole face. Adam wanted to bask in the warmth of it for the rest of his life.

He managed to say, “Hey, Janey. Anabelle,” but his voice sounded like he was suffering from a bad chest cold. He tried to clear the nerves from his throat and he almost ended up choking.

“Are you heading over to the dance?” he asked.

“Yes,” Anabelle said, her eyes sliding down him in an appraising way. “Are you?”

He shrugged as if he wasn’t really sure what his evening plans were.

“Why do you have two cups of cider?” Janey asked.

Adam looked dumbly at the red plastic cups he held. “Oh, one’s for Matt.”

“Matt Germaine?” Anabelle asked, her interest obviously piqued. “I didn’t know Matt was back in town.” She looked at Adam as if he’d deliberately kept the information from her.

“He’s dancin’ with...someone,” he said.

Anabelle hooked her arm through Janey’s and bent her head toward her sister’s. They moved away, pressing back through the crowd to the dance floor.

Adam followed, because he didn’t have much else to do and well, he wanted to dance with Janey. If he could get her sister off with Matt, Adam might have a chance at more than friendship with the girl he’d been thinking about for eight years.

“See? There he is.” Adam gestured with Matt’s apple cider toward where he stood on the dance floor, this time a blonde in his arms. Adam once again marveled at the easiness with which Matt did everything. He’d studied mechanical engineering at school while Adam had done a year in the police academy and then three years to get his criminal justice degree.

“What’s he doing back?” Anabelle asked.

“He’s working for the ferry system,” Adam said. “He’s their lead engineer. Started last week.” He wanted to blurt out that he’d be starting with the police department on Monday, but neither Anabelle nor Janey asked.

They both couldn’t seem to tear their eyes from Matt, and Adam frowned. He lifted his drink to his lips and in that brief flash of time, both women slipped away from him and out onto the dance floor.

Janey danced with a man named Clint that Adam recognized from the automotive shop on the edge of town. His mood darkened by the moment as she laughed and spun, her dark locks spraying out behind her when her fourth dance of the night twirled her.

He finished his cider and threw both cups in the trash.

It was his turn.

No more sitting on the sidelines, watching.

He’d taken two steps onto the dance floor when the people parted to give him an unobstructed view of Janey. Her face was flushed and her smile captivated him.

A man stepped up to her and half-bowed to her, his hand extended as he asked her to dance. She ducked her head, the flush turning into a full-blown blush as she put her hand in his and they situated themselves for the next slow dance of the evening.

Adam stared, sure he’d be able to ask Janey to dance after Matt finished with her. After all, neither of them had danced more than one song with the same partner.

But the song ended, and Matt kept his hands on Janey’s waist. They danced another song, and then one that wasn’t even meant for couples as the beat took the music into the rock category.

Adam’s feet seemed to have grown roots. He couldn’t move them though he desperately wanted to. He couldn’t look away either.

So he saw Matt lead Janey off the dance floor, her hand tucked securely into his, and watched them disappear into the night.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Elana Johnson knows how to write a book that grabs you and makes you feel as if you are part of the story! Great characters, excellent plot .. NO profanity.. all of the things I need in an OUTSTANDING book! Now it is on to the next one!!” ~Gloria

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I am loving the Hawthorne Harbor series so much! I enjoyed reading Adam and Janey's story. I loved how all the people in the first book "The Day He Drove By" were in this book! I am looking forward to reading the entire series.” ~Carol J.

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Fall in love with hometown heroes in small-beach-town Hawthorne Harbor!

Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town... This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

  • Book 1: The Day He Left Town

    He’s waiting for a promotion to come through. She’s back in her hometown after a humiliating break-up. Can Tony and Cat make their second chance stick this time?

  • Book 2: The Day He Drove By

    A widowed florist, her ten-year-old daughter, and the paramedic who delivered the girl a decade earlier... Can Drew and Gretchen find their way toward true love?

  • Book 3: The Day He Stopped In

    A widowed park ranger, her twelve-year-old son, and the Chief of Police who's secretly kept an eye on both of them... Do Adam and Janey have the courage to take their relationship out of the friend zone?

  • Book 4: The Day He Said Hello

    A firefighter and his high school sweetheart who's returned to their beachside hometown...and doesn't want to be there. Can the day he said hello start a new relationship that will last this time?

  • Book 5: The Day He Let Go

    A K9 cop, the woman he hires to build him a deck, and the magic of Christmas that could bring Trent and Lauren together this holiday season... Can Trent learn to let go of the past so he and Lauren can find love and build a family?

  • Book 6: The Day He Came Home

    A wounded Marine returns to Hawthorne Harbor years after the woman he was married to for exactly one week before she got an annulment...and then a baby nine months later. Can Hunter and Alice make a family out of past heartache?

  • Book 7: The Day He Asked Again

    A Coast Guard captain would rather spend his time on the sea...unless he's with the woman he's been crushing on for months. If Dave asks just one more time, will Brooklynn give their second chance at romance another shot?

Meet your new best friends on Hilton Head Island!

Escape to the beaches of South Carolina with this Supper Club of ladies, each of whom is starting over in some way in their 40s. New loves, new lives, new businesses - and they're waiting for YOU, their new best friend!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Pristine beach setting

✔ Island life

✔ He falls for her first!

✔ Walks on the beach

✔ Beach bonfire kisses

✔ Enemies to lovers

✔ Friends to lovers

✔ Single parent romance

✔ Women's friendship fiction

✔ Supper Clubs!