From #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon Sylvia Day comes a hotly anticipated and passionate new love story.
Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.
Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.
He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.
And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.
Emotional and heartrending, Butterfly in Frost marks a brilliant return by global sensation Sylvia Day, the #1 international multimillion bestselling author of the Crossfire saga.
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“It’s barely nine a.m., and I’m already tipsy.”
My neighbor Roxanne, who’s just thrown her front door wide open in response to my knock, stands before me with a gleam in her eye. Her two dogs, a loudly barking Weimaraner and an even louder Corgi-Chihuahua mix, rush out to greet me.
“What’s the occasion?” I drop into a crouch and brace myself for the onslaught of warm, furry bodies. Looking up, I note the jeans hugging Roxy’s mile-long legs and the classic white button-down shirt she’s knotted at the waist. As always, she makes flawless look effortless.
She grins down at me. “Mondays are for mimosas, Doctor.”
“Is that right?” I give both dogs a thorough rubdown, flattered by their delight at my arrival. “Don’t expect an argument from me. I’ve been known to prescribe a drink or few now and then.”
“But you never drink.”
I shrug. “Because I’m not a fun drunk. I just get maudlin.”
The fervent welcome Bella and Minnie are giving me prompts her to say, “They missed you. I missed you, too.”
“I wasn’t gone long enough to be missed.” As I stand, I congratulate myself for somehow managing to avoid the twin madly licking tongues.
My breath rushes out when Roxy grabs me in a fierce hug. She’s five inches taller, several years older, and miles ahead of me in glamour and beauty.
Pulling back, she studies me, then comes to some sort of conclusion with a nod. My gaze slides over the riot of shoulder-length curls framing her oval face. She’s got brown eyes several shades lighter than her skin, and they shine with the kindness of a genuinely sweet soul.
“How’s Manhattan?” she asks as she links arms with me and pulls me into the house.
“As frenetic as ever.”
“And my favorite celebrity couple?” She kicks the door shut behind us. “Are they still gorgeous and glamorous and filthy rich? Is she pregnant yet? You can tell me; I won’t tell a soul.”
I smile. I missed Roxy, too. She’s a gossip but never malicious about it. Still, she can’t keep a secret beyond five minutes. “Yes, Gideon and Eva Cross are still amazing in every way. And I’m not Eva’s doctor, so I can’t say if she’s expecting or not. In any case, as good as you are at ferreting out info, I expect you’d know as soon as she did.”
“Ha! If only. Kylie Jenner’s hidden pregnancy proved even famous people can have secrets.” Her eyes brighten with excitement. “So maybe Eva’s expecting and keeping it under wraps.”
I hate to disappoint her, but . . . “For what it’s worth, there was no visual evidence of a baby bump.”
“Damn it.” Roxy pouts. “Oh well. They’re young.”
“And busy.” As someone who works for them, I know that firsthand.
“What was she wearing when you saw her? I want a full recap: outfit, shoes, accessories.”
“Which outfit?” I ask innocently. “I saw her more than once.”
Her eyes light up. “Ooh, girl. Let’s have lunch at Salty’s so you can tell me everything!”
“I could be persuaded,” I tease.
“In the meantime . . .” Her lush perfume fades as she moves into the living room. “I’ve got a lot to catch you up on.”
“I’ve only been gone three weeks. How much could possibly happen?”
I follow Bella and Minnie to the edge of the living room, instantly feeling settled in the familiar place. Decorated mostly in white with pops of navy and gold, the traditional style of Roxy’s home is both elegant and comfortable. Scattered here and there are vividly colored mosaic pieces—coasters, decorative bowls, vases, and more—which she creates and has employees sell at Pike Place Market.
But it’s the expansive view of Puget Sound beyond her windows that steals the show.
The panorama of the Sound, along with Maury and Vashon Islands, stops me in my tracks. A giant red-and-white barge weighted with stacks of multicolored shipping containers rumbles carefully away from Tacoma, slowing in preparation for the sharp pivot required to exit from Poverty Bay. A tugboat, looking so tiny in comparison, chugs in the opposite direction. Private boats, ranging in size from dinghies to cabin cruisers, dot the anchorages near the shore.
Gazing at the glittering water and the vessels that come and go at all hours is something I never tire of. In fact, I missed this view terribly while in New York.
And to think, I’d once sworn that just as I had been born in the Big Apple, I would also die there. I’m definitely not the woman I used to be.
I check the giant old-growth tree on the edge of the bluff for the telltale bright white of a bald eagle’s head. The bare branch that serves as a favorite perch is empty now, but in the distance, a row of planes descending into SeaTac Airport from the north tells me which way the wind is blowing. I turn back to watch Roxy finish sliding her feet into spotless white walking shoes.
She stands. “So you know you missed the get-together—again. I don’t think you’ve been to one since the holidays, have you?”
I slide around the corner to escape the question and grab the dogs’ leashes hanging on wall hooks in the front hallway. “I mean, did I really miss anything? I’m thinking no.”
Every month, A-frame signs appear on our streets, announcing the date and location of the next community gathering, a useful reminder when planning my work trips to New York. Gatherings of people are problematic for me and best avoided when possible.
“Emily showed up with her gardener.” Roxy joins me, clipping a carabiner holding a tube of biodegradable poop-scoop bags to her belt loop. “They’re dating now, if that’s what you call it.”
The news makes me pause, peripherally aware of the dogs now spinning around with excitement. “The kid? Isn’t he, like, sixteen?”
“God.” Roxy’s laugh is a throaty delight. “He almost looks it, doesn’t he? He’s actually twenty.”
“Yikes.” Emily is a bestselling novelist who recently went through a painful divorce. Having experienced that myself, I wish her the best. It’s unfortunate that a recent string of boyfriends the same age as her son is scandalizing our neighborhood.
“Trauma can really screw people up.” As sympathetic as I am, I’m careful not to reveal too much of that sentiment in my voice.
We all wear armor in different ways. Mine is reinvention.
“Listen, I get it. But bringing your boy toy—especially one who mows some of your neighbors’ lawns—to the community potluck is just dumb. The looks she was getting when her back was turned . . . hoo-wee.”
We both bend to attach the leashes.
“The things I miss,” I jest, making a mental note to send Emily a thinking of you card.
“That’s not all.”
“Oh?” I take Minnie while Roxy takes Bella. We’ve never specifically agreed on that arrangement; it’s just our routine. Just as walking the dogs together a couple of times a week is routine—a scheduled interaction that gets me out of the house and into the sunshine, per my doctor’s orders.
Roxy bounces on her feet with excitement. “Les and Marge sold their house.”
I blink. “I didn’t know they were selling.”
She laughs and heads toward the front door. “That’s the thing. They weren’t.”
“Wait, what?” I hurry after her as she steps outside, Minnie running alongside me, keeping her tail clear of the door as I shut it.
I look to the right at my home, a lovingly restored butterfly-roofed midcentury, then on to the traditional house just beyond it that belongs—belonged—to Les and Marge. Including Roxy’s, all three of our homes have unique lots set between the homes that line the street and the Sound, affording us unhindered views of the water as well as exceptional privacy—all within a twenty-minute drive of the airport.
Roxy shortens the length of her stride to allow me to catch up, then glances over at me. “The day after you flew to New York, a Range Rover pulled into their driveway, and the guy inside offered them cash to close—and move out—in fourteen days.”
My step falters, and Minnie gets momentarily tangled in her leash. The dog shoots me what I would describe as an irritated look, then keeps trotting forward. “That’s crazy.”
“Isn’t it? Les wouldn’t say how much the offer was, but I’m thinking it was huge.”
We march up the inclined driveway, my head tilted back to take in the houses scaling the hillside. Designed with big windows to maximize the view, the homes have a look of wide-eyed wonder. Our little stretch of the Sound used to be a secret, but with the housing boom taking over Seattle and Tacoma, we’ve been discovered. Many residences are undergoing major renovations to suit the tastes of new owners.
Reaching the road, we turn left. To the right is a dead end.
“Well, if they’re happy,” I say, “I’m happy for them.”
“They’re overwhelmed. It was a lot to happen all at once, but I think they’re happy with their decision.” Roxanne stops when Bella does, and we wait as the two dogs mark one of their usual spots on the gravel edging the asphalt. There are no curbs on the streets in our neighborhood and no sidewalks. Just beautiful lawns and a profusion of flowering shrubs.
“We all tried prying information out of them,” she goes on, “but they weren’t sharing anything about the sale.” She gives me a sidelong glance. “But they did share a bit about the buyer.”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because Mike and I both think the buyer is someone famous. A film director maybe. Or an artist. Can you imagine? First Emily, a bestselling author. Then you, a reality-TV surgeon. Now this guy! Maybe we’re sitting on the new Malibu—beachside living without wildfires or state income tax!”
The mention of Roxy’s husband, Mike, coaxes an inner smile. A New York transplant like me, he adds a welcome touch of the life I left behind to the reality I’ve since created for myself—a reality that’s just been rocked by the loss of neighbors I like.
“What are the clues you’re working with?” I ask, deciding to play along. If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s to accept the things I cannot change. A tough task for a control freak like me.
“Les pointed out to this guy that he hadn’t even seen the inside of the house. The guy said he didn’t need to. He knew already that ‘the light is perfect.’ I mean, who would say that? Gotta be someone who’s in visual arts, right?”
“Maybe,” I agree tentatively, disquieted by the unexpected conversation. The road rises sharply before us, the incline steep enough to put a little burn in my thighs. “Doesn’t mean he’s famous, though.”
“That’s the thing.” Her words carry a note of breathlessness. “Les wouldn’t give numbers, but he did say it was crazy the guy didn’t just buy that huge compound at the end of the street. That house is listed for three and a half million!”
My mind staggers at the thought. Les and Marge have—had—a beautiful home, but it’s not worth anywhere near that much.
“I think I saw the buyer once through that big arched window in the living room,” Roxy goes on. “The blonde with him was a looker. Supermodel skinny with legs for days.”
I’m panting when we reach the top; Roxy, who hits a gym most days of the week, is not.
A quarter mile farther, there’s a street to the right leading to Dash Point. Beyond that and straight ahead, the road slopes back down and around until it’s at water level. Redondo Beach is there, as is Salty’s, a restaurant on stilts in the water with expansive views of Poverty Bay and beyond. I’m about to wax poetic about Salty’s seafood chowder when a runner dashes around the corner at a full sprint. His sudden appearance rattles me. A closer look makes me freeze midstride. My breath locks in my lungs.
There are too many things to register at once, so my mind attempts to absorb the whole man. Dressed only in black shorts and shoes, he is a visual feast of deeply tanned skin, intricate sleeves of tattooed art, and sweat-slicked, flexing musculature.
And his face. Sculpted. Square-jawed. Brutally, breathlessly handsome.
Roxy, now a few feet in front of me, gives a low whistle. “Hot damn.”
The sound of her voice reminds me to breathe. My skin feels hot and damp with perspiration. My pulse has quickened beyond what I could blame on exertion.
He doesn’t see us at first, even though he’s running in our direction. His mind is elsewhere, his body on autopilot. His long, strong legs devour the asphalt beneath his feet. His arms swing in a rhythmic, controlled tempo. It’s impressive how gracefully his body moves at such speed, aerodynamic and efficient. There’s both beauty and power in the effortlessness of his stride, and I. Can’t. Stop. Staring. I know I’m doing it and should look away, but I can’t.
“Are you seeing this?” Roxy asks, apparently unable to look away, either.
Our trances are broken by frantic barking. Bella and Minnie have spotted the stranger running full tilt in our direction.
“Hey,” Roxy corrects Bella, pulling her closer. “Knock it off.”
But I’m still too absorbed to react in time. Minnie decides to run for it. Her leash slides out of my hand as if I didn’t have a grip on it at all. She’s gone before I can catch her, her stubby legs moving so fast that they’re a blur, on a collision course with him.
“Damn it.” Now I’m running toward him, too, and he sees me. He shows no surprise when he’s pulled from his thoughts to find two gawking women and their out-of-control dogs. The hard line of his mouth tightens as he shifts from looking distracted to laser focused. And he doesn’t slow down.
Primitive instinct spurs me to evade, escape. He’s like a raging cyclone hurtling toward me, and self-preservation demands retreat.
“Minnie!” I shout, swiping a hand down toward the leash while running. I miss the target. “Damn it.”
“Minnie Bear!” Roxy snaps, and the tiny dog instantly skids to a halt and pivots to run back to her human.
I’m nearly as agile. I shift direction to dodge the man who’s charging at me, crossing to the other side of the street.
Roxy’s panicked shout of my name turns my head . . . just in time to see the Chrysler 300 barreling straight for me.
Adrenaline spurts, and I surge forward, the sound of squealing brakes raising the hairs on the back of my neck. I’m hit from behind with enough force to propel me off the road and onto my neighbor’s lawn.
Winded and still terrified, it takes a few seconds to realize I’m okay.
And that the hot, hard, sweaty hunk of a man I’d been running from is on top of me.