Return to Hummingbird Way
Publication date: 25 April 2023
In this heartwarming small‑town romance, can three months, two planning projects, and a meddling grandmother finally make two high school hate crushes see just how right they are for each other?
Ambitious real estate agent Sinclair Buchanan is ecstatic to be her best friend’s maid-of-honor—until she discovers the best man is Garrett Davenport. Sin and Rett’s mutual hate crush ignited when they were teens and hasn’t let up since . . . except for that one extremely hot (and extremely regrettable) night they shared five years ago.
Nothing gets Rett fired up like going toe-to-toe with Sinclair. She’s as infuriatingly stubborn, and as absolutely gorgeous, as when he fell for her back in high school. Working together to plan their best friends’ last-minute wedding is one thing, but when his matchmaking grandmother gets involved Rett knows he’s in deep. Attraction has always simmered between them, but this time, they’re both in danger of losing their hearts.
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“Garrett Davenport, how very nice of you to finally show up.” Sinclair sashayed toward him, clutching a clear clipboard decorated with a colorful floral design.
Sinclair assessed him with disdain, flecks of green and gold dancing in those large hazel eyes he’d been mesmerized by from the first moment he’d laid eyes on them in high school. She pursed her glossy pink lips, her nostrils flaring, and planted a fist on one curvy hip.
The bossy little she-devil was infuriating, attitudish, and fucking gorgeous. And she damn well knew it.
Her floral, sleeveless dress showed off her toned arms and sculpted shoulders—a feature he’d never noticed on a woman before, let alone been attracted to. The hem of the flirty little skirt grazed her midthigh, accentuating her tawny brown skin, a shade that landed smack between her father’s dark brown skin and her mother’s olive skin tone.
Sinclair flipped her hair, a deep, rich brown highlighted with ribbons of honey blond, over one shoulder and ran her manicured nails through the waterfall of shoulder-length waves. Her gaze bore into him, and if looks could kill, he’d be lying on the floor stone cold.
“You do realize you’re an hour late to your own best friend’s engagement party.” She leaned into him, speaking in a harsh whisper that only he could hear. “You sure you gon’ be able to show up for the wedding on time?”
Her nasally voice reminded him of Whitley Gilbert’s from A Different World. And just a few minutes into the conversation, she’d already intimated that he was an unreliable slacker. Rett clenched his jaw. Yet, as annoyed as he was, he couldn’t help noticing how hot Sin looked tonight.
“Sorry I’m late,” Rett finally managed. He shoved his hands, balled into fists, into his pockets. “Something came up.”
Sinclair’s gaze dropped to the placket in front of his zipper momentarily. Her eyes widened and her cheeks and forehead flushed. She quickly returned her attention to the clipboard.
Maybe he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t forget their previous encounter.
“It’s always some excuse with you, Rett.” Sinclair wrapped her arms around the clipboard, clutching it to her chest. Her eyes didn’t quite meet his.
Was she clutching the clipboard because he made her nervous? Or was she shielding her body’s reaction after shamelessly ogling him two minutes into their conversation?
It didn’t matter. Because Sinclair Buchanan was as irritating now as she’d been when they’d been forced to hang out together while Dexter and Dakota had dated in high school. She seemed to hate him on sight back then. But he hadn’t helped matters when he’d tried to talk his cousin out of getting serious with Sin’s best friend.
When Dex had suddenly ended things with Dakota the Christmas after he’d left for college, Sinclair had confronted Rett outside his grandmother’s house. She’d been as mad as a hornet and had cussed him out six ways to Sunday—sure he’d been behind the breakup.
He hadn’t been. But he hadn’t bothered telling her so. Besides, as distraught as she’d been, he’d doubted Sinclair would’ve believed a single word he’d said.
Since Dexter and Dakota’s reconciliation, Sinclair must surely have learned the truth: he had nothing to do with Dexter and Dakota’s breakup back then. In fact, he’d been as shocked by it as anyone. But evidently, it didn’t matter, because Sinclair clearly still wasn’t a fan. Though she certainly had been that night in his hotel room, given the enthusiasm with which she’d called his name and the marks she’d left on his back.
“It’s not an excuse, Sin. I planned to be here on time, but I was sidetracked by—”
“Didn’t think you were going to make it.” Dexter approached, holding Dakota’s hand. The two of them looked ridiculously happy, and Rett felt a slight twinge of envy.
“And miss your engagement party?” Rett slapped palms and clasped hands with Dex. “No way, cuz. Been waiting half my life to see you finally tie the knot with this beautiful lady.” He turned toward his cousin’s soon-to-be better half. “Congrats, Dakota.”
“Thank you, Rett.” Dakota’s grin lit her brown eyes. She gave him a big hug. “And for the record, I knew you’d be here tonight. It was these two who were sweating it.” She gestured toward Dex and Sinclair, then glanced around the room. “Mama Mae didn’t come with you?”
“She’s sick and didn’t much appreciate me fussing over her,” Rett said.
“But you did anyway.” Dakota smiled. “The relationship you two have is adorable.”
“’Cause Mama Mae is the only woman who can get him to behave,” Sinclair muttered as she scanned her clipboard. When they all turned to look at her, Sin looked up and shrugged. “What? You know it’s true.”
“Be nice, Sin.” Dakota pointed a finger at her best friend. “You promised you two would get along.”
“Fine.” She flashed Rett a dead-eyed smile and turned up the Whitley Gilbert singsong southern belle voice. “We are so very glad that you could join us this evening, Garrett. I was just about to ask the staff to take the food away. So please make yourself a plate.” She batted her long, thick eyelashes. “In fact, why don’t I escort you to the buffet?”
Dexter and Dakota snickered, and Rett couldn’t help chuckling to himself.
That was as warm a greeting as he could expect from the former beauty queen, who now employed that same charm in her job as one of the island’s top real estate agents. Evidently, she reserved that charm for people not named Rett Davenport.
Sinclair turned and walked toward the buffet, indicating that he should come with. He did, captivated by the subtle sway of her hips as he followed in the wake of her soft, delicate scent. All of it taking him back to that night they’d shared in Raleigh five years ago.
Yes, he’d been an immature jerk to Sinclair in high school. She clearly still held a grudge and had no intentions of letting him forget it. Despite the night they’d shared.
Fine. Because he wasn’t here for Sinclair. He was here for Dexter and Dakota. For them, he’d tolerate Ms. Thing. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t have a little fun with her.
Reese Ryan writes sexy, deeply emotional romances with family drama, surprising secrets, and unexpected twists.
Past president of her local Romance Writers of America chapter and a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Reese is an advocate for the romance genre and diversity in fiction.
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