Guys, did you see what’s LIVE?! Yes, the next installment in one of my FAVORITE small town romance series. I adore EVERYTHING about these characters! They’re sweet and sexy, funny and charming, just so full of heart. Being in the Bailey world is one of the best feelings. You lose yourself in their stories. ALL the feels, the relationships they have with each other, the romances, they are so so so addicting. A favorite for me! Excited about this release!
You might be wondering how you’ll know when your playboy ways are coming to an end. For some it might be an unexpected pregnancy (ahem… you know who), for others it might be finally landing the one woman you’ve always wanted (cough… I won’t mention any names). For me, it was the death of my mentor and the subsequent reading of his will.
The signs were there, they always are. But I didn’t notice them until it was too late, and my demise was complete.
Demise Sign #1 – You find yourself thrust into the land of responsibility and you don’t immediately hightail it out of town.
Demise Sign #2 – Despite being stuck with the world’s biggest Jekyll & Hyde, some sadistic part of you actually enjoys spending time with her.
Demise Sign #3 – Your family suddenly stops wanting to weigh in on every decision in your life.
Demise Sign #4 – Somehow you end up being the voice of reason in your tumultuous partnership.
Demise Sign #5 – You start thinking of other people before yourself.
Demise Sign #6 – You agree to put yourself in the middle of an Alaskan reality TV show that has both of you sleeping in the same tent.
“How long do we wait?” I ask.
Luther checks his watch because he’s the type of man whose life is dictated by a schedule. “I was clear about our meeting time on the phone with her. Let’s give it five more minutes.”
I nod, tapping my fingers on my Vans. Not the most practical thing for an Alaskan winter, but unless fresh snow is falling, I make them work.
“Do you have an excursion today?”
I shake my head.
“And how’s business going?”
I shrug. I’d like to say busy, but sadly, it’s not. And the fact that I’m going to watch Chip’s company, Lifetime Adventures, be taken over by the woman we’re waiting for makes me want to throw up in her Gucci purse. She’s going to run it into the ground. Which means everything Chip wanted for the company will die right along with him. His legacy will end in either bankruptcy or awarded to the highest bidder.
“I know this is hard on you. You and Chip were close.”
I shrug again. What does Luther want from me? Does he expect me to ask for a tissue while I lay my heart on his desk? Not gonna happen. I’m used to death. When your parents die when you’re fourteen, it’s a sledgehammer right in the heart. I quickly realized that all the happily-ever-after fairy tales are bullshit. I learned that life is fragile and there’s no way to know when your time is up. Crap you shouldn’t know at fourteen, when you still think you’re invincible.
When Chip told me his COPD was worsening, the writing was on the wall—he was going to die. I stuck by him, helping where I could by taking over the excursions and day-to-day operations, because that’s what you do for the ones you care for. I should feel some sense of relief today, because his daughter, Cleo Dawson, will be told she’s inheriting the company and I can slide back into my easy life of bush piloting. But all I feel is dread at the thought of her ruining the company her father worked so hard to build and keep.
I glance to the clock again, which spurs Luther to look at his watch. With no hopes of having a conversation with me, he blows out a breath and opens Chip’s file folder.
“How many of those do you have in there?” I nod toward his filing cabinet. Four drawers upright. Grandma Dori’s will is probably in there, listing the percentage of Bailey Timber that will be split up between my eight siblings and me. My stomach twists with the thought.
He follows my line of vision, and his thick salt-and-pepper eyebrows scrunch together. He’s probably wondering What’s wrong with you, Denver? You come in here wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and a beat-up pair of Vans. You won’t make polite conversation. I’m sure he assumes I’m hungover. But then he’ll remember my tragic circumstances and the pity will set in. The part where his eyes turn soft and he nods, gifting me with the “I know, your parents died much too young and it’s fucked you up” expression.
I’m used to it by now. It rolls off my back.
“Almost all of Lake Starlight. Have you thought about writing a will?” Luther sits back, and the small uptick of the corner of his lips says he finds his question as funny as I do.
“We both know I have nothing to leave anyone.”
“Everyone has something,” he says, his hands holding the ends of a pen in a straight line in front of him.
“I don’t own a house or have any money in savings.” Unless someone wants my phone with a bunch of chicks’ numbers, there’s only my plane, which I’m still paying off. Since my twin, Rome, is engaged and Liam, my best friend, is a step away from the same with my sister Savannah, that phone wouldn’t come in handy to any of them.
“What about personal items? I’ve mediated my fair share of fights between family members over something as simple as a television.”
“I’m living at Savannah’s right now. It’s all her stuff.”
He straightens in his chair. “You know what I mean.”
The door opens, and Luther’s eyes zero in behind me. I swear a cold chill wafts into the room with her.
I don’t have to turn around, because her heels announce her arrival. The only surprise, which shouldn’t really be a surprise, is that her stepsister, her mother, and her stepfather are alongside her. God forbid she deal with this on her own.
Luther’s smile fades as her entourage finds their seats.
She, of course, sits in the leather-bound chair next to me, crossing her legs. Only Cleo would wear high heels and a dress in the middle of an Alaskan winter.
“Denver.” Her voice is cool with a touch of forced politeness.
I turn to her, her tanned legs making it clear she’s from the south. I’d be lying if I said the smoothness didn’t appeal to me, but that’s the thing about the devil—no one said he or she wasn’t a temptress.
Series Reading Order:
This is a series of interconnected standalones. Each book is a new couple, but this family has such a special dynamic you should really read the books in order!