From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.
Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him...even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying. When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.
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CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT:
I felt his broad chest rise and fall where I was squeezing him. He heaved another deep sigh and pulled back so that he could shake his head in the negative. “Not tonight.” He growled from low in his chest and roughly dragged his hands over his face. “I need a minute . . . or ten.”
There was a delicate clearing of a throat and we both shifted our gazes to where Poppy was pressed against the front door like Wheeler could grow razor-sharp claws and mile-long fangs to eviscerate her at any moment. Her eyes were twice their normal size and her teeth were buried so deeply into her bottom lip I was surprised she wasn’t drawing blood.
“I’m going to go.” Her voice quivered and her hands were still shaking.
I felt Wheeler tense where I was still holding on to him, and I watched his eyes narrow as they locked on Poppy. His gaze was normally a mellow light blue that looked amazing with his reddish hair and the dimples that dug into his cheeks. Tonight it flared like the blue at the base of a flame and those adorable indents in his cheeks were nowhere to be found.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything. It’s been a shitty night on top of an even shittier week and I’m not thinking too clearly at the moment. I didn’t mean to barge in and make an ass out of myself.” And that was why I loved Hudson Wheeler with every single bit of my heart and soul. His world was crashing down around him. He was drowning in an ocean of his own bad choices (and I would call Kallie a bad choice to her face for this bullshit) and misery, but he still had the wherewithal to gentle his tone and rein in his temper so that he didn’t further terrify the young woman plastered against the only exit. He was a good guy . . . no, a great guy . . . and Kallie was a world-class moron for screwing around on him . . . again.
“It’s fine. You’re . . . um, fine. Dixie, I’ll see you later.” She leaned down to pet Dolly one last time and then slipped out the door shutting it silently behind her. She moved like smoke and vanished just as fast.
I pulled away from the man that was set to be my brother-in-law and tunneled my fingers through my wild hair and squeezed my head. “That’s my new neighbor.”
He grunted and threw himself down on my well-worn couch. The springs protested under his weight and then groaned again when Dolly climbed up next to him and put her head on his denim-clad thigh.
“I know her. She’s Salem’s sister and Rowdy grew up with her back in Texas. He brought her by when she needed a new car. I tried to sell her a ’64 Bonneville that needed a little work. She would’ve made that car look gorgeous. She ended up with a Toyota Camry. It was a goddamn travesty. A girl that looks like that should have a car that stands out, not something safe and predictable.” I forgot that Wheeler knew a bunch of the boys that frequented my bar because they were family, some by blood and some by something more, with my boss, Rome Archer. Rowdy St. James also worked at the tattoo shop that was responsible for the majority of the ink that covered Wheeler from head to toe. I should have realized he would have run across Poppy at least once or twice since she’d come to Denver, even if Kallie tended to keep him on a tight leash.
I lowered myself onto the only available seating left in my small living room and kicked my feet up so that they were resting on my coffee table. “Poppy isn’t really the standing-out type and she can do with a little safe.”
His gaze shifted to mine and his mouth pulled into a frown. “That’s a damn shame, too.”
I agreed with him, so I didn’t say anything else.
After a solid hour of sulking I finally got up and took Dolly out for her nightly ritual. I dug up some sheets and blankets to make a temporary bed for Wheeler on the couch, a temporary bed that was going to be as uncomfortable as hell considering his long legs, and eventually found my way to my own bed.
I wanted to cry for all of it. For Wheeler’s broken heart, for my sister’s stupidity and blindness to what she had thrown away, for Poppy’s obvious emotional scarring and her fear of other people, for Joseph and his creepy relationship with his insane mother, and for me. Unrequited love sucked.
I hated it.
No tears fell as I climbed under the covers. Like I always did, I told myself there was bound to be a light at the end of the tunnel . . . there had to be because I refused to live my life in the dark.
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