New York Times
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.
“I can’t believe it gets worse, Dixie.” She shook her hair at me and I wanted to reach out and touch the bronze strands. They glimmered like they were lit from within. Everything about her was meant to shimmer and shine through the shadows that surrounded her. Eventually that inner glow was going to break free and I hoped I was around to see it. “I didn’t think it could get worse than the guy who wanted you to be third person in a ménage à trois with his wife.”
I sucked back a mouthful of wine at that and shuddered. “Yeah, when he told me it was fine because their kids were with his parents for the weekend I almost threw my water at him. That was bad, but this mother was still the worst. It was a shame because her son was actually really cute and I think if he wasn’t so browbeaten he might actually be a good guy.” I lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “Oh well, you live and you learn.”
Something crossed her beautiful face, something tragic and painful that hurt to look at, but it was only there for a second and then her typical serene and unaffected expression was firmly back in place. “If you’re lucky you get to live. So no more online dating?”
I nodded and finished off the rest of my wine. “No more. There seems to be an infinite amount of crazy out there in the world and I’m a magnet for it.”
They can be whoever they want to be on the internet, Dixie. You’ll never know who you’re dealing with, and that’s dangerous.Church’s warning drifted through my mind and it made me want to hit something. He was right. He also always seemed to be looking out for me, which would be thrilling, exciting, and exactly what I wanted if he had been doing it out of something other than some misguided need to watch out for me because we worked together. If he cared about what happened to me because he cared about me in some way, shape, or form, I would be over the moon. But really it all boiled down to the fact that I was important to the people that were important to him, so he didn’t want to see anything bad happen to me.
I was turning to pour another glass of wine when Poppy and I both started as someone started pounding on the apartment door. I gasped a little as Poppy jumped to her feet in a panic with a startled yelp pealing out of her throat. Alarmed by the human’s distress Dolly started to growl and stalked to the door like the born protector that she was. She let out a sharp bark that had me practically sprinting across the room to see who was causing the commotion so that her gruff growling and sharp yapping didn’t wake up the neighbors.
I glanced at Poppy and frowned when I saw that she was as white as my countertop and looked like she was going to pass out. Her hand was to her throat and her fingers were shaking so badly I could see the tremors all the way across the room. She was terrified. I wanted to fix that for her but I didn’t know how. “Dixie, open the door. I left Kallie and I need a place to crash for a few days.” The voice on the other side of the door was as familiar as my own. His words made me swear out loud as I pulled the door open without another thought given to the fact that Poppy might end up facedown on the carpet.
“You left Kallie?” I barely got the words out before my little sister’s obviously furious and clearly frustrated fiancé barreled into the tiny living space. I shut the door behind him. Dolly went about her typically happy greeting once she realized she knew the tall, lanky, auburn-haired man that was now frantically pacing through my living room, raking his heavily tattooed hands through his messy hair.
“She’s been cheating on me . . . again. I was such an idiot to believe her when she told me it would never happen again after the last time. How could she do this to me after all we’ve been through together?” His heated blue eyes locked on me and I could see he was struggling to keep both his emotions and the moisture trapped in his eyes in check. “We’re supposed to be getting married in a few months.” His voice cracked and I couldn’t stop myself from walking over and wrapping my arms around his trim waist.
“Oh, Wheeler. I’m so sorry.” My sister was an idiot, but in all honesty so was he. My sister didn’t know how to be an adult without him and he didn’t know how to be a family without her. They were scarily dependent on each other and had been since they were kids. Now Kallie was barely twenty-two and had everything I wanted in the palm of her hand—the brand new house Wheeler bought for them to start their lives together, an engagement ring that made my heart squeeze with envy. I would treasure the love and promises she had been given and part of me died every single time I watched my sister be careless and reckless with what Wheeler had handed her. “You can stay here for as long as you need to. Do you want me to call her?” If I did I was going to rip her a new one. I loved my sister dearly, but at the moment I would gladly strangle her with my bare hands.
About Jay Crownover
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.