From the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Susan Mallery, read the second irresistible installment in the Happily Inc series!
Mathias Mitchell’s easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can’t stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.
Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she’s not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she’ll always come first in his heart?
Don’t miss You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc series.
Mathias walked barefoot across his patio. It was still early and a light mist clung to the ground—no doubt the result of early morning watering, but he preferred a more romantic explanation. It was the artist in him.
He took his favorite chair, set his coffee and sketch pad on the table beside him, then prepared to wait.
He wasn’t sure how long ago the ritual had started. Shortly after Millie had arrived, maybe. He didn’t know why she got to him more than the others. She was just a giraffe. Shouldn’t he find beauty in the swift-footed gazelles or majesty in the water buffalo?
While he’d been aware of the animals when he’d purchased the house, he hadn’t really noticed them for the first few months. He supposed they’d crept into his consciousness after he’d met Carol.
Most towns hid their dumps behind gates or far away from any suburban sprawl. Happily Inc had planned differently, putting it just southwest of the population center, carefully downwind.
In addition to running a recycling and reclamation program that was one of the best in the nation, the two men who owned and ran the dump had also purchased hundreds of acres around the landfill. Grasses and trees had been brought in. Once they’d taken root, the animals had appeared. The gazelles had been first, then the zebras. There were a few wading birds, the water buffalo and lastly, Millie.
Mathias knew the basics—the two men who had created a unique African savanna on the edge of the California desert were Carol’s father and uncle. When she’d completed her degree, she’d come to work at the preserve. A year ago, the old man in charge of the animals had retired, leaving Carol to take over. A few months after that, Millie had arrived.
Mathias didn’t know why the giraffe and the woman were so closely linked in his mind, but they were. Now, as he watched the morning fog slowly dissipate, he saw Millie stroll into view.
She was a reticulated or Somali giraffe, nearly fifteen feet tall, with traditional markings. Her face was almost heart shaped, with widely spaced eyes and an inquisitive gaze.
Mathias sipped his coffee before reaching for his sketch pad. He already had hundreds of drawings of Millie and Carol, but he hadn’t yet found the one. He would know it when he saw it, so every morning he waited.
Carol appeared when they cleared the trees. She barely came to partway up Millie’s shoulder. In the morning light, her short red hair seemed almost blond. She was strong and wholly herself—a contrast to his usual type of woman, so he shouldn’t have found her appealing…only he did. There was something about her lack of artifice, something about the way she was so comfortable in her own skin that made him pay attention.
About the Author
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship, romance. She's best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.
Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her online at SusanMallery.com.