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 loved my life. I had a job that I enjoyed going to every day, and I worked with people I adored and admired. I was never going to be a millionaire doing what I did, but I was good at it and most of the time it felt more like spending time with friends than actual work. I loved and was deeply loved back by my family, even if my younger sister was an idiot. I had a cute apartment, an active social life, and great freaking hair.
There wasn’t a lot I could complain about on a day-to-day basis and things that did get under my skin were things I had a hard time explaining to anyone that didn’t grow up knowing love at first sight was real and that when you found the other half of your heart life was infinitely better.
I was only twenty-six, still plenty of time to live life and settle down, but I felt ancient and overlooked when I compared myself to my younger sister. She’d found the fairy tale our parents had laid out for us when she was still in high school and I got nothing but lonely nights and a string of dates so bad no one believed me when I tried to tell them how awful they really were.
I jolted when there was a knock at the door behind me, making my ears ring since my head was still resting against the wood. Dolly growled low in her throat when she felt me tense up, so I put my hand on the top of her broad head and used the peephole to see who was interrupting my pity party.
My new neighbor, the girl who moved like a ghost and spoke so softly I often had to struggle to hear what she was saying, stood on the other side. Poppy Cruz, quiet, withdrawn, but so sweet and smitten with my dog. I’d totally leveraged that love she had for my pet into a budding friendship that Poppy was obviously reluctant to have.
I knew some of her history through stories from her friends and family who were all regulars at my bar, so I was careful not to push too hard even though all I wanted to do was cuddle her and tell her the clouds have to part on even the darkest of days. She was comfortable enough with me now to knock on my door well past the acceptable visiting hours, so there was no way I was going to leave her standing in the hall, even if that meant my wine and sob-fest were further delayed.
I pulled the door open and Dolly immediately lunged for the visitor on the other side. Poppy was willowy but she had no trouble bracing for the impact from the dog and she seemed just as excited to receive the slobbery kisses as Dolly was to give them.
“I heard you talking out in the hallway and I just wanted to see how your date went. It didn’t sound like it ended on the best note.” Her quiet voice drifted to me as I shook my head and snorted.
“It didn’t start on a great note either. He showed up with his mom, can you believe that? I need a glass of wine, do you want one?”
She wrinkled her delicate nose and wrestled the big dog into the apartment so she could shut the door behind her. “I don’t drink, but thank you.”
She didn’t do much of anything. The product of a very strict and religious upbringing, Poppy was as straight and narrow as one could get. She’d suffered severely at the hands of a man her father had handpicked for her and it was clear that every single day was one more step in the process of healing from that.
“I forgot. I’m in the bar so often I forget that there are humans in this world that can cope without alcohol.” I lifted an eyebrow at her and made my way into the kitchen. “I’m not one of them.”
She laughed lightly like I meant her to and followed me into the tiny galley-style kitchen.
“So his mom?” Her eyes were the color of hot cider and they gleamed with gentle humor. She was impossible not to like and as much as I wanted a different life for myself I also wanted one for her. I hated that her history was so ugly, but I loved that she’d survived it and was pushing herself to live beyond her experiences. That was beautiful and hinted at an inner strength her delicate appearance kept hidden.
I snorted again and rolled my eyes. “I thought the guy that took off halfway through the date with my wallet was as bad as it could get. I was wrong. Really wrong.”
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