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
“Um . . . I had a lovely evening.” No, I hadn’t. It was awful. It would go down as the worst first date in the history of first dates, which was something considering my recent run as the awful-first-date queen. But it wasn’t in my nature to say so. All I wanted to do was say good-night and go hide in my bedroom with a glass of wine and my dog for the rest of the evening.
“Aren’t you going to invite us in for a drink?”
I fought to hold back a cringe and looked over the shoulder of the very cute but painfully shy young man I had accepted the date with after several weeks of online chatting. I’d met him through one of the dating apps I had signed up for when I decided I was done waiting for my perfect to realize that I was perfect for him.
My terrible luck in love had held true and this date, with this cute boy . . . and his mother, the person who had asked about coming in for a drink since my actual date seemed incapable of speech. Yep, it solidified the fact that I was bound to end up alone. That beautiful blinding thing that everyone important in my life that I loved seemed to find with such ease was clearly not in the cards for me. I wanted a fantasy but every day was faced with the fact that all I was getting was cold, hard and very lonely reality.
I sighed and reached up to push some of my wayward, strawberry-colored curls out of my face. I was annoyed that not only had I clearly been cat-fished—there was no way the son was the one running his dating profile, not if he couldn’t string two words together, and not if he couldn’t look at me without blushing and trembling nervously—but by the fact that I had wasted a perfectly cute outfit, killer hair, and a face full of flawless makeup on this sham of a date. I was typically a very low-maintenance kind of girl, so pulling myself together like this took time and effort that I would never have expended if I had known it was all for a woman with crazy eyes and a psychotic interest in finding her grown child a suitable mate. Honestly, I was surprised the woman hadn’t asked for blood and urine samples before the appetizers arrived. She’d grilled me like I was a POW for the entire date and when my answers didn’t meet her expectations I could feel her disappointment wafting from across the table.
Anyone else would have gotten up the instant their date showed up with parental supervision. They would have chalked it up as a loss and deleted the guy off the app. I, unfortunately, wasn’t wired that way. Nope, I was predisposed to believe every situation, no matter how bad, had a silver lining. I thought maybe my date would loosen up and tried to reason that it was actually kind of sweet he was so close to his mom. I figured after dinner and the interrogation I would be vetted enough that maybe he would want to do something without our eagle-eyed chaperone. I thought his shy demeanor made him seem vulnerable and that he was even more adorable in person than he was in his profile picture.
It didn’t get better.
It got worse, and I quickly realized the lining was never going to be silver because it was made out of lead, and I was sinking with it to the bottom of the bad-date ocean. I tried to think of a polite way to get out of the rest of the evening but the woman wouldn’t give me a minute to breathe. She even went as far as to follow me to the bathroom so I couldn’t send out an SOS call to one of my friends for a convenient escape. It was brutal, but I powered through, thinking once they followed me home and saw me to the door in an old-fashioned but still over-the-top gesture that it would be over. I had a boatload of nosy neighbors and a big dog in my apartment, so I didn’t fret too much about him knowing where I lived (the mom was a different story).
I was wrong.
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