Savvy stylist Amanda Wright loves Marietta, her hair salon, and her clients, and no client is more dear to her heart than eighty-year-old Bette Justice–even if her years have made her a little fragile. So when Bette asks Amanda to help her convince her determined grandson, Tyler, a successful game designer, that Marietta is the right home for Bette, Amanda can’t say no.

Tyler Justice has a one-track mind–he wants to take care of his beloved grandmother. He can’t understand her resistance to move to Texas and is sure that the young friend she keeps mentioning–Amanda–is taking advantage of his grandmother’s generosity. He reaches Marietta determined to put the salon owner in her place and bring his grandmother home…until smart, kind Amanda starts to tug at his heart in ways he never expected.
But just as Tyler and Amanda start to form a real connection, will a long-buried family secret destroy their chance at love?

Tyler James Justice had expected Amanda Wright to be polished and stylish—she did hair for a living, after all—but he hadn’t expected her to be quite so pretty.
Or kind.
Or appealing.
But she was pretty, strikingly pretty, and disarmingly sweet.  Make that charming.  For a moment he’d wondered if she’d had work done, and then he spotted the photo of three gorgeous blonde women tucked into her mirror, and asked, “Girlfriends or sisters?” as he nodded to the photo.
She steadied his head, preventing him from moving again.  “Sisters.  I’m the baby.”
“When was this picture taken?”
“My sister’s wedding a couple years ago.”
“Do your sisters live here in Marietta, too?”
“Charity does.  Jenny and her husband have a ranch in Colorado.”
“What does Charity do?”
Mandy didn’t answer immediately, her elegantly arched brows flattening as she concentrated on trimming the hair close to the tip of his right ear.  On one hand, he was impatient for her to answer, but on the other, he appreciated her attention to detail and not nicking his ear.
“She works for a Realtor on Main Street,” Amanda finally said, before tipping his head forward and taking a razor to his nape, cleaning up the back of his neck.  “I’m hoping, though, to eventually bring her here to help me manage the salon.”
“It wouldn’t be hard working with her?”
“Not at all.  Charity is my best friend.  We’re two peas in a pod.  Mom used to say we were more like twins than twins.  What about you?” she asked.  “Do you have brothers or sisters?”
He hesitated.  “I had a brother.  He died serving the country.”
Her hand went to his shoulder, her touch firm, warm.  “I’m sorry,” she said quietly.
He swallowed around the unexpected lump in his throat.  He rarely talked about Coby, and he never got emotional when he did, and he wasn’t at all sure why he’d mentioned his brother to her.
“I couldn’t imagine losing one of my sisters,” Amanda added.  “It must have devastated your parents.”
He nodded, unable to say more, because it had devastated them, and Coby’s death had changed the dynamics of the family.
“You said you were here for business,” she said, changing the subject.   “You must be in the ranching business then.”
“No.  I’m in tech.”
Her full lips pursed.  “Tech?”
“I design games.”
“Games?” she repeated a delicate eyebrow arching.
“Computer games.”
“That must be fun.” Her eyes met his in the mirror.  She was smiling, and it did something funny to his chest.
“It’s creative,” he answered.
“You’re giving people something fun to do.  Good for you.  People need entertainment to help us unplug from the world, don’t you think?”
He found himself watching her as she took the big soft brush and went over his nape, brushing off the stray hair.  “I do.”
He wished he’d been prepared for her, and not just how pretty she was with her high cheekbones and gleaming blonde hair pulled back in a high teased ponytail, but her kindness and good nature.  She reminded him of spring rain—sweet and refreshing—which wasn’t at all his impression of her before he came.
“How is the length?” she asked, turning the chair and handing him a mirror so he could see the back of his head.  “Any shorter?”
“It’s a little longer than I usually wear it,” Tyler said.  “But I like it.  Looks good.”
“I think so, too.  It gives you a 70’s rock star vibe.”
“I’m not that.”
She laughed, and a dimple appeared at the corner of her full lips.  “Well, if you’re a game designer, you can be anyone you want to be.”  She unsnapped the black plastic cape, removing it from around his shoulders.  “How long are you in town?”
“A couple of days.  Maybe a week.”
“Well, I hope you enjoy your stay.  Marietta is a great little town.  Everyone that comes here, falls in love—”
“Don’t say that.”
“—with the town,” she finished, laughing again.  “But what’s wrong with falling in love?”
“Nothing.  But I’m not looking for love.  Or a new place to live.  I like Austin.”
“A Texas boy.”
California, he wanted to correct her, as he’d only relocated to Austin two years ago, but there was no point in telling her any of that.  They weren’t friends, and furthermore, once she knew who he really was, they’d never be friends.  The warmth inside of him cooled, and his smile faded.  Standing, he reached for his wallet.  “How much do I owe you?”
“Thirty-five.  And you can pay Emily.  She’s at the desk in reception.”
“You did a good job.”
“Then leave a review,” she teased, reaching for the broom and dustpan tucked in the corner next to her station.  “And enjoy Marietta.  It’s a great place to be.”
“I’ll try,” he answered.
“Not good enough,” she called after him.
He turned in the doorway to look back at her, all golden blonde and astonishingly pretty in the winter sunlight, and yet she was smiling at him in a way that made his chest ache.
She made him feel young and hopeful, just as he’d felt as a boy when he’d see a cute girl.  But he wasn’t a boy, and he wasn’t in town because he wanted to be, but because he needed to be.  He’d arrived to put distance between this woman and his grandmother, a move that wasn’t going to make him popular with anyone.  “Goodbye.”
“Good luck tomorrow.”

When Jenny Wright’s fiancĂ© leaves her standing at the altar in a Vera Wang bridal gown she can’t afford, she’s humiliated and heartbroken. To have Marietta hero bull riding champ Colton Thorpe witness her shame makes the rejection even more devastating.
Jenny and Colton grew up in the same rough neighborhood and they both left home right after school to pursue big dreams. Now they’re both back, with Colton as the celebrity chair for the 75th Copper Mountain Rodeo, and Jenny in disgrace. Sexy, rugged Colton didn’t get to be a national champion by chance. He’s a man that takes risks and goes after what he wants. During the rodeo weekend, Colton makes it clear he wants Jenny. Flustered but flattered, Jenny finds it difficult to resist his charm. But what happens when the rodeo ends and Colton leaves town? Will she dare to dream again?

“I can’t do it, Jenny. I can’t go through with this.”
The warm dry autumn wind whipped Jenny Wright’s wedding veil up above her shoulders, fine lace grazing her cheek. Having lived the past ten years in Chicago, Jenny had forgotten the wind that whistled from Yellowstone, down through Paradise Valley, turning the ranching valley into a wind tunnel.
The wind snapped and crackled now, the gusts as much a part of Marietta as the iconic peak of Copper Mountain jutting behind the small, sleepy Montana town. Marietta had surged to life in the late 1800’s before nearly dying when the copper boom proved to be nothing more than a hiccup and all the investors and prospectors packed up and moved away.
It’d been a hundred and twenty some years since then but it was still hard to make a living in Marietta.
It’s why she’d left town as soon as she’d graduated from high school. It’s why she’d been determined to never move back.
She’d only come home for her wedding. Only come home to make her family proud.
Jenny gently plucked the delicate veil from her small diamond and pearl earring before it tore. “I didn’t catch that, honey,” she said, smashing the sudden rush of adrenaline flooding her veins.
No need to panic, she told herself. It was so windy today, and others might not like the gusts, but the wind had blown all the clouds north, leaving the sky above Marietta a perfect brilliant blue, and the wind had made it hard to hear.
Because for a moment there, it sounded as if Charles said he wouldn’t marry her. But that didn’t make sense. He and his family were here. The guests were here. The minister was here, all in the church waiting.
Her stomach rose and fell. She swallowed hard, fighting a sudden rush of nausea. She hadn’t slept well last night, nervous. Excited.
Excited, she silently insisted. Not terrified. Or sad. She would never be sad. This was the right decision. This was the best decision. It was.
It had to be.
“Can you say that again?” she asked him, fighting her veil and tamping down the horrible rush of adrenaline flooding her veins. “I didn’t hear you, honey.”
He hesitated.
She stared at his mouth, focusing on his lips, not wanting to miss a thing this time.
And looking at his mouth, she tried to feel reassured. Because she knew him. She’d worked for his company for years, first as an administrative assistant in Human Resources, then as a manager, before he’d hand-picked her to be his assistant, and then his girlfriend. His woman. It hadn’t happened overnight. At least the love part.
The love part had been tricky, but she loved him now. He’d been in her life a long time, and he’d been good to her. Better than any man had been to her.
And just like that her chest squeezed and her eyes burned and her throat threatened to close.
Maybe it wasn’t the wild fierce passionate love you read about in books, but it was steady and kind and based on respect. Mutual respect.
They were good for each other.
“Charles?” she whispered, fighting the awful aching lump in her throat.
He just stared at her, gray eyes shadowed. “Things got out of hand, Jenny. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t understand.”
He said nothing.
She bit down so hard into her bottom lip she tasted lipstick and blood.
Keep it together, she told herself. Keep it together. You can fix this. You can. You’ve fixed everything else in his life…you can fix this, too.
She masked her panic with one of her professional smiles. Thank God for a stressful career. The workload and deadlines had taught her to cope with pressure. She’d learned how to be strong. “I hear almost every bride and groom experience some cold feet. It’s natural.” She managed a lop-sided smile. “We wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t have a few pre-wedding jitters.”
“Jenny, I’m not going to marry you.”
She suddenly pictured her family—Mama, Daddy, Grandma, her sisters and the rest of her bridesmaids—dressed in their new, expensive and uncomfortable fancy clothes. This was a big day for the Wrights and they hadn’t wanted to disappoint. Scrubbed clean, perfumed, shoes shining, waiting in the church, fighting nerves of their own.
“I’m shocked,” she said calmly, her voice firm, composed. My God, she was good at hiding pain. Hiding her own feelings. Her needs.
But then, she didn’t assert her needs anymore.
Being Charles Monmouth’s assistant had taught her oh so very well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We ask that when you are leaving a comment that you are remebering that children may be reading this blog, without the knowledge of a consenting adult. We all put our disclaimers on to get into the sites but kids are smart. Please be aware when posting to use safe language and pics. Thanks :)

                                                                      Back to You #1 Hard Crush HARD CRUSH                                  ...