Ellery does not have time for a man. Not when she’s too busy being a workaholic. But when Cole shows up at her bed & breakfast with his sexy voice and dimple, she can’t resist. What harm can one night do?
When her one night of fun has lasting consequences of the baby variety, she figures she’ll give it a go on her own. Cole disagrees. He’s all in to claim this baby and its mom. He just has to out-stubborn her first. No worries. Ellery might be the most stubborn woman in the world, but Cole is the most determined man.
Ready to read if Cole can convince Ellery to give him a chance?
Need some more convincing? No worries. Read the first chapter of Just For Forever below.
Four months ago
At the sound of a man’s husky voice, I halt rummaging through the cleaning supplies. Holy hot flashes. A man’s voice should not be sexy enough on its own to cause a shiver to run down my spine, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
I need to see the face that matches the voice. Since I’m on my knees with my butt sticking out of the supply closet, I stand and whirl around at the same time. Unfortunately, I forgot I was holding onto a box of cleaning supplies and Mr. Sexy Voice is standing directly behind me. The box collides with his body, and I lose my hold on it causing it to drop to the floor and the contents to fly out and scatter through the hallway.
“Shit,” I mutter as I drop to my knees to gather the supplies.
“Let me help.” He offers.
I look up to tell him not to worry about it and – whack! – our heads collide since he’s already leaning over. I fall back on my bottom and place a hand on my head. Ow.
“I wasn’t looking forward to my trip to a small town, but I didn’t expect to get injured the second I arrive.”
I scowl up at him – small towns are awesome, especially if the small town is Winter Falls – but the scowl freezes on my face when I get my first look at him. Yowzah! Talk about a stone cold fox. His dark hair is styled to appear as if he just rolled out of bed – making me itch to run my fingers through it and mess up all the careful styling – while his deep, blue eyes sparkle with humor as he watches me check him out. And then there’s his jaw. Square jaws are like catnip to me. I want to caress his jaw while I kiss him.
He chuckles and I remember where I am – sitting on my ass in the hallway at my bed and breakfast. What is wrong with me? I’m not usually klutzy Karen, and I do NOT check out guests. I mentally slap myself upside the head. Get yourself together, woman. No drooling over a strange man no matter how sexy his voice is.
I ignore his hand offering to help me up and stand on my own. When I reach my full height of a whopping five-feet-two, I realize this man is not only gorgeous but tall. Probably around six-foot. I would fit perfectly snuggled under his shoulder. So much for not drooling over strange men.
I shut the supply closet door behind me and walk around the reception desk. “Checking in?”
“Won’t your boss get mad at you for checking me in? Maybe you should call him.”
Him? I briefly close my eyes to stop myself from rolling them. Rolling eyes at guests is bad, even when they are being presumptuous.
“It’s fine. She won’t mind.” I make sure to emphasize the she as I wiggle the mouse to wake up the computer and type in my password. “Do you have a reservation?”
He doesn’t respond and I gaze up at him to discover him staring at me. I know I don’t look my best. Rushing around trying to clean all the rooms in the inn after getting up early to prepare breakfast doesn’t exactly equal a fresh and clean appearance. My face is probably red and shiny, and I don’t want to think about how my hair looks.
“Do you have a reservation?” I repeat my question.
He finally snaps out of his silence and nods. “Yes. It’s under Cole Hawkins.”
Dang. A sexy name for a sexy man.
“Are you positive your boss—”
“Here, it is,” I say and cut him off.
I should probably tell him I’m the owner and operator of the Inn on Main at this point, but it’ll be more fun to let him figure it out on his own. And I could use some fun.
“You’ll be staying with us for two weeks?”
“I’ve put you in the executive suite on the top floor. You won’t …” My words trail off as the Chief of Police stalks into the building.
“Chief Alston.” My voice sounds friendly, but there’s a frown on my face. I always assumed Lyric would become my brother-in-law since my older sister, Aspen, has been in love with him forever, but the two broke up a decade ago and my sister’s been heartbroken ever since.
Being a witness to Lyric moving on with his life and dating other women has been painful, especially since my sister avoids coming home because she’s afraid to see him with another woman. She’ll deny it, but I know it’s true.
He nods to me in greeting before focusing his attention on my guest. “Are you the owner of the Jeep Grand Cherokee?”
Uh oh. Someone’s in trouble.
Cole’s eyebrows pinch together. “I am. Is there a problem? Don’t tell me someone ran into my car. It’s brand new.”
I giggle. Who exactly would have run into his car? The transportation method of choice in Winter Falls is a golf cart. Although I suppose a golf cart could cause some damage to a Jeep. My baby sister, Ashlyn, managed to scratch the heck out of a police car when she lost control of a golf cart while racing down the street when she was in high school.
Lyric places his hands on his hips and glares at Cole. “Did you receive dispensation to drive the car into Winter Falls?”
“Dispensation? What are you talking about?”
Winter Falls’ claim to fame is being the first carbon neutral town in the world. As such, we have a bunch of rules and regulations about energy use including driving cars in town.
Lyric switches his glare to me. “Aren’t guests informed of the rules regarding gas-guzzling vehicles when they book a room at the inn?”
Cole stands in front of me. “Hey! Don’t give her a hard time. She’s merely a cleaner here.”
Lyric cocks his eyebrow. I know he’s wondering why I haven’t corrected Cole’s misconceptions, but I don’t answer to him. It’s none of his business I’m giving Cole a lesson in how to treat people. It’s also none of his business how I practically melted at Cole’s protective stance.
“You need a dispensation to drive a gas engine vehicle in Winter Falls,” Lyric explains to Cole when I don’t speak.
Cole scratches his neck. “I do? How do visitors arrive if not by car? Is there a bus or railroad station?”
He’s got a point. As much as Winter Falls likes to pretend it’s an island, it’s not. There aren’t exactly islands the size of this town in the middle of the Colorado foothills.
No matter how much food we produce locally, there are tons of necessities we can’t produce such as toilet paper. Trust me, toilet paper is a necessity. I am done trying to teach the world how to use a bidet. It’s officially no longer my fight. Toilet paper is a must have and it needs to reach Winter Falls somehow.
But why is Lyric being such an ass? Normally, he doesn’t show up at the inn to harass guests about the vehicles they used to arrive in town with. As long as the vehicle remains parked behind the inn for the duration of their stay, it’s fine. But he’s got a bug up his ass today.
And I think I know why. “You saw Aspen.” It’s not a question.
He frowns. “Did you know she was coming back to town?”
Of course, I knew. Her bookstore and apartment in Dallas burned down a few days ago. Where else was she going to go? But we agreed to keep her return secret because my big sister asked us to. Keeping a secret in this town is akin to a miracle, but we managed.
“Why don’t I get you a cup of coffee and a cookie?” I round the desk and walk to the small refreshment station in the lobby before he has a chance to answer.
I prepare a cup of coffee for him and place a cookie on a plate.
I don’t let Lyric finish whatever denial he was planning to give me and press the items in his hands.
“Sit. Take a load off for a while. I’ll get Mr. Hawkins checked in and then I’ll join you.”
His chin drops to his chest, and he takes a seat.
I turn to my guest. “Do you need help with your baggage?” He shakes his head. “I’ll show you to your room then.”
I swipe the room key from the desk and begin ascending the stairs. “The execute suite is on the third floor. Breakfast in the morning is from—”
“Was he serious?” He cuts me off to ask.
“Who serious about what?”
“The chief of police. Was he serious about needing dispensation for my car? What kind of crazy town is this?”
I bristle at his question. Is Winter Falls a bit kooky? Of course, it is. The town was founded by a group of hippies. How can it not be kooky? But it’s also a fun place to live and there’s not one person in this town of a thousand and one people who I wouldn’t trust to have my back. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“There’s no need for concern. You are free to drive your car to and from town. Within town, however, you should either walk, bike, or use a golf cart. Bikes and golf carts are free to borrow. There are stations with them scattered throughout town, including behind the inn.”
We reach his room, and I motion for him to proceed me. The executive suite is one of my favorite rooms. It’s not technically a ‘suite’ as the bedroom is not a separate room and there isn’t a kitchen area. But there is a separate living space and a desk set up in front of the large window with a view over Main Street.
“I’m here for work,” Cole says. “I need my car to get to meetings.”
I barely hold in my eye roll. He ‘needs’ his car. Where exactly are his meetings? You can literally walk from one side of Winter Falls to the other in less than twenty minutes.
“What kind of work are you here for?”
He puffs out his chest. “I’m an architect.”
“You’re here for the community center project.” It’s not a question. In a small town – especially this small town – everyone knows what’s going on.
“I’m surprised you’ve heard about it.”
Why is he surprised? Oh yeah. He thinks I’m a cleaner. “I’m actually—”
He cuts me off before I have a chance to tell him how I actually own The Inn on Main. “I guess you must have heard about it from your boss.”
I open my mouth to once again try to clear up the misunderstanding happening here, but Cole is on a roll.
“Anyway, I’m an architect.” Yes, you said. “And my firm is bidding to acquire the project. I’ll be meeting with the mayor and city council.”
“The plot for the community center isn’t far from here. It’s not even a five-minute walk.”
“You’re well-informed for your position.”
I don’t bother trying to clear up his misconception again. I tried. I failed. I’d much rather have a front row seat when he realizes the truth. Someone’s going to be mighty embarrassed. Not my problem. It’s not my fault making assumptions makes you an ass.