Perfect Bragg is live. I left you with quite the bomb at the end of Bragg’s Love. A bomb the size of a two-month old baby dropped into Harmony’s lap. I don’t know who was more surprised. Harmony or me? Elder didn’t blink an eye. He’s ready to jump in and prove to Harmony he’s the man for her. Is he, though? Really?
Harmony is perfectly fine being friends with Elder. He’s made it more than clear he wants more but she shoved him in the friend zone faster than Lucy the llama can run. And, trust me, llamas are fast!
When baby Robin shows up, Harmony is determined to go it alone. Except the baby’s biological father wants custody. Not if Harmony can help it. She’ll do anything to keep custody of her cousin’s baby. Even marry Elder.
Perfect Bragg is full of fun:
✔️ Fake Marriage
✔️ Friends to lovers
✔️ He falls first
✔️ Forced proximity – one bed!
✔️ 3 adorable dogs, a naughty goat & a llama named Lucy
✔️ A gang of elderly matchmakers who are too sneaky for their own good
✔️ Witty banter that will have you laughing out loud
✔️ Quirky small town romance
Harmony ~ a woman who would rather spend the rest of her days surrounded by animals than speak to another human being
“Don’t you dare,” I growl.
“I’m serious. If you jump over the fence, there will be no watermelon for you.”
At the word watermelon, the llama’s ears perk up. Phew. My shoulders relax. Crisis averted.
I wiggle my fingers at Lucy. “Come here.”
Her head swivels to the fence one more time. Crap on a cracker. She’s going for it. She’s going to escape the Wildlife Refuge. She huffs before taking a running leap at the fence and bounding over it. Crisis not averted.
“No!” I chase after her. “Bad llama! Bad Lucy! Get back here.”
By the time I reach the fence, Lucy is nowhere to be seen. Llamas can run up to forty miles per hour while I have a stitch in my side from sprinting to the fence. What the hell am I going to do?
I can’t phone Juniper, my boss and the manager of the Wildlife Refuge, because it’s her wedding day and I promised her I had everything under control. And I did! Until her future husband decided to stop by the refuge but forgot to say hi to Lucy. An offense Lucy takes very seriously.
I dig my phone out of my pocket. I’ll call a friend to help me out. Except there’s no one to call. All of my friends are busy preparing for the Winter Falls wedding of the century. I’m not exaggerating. Juniper is marrying Maverick Langston – aka the hottest romantic comedy actor in Hollywood – today.
You can phone Elder, a voice I’ve dubbed Rebel Harmony, because she always wants me to do things I shouldn’t do, whispers in my mind. He’ll come running.
Elder is a friend, nothing more, I remind her. But you want more. Oh, shut up.
“Hey, Harmony,” Elder greets when he answers the phone. Rebel Harmony perks up. Elder is coming!
“I need your help.”
“Where are you? Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine, but Lucy escaped.”
“Which one is Lucy?”
He chuckles. “You and those animals. I’m getting in my truck now. I’ll meet you at the entrance to the Wildlife Refuge.”
Thank goodness Elder has a truck. Most residents of Winter Falls don’t have vehicles since internal combustion engines are banned in town. As the first carbon neutral town in the world, Winter Falls takes saving the environment very seriously.
But Elder, as co-owner of Naked Falls Brewing, has an exemption to own a vehicle. You can hardly haul around barrels of beer on a golf cart, which is how most people get around town. I prefer my bike. But my ten-speed is no match for a llama in love with a movie star.
I watch as the brewery’s truck approaches the refuge five minutes later and hurry outside to the parking area. I open the door before Elder comes to a complete stop.
“Hurry. We need to get to Juniper’s house before Lucy does.”
“Hello to you, too, Harmony.”
I scowl at him. “This is no time to be cute.”
“Cute? You think I’m cute?” He puffs out his chest. “I prefer hunky, but I’ll settle for cute.”
“Hunky? Do people under the age of seventy use the word hunky? How old are you again?”
“I’m thirty-two and three-quarters.”
I can’t help the giggle from escaping. “Three-quarters?”
“Next month is my birthday. Why are birthdays good for your health?”
I roll my eyes. Elder is quite the jokester. Unfortunately, most of his jokes are meant for five-year-olds.
“Research suggests people with more birthdays live longer,” he says before laughing at his own joke.
I wish I could laugh and joke the way he does. I can’t. Life is no laughing matter.
“Turn here,” I say.
“This isn’t the way to Juniper’s house.”
I point up ahead to where Lucy is meandering through a field. “Someone has a hankering for watermelon.”
Thank goodness. Juniper would lose her ever-loving mind if one of her animals showed up at her house before her wedding. Or, more likely, Maverick would lose his mind when Juniper ran out of her house to cuddle Lucy while wearing her wedding dress.
Juniper loves animals as much as I do, which is saying a lot since I prefer animals over humans every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
“Stop here,” I order Elder and jump out of the vehicle.
I don’t hurry toward Lucy. Knowing the llama, she’d think I’m playing a game and run away, forcing me to chase her. It wouldn’t be the first time, but I have no plans to spend my day chasing an animal all over town.
A door slams behind me and I cringe. Did Lucy hear? Is she going to bolt?
“What are you doing?” I hiss at Elder.
“What do you know about corralling animals?”
“Humans are animals, aren’t they?” He waggles his eyebrows. “I’m pretty good at corralling humans. I have a blue ribbon in corralling.”
I wish I could say I don’t respond to his comment. But I’d be lying. My body warms as I imagine Elder corralling me into a corner where he pushes me up against the wall before pressing his body against mine and—
I slam the shutters down on those thoughts. Elder is not for me. He should find some nice woman who’s worthy of him to fall in love with.
I don’t respond to Elder’s comment and continue toward Lucy. Elder tromps next to me.
“Can you walk quieter?”
“Yes. Stop stomping your big feet.”
“You know what they say about a man with big feet—”
I hold up a hand before he can continue. “Can we secure Lucy and get her back to the Wildlife Refuge before I lose my job? Please. I love my job.”
Elder sobers. “Of course.” He motions forward. “After you.”
I tiptoe through the field. It’s fallow since it’s February but Lucy isn’t convinced. She’s rooting around through the weeds for watermelon and doesn’t notice my approach.
“Hey, sweetie,” I sing in a soft voice.
Lucy’s head pops up and I swear she frowns at me. Someone is not happy about having her freedom curtailed. She’s not the only one who isn’t happy.
“Shall we go back home?”
“I have watermelon.”
I have her attention now.
“And maybe a banana.”
She steps toward me.
“There’s my good girl.”
I inch forward until I’m nearly within touching distance. Lucy stands still staring at me as I approach. I swear she’s considering her options. Can I get away with it if I flee? Or should I stay? She better stay. I don’t have time to chase a llama all day. I have a wedding to attend.
Crack. The sound of Elder stepping on a branch reverberates through the valley. Lucy rears back and retreats a few steps.
“No, you don’t,” I mutter as I dash forward and snatch her halter before she can escape again. As soon as I tug on the halter, Lucy yields.
“Thanks for your help,” I tell Elder.
He puffs out his chest. “You’re welcome.”
“I was being sarcastic.”
“It’s okay. You can’t hide your attraction from me behind sarcasm forever.”
Attraction? I’m not attracted to him. Why would I be attracted to a six-foot-three-inch man with lean muscles, sparkling brown eyes, and a dimple on his right cheek?
Okay, fine, Elder Bragg is one handsome man. It doesn’t mean I’m attracted to him. My fingers don’t itch to scratch his beard. My tongue doesn’t long to trace the dimple on his cheek. And I haven’t spent nights wondering how those brown eyes heat when he comes. Nope. Not I.
“Thanks for your help,” I say instead of responding to his comment. “I’ve got it from here.”
His brow furrows. “You’ve got it from here? It’s two miles to the refuge.”
“I’m aware,” I mutter as I begin the trek.
“Can’t you hold onto Lucy from inside the truck?”
I giggle. “You want me to hold onto Lucy’s halter while I ride in your truck?”
“Or you can drive the truck and I’ll return Lucy to the refuge.”
He reaches for the halter and Lucy immediately sidles up to him. The llama is the biggest flirt. She loves men more than watermelon and she seriously loves watermelon.
“Go on. The keys are in the ignition.”
I debate arguing with him. Lucy is my responsibility after all. But I’m tired from doing the chores this morning at the Wildlife Refuge. If Elder wants to walk two miles, I’m not going to stop him.
“See ya back at the farm.” I salute as I jump in his truck.
By the time Lucy and Elder return to the Wildlife Refuge, I’m nearly finished for the day.
“I believe this is yours,” Elder jokes as he hands me the llama’s harness.
I pat Lucy’s side. “Not mine. Lucy is her own animal. She belongs to no one.”
Most of the animals at the Wildlife Refuge are former pets. None of the animals should have been pets in the first place. But Hollywood stars – who are most of the former ‘owners’ of these animals – don’t think the rules apply to them.
Luck for all the animals, Maverick is a big ‘ol softie who didn’t want the former pets to be put down because they were unfortunate enough to be the former pet of a famous person.
Elder bumps my hip. “We make a good team. You should go on a date with me.”
Date with him? I wish I could. But I can’t. I’m not worthy of a man like Elder Bragg.
“A good team?” I snort. “Lucy totally played you.”
“I am fun to play with.” He winks.
I shove his shoulder. “You’re a goofball. Get on out of here. I need to close up before I can go home to change for the wedding reception.”
He waves as he saunters off. I sigh as I stare at how his jeans hug his ass. If I weren’t destined to spend the rest of my life alone, I’d jump at the chance to date him. But alas. This woman is not meant to have a partner or a family.