Every town needs a bad boy, and Wrangler's Creek's has been gone far too long
Getting his high school girlfriend pregnant was just one square in Roman Granger's checkered past, but it changed him forever. When his son's mother skipped town after the birth, Roman decided to do the same, baby Tate in tow, hoping for a fresh start.
Now Roman fears his teenage son is following in his wayward footsteps, so he returns home to Wrangler's Creek, aiming to set him straight. It's there he encounters Tate's aunt, Mila Banchini, the good-girl opposite of Roman who's had a crush on him since childhood. The old spark between them undeniably never died, though Roman worries it'll only lead to heartache. But if falling for Mila is such a bad idea, why does everything about holding her feel so right?
Vita shook her head and kept moving. Mila would have gone after her if her phone hadn’t rung, and she saw her best friend’s name on the screen. Sophie Granger McKinnon.
“I’m at the hospital,” Sophie said the moment that Mila answered.
That was not something she wanted to hear from anyone but especially one who was seven and a half months pregnant with twins. “Are you in labor?”
“No. I’m fine. It’s not me. It’s my mom. She had some chest pains so I brought her in.” It sounded as if Sophie was crying. “Mila, they think she might have had a heart attack.”
Oh, mercy. “Just stay calm. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Who’s with you now?”
Good. Clay was police chief Clay McKinnon, Sophie’s husband and a rock under pressure. He would help Sophie rein in her worst fears. Still, Mila needed to be there, too. She’d known Sophie’s mother, Belle, her entire life, and while Belle wasn’t exactly Miss Sunshine, she didn’t put curses on people.
“Garrett and Nicky are on the way, too,” Sophie added. Her brother and his fiancée. “Garrett was off buying some cattle, but he should be here soon. Anyway, I’ve tried to call Roman, but he’s not answering. I hate to ask you to do this, but could you try calling him again for me? If he still doesn’t answer, would you drive to his house in San Antonio and tell him what’s going on?”
“Of course,” Mila said without hesitation.
“I know Roman and Mom are at odds, but he’ll want to know. Convince him to come home.”
Mila wasn’t sure she could do that. Roman wasn’t an easy‑to‑convince sort of person. Plus, she always got a little tongue-tied around him. But surely once he heard about his mother, Mila wouldn’t need to do much convincing. He would hurry to be by her side.
She scrolled through her “favorites” contacts, found Roman’s number and pressed it. Since he hadn’t answered his sister’s call, Mila expected this to go to voice mail, but she was surprised when he immediately answered.
“Mila,” he said.
One word. Her name. There was nothing unusual about it, other than Roman had been the one to say it. And, like any other time she heard him speak, her stomach did a flip-flop. She so wished there was some way to make herself immune to him.
Mila gathered her breath, ready to tell him about his mom, but Roman continued first. “It’s Tate,” he said.
Her stomach did another flip-flop but for a different reason this time. That’s because she heard the concern in his voice. “What’s wrong?”
“He ran away again, and I’ve been looking all over for him. By any chance, did he go to your place?”
It wasn’t an out-there kind of question. Tate had run away before, nearly two years ago, and he’d gotten someone to drive him to her house. That’s because Tate’s mother, and therefore, Tate, were Mila’s cousins.
Once Valerie and she had been close, too, since Vita had raised Valerie as her own. But it didn’t matter that Mila had once thought of her as a sister because she hadn’t seen Valerie in years. That didn’t matter to Tate, either. He just seemed to want a connection with anyone who was blood kin with his mother.
Something Mila understood, because she missed having that with her father.
Plus, Tate knew that Mila kept a spare key in the verbena plant so he’d be able to get into her house. She checked, and it wasn’t there now.
“I’m going inside to see if he’s here,” she assured Roman.
USA Today bestselling author, Delores Fossen, is an Air Force veteran who has sold over 100 novels. She's received the Booksellers' Best Award for romantic suspense, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita ®. Her books have been featured in Woman's Day and Woman’s World. In addition, she's had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines. You can contact the author through her webpage at: www.deloresfossen.com
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