With: Victoria James
Starting over and starting a whole lotta trouble...
Meredith Anderson left her difficult past behind to create a new life for herself in Tall Pines - where she can be the independent, confident woman she always dreamed of being. Now she's a partner in her sister's wedding planning business, helping brides realize their happily-ever-afters...even as she promises herself to never fall in love.
Meredith's sweetness and vulnerability brings out the protective side of rancher Gage Mackenzie - even though their worlds are miles apart. All it takes is one night for desire to take hold of them both, a sizzling encounter that can only lead to the promise of more. But Meredith isn't looking for more, and even if she was, Gage is set to leave Tall Pines behind him...
Gage Mackenzie was a dead man.
Or he would be by the time this night was over. The person who was slowly, painfully, killing him was perched on the barstool next to him—Meredith Anderson. His best friend’s sister-in-law was the one woman in the entire bar he couldn’t have, and she happened to be the only woman he’d wanted this last year. She had no idea the effect she had on him.
Instead, she was sporting a giddy smile that held not an ounce of desire in it as she twirled in her seat to face him. Her manicured hands were splayed wide on the wooden counter and she spun like a kid who’d never been allowed to sit on a swivel chair in her entire life. “I can’t believe I’m finally at the Horseshoe tonight with all of you.
It was so nice of the boys to invite me along.”
Gage bit down hard with his back teeth, stifling his comments, and then took a long swallow of the icy beer he was holding. By “boys” Meredith meant the ranch hands at the Tall Pines ranch, and their invitation was clearly given because one of those idiots thought he stood a chance with Meredith. Gage was here to ensure that wouldn’t happen.
He’d been called many things in his life, but chaperone was a first.
If he couldn’t have her, no way in hell was he letting one of them have her. And it was that very line of thinking that was killing him. He and Meredith could never be together. She needed someone nice and stable. She didn’t need a one-night stand with some young, overconfident cowboy. Again, this shouldn’t be bothering him.
Since when did he care who a woman went home with?
Since Meredith had fallen into his arms at the Tall Pines last winter.
“Don’t you think, Gage?”
Gage focused on her green eyes. Rich, deep emerald-colored, with a soul to them that pulled at him, rattled him.
Every time he was with Meredith he wanted to know the real her, the woman she was before she came to Tall Pines. He wanted to know the woman under the perfect facade, beneath the impeccable manners and the gorgeous smile. He wanted to know her in a way that he’d never wanted to know anyone before. And that very desire should have sent him running. Instead it made him protective. A part of him worried that she was still fragile, that there was still that vulnerable woman that he met last year. So it was his duty to make sure no one ever hurt Meredith again, including him, which meant he needed to keep his mind off his irrational need to find out more about her, and his sexual need to—
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