From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.Chapter 1 excerpt:
I shifted my weight on my feet and bit back a sigh. I should have known she was going to be persistent, but I was done playing nice for her when it was clear her son was so beaten down that he was too scared to make a move or even speak for himself. She was a tyrant and I wasn’t going to subject myself to her vile company anymore. As soon as I slipped inside my apartment I was going to delete all the dating apps I had on my phone.
“I have a dog and she’s leery around strangers.” That was partly true. I did have a dog, a massive blue pit bull that I rescued from a shelter just days before she was supposed to be put down. Dolly looked like a brute, but she was a sweetheart and had never met a human she didn’t want tummy scratches and love from. We were kind of kindred spirits in that way. I mean I didn’t need my ears scratched or my belly rubbed, but I was afflicted with the same pressing need to be liked and accepted by pretty much everyone I came in contact with. It was ingrained in me to at least try to make everyone a friend, and if they didn’t reciprocate my kindness it only forced me to try harder. Sometimes I hated that about myself, and sometimes it was my favorite personality trait because the men and women in my life weren’t the easiest nuts to crack. They all loved me and let me in because I’d refused to let them shut me out.
Well, all except for one man.
I couldn’t hold back my flinch when he crossed my mind because he had warned me about online dating from the get-go, and I hated that he was right about it. I also hated that he was the reason I was desperate to find a man . . . a man who wasn’t him . . . in the first place.
Mommie Dearest shook her head and clicked her tongue at me. “Joseph is allergic to dogs. Your pet will have to go as things progress between the two of you.”
I felt my eyes pop wide and the forced smile I had plastered on my face for the entire evening finally slipped away. I already knew she had a few screws loose, but she was taking her crazy to another level if she thought she could tell me to get rid of my dog or what to do with anything in my life.
I straightened my shoulders and tilted my chin up. It was a look that worked on the drunks and unruly college kids that I hustled out of the bar where I worked every night.
“That’s not going to be a problem because things are not progressing beyond my front door. Thank you both for dinner, but if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go inside and cuddle my dog and erase every online dating app there is.”
The woman narrowed her eyes and stepped around her son. The young man made a noise low in his throat and his eyes widened. I thought he was scared of his mom, but the closer I looked at him the more obvious it became that he was scared for me as the woman advanced. He reached out a hand to grab his mother’s elbow, but it fell away before making contact like he knew the repercussions for intervening would be severe and drastic.
“Listen here, you little . . .” I lifted my hand before she could throw at me whatever insulting word she was going to label me with. I don’t think the woman was used to anyone standing their ground with her because she gasped and fell back a step.
“Stop. I thought I was talking to Joseph. I thought he was a nice guy, maybe a little sheltered and awkward . . . but a nice guy. Obviously it wasn’t him running his dating profile and there was some other agenda here from the start. I’m well past the age where I need a mother’s approval or permission to date her son, so I’m going to go into my apartment and end this date before either side gets nasty.” I looked at the shell-shocked young man hovering behind his mother and mouthed good luck before turning my back on both of them and inserting my key into the door. Dolly barked loud and deep from the other side, which was both comforting and reassuring.
Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him...even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying. When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.
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