Forever in Love
Series: Hearts on the Line, #5
Publication Date: May 12, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Catherine Fairchild fakes being perfect by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But her billionaire CEO husband’s bigamy shatters the illusory life she’s built, and vengeful in-laws want to send her to jail for embezzling from the failing family business. Desperate, she accepts an offer from a powerful friend: help him reconcile with his illegitimate son in return for protection. How hard can it be to dazzle a small town guy?
Small town bar owner Blaine Davis has zero interest in claiming his fifty million dollar trust fund or joining the family of a father he barely knows. He can never forgive his womanizing father for seducing his mother or forget the cruelty his father’s high-society wife inflicted on them. Catherine comes from the same rich and entitled background, but he starts to fall for her anyway. Can their fragile bond survive when the true reason for her presence in his idyllic little town is revealed and Blaine’s old wounds are re-opened?
Fifty million, Mr. Davis. Can you ignore that?Like any amount of money could make up for the way Ceinlys Pryce had humiliated his mother. She wanted to be a bitch to him, fine. But not to his mother. And Salazar hadn’t done a thing about it. A man who couldn’t bother to stand up for the mother of his child didn’t deserve to be a father.
If he hadn’t had a business to run, Blaine might have shot the shit with the lawyer just to run up her billable hours. She sounded expensive. He hoped she charged at least a hundred bucks a call.
It was still early, so only a few seats were occupied. But later, the place would be packed. A playoff game was on tonight, and the bar had four giant flat-screen TVs—one for each wall. His best friend and bar manager Rick Shelton lifted his chin at the sight of him, and Blaine nodded in return. Gel spiked Rick’s sandy hair, and gold studs in his ears sparkled as he moved around behind the bar. A black turtleneck and a pair of old jeans completed his work ensemble.
“Studs?” Blaine said. “Didn’t you say they were lame?”
Rick cocked an eye at one of the waitresses. “Janey thinks they’re hot.”
Blaine made a whip-snapping sound, and Rick flipped him the bird. He chuckled, then frowned at the sight of Irene at the counter, nursing a beer. “Hey, Irene, what’re you doing here? Didn’t you have to get the Blue House ready for somebody?”
“I’m done,” she said in that gravelly voice of hers. She still puffed cigarettes, just not as much as she used to. Not even losing a chain-smoking husband to lung cancer had made her quit.
“What? You get fired?”
“Nothin’ like that. The new tenant said I could go early. She’s a real looker, yes she is. If I was just little bit younger…” A wistful sigh escaped her thin lips. “I remember how I looked when I was that age. Woulda given her a run for her money.”
Blaine smiled. Irene said that about every woman. “Did you offer to make her one of your killer steak burritos?” She made them for anybody who stayed at the Blue House as a “welcome to town” dinner.
“Offered, but she said no. Wanted eat out and meet the folks around here.”
Huh. That was interesting. Rick came over and set a plate with a cheeseburger and fries on the counter in front of Irene. “Maybe she’d like to try our specialty.”
“I dunno.” Irene finished her beer and signaled for another. “Honestly, she don’t look like the bacon-cheeseburger type. A little too skinny.” She started nibbling on the butter and garlic fries. “A woman’s gotta keep some meat on her.”
“Amen,” Rick said and went away with her empty glass.
“Poor girl is all bones. At least her car’s nice.” Irene’s gaze grew speculative. “So what you up to, Blaine? Word is you’re getting an awful lot of fancy letters from people in California.”
Aw jeez. Not even mail was secret in Cooter’s Bluff. “It’s junk mail,” Blaine said. “Somehow they got my name.”
“What do they want you to buy?”
It’s not exactly like that—they want to buy me. He shrugged. “Nothin’ I’m interested in.”
Irene shook her head. “That danged junk mail. Such a waste of paper.”
“Hopefully a waste of their money, too.”
The door to his bar opened, and a woman walked in. Blaine glanced in that direction and did an honest-to-god double-take. Conversation around the place petered out as people started to notice her.
Curly hair fell over her shoulders like a dark waterfall, framing whiskey-colored eyes and lips that he found it hard to look away from. A black leather coat was belted at the waist, revealing an hourglass body that belonged on a pinup poster girl. She was so flawless in appearance, the symmetry of her features so perfect, that she almost didn’t look real. It was like god had taken the most beautiful woman in the world and then made her a little better.
It had to be Irene’s new tenant. Blaine knew every good-looking woman within fifty miles, and he had never seen this one before. He had the most absurd desire to touch her, even as his brain warned him it would be a terrible idea. A woman this beautiful was always bad news. An exterior that nice usually hid something nasty underneath.
Janey walked up to her. “Would you like a table, ma’am?”
An instant of frown crossed the stranger’s face. “A seat at the counter’s fine. Thank you.”
“That’s her,” Irene said, swallowing a bite of her burger. “Catherine.”
Blaine rolled the name on his tongue. It was as regal as the woman.
“Hey, Catherine,” Irene called out, waving.
Catherine’s eyes zeroed in on her, then moved to Blaine. The impact of her gaze hit him like a boxer’s punch.
She made her way across the bar, seemingly oblivious to the stares she was getting, and took the stool next to Irene. “I thought you’d go home.”
“Would have, normally, but I figured I’d treat myself. This here is Blaine. He owns the place.”
Catherine tilted her head and gave him a soft smile that revealed teeth as perfect as the rest of her. “Catherine. A pleasure.”
Her voice reminded Blaine of finely aged bourbon. “The pleasure’s mine. Welcome.”
“I’d like to see a menu if you don’t mind,” she said.
He handed her one. “Where are you from? California?” Something about her accent made him think of the golden state.
She regarded him over the menu for a moment. “No. I was born in Savannah.”
Other books in the series:
Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, been bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.
She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband and son. When she’s not writing the sexy contemporary romance series Hearts on the Line featuring hot, protective and possessive billionaire alpha heroes, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.
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