Welcome to Fortune, Colorado—where the air is clean, the men are rugged, and the all the good ones… are bachelors.
Born into the infamous Charlemagne equestrian empire, Shannon has been raised to do whatever it takes for the family business. Even if it means going undercover and digging up dirt on a competitor. It’s easy enough when she believes he’s a bad guy whose success seems too good to be true. In fact, Shannon’s excited to put the aggravatingly sexy Irishman in his place and get back in her father’s good graces. All she needs is to stay focused on the goal … and out of Sean Muldoon’s arms.
From stealing a thoroughbred racehorse from the Irish mob to striking gold in the mountains of Colorado, there’s little Sean hasn’t experienced. But when it comes to resisting his hot new stable manager, he’s out of luck. With the mob hot on his heels, keeping Shannon off their radar is all but impossible, and he’s not about to put her in danger too. Sean wants Shannon, but how can he offer her a future … when he can’t even guarantee tomorrow?
Shannon glanced at a stand of early June aspens swaying in the gentle breeze and smiled softly. The leaves were such a tender shade of green against the white of the bark; there wasn’t anything like them back home in Saratoga Springs, New York, which was too bad because they were beautiful. The leaves danced on the wind like gypsies around a campfire.
“It’s beautiful here.” She couldn’t help admitting it. Even the sunshine on her face felt amazing.
“It’s such a gorgeous day, isn’t it? If this guy doesn’t hire me, I’ll hike back down to the entrance here and meet you. I’ll text you once I know if I got the job.”
Colleen shifted and crossed her arms, her voice oddly neutral when she replied, “Of course. I was planning to wait.”
Shannon narrowed her eyes, suddenly suspicious of her sister’s tone. “Did Dad tell you to leave me here anyway?” It would be so like him to force his will on her even from two thousand miles away. No way did she want to be stranded out in the wilds of the Colorado Rockies with no transportation. It was something like seven miles back into town. Not exactly a leisurely afternoon stroll in the park.
“I’m sorry, Shan, but I have to. You know how Dad is. In his mind, you’ll work harder to secure the job if you don’t have any backup waiting for you. He called it ‘added incentive.’ ” Sympathy and understanding shone in her eyes. They both knew all too well what that meant. “I wish I could stay here to make sure it all goes well, but I can’t. My orders are to head straight back to the hotel and call Dad to receive instructions. Before you ask, I have no idea what he has planned for me.”
Instinctively Shannon’s back went up. Callum Charlemagne was so very fond of his orders. How else best to rule the kingdom, right?
Feeling that old tension settle between her shoulder blades, Shannon began to pace. Some things just never changed, no matter how old she was. His penchant for bullying made her as angry today as it had when she was a teenager.
Colleen placed a hand on her arm, gently stopping her midstride. “He loves us, Shannon. In his way, the best he can. And he legitimately needs your help.” Her fingers gripped tightly for a brief moment and then released, her expression suddenly pensive. “This time we all do.”
That simple truth took the fire out of Shannon. They all needed her to step up. Her family was the majority shareholder in the company, but for how much longer, no one knew. They’d had to borrow against the stock, and there was no money to repay the loan since they had so few clients generating cash flow.
No income, no majority control of the company—no farm.
Why? Because her family farm was owned by the company. And without the security of owning 51 percent of the stock, they could be booted off the place without a moment’s notice. In every way, they and the business—their very future—would be at the whim of the company.
It still grated, knowing that truth. Not only had the business been in the Charlemagne line for generations, the farm was home. It held all their best memories—like how every Christmas her mother made homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting for breakfast and everyone sat in front of the fireplace with their newly opened gifts and chowed down. They all got to eat with their fingers. It was heaven.
And in all actuality, it was the one time of year that her parents really and truly relaxed. They laughed and smiled, and seemed to leave the bad stuff behind—or at least alone. The rest of the year the stress of simply being a Charlemagne and managing everything that entailed wore them down. Christmas was their time to breathe.
Jennifer Seasons has been a lifelong writer and reader. She lives with her husband and four children in the mountains of rural New England. An enormous yet lovable dog and the world’s coolest cat keep them company. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family outdoors exploring her beautiful new home state, learning the joys of organic gardening, and—if she’s lucky—relaxing in her hammock under the trees with a really good book.
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