Three years ago, artist Emily White’s grief and survivor’s guilt sent her to the small Wyoming town of Fly Creek. Since then, she’s kept her emotions safely tucked away—until she meets the new rancher at Sky Lake Dude Ranch. Stetson in hand, the gorgeous cowboy’s arrival in her store immediately shakes up her world.
Adam Conley is only in Fly Creek for as long as it takes to fulfill his promise to his late cousin. The small town brings up too many memories of the life he left behind years ago. He knows his task won’t be easy, but the last thing he expects is the instant attraction to the reason he’s in town. Emily is beautiful, vibrant, and completely off-limits. He’s there to keep his promise—not fall in love.
But Adam’s secret will crumble everything Emily’s life has revolved around.
Forcing a smile to her lips, she accepted the kind gesture. One completely at odds with how she expected them to be going forward. “Thank you. I do like tea. But…”
Slumping onto the stool beside her easel, Emily took a sip, eyeing Adam over the plastic lid. “Adam, I thought it might be obvious last night. I don’t—can’t—do relationships.”
“Seems to me there’s a big difference between don’t and can’t. Which is it?”
He moved closer, his scent, something she noticed last night, invading the air between them. A mixture of sawdust and ranch combined with that special something you only got from working outdoors in a place like Wyoming. It was elemental, woodsy, almost overpowering, but in a way you wanted to be overpowered.
Maybe that was part of what was bothering her. This was the man who had looked at her their first meeting and seen past the shell she showed Fly Creek. Then, last night, he’d seemed to understand her so well. As if he’d known her before. As if they had some connection that until she’d reached out to him, hadn’t existed. And that made giving him an answer impossible.
Adam chuckled and leaned against the counter. “Emily, me bringing you tea doesn’t constitute a relationship.” He batted his hat against his thigh. “I had a nice time last night and would like to get to know you better.” He deployed the dimples. “I believe the term we’re looking for might be friendship. You know, between one change seeker and another.”
She sputtered, tea spraying forward, narrowly missing his boots. “You want to be friends?”
Adam clenched his jaw and nodded.
“And you think after last night that’s possible?”
“I think lots of things are possible. But, yes, I think after last night”—he nudged her—“it’s imperative.”
She shook her head and placed the tea on the counter, ignoring her body’s hoots and hollers over the simple contact. God, this was snowballing.
“Friends?” Man, that sounded foreign. She didn’t have friends. At least not for the past three years. She used to relish the whole thought of barbeques and parties and bonfires complete with a huge circle of people she cherished. Those people still existed, but she didn’t. At least not the Emily they used to know. Could she remember how to be a friend or something that might resemble it? A true friend would be emotionally invested and even the thought of liking someone enough to care had her wrapping her arms around her stomach to quell the wave of fear and hurt that rolled through her.
“Are you okay?”
$20 Amazon Gift Card
Jennifer lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. When not writing, she can usually be found elbow deep in flour or inhaling chlorine as she cheers her daughter on at a swim meet. She loves musicals, caramel and roller coasters, and lists Machu Picchu at the top of her bucket list. She is a member of RWA and is the President of her local chapter, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers. Find out more about Jennifer and sign up for her newsletter at www.jenniferhoopes.com
Author’s Website: www.jenniferhoopes.com