Convinced everyone she falls in love with will end up six feet under, Hollee isn’t looking for a relationship when Mr. Kaiden Thorne shows up in front of her bridal agency. She’s just looking for a way to save her small southern town from going bankrupt, and he’s the only person who can make sure that happens. Hollee is in for more than she bargains as her attraction to Kaiden takes over and the city begins to show just how far they’ll go to make sure big changes don’t come to their small town.
Kaiden agreed to come to the tiny community for one reason: To salvage what’s left of his career. Mistakes begin repeating themselves the second he lays eyes on Hollee, however. If he can’t make the project work and keep his hands off her, his second chance will be gone forever. He learns quickly though, he’ll need patience in more ways than one when it comes to Belleville, Alabama.
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Award winning author and cover artist Elaina lives in the deep south with her husband and their two boys, a teenager and a three-year-old. In her free time, what little she has, she graphically designs and writes. Writing came for Elaina at an early age, when a teacher gave an assignment to create a fictional world. The words haven't stopped flowing since. Thankfully her family has always been supportive of her goals and dreams of being published and celebrates each new step she takes. You can read more about Elaina at http://www.elainalee.com/
“Miss Hollee?” an unsure, male voice echoed down the hall.Every muscle in Hollee's body tensed, her mind froze, as did Kaiden's body over her. Lips still locked together, not even a breath moved between them. Maybe she'd imagined someone calling her name.
“Miss Hollee? It's Deputy Ryan, are you in here?”
Gasping, Chris Ryan's young, innocent, freckled face came to her mind. He could not find her like this! Pushing her palms against Kaiden's shoulders she separated them and turned her torso, so she could yell out the door. Once the support of Kaiden's body was gone, so was what kept her on the desk in her odd position. Heels dug into the desk, toes grasping at nothing but air, butt barely perched on the edge… and her hands, too far away to grab at Kaiden. Before she could stop herself, she slid straight to the floor. With a heavy thump, her ass landed hard on the carpeted ground, her feet kicked the chair into the wall.
“Who's in there!” Chris yelled, his voice cracked and wavered. “I-I'm not going to ask again!”
“It's okay!” Kaiden shouted. “It's Miss Hollee and I.”
“Who are you?”
“Kaiden Thorne, I'm—”
“He's here visiting,” Hollee interrupted as she searched frantically for her missing shorts. Where were they? Panic was setting in faster than she could keep it at bay. “W-we just had to do some work, that's all.”
“I'm coming in,” Chris said sternly.
In unison, Kaiden and Hollee yelled, “No!”
Kaiden motioned for Hollee to stay low, as if she needed to be told, and left the office. The second his voice greeting Chris met her ears, she scrambled to her knees and began combing the floor for her shorts. Her office wasn't that big, where the heck did they go? Finally, crumpled in the far left corner, she found the article of clothing. With a sigh of relief she slipped the shorts on and buttoned them after she stood. Combing her fingers through her hair, she walked into the hall, trying to give a smile.
Chris's pale blue eyes softened when he spotted her. A small, sweet smile upturned the corners of his lips, and he eased past Kaiden, who still attempted to make conversation. “Good evening, Miss Hollee.”
“Evening, Mr. Ryan,” Hollee said, tucking hair behind her ear, unable to make eye contact with Kaiden as he looked her way.
Chris cleared his throat and angled his chest under the hall light, the silver of his badge flashing. “You're sure everything's okay? You don't work this late.”
“Oh, yes, just fine. I'm doing work for the city,” she explained. “Mr. Thorne needed some papers faxed.”
Hand braced on the hilt of his gun, he stepped past and leaned into her office. Hollee rubbed her arms, uneasy with the suspicious way he treated her. He moved away from the doorway and headed back to the parlor. Hollee followed behind, Kaiden at her side. She wanted to reach out and grab his hand for support.
“Do you need a ride back home, Miss Hollee?” Chris asked, his eyes slits as he stared at Kaiden.
“Actually, I drove, I'm good. We were just leaving.” Hollee walked to the door and opened it. Kaiden, with a smile twitching at his lips, walked out into the cool night.
For a moment, Hollee wasn't sure if Chris would leave. His gaze kept drifting back to her office, his stance uncompromising. Then, heaving a heavy sigh, he sauntered out, his youthful face grim.
“Perhaps I can give you a ride to the hotel then, Mr. Thorne,” Chris offered.
Hollee's hand froze, key extended towards the lock. Eyes wide, she stared at Kaiden. Only a handful of people knew Kaiden stayed with her. If Chris found out, it was guaranteed the entire town would know by tomorrow night. Of course, what did she care if they knew, she was only being a gracious host. However, that's not what they'd think. No, they'd think the worst. The entire town would believe she was… doing exactly what she and Kaiden had been doing in her office. With a heavy sigh, she locked the door and faced Chris.
“Actually, he doesn't need a ride either—”
“Hollee already offered me one,” Kaiden cut in before she could finish. “And I don't want to be rude. Thank you for the offer though.” He looked at Hollee, brows raised and asked, “Are you ready?”
Mouth hanging open, she could only stare at him. The keys slid from her fingers and Kaiden gave her a smile before turning his back.
“I'll just get the car started.”
Finding her voice, she looked at Chris. “Thank you, for checking and making sure I was okay.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek.
He grabbed her arms before she could pull completely away. “Are you sure you don't need a ride, Miss Hollee? We don't know this man. He could be some serial killer or something. I've read about those at the academy. They're nice and normal until they get you alone, in a car, on a dark road. I'd just rather drive you home if you don't mind.”
Hollee managed a small chuckle, nervousness fluttered in her stomach. Chris's grip on her arm tightened and when she tried to pull away, he wouldn't release her. “Oh I'll be fine. I've been working with Mr. Thorne almost this entire week. He's not some weirdo, I promise. He's just a nice gentleman from the wrong part of the United States,” she said with a laugh. “Don't worry, officer.”
At those words, his hold lessened, and she took advantage, tugging free. Kaiden, she noticed, sat in the driver's seat, the SUV running. Before Chris could grab her again, or attempt to change her mind, she gave a little wave and hurried to the vehicle.
As she closed the door, Kaiden said, “I thought I was going to have to get out there for a minute.”
“I did too,” she said with a sigh, buckling her seat belt.
“Guess he really didn't want you riding with me.”
He backed out of the spot, and Hollee looked straight ahead, wanting to avoid Chris's gaze. Discomfort made her rub her arms. “I think he has a little crush on me, and after tonight I don't know how I'll face him. He's going to tell everyone we were alone and drove off together.”
Kaiden glanced at her, his hand draped casually over the steering wheel. “You're an adult, why does it matter who you go home with?”
“It doesn't, but it matters what they'll say.”