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- Mountain Man Hero
- Curvy Girl Heroine
- Grumpy Sunshine
Moving in with my aunt in remote Rye Creek, California was supposed to give me a chance to concentrate on starting my new business. Instead, I’m distracted by the gruff and growly mountain man just down the road. He’s broody and built and begging to be knocked down a few notches.
Eight years ago I abandoned my pro football career and escaped to the tiny mountain town of Rye Creek. It’s been my refuge—a safe place to hide out from the demons I left behind. Until Patience Ford walks into my bar and rocks my stable world. The curvy beauty challenges everything I thought I needed. But can I let go of my past and let her in?
Meet the mountain men of Rye Creek and the curvy women who steal their wild hearts. The Matched with a Mountain Man series can be read as standalones. Each book features a happily-ever-after with no cheating and no cliffhangers.
Get a Sneak Peek at Chapter 1
Get a Sneak Peek at Chapter 1
I eyed the rundown bar through my blurred windshield. This couldn’t be the place.
It had taken me three days to make the five-hundred-mile drive from San Diego to northern California, a trip that usually took one long day. But thanks to the January weather, whiteout conditions had closed the mountain pass and I’d been forced to spend two nights in a crappy motel on the side of the highway while I waited for the road to re-open.
Maybe that was a sign that taking my Aunt Jane up on her offer to let me move in with her was a bad idea. Everyone else seemed to think so. Everyone except for Aunt Jane.
I climbed out of the new-to-me SUV. It broke my heart to trade in my two-door convertible. But Aunt Jane made it clear that if I wanted to be able to get to her place, much less get around once I arrived, I’d need a winter-worthy form of transportation.
“It’s only temporary. Just until I get things going. Then I’ll move back to the beach and leave all the snow behind.” I spoke to my partial reflection in the icy driver side window, trying to convince myself. I’d dreamed of starting my own business for years. But finding out I’d been downsized put me on the fast track to entrepreneurship. If they didn’t want to support the online community I’d built around body positivity, I’d do it on my own. I’d given myself six months of living rent-free at Aunt Jane’s to put the pieces in place.
I stepped onto the sidewalk leading to the front door. Aunt Jane said she’d leave a map behind the counter for me. I’d tried to tell her to text me a picture, but she mumbled something about newfangled technology. How the woman managed her own greenhouse farming operation without mastering a cell phone baffled my mind. Didn’t matter. I’d stretch my legs for a few minutes, grab the map, and be on my way.
The smell of a woodburning fire welcomed me the moment I walked in. Looking past the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, my gaze swept over the hodgepodge of dining tables, mismatched barstools, and semi-stocked shelves. It looked like someone had combined a bar with a cafe with neighborhood market. I suppose that’s how they did things around here. There probably weren’t enough customers to support separate businesses.
After three days on the road, the thought of sitting down in front of a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate made me want to sink down into the cushions on the rustic bench and not wake up until Spring. Tempted to do just that, I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.
“Can I help you with something?” A low voice came from behind me, the kind with enough of a rough edge to rumble through me.
I whipped around so fast I lost my balance.
“Careful.” The giant of a man wrapped his fingers around my upper arms, setting me straight.
My stomach spun like it had been caught in a wave off the California coast. The top button of his plaid flannel was undone, providing a glimpse of auburn chest hair. A well-trimmed beard flecked with a hint of gray covered his cheeks.
And his hands.
Good Lord, his hands looked like they could break a tree in half.
“Hi, my aunt Jane said she’d leave a map for me?”
“You must be Patience. She mentioned you were coming to town for a while.”
“That’s me.” I thrust my hand between us. “It’s nice to meet you, um...”
“Slate.” His palm slid against mine.
Awareness crackled through me, lighting up my insides like a sparkler on the Fourth of July. I tilted my head back. Blue-gray eyes, the color of the sky right before a thunderstorm, stared down at me. Swallowing hard, I tried to pull myself together.
“Jane hasn’t been by.” He withdrew his hand, taking all his warmth with him.
“She said she’d leave me a map. That it’s too tricky to try to navigate to her place this time of year with just written directions.”
“She’s right.” Slate reached up and rubbed at the back of his neck.
No ring. Not that I needed to pay attention to things like that. My stay in Rye Creek was temporary. This super-sized lumberjacky man wasn’t my type, though he was everything I imagined a man who lived in the mountains would be.
“Let’s go.” Slate reached behind the bar and grabbed a set of keys.
“I can’t send you up the mountain with no idea where you’re going. You can follow me.”
“I don’t want to cause any trouble. Can you draw out a map? Or I could give her a call and—"
“No trouble at all. Besides, I’ve got an order in for some of her mixed greens. May as well save her the trip to town and pick it up myself.” He gestured toward the door. “After you.”
“If you’re sure you don’t mind.”
“I wouldn’t have offered if I did.” He reached past me and pulled the door open, brushing my shoulder with his arm.
A strange shiver rolled through me at the contact. With no other options available, I stepped through the door.