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- Dark Secret
- Army Paratrooper Hero
- Single Mom
- He Falls First
- Romantic Suspense
- Chosen Family
You can only run for so long.
For most of her life Bennett has been on her own, rarely able to count on anyone but herself. After surviving child abuse, homelessness, and spousal abuse, she’s now connected to a group of amazing women, who support her and she’s thriving. Why would she need a new man in her life?
Nash met Bennett months earlier and was instantly smitten. He understands her reluctance to trust another man after what happened in her marriage, though the women are all stingy with the details. He has a plan, though, and after moving into her building, he helps the women set up their retail store on the first floor. If sheer proximity and kindness can’t get Bennett to look at him in another light, nothing will.
But when Bennett gives them a chance at love, the secrets in her past come back and smack her in the face. Can they find a way to love despite the truths she has been running from for a decade?
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
Sometimes timing was everything—and Bennett’s was on the fritz.
Bennett pulled into the enormous garage right behind Nash’s car and parked her silver Camry in her space. She clicked the remote to close the door behind her and began gathering the bags of freshly cut wool she had just picked up from a farm outside of Crystal Creek.
Though she could have gotten out of the car immediately, she dawdled, hoping he would go inside without her, but when she looked up, he stood on the other side of her door. Sexy, delicious Nash with his multitude of muscles and dark hair that had started to grow out since he finished his time in the Army a couple of weeks ago. He wore a few days’ worth of dark stubble that only increased how utterly kissable he was.
He had the whole package, which was why she had been doing her best to keep him at arm’s length. Reigning in her attraction, Bennett forced an impassive expression as he opened the car door.
“Hey, do you need a hand with anything?”
She wanted to say no, thanks. But all he would have to do was take one glance into her back seat to know she was lying. Even with his help she would need to make two trips. “Sure, thanks.” She slid through the open door and turned back to grab several bags from the front passenger seat. When she turned, she caught him eying her all-too-substantial rear end as he removed bags from the back.
Instead of looking embarrassed at being caught, though, he simply shot her a smile of appreciation before turning all of his attention to the items he was retrieving for her.
Automatically, she headed for the inner door that led through the indoor pool area to the private elevator and secret entrance to the second and third floors where they both lived.
“It’s not five yet,” Nash reminded her. The secret entrance went straight through Vanna’s office, so they didn’t use it during business hours.
“Four more months. Construction sucks,” she said as she pivoted toward the door on the right that went outside. The private elevator by the pool only stopped on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. She and the other five women she considered sisters were renovating and creating large condo spaces for themselves on those floors in what used to be a run-down apartment building. In the meantime, they were all living on the second floor, and the guys—Nash and two of his Army buddies, Kaleb and Ethan—were living on the third floor.
They walked along the brick building to the new side entrance that led to the second and third floors and the matchmaking business Vanna ran. Safety had been their main concern when they had created the secret passage through Vanna’s office, with convenience a close second.
Bennett dropped a heavy bag to use her key card and a four-digit pin to open the side door and held the door long enough for Nash to catch it before stepping inside. She turned toward the stairwell—her usual method of going upstairs, but then veered toward the elevator, which only reached the second and third floors. She keyed them in and Nash joined her for the short journey.
Nash wrinkled his nose when they were shut into the confines of the elevator. “Wow, this stinks. What’s in the bags?”
“Wool—it still has to be cleaned, so yeah, it’s pretty stinky.” Of course, she could still smell the soft, earthy, musky cologne he always wore.
The elevator doors opened and Nash grinned. “Hey, hey, how are you doing?” he greeted Bobby—Andrea’s toddler who was all smiles and tight black curls as he greeted them.
“Hi!” Bobby smiled and opened and closed his fingers toward them in a wave.
“Bobby, where did you go?” Andrea stuck her head out of the central apartment the women all used as a common space for group gatherings, child care, and after-school homework. Since it was only the six of them and their various children on the floor, the kids were secure, even if they did sneak into the hall while the moms’ backs were turned. This was one of the great perks to winning the lotto the previous summer—private space and security for the women and their children.
They had shared the winning ticket and pooled the money to purchase the building and renovate it. At the end of the summer, the upper three floors would be ready for the women to move into and then the second and third floors would get their turn at renewal. The first floor was nearly done, and Bennett was excited to get all of the items priced and arranged in the retail space.
“Oh, great, you’re back. That looks like quite a haul,” Andrea said to Bennett. “Did you get it all?”
“Nope. Still another three bags in the car. Comfrey’s planning to shear next week, so there’s plenty more to come.” Bennett couldn’t be happier about that. After Comfrey had introduced her to the joys of felting wool, and eventually processing it from freshly cut, Bennett had searched far and wide for enough wool to work with. Her efforts over the past two years had paid off, though, and people were now contacting her to sell their wool.
“I’ll go back for the rest,” Nash offered as they stepped into Bennett’s fiber studio a moment later. They carried the bags of wool into the single bedroom in the apartment across from her own to stack with the other bags she had been bringing home from various farms over the past two weeks.
“Whoa, this is going to take a while to get through,” he said, looking around at the bags of wool stored on shelving around the room.
“Not that long. It has to last all year.” She couldn’t wait to get into her place upstairs with the spacious studio she had designed and tons of storage for dirty wool, cleaned wool, carded wool, dyed wool, and then wool that had been spun into yarn. The new yarn was starting to gain a lot of attention for its quality and usually sold off of Etsy almost as quickly as she could post it. Now that she had the new equipment to help her get it ready to sell more quickly, and a fresh batch of fleece to work with, she’d be able to work faster than in the past.
“Keys,” he said, holding out a hard palm.
She looked at his palm and then back at him, before lifting her brows. “I have some, yes.”
“I can get the rest of the wool from your car,” he said when she just looked at him.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know. Keys.”
Bennett set her fists on her hips. “Why are you so bossy?”
“Why are you so stubborn and independent that you can’t let me help you out?”
She held in a huff of air. “I did let you help me out. Or do you not remember lugging those bags up here?”
He wiggled his fingers and she decided to give it up. She was exhausted from running errands all afternoon and she needed to check on her daughter, Grace. Bennett set the car key into his hand. “Thank you.”
“Wow, you almost managed to sound like you appreciated the help that time instead of wanting to strangle me for doing something nice. Progress.” He turned and headed out the door.
She let out a slow breath as she watched his entirely too-sexy form disappear into the hallway.
When Kaleb and Meena had started dating only a few days after the women had moved into the building in January, they hadn’t realized he would bring his two buddies into their lives as well. Now Meena and Kaleb were getting married in September with Sheila and Ethan hard on their heels. Somehow Nash had secured a place on the third floor with the rest of the men. Maybe because they were all the family he had now. Maybe because he was partners with Ethan in their new security firm, which had its office on the third floor as well. In any case, he was always underfoot these days, which made keeping her distance that much harder.