Here it is: The first excerpt from Bountiful
Coming October 20th
To your favorite ebook vendor!
No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.
Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.
Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.
Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.
Hockey star Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.
Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.
“Last call,” she said to me as she wiped down the bar. “Can I get you anything else?”
“Not unless you’ll let me buy you a drink. Seems like you might need to unwind after that last bit of bullshit.”
She gave me a wry smile. “You’re sweet to ask. But I can’t accept. Company policy.”
“Uh-huh.” I took out my wallet and put a fifty on the bar. “First of all, I’m not sweet.”
Her eyes widened a little when I said that. Now I had her attention.
“And secondly, company policy my ass. It’s you who calls the shots in this place. Nobody else but you. I can see why you need a handy excuse, though. If you couldn’t pull the ‘company policy’ out of your pocket sometimes, the men would be buying the sexy bartender drinks left and right all night long, I bet. You’d never get a moment’s peace.”
A smile stole across her features. “Yeah, sure. I have to keep a stick back here behind the bar just to beat back all the men.”
“You don’t need that stick, gorgeous, because you give ’em the evil eye and they run off, knowing they’re not man enough for you. But every guy who drinks in this bar has the secret, fervent wish that fortune would smile down on him just long enough for him to earn an hour of your undivided attention.”
Zara rolled her dark eyes, but a telltale blush splashed her cheekbones. “You know how to lay it on thick.”
“No need.” I shook my head. “Just telling you how it is. Now I think you should do a shot with me, and we’ll toast your unapproachability.”
She laughed, and her eyes lit up for the first time tonight. “You are smooth, mister. I’m almost tempted.”
She smiled. “There aren’t any taxis out here in the woods, and I’ve been pouring your beers all night. If you do a shot with me, it won’t be safe to drive away from here. And it’s quitting time.”
“Well. Now that you mention it…” I reached across the bar and laid a hand very gently over her smooth one. Our gazes collided as I stroked my thumb across the back of her hand. “Driving after doing shots with you wouldn’t be such a great plan. I’d have to stick around for a couple hours until it wears off.”
Zara waited a beat before retrieving her hand from beneath mine. “I see.”
“Do you?” I put both elbows on the bar and leaned forward. She was trying to play it cool, but my not-so-subtle message was getting through. I saw the blush beginning to creep across those fine cheekbones. She and I had chemistry, damn it. We’d been eye-fucking each other all night. “Look. I think you had a stressful evening. And I’m really good at stress relief. Like, pro level.”
She braced both hands on the bar and smiled at me. “Are you always this forward?”
“Nope.” I shook my head. “Some women can’t handle the truth. But I’ve watched you run this place. You’re in charge of everything that happens inside these walls, and I’ll bet that gets old. I’m thinking you might like to hand over the reins once in a while. Let someone else take charge. Tonight that someone is gonna be me...”