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A man surrounded by guilt, a woman surrounded by heartache.
Annie Alexander has spent the last years trying to get past her husband’s death in combat. Her organic farm is beginning to thrive. Her daughter, Caroline, is obsessed with all the farm animals. Their goat, Anita, is literally a pain in the butt. But just as Annie thinks she’s recovering her life, a visitor comes.
Major Andrew Meacham arrives on Annie’s porch one snowy night and turns her world upside down. Then he’s gone as quickly as he came, like a phantom.
Months later Drew Meacham returns to Annie’s bucolic farm—this time he brings trouble. Yes, he’s a danger, but he’s also Annie’s salvation, teaching her to love again. Will the danger that follows Drew destroy them all, or will he be the man that Annie needs.
From the cellar, Annie Franklin Alexander heard her daughter, Caroline, yell over the sounds of the TV and Christmas Carols blaring from her iPod speakers. “Mommy, somebody’s at the door.” Of course, there was also barking from the dogs, Gracie and Spooky. They belonged to her brother and sister-in-law—two beautiful German Shepherds, one all-white female and one black male with white markings on his chest making him look like he was in a skeleton costume. Her brother, Kevin, dropped them off earlier while he ran some errands because he knew how much Caro enjoyed them. They were protective, which Annie appreciated, but sometimes very noisy.
“Well, open it! It’s probably Uncle Kevin come to get the dogs.” Annie yelled back. She was having one of those days. She promised her sister-in-law, Amanda, she would drop the vegetables off for next week’s Christmas dinner today, but she’d spent almost the whole afternoon helping Mrs. Baxter down the road with her canning. And when she and Caro returned home, her daughter insisted the Christmas cookie baking should start immediately. Now here it was eight o’clock in the evening, her daughter’s bedtime, and she was knee-deep in hay in the cellar, filling a basket with fall onions for a tart she hoped to make for dinner tomorrow. The promised vegetables for Amanda would have to wait. Annie was already so far behind on her preparations for the holiday she didn’t know if she’d ever catch up. In fact, it seemed the organizational app in her brain was completely fried.
Upstairs the barking ceased, the TV volume quieted, the iPod silenced… and then… a scream.
Annie turned and fled for the stairs, skidding on scattered hay, flinging herself up the steps, reaching the cellar door in record time. She pushed it open, raced across her kitchen and down the hallway, slowing only when she saw at the front door her seven-year-old daughter, still as a statue, looking up into the face of a man Annie had never seen before. The image actually was a bit festive—a snowstorm raging outside, the front porch twinkle lights making the snow caught in the stranger’s hair glisten like diamonds. But, what the hell? No one in his right mind should be out on a night like this.
When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can’t help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.
Every muscle in her body screamed for a hot bath. Tallulah cranked on the faucets of the claw-foot tub, plugged her cell phone in to charge, and stripped out of her travel clothes. She stepped into the steaming water and sank down into the bubbles, closing her eyes with a sigh of contentment. Franny plopped on the rug next to the tub and snored. An hour later, Tallulah awoke to a yapping pug and tepid bathwater. She stepped over the dancing dog, dropped her flannel nightgown over her head, and brushed her teeth while the little beast cocked her head and watched. “Let it never be said that a pug allowed its owner to brush their teeth alone.” Franny snorted.
The nightlight cast a small yellow glow when Tallulah opened the bathroom door, headed to the bed—and stopped. A drop-dead gorgeous mustachioed man with brown wavy hair falling to the collar of his old-fashioned suit perched on the edge of her four poster. The scent of cigar smoke and whiskey wafted to her on the breeze from the overhead fan, and his shadow stretched across the quilt in an extended parody of his height. Franny leaped at the man’s legs and barked. He reached down to pet the dog, murmured something, and she wagged her curly little tail. Rooted to the spot, heart thrumming in her throat, Tallulah debated running back into the bathroom and calling Will on her cell phone to get his butt up to the room and explain how this stranger got past her dead bolted and chained door. She took a deep breath. Flight wasn’t an option since he blocked her path from the room. Besides, she’d have to unwrap her pug from around his ankles or leave her here with the intruder. Not a chance. Time to put up a good fight. “Who the hell are you?” She wanted to snatch Franny away from him, but didn’t want to get too close to this stranger. “What are you doing in my room?”
The man’s dark, intelligent eyes widened and his eyebrow quirked. “You can see me?”
“Of course I can see you. I repeat. Who the hell are you? You’re sitting on my bed as if you own the place.”
“I’m Lucius Stewart. I do own the place. I’m the proprietor of Hotel LaBelle.”
Nothing says bad judgement like trying to prove a superstition true…
Taylor Braxton, along with a few adventurous girlfriends, decides to test one such superstition on Valentine’s Day – the day Taylor’s ex-fiancé is to be married. A few bottles of wine help lower her inhibition and go a long way to giving her the courage to try to heal her broken heart. After all, Taylor reasons, what is the worst thing that can happen – the superstition of finding her true love might come true?
Sheriff Ryan Jones is used to getting calls about the odd dancing around the downtown fountain. When you live in Cupid, Texas, there were always some residents who believed if you dance naked around the fountain, you were guaranteed to find your true love. What he doesn’t expect is to find the lovely, but spirited Taylor Braxton confronting him at midnight – sans clothing. Unfortunately, a long-held promise and his badge stand between him and what he wants – Taylor.
Will the Cupid Superstition help Taylor and Ryan overcome the past and take a chance on love again? Or will a promise he made to her best friend, and his career, deflect Cupid’s arrow?
“Valentine’s Day. Today is the cheating snake’s wedding day,” Taylor Braxton said, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder before taking a sip of wine. Her third glass of the evening. “I’d like to propose a toast to his new wife. May she never find him in her bed with someone else, like I found her in mine.”
The three women clinked glasses.
“Maybe it was for the best. After all, lawmen are known for being serial cheaters,” Meghan, one of Taylor’s best friends, said in her quiet librarian voice. She gave a shake of auburn hair, her emerald eyes filled with sympathy.
Still the same after all these years, Taylor wondered if Meghan ever raised her voice even during a climax. Did she scream with passion, or just say oh? And Taylor never wanted to know the answer to that question.
Yes, lawmen cheated, but many men were sleazebags who thought infidelity was nothing.
Kelsey, Taylor’s other best friend leaned in close. “Well, if you hadn’t found him locked in the arms of another woman, you wouldn’t have come back to Cupid.”
“True,” Taylor agreed.
Pushing her dark brunette hair back over her shoulder, Kelsey smiled. “I can’t believe we’re all here together again. Just like the old days when we were young and naive and so vulnerable. Now, we’re all grown up and–”
“Still single,” Meghan said with a sigh.
“Yep, no eligible man on my radar,” Kelsey admitted. “Who would want to date a woman with three pain in the ass brothers watching over her?”
Kelsey’s announcement surprised Taylor. Of the three of them, Kelsey was who she thought would walk down the aisle first. Instead, not one of them was wearing a ring, and frankly, she found it odd she’d come the closest to a honeymoon.
“I don’t want a man. I’m giving up. I’m going to remain single the rest of my life,” Taylor announced.
After her last attempt at love, the time to step away had arrived in the form of a revealed booty call.
“Oh yeah, that’s the life I want,” Meghan replied, sarcasm dripping in her tone. “Always the third wheel when you’re around couples. Every holiday your relatives asking if there is something wrong with you or have you tried online dating. Blind dates with your next-door neighborâ€™s son, who is so kind that he still lives with his mother.” She shivered. “No, thanks.”
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