Breaking Love’s Curse Released November 1!
Chance Guiley has left the Marines and returned home to Bandit Creek to keep his end of the contract he signed years ago with his biological father, Zeke Guilley. However, it’s not what Zeke expects. Chance found a loophole in the contract and hired his best friend’s baby sister, Nikki Sayors, to take his place at the firm flaming Zeke’s ire. The arrangement does allow Chance to keep his promise to his best friend and watch out for Nikki. He now also has the time to take over his aging grandparent’s ranch – the only thing he has ever wanted to do since the first time he pulled on a pair of cowboy boots. But Chance’s perfectly crafted plan backfires when Nikki comes to town. She’s always been attractive, but now she’s grown into a full-blown bombshell turning every man’s head. If he doesn’t make a move – and soon – someone else will. Chance must choose between his loyalty to his best friend and his attraction to the one woman he has never been able to get out of his head.
Nikki’s loved Chance from the moment she met him years ago and has always wished he would see her as a woman instead of his good friend’s kid sister. Since her brother’s death in Iraq, Chance has played the part of fill-in-brother, constantly calling to make sure she is doing okay but always careful to keep a physical distance. She’s out to annihilate the distance in every way and make him understand she doesn’t need a protector – she needs a man and her sights are set on him. Time isn’t on Nikki’s side though. Like the legends of Lost Lake, the Guiley name is cursed and Nikki is the only one who can change the past. If she doesn’t set things straight between father and son, she loses everything, including Chance.
Read An Excerpt
Pulling the key from his pocket, a deep-throated growl of a powerful engine demanded his attention. It wasn’t the growl of the big three-quarter ton diesels the locals favored. This growl belonged to something fast.
Looking down the length of Spruce Street, he caught sight of the headlights turning and heading toward him. A little red sporty unit pulled to a stop in front of the law office. The door opened and a pair of black-strappy high-heeled shoes hit the blacktop. Those shoes moved around the shelter of the door, and a set of legs, epitomizing endless, came into view.
A skirt halted those legs at the woman’s mid-thigh. A curvy hip captured his gaze and encouraged him higher to a slim waist, higher to full breasts… Before he knew it, the shoes, the legs and the curves came together into one hell of a centerfold; the reality of every fantasy he’d ever had since the tender age of thirteen; a woman so breathtakingly sexy, yet beautiful, and yet … familiar like the girl next door stood before him.
A gust of wind whipped this little bundle of contradiction’s long dark hair around her face. She flicked her head sending those silky looking strands over her shoulder and swiped the remaining strays behind her ear with her left hand. Chance was quick to note no ring decorated her graceful fingers.
“Chance,” the woman said, her voice strong and so very feminine and …
Her lips were lush and downright kissable looking.
Then it hit him with the force of a crushing ball.
He’d heard that voice often and had ignored the husky tone. He’d seen those lips, and refused to acknowledge how lush they were and that body had always been hidden beneath large sweatshirts or an oversized army tee-shirt she managed to steel from Bobby or him.
Oh hell! He knew who his little fantasy was.
“Nikki?” Chance’s voice sounded hoarse to his own ears, his throat scratchy and dry. He pulled at the collar of his tee-shirt as if it was a dress-shirt beneath his fatigue jacket. The discomfort that had lodged itself there was moving nowhere.
“Well, who else are you expecting?” she said, and hit him with a smile that felt like genuine liquid sunshine. It warmed him everywhere.
“No one. It’s just … you look …”
Motioning with her hand to her eyes, she said, “I had laser eye surgery.” Giving him an exaggerated smile, she added, “And fixed the gap between my teeth. It always bothered me so I finally did something about it.”
That explained where her glasses and the tooth gap he had always found adorable went. Now where in the hell had all the curves come from?
“I realize we are going to be involved in a professional relationship but can I have my hug?” she teased.
“Of course,” Chance said, awkwardly wrapping her in the confines of his arms. With Nikki so close, a round of fireworks exploded within him. Twenty versions of being screwed raced through his mind. When had she grown into a bombshell hotter than the hubs of hell?
JD was right on the money. There was a storm brewing tonight alright, a storm of attraction in his gut, not to mention, the one in his pants. This was not the same Nikki he remembered. She always had her attractive qualities. Now those qualities were enhanced and they were off the fucking chart.
She pulled back from him and he stared at her feeling awestruck. Nikki tilted her head, glanced at her hand, and Chance followed with his own gaze.
Shit! What was the matter with him? Her smaller hand remained encased in his much larger one.
With a nervous laugh he thought he had left in the confines of his junior high locker, he released his hold. Smooth. If the boys could see him now, he’d never live it down. They’d have a thousand nicknames bestowed on him all centered around talking like a schoolgirl. Nothing manly by a long shot.
And if Bobby was alive, Chance knew he would already be sportin’ two shiners just for looking.
Gone was the geeky-pony-tailed girl he had assumed would never change. He knew she’d become a woman one day, but never did he expect this woman.
“So should I call you boss? Sergeant Guiley? Hard Ass?”
“Brat.” Nikki had a way of always trying to get under his skin. At least that part of her hadn’t changed. “You’re early.”
Nikki sucked her lips in, probably to fight off another smile, which he was only too grateful for. Maybe the reprieve would allow him to get his bearings straight. Chance thrust his thumb over his shoulder. “Why don’t we go inside?”
“I’d like that.”
Stabbing the key at the lock, he outsmarted the contraption and opened the door to lead Nikki to his office and stepped aside to let her pass before closing it. His certificates advertising his law degree and license to practice had been framed and hung on the walls. Other than that, everything seemed to be the same since the last, and only time, he was in the room.
Him becoming a lawyer and working at Guiley and Son Law Office was his absentee father’s dream. He had hoped by obliging Zeke the gap between them would shrink. By the time he finished law school and completed his articling, he knew agreeing to Zeke’s terms was a mistake.
He left the large firm in the city and joined the Marines instead of coming home to work alongside Zeke, dodging the death trap of Guiley and Son Law Office. Now here he was, years later, dodging it again.
Checking his memories at the door, he gestured with his hand for Nikki to take a seat while he took the one behind his desk. “Your trip was good?”
“Yes. I stopped at the next county over.”
Chance felt his eyebrow rise. “Clearwater? Why?”
Nikki shrugged. “My mother’s family was originally from Clearwater. I just wanted to stop in for nostalgia’s sake I guess.” Another ray of Nikki-liquid-sunshine pierced the gloomy interior of his office. She needed to stop smiling if she expected him to carry a logical conversation with her.
“Bobby never told me,” Chance replied. He couldn’t take his gaze off her or the tears shimmering in her eyes at the mention of her brother. Dumbass. Frantic to distract those tears from falling, Chance redirected. “What was your mother’s maiden name? Maybe there was a connection between us long before.”
Nikki smiled and answered, “Crawford.”
“Can’t say I recognize it but this gives you roots to small-town life?”
“In the loosest sense. My grandparents have been gone for a number of years and mom never returned.”
Relief scattered through him as the tears in her eyes dried up. “And you’re okay leaving behind the big city lights and cases of Seattle?”
“Chance, you know I never really wanted all that to begin with. It was simply where we lived.”
“You want to be a lifer here in Bandit Creek?”
“Why not? It’s as good a place as any to make a home.”
Perfect. He could look out for her the way Bobby would want him to. Maybe she would even meet a good old boy her brother would approve of. A sudden bout of heartburn flared in his chest at the thought of Nikki with another man, not that he could be the man for her or any one he actually knew for that matter, but somehow it felt wrong.
He shook his head and reverted to the safer territory of teasing instead of examining his indigestion. With waggling eyebrows, he said, “True, however you do realize the town has a reputation for being cursed?”
Her gaze dropped to her lap for long seconds and Chance wanted to kick himself again. He was about to tell her he was kidding when Nikki squared her shoulders and flattened him with her response. “I know all about being cursed.”
Sadness so deep flashed in her eyes and pierced his heart to the point he swiped his palm across his chest. He hadn’t expected her answer even though it all made sense. She had lost her entire family, her father, mother and brother, and she was only in her twenties. Her father had been a military man, and like her brother, lost his life in the line of duty.
Chance stood with the full intent of wrapping her in the comfort of his arms to lessen the ache for both of them. Two strides in, he caught himself, and quickly revamped his plan. Hugging Nikki again was a bad idea. Instead of comforting her, he extended his hand and officially welcomed her to Guiley and Son Law Office.
“Welcome aboard, Nikki. You can stay with me out at the ranch.” His lips needed a muzzle! Nikki under the same roof as him was never a good idea and now with the way she looked, it was a suicidal idea.
The stiffness in her shoulders relaxed a bit. “I’ve already made arrangements and paid to stay at Murphy’s Boarding House for the week.”
Disappointment mixed with relief simmered within his gut. Chance ignored it and perched himself on the corner of his desk in front of her. “Then I’ll show you where it is.”
“No need. The owner gave me great directions. When will I meet Zeke?”
Even though her rejection ruffled him, he liked her all-business attitude, her enthusiasm and hoped it could stand against his father’s negative personality. “You’ll meet him tomorrow. Remember what I said. He’s not the easiest man to get along with. He’ll try to make your life difficult at the office”
“Give me a little credit, will you? I’m positive I’ve worked with much worse.”
Innate protectiveness rose within him again. “Did something happen I don’t know about?”
Nikki tsked him. “No, I just meant law is still an old boys’ club to some degree. What time do you want me here tomorrow?”
Knowing Zeke wasn’t going to like this inventive twist on the terms of their Agreement, Chance had already decided he would be spending time at the office to buffer the situation for as long as was necessary. He played out the scenario with his father that would occur tonight once he tracked the old man down. Add some fluff for round two in the morning, and time for Zeke to settle down after it. “Ten?”
Nikki pushed to her feet and Chance followed her lead, standing before her which placed their bodies so very close in proximity to each other. The fact Nikki was the perfect height for his six foot three inches was immediately evident. He guessed her to be around five nine in those shoes. How had he ignored that? Maybe a better question was why was he not ignoring it now?
“Ten’s a little late, isn’t it?”
He smiled. “I have a few things to wrap up first.”
As he walked her to the front door, he became more than aware of her soft floral scent. Another thing he had tried to ignore at every meeting with her. A thing that was doing funny things to his southern region, which had been under rapid gunfire from the moment she stepped from her car. He needed a shower. A cold one.
She stopped in the reception area and swiveled on her heel to face him. “Thank you again for the opportunity…”
Before her words were entirely out of her mouth, the front door to the office swung open and in stormed Zeke. His gaze landed on Nikki, bringing his stride to a slow stop. For a milli-second, Chance witnessed an unbelievable transformation in his father. Everything in Zeke’s expression softened and he murmured something softly, which was so not Zeke.
Zeke yelled, he didn’t murmur. Ever. If Chance didn’t know better, he would have believed a spark of love ignited out of nowhere in his old man’s eyes.
But Chance did know better. His father showed no one love and that included strangers and Chance himself. Zeke’s usual ornery decorum slid back into place as the weight of his calculating gaze finally settled on Chance.
Maybe this was the storm JD had rambled on about? The one that was no secret to anyone and had been stewing for years.
With squinted eyes, and a dangerously low voice, Zeke demanded, “What opportunity, Son?”