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LOVE IN HOLIDAY JUNCTION, BOOK THREE

FALLING FOR HER OPPOSING COUNSEL eBOOK

FALLING FOR HER OPPOSING COUNSEL eBOOK

From the boardroom to the courtoom to "Hey, get a room!" this enemies-to-lovers sweet romance will make you smile and swoon!

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Is she falling in love? Evie pleads the fifth.

Evie Hart has no time for romance. Poised to take over her father’s billion-dollar business, she won’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. Especially not the protesters fighting her company’s newest planned development.

Or their handsome but irritating lawyer, Liam Durant.

Sure, he makes her feel a little dizzy with his windswept, sandy hair, bluer-than-blue eyes, and passion for his hometown. But Evie’s climbing the corporate ladder, and that means she can’t get distracted by a pair of nice shoulders or a charming smile.

Can she?

Add in a few romantic horseback rides, a crazy camping trip with a not-so-rabid raccoon, and a knock-down, drag-out Easter egg hunt, and in the end, Evie’s objections to love might just be overruled.

FALLING FOR HER OPPOSING COUNSEL is the fun and flirty third book in the LOVE IN HOLIDAY JUNCTION series of standalone romances. If you love small town love stories with strong heroines, swoony heroes, and a quirky cast of characters, download today!

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“We’ve been summoned to the Penthouse,” Grayson intoned in a low, ominous voice, his head poking through Evie’s office door. “I think it’s about Tobara.”

Evie stood and gathered up her papers, sliding them into a manila folder. “Of course, it’s about Tobara. Everything’s about Tobara,” she replied, slipping on her suit jacket and checking the mirror over her shoulder to make sure she had no stray hairs or ink smudges. She smoothed her lapels and tucked the folder under her arm. “Let’s go.”

They walked down the plush, carpeted hallway, ignoring the view of the New York skyline out the windows to the left. Evie could only think about one thing: Tobara and what it could mean for her career. It was her baby. The first project she’d been solely in charge of, without her father looking over her shoulder. And now it had hit a bump.

She swallowed her nerves and got into the elevator, tapping the toe of her perfectly shiny, leopard-skin pump. Where Evie was all business from the ankles up, she let herself go a bit when it came to shoes—a small act of rebellion, if only in her own mind.

“What’s the latest?” she asked Grayson as she pressed the button for the top floor.

In response, he stroked a single finger down her arm, dark eyes sparkling as he smiled suggestively. “How about dinner tonight?”

Evie fought back a sigh. Grayson Sparks was more than chief in-house counsel at Hart Enterprises. He was her on-again, off-again boyfriend of sorts. Nothing serious. Just a date when needed for a gala or fundraising event. A dinner or drinks when one didn’t want to be alone.

But right now, Evie had too much on her mind to deal with him. “I can’t tonight, Gray. I have to go over the bids for Tobara, and try to figure out how to speed up the environmental impact statement. Have you heard anything?”

Gray accepted the diversion, sliding his errant hand into his pocket. “Nothing yet. I have my usual feelers out, but they haven’t turned up anything.”

“And do you know what my father wants?”

Gray shrugged, eyes on the flashing numbers above the elevator door. “I guess we’re about to find out,” he said quietly as the doors swooshed open.

Hart Enterprises took up the top twenty floors of Hart Tower in midtown Manhattan, and Warren Hart, of course, snagged the entire top floor for his own use, including a spacious office, a gym and massage room, and living quarters accessible by a second, private elevator. Evie and Gray smiled at Greta, Warren’s secretary as they stepped off the main elevator, Evie’s heels clicking on the polished marble floor.

“Go on back. He’s expecting you,” Greta said as the phone rang. “Mr. Hart’s office. May I help you?” She typed at her computer, humming in response to whatever the person on the phone had said, and Gray pulled open one of the huge wooden double doors leading to Warren’s office.

“After you,” he said with a little bow.

When Evie was a child, she used to love to come to her father’s office. She and her brother, Niko, would run around from room to room, playing tag and hide and seek. Back then, her father had laughed indulgently at their antics. He’d pull them both up onto his lap and order in sky-high ice cream sundaes. When her mother would come to pick them up, neither ever wanted to leave.

That all changed, of course. It seemed like forever ago, now.

Another smaller door led to her father’s actual working office. Gray knocked twice, only opening the door when her father called out for them to enter. He held the door for Evie, and she forced a placid look on her face, unwilling to let her father—or anyone, actually—see how nervous she really was.

The room seemed smaller than when she was little, but no less intimidating. Behind the huge, mahogany desk and her father’s black, leather chair was a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows with an incredible view of the city skyline. A leather couch and two chairs comprised a sitting area off to her right, a large picture of her father shaking the president’s hand on the wall behind the couch. To her left, two large bookcases flanked a glass case containing some of the priceless items her father had collected in his travels—art and sculptures, rare manuscripts—even a quill pen once owned by Benjamin Franklin himself.

Her steps were muted by a large area rug that her father paid some obscene amount for at auction. She almost felt bad walking on it. She and Gray sat in thick, padded chairs facing the desk as Warren poured himself a drink. Whiskey, neat. He didn’t ask if they wanted anything, but took his seat and leaned back in his chair, observing them over his glass. He was in shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his tie loose. His blue eyes, so warm when Evie was a little girl, were piercing now. Almost icy. Evie made sure she met his gaze, and that hers didn’t stray to the photograph of her mother that still sat on his desk.

“What are you going to do about Tobara?” he asked, setting the crystal tumbler onto his desk blotter.
Evie opened her mouth to respond, but Gray beat her to it.

“We go to court next Tuesday on the injunction,” he said. “But I’m flying to Holiday Junction tomorrow to meet with town leaders and see if we can’t work things out before it gets that far.”

Warren’s lips curled into a thoughtful frown. “You think any of them can be persuaded?”

Evie knew what persuaded meant. Bribed was a more accurate word.

“Possibly.” Gray leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs at the ankles. “The mayor perhaps. Or there are a few local business owners with debts I’m sure they’d be eager to settle.”

Evie’s stomach turned, and she wished she had one of her antacids, but kept up her stoic facade.

“It might not even be necessary,” she said. “We own the property. I sincerely doubt a judge is going to delay demolition because an old factory might have historical significance.”

“It’s been done before,” Warren said shortly. “The longer the delay, the more money we lose, and the better the chance they’ll be able to find something to stop the project altogether. Some endangered rodent living in a tree . . . or temporary wetlands, or who knows what else?” He stood and turned to look out the window, his hands on his hips. “You brought this project to me,” he said. “Assured me that it would be a sound investment.”

Evie could hear the disappointment in his voice. “It is a sound investment,” she replied. “The factory had been sitting unoccupied for almost fifty years.”

“And it’s sitting there still,” he said gruffly.

“We got the property for a song. No one wanted it,” she said, trying to sound confident instead of pleading or desperate. “With all due respect, there was no way to know there would be protests—”

“You should have known.”

He didn’t raise his voice—Warren rarely did—but Evie still felt the words like a slap in the face. Tobara was to be her leg up in the company, her shining moment—the one that would get her father to finally hand over the reins and name her his successor at Hart Enterprises. Now, she could feel it all slipping through her fingers.

She glanced down at her shoes, the pointed, leopard-print toes perfectly aligned side by side. “I’ll take care of it,” she said.

He finally looked at her, a brow arched in surprise—or maybe in challenge. “How?”

“I’ll go with Gray to Holiday Junction.”

Warren turned to face her fully, crossing his arms over his chest. “And do what, exactly?”

Evie lifted her chin. “Whatever I have to.”

A glint of something appeared in her father’s eyes. She thought, perhaps, it could have been respect.

“All right then,” he said slowly. “Take the jet. Keep me posted.”

He turned again to look out the window, and Evie and Gray got up to leave.

“Oh, Gray?” Warren sipped his drink. “Has the situation in Philadelphia been dealt with?”

Evie felt a chill down her spine at her father’s tone. The project in Philadelphia had been stalled by a fervent civil rights attorney fighting to protect the tenants of a condemned apartment building on a portion of the property. The case had been tied up in court for months.
Gray slipped a hand into his pants pocket. “It has,” he said. “The case has been dropped. The tenants relocated.”

Evie swallowed. She wasn’t sure how exactly Gray had accomplished that. Wasn’t sure if she wanted to know.

“Excellent,” Warren said, turning back to the window. “Let’s hope we can resolve this situation as satisfactorily.”

Dismissed, Evie and Gray left the room. She knew her father asked about Philadelphia for a reason. It was a message. He was letting Evie know that if she couldn’t fix the problem in Washington, Gray would. And she might not like how he went about it.

“Well, that was interesting,” Gray said to her once they were back in the elevator.

She let out a long, slow breath. “Yeah.”

“So, you’re sure you want to do this?” he asked. “Could mean getting those pretty hands dirty.” He took one in his and kissed her palm.

She laughed, although her stomach twisted. “You think I’m not up to the challenge?”

He grinned wolfishly. “Could be fun, though. The two of us alone in the wilderness.” His mouth hovered over her hand, breath tickling her skin.

Evie snatched it away. “It’s business, Gray,” she said firmly. “Not a vacation. There will be no fun. Not on this trip.”

Gray shrugged nonchalantly and smoothed his pristine tie. “If you say so.”

The elevator doors opened and Gray stepped out, turning back when she didn’t move. “Aren’t you coming?”

“I need to see Niko if we’re leaving in the morning,” she replied.

“Niko?” He made a show of checking his watch. “It’s almost three o’clock, won’t he have left for the day?”

She would have defended her brother if it wasn’t true. And if it would have made any difference to Gray. Instead, she simply reached over to press another button. “I’ll see you at the airport. Text me the time.”

“Will do.” Gray waved over his shoulder as he walked away, and the elevator doors slid shut.

Evie sighed heavily, slumping against the wall as she slipped one foot out of her shoe, scrunching her toes. She’d have to re-organize her to-do list—packing tonight, then she’d review the bids during the flight. The elevator dinged and she put her shoe back on with a little groan.

Niko’s official title was Vice President of Public Relations and Corporate Communications. In reality, he was the public face of the company and spent most of his time attending charity events and schmoozing. He had little to do with the actual day-to-day running of the division, and was perfectly fine with that. Evie, on the other hand, hated putting on a public face and preferred her spot in the trenches. It worked out well for both of them, although she did, on occasion, grow frustrated with her brother’s rather laissez-faire attitude when it came to the family business.

His assistant wasn’t at his desk, so Evie went right to Niko’s open office door and rapped on the frame. “Niko? You still here?”

Her brother came out of the attached en suite, fiddling with a cufflink. He was dressed in an impeccable black tuxedo, his nearly-as-dark hair swept artfully back from his face. He’d shaved as well, his usual five o’clock shadow swiped away, leaving golden skin still a bit shiny with dampness.

Although Evie was four years older, they’d often been mistaken for twins, the same cognac eyes and full lips, the same golden skin, inherited from their Greek mother. Evie would even have the same black hair, if not for her frequent visits to her stylist for highlights. But the physical resemblance was where it ended. Evie had always been quiet and responsible. Niko was loud, brash and exuberant. The life of the party, without a care in the world. Evie equally admired and resented him for that.

“Hey, Sis,” he said, buttoning the tailored jacket. “Did you need something? I’ve got to get going.”

She sat in one of the leather chairs before his desk and took off her shoes, digging her toes into the plush carpet. “What are you up to? Big date or something?’

He grinned, his white teeth dazzling against his tawny skin. “Or something.”

Evie rolled her eyes. “Let me guess. Movie star? Or beauty queen?”

Niko put on a mock-offended look. “Do you really think me so shallow?”

She just stared at him.

He threw up his hands. “Fine. Some friends are hosting a party, if you must know. And I have to catch a flight to Miami in about a half an hour, so . . .”

“You’re going to Miami? Tonight?”

“Sure.” He checked his phone and slipped it into his inside pocket. “We’re taking Richard’s jet.”

“And when will you be back?”

Niko rolled his eyes. “Tomorrow night. Maybe.” He shrugged. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Evie wasn’t surprised. Niko did what Niko wanted and it had always been that way. She supposed she was at least partially to blame. Evie had always indulged him.
You’re the big sister, kardia mou—my heart. You must always protect him. Their mother had meant well. But sometimes Evie wondered if she’d fulfilled the request a little too well.

She put her shoes back on and stood up. “Well, tomorrow night would be good, if you can swing it,” she said, trying not to sound sarcastic. Niko didn’t respond well to sarcasm. “I have to fly to Washington in the morning for the Tobara project. I’ll probably be out there for a least a week.”

He followed her to the door. “D.C. or the other one?”

“The other one.”

Niko made a face. “Don’t get eaten by a bear. Or a hipster.”

Despite herself, Evie laughed. “I’ll try not to.”

They got into the elevator and Evie punched the button for her floor and the lobby for Niko.

“Really, though. I’d appreciate it if you kept an eye on things around here while I’m gone,” she said.

Niko released a put-upon sigh. “If I must.” He let out a little laugh and shook his head. “Relax, Evie. I’ll be here. I don’t know what you think is going to happen.”

She chewed on her lip. “I’ve heard Dad’s been talking to Peyton Wheeler.”

The doors slid open and Niko held them, blocking her way. “About what?”

“What do you think?” she replied in a low voice, checking to make sure no one else was in hearing range. “I think he’s considering bringing him on as CEO when he retires.”

Niko’s face darkened, his jaw tense. “He wouldn’t.”

Evie shrugged, a sudden prick of tears taking her by surprise. She swallowed them down. “He might.”

“But you’ve earned it.”

She let out a humorless laugh. “Not necessarily how our dear father sees it,” she said. “That’s why I have to fix this Tobara mess. It’s the only way I can show him that I’m ready.” She felt a telltale burning in her stomach and pulled one of her emergency antacids out of her jacket pocket.

Niko cocked a brow. “You sure have been downing a lot of those lately. You okay?”

Was she? Evie popped the tablet into her mouth and chewed, frowning at the chalky taste. “I’m fine. Just a lot on my mind lately.”

“Like Tobara? And Peyton Wheeler.”

“Like Tobara. And Peyton Wheeler.” When his worried look didn’t fade, she rolled her eyes. “I’m fine. Once I get this trip out of the way and everything’s back on track, everything will be great.”

Niko frowned, his dark eyes searching. “I hope you’re right,” he said. “You know . . .” He looked away, rubbing the back of his neck.

“What?”

He faced her again, jaw set. “This isn’t everything, you know? There is a life outside of Hart Enterprises.”

She scoffed. “I know that.”

“Do you?” Niko watched her closely, but she made herself meet his gaze. “You’re so wrapped up in this company— ”

“Well, someone has to be,” she snapped, and immediately felt bad about it. It wasn’t Niko’s fault that she had devoted her life to Hart Enterprises. It had been her choice—one she’d made a long time ago. Sure, once in a while she might feel like she’s missing out on something . . . might even be a little jealous of Niko’s freedom, but she didn’t blame him for that.

She couldn’t.

“Sorry,” she said, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I didn’t mean that.”

“Sure you did,” Niko said with a cheeky grin. “But that’s your right as the responsible sibling. You get to be irritated with the irresponsible one.”

“You’re not irresponsible.”

“I am.” He leaned toward her. “I’m only saying that, on occasion, you might give it a try.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said wryly.

Niko looked like he wanted to say something more, but instead he sighed. “So what do you want me to do?” he asked. “While you’re gone.”

“Listen,” she said quietly. “Keep an eye out. You know, keep me informed.”

“Spy,” he said with a small smile.

“Call it what you will.” She moved past him into the hall. “Have a good trip.”

Niko reached out and caught her hand, squeezing it once before he let it go. “You can trust me, Sis. You know that, right?”

She smiled back at him. “I know,” she said as the doors slid closed.


***

"Happy birthday!”

Across the country in Holiday Junction, a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles appeared in front of Liam Durant’s face, and he startled, nearly dipping his nose into the frosting. He looked up to find Vi Chalmers on the opposite end of the hand holding the treat, a sheepish smile on her face.

“Sorry,” she said with a wrinkle of her perfect button nose. “This probably isn’t the celebration you were hoping for.”

Liam had to agree. He was sitting in the third row at the elementary school, waiting for an emergency town meeting to begin—an emergency town meeting that the mayor had insisted he attend to—quote—alleviate fears and put forth a game plan to deal with the current crisis. A game plan he had yet to develop, by the way. It didn’t matter to the mayor that Liam was taking the case pro bono, or that he had other work on his plate. Or that he hadn’t slept more than five hours a night all week.
He yawned. Of course, the proverbial cherry on the literal cupcake was having the ex-girlfriend who dumped him—twice—extending him pity-salutations on his twenty-ninth birthday.

Perfect.

Liam smiled, though, and took the cupcake. “Thanks,” he said. “We’re getting a little old for celebrations anyway, aren’t we?”

Vi laughed, and the sweet sound sent an arrow straight through his heart.

“Speak for yourself.” She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder with an exaggerated sniff. “Some of us still have plenty of our twenties left.”

Liam arched a brow. “You are literally two months younger than me,” he said.

“That’s forever in dog years.”

He snorted. “I’m not sure if I should be more insulted by that comparison, or if you should be.”

Vi crossed her arms, a frown on her face. “Fair point.” She waved a hand dismissively. “Anyway, I know things are—you know, kind of. . . whatever between us right now.” She shook her head. “But I couldn’t let the day go by without acknowledging it.”

Whatever. That was one way to put it.

Of course, Vi’s boyfriend, Kade Rivera, chose that moment to walk up and place his hand protectively on the small of her back. She practically glowed at him, and Liam ground his teeth.

“Hey, Liam. Happy birthday,” Kade said with a genuine smile. Why did the guy have to be so nice? It made it so much harder to hate him.

“Yeah, thanks,” he replied, lifting the cupcake in acknowledgement.

“We should find a seat,” Kade told Vi. “This should be a good one.”

Vi rolled her eyes. “You are so weird about town meetings.” But her voice was fond, and Liam’s stomach twisted. Vi used to sound like that when she talked to him. She used to be fond of him.

But that was ancient history, wasn’t it?

“See you later, Liam,” Vi said. “Hope you have a great birthday.”

Liam’s forced smile fell as they turned and walked away.
“Happy birthday to me,” he grumbled. Then he ate the cupcake in three huge bites.

He was still chewing when Mayor Joshua Kendricks stepped up to the podium and pounded his gavel, calling the meeting to order. He waited for the crowd to quiet, his pointed face lifted as he observed them all through his wire-framed glasses. In addition to being mayor, Joshua ran the local real estate brokerage and pretty much drove everyone crazy. But he cared about the town and dedicated his life to what he thought was best for it.

It didn’t make him any less annoying, unfortunately.

“We all know why we’re here,” Joshua said, gripping the podium firmly with both hands, his knobby knuckles white. “The purchase of the old textile factory by Hart Enterprises is an issue of grave importance that we are all concerned about. Initially, we had hopes that the development would be good for our town and bring in new business and employment opportunities, but we now have reason to believe that is not the case, and we, as a town, must come together to figure out the best way to fight these outsiders who want to destroy our town!”

A ripple of unease went through the crowd and Liam tried not to let his annoyance show. Joshua had been all for the development until recent media coverage of local protests turned the tide, and led to outrage among the majority of the town residents. Now he was covering his backside, politically speaking. Still, they needed to stick together if they were going to fight the development, and having the mayor with them was important.

“Of course, we’re grateful to Lena McKenna and the others who led the initial protests against the development,” the mayor said, leading another smattering of applause. Liam could see Lena across the aisle, nodding in appreciation as she waved off the applause.

“We all want what’s good for the town,” Lena said,

“Right.” Mayor Kendricks nodded, his scalp shining under the lights between the strands of his slicked-back, white hair. “Which is why we’ve brought Liam Durant into the fight. Liam?” The mayor motioned for him to come forward and Liam stood, flushing under the new round of applause. A few people shook his hand or pounded him on the back as he made his way to the podium. He’d known most of these people all his life, and it was strange to have them now looking to him for answers.

“Thanks, Joshua,” he said once the crowd quieted. “I want to give everyone an update about how things are going in our dispute with Hart Enterprises.” A few people booed at this point, and Liam’s lips quirked. “Yes, well. That’s how we all feel, I suppose.”

He slid his hands into the pockets of his khakis, the hem of his plaid shirt scrunching up a bit. That was one nice thing about practicing law in a place like Holiday Junction. Nobody expected him to wear a suit on a day to day basis. Sure, he had them for court, but most hung in garment bags in the back of his closet, remnants of his early days in corporate law.

“We’ve filed our request for an injunction with the county court,” he said. “If approved it will delay any work on the property until we can get a ruling on the historical landmark status. Of course, that’s our hope, but there’s no guarantee the judge will grant it. And there’s no guarantee that the factory will be declared a landmark in the end.”

“What are our chances?” Joshua asked.

A lock of sandy hair fell forward over Liam’s eyes and he brushed it back, distractedly. “I wish I could tell you,” he replied. “All I can say is I’m doing all I can on my end to try and stop this thing.”

Boomer Benedict stood at the back of the room, swiping a hand over his comb over. “I don’t understand what the problem is,” he said. “I heard they’re putting in a Java Junction. I kind of like Java Junction. They have those little mints.” He pinched his fingers together, apparently to exemplify how little the mints were.

“Boomer, sit down,” Joshua groused.

Boomer did, of course. He worked for Joshua at the real estate brokerage and did pretty much anything Joshua said.

“I’m just saying,” Boomer said with a shrug. “That maybe it won’t be so bad.”

“How can you say that?” Lena got up from her seat and faced Boomer. “They want to put up luxury condos that none of us could ever afford to buy. And stores none of us could afford to shop at.”

“And the building is hideous,” someone called out.

“Right!” Lena pointed toward the speaker. “It’s a horrible, modern, concrete monstrosity that is completely wrong for our town. And it’ll drive up all of our property taxes.”

“But Java Junction—”

“For heaven’s sake, Boomer,” Joshua said, throwing up his hands. “You can buy those little mints online. I’ll get you a box, okay?”

“Really?” Boomer looked exceedingly pleased, and Liam wondered for a moment if perhaps that was his plan all along. Could Boomer Benedict actually be that devious?

He caught sight of the man staring blankly at his own rounded belly.

Maybe not.

Liam cleared his throat. “We don’t need a Java Junction. Besides, the Daily Grind has much better coffee, anyway.”

“Thanks, Liam!”

He smiled at Mandy, owner of the local coffee shop. “No problem,” he replied. “As I was saying, I’m doing all I can when it comes to working with the legal system, but it’s important that everyone here does their part as well.”

Alice Camden, owner and reporter for the local paper, the Holiday Junction Journal, asked, “What do you recommend, Liam?”

“Well, you’ll play a big part, Alice,” he replied. “Media coverage is what brought the town together on this issue, and it’ll put pressure on Hart Enterprises, too. Letters to the editor, in-depth coverage. Everyone should share their stories, too.” He pointed out toward the audience.

“What kind of stories?” Anne Patterson asked.

Liam leaned forward on the podium. “The textile factory was the lifeblood of Holiday Junction for almost a century. It’s part of our history and I bet we all have aunts or uncles or grandparents with a connection to it in one way or another. We’ve all been to events hosted out at the factory. Like the haunted house, and remember the big Founders’ Day picnic we had out there a few years back?”

Joshua scratched his cheek. “We need to put a personal face on this controversy,” he said. “The media likes that.”

“The TV reporter who was here last month for the protest reached out to me yesterday,” Lena said.

“That’s good,” Joshua replied. “Get her out here and tell her we have some great personal interest stories. The mega-corporation trying to stomp out the heart of a small town. They’ll eat it up.” He gave her an approving nod.

Liam thought perhaps the mayor might be enjoying this a tad too much, but he held his tongue.

“We want everyone who’s able to come to court when our case is heard,” he said instead. “A show of unity will be very important and great for the media, as well.”

“Excellent,” Joshua said.

The meeting wrapped up quickly after that, the crowd converging on the refreshment table like locusts. Liam grabbed another cupcake—it was his birthday, after all—and retreated to a quiet corner. He had just pulled out his phone to check his emails when Braden McKenna, Lena’s brother, walked up and leaned against the wall next to him.

“You look like you could use something a bit stronger,” he said, nodding toward Liam’s cupcake. “Want to head over to the pub and I’ll hook you up?”

Liam laughed. “I’d love to, but I have a late night of legal briefs and an early morning conference call. No time, I’m afraid.”

Braden made a face. “Being a lawyer’s nothing like in the movies, is it?”

“Not a bit.”

“Well, stop by on Friday night, then,” Braden said. “Even hotshot attorneys need to wind down once in a while. Otherwise your brain explodes.”

Liam shot him a doubtful look.

“You need to have some fun.” Braden shoved his shoulder. “Get out. Have a drink. Maybe meet an eligible lady?” He waggled his eyebrows.

Liam’s gaze darted to Vi before he could stop it. “Not a lot of eligible ladies in HJ.”

“You’re not going to see them if you’re only looking at Violet Chalmers,” Braden replied, crossing his beefy arms over his chest. “You need to get back on the horse, my friend.”

If there was one thing Liam didn’t like about living in a small town, it was that everyone—and he meant everyone—knew when you’d been dumped.

“I’ll think about it,” he replied, if only to get Braden to give up.

He wasn’t going for it, however. “Friday night,” he said firmly. “I’ll come to your house and drag you out, if I have to.”

“Okay, okay!” Liam said, laughing. “I’ll be there.” His phone buzzed with a new email. “Sorry,” he said, his eyes dipping to the screen. “It’s from Hart’s lawyer.”

“What’s he say?”

Liam scanned the email. “He’s coming to HJ,” he replied, “He says he wants to meet with town leadership before we go to court and see if we can’t come to some kind of agreement.”

“Well, that’s great, right?” Braden asked. “If they’re willing to talk, isn’t that a good sign?”

“Could be,” Liam replied absently. “Or it could be that they want to come and flex their muscles a bit. Try and feel us out to see how determined we are.”

Braden took in the crowded room with a pleased smile. “I think they’ll find we’re pretty determined.”

Liam huffed out a laugh. “Yeah, if they think they’re going to come to town and steamroll a bunch of yokels, they’re sadly mistaken.”

“When’s he coming?”

Liam checked the email and hissed out a breath. “Tomorrow afternoon.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.” Liam scrubbed a hand over his face. “He’s trying to throw us off our game. He knows we’ll have to scramble to get ready.”

“Sorry, man,” Braden said. “If I can do anything to help, you know all you have to do is ask.”

“I know. Thanks.” Liam scanned the room. “I need to grab Joshua and figure out what we’re going to do.”

“No problem. I’ll see you Friday night.” Braden pointed two fingers at him as he backed away. “And don’t worry so much. You got this.”

Liam wasn’t so sure, but he smiled in response anyway, then headed off to grab the mayor before what he was sure was going to be yet another sleepless night.

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ALSO AVAILABLE ON: 

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