Described as an enriching story of family ties, broken hearts, and second chances, Jennifer Probst’s latest novel is releasing next week, and I have a sneak peek for you.
Ethan took his time walking back to the bungalow, babying the leg a bit.Wheezy bounded out of the woods and fell into step with him. The trees bent forward in protection against the sting of the sun. A squirrel scrambled across the path, holding a large nut. The wind stirred the sweet summer air. An inner peace slowly unfolded, fleeting as a bird’s cry, but for a few precious moments, he savored the silence both inside and out.
Until he saw Mia Thrush waiting on his step.
A cloud of purpose practically floated around her. Still clad in those high-heeled sandals, a pair of white capris, and some lacy-type shirt, she looked like she should be yachting. She wore stacks of silver bracelets on her wrist, and diamond studs winked from her ears. Her arms were clasped in front of her chest while she tapped her foot with pure impatience, as if he were running late for their appointment. She caught sight of him, and those golden tigress eyes widened, taking in his disheveled appearance. Wheezy wasted no time in trotting over to give her some adoring kisses. Seemed dogs were the only animals she was safe to be around. She patted Wheezy with genuine affection, not seeming to care if he ruined her freshly pressed slacks. Ethan stopped a few feet away and narrowed his gaze. “What are you doing here?”
She steeled her shoulders, emphasizing the thrust of her pert breasts and her tiny waist, then had the gall to give him the stink eye. “I’m here for an apology.”
A bark of laughter escaped his lips. Damn, she had spunk. “Let me get this straight. You come into my barn without permission, let a horse out ofits stall, watch her disappear, and now youwant an apology from me?”
“Princess, I have plenty of things to say to you, but none of them include an apology.”
“I brought you lunch as a peace offering. I was trying to meet you halfway since we’re neighbors. I was trying to be nice!”
“I never got to eat my lunch because it took me hours to find Clarabelle. I had to scour those damn woods and waste my entire afternoon because you dropped a carrot. Thank God she wasn’t hurt and I was able to get her back safely.”
This was the second time she began nibbling her lip—a definite tell when she felt guilty about something. “I tried to explain and apologize, but you got all boorish and started yelling to get out of your barn.”
“I never yell. I told you very quietly to leave the barn.”
“In a threatening tone.”
He shook his head. “I bet you’re an excellent PR person.”
She looked surprised at the change of subject. “Thank you, I feel like I am. I do work hard.”
“You’re very good at twisting everything around like a pretzel. Bending the truth to suit your needs.”
Those Bambi eyes simmered with temper. “You think you’re hot shit, with your beard and your sexy body and your fake cowboy drawl, but you’re just mean! You pretend to be this broody loner type because you had an accident and hurt your leg. Big frikkin’ deal. That doesn’t give you aright to be cranky to everyone you meet.”
His mouth practically dropped open. “What do you know about my leg?” he asked in a warning voice.
She didn’t seem intimidated at all. In fact, she had the nerve to toss her mane of honey hair and come closer. “Car accident, right? I spoke to someone in town. Seems the consensus is you got hurt, left your previous job, and came home. You proceeded to lock yourself in some sad little bungalow and now refuse to come out. How am I doing so far?”
His head spun. Red mist shrouded his vision. Oh, she needed to learn some manners, and he was just the type to teach her. “You know nothing about what happened to me,” he said softly. “Your entire career revolves around manipulating the truth. Let me ask you this, princess: Have you ever gotten real before? Do you even know what it is?”
She bared her teeth and gave a throaty growl. The sound was almost sexual and registered below his waist. Thankfully he was too pissed off to care. “I can get real, anytime, anyplace, horse man. I’m not afraid to answer any question with the truth, and your cheap shots about my career are just that. Cheap. You know nothing about the people I try to protect or what I stand for.”
“Any question, huh?”
They were close now. The scent of her perfume surrounded him—some type of exotic orange spice. Her lashes were thick and dark. Her lips were pursed with a furious focus, painted the color of pale apple cider. She had a dab of white sunscreen on her nose she’d forgotten to rub inand some type of shimmery gold shadow under her arched brows. She was infuriating and silly, and for one brief, horrifying moment, Ethan wanted to kiss her.
“Yes, any question,” she snarled back.
Too bad the woman would break under one good passionate kiss, or else he’d be tempted to play a mean game of chicken to see who would retreat first.
Instead, he leaned in and gave a slow, mocking smile. “You really think I’m sexy, huh?”