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Sometimes, love is waiting in the most unexpected of places.

Zeke Cross is a big city guy who finds himself living in the smallest town on the face of the earth, running an auto repair shop with his best friend. Not just running, but owning. He’s not used to sleepy little towns. He craves noise, excitement, and people. And yet, he’s grown to love the town of Huckleberry Bay, and the people who have welcomed him into the fold. Almost everyone has been kind and accepting of the outsider.

Everyone except Cherry Dubois.

Cherry is a small town girl, and she misses the sleepy community from her childhood. Now, her home is overrun by move-ins, who seem hell-bent on bringing big city ideals to her little town, and ruining what she’s always had. Her neighbor, Zeke, is the most annoying of all, with his loud music and arrogant attitude. How is she supposed to think when he’s around? Sure, he’s handsome, but that almost makes it worse.

Then Cherry needs Zeke’s help, and she finds out that the big city guy isn’t all that bad, especially when he has his hands on her and makes her forget all the reasons why she doesn’t like him. But at the end of the day, will she be able to trust this man to stay for good, or will her worst fears come true?


Kristen Proby


Book Series: 

An all-new small town romance set in Kristen Proby’s beloved Huckleberry Bay series is out this week, and I have a little sneak peek for you.

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Since he’d moved in over a year ago, Zeke and I have settled into a nice routine of mutual dislike, verbal jabs, and looks that could kill at fifty paces.

I’m still bitter that he bought the condo out from under me. But more than that, I’m tired of watching so many people like him move into my sleepy little town and try to change it.

Just last week, he complained to me down by the mailboxes that there isn’t a decent place to get Mexican food without driving fifty miles.

People think they would love to live here, but then move in and do nothing but complain because it doesn’t have the conveniences of the big city.

It’s annoying as hell.

Blowing out a breath, I open my music app and choose soothing songs to listen to during my shower. Next, I light a candle that I made myself and offer for sale online, and then turn on the water to let it heat up.

Humming under my breath, I make a trip to the linen closet to grab a towel and a hair wrap. Once I’ve stripped down and hung my dress in the closet, I return to the shower.

It’s not steamy yet, but it’ll get there, so I step in and shiver.

“That’s cold.” Moving out of the direct line of the spray until it heats up, I decide to start with shaving my legs.

But the more I lather them up, the more I realize that the shower isn’t getting any warmer, no matter how far I turn the nozzle to the red side.

“Shit,” I mutter. “Is the hot water out?”

I step out of the shower and wrap my towel around myself. Without thinking, I stomp out the front door, shaving cream running down my legs, and mascara streaking my face, and head over to Zeke’s apartment to knock on the door.

A few seconds later, he opens it. His eyebrows climb in surprise when he sees that it’s me and takes in the state I’m in.

“Is your hot water out?”


“I was trying to shower,”—I gesture to myself—“and I don’t have any hot water. Is yours out, too?”

“Is this a trick question?”

“Shit, it’s cold out here.” I start to bounce in place, leaving a little shaving-cream-laced puddle on the floor, and scowl at him. “Check your water, please.”

“It doesn’t work like that.” He shakes his head and smiles as he leans on the doorjamb and crosses his arms over his chest, clearly enjoying himself as his eyes journey down my wet body.

“If you laugh at me, I’ll poke your eyes out.”

“Have you always been such a violent woman? Look, each unit has its own hot water heater, Cherry. It’s not like when the electricity goes out for the whole building.”

“Damn it. The one night a year that it’s not going to be a quick shower, this happens. I hate cold showers.” Shivering, I start to turn and slosh back to my place.

“Use mine.”

He offers so easily it makes me blink.

“You don’t want me in your shower.”

“I don’t mind.” He shrugs as if he has women in his shower all the time—which he probably does. “Seriously, go get your stuff. I’ll start it for you.”

I stay planted where I am and narrow my eyes at him until he huffs out a breath and physically turns me around.

“Go. Get your stuff. I’ll leave the door open for you.”

I should decline, suck it up, and just take the cold shower. But it will take me at least three shampoos to get all the gunk out of my hair, then I need to condition, and I don’t want to do all of that in cold water.

So, without overthinking it, I hurry back to my bathroom, blow out my candle, gather my hair stuff, razor, soap, hair wrap, and then grab some clothes before rushing back over to Zeke’s place. True to his word, the door is open, so I walk right in and head straight for the guest bathroom.

But the water isn’t on there.

“Where are you?” I call out.

“My room,” he calls back.

The main bathroom is already steamy from the shower when I walk in.

“I can use your guest bath.”

“This one is better,” he says with a shrug. “Bigger shower. Take your time.”

He moves to pat me on the shoulder just as I turn, and rather than my shoulder, his hand lands right on my boob.

“Sorry,” he says, jumping back. “I didn’t mean—sorry.”

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(standalone stories with interconnected characters)


NBJ WEEKLY RECAP – 22 Aug 2023
“There was no point in trying to work, his brain was fixated on one thing. One person.”

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