Book 2 in the Montana series
Noah’s been alone a long time. Then a few days before Christmas, guests come to stay at the ranch. As soon as one of the brothers gets out of his car, Noah feels the desire shoot through him with a force almost strong enough to knock him over. As long as Noah protects his heart, doesn’t get in too deep, maybe it can just be a really, really merry Christmas, right? Or will true love conquer all?
A wind so fierce it rattled the house blew up and woke me a few minutes before the alarm. I had a feeling that the noisy gale was trying to tell me something, that it was a wake up call in more ways than one.
“Uncle Noah, Uncle Noah!” My nephew Josh pounded at my door.
So much for snuggling into the blankets for those last few minutes before sunrise and pretending a really warm body was curled in behind me.
“Come in, champ.”
“It’s my birthday,” Josh said.
“I know,” I said. “The big one, oh, double digits.”
“And as part of my birthday present Mom and Dad said I could help name the new baby in Mom’s belly. It’s going to be a boy.”
That I didn’t know.
“What are you thinking of naming him?” I asked.
I threw the covers back and shivered. Even in my thermals it was cold.
“Spot,” my nephew said.
I looked at him.
“Just kidding. How about Tanner?”
I cringed. It seemed like every kid that came through here lately had that name.
“Ah, what other ideas you got, short stack?”
“Hugh? You know, like Wolverine?”
I shook my head.
“What about Mason?”
“That one’s not bad,” I said. “Let me get dressed, kid.”
“His middle name could be Kevin,” my nephew said. “You know, for Kevin’s Place.”
I closed my eyes as pain lanced through me.
“Like, you know, then he’d be clever and wily,” Josh said.
I looked at him. “How so?”
“Well my mom always said this place is called Kevin’s Place for the one that got away.”
I walked into the kitchen.
“Noah, the only people left to check in are a couple from Chicago this afternoon and that family from Detroit tonight,” my brother Clayton said as we finished breakfast and bundled up to go outside. “But I checked the weather in those Midwestern states. They’ve got a major snowstorm predicted; I wouldn’t be surprised if those airports start closing.”
Josh zoomed into the kitchen and careened into my leg. “What about Wyatt? You like the name Wyatt?”
Clay shook his head subtly at me above Josh’s head.
“What else ya got, buddy?”
Clay rolled his eyes. “Where you getting these names, son?”
Sherry came into the kitchen and kissed Clay on the cheek. “What about Henry,” she said to Josh, “after your grandfather?”
Now Josh rolled his eyes, looking a lot like his dad.
We all looked up as we heard a car coming down the drive.
Clay turned on the outside lights, and walked out. I grabbed my Stetson, and followed him.
A white Taurus, obviously a rental, slowly drove the last few feet toward us. Soft, fluffy snowflakes began to fall.
The Taurus pulled to a stop, and a guy about Clay’s size, maybe 6’5” and broad, with café au lait skin, very heavy on the lait, got out. He was wearing a black coat that looked expensive.
The passenger door opened, and another guy got out. A contracting shot of electricity jerked from my legs up to my balls and God spoke to me, actually spoke to me.
This is a man who will never hurt you.
I grabbed the railing so I wouldn’t fall over.
“You folks lost?” Clay asked.
“This is Kevin’s Place, right?” the bigger guy asked. I looked from one guy to the other. They were obviously brothers.
“Yup,” Clay said.
The bigger guy took a few steps toward Clay. “We’re the Hassims; we have a reservation.”
This was the couple?
“I know we’re early,” the big guy said. “We ended up getting an earlier flight because heavy storms were rolling into Chicago.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the other guy, still standing by the side of the car. It was like he was a magnet, and my whole body was metal. His beauty was blinding. He had a perfectly symmetrical face with a square jaw, huge brown eyes, and perfect smooth skin.
I gripped the railing tighter.
“I was expecting a couple,” Clay said. “With names like Johnny and Lore.” Clay pronounced the ‘e’ as a long e, so it sounded like Lori.
The big guy laughed, and the other guy grimaced.
“It’s Lore, not Lori.” Oh God, he had a great voice, deep and resonant.
Clay and I looked at him.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize it was a silent e. I thought it was Lor eeeee.”
“No. Lore. Like folklore. It’s short for Lorenzo.”
Clay shrugged. “I only booked one room for the two of you,” he said.
“We can share,” Johnny said.
At the same time I said, “We’ll work something out.” Which I could admit to myself really meant, like hell you two are going to share a room. Lore is going to have his own room.
So I can get in it.