Liza Bradford never dreamed she’d be a widow, raising two boys, and starting a business as an event planner. It wasn’t part of her life plan, but neither was crushing on the handsome Drew Cameron. Between being on the board of her family’s winery and running the kids around for summer activities, she doesn’t have one spare minute to date. Besides, she’s better at planning weddings for other couples than finding her own happily ever after. After all, she thought she had her one chance at true love.
Drew Cameron is good-looking and rich—and he fell hard for Liza the first time he laid eyes on her. He’s been patiently waiting until she was ready to go on a date, so she almost knocked him over when she asked him out first. He likes a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. But he’s worried about her finances and the fact that he has the means to make her life effortless. As a bonus, her boys fill a void in his life he hadn’t realized being an only child had created.
Is Liza ready to move forward with her life and embrace love, or will Drew’s wanting to take care of her and the boys turn the sweet bouquet of their future to vinegar?
Liza couldn’t believe what she was seeing as her boys raced around Anna’s house into her sister’s backyard. Even though she had just gotten done telling them she needed help unloading the van.
She contained the frustration that threatened to bubble up and over and at the same time hoped someone would think to come and help her. If they did, they could make one trip instead of three with the jugs of lemonade and iced tea and, of course, the cake. It was Memorial Day and this family liked every reason to get together. As the family grew, there were more and more celebrations.
It would have been so much easier to have it at her place, but it was Anna’s turn to host and she and her husband Colin wanted to show off their backyard, complete with an inground pool that had been finished just in time for the holiday weekend. She smiled to herself. That also explained why the boys had taken off like a shot from a cannon. It was hot.
She pushed her blond bangs from her forehead and tapped the button to ease open the hatch on her minivan. She grabbed the sweat-covered tea jug and struggled to hold on to it before it slipped and crashed to the ground. The plastic top popped off, drenching her pale-blue capris with the caramel-colored liquid.
“Damn it.” She tried to whisk the tea from her pants in vain.
“Hey, Liza, can I help?”
A deep male voice interrupted her next slew of profanity. Heat flushed her cheeks as she noticed Drew Cameron’s concerned face.
“Hi. Are you here for the party?” She propped one hand on the side of the van in a poor attempt to look casual.
“I am.” He bent over, straightened the gallon-sized plastic jug, and then reached under the van to retrieve the lid. He handed it to her. “I guess no tea today.”
She glanced down and inwardly groaned. What a way to make a good impression on the man she had a tiny crush on for the last year or so. “Except on my clothes and it’s okay; it was just for a couple people who love my sweet tea.”
He handed her a pure-white linen handkerchief from his back pocket. “Here. Use this.”
What guy carried around a fancy handkerchief anymore? Her late husband, Steve, never had anything this fancy. She accepted it since it was better to try and blot the spots than let them stain her new outfit.
“Thanks.” She gave him a smile so as not to appear ungrateful.
“Colin invited me to stop over and see the new landscaping, and he mentioned the family was getting together. Since I happen to know some of the best cooks in the valley would be here, I took him up on the offer.”
She held out the now-stained cloth and quickly withdrew it. “I’ll wash this and get it back to you.”
“No need.” He took it from her. “Give me a sec to toss this in the car and I’ll help you get the rest of the stuff into the house.”
She watched as he jogged to the sleek BMW. His long legs and backside looked pretty good in dark cargo shorts. He also wore an untucked pale-yellow short-sleeve button-down shirt and deck shoes. Classic preppy look. She had to admit Drew was easy to look at with his intense green eyes, dark-brown hair, and the scar just off from the center of his chin. He had well-toned arms that she guessed could hold a woman all night and make her sigh.
She tore her eyes away lest he saw her ogling him. She felt an odd twinge in her stomach as she reminded herself it had been a long time since Steve died and there were things she missed.
“I’ll take the cake if you can handle the jug of lemonade without turning yourself into an Arnold Palmer; you’re good the way you are.” The corners of his mouth quirked up and a deep dimple appeared in his cheek. It just enhanced his smoldering appeal.
“We’ve moved on to beverage jokes now.” She bobbed her head. “Tea and lemonade. That would have been delicious on this hot day.” She fanned herself, but not from the actual temperature in the air. Rather, the way he looked at her made her internal temp spike. What was she thinking? He was her brother-in-law’s best friend. Not someone she was going to date.
“Be careful with the cake; it’s got four layers and it’s heavier than it looks.”
“Not to worry. I can deal with the cake-carrying job as long as you’ve got the jug.”
She gave him a little shove in jest. “If you drop it—” Her voice held a playful warning tone.
“What will happen?” He gave her an easy grin.
“Um, you’ll have to arrange for a new cake.” Jeez, that sounded lame to her ears. What would he think?
“Not to worry, dear Liza. If I drop the cake, it’ll give me a chance to ask you where it came from, and maybe you’ll take pity and help me find a new one?”
She gave him a sharp look. Is he clueless about where to buy a cake or is he flirting with me? With a quick double-check of the lids before she picked up the jugs of lemonade, Drew slid the cake from the back of the van.
“Are we going in the house or out back?”
Before she could answer, the front door opened. Anna hovered in the doorway. “Hey, you two. What’s going on? The party is this way.”
Liza pushed the button on the van and the hatch shut with a soft clunk. She and Drew walked up the wide front porch steps.
“I had a minor mishap. What iced tea isn’t on my clothes is puddled in the driveway.”
Anna took the lemonade and stepped to one side so Drew could walk through the door.
“Would you set the cake on the kitchen counter? It’s too hot out. I don’t want the frosting to melt off.”
Liza looked down at her capris. “I’m going to run home and change. Can you keep an eye on the boys for me?”
“There’s no reason to drive back to your place.” Anna pulled her into the house and closed the screen door. “Go upstairs and dig through my closet. I have something that will match your top. You might as well wear my clothes. I won’t be wearing any of those until next summer.” She rubbed her slight baby bump. “Things are getting a little snug.”
“Thanks, sis. But are you sure?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We’re the same size; you’re just a little shorter.”
Liza didn’t need to be told twice. Anna had developed a new appreciation for clothes after living in France for over a year and her closet was a dream come true.
Drew watched as Liza zipped up the stairs. It was nice the sisters were so close they shared clothes; he’d never experienced that kind of a relationship as an only child. Inwardly, he groaned. Every time he saw her, he was struck not only by her beauty, with those golden hazel eyes, long blond hair, and the curvy, petite figure, but it was her mind with the quick, snappy retorts that was the most attractive part about her. She didn’t seem to care one iota about who he was or his bank account.
Colin walked out of the kitchen and glanced curiously at Drew as he stood there, staring.
“Hi. I heard you were here.”
“Just. I met up with Liza in the driveway and carried the cake in.”
Colin clapped him on the back. “From what I heard, if you had been one minute earlier, she wouldn’t have dropped the tea.”
Drew gave him a sidelong look. “Timing is everything.”
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Award-winning and best-selling author Lucinda Race is a lifelong fan of romantic fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading romance novels and getting lost in the hope they represent. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dreams were to become a writer—a romance novelist.
As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for The Loudon Series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys she weaves stories about strong women and the men who love them.
Lucinda lives with her two little dogs, a miniature long hair dachshund and a mix rescue, in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. When she's not at her day job, she’s immersed in her fictional worlds. And if she’s not writing romance novels, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on.
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