The good news: Audrey Gordon has just received a dream assignment managing one of the city’s largest construction projects.
The bad news: She’ll be teamed up with cocky office rival and former lover Jason Roma.
Audrey’s got a lot to prove to herself and to her overachieving family. She’s certainly not going to let arrogant Jason Roma get in the way of her success, despite the fact that he never passes up an opportunity to get under her skin. Audrey swears she’ll keep Jason at arm’s length, no matter how fast her pulse races whenever he walks into the room.
However, Jason seems to have his own ideas about what Audrey needs. He’s determined to win another chance with her and prove that he’s not the callous jerk she thinks he is.
But when a personal tragedy shakes Audrey to her core, will she push Jason away forever? Or will she learn a few lessons about love and finally let him into her heart?
- File Namenailed-by-cora-brent.epub
- Original TitleNailed (Worked Up Book 2)
- CreatorCora Brent
- PublisherMontlake Romance
- File Size362.741 KB
Table of Content
- 1. Unnamed
- 2. OTHER TITLES BY CORA BRENT Worked Up Fired Unruly Hickey Breathless Point The Gentry Boys Draw Risk Game Fall Hold Cross: A Novella Walk Edge Snow: A Holiday Novella Gentry Generations Strike
- 3. Unnamed
- 4. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Text copyright © 2018 by Cora Brent All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle www.apub.com Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates. ISBN-13: 9781503900790 ISBN-10: 1503900797 Cover design by Eileen Carey
- 5. For my husband, who has given me two beautiful children and sixteen years of love and laughter.
- 6. CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER THIRTEEN CHAPTER FOURTEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN CHAPTER SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN CHAPTER EIGHTEEN CHAPTER NINETEEN CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE EPILOGUE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- 7. CHAPTER ONE “He did what?” I tried not to shriek into the phone as my construction foreman explained that one of the workers had decided to relieve his bladder over an empty elevator shaft. “And unfortunately the county building inspector was standing fifteen floors below,” Barnes admitted with reluctance. “Shit.” “No, piss. But almost as bad.” I stifled another curse and pressed the crosswalk button as I headed back to the office. “I’ll be at the site this afternoon as soon as my meeting’s over,” I told Barnes. “I’ll also call the inspector to smooth things over. The piss king is fired, effective immediately.” “Already booted him off the jobsite,” Barnes assured me. “Good. While I’m there I’ll address the entire crew to remind them of the jobsite code of conduct. I’ll text you when I’m on my way, so please make sure they are assembled.” Silence met my statement. Then Barnes sighed. “Whatever you say.” I knew the foreman thought I was overbearing at times, but this art museum project w
- 8. CHAPTER TWO The next morning I wound up seeking a spot on the roof of the full parking garage. On the inside I was cursing the fact that I was five minutes late, but I’d stopped by the Koppling site first thing to reinforce the impression that I was keeping a close eye on things. Yesterday afternoon when I assembled everyone for a quick huddle to address the unfortunate incident of the elevator pisser, I was sure a few of the workers were rolling their eyes. But this morning everyone was in place doing what they were supposed to be doing, and I left feeling satisfied. Now, as I swung my Lexus into an empty parking space, I caught a glimpse of the time and felt the satisfaction vanish. Spitting a slew of curses, I grabbed the keys and remembered my shoes only when my feet hit the concrete. The sensible steel-toe boots didn’t exactly match my power-suit ensemble, but I was a stickler for safety rules whenever I visited an active construction site. How could I expect my workers to follow
- 9. CHAPTER THREE I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in years. Yet every time I approach the circular driveway of my parents’ palatial Scottsdale estate, an ancient itch tickles the back of my throat. Today was no different. Per my mother’s instructions, I’d picked up the centerpieces from a local florist because the owner had been my mother’s sorority sister some forty years ago at the University of Arizona. As I struggled with the logistics of hauling ten flower arrangements in vases filled with colored glass beads out of the trunk of my Lexus, my mother, Cindy Pennington Gordon, floated out the front door wearing a teal cocktail dress that showed she still had an enviable figure at age sixty, even if some of its finer features were of newer vintage. “Audrey,” she called, and I braced myself for some variation of the you’re-doing-XYZ-wrong speech that was as familiar as the scent of the lone magnolia tree that had somehow thrived in the front yard since I was a baby. But before issuing
- 10. CHAPTER FOUR “You hiding back here?” William wanted to know when he located me sitting on a stone bench deep in the orchard as dusk approached. “Just thinking,” I said. William glanced over to the table where his sons were hunched over a tablet our mother had spontaneously produced to keep them quiet. “I’ve got to get going in a little while,” he said. He rubbed the back of his neck briefly and then scowled. “The boys are supposed to be back at their mother’s place in an hour.” My brother looked tired. The past year had been a brutal one for him, and if I could have spared him any of that pain, I would have. But William wasn’t one to air his troubles out loud. We had that in common. “You okay?” I asked. I’d asked that before. And like before, the ghost of a frown slipped away from his face and was replaced with a smile. “I’m doing fine, Audrey.” I smiled back. “Just let me know before you leave. I want to make sure I get a chance to squeeze those precious boys one more time.” “Will do,
- 11. CHAPTER FIVE The day after William’s party, I arrived at the courthouse jobsite twenty-five minutes early and somehow Jason still managed to beat me. He was walking around in the flattened dirt and he stopped to watch as I approached. “I thought you said the meeting was at seven,” I said a little huffily. “Good morning to you too, Audrey,” he replied, and held out a brown paper bag. “Would you like a buttered muffin?” “What is that, a sexual innuendo?” “No. It’s a polite statement. You ought to try it now and then. Politeness.” “I don’t want your buttered muffin, Jason.” He crumpled up the bag. “Too bad. It was tasty.” “How do you know if you didn’t eat it yourself?” He shrugged. “I took a bite.” “You took a bite of the breakfast you were planning to offer me?” “Sure.” “What if I’d decided I wanted it?” “But you didn’t.” He hurled the bag into a nearby open dumpster. I looked around. “Where’s this architect?” “He’s not here yet. You’re half an hour early.” “Then why are you here?” He b
- 12. CHAPTER SIX When you’re the only daughter born into a wealthy family, life comes with certain advantages. It’s like being born on third base. I didn’t appreciate that fact of life until I’d already managed to waste a lot of those benefits. Throughout my childhood I was a good student and a decent athlete, although nothing remarkable like my big brother, who never glanced at a trophy or a medal that didn’t end up in his possession. My family was a collection of diehard overachievers. My mother spent hours at the hospital or engaged with one of her various committees, leaving the big house always feeling empty. As for my father, he was always working hard at something very important, which I didn’t fully understand at the time. All I understood was that it was better to stay out of his way when he walked through the door until he had a chance to visit his study and suck back a highball. Or two. Or five. He couldn’t seem to handle being home for more than fifteen minutes without nursing a
- 13. CHAPTER SEVEN ED: You are late. I groaned when I saw the text come through. I didn’t need El Diablo to remind me that I was late. After checking my mirrors, I’d floored the accelerator on the freeway, hoping to make it by the end of the brief groundbreaking ceremony. Unfortunately, a motorcycle cop with a handy radar gun caught me doing eighty-five in a sixty-five-mile-per-hour zone and took his time writing out a ticket. By the time I got to the courthouse site, the groundbreaking ceremony had ended and everyone was packing up their cameras and retreating to their expensive vehicles. None of the press or preening politicians cared to hear what the behind-the-scenes project staff had to say, but I was expected to be present. I’d planned to be. But hints of a late materials delivery obliged me to drive clear across town and personally remind one of our suppliers of their contractual obligations. As I eased my way through what was left of the crowd, I tried to appear nonchalant, as if I’
- 14. CHAPTER EIGHT “Did you submit that purchase order?” I demanded. Jason looked up from across the office we were now sharing since management decided to use our partnership to free up an office for Davis Brown, of course, whenever he dropped in. He’d been staring at his phone, probably playing Mortal Death or whatever kind of video-game crap people like him entertained themselves with, while I scoured the approved purchase orders for the one I needed. “What purchase order?” he asked in all innocence. I gritted my teeth. “The one I told you to submit on Wednesday before you took off early. Where the hell did you go anyway?” He looked annoyed. “I came in at six, didn’t take a lunch, and left at four. As for where I went, call it a family obligation.” I paused. Jason didn’t often mention his family. I was having some trouble imagining him as emotionally available in that way. He’d always struck me as proudly selfish. “Was that really it?” I asked. “A family obligation?” He leveled me with a
- 15. CHAPTER NINE “You like pizza?” Jason asked, playing the gentleman and opening his passenger door for me. He’d offered to drive to dinner, and I was too tired and hungry to put up an argument. It was kind of nice, actually, just settling in to the leather upholstered seat and allowing myself to be transported. “I love pizza,” I told him as he got behind the wheel. Jason’s best friend was the owner of the famous Esposito’s, an old-fashioned, wood-fired pizzeria in downtown Phoenix. The original restaurant was out near the university, and ever since they opened up this downtown location, I’d been meaning to go but somehow never quite got around to it. Esposito’s didn’t take reservations, and since it was Friday night the line was considerable, but Jason led me around the back of the building to the kitchen. “Yo, Dominic!” he bellowed into the chaos of activity. A tall dude with Italian good looks was tossing dough in the air. He looked over and smiled broadly as he caught the shaped pie w
- 16. CHAPTER TEN My right arm was being crushed. From the elbow down it was wedged beneath the frame of a tiny toppled crane that looked like it had been built for Barbie dolls yet was substantial enough to keep a piece of my body pinned. There was no pain, but my attempts to yank the arm out from the maw of the Barbie crane were fruitless. Then a wave of thunderous applause erupted and I looked up to find my fellow Lester & Brown employees gathered around in a thick circle, all clapping like mad and wearing orange hard hats. I looked down and idly wondered if my coworkers were applauding because I found myself trapped by a tiny crane or because I was completely naked. With a gasp, I opened my eyes and saw my bedroom ceiling. Then I realized that the bedsheet had slipped down and my left nipple was exposed. That was odd. I didn’t usually sleep in the nude. But my right arm was indeed pinned by something, but the something in question did not resemble a Barbie crane. It looked like a naked J
- 17. CHAPTER ELEVEN Monday morning seemed like business as usual. Jason made no reference to the weekend, and two minutes after he walked into our mutual office, he asked if we could go over the monthly invoice we’d be sending over to the county. I resisted the urge to fidget in my chair when he came around and looked over my shoulder at the spreadsheet on my screen, but after surveying the numbers he just said, “Let’s add another five percent to the construction labor.” I chewed my lip. It was important to get the details right since we had to rationalize percentage of completion on the billing. “I stopped by the jobsite this morning,” I told Jason. “So did I,” he said. “Right after you. I got there just as you were driving away. Lukas was left behind in the dust, mooning over your tire tracks.” “That’s ridiculous,” I scoffed, although I’d been a little unsettled to find Lukas there this morning. He appeared to be waiting for me to show up and then asked me a simple question that could hav
- 18. CHAPTER TWELVE One proverbial fire after another required extinguishing on the courthouse project over the next two weeks—a problem with one of the material suppliers, a problem with the concrete crew, a problem when an unseasonable heavy rainstorm cost a few days of progress. Somehow in the midst of all the hectic day-to-day activity, Jason and I had settled into a comfortable routine. He hadn’t once mentioned our night of sexual abandon. I had little doubt that to observers we appeared nothing but professional. Helen still badgered me with claims about her “sexth sense,” but I always changed the subject and hoped she’d get the message. The Friday before Easter, William surprised me by calling and asking if he could take me to lunch. He also mentioned he’d love to see the courthouse site up close, which made sense since he was a county judge. I offered to meet him somewhere, but he said he was just down the street and would be right over. The second the call ended I began feverishly t
- 19. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Easter actually turned out to be a nice day. As expected, my mother texted me at six p.m. the night before and informed me that I could show up for an early holiday dinner at two o’clock. The boys practically tackled me when I showed up with two towering baskets full of candy and other goodies. My mother greeted me with a glass of wine in her hand. She started to offer me one but stopped before she finished her sentence, looking embarrassed. At least this time I didn’t have to remind her that alcoholism was a lifelong addiction. My father emerged from his study alongside my brother and I expected to be offered the usual polite, stiff hello due a distant third cousin. Instead Aaron Gordon smiled when he saw me and said, “William and I were just talking about your success at Lester & Brown. According to your brother, you’re doing great work on the courthouse building. Keep it up.” “Thanks,” I said, trying to overcome the mild shock I felt at receiving a semi-compliment f
- 20. CHAPTER FOURTEEN Three days later as I drove to work, my annoyance at Jason still swirled. Who did he think he was, charging into a conversation and tossing threats around? The fact that I’d already confessed to him that Lukas possessed a frightening streak of violence was irrelevant. Except it isn’t. I sighed as I turned off the ignition. In my heart, I knew Jason and I would never be regular coworkers. We couldn’t be friends either, not in the traditionally platonic sense. I didn’t know what the hell we were. Before I exited the car I checked my phone. Jason had sent me a text late last night to remind me he had a personal issue to take care of first thing this morning but he’d be on the jobsite by ten, and then he’d take the cluster of supplier meetings scheduled for this afternoon. I had stared at the text for a long time with my finger hovering over the screen, my pride warring with my inclination to reach out. We had traded some devastating truths about ourselves over dinner at E
- 21. CHAPTER FIFTEEN Half a dozen gowns in my closet would have sufficed, but I wanted to wear something new to the wedding. Jason had really thrown me for a loop. Not only had he proved to be my most avid defender in the workplace, but he’d surprised me with this invitation. It was sweet and somehow far more intimate than an ordinary night out. And if all that wasn’t enough to make me a little weak-kneed, he turned out to be the kind of guy who would escort a father he did not like to the doctor when he was needed. There were moments when I was beginning to wonder if I was actually starting to fall for Jason Roma. After scouring the mall on Saturday morning, I returned to my apartment with only a few hours left before Jason was supposed to arrive. Once I’d showered and applied my makeup with care, I curled my hair, which was now past my shoulders, longer than I’d kept it in years. The floor-length black gown with a low neckline and a daring slit up the right leg felt sinful sliding over my
- 22. CHAPTER SIXTEEN “I haven’t seen your house yet,” I reminded Jason the Friday after Melanie and Dominic’s wedding. We’d spent every night together this week, but always at my apartment. Of course, it made more sense because I lived only three miles from work while Jason’s house was a twenty-mile commute over freeways. But I was curious about what kind of habitat Jason Roma had made for himself. And since we’d chosen to have dinner at a steakhouse all the way over by Arizona State, I knew we couldn’t be too far away from where he lived. He looked up from his plate of steak and potatoes. “We can stay there tonight,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “It’s actually a good thing, since I’ve been neglecting the place all week. I only stopped in for fifteen minutes here and there to grab some clothes.” I chewed my own steak over our late dinner and wondered if I shouldn’t have said anything. Staying at my place would be easier tonight because I was planning to come into work early tomorro
- 23. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN My hands gripped the steering wheel as I kept an eye on the dashboard clock. “Relax,” Jason warned when I nearly blew through a four-way stop sign. “I guess I should have driven.” “My parents do not take kindly to tardiness at their dinner table.” “We’ll be far tardier if you crash the damn car, Audrey.” I threw him a look and he held up a hand in the name of peace. “I’m a little on edge,” I explained. “I noticed.” “I want this to go well.” He patted my leg. “Don’t worry. I know how to impress people when I want to.” I was about to explain that Aaron and Cindy Gordon were a little tougher to please than the average pair of sixty-year-old parents, but I held my tongue. If anyone understood complex parental relationships, it was Jason. Last weekend he’d introduced me to his father. The man was in his seventies now, but in his prime he must have been as good-looking as his son, because I could see the shadow of Jason in his smile. And he smiled a lot. He beamed at us all
- 24. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN The May sun glared already, but if construction work took a break for the heat, then nothing would ever get built in Phoenix. Jason handed me a water bottle from one of the coolers that were scattered around on-site. I took it gratefully as I listened to the foreman detail all the work completed this week. “We’re ahead of schedule,” I said, pleased as I consulted my notes. Barnes bobbed his sweaty head with a grin. “As of right now, yes.” “Great job,” Jason told him, clapping a hand on his shoulder. Barnes wasn’t one to brag, though. “I’m only as good as the guys we hire,” he said with a shrug. “It gives us all a little bit of breathing room,” Jason said. “That’s something to celebrate.” “Guys,” I broke in. “We can’t afford to take anything for granted, not with a project of this scope.” Barnes nodded. He’d spent twenty years on construction projects. He understood. “Agreed,” he said. “But you earned the weekend off,” Jason said. “So take it. I don’t want to hear that
- 25. CHAPTER NINETEEN The sun was beginning to drop over the horizon by the time Jason and I returned to our room at the resort. “Let’s eat downstairs at the restaurant tonight,” I suggested, kicking off my sneakers. He boxed me in against the wall and immediately ran his lips along my neck. “Personally I’d rather stay in again.” I giggled as his hands began roaming. “I’d like to eat my dinner wearing clothes tonight. Now let me shower.” “Let me join you.” “Then we’ll never get out of here. Stay,” I warned, slipping out of his grip. Jason looked displeased, but he remained where he was while I dragged my bag into the bathroom with me. After standing under the steamy shower spray for a few minutes, I began to regret keeping Jason away. But then my belly grumbled and I reasoned we’d have plenty of time after dinner to revisit the shower at a more leisurely pace. I toweled off and dried my hair quickly before slipping into a plain black cocktail dress that would suit nearly every occasion. The
- 26. CHAPTER TWENTY On the drive home Jason mentioned that he planned on going to see his father later in the afternoon and take him out to eat, maybe bring him back to the house for a little while. He extended an invitation to me, but I said I was tired. “I wore you out, huh?” he joked, placing a confident hand on my knee. “Indeed,” I said. He carried my suitcase to my apartment door like a gentleman, and I kissed him tenderly before burying my face in his warm chest. “Thank you for an amazing weekend,” I murmured, wishing I could stay just like this for a few hours with my cheek pressed to his chest. Jason’s arms circled me. “The county offices open at nine. The architects open for business at eight. Why don’t you get some rest and I’ll meet you there in the morning? They can produce a clean copy of the plans, and then we’ll drive straight over to the county office and drop them off. They’ll lift the freeze and work should resume by the afternoon. I remember something like this happened o
- 27. CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE “Are you and Jason fighting?” Helen asked over a lunch of wedge salads after she dragged me out of the office for a little while. “We’re not fighting at all,” I said truthfully, because Jason and I weren’t fighting. We’d scarcely spoken to each other in the four days that had elapsed since that emotional Monday morning confrontation, but I reasoned it couldn’t be considered fighting if we communicated through terse work-related text messages. I hated the way things were right now between us, but the week had been hellish. It seemed the second work resumed on the courthouse site, a series of mishaps ranging from vandalized raw materials to a vanished crew of laborers had taken up the bulk of our attention. Jason had spent most of his time on-site this week and that might have been justified by the recent spate of disasters. Or it might have been because he was avoiding the tense atmosphere of our shared office. On my end, I was bouncing between the jobsite and the off
- 28. CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Dawn was just breaking, and the imposing, arched front door had never looked forlorn to me before this moment. But now I could swear there was a melancholy air in the way it seemed to frown at me as I rang the doorbell. My mother answered the door with red, unfocused eyes. Her brassy hair was twisted in a careless ponytail and she seemed small in her leggings and bare feet. “Audrey,” she said with a rasp in her voice that came from too much crying. “Thanks for coming. You didn’t have to.” I stepped over the threshold, slightly hurt that she thought I might not be here, that part of her still assumed I was the unreliable girl who wouldn’t care enough to stand beside her family on a day like this. “Where’s William?” I asked, looking around the empty grand foyer. She sighed and closed the door. “Your father’s with him. The accident . . . well, it was gruesome. Her car was crushed, and they believe she died on impact. But someone needed to make a positive identification,
- 29. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE There was an earthquake. Or else a poltergeist was causing the bed to vibrate so hard my teeth rattled. “Auntie Audi.” I cracked an eye open. Neither an earthquake nor a supernatural entity was responsible for disturbing my sleep. It was my five-year-old nephew. Isaac, surprisingly strong for a kindergartener, stopped trying to shake me awake and smiled triumphantly. He’d lost his first two teeth a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t help but smile back at the gap-toothed, tousle-haired little demon who had decided to deprive his poor old aunt of some much-needed rest. I yawned and rolled over. “What’s wrong, buddy? You need something?” “I need to go to the beach and get some seashells.” A glance at my phone told me it was barely six thirty. “Right now?” “Grandma says the best time to go is early in the morning before the bee combs come out.” “The what?” He looked impatient. “The people who come to visit and take all the shells.” “You mean the beachcombers?” Isaac shrugg
- 30. CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR On our way to the airport on Friday William promised the boys he’d take them back to Oregon soon to see their mother’s family and stay at the beach house. “Can Grandma come?” asked Isaac. “Of course.” “And Auntie Audi?” Leo wanted to know. My brother glanced at me and smiled. “Auntie Audi is always welcome.” Leo turned to me. “Are you going to bring Jason?” William was confused. “You met Jason?” “No, he hasn’t met Jason,” I explained. “I happened to mention him a few times.” “Are you going to bring Jason?” my mother wanted to know. “I suppose that’s up to Jason,” I told her, starting to feel a little restless about getting home. Thanks to a hurricane on the East Coast, flights all over the country were delayed, and we wound up waiting for a connecting flight in the Denver airport for over four hours. When we were finally called to board a flight to Phoenix, I texted Jason to let him know I was on my way and would love to see him tonight. It was close to five o’clock
- 31. CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE I was sitting on Jason’s couch idly flipping channels with a bowl of popcorn in my hands and a frozen bag of sweet corn on my ankle when he returned from dropping off his father at the nursing home. Jason had asked Chris to stay overnight in the guest bedroom, but the man started growing agitated shortly after we arrived at Jason’s house following dinner and began demanding to go home. Jason told me that had been happening more and more lately. “How’s the ankle?” he asked, walking through the front door and promptly tossing his keys on the coffee table. “Pretty sure I wasn’t lying to my mother when I told her I’d live.” I plucked the ice pack off and examined my swollen ankle. Then I winced and replaced the cold compress on the sprain. “I’ll probably be limping around the jobsite all next week, though.” “We can go to your place if you’d be more comfortable.” “I’m extremely comfortable right here, thank you.” “You sure look comfortable,” he said as his eyes scanned m
- 32. EPILOGUE ONE YEAR LATER . . . “Oh my god, I’m starving,” I groaned, leaning against Jason and pretending to wilt into a faint. He circled an arm around my waist to prop me up. “I’ve got a solution for that,” he said confidently. I glanced up at him. “Are you talking dirty?” “No, I’m talking about pizza. Dominic said we should come down and celebrate when we’re done here.” I eyed the collection of sweaty, overdressed people who were still milling around in the shadows of the newly completed courthouse. “Are we done shaking hands with half of Phoenix?” “I hope so. That was exhausting—I don’t know who the fuck half of these people are.” “County officials, local businessmen, and a lot of local politicians pretending to be eager about meeting the team responsible for the new courthouse.” “In that case I’m glad I pretended to be eager to meet them back,” Jason said. “Yes, although we should probably make it a point to locate some hand sanitizer before eating lunch.” “Good idea,” Jason mused.
- 33. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A ton of gratitude to my family for their steadfast support of my long working hours, lackluster housekeeping skills, and insatiable appetite for Red Vines. Thank you to my lovely agent, Kimberly Brower, for her constant encouragement and honest feedback. To the dedicated Montlake team, who are tireless in their efforts to help me produce the best story possible, I am indebted to you. Most important, to all the wonderful readers who flatter me enormously by asking for more stories, every word was written for you.
- 34. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cora Brent was born in a cold climate but escaped as soon as it was legally possible. These days she lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two kids, and a prickly pear cactus she has affectionately named Spot. Cora’s closet is filled with boxes of unfinished stories that date back to her 1980s childhood, and someday she fully intends to finish her first masterpiece about a pink horse that plays baseball. But in the meantime, she’s consumed with her romance novels. The author of the Gentry Boys books and the Worked Up series, which includes Fired, Cora feels blessed to have appeared on the bestseller lists of both USA Today and the New York Times. Visit her at www.corabrent.com, or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CoraBrentAuthor.