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Tempest Braden adores her family and her small hometown, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be confining. At almost thirty, having watched most of her siblings find true love, she’s anxious to experience her own happily ever after, and the move to Pleasant Hill, Maryland, is just the change she needs. When she rents a room from ruggedly handsome, and closed-off, artist Nash Morgan and his adorable son, Phillip, she thinks she’s found a little slice of heaven on the outskirts of town, where she can concentrate on building her business. That is, if she can ignore the undeniable heat between her and the sinfully hot single father.
When Nash bought his farmette, he had one goal in mind—to provide a loving, stable home for his son. He never imagined he’d be raising Phillip alone, or renting out a room to keep their heads above water. Then again, he never imagined losing his brother, or spending two years sailing around the world with parents who seemed to forget one son was still alive.
Sparks fly from the moment Tempest moves in, and her positive energy and inquisitive nature brings new life into Nash and Phillip’s quiet, confined world. For the first time in years, Nash wants to let a woman into his world, but while his loss made him stronger, that strength came at a price, leaving him walled off and wary of opening his heart again.
Nash Morgan shifted his three-year-old son, Phillip, onto his hip and reached behind him to shut the gate. The chickens scurried away amid cackles and mad wing flaps. He set Phillip on the ground, and his son shook his head, shrugging like he’d been doing this for twenty years and couldn’t believe the chickens still ran from them. He ruffled his boy’s springy dark curls, drawing a serious, expectant look and an outstretched hand from Phillip. Nash loved his little man’s eagerness to get started on their evening chores. He handed him a smaller bucket from inside his larger one and nodded toward the coop.
Phillip returned the nod and clomped his booted feet into the coop to collect the eggs. Nash adjusted his baseball cap, listening as Phillip counted off each egg with an “Mm-hm.”
He drew in a deep breath, hoping, for the millionth time, that he was doing enough for his son. He was the only parent Phillip had. Or rather, the only one who wanted him, a fact that never failed to grate on him like nails dragging along a chalkboard. His cell phone rang and Larry Robert’s number flashed on the screen. Nash uttered a curse. Larry owned a gallery in North Carolina, and he’d given Nash his first big break. A break that could have carried him to a lifetime of success. But after Phillip was born he’d been unable to keep up with the demands of custom orders. Larry was opening another gallery in Virginia, and he wanted to feature Nash’s work. Nash had turned him down, but Larry was persistent.
Swallowing the acidic taste of disappointment, he let the call go to voicemail and looked across the yard at the barn, which served as his workshop for the furniture he made and sold in town. He’d long ago locked up his metalworking and wood-sculpting workshop and stored his unfinished work. Gallery-worthy pieces, if he ever had the time to finish them. Pipe dreams. He’d had them, even made them a reality for a while. But that was a long time ago, and there was no sense thinking about something that could never be—at least not until Phillip was much older.
He ducked into the coop and checked the chickens’ food and water. Scanning the nesting beds, he snatched up the few eggs Phillip had missed. Phillip leaned against Nash’s leg and yawned. Nash couldn’t imagine anyone not loving their child with all their heart, but Phillip’s mother, Alaina, had taken off three months after their son was born, and other than receiving official documents releasing her from her parental rights, he hadn’t heard from her since. Not a day passed that he didn’t worry about the long-term effects her leaving would have on his son.
“Good job, Phillip.” He said his son’s name so fast it came out sounding like “Flip.” He set down his bucket, wrapped his arms around his boy, and whispered in his ear, “I love you, little dude.” He kissed his cheek and scooped him up, earning the sweetest giggle known to man.
Nash grabbed the buckets and headed for the goat pen. Big and Little, the two goats, trailed behind them as Phillip followed Nash through the process of checking their food and water and sweeping out the goat house, as he did every night. Phillip wiggled the nozzle of the water pipe, just as Nash had, mimicking his “Hm.” Nash tossed a cup of oats in the food bin and waited while Phillip did the same. Big nibbled on Phillip’s shirt, and Phillip leaned down and kissed his head.
“C’mon, buddy.” Nash had grown up in rural Virginia. Most of his friends had lived on farms, and he had no doubt that caring for animals would help Phillip learn responsibility. Not to mention that his son adored all types of animals, from squirrels to goats to worms. That was just fine with Nash. In his experience, animals were a lot more trustworthy than people.
The sound of tires on gravel drew his attention. He scooped Phillip into his arms, locked the goat pen, and grabbed the buckets.
“Visitor,” he said, carrying Phillip toward the house and eyeing the Prius parking behind his old Ford pickup truck. His truck was a gas guzzler, but as much as he hated that, he needed the bed of the truck to haul the furniture he made into town. He hoped Tempest Braden, the woman coming to see the room he was renting out, wasn’t a preachy tree hugger. Hell, he hoped she would turn out to be the silent type so he could pretend she didn’t live in their house.
Phillip’s brows knitted, his hands firmly planted around Nash’s neck. He wasn’t used to visitors. The last several people who had come to see the room they had for rent hadn’t been the kind of people Nash wanted around his son. They’d rubbed him the wrong way—too aggressive, too loud, too shady, too flighty. He just needed a stable, responsible person to rent the room so he could afford to upgrade a few of his tools and start saving for Phillip’s future. He tightened his grip on his son and headed up to meet the tall blonde stepping from the car.
Her wispy skirt fluttered around her knees. Large pink roses with muted green leaves looked as if they’d been thrown onto the flimsy white material haphazardly. A fringe of lace lined the edges. On anyone else the flouncy, floral skirt might look immature. But her legs went on forever, and coupled with her tight, curve-hugging tank top, she looked like Sweet and Sexy collided at the corner of Sinful Temptation.
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.
Links to Melissa’s website, blog, books, etc.
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