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WORTH THE RISK
The McKinney Brothers #2
BY CLAUDIA CONNOR
When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.
Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.
Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.
Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.
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WORTH THE RISK
The McKinney Brothers #2
BY CLAUDIA CONNOR
“I hope the rest of your day was better.”
It took her a second to think. Oh, right. He’d seen her crying and she knew from her brothers that nothing made a man more uncomfortable than a girl crying. “Yes. It was. Sorry about that.”
“No problem. I have a sister and . . .” His eyes locked with hers. “I’m not scared away that easily.”
Her lungs seemed to freeze up at his look, his tone, and she glanced over the white-cloth-covered table, searching for something to say. “How was your day?”
“It was good.” Surprise touched his eyes and his lips curved past half smile straight into deadly zone. “So you ride horses?”
Her heart dropped with a burst of panic. He shouldn’t know where she lived. “What?”
“You had on riding pants earlier. Boots.”
“Oh. Yeah.” She took a calming breath, willed her pulse to slow before she started to sweat. “I’m a physical therapist, but with horses. It’s called hippotherapy.”
“Interesting. So you make people feel better.”
“I hope so. That’s the goal, anyway.”
“I’m sure you do.” The look in his eyes and the tone of his voice left no room for uncertainty. Like if he said it, it must be true.
The waiter interrupted with their appetizers and gave her something to focus on other than the ultra-intense man beside her. Though sitting this close to him, even eating took concentration. She took a small sip of water and tried to relax. “What about you?”
He cut into his filet. “Real estate and property development. Hotels mostly. Resorts.”
“So you make people feel better too, I guess. If it’s a nice hotel.”
“I never thought about it like that, but yes.”
She reached for her water again and bumped the glass, nearly tipping it. Stephen righted it with sharp reflexes and a steady hand, his warm fingers brushing against hers. As much as he was calm and cool, she was taut and twitchy.
“My mom called me the king of spills,” he said and casually sipped his iced tea.
“That’s hard to believe.” More like impossible, but he was trying to make her feel better.
“It’s true. Though I usually blamed it on whichever brother was sitting beside me. Or better yet, my sister.” Amusement warmed his eyes and in turn warmed her.
“How many brothers?” she asked as the waiter set down their entrees and left.
“Five brothers. One sister.”
“Oh, Lord. Poor girl.”
He laughed, a deep male rumbling sound that made her smile. “Trust me, there is nothing poor about Lizzy. She’s been busting our balls since she was in the cradle.”
“Are you the oldest?”
“No. Tony’s the oldest. Then Matt, Andrew, me, Patrick, Lizzy, and J.T. She’s almost the youngest, but still in charge. What about you?”
“Four brothers, all older.”
“I bet you ran the poor guys ragged.”
She’d caused them a lot of trouble for sure. Had there ever been the good kind of trouble? The fun kind? “Yeah, I guess, but . . . it was a different situation. They’re all a lot older, and . . . our parents died when I was two.”
Stephen paused and returned his fork to the edge of his plate. He covered her hand with his, made a light caress with his thumb. “I’m sorry.”
The soft expression in his eyes combined with his touch had her heart melting, her guard slipping. “It turned out okay. I was raised by wolves, but . . .” She shrugged and he uncovered her hand.
“You don’t look like you were raised by wolves.”
He picked up his fork as he spoke and, dear God, that lopsided, dimpled grin could kill a woman. She forced her attention to her plate lest she become the next casualty.
“My sister might say the same thing. About the wolves,” he added.
And just like that he had her smiling again, the tension easing, and they fell into easy conversation about families. He shared childhood antics of the McKinney boys, and her nervous stomach eased as she ate and listened, so completely sucked in by his smooth voice and the movement of his lips when he talked.
They lingered over coffee and dessert, two hours passing more easily than she ever thought they could. Twenty-six years old and she’d lived through her first date. Well, the dinner portion anyway.
Claudia Connor is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of heartfelt contemporary romance. Claudia attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and travel, but spends most of her time typing out the love stories of the almost real people that live in her head. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.
Links to Claudia’s website, blog, books, etc.
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