Hearts beat and sparks fly when two people find shelter in each other
Seattle Sharks wide receiver Kyle Carlson needs to escape and Noel, Washington, is the perfect place for him to do it and figure out his next step. He likes the seclusion and predictability of the small town…until the biggest surprise of his life turns up in the local grocery store.
Sophie Hayes has her own reasons for disappearing without a trace and moving to Noel. This mountain town makes her feel safe for the first time in a long time. But her quiet routine is threatened when Kyle walks back into her life. Growing up in the same Florida town, she always had a little thing for the sexy football player. This tie to her old life, though, could mean she has to run again, even if her heart wants to stay.
When the reason she fled shows up in Noel, Kyle and Sophie, with a little extra help from his teammates, must decide to stay and fight for the life, and love, they’ve found together.
Kyle Carlson wore sunglasses, but they were no match for the brilliance of Noel, Washington’s late-spring sunshine. Noel was a mountain pass and a ninety-minute drive away from his life in Seattle. The small town was the perfect place to get lost for a while.
He shielded his eyes with one hand as the real estate agent and interior decorator he’d hired drifted into view. The real estate agent held out a shiny new set of house keys to him.
“It’s all yours, Kyle. Congratulations.”
“Thanks,” he said. “Everything’s ready to go?”
“Of course,” the decorator said. “You wanted simple but comfortable and earth tones. I hope you’ll love it. If you have questions or need anything else, please give me a call right away.” She dug into what Kyle knew was an expensive designer handbag and extended her brightly-patterned business card to him. “Thank you for the business and enjoy.”
“Take a look inside,” the real estate agent said. “I think you’ll love it.”
“I’ll do that,” Kyle said. “Thanks again.”
The real estate agent and interior designer shook hands with him and got into their car. He raised a hand in farewell as they followed the winding, narrow road back to downtown Noel, I-90 and civilization as quickly as possible.
Kyle longed for privacy like other people wanted drugs or alcohol. He hadn’t always been so anti-social. The past seven years of dealing with scores of family members, “friends” and others who thought he was their personal ATM machine since he was drafted into the NFL had finally taken its toll. He realized that his profession didn’t really lend itself to anonymity. Maybe he should have become a plumber or an auto mechanic instead of the starting wide receiver for the world champion Seattle Sharks. If he’d had a more unobtrusive life, he’d go to work from seven to four or so, go home, put his feet up, have a beer and quit worrying about the problems that came when one was lucky enough to earn a staggering income for catching a football six months a year.
Kyle walked up the front path and climbed two stairs to the A-line’s wraparound front porch. The front door of his new cabin was hardwood inlaid with baguettes of beveled, leaded glass. Two stories featured floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over a view of blue skies, puffy white clouds, and endless evergreens. Instead of the rustic, unfinished structure most people would imagine when hearing the word “cabin”, his new place was as luxurious as the stylish Seattle hotel he’d just checked out of. It was also the perfect place to hide out for a couple of months.
He stepped over the threshold of the cabin he’d spent a shocking amount of money on and took a deep breath. Sun-warmed, lemon-scented air surrounded him. The front door shut behind him as he glanced around.
The floors were hardwood. The furnishings were earth tones, man-sized, with a few brightly colored accents to draw the eye. A gas fireplace with a stone surround dominated most of one wall in the living room. A long staircase led to a loft that overlooked the first story and three bedrooms. He’d thought long and hard about the extra two bedrooms before buying the place. If he had nowhere for anyone else to sleep, they’d be a lot less likely to visit, which worked for him.
He let out a contented sigh as he realized the only sound was his breathing. He’d bought the house in the name of a trust his family and friends knew nothing about. He’d moved out of his huge house in Newcastle two days ago and used the proceeds from its sale to fund the house he was currently standing in and a one-bedroom condo in a Bellevue high rise, also in the name of the trust. It was his choice who found out where he was and what he was doing from now on.
He’d have almost two months of solitude before training camp started. He couldn’t wait.
Reprinted Courtesy of HarperCollinsPublishers
Julie Brannagh Interview
1. You write an amazing series about football! Are you a fan yourself? Do you follow a certain team?
Thank you so much! Yes, I am a football fan (and have been for quite some time now). I spend my weekends from August until February watching my beloved Seattle Seahawks! When I’m not watching them, I’m watching the University of Washington Huskies… Go Dawgs!
2. You write about such strong characters. The women in your books are not weak! Was there a moment in your life that you feel made you stronger?
It’s important to me that the heroines in my books are women I’d like to be friends with in real life. My real-life friends are ambitious, intelligent, funny, goal-oriented women who go after the things they want most in life and persist until they attain their goals. They love the men in their lives, but they are not solely defined by being a wife or girlfriend. They’re with men who are proud of their achievements as well.
I always want to write book boyfriends that are secure enough in themselves to be with a successful woman.
Becoming a published author made me feel stronger as a person because I persisted until I reached my goal. It took seven years, an (estimated) million words written, fifty rejections and believing in myself and my writing. And I wish I could sit with every other woman who’s ever looked at an impossible goal and said to herself, “What if I can’t?” I would tell her: “What if you CAN?”
3. I have read that you are an animal lover! What animal would you be if you could choose?
I do love most animals. (I’m not so into snakes.) My favorites, though, live in our house: Our two Maine Coon boys, Mojo, and Oscar, and our 92-pound chocolate Lab (and unrepentant lapdog) Moose. They’re the light of our lives. They also might be a little spoiled.
If I could come back as an animal, I think I’d like to be one of our cats. They run the house. We provide food, treats, toys and an expensive king-sized bed for them to sleep on.
4. You, like your readers, have said you are always reading. What are you reading lately? Do you have a favorite book of all time?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading, or talking about reading, or doing some book shopping on Amazon.com… My Kindle and my wedding ring are my two favorite possessions. ;-) I’m currently reading Kristen Ashley’s book FIRE INSIDE. I don’t know what I think about motorcycle clubs, but I read her book OWN THE WIND recently and I was hooked. Kristen’s books are more addictive than Fran’s salted chocolate covered caramels! When I’m not looking for more Kristen Ashley goodness, I have Lisa Kleypas’ new historical and Lorraine Heath’s new historical (I sense a pattern) waiting for me.
My favorite fiction book is LITTLE WOMEN. I’ve loved it since I was a child. And I still cry over Beth no matter how many times I’ve read it. (No spoilers.) My favorite non-fiction book would probably be a tossup between INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer, or THE ALADDIN FACTOR by Jack Canfield. INTO THIN AIR is a gripping account of climbing Mount Everest. THE ALADDIN FACTOR changed my life. The shorter message: We don’t have because we don’t ask.
5. I read somewhere that you have been a business owner and were even on the city council. What was that like?
We live in a really small town. Shortly after we moved here, we learned about a local ordinance that stated when the population reached 5,000 people, two citizens would be appointed to the local city council. After a lot of thoughts (I have never aspired to be a politician), I filled out the paperwork and sent it in. I was one of the two people appointed to a seat. I served for fourteen months until the next election. I learned lot about how small cities are financed and run, met my “constituency” every time I left the house, and attended a lot of meetings. I’m glad for the experience, but I don’t want to run for or hold political office again. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to set new goals and go after them.
I opened a yarn shop in our town shortly after I left the city council. I’m not an expert, but I really enjoy knitting, and there wasn’t anywhere I could get yarn and stuff close by. I had tremendous customers, and I loved my 300-square-foot shop, but it became clear the economy was tanking, and my little store probably wouldn’t survive. I started writing toward publication shortly before I closed my shop. Writing is where my heart is. Speaking of “where the heart is,” there’s another yarn shop in our town now. It’s wonderful. You can take a look at it if you’d like! http://www.quintessentialknits.com/
6. Is there one thing about yourself you have never shared and are willing to talk about with your readers?
This is a deep, dark secret, mostly known to our closest friends and family… If you and your family are watching the “Peanuts” holiday special later in November, be sure and turn it up during “Linus and Lucy”. It was the recessional at our wedding!