Special offer inside this Box Set to celebrate the 30th release in the Cattle Valley series
‘Out of the Shadow’
When Shepard Black left the rodeo circuit, he thought his days of lusting after young cowboys were over. Now owner of the Backbreaker Ranch, Shep raises mean spirited bulls like the ones that used to toss him around the arena. It's a challenge, but he never imagined his best friend's son, Jeremy, would prove to be his toughest one yet. Watching Jeremy's long legs wrap around a bucking bull gives Shep too many ideas for comfort. Even worse, Jeremy seems to know exactly the affect he's having on his boss and teacher.
When Jeremy asks Shep to help him train for the upcoming Cattle Valley Rodeo Days, he has two goals in mind. To spend time with the man he's lusted after since he was a teenager and to beat his father. He's been through hell as the son of the reigning National Champion, and he wants his dad to have a taste of his own medicine. He might just get a taste of what he's longed for all this time, too.
‘Bad Boy Cowboy’
When Logan Miller pulls up to the EZ Does-It ranch atop a gleaming black Harley, bearing tattoos and killer green eyes, Jax Brolin knows he's in trouble. How can this be the same skinny kid who used to play with his baby brother? Still recovering from a secret affair gone bad, Jax knows his heart can't take another beating. Distancing himself is his only weapon, and he uses it well.
Until Logan reunited with his best friend's big brother, he'd thought the best thing to have between his legs was a motorcycle, followed closely by a horse. Now, at the age of twenty-six, Logan wants the man he's fantasised about since puberty.
The town may classify Logan as a bad boy, but all he wants is to be is a good man for Jax and he'll do anything to get the man's attention.
‘The Sound of White’
Finally healed after a beating that almost took his life, the last thing Richard Johnson needs is to be attracted to Chad Neal. He's got a bar to open and a heart to mend.
Despite his smaller stature, Tall Pines Lodge Manager, Chad Neal, needs to be in charge, both in the bedroom and out. So why is he attracted to a six-foot-three man who looks like he could rip the limbs from Chad's body?
Electrician, Collin Zeffer, longs for the kind of relationship he sees his friends have, but who would want someone as boring as him? When he meets the reclusive Abe Cross, Collin decides maybe there is someone made especially for him.
Hiding his face from the world, Abe Cross is content to live out his life alone. His cabin in the woods above Cattle Valley seems like the place to do it. The last thing he needs is a sexy as sin electrician showing up to remind him of what he can never have, but when an unexpected blizzard blankets Cattle Valley and the mountains above it, his life, and the lives of the three other men, will change forever.
‘Gone Surfin' ’
Since the age of six, Kai Hachiya's entire life has been centred on surfing. Now, at the age of twenty-six, he's begun to drop in the rankings. Memories of a small-town mayor have him completely off pace, and only one thing can fix it, finding that man.
Winters in Cattle Valley are torture for Mayor Quade Maddison. Standing around singing Christmas Carols with friends only serves to remind him how completely alone he really is. The only thing that gets him through the cold, lonely months is his annual vacation to Hawaii.
When a gorgeous professional surfer washes up at the grand opening of the Tall Pines Lodge, Quade knows his Christmas prayer has been answered.
‘The Last Bouquet’
Tyler Manning hates seeing Hearn Sutherland mourn over a jerk like Mitch Lanham. Every week Hearn comes into Tyler's shop to pick up fresh flowers for his lover's grave, and every minute spent with the good-looking man makes Tyler love him more.
Since Mitch's death, Hearn has become withdrawn and sullen. For months before Mitch's accident, Hearn tried to fight the attraction he felt for his best friend, Tyler. Now nine months later, he learns the truth about his long-term partner, one that will change Hearn's life forever.
When Tyler convinces Hearn to run for mayor against Cattle Valley's own favourite son, Nate Gills, Hearn knows he's in for a bumpy ride.
Nate has his own bumps in the road to overcome. With the threat of a long-time secret being exposed, Nate must finally come to terms with his past. Opening himself to criticism from his partners, Ryan and Rio, isn't going to be easy, but Nate knows the time has come to confess his past sins.
General Release Date: 6th December 2013
Excerpt from Out of the Shadow
“Hey, boss. You want to sign off on this list of stock for the Rodeo Days?”
Shep looked over the top of his tiny reading glasses. He’d been trying to figure out where he’d screwed up the books, and damned if he could find it. “You’ve got a list together already?”
Rance grinned and tilted the white straw hat up higher on his forehead. “It’s the beginning of June. We barely have a month before the rodeo.” Shep looked down at his desk calendar. “Damn. Where the hell has the time gone?” He took the list from Rance and glanced over it. “Looks good. You sure about Tabasco Red?”
“He’ll be ready. Jeremy’s been working with him.”
“Jeremy?” Shep stood and put his hands on his hips. “You trying to get me sued? That boy’ll fall off and break his damn neck.” An image of the lean dark haired boy lying on the ground twisted and broken, caused an ache in his gut.
Rance chuckled and shook his head. “You haven’t been paying enough attention lately. Jeremy is the best bull rider we’ve got.”
Shep narrowed his eyes and gave a mock growl.
“Well, except for you that is.” Rance quickly amended with a cheeky grin. “He’s not a boy anymore either. Why he’s working here instead of out on the circuit I’ll never understand. You’d think with his connections he could write his own ticket on the pro tour.”
Shep sat back down and handed the list to Rance. “He has his reasons I’m sure. The list looks fine.”
Rance nodded and started to walk out of Shep’s home office. “Rance,” he called after the cowboy.
Rance turned. “Good job,” Shep said with a nod of approval.
“Thanks,” Rance said and continued out the door.
After his foreman left, Shep tried to go back to his books, but thoughts of Jeremy kept filtering through his mind. He’d always thought Jeremy chose to live at the Back Breaker because of his sexual orientation. Life must be hard enough being the son of the reigning world champion. To be the gay son of the same man would be intolerable out on the Professional Bull Riders circuit. Shep knew what it was like. He’d lived the life for years, always afraid he’d misstep and out himself.
He took off his glasses and tossed them to the old scarred desk. He was forced into retirement once Devil’s Due had tossed and then trampled him. Building the ranch seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. Shep chuckled to himself. I thought my lonely days were over.
Shaking his head, he reached for his glasses once more. He’d loved to look at the young slim cowboys on the tour. It was his hope that being the boss of his own ranch would make him feel like a kid in a candy store. And he had been that kid, for a couple of years at least. He’d discreetly indulged himself in the bow legged men as they filtered in and out of his employment. Until...
“Boss!” Rance shouted, running back into his office. “I think you should come out here.”
Shep stood and was already on his way out the door before he’d even given Rance a chance to tell him what was wrong. In this business, seconds mattered. A slow response time could mean the difference between life and death. “What’s up?” he asked, opening the front door.
“When I left your office, I noticed Jeremy’s truck parked out back. I went to the bunkhouse to see how his trip up to see his dad went and found him in bed.” Rance reached out and grabbed Shep’s arm, pulling him to a stop.
“He’s been beat up, Boss.” Rance motioned to his face. “He’s holding a bloodied rag over his cheek. I think we might need to get him to town.”
“Shit,” Shep spat out and raced towards the bunkhouse. His chest tightened as he threw open the door to the room Jeremy shared with the new hired hand, Bo.
Luckily, Bo was out in the hayfield. It would’ve been hard for the kind-hearted man not to try and help had he been present.
He stepped into the room and went immediately to one knee beside Jeremy’s bunk. Rance was a little off in his assessment of Jeremy. He hadn’t been beaten, merely hit once it appeared. The left side of Jeremy’s sweet face was bruised and swollen from what he could see under the bloody rag. “Let me see it,” Shep commanded as he reached for the cloth.
“I’m fine,” Jeremy mumbled. “Just opened my mouth when I shouldn’t have.”
“I’ll be the judge as to whether or not you’re fine,” Shep said. He covered Jeremy’s long fingered hand with his own and forcibly lifted the rag from his face. The cut was still open and about an inch and a half long, but because it was on his cheekbone, Shep knew it needed stitches.
Excerpt from Bad Boy Cowboy
Rounding the corner of the barn, Jax stopped in his tracks. Shit. Ten feet away, Logan was bare-chested and showing a good deal of… “Why do you wear those jeans? Every time you bend over, half your ass is on display.”
Logan slowly rose to his full six foot two height and grinned. “Haven’t received any complaints. Until now.”
Flustered, Jax took a step forward. “Who’s gonna complain when you’re givin’ out cheap thrills? It’s not professional. We’ve got buyers and delivery men in and out of here daily.”
One of Logan’s brows rose. “Professional?” He looked around. “This is a damn cattle ranch. I don’t see any professionals here. We’re a bunch of cowboys.”
“I’ve never seen a cowboy wear low-rise jeans that show half their damn groin, have you? Why don’t you concentrate on doing your job instead of trying to go around looking like a piece of man candy.”
Logan took several steps, coming within an inch of pressing himself against Jax. “This is me. It’s who I am, and how I dress. I work damn hard, but if you want to fire me for showing off what God gave me, do it.” Logan ran a hand over the sexy as fuck tattoos on his chest. “Maybe you just don’t want others looking at what you want in your bed.”
Furious, Jax pushed against Logan’s sweaty chest. “Watch yourself. I may’ve hired you as a favour to my little brother, but I’ll fire you in a heartbeat if you overstep your position.”
Flashing that amazing bad boy smile, Logan took a step back and held up his hands. “You’re the boss, Boss.” He walked back to the horse he had been working on and picked up the hoof pick once again.
Jax couldn’t keep his eyes off Logan’s ass as he bent over. Fucking tease. Turning on his heels, he walked back around the corner of the barn and straight to his office. He fell into his chair and looked around the room. He really needed to clean the place. A layer of dust covered everything and he noticed cobwebs hanging in the corners. Not surprising really, since the office was in the front corner of the barn, but he knew he’d been lax in keeping it clean. His mind had been on too many other things to worry about dust and spiders.
Jax dug out the work schedule. At least if someone walked in they’d think he was doing his job. His mind wandered back to the first day Logan Miller had driven up on his black and grey Harley.
“We’ll need to start on the hay next week. Make sure the bailer’s in good condition,” Jax told Neil. “Will do.”
The sound of a motorcycle coming down the ranch road at high speed drew their attention. “What the…?” Jax opened his office door as a Harley pulled up next to the barn. He recognised the face right away, but that body? That sure as hell didn’t belong to the eighteen-year old he’d known back in Montana.
Jax felt his cock harden just looking at Logan.
Getting off his bike, Logan grinned and walked right up to Jax. “Good to see a familiar face,” he said.
Logan caught Jax off guard when he pulled him into a hug. Jax’s arms automatically went around his new hire, surprised by the muscles playing under his hands. He almost swallowed his tongue when Logan’s cock brushed against Jax’s stomach. Was he hard, too?
Jax stepped back and looked up. He’d always thought himself of average height at five-ten, but Logan made him feel like a child. “When the hell did you grow?”
Most people stopped before they turned eighteen, but evidently Logan was a late bloomer. He had to have grown at least three inches since the last time he’d seen him.
Logan flashed that bad boy smile again, as he opened his black leather jacket. With nothing but a thin white muscle shirt under it, the man’s incredible body was on display. “Like it? I’ve matured a bit since you were last home.”
“No shit,” Jax said, before he could stop himself. His eyes wandered down to the sexiest pair of jeans he’d ever seen. Shit. Five minutes and I’m already getting myself into trouble. Jax turned to Neil, who stood staring open mouthed at Logan. “Neil, show Logan his room in the bunkhouse. You’re in luck. We’ve only got four hands including you, so you’ll get your own room.”
Logan nodded and unstrapped the large duffle from the back of his bike. “I shipped some of my tools. They should be here within a couple of days.”
Jax nodded. “In the meantime, we’ve probably got what you need. Come to the office once you get settled in.” Jax pointed to the door at the corner of the barn.
Logan tipped his worn, straw hat. “Will do.”
After Neil and Logan walked off, Jax retreated to his office. He pressed the heel of his hand against the hard ridge in his jeans. He’d let his cock lead him into a disastrous affair in the past, one that had lasted two years too long. Jax had known the asshole was no good, but damn the man fucked like a dream. He was still trying to heal from the shame the affair had brought him. No way would he let his dick dictate his love life. Logan’s an employee and Jakey’s best friend, he reminded himself. He knew he’d have to make that his mantra if he was going to survive living and working on the same ranch with the man.
Excerpt from The Sound of White
“Goddammit!” Richard yelled, running his fingers through his hair. He knew he’d left his tool-belt on the bar before going to his room. Eight hours later, the belt was nowhere to be found.
“Something wrong?” Collin Zeffer asked.
“Yeah. Lots. Have you seen my tool-belt?”
Collin’s eyes scanned the room. “Nope. Haven’t run across it. You losing stuff again?” Collin asked with a chuckle.
“There ain’t no losin’ about it. I put that damn thing right here before going to bed,” Richard roared, slamming his fist on the bar. Collin held up his hands. “Sorry.” The tall slender man turned back to the electrical outlets he had been working on.
Feeling like shit, Richard walked over to stand behind the kneeling man. “I didn’t mean to yell at you. It’s just this seems to be happening a lot lately.”
Collin nodded and looked over his shoulder. “That’s okay. We’re all under the gun to get this place up and running by New Year’s Eve. It’s natural to become forgetful with the stress you’ve been under.”
Richard didn’t correct Collin. Sure he’d been under a lot of stress, but he sure as hell wasn’t going crazy. The phone attached to the holster on his hip began to play “Friends in Low Places.”
Looking at the display, Richard rolled his eyes. “What do you want?”
“Good morning to you, too,” Chad Neal, the lodge manager greeted.
Richard simply gave the little prick a grunt and waited.
“Is there something you’d like to tell me?” Chad finally asked.
Go to hell came to mind. “I don’t have time for this, Chad. What do you want?”
“One of my employees found something of yours in room three-thirteen. Again.”
Richard’s jaw dropped. That was the second time in less than a week something of his wound up in that particular room. “Look,” he said into the phone, “I don’t know who’s fuckin’ with me, but I’ll tell you the same thing I told you the other day. I haven’t been in any of the rooms except for my own suite.”
“I’m not going to argue with you, Dick. I’ve got better things to do with my time. I’m simply calling to say that your property is at the front desk should you actually do something that requires it. The only thing I ask is that you close the windows next time. I’m not about to authorise an insane heating bill because you’re trying to heat the entire outdoors in this god-forsaken wilderness.”
“First of all, Mr. Miami, my name’s Richard, not Dick. I believe we’ve had that discussion before. Secondly, if you don’t like Wyoming, get the hell out.”
Richard grinned as Collin stood and looked at him wide-eyed in surprise. No one talked to the lodge manager that way. Although small at barely five-foot eight, Chad Neal was a force to be reckoned with. He’d already earned the reputation of firing people on the spot for anything from insubordination to being late. Thankfully, Ezra and Wyn owned the Grizzly Bar and not Guy Hoistington. Richard didn’t know if he’d be able to handle someone like Chad being his boss. Hah. I bet it kills the man to know he has no power over me.
“I call ‘em as I see ‘em,” Chad replied. “I’ll be up on the third floor in fifteen minutes. You can pick up your equipment then.”
Richard chuckled. “Avoiding me?”
“Fifteen minutes,” Chad replied, and hung up.
After clipping the phone back into its holster, Richard shook his head. “They found my belt in three-thirteen,” he told Collin.
“Seriously?” Collin asked, his face losing some of its colour.
“Yeah. Are you okay?”
Collin shook his head. “There’s something about that room that creeps me out.”
“Why? It’s just a room like the forty-nine others.”
Collin ran his hand over the back of his neck. “No, it’s not like the others. I’ve redone the wiring in that room four times.”
“What’s happening to it?” Richard asked, curious.
“I don’t know. Things seem fine for a day or two then everything just stops working. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that room had rats in the wall...or ghosts,” Collin added.
Richard laughed. “You’ve been watching too many horror movies.” Looking down at his watch, he motioned to the door. “I’m gonna go pick up my stuff. I want to get all the lights installed before Guy, Ezra and Wyn show up on Thursday.” On his way out, Richard looked around the large open space and smiled. The Grizzly Bar had come a long way since its inception, and he felt proud of the work he’d accomplished. In keeping with the lodge theme, the bar was rustic with the outer log walls left exposed. The copper, lantern-style lights would look absolutely perfect hanging from the overhead beams.
Wyn and Ezra had gone to a great deal of expense to add extra heating to the area in front of the soaring two-story windows. Richard smiled when he remembered that particular discussion. Well, argument was more like it. Wyn insisted they have the extra heat if Ezra was going to go ahead with his plans for the wall of glass. Ezra tried to disagree, saying the large pit fireplace in the centre of the bar was enough extra warmth. Wyn would have none of it. Insisting that if people came inside from skiing, they’d need to get warm. If they couldn’t do it in the bar, they’d find some place else. Of course, like most of their ‘discussions’, Wyn won, and Ezra had put in three times as many heating ducts in the area in front of the windows.
Walking through to the large lobby, Richard headed for the front desk. His beloved belt lay haphazardly on the gleaming wooden surface with a note attached in Chad’s scrolling cursive.
Excerpt from Gone Surfin'
“Just deal with it!” Quade yelled, burying his face in his hands. He heard a shuffling noise before Hurricane Carol hit the room.
“What the heck are you getting paid for again? Because I seem to recall your paycheque being a hell of a lot more than mine.”
“Drop it, Carol. Just type up an email cancelling the damn Christmas Party and send it out.”
“Well, Merry Christmas to you too, Mr. Scrooge.”
Quade glanced up from his hands to stare at the pain in his ass. At five-feet two-inches, Carol was worse than any haemorrhoid on the planet. “I’m busy trying to get the roads cleared in time for Christmas.”
Carol got that look on her face that Quade hated. “Where’s your shovel? I don’t see any shovel. If you don’t have a shovel, then you aren’t doing shit about snow removal. Which means, Mr. Scrooge, that you have time to send out a damn email!”
Quade threw up his hands and shook his head. “Seriously. I know you enjoy this witty banter of yours, but I’m really not in the mood to step into the ring with you. At least not right now. I’ll pencil this discussion in for next Tuesday. How does that sound?”
Carol crossed her arms and slumped into the chair in front of Quade’s desk. “Kai still hasn’t returned your call, has he?”
Despite being his nemesis, Carol was also his best friend. “Yes. As a matter of fact, Kai called a few hours ago. He just finished competing for the season and wanted me to join him in Oahu for the holidays. But I can’t, because Mother Nature decided to fuck with me.”
“Bummer,” Carol echoed Quade’s thoughts.
“Yeah. So forgive me if I’m not in the best of moods.”
With a resigned sigh, Carol stood. “So tell me what I should say in this very important email.”
Quade rolled his eyes and sat back in his chair. “I don’t know. Due to the fact that it’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass brazier, that the roads are piled with more snow than we’ve seen in a half-century, the annual Christmas in the Park and Party will be cancelled.”
Carol pursed her lips in disapproval. “I think I can come up with something a little more tactful than that.”
“See? You didn’t need my help after all.”
Without another word, Carol turned and strode from his office, slamming the door on her way out. “Good riddance,” Quade fumed.
No sooner had he wiped the episode with his secretary from his mind, than the phone rang. “Crap. What now?” Quade reached across his desk and picked up the handset. “Quade,” he answered.
“Hey,” Sheriff Blackfeather replied. “I was wondering if you’d take a short ride with me.”
“Is this a date?” Quade quipped. “Because I’m not sure if I’m up to defending my life against those two hoodlums you call partners.”
“Not in the mood,” Ryan Blackfeather admonished.
“Fine. So tell me why we’re going for a ride?”
“I need your superb math skills to help me figure out the salt situation at the City Barn.”
“Sure, flattery works every time. Give me time to jump into my Michelin Man suit, and I’ll meet you out front.” Quade hung up and dug his snowsuit out of the small closet in his office. After taking off his house slippers, he climbed into the puffy white suit.
“I’m heading to the City Barn with Ryan,” he told Carol as he exited his office. He went to grab his boots and stopped. “Um, did a burglar break in, or have you done something with my boots?”
Carol glanced at him over the top of her reading glasses. “What? You can’t wear your slippers?”
“Hey. Don’t knock the slippers. Now, where are my boots?”
Carol pointed across the room to the heating vent. “Thought maybe dry footwear would put you in a better mood.”
Quade gave his friend a grunt. “Sorry to disappoint. Unless the sun came out, the temperature rose to eighty-five and palm trees sprouted up through the ground, I’m gonna be grouchy.”
He used the chair in front of Carol’s desk to sit and lace up his boots. He knew he was being a royal ass, but his heart felt like it was breaking. For the first time in years he had someone who actually wanted to spend the holidays with him, but his duty as mayor wouldn’t let him enjoy it.
Excerpt from The Last Bouquet
With Puccini blaring in the background, Tyler Manning stared at the heart in his hands. Unlike most floral shops, Tyler had waited until the first week in February to decorate the front windows of his store for Valentine’s Day.
The homemade decoration wasn’t fancy, red velvet glued front and back to a big piece of cardboard. He’d found the most exquisite lace in Sheridan and had applied it around the perimeter of the four-foot heart.
Feeling the sudden urge to rip the heart down the middle, Tyler set it aside. Maybe decorating with a broken heart wasn’t such a good idea. Visions of Hearn came to mind. Tyler gazed at the refrigerated case holding the weekly bouquet he made for Mitch’s grave.
How had he managed to fall in love with a man who was already taken? “Fuck!” he yelled, kicking the heart at his feet.
Sinking to the floor, Tyler buried his face in his hands. Crying had become a regular habit lately. Since the accident that had killed Hearn’s partner, Mitch, his friend had barely given him the time of day. If it weren’t for the standing order of a bouquet of flowers, Tyler doubted he’d see Hearn at all. Why? It still didn’t make sense to him.
Before the wreck, he and Hearn had become almost inseparable. Then Mitch had been killed and...nothing. At first Tyler worried that Hearn had picked up on his more than friendly feelings, but he no longer thought that was the case. It wasn’t just Tyler that was being given the cold shoulder. Hearn had withdrawn so deep into himself and his charity work in Sheridan that no one ever saw him.
A hand on his shoulder startled Tyler, making him jump. “Easy,” Hearn’s smooth voice soothed.
Tyler gazed up into the same brown eyes he saw in his dreams every night. The concerned expression on Hearn’s face as he knelt beside him melted Tyler right then and there. “Are you okay?” Hearn asked over the loud music.
Feeling like an ass, Tyler nodded and wiped the tears from his face. “Yeah. Sorry.” He stood and walked behind the counter to reduce the volume on La Boheme. Taking a deep breath, he turned to find Hearn standing right behind him.
“What’s wrong?” Hearn asked.
Knowing he couldn’t out and out lie to the man he loved, Tyler gestured around the shop. “Valentine’s Day.” He shrugged. “Depresses me every year.”
The corner of Hearn’s mouth rose slightly. “Kinda in the wrong business then aren’t you?”
Unable to resist that sexy grin he enjoyed so much, Tyler smiled. “Yeah. I guess you’re right.”
Hearn put both hands on Tyler’s shoulders and squeezed. “You’ll find someone.”
“I already have,” Tyler admitted.
A look of dark emotions passed momentarily over Hearn’s face before disappearing. “That’s good, Ty, real good.” Hearn released his hold on Tyler. “But if you’re still feeling down enough to cry maybe this guy isn’t the one for you.”
“He is. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Tyler broke eye contact and walked towards the refrigerator. “Your flowers are ready,” he announced, pulling out the large daisy and rose bouquet.
Hearn took the flowers, and just like he did every week, put them to his nose and inhaled. It was the moment Tyler both loved and hated every time. For that brief few seconds, all Hearn’s problems seemed to melt into the background, leaving the gentle peaceful man Tyler had come to love.
“Bill me?” Hearn asked, opening his eyes.
“Of course,” Tyler agreed. Trying to buy himself a few more moments in Hearn’s company, Tyler scrambled for something to say. “Have you heard about Quade?”
Hearn stopped on his way to the door and turned. “No. Did something happen?”
“I’ll say. He quit. It was announced earlier. I guess my cousin George is taking over for him until a special election is held.”
Hearn whistled. “Wow. Why the hell didn’t I see that one coming?”
“No one did. Quade decided to move to Oahu to be with that guy, Kai, he met last year.” Tyler shifted from foot to foot. “I was thinking. Maybe this would be a good opportunity for you.”
“Well, you’re always complaining the city doesn’t have enough activities to keep the kids busy during the summer months. Maybe this is your chance to do something about it?”
“What. Like run for Mayor?” Hearn asked, dark brown eyes going wide.
“I don’t know the first thing about running a town.” Hearn took several steps to stand on the opposite side of the counter from Tyler.
“You do so,” Tyler disagreed. “You have a business degree. You run the entire park system like a well-oiled machine. You can do this,” he implored, reaching out to grab Hearn’s hand.
“I can’t. Scheduling the sports fields and making sure the gazebos are cleaned isn’t the same thing as running an entire town,” Hearn said, shaking his head.
Tyler focused on the dark brown locks of hair as they fell back into place. Hearn had let his hair grow. He didn’t know if it was by choice, or lack of caring, but Hearn’s hair reached just past his shoulders to fall in a shaggy cascade.
“It makes me feel good to know you believe in me, but I’m honestly not qualified.” Hearn pulled his hand out of Tyler’s grip and held up the flowers. “I’ll see you in a week.”
Tyler watched Hearn walk out the door and pounded his fist against the counter. “Dammit!” Why couldn’t Hearn see in himself what Tyler saw? The answer came to him with a bitter taste. “Mitch.” The asshole who’d berated Hearn over and over for wasting his college education being a glorified groundskeeper. Why couldn’t Hearn see that he’d been so much more than that to Cattle Valley?
Pushing away from the counter, Tyler turned the music back up and went back to work on his display. He’d figure out a way to undo all the years of damage living with Mitch had done to Hearn.