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My Next Mistake
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My next big mistake has a name: Cole Cumberland.
When I met him on a winter climbing excursion,
But the more I want to know about him, the more questions I find.
Fate ensures that I get answers I would never have expected.
What the hell is going on here? And who is this man I love?
“My next Mistake” is a full-length standalone romance with no cheating and no cliffhangers, but with a gorgeous protective alpha male, plenty of steam and a guaranteed HEA.
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We came down from the mountains every Christmas to visit my sister, Quinn, and her husband Shelton’s extended family in Hollywood. I learned pretty quickly the Harris family traveled in packs. They always spent the holidays together, and that was the best reason I could come up with as to why I had to attend their lavish events. Being the brother of a member of the Harris clan made me a member whether I wanted to be or not. By some strange turn of logic, I was also obligated to spend the holidays with them. Most would have been thrilled; I wasn’t.
The Harris clan included two filmmakers, two rock stars and their families, as well as my sister, her high powered lawyer husband, and their twins. Throw their stuffy rich parents into the mix and you had the Harris clan; one of the most powerful families in California. They spent a lot of time together, and I saw them as similar to the Kardashians: always in the papers, always together, and always … so Harris.
My parents were much more unassuming and lived on my property in the mountains where we enjoyed an off-grid lifestyle of self-sufficiency. We were retiring and reclusive, the perfect speed for me. We only came down from the mountains to join the Harris family for holidays because I promised my sister we would. She needed her own family at times. The Harris clan could be overwhelming. Her husband was not a naturalist and didn’t quite understand our simple ways, but he loved the mountains and more importantly, loved Quinn.
Quinn and Shelton had a house in the mountains only a few miles from our property, so I was seeing more of my sister than I ever had before her ordeal. Last year she was abducted by a drug dealer with whom her husband had done business. Shelton made a foolhardy move to save Quinn alone in Bali where she was being held, and they both narrowly escaped with their lives. While she overcame the ordeal quite well, she often struggled with fears. Having her family around and the simple pleasures of natural life helped her deal with her trauma.
Her husband had turned over a new leaf and was actually quite a good man. I enjoyed his company. The only other outsider at these family gatherings was a former roommate of the other two Harris wives, Charlynn. She was a gorgeous woman with a fiery personality and drop-dead good looks. It didn’t hurt that she was also an architect who worked with sustainable materials, which was a passion of mine.
I ran an eco-adventure company catering to the rich and famous. Since I was mostly a recluse, I never actually took the trips with my clients. I had staff and my business partner to do that. I managed my business from the internet. This allowed me time for hobbies like creating heat retardant bricks. My dad and I had been working with a local company to make the most fire-resistant building materials on the market because our mountain home was always being threatened by forest fires.
Whenever Charlynn and I sat down to talk, we ended up passing hours talking about the environment and sustainable housing. A boring topic for most but riveting to us.
She was stunning with her dark hair, dark eyes, and even a darker sense of humor, and since she didn’t come from wealth and privilege, she was comfortable with a basic lifestyle.
This year, the Harris clan decided collectively to do a New Year’s retreat to Black Mountain. Charlynn admittedly wasn’t a camper, nor was she much of a roughing it kind of girl, but she agreed to come along. As excited as I was to have her come, though, I had to make sure I kept my distance. She was hard to resist, even though I’d vowed to never love a woman ever again.
I had demons, and they didn’t retreat with the rising sun or the passing of time. They lived in my soul. I was a millionaire, just like the Harris men, but unlike them, I rarely ever ventured away from my compound. My parents lived in a small home on my property, and I lived in an even smaller one. I never spent my money. I made tons arranging extreme eco-adventures, such as survivalist missions, mountain summits, and things that made rich daredevils’ cocks rise.
The wilder the adventure was, the more gung-ho I was to give it to them. Yet, despite this, I had a reputation for being weird and reclusive. A few people knew what had happened five years ago, and I knew there were always going to be people who judged me. It may have been a horrible way to live, tucked away on a mountaintop avoiding humanity, but it beat facing the truth. I saw her every night in my nightmares.