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Old Fashioned – Becker Brothers
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Each book can be read as a stand-alone.
It’s a man’s world.
When I declared sports medicine as my major and every man narrowed their eyes, that saying proved true. It was true when my ex-husband decided I’d give up my career when our daughter was born. And again when I divorced the Chief of Police in our small town, and he made it painfully clear that I could leave him, but I would never be free.
Landing the job as the new athletic trainer for Stratford’s high school team is my chance to start over. And walking into a male-dominated sport and staff, I’m ready for the challenge.
I’m not ready for Jordan Becker.
The head coach of our championship winning team is a Herculean force of nature—as severe as he is determined. His icy blue eyes and permanent scowl drive the women in this town mad, and his quiet power and undeniable command conjure respect from every man.
When I join his team, I expect the doubt and anticipate the fight from him. And I get them both.
I don’t expect to form a friendship.
And I never expect to fall for him.
My breath catches when those cool eyes fall to my lips. My body comes alive when his is near. And as those lines begin to blur, every warning bell sounds.
My job, my reputation are on the line.
It’s a man’s world, and if I want to survive, I can never fall in love with Jordan Becker.
Even if he falls in love with me first.
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Ever since I was twenty-three years old, there had been a fire burned into my memory.
I wished it was a metaphorical fire, one that drove me to excel and succeed and filled me up from the inside. I’d even settle for a bonfire that was memorable, one my friends and family had gathered around on an evening when everything felt right in the world. But for me, the fire was a living, breathing monster, seemingly small where I viewed it against a pale blue evening sky as it devoured a corner office in an old whiskey distillery on the edge of town.
A corner office, and nothing else.
A corner office I didn’t know held my father inside it.
I’d been the only one of my family to see the actual fire, to watch the smoke billow and what was left of the flames lick at the roof of the building through the busted windows of that office. I hadn’t thought twice about it, other than to think it was a small annoyance that had traffic backed up heading into town. I was on my way to Mom and Dad’s for dinner.
It was such a small fire, already in control when I drove past it. The fire department had it surrounded, water spewing from their truck, the flames already weakening. I didn’t know much about fires, but even I could tell that it was in no danger of spreading, that it was tamed, and I drove past it wondering if Dad would be called back up to the distillery to fill out paperwork, since he was on the board.
When I had opened the screen door from Mom and Dad’s front porch, all three of my brothers were in the living room, playing video games and talking over each other at a volume that was always too loud for my taste.
None of them looked like me. My skin was darker, an umber brown that was light in the winter months and dark from the sun during the summer. Compared to their olive tan, it stood out, a reminder of our differences that we never really acknowledged. My onyx hair that curled tightly to my scalp was also a contrast to their sandy brown, straight locks.
But, the fact that the blood that ran through my veins was not the same as that which ran through theirs didn’t matter. My adoption didn’t matter. It never had.
We were brothers, an impenetrable force, a team forged in bad times and in good.
Mom had smiled when I arrived, wiping her hands on her apron before she crossed and kissed my cheek.
“Can you help me set the table?” she’d asked, hanging a hand on her hip as she gestured to the rest of my brothers with the other. “As you can see, this motley crew is useless. And your father had to stay late at work, something about exciting news.” She rolled her eyes a little, because we all knew that exciting news to my father could mean anything from a promotion to him finding a washed dollar in his jean pocket.
I’d never forget that smile she wore when she turned back to me, the one that crinkled the edges of her eyes and spread from cheek to cheek. Because less than thirty seconds later, the home phone rang.
And I never saw my mother smile like that again.
I blinked, the memory of that summer night ten years ago fading as my laptop screen came back into focus. A dated software system filled the screen, Latin words on an old word processor file, a journal my father had kept for years before he passed.
A journal my brother had found on a hard drive not meant to be discovered.
A journal I was now trying to decode, as if it would somehow reveal all the answers to every question my family and I had asked since that fateful day in June.
I’d gone through months of entries before I’d discovered that my father had found a Last Will and Testament of the founder of the distillery. That had shocked me, since this entire town was rocked with surprise when Robert J. Scooter died and a Will hadn’t existed.
It turned out one had, at least, according to Dad’s journal.
But he hadn’t mentioned it since that first entry.
I sighed, cursing under my breath when I checked my watch and saw it was almost one in the morning. I wasn’t going to find anything more tonight — especially with so much on my mind. I safely ejected the hard drive and tucked it into my top desk drawer, the screen of my laptop modernizing again before I put it to sleep. I had to do it quickly, before my fingers hit the keys that would open my lesson plans for the week or, even more risky, my practice plans.