Cover Design: MadHat Studios
Model: Aidan Stewart
When the Barrel House heiress, Melody Quinn, comes face-to-face with single-dad, Brett Pearson, she finds the ex-Marine strikingly attractive, yet all too familiar for her liking, and she can’t figure out why.
Wherever Melody goes, Brett is there, and after each encounter, she starts to remember where she knows him from. The problem is, she can’t get rid of him because he’s now working in The Barrel House, the one place that is supposed to be hers and hers alone.
Brett loves the art of making bourbon, and nothing pleases him more than watching a customer take their first sip. When he goes to work at The Barrel House, he should be pleased, except he’s forced to work with Melody, who doesn’t know neat from on the rocks, and doesn’t understand why there’s corn everywhere.
Bourbon is spilled, drinks are shared, and passion is reignited between these star-crossed lovers.
How can Dad be thinking about so much when he doesn’t know if there will be a tomorrow? I can’t believe he already hired someone to run the business. I can’t pretend like I ever had intentions of taking over the shop, even knowing Dad wouldn’t be able to run it forever, but the thought hadn’t crossed my mind because Dad is supposed to live well past his retirement age. Nothing has gone as I have planned since I graduated college, and while I have traveled along with the bumps in the road, everything feels like it’s crashing down on me now.
Maybe I have no business being in The Barrel House, pretending like I know everything there is to know about running a bourbon distillery.
“Melody!” It’s Brett. He’s calling after me. Doesn’t he know when a woman runs out a door, it’s probably best not to follow her?
I turn back toward the firehouse, watching him walk toward me. My instinct forces me to take a step back, which causes me to trip off the curb. I catch myself on a car, thankfully, but the car’s alarm beeps at me just to add an extra dose of humiliation to this moment.
My heart is in my throat, or maybe it’s my stomach. My head is spinning and ... why did he have to come after me?
“I need to get back home. I should be with my dad,” I tell him, looking both ways to make sure I don’t get creamed by a car on top of it all. The coast is clear and I cross the street, finding my way to Mom’s car.
“Wait up for a second,” Brett continues, following me across the street. He places his hand on the door, preventing me from opening it and jumping inside. “Your dad wanted a bottle,” he says, handing me the bottle of Red Apple that Dad did, in fact, request.
“How did you—”
“He called to warn me that you were on your way down, flustered, upset, trying to be a hero, and you’d most likely forget that he requested a bottle of Red Apple.” Brett laughs sweetly, smiling benevolently. “I’m not trying to take over your family business, despite what you might be thinking. My dad has been a barrel supplier for your dad since before either of us were born. I was just asked to come help you guys out.”
“I know.” In truth, I don’t understand much of anything now. I’ve been going a mile a minute since I got that letter yesterday. I’ve been awake since five this morning, and I’m exhausted. “Thank you for coming to help,” I offer sincerely, wishing he would move his hand from my door.
“I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” The look in Brett’s eyes triggers more pain in my stomach. I’m losing my dad.
“I don’t know what else to do right now other than help him, and being in his shop feels like the only way I can help,” I explain.
The backs of my eyes burn. I’m supposed to be the strong one, but I’m falling apart. I stare up to the sky, waning away the threatening tears. Keep it together, Melody. My body doesn’t respond to my command. Tears trickle, one by one and I gasp for air as my lungs feel like they are deflating. I place my hands over my face, embarrassed to be crying in front of Brett Pearson of all people, but the pain has been building, and though I let a few tears escape this morning at the airport, it clearly wasn’t enough. “I’m sorry,” I mutter.
Arms envelop me and my head falls against his firm chest. His embrace is tight and though I don’t know the adult version of Brett well enough to feel comfort from a hug, the squeeze is alleviating some of the pressure in my chest.
The rate of my breaths slow and I’m able to stop the tears from falling. Brett must notice that I’ve calmed down because his arms release from around me and he takes a step back. I don’t know what else to say or do aside from searching his worry-filled eyes as if I’d find the answer there.
He presses the pad of his thumb beneath my eye and sweeps away a remaining tear. “Take some time to process it all,” Brett says, sounding wise beyond his years. “I don’t know how long you’ve known about your Dad becoming sick again, but I doubt there’s any length of time that’s long enough to accept or adjust to that kind of news.”
“I’m going to—” I point to the car.
Brett backs away, slipping his hands into his back pockets. I close myself into the car, rest my head back, and close my eyes for a minute before starting the engine.
A knock on the window startles my eyes to reopen. Brett is standing outside of the car holding up the bottle of Red Apple. I roll the window down and retrieve the bottle. “Thank you,” I tell him. “For everything.”
One of Five ARC's for Bourbon Love Notes
About the AuthorInternational Bestselling Author, Shari J. Ryan is a writer of Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Romantic Comedy. Throughout the last seven years of her writing journey, Shari has written more than twenty emotionally charged novels ranging from Rockstar Romances and Medical Romances to Historical Fiction.
Shari is happily married to her own superhero--a former Marine who has inspired many of her stories. Together, they have two beautiful little boys.
Shari's active imagination allows her to create characters with depth and raw emotion as they journey their ways to a happily ever after.
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