Book 9 in the Buckhorn Brothers Series
Adam Sommerville always thought he had it all—great family in a close-knit community, worthwhile job as a high school gym teacher, and no shortage of women eager to be on his arm. But it seems his luck has suddenly run out. Because Buckhorn’s most renowned bachelor has decided it’s time to settle down—and the one woman he wants just put him firmly in the friend zone.
Hiding her true feelings from Adam has been a full-time job for the past five years, but librarian Isabella Presley is determined not to be the latest heart he breaks. The best way to get over her attraction is to find someone else to date—even if it means asking Adam for flirting tips to help her land the perfect guy. But when Adam sets out to convince her the perfect guy is him, will she face her fears for a chance at forever?
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is Book 9 in the Buckhorn Brothers Series
The full series reading order is as follows:
- Book 1: Sawyer
- Book 2: Morgan
- Book 3: Gabe
- Book 4: Jordan
- Book 5: Casey
- Book 6: Shohn
- Book 7: Garrett
- Book 8: Gray
- Book 9: Adam
- Book 10: A Buckhorn Baby
- Book 11: Tucker
Read An Excerpt
Adam Sommerville strolled around the perimeter of the carnival, keeping watch on the kids and checking out the different games and rides while also steering clear of the clingier ladies. Being an almost-thirty-year-old bachelor from a leading family in a small town made him prime pickings. Even in the fun atmosphere of the carnival, the sunny June weather, and the crowds who’d turned out to support the elementary school, he wasn’t safe from marriage-minded ladies. Especially when members of his own family conspired against him. Many of them figured it was past time for him to settle down.
How the hell had he gotten so old?
Thirty. The big three-oh.
He didn’t feel thirty, yet. For sure he wasn’t ready for it. Not that he obsessed on age or anything. He had a terrific life, a life he loved. He enjoyed being free and clear, taking on only those responsibilities of his choosing.
Like his insane, enormous, and awesome family.
Or his job as an elementary school gym teacher, which suited him perfectly.
But he had to admit, lately it felt like something was missing.
Maybe because he’d never planned to stay…alone.
Snorting at himself, Adam kept walking, trying to out-pace his thoughts. He wasn’t alone, not in that maudlin, depressed way. He had a wealth of relatives, plenty of good friends, and whenever he needed it, he found female companionship.
Tonight seemed like one of those nights.
The oppressive heat added to his edginess. The thrumming carnival music and laughter from kids made him think of things he didn’t have, things he hadn’t even thought about wanting.
He definitely needed to get laid.
Wearing reflective sunglasses worked in Adam’s favor. He could scope out prospective company for later without anyone knowing, dodge left or right to avoid engaging women who always crowded his space, and he could ignore particular ladies – like Cindy, who’d just turned twenty – who he knew would only be trouble.
Just as turning thirty shocked him, so too did the idea of a female being too damn young. But there it was, the bald truth.
He was getting older and although he felt like a traitor to bachelors everywhere, he knew he needed more than giggling enthusiasm, a hot body, and blind agreement.
Pausing beneath the shade of a tall tree, Adam looked around at the colorful movement of summer T-shirts. So many women, yet thanks to this new weird awareness he had of his internal clock ticking away, he didn’t feel a single prickle of interest.
He could blame his cousin for that. She was the one who’d started the nagging about him being a bachelor. And once Amber had started, the others had chimed in and –
“Yer daddy wasn’t a glassmaker.”
Surprised, Adam looked behind him and saw Isabella Presley, the petite middle school librarian, seated on a quilt. She had her dark red hair in a high ponytail, her arms braced behind her and her legs stretched out with her sedate summer dress tucked in around her slim thighs. She’d taken off her shoes and for some insane reason, Adam zeroed in on her small naked feet.
She had painted her toenails fire engine red. Her feet looked soft, finely arched-
“Now see,” she said in her southern-Kentucky accent, “that was a hint that I’d like you to move. Your daddy not being a glassmaker means I can’t see through you.”
Isabella hadn’t been born in Buckhorn, Kentucky. No, she’d moved “up north” five years ago, yet retained her heavier drawl and an appealing accent. When she said “can’t,” it sounded like “cain’t” and always made him smile.
“I got it.” Pulling off his sunglasses, Adam moved to the side of her. “Mind if I join you?”
For an answer, she scooted over. Gazing out at the carnival crowd now that he didn’t block her view, she said, “Take a load off.”
“Thanks.” Copying her, Adam removed his sneakers and lowered himself beside her. Their arms brushed. The slightest of breezes brought the sweet fragrance of her sun-warmed skin to his nose. Every part of his body noticed.
Trying to ignore the sudden awareness zinging through his blood, he asked casually, “You supervising, too?”
“Nope. Just enjoyin’.” When the breeze picked up, parting the leaves of the overhead branches and letting in the blistering sunshine, Isabella wrinkled her nose and squinted her blue eyes. “Sure is hot today.”
Adam peeled his damp T-shirt away from his chest and nodded agreement. Heat and humidity left his khaki shorts limp. More than his shirt was sticking. “Low nineties.”
“Typical for this time of year.”
“Mm-hmm.” Suddenly she grinned.
Lifting one lightly freckled shoulder, she said, “Just struck me funny, that’s all.”
Not following, he looked at her face, and smiled at the amusement there. “What did?”
“Me shootin’ the breeze with you.” She leaned a little closer until her shoulder deliberately bumped his again. “Buckhorn’s most wanted bachelor, pausin’ from his prowl to visit with little ole me. Ya gotta admit, it’s amusin’.”
With her tilted toward him that way, her face turned up to his, Adam suddenly thought about kissing. Hot, tongue-twining, consuming kissing.
Since he’d known Isabella, he’d never once thought about getting his mouth on her.
At least, not seriously.
From the day she’d moved to his town, they’d been friendly, sometimes working together on school fundraisers or serving together on committees. Sure, he always enjoyed her company, but the fact that they saw each other within their careers at the school made anything more than friendship dicey.
Or at least that’s how he usually figured it.
Now…not so much. “Issy,” he teased back. “You flirting with me?”
Instead of denying it, as he expected, she lowered her lashes and gave a lazy shrug. “Honin’ my skills for later, ya know?”
What the hell did that mean? “No,” he said, trying to wade carefully. “I don’t know.”
“You’re a big fibber, Adam Sommerville. You know in a few hours when the sun sets and the stars come out, you’ll be findin’ yourself some company. The glasses didn’t fool me. You were scopin’ out the prospects.”
Had he really been so obvious? Rather than deny it, he asked the obvious question. “What does that have to do with you?”
Wearing the slightest of devilish smiles, she stared out at the crowds. “I’ll probably be doin’ the same, that’s all. I figure by ten at the latest, the guys left will be the available ones who’d be interested. So I might try my hand at the pick-up game.”
The pick-up game.
Why the hell did that annoy him so much? He wasn’t her keeper, he had no claim on her, and…to heck with it.
Adam yanked off the sunglasses and frowned at her. “If that’s your plan, why are you flirting with me?”
Indolent, and somehow sexier because of it, she sighed. “You weren’t listenin’? Already told you I was honing my skills.” She wrinkled her small nose. “Bein’ a librarian means I know a lil bit about a lot, but pickin’ up company isn’t in my repertoire. Knowin’ you aren’t interested makes you safe for…” She looked up at him and smiled. “Practice.”
Of all the… Feeling strangely annoyed, Adam stretched out to his back and folded an arm over his eyes. “You’re nuts, Issy.”
“Celibacy can do that to a woman.”
From his eyebrows to his toes, Adam stilled. Plunged into curiosity, he lifted his arm away and stared at her. “Celibacy?”
She gave a self-deprecating grin. “It’s been a mighty long time, that’s all I’m sayin’.”
He searched her face, a face he knew well, and saw no signs of teasing. She meant what she said.
Isabella, librarian extraordinaire, planned to get laid. Tonight. With some bozo from the carnival.
How long had she been without?
Adam thought back over the time he’d known her. Isabella had dated a few times, but he couldn’t recall her being in any serious relationship. She stayed super-involved in the school, hyper-serious about kids reading, and she put in plenty of free time assisting disadvantaged kids and those with learning disabilities.
She stayed active, with work, charity, kids.
Just not with men.
So many times he’d wondered why she wasn’t married with a few kids of her own. Anyone who knew her also knew she’d be an amazing mother. Smart, dedicated, friendly, caring… and now that he allowed himself to dwell on it, he had to admit she was cute.
Or maybe more like smokin’ – in a seriously sweet and approachable way. It was her accent and teasing wit that made “cute” come to mind. That, and her understated wardrobe…fit for a librarian.
He reminded himself that her proximity at work remained an issue. Only at the moment, sitting here with her in the hot sunshine, breathing in her scent, that didn’t seem to matter much.
To be honest, he could admit the friend vibe had originated with her. From day one, she’d relegated him to “work pal” status, without ever really giving him a chance to decide if he wanted to go for more.
And now that he thought about it, that sort of burned his ass a little. He wasn’t a masochist and wasn’t into chasing disinterested women, not when there were enough of the other kind to keep him busy. So then why –
“You do seem to wander off inside your own head, don’t ya?” To take the sting out of that criticism, Isabella half smiled.
But it stung all the same. “I was just thinking.”
“No, Sugar, you were daydreamin’.” She lazily fanned her face and throat. “There’s a difference.”
Sugar? Adam knew she often addressed the kids that way. And when looking for new funding for her much-loved library, everyone was her “Sugar.” But him?
She could easily charm students, parents, and the school board alike. But before now, she’d never openly attempted to charm him.
Suddenly the idea of a casual hookup with some other woman didn’t interest him. Nope.
Adam wanted to seduce Ms. Issy.
Once decided, he didn’t question himself. Why bother? The thought of having her was far more exciting than anything else had been in months. He felt more alive, and the sweltering summer heat had nothing on his rising internal temp.
His gaze tracked over her face to her throat, now looking dewy. “You want my help?” The second he made the offer, his heart started thumping hard.
He ignored it. This had nothing to do with his heart.
She took him off guard by stretching out next to him on her side, her head propped on a fist as she studied him. “Interestin’,” she mused. “How exactly would you assist?”
Damn, when Isabella decided to flirt, she excelled. He should have expected that because everything she did, she did with perfection. It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it.
How she looked while saying it. Sort of interested and amused and a little turned on.
Crowds milled past them only a few feet away. He felt the curious stares, heard the whispers.
And flat-out didn’t care.
Visually tracing the curvy line of her body, he took in the shape of her slim thighs, the rise of her hip and contrasting dip of her waist, up to her creamy bare shoulders exposed by the narrow straps of her sundress.
Freckles had never looked more enticing.
“You have on sunscreen?” Even here in the cool, lush grass with the elm leaves shading them, she could easily burn.
After a priceless look, Issy blinked, then dropped to her back laughing. Not a loud or harsh laugh, but not a ridiculous twitter either. She sounded husky and sincere.
Enjoying her, Adam loomed over her. “You expected something more intimate from me?”
Eyes twinkling, she whispered with a smile, “Silly me.”
How had he missed the length and thickness of her dark brown lashes, or the faint sprinkling of freckles over the bridge of her nose, or how her mouth, always free of lipstick, looked so full and soft? “Maybe I should explain the path of my thoughts.”
“The path that led to sunscreen? Oh, I can’t wait to hear it.”
The ever-stirring breeze carried a baby soft tendril of fiery hair across her face. Without giving it enough thought, Adam used one fingertip to brush it back, tucking it behind her small ear.
Isabella’s gaze smoldered.
From such a simple touch? And if so, how would she be when he had her naked and touched her all over? He gave a low growl that she answered with fast blinking, as if coming out of a spell.
Breathless, she asked, “What was that?”
He knew what she meant, of course, but said only, “What?”
“That macho sound you made.” No hesitation from Isabella.
As if unsure, he suggested, “Reaction?”
Excited by the prospect, she came up to her elbow again. “You growled at me.”
Her eyebrow lifted. She glanced at his mouth then back to his eyes, and breathed, “Tell me.”
Tell her that he’d visualized her naked, in bed – with him?
Not a great idea. Yet. Shoot, they’d only just started the whole flirting business.
Twirling one finger, Adam took the safer route. “Let’s rewind to my thoughts.”
She made a face. “You gonna ask me about my last dental appointment?”
Damn, but she confused him.
“You know, since staring down at me made you wonder about sunscreen?” She flapped a hand. “There’s no tellin’ what you’re thinkin’ now.”
He trailed a finger over her silky shoulder, across to her collarbone, then up to lift her stubborn chin so those pretty blue eyes focused on him. “I was thinking about this soft, pale skin of yours. How fair and delicate you are. That’s what made me worry about the sun.”
Dubious, she shifted her gaze to her own shoulder, rolled it, and said, “I don’t know about delicate, but I do burn easily. So yes to the sunscreen. And now…about that wicked imagination of yours?”
A shadow fell across them and Adam looked up to see his cousin, Amber, staring down at them. Hands on her hips, a frown on her face, she chastised him with nothing more than a look of extreme disappointment.
Knowing he was caught, Adam sat up, winced at the new tightness in his shorts, and dropped his elbows to his knees. “What’s up, Amber?”
“You’re causing a spectacle.”
Issy, too, sat up. “We are?”
“I’m with him.” She gave a slow smile. “And honestly, Amber, I sort of like the idea of bein’ a spectacle for once.”
End of Excerpt
is available in the following editions:
Out of Print Editions
June 1, 2016