Falling for Her Enemy

Falling for Her Enemy

by Victoria James
Falling for Her Enemy

Falling for Her Enemy

by Victoria James

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Overview

A sweet category romance from Entangled's imprint...

She's falling for the one man who could destroy everything...

Alex McAllister always dreamed of a life filled with the laughter and love of a family, but being abandoned at a young age left her wary of letting anyone in. Now that she's settled in Still Harbor, Alex struggles between keeping her distance and the magnetic pull of the handsome stranger who claims he's the biological father of her adopted daughter.

Hayden Brooks never wanted to be a father. Long hours spent building his family's real estate empire suits him just fine. But when he discovers an ex put the baby he unknowingly fathered up for adoption, his world crumbles. He tracks the child to Still Harbor with the intention of bringing her home-and comes face to face with his daughter's stunning adoptive mother.

The paternity test is in. And Hayden's about to make the most shocking decision of his life, just in time for Christmas...


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633754706
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 11/09/2015
Series: Still Harbor , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: eBook
Pages: 189
Sales rank: 222,348
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Victoria James is a romance writer living near Toronto. She is a mother to two young children, one very disorderly feline, and wife to her very own hero.

Victoria attended Queen's University and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She then earned a degree in Interior Design. After the birth of her first child she began pursuing her life-long passion of writing.

Her dream of being a published romance author was realized by Entangled in 2012. Victoria is living her dream-staying home with her children and conjuring up happy endings for her characters.

Victoria would love to hear from her readers! You can visit her at www.victoriajames.ca or Twitter @vicjames101 or send her an email at Victoria@victoriajames.ca


Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.

In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.

Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after's for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she's quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.

Read an Excerpt

Falling for Her Enemy

a Still Harbor book


By Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon Hopson

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2015 Victoria James
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-470-6


CHAPTER 1

If the Grinch himself had walked into the bakery, eaten all the pastries, stolen all the candy canes from the tree in the window, and the cash out of the till, it would still have been a more promising Christmas than the impending one. It was like every day brought more bad news.

Alexandra McAllister stared through blurry, tired eyes at Mrs. Cooper who was currently wringing her wrinkled hands and frowning.

"I'm so, so sorry my dear. I know you had your heart set on buying this bakery from me in five years, but I can't wait that long." The elderly woman grabbed one of the old-fashioned candy canes in the glass jar beside the cash register, ripped off the plastic wrapping, and broke off a piece with her false teeth. Alex watched her, wondering if the hard candy might pull Mrs. Cooper's dentures loose. She tried to be a good friend to the woman she had grown to adore, even though this news was disastrous. She was able to keep this in perspective. She could do that. She was calm and collected.

Or maybe she was reacting so calmly because nothing compared to the news her soon-to-be brother-in-law Matt Lane had delivered last month. Matt was a private investigator and had shaken her world when he'd sat her down and told her that his new client thought he might be Cassy's father. At first she'd clung to the hope that maybe this was all a mistake, but the evidence pointed to the fact that this man, Hayden Brooks, could be Cassy's biological father. They still needed to do a paternity test — nothing was certain until that happened.

"You shouldn't be worried about me with everything you have going on. I understand. This wasn't meant to be. You have to take care of you and your husband." At least she had come up with something polite to say. It was true. She was just leaving out the part about how this would completely screw up her plans and would mess with her need to provide security for her daughter.

Mrs. Cooper's eyes filled with tears again, and she waved the candy cane around. "Oh my dear, if only I could give you the bakery. But now that Martin had that awful stroke and I have to find a retirement home for us to live in, I won't have the money. I need every penny, because those places are a fortune."

"I know, of course. There will be other bakeries. I'll have more opportunities come my way," she said, lying. She grabbed a candy cane and began eating with her soon to be former employer. They crunched in silence a few minutes, both of them too agitated to lick and enjoy. She knew she had so much to be grateful for — a home, a fresh start in Still Harbor, her family, and most of all her adopted daughter, Cassandra. But owning her own bakery would have been the security she needed for the future. In five years she would have been able to do it. She would have squirreled away money each year. Mrs. Cooper had already given her the figure she needed in order to buy. Except poor Mr. Cooper had suffered a stroke, and they were left with no choice but to sell now. There was no way she could come up with the money on such short notice.

"What about a small business loan, dear? I know that would be taking on more of a burden, but we know this bakery makes excellent money. Surely Mr. Tuttle over at the bank would help you with a payment plan. Maybe I could put in a good word."

"I wouldn't be approved. I've taken on a mortgage with my sisters for the house, and I have Cassandra's expenses. It would be too much. I know I wouldn't get the loan."

"Oh dear, oh dear," the elderly woman said. "And right before Christmas too."

Alex swallowed the last bit of her candy cane and decided she needed to ditch the self-pity long enough for Mrs. Cooper to feel better and leave. Then she would wallow in pity privately in the form of an assortment of Christmas cupcakes. "Well, it's closing time now anyway. You should get home. It's been a long day. Don't worry about me. I'll figure something out," she said, forcing a smile on her face. Right. Figure something out.

She gave another fake smile as Mrs. Cooper made her way to the front of the store. "I'll be sure to lock up and put up the closed sign," Mrs. Cooper called out.

Alex barely heard her. She was busy sinking behind the old cash desk. On her way down she managed to grab the box of cupcakes she had planned on bringing home. She sat there, alone in the empty bakery, and wondered how the heck her life, which had finally seemed to be going so well, had just blown up this week. Ripping open the lid, she looked at the mixture of Christmas cupcakes and decided that the candy cane surprise, egg nog, and peppermint chocolate cupcakes would be her first victims.

She retrieved a takeout dish, lined up her cupcakes like three shot glasses at a bar, and prayed they'd have the same effect on her mood.

She took a bite of the first one, slowly closing her eyes and letting the sweet mix of vanilla, chocolate, and sugar take her far, far away from the place that she was in right now. Leaning her head back she tried to forget that tomorrow the life she'd carefully constructed for herself was about to be seriously jeopardized. This cupcake was going to be dedicated to misery, her current state at the moment.

She eyed the peppermint chocolate, deciding not to finish the rest of the candy cane surprise. If she ate half of each cupcake, it would be like she'd eaten only one and half, which would make her total three for the day because of her earlier samplings. She needed to start working out. More than her walk to The Sweet Spot Bakery every day — it wasn't proving enough of a counterbalance to the calories consumed. The extra fifteen pounds she had packed on was proof of that. Running could help. Her sister, Kate, and her fiancé, Matt, had invited her to join them on their jogs. Those two ran almost every morning, but they were so in shape, there was no way she'd be able to keep up. Maybe she should start training in private and then join up with them in a few months. Maybe they'd be like, "Wow, you're an amazing runner, Alex ..." She stuffed the last piece of chocolate in her mouth, thinking she should make that a New Year's resolution.

"Excuse me, sorry to bother you." She almost choked on the dense cupcake in her throat when a voice, a very deep, amused voice rang out in the supposedly closed, empty bakery.

Alex swiftly wiped off the crumbs from her apron, her body humming with anxiety made even worse with the amount of sugar now running through her bloodstream.

She slowly stood, mortification drowning her, as she faced what she hoped was an early gift from Santa Claus. She tried to inconspicuously lick the crumbs from the corners of mouth as she stared into the bluest eyes and the most gorgeous face she'd ever seen. She didn't need to see a mirror to know that she was a wreck. Judging by the way the man looked like he was trying to hold back a smile, she looked even worse than a wreck. His smile was delicious, as was the slight stubble across a great jawline and the dark, inky hair that was delectably mussed up ...

"Hi, sorry if I startled you. The door wasn't locked so I assumed you were still open."

Mrs. Cooper was becoming so forgetful. "No, no worries ... I was just um —" She felt for the box and plate with her foot and surreptitiously tried to hide them from his line of vision. "— cleaning up for the night. Can I help you with something? We're actually closed, but I think there are still some nice baked goods to choose from."

"I'm not here for the bakery. I'm looking for Alexandra McAllister."

It was him. It had to be. She'd never seen this man before, not that Still Harbor was such a tiny town that she knew everyone, but she could tell he was different. She took in the beautifully fitting black coat over a suit. The tie. The way he stood there, as though he owned the place.

This wasn't how she was supposed to meet the man who wanted to take her daughter away. She was supposed to appear strong and formidable. She was supposed to have the upper hand. Right now, she looked like an out-of-control version of the Pillsbury Doughboy's wife.

She searched his face to find similarities to Cassy's. She didn't have to look for long. Cassy had dark hair. Blue eyes as well. It was wrong of her to not be happy for her daughter and she would be if this man proved to be who he thought he was. Cassy would have a father that cared enough to track her down. She could be happy and very, very terrified at the same time, because what would bring happiness for Cassy could destroy her.

But now he was here. Who was she to deny her daughter the love of a biological father? She would have given anything to have one of her parents walk back into her life and profess their love for her, to tell her that they were here to take care of her. Who was she to take that, him, away from Cassy? If he was Cassy's father.

She looked down at her hands, which were currently braced against the worn marble counter, smudges of chocolate around a few of her nails, and squeezed her eyes shut. She wasn't ready for this. She wasn't ready to meet him, not at a disadvantage like this. She opened her eyes to find him staring at her intently, like her reaction had just told him who she was. "I'm Alexandra ... Alex."

He held out his hand, face now serious. "I'm Hayden Brooks."

She wiped the chocolate from her fingers and extended her hand. His larger one engulfed hers in a firm, no-nonsense shake.

She was not ready for him, for the problems he was bringing with him. He threatened everything she had worked for, longed for, yearned for her entire life. She had walked through hell, only to finally end up living her dream with her little girl. But now Hayden Brooks was here and determined to shatter her life.

She quickly withdrew her hand and stuffed it into the front pocket of her holly-printed apron. "You're a day early."


Hayden stared at the cute brunette who looked like she was either going to cry or reach across the counter and strangle him with his own tie. She was beautiful, undeniably, but not in a made-up, manufactured way. She wasn't decked out. In fact, she was the opposite. Her Christmas apron was covered with chocolate and was crooked, hanging loosely off her neck. Her hair was dark and shiny and at some point during the day had probably been pulled back; now most of it was hanging around her gorgeous face. Her green eyes reminded him of the color of the cedar roping he'd noticed around the bakery door, and her lips were a gorgeous, kissable pink except for the dark brown chocolate in the corners.

But more importantly than all that, she was the mother of his might-be daughter. What would bring a single woman to adopt a child? He'd never think of doing something like that. He'd been wondering this when he got over the shock of finding out he might have a child he never knew about. This woman had adopted Cassandra and was now raising her, and if he was Cassandra's father, he owed this woman everything.

"I thought I'd get settled into the Harbor House Inn tonight before we met tomorrow. But when I was driving through town, I saw the lights on at the bakery. I knew you worked here, so I thought I'd drop in." He was trying to keep his voice as calm and agreeable as possible. That was how he had to play this whole thing. The more this woman liked him, the easier it would be to get what he wanted, and the faster he'd be able to get out of this town and get back to work.

She stared out the window and he followed her gaze. It had been snowing on his way into town, the drive getting progressively worse as he left the city and took the rural roads to the middle of nowhere. From what he saw, it was a picturesque little town, like one of those places you'd see on a postcard. There was cedar roping on the stores in the downtown center, a big town square with a giant Christmas tree, and that overall charm that a city couldn't offer. It seemed like a great place to raise a kid, if a person didn't have any other ambitions than ... family.

"Sure, not a problem. Harbor House is a nice place. It was probably a good idea to come into town tonight since we're supposed to get a bunch of snow tomorrow."

"Yeah, I'd heard about that." He didn't want to be chit-chatting but he understood he needed to be patient with her and that she was evaluating him. After speaking to his lawyer, he knew the best way to deal with all of this was by keeping it out of the court system for as long as possible. If he and the adopted mother could come to some sort of an understanding, that would be best for all of them, especially the little girl.

"So, um, Cassandra is at home right now. I live with my sisters and their kids."

He nodded. "That's great ... It must be a challenge juggling everything."

Something flashed in her eyes, and she lifted her chin slightly. "Not that much of a challenge. Nothing I can't handle. It's an absolute pleasure."

He got it. "I'm here to find out if I have a daughter. We'll take things one step at a time. I think we can both agree that we only want the best for Cassandra, right?"

She nodded, her features relaxing slightly. "We'll be going to the Santa Claus parade tomorrow afternoon. Three o'clock. The whole family. If you'd like to join us, that might be a nice way to meet Cassy without her becoming suspicious of anything. Then we can take it from there."

Take it from there meant she'd scope him out some more and decide whether or not she'd let him have the paternity test taken. That was fine; he had no intention of screwing anything up. The more agreeable he was, the faster this whole thing would go and hopefully be uncomplicated. He would approach this as a real estate deal. Lure the client in, charm them, make them have faith in him and his abilities, and then close the deal. That technique had never failed him before, so why would it now?

As for kids and Santa Claus parades ... he'd have to fake it. The last kid he'd spent any time with was on the flight from Vancouver to Toronto, and it hadn't been pleasant. The whining had set his nerves on edge, but luckily earphones had drowned that out; he didn't expect he'd be able to do that with his own kid. He cleared his throat, realizing that Alex was staring at him, looking worried. "So where should I meet you?"

"We can meet right outside the bakery. It's a good spot, and if the kids get cold, they can come in here and warm up."

He nodded, then nudged his chin in the direction of her phone that was sitting on the counter. "Do you have any pictures of her? Can I see one?"

Her mouth dropped open slightly, but she nodded after a few seconds and picked up her phone. Her wallpaper was a picture of her and Cassandra. Her hand trembled as she passed him the phone. Emotion, the kind that snuck up on a guy, ambushed him until all his senses were awake. He studied the little girl who was beaming at the camera. She had the kind of smile that could make a stranger smile. Alexandra was holding her, and they were on a swing. They looked ... happy, like one of those stock photography pictures of a mother and daughter in a new picture frame.

He cleared his throat. "She's really cute."

"I think so."

He continued to search the picture. She had dark hair and blue eyes, but that didn't mean anything ... much ... except that it was the same as his ... and his mother's.

"I guess you're probably looking for a resemblance?"

He looked up. She was staring back at him, insecurity stamped on every lovely feature. This entire thing was kind of surreal — finding out he may have a daughter, tracking her down to this small town, and then meeting the woman who had adopted her. He felt warm, and he didn't know if it was the bakery filled with the comforting smells of cinnamon and sugar, the large Christmas tree in the great big store window with its faded multi-colored lights, or the melancholic sound of Nat King Cole's voice softly singing in the background. Snow was falling outside, blanketing the already pretty town in a sheet of white, making him believe for a second in fate and destiny. Was this all supposed to happen like this? Was this the way his life was supposed to play out? Maybe it was a second chance for him, a chance to correct the biggest regret of his life.

Shit, he'd better get it together before he turned into Norman Rockwell. He rolled his shoulders and passed her phone back. Less than an hour in this town and he was turning into a sap. Get it together, man. He needed to get back to his room at the inn, go over the proposal for work, and then review his strategy for this ... situation.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Falling for Her Enemy by Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon Hopson. Copyright © 2015 Victoria James. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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