One night...and a whole lotta trouble!
When it comes to men, Ivy Rutherford never loses her cool. Ever. Then she meets wealthy, green-eyed cowboy C.J. Bartasavich, and desire burns out of control. So for one night, Ivy will indulge in a passion neither of them will forget...and walk away without a backward glance.
Except now Ivy's pregnant. And even worse, C.J. has come to her hometown of Shady Grove determined to get to know her and be part of their baby's life — even if she's convinced their attraction is purely physical. Because Ivy can't let herself rely on a sexy cowboy...or worse yet, fall in love with one.
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About the Author
Beth Andrews is a Romance Writers of America RITA® Award and Golden Heart Winner. She lives in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When not writing, Beth loves to cook, make bead jewelry and, of course, curl up with a good book. For more information about Beth or her upcoming books, please visit her Website at: www.bethandrews.net
Read an Excerpt
Clinton Bartasavich Jr. tipped his Stetson in thanks to the toothy brunette who'd escorted him from the front desk of King's Crossing ResortShady Grove, Pennsylvania's equivalent of a four-star hotel. They stopped outside closed wooden double doors, the placard to the right stating Bartasavich/Ellison Party. "I appreciate the help
" He glanced at the small name-tag on her chest. "Allison."
He probably could have figured out how to get to this rooma distance of about a hundred feet straight down the main hallwayon his own. But when a pretty woman offered to lead the way, he didn't argue.
Allison let out a high-pitched giggle that was grating enough to make a man's ears bleed. "Oh, you're very welcome, Mr. Bartasavich."
He bit back a grimace. He hated having his name butchered. "Actually, it's Bart-uh-sav-itch."
With a soft gasp, complete with a hand to her heart, she blinked at him so rapidly, he half expected her to start hovering above the ground.
"How silly of me." Sending him a look from under her eyelashes, she edged closer, her voice turning husky. "Maybe there's some way I could make it up to you?"
He'd eat his hat if she meant extra mints on his pillow.
"No harm done. It's an honest mistake."
One not made in Houston where the Bartasavich name was well-known. Even revered in certain circles.
Her lower lip jutted out in a pout no one over the age of six should attempt. "Well, if there's anything else I can do for you," she said in a whispery tone, "and I do mean an ee thingyou just let me know."
He cocked an eyebrow. Seemed Houston wasn't the only place where his family's name, power and wealth were known.
While he didn't have any objections to casual sexthe more casual the betterhe didn't play games. No subtle hints about what either of them wanted. No coy looks or innuendos trying to convey what could be easily said with a few simple words.
And definitely no simpering.
But even if she'd held his gaze and told him in no uncertain terms that she was interested in him, attracted to him and ready, willing and eager to prove how much, he'd decline.
Having women throw themselves at him because of his name had long ago lost its thrill. He was his father's son. Not his clone. And while Senior had always been more than happy to take whatever was offered to him, C.J. preferred knowing, for certain, that a woman was in his bed because of him. Not his money.
"I'll keep your offer in mind," he said. Then he pulled off his hat and used his free hand to open the door.
And stepped into his own private version of hell. A very crowded, very loud, very pink hell.
It was as if Valentine's Day had exploded, leaving hearts everywhere. On the walls. Dangling from the ceiling. Scattered on the tabletops. There were big ones, small ones. Flat ones, poufy ones. Some with scalloped edges, some with straight. But all were shiny or sparkly and in shades ranging from the palest pink to the brightest fuchsia.
A long banner draped across the doorway wished the happy couple Heartfelt Congratulations on their engagement. Long streams of twisted pink, red and white crepe paper hung from the rafters.
Any hope he'd held on to of missing the entire party died a cruel and violent death. Because the ballroom wasn't just filled with hearts. It was also filled with people.
Damn. He should have gotten a later flight.
He turned to his right, scanned the bar where several men and women gathered, talking and laughing, ignoring the hockey game that was being shown on the large TV on the far wall.
No hearts there. Not one flash of pink. He could set his ass on that empty stool in the corner, have a drink or two and pretend he wasn't here. That most of his crazy family wasn't in the next room creating only God knew what sort of havoc.
But pretending had never been his style. And he didn't ignore his problems. He faced them head-on.
Anytime the Bartasavich family was together, there were problems. The only questions were how manyand what did C.J. have to do to fix them.
"You," a familiar female voice said, the tone dripping with scorn, "are, like, in so much trouble."
C.J. turned to find his seventeen-year-old niece glaring at him. Always happy to see hereven when she was giving him the stink eyehe grinned. "Now, darlin', everyone knows getting into trouble is your daddy's job. Not mine."
From the time Kane had been born, it'd been C.J.'s job to watch over him. To keep his younger brother out of the trouble he attracted like a freaking magnet.
"You're three hours late," Estelle Monroe said, the very picture of an affronted, pissed-off female who knew she was righta man's worst nightmare. "Three. Hours. That is, like, so rude."
"Some of us have to work. Keep the family living in the style to which you all have become accustomed." Ever since his father's stroke ten months ago, it'd been up to C.J. to make sure Bartasavich Industries continued to run smoothly.
Estelle rolled her eyes. She was a beauty like her mother. Long, blond hair, big blue eyes and the face of an angel. Her scowl, on the other hand, was all her father. "It's Saturday."
"A Bartasavich's work is never done." There were no weekends off. Running a multimillion-dollar company took commitment, dedication and full-time focus. Every goddamn day.
At least for him. His eyes narrowed as he took in her dress. "Does your father know you're wearing that?"
She tossed her hair back. Smoothed a hand down her hip. "Of course. He isn't the one who's three hours late. Why?" she asked, her tone daring him to actually answer.
"It's too " Short. Tight. Revealing. Adult. " red."
"How can something be too red?"
He wasn't sure, but hers qualified. Did she have to wear such high heels? And so much makeup? "I'll give you a thousand dollars to change," he told her, only half kidding. Hell, he'd offer her two grand if he thought it would work. "Preferably into something with a high neckline, a boxy shape and a floor-length hem."
"I'll have you know I've had, like, a hundred compliments on this dress tonight. Evan even thought I was twenty-two."
"Who is Evan?"
She nodded toward the five-piece band rocking a cover version of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer."
"Chimps on Parade's drummer."
"No drummers," C.J. growled. "Ever."
"Evan says age is just a number and that I have an old soul. Besides, nine years really isn't all that big of a difference."
C.J.'s hands closed into tight fists. "Excuse me," he ground out from between his teeth. "I'm just going to go and have a little chat with Evan."
She gave a life-is-so-hard-and-unfair-for-a-pretty-pretty-princess-such-as-myself sigh. "Don't bother. Daddy already said something to him, and now Evan won't even look at me."
"Good to know your father can be counted on for something." They must have taught him how to act big and tough in the army. Christ knew he hadn't learned it growing up.
"Come on," Estelle said, slipping her arm through C.J.'s. "Grandma Gwen's been asking about you."
She tried to tug him along but he planted his feet. "I think I'll grab a drink first. Get ready to face all that pink."
Though he'd been jokinga littleher lower lip jutted out. Trembled. She could give Allison lessons on the proper way to make a man feel like shit. "You don't like the decorations."
"Of course I do," he said, remembering too late that Estelle was, officially, the hostess of this little shindig for her father and his fiancée. "They're very festive."
"They're supposed to be romantic!" she wailed loudly enough to make several of the bar patrons glance their way.
He put his arm around her shoulders. Squeezed. "Hey now, you know I'm clueless about decorating."
She sniffed and shrugged him off. "It's not just that."
He glanced around, but no one was there to explain what the hell he'd said wrong. "Then what is it?" he asked, not sure he really wanted to know.
"You don't even want to be here."
He'd flown halfway across the country, left the civilized world of Houstonwhere he had work, work and more workto be in this small town thirty miles south of Pittsburgh to celebrate his brother's engagement. A brother he'd barely spoken to in the past fifteen years. An engagement C.J. highly doubted would make it to the altar.
Hell no, he didn't want to be here. But he was. He always put his family first. Didn't that count for anything?
"What I want doesn't matter," he told her.
"It's just" she threw her hands into the air, beseeching the heavens to help her cope with the disappointment "I tried so hard to make this party special for Daddy and Charlotte, but it's a disaster. First Uncle Zach texted me that he wasn't coming and then you were late. Granddad's been an absolute grump all night, making angry noises and thumping his good hand. I'm not sure if it's because he doesn't want to be here or because Carrie's drunk and been hanging on Uncle Oakes. Then there's Grandma " Estelle shivered dramatically. "Well, you're going to have to see that for yourself." Her eyes welled. "I just wanted everything to be perfect, and instead, it's ruined."
He sighed. Hung his head. Women. Care about one of them too much and they'd get their hooks into youeither by the balls or by the gut. Either way, once they had you, you were never free.
He hoped like hell that, if he ever had children, he followed in his father's footsteps and had all boys.
He held out his arms, but Estelle lifted her chin. Stubborn as her father.
C.J. amped up his grin by a few degrees. "Come on, darlin'. Don't tell me you're going to stay mad at your favorite uncle."
"At the moment, Uncle Oakes is my favorite," she said, prissy as a princess to a peasant. But then she relented enough to step into his embrace. Wrap her arms around him for a hug.
He squeezed her hard. Kissed the top of her head. Damn, but he was crazy about her.
"Oakes is everyone's favorite," he said, not offended in the least to be usurped by his brother. If she'd wanted to go for the jugular, she would have picked Zach.
There wasn't anything he could do about his youngest brother not showing up, but he could take care of the rest for her. He looked over her head and scanned the room. People laughed and conversed around the round tables or stood in small groups, eating hors d'oeuvres and sipping tall flutes of champagne brought around by the waitstaff. Others had paired off, swaying to the band's acoustic rendition of Guns N' Roses' "November Rain," the lead singer's smoky voice giving the song a slow, seductive quality.
Among the dancers, it was easy enough to find his brother Kane and his new fiancée, Charlotte Ellison. Hard to miss Charlotte, with that bright beacon of short red hair. Usually more cute than beautiful, she was a knockout tonight in an emerald-green dress that showed off her long legs and gave her thin figure the illusion of curves. For his part, Kane still looked every inch the badass he pretended to be. One of only a few men without a suit, he'd tied back his too-long hair into a stupid, stubby ponytail and wore dark jeans and a white button-down shirt that covered his tattoos.
"For a disaster, everyone seems to be having a good time," C.J. said.
Estelle stepped back and nodded toward the room. "Look again."
He followed her gaze to the far window where Carrie was pressed like a second skin against a pale, grim-mouthed Oakes. Though Carrie was doing her best to get a reaction, Oakes stood still as a statue, his eyes straight ahead and not on her impressive breasts, which were spilling out of her pale yellow dress.
Poor bastard looked as though he'd been cornered by a pissed-off bobcat and not a perky blonde.
C.J. would have laughed if that perky blonde hadn't also happened to be married to their father. Problem number one.
"You say Carrie's drunk?" C.J. asked Estelle.
"The way she's been groping Uncle Oakes all night, she'd better be drunk. God. It's, like, completely disgusting. And with Granddad right there, too."
It was then that C.J. spotted his father, his once robust form slumped to the side of his wheelchair. The stroke Senior had suffered almost a year ago had stolen his ability to speak and paralyzed the right side of his body. But judging from the glare he was shooting at his wife and third son, his mind was still in working order. Behind him, Mark, his large bald nurse, took a hold of Senior under the arms and lifted him straight.
Senior slid down again. His mouth moved, his body jerked, and C.J. knew he was trying to say something, more than likely giving Mark, Oakes and Carrie hell.
Problem number two.
"But that's not the worst of it," Estelle said.
C.J. sent his niece a sidelong glance. "It gets worse?"
"Much." She looked so solemn. So serious. Not expressions she wore often. C.J. bit back a groan. What sort of fresh hell had he walked into? "Like, catastrophically worse."
She pointed to the dance floor. The band had started another song, this one an upbeat pop song. People bounced and danced along.
And there, surrounded by a circle of dancers, his mother did a slow bump and grind against a tall, dark-haired man.
C.J. grabbed the back of his neck. Squeezed hard. Worse, indeed.
Estelle nodded. "I know. It's gross." She made the mistake of looking at the dance floor again only to whirl back, horrified. "Ugh. Grandma Gwen just totally, like, groped him. In front of God and everybody." Estelle leaned forward, her voice a harsh whisper. "Like, her hand was on his butt squeezing andand stroking. I'm going to have to have my brain sprayed with bleach in the hopes of taking the memory out of my head. You have to do something, Uncle C.J. You're so good at fixing things."
He snorted. Right. He should be good at it. He'd had enough practice. He wouldn't mind a night off every now and then, but he couldn't refuse his niece. Couldn't refuse to do what had been his responsibility since birth.
Take care of his family.
"What would you suggest?" he asked.
"Make her stop."
If only it was that easy. But then, for Estelle, life was simple. She asked for something and got it. She was indulged at every turn, her every wish granted.
Tonight was no different.
He patted her hand. "I'll handle it."
She smiled and threw her arms around him for another hug, this one more enthusiastic and warmer than before. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! I know Daddy and Char will appreciate your help, too."
C.J. doubted that, but it wouldn't stop him from doing what was right.
His mother took that moment to rub her ass against her date's pelvis.
C.J. winced. He'd have to tag along when Estelle had her brain scrubbed.
"Excuse me, darlin'," he drawled to a teenage waitress as she passed. "You wouldn't happen to have any forks on you, would you?"
"They're just mini quiches " Frowning, she tipped her head to the side, her ponytail of light brown corkscrew curls bouncing with the movement. "Is that the proper plural form of quiche? Or is it one of those words like deer or fish?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wowo good book
The author has a really fun, humorists, realistic way to write about life, and difficult issues. This story made me laugh out loud, tear up, feel frustrated, and sigh. When Ivy and CJ find out they are going to have a baby together after one very hot night together, both of them make lots of mistakes, mistakes in how they tackle the situation, reactions to the news, reactions to the other person's reaction... It is like a snowball effect that starts to roll down the hill. Even though they grew up in very different kind of environments, there are similarities to the way their mothers were. But both CJ and Ivy are such control freaks, people who are afraid trust anyone, and both of them afraid, and determined not to, be like their parents, the mistakes, misunderstandings, and conflicts pile up. Also, there's a sub-plot of young Gracie and Luke, both of the plots deal with trust and second chances, expectations from others mirroring one's own failures and fears, how hard it is to have faith in the feelings, hope in the relationships. The stories are touching, and I admit, a bit heartbreaking, with the reality of the fact, how little people do trust each other, why relationships are so hard, and why it is so scary to open up to people, let them in to be part of your life. I love this story, it is the first of the series I have read, but certainly will keep an eye for the future installments of the series, since there were several questions I wanted answers to, events I wanted to witness, and most of all, the rambunctious, dysfunctional family I want to learn more about ~ Five Spoons!
About That Night is the first story that I have read by Beth Andrews. I received an ARC for an honest review and found the book to be fun, entertaining and heartfelt all at the same time. Opposites attract. Do everything backwards. Then end up in a sticky situation. If the central characters can learn to trust and follow their hearts, they could end up having everything they have every dreamed of. GREAT STORY!