TROUBLE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER . . .
Growing up poor and abandoned in Trouble, Wyoming, Lacy Taylor learned to be ready for anything-and to always prepare for the worst. She can handle a jailbird dad who won't stay lost and a sister she didn't know she had, but Chase McDermott might be her ultimate undoing. Never could she have predicted their long standing battle of wills would erupt into a sizzling, anytime-anywhere passion. Thrown off her game for the first time ever, Lacy figures the only way to fight fire is to turn up the heat . . .
Every woman in town would love to tie Chase down, but the happily footloose cowboy prefers to roam free. Still, if keeping Lacy hot, bothered, and riled up will help her deal with her troubles, he's happy to oblige. But when Chase gets a look at the vulnerable woman hiding behind Lacy's tough bravado, he can't help rethinking his no-commitments rule. Can Chase find the courage to leave his playboy days behind for good and prove he's worthy of Lacy's fragile trust . . . and her love?
About the Author
Erin Kern lives in north Texas with her husband, two kids and their dog. She loves BBQ, Texas sunsets, antiquing and high school football games. The first book in the Champion Valley series, Winner Takes All, was published in August, 2016 and was inspired by Erin's love of Texas football, small towns and happy endings.
When she's not at the computer working on her next tale, she can be found spending time with her kids or curled up with a good book.
Read an Excerpt
Here Comes Trouble
By Erin Kern
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 Erin Kern
All rights reserved.
The second Lacy Taylor opened her front door, she knew the two men standing outside weren't members of the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol. She'd watched enough FBI Files to know a federal agent when she saw one. Remarkably bland, dark suits, crisp white shirts, and cheap ties could only be an ensemble put together by an officer of the government.
Lacy stood with her hand on the door frame, not bothering to invite them in for drinks. They probably wouldn't accept, anyway.
"Miss Lacy Taylor?"
He'd called her Miss. How polite.
The taller man who addressed her, roughly the size of Santa Claus with thick sandy hair, looked at her with amber-colored eyes and a bored expression.
The other man, whose skin was as dark as the coffee beans she'd ground up that morning, also looked at her with a bland expression. Was that something they were taught in FBI school, or wherever these two exciting gentlemen were from?
"Yeah, I'm Lacy," she answered after holding them in suspense long enough. They were probably the type of men who didn't appreciate being held in suspense.
The larger man who'd been so patiently awaiting her answer pulled a black wallet-looking thing from inside his suit coat. "I'm Detective Whistler and this," he said with a jerk of his head at the shorter, wiry man, "is my partner, Detective Parks."
Detective Whistler held his impressive-looking identification in front of her face. To appease him, she leaned forward and read the ID. Yep, according to the miniscule piece of paper, he was indeed Detective Paul Whistler, from the St. Helena Police Department. But then again, what did she know about government IDs? She could be staring at a forgery and not even know.
Detective Parks also held out his ID, like the good little partner he was.
Detective Jon Parks, St. Helena Police Department.
"You two are an awfully long way from St. Helena." Okay, so it wasn't the most cheerful way to greet two men who'd traveled so far to see little ol' her. Call her suspicious, but no good could come of two police officers coming to visit.
"Do you mind if we come in, Miss Taylor? We have a few questions to ask you."
So Detective Parks really did have a voice. The deep timbre, like Darth Vader's, didn't match his thin, lanky frame at all. Maybe that's why he waited so long to speak: shock factor.
"Questions about what?" she asked instead of inviting them in. Sweat, which had nothing to do with the lack of air-conditioning in her ancient house, beaded on her upper lip and started to trickle down her back. A warm breeze ruffled the thick, overgrown trees in the front yard but only made her swelter even more.
She waited for them to hit her with the words she knew were coming.
"We're looking for Dennis Taylor. Your father."
I just knew it!
Lacy never referred to Dennis Taylor as Father. That was a term a man had to earn. Someone who showed more devotion to his cheap whiskey and the hard cement floor of a jail cell was a man who definitely hadn't earned that name. The mention of him still played hell with her emotions, and the emptiness his absence had created inside her had yet to be filled. For years, Lacy had searched for a way to fill it, but she'd lost hope. But she didn't tell them that. They didn't need to know the sordid details of her depressing childhood.
"He's wanted for questioning in a series of robberies. We have reason to believe he may be in this area," Detective Parks continued in his deep, Darth Vader voice.
Robberies? It seemed good old Dennis had not progressed past petty thefts.
Lacy shifted from one bare foot to the other, the wooden floor slick beneath her sweaty feet. "What makes you think he'd be here?"
Detective Whistler withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket and blotted his forehead. "For one thing, an eyewitness spotted him about a mile from here."
"And the other thing?"
"You're here, Miss Taylor," Detective Parks said.
Lacy shifted her attention to him. "I'm not on speaking terms with Dennis. I haven't seen him in almost five years." Lacy had filed that day away in the part of her brain called Never Think About Again. Showing up at her place of employment with broken handcuffs attached to one wrist and demanding money was not a good way to get back in her good graces. She remembered reading somewhere that he'd been arrested—yet again—shortly after she'd sent him away empty-handed. That was the last time she'd heard anything about him. Five years later, she'd assumed he was still rotting in jail with the rest of society's losers.
"Really?" Detective Whistler and his partner exchanged curious glances. She couldn't fault them for being skeptical. She resisted the urge to stomp her feet like a child and demand they believe her.
"Did you know this is listed as his home address?" asked Detective Whistler.
Lacy resisted the urge to sigh. "I'm sure it is," she said with great patience. "But like I said, it's been a long time since I've seen him." Her hair brushed along her back when she shook her head. "That's all I can tell you." When the men exchanged yet another doubtful glance, she reiterated, "Look, I would love nothing more than for Dennis to slip into a dark hole somewhere and never emerge again. I don't know where he is."
The muscles in Detective Park's jaw clenched as he pulled a business card out of a shiny silver card holder. "Here's my card. It has both our cell numbers on it. If you hear anything or if he contacts you in any way, call either of us immediately. Doesn't matter what time."
Oh, she would definitely do that. For nothing more than to see the look on Dennis's face at being ratted out by his own daughter. Again.
Lacy took the plain white card with their information printed on it in basic black letters.
"Thank you," was all she could think to say.
Detective Whistler gave a nod. "Have a nice day." And the two of them walked down the cracked sidewalk to their unsurprisingly boring black sedan, got in, and drove away.
Lacy stared down the street long after the detectives had disappeared. So Dennis had returned to his old haunts, had he? She hoped to hell he didn't think he'd find help here. Except maybe help back to jail.
She shut the door on the heat outside and walked through her even hotter house. Middle of summer was such an inconvenient time for a broken air conditioner, especially since she couldn't afford to fix the stupid thing.
Boris, her late Grandpa Ray's beloved English mastiff, lay snoring on the threadbare area rug in the living room. The dummy hadn't even flinched when the doorbell rang.
"Some watchdog you are."
His response was another loud snore and a twitch of his leg. Boris was a very twitchy sleeper.
Ray had purchased the mastiff as a pup about eight years ago and affectionately named him after the famous old-time actor Boris Karloff. Boris wasn't too bright and refused to sleep on the bed Lacy had purchased for him.
She took the hair tie out of her jean shorts' pocket and pulled her hair into a ponytail. Hell, she couldn't even afford a haircut. Waitressing didn't exactly afford her to enjoy the lap of luxury.
That was another thing she'd inherited from Ray: a mountain of debt.
Something licked Chase's face. Something with a very small, warm, and prickly tongue. It moved from his chin up to his nose. Unless a stray animal had somehow meandered into his house during the night, Chase would say he was in someone else's room.
He opened one bleary eye and was greeted by blinding sunlight.
Son of a bitch.
The bright, cheery light pierced his skull like a thousand nails hammering into his brain. The pressure made every part of his head throb. He recognized the symptoms for what they were: a hangover.
Now, if he could figure out where the hell he was, all would be right with the world.
The thing licking his face moved to his ear. Chase struggled to lift his arm, which had turned leaden along with his pounding head, and swatted the creature away. His hand came in contact with coarse fur and a deep growling meow sounded in his ear. His brain just about pounded through his skull. He groaned and rolled over onto his stomach.
Maybe Garfield had a shotgun and could put him out of his misery. The arms of sleep wrapped around him once again but retreated when a soft, warm, bare leg rubbed along his.
Dark, curly hair came into fuzzy view when Chase managed to open both his eyes. He thought he recognized her, but ... no. Who did he know with dark, curly hair? Hell, he knew a dozen women who fit that description.
"Hello, lover." The husky, sleep-riddled voice was like ants crawling down his legs.
"Why are you shouting?" he mumbled into the pillow. "No shouting. Must be quiet."
The nameless woman next to him cackled like a witch and her leg slid farther over his. "I think someone had too much to drink last night."
Chase's only response was a grunt. Maybe if he ignored her, she'd shut up and go away so he could go to sleep.
The persistent woman didn't get his hint. "Come on, Chase. You promised me one more time," she whined. Chase hated it when women whined.
One more time his ass. He had no clear memory of last night, of even the first time, never mind one more time. He couldn't even keep his eyes open long enough to get a clear picture of her face. Maybe if she closed her curtains at night like a normal person, he could wake up without staring straight into the sun until his eyes boiled in his skull.
Slowly, images from the last twelve hours or so formed in his mind. He remembered closing up the restaurant after work and walking to his truck. It had been late, around midnight, the parking lot mostly empty. Chase squeezed his eyes tighter as the mystery woman next to him scraped her fingernails over his ass. What the hell was her name? She had been leaning against his truck when he walked out of the restaurant. She'd held a six-pack of beer in one hand and a bottle of Jack in the other. That would explain the hangover.
"Chasey ..." She placed a kiss on his shoulder blade.
Ah, hell. Only one woman had the balls to call him Chasey.
Sonja Hartley, a woman with more beauty than brains. Her hair had been straight the last time he'd seen her; that's why he hadn't recognized her. They'd gone on a few dates about a year ago, but their relationship had never progressed past casual dinner and inventive sex. He remembered driving her to her house. His elementary detective skills deduced they had gotten shit-faced, then tumbled into bed. Great. It was like being back in college.
He groaned again and rolled over, if only to stop her from groping his ass. No way was he going another round with this woman. Had he been sober, he probably never would have gone the first round.
"You promised me, Chase." Her tone had gone from sweet and pleading to more demanding.
He tried one more time to open his eyes. The light was still blinding, but this time he managed to hold them open and blink the room into focus.
Holy hell! It was like Walt Disney had thrown up in here. What was the name of the princess who had her own castle at Disneyland? Cinderella? Chase imagined her room looking something like this. The bed was one of those four-poster canopy things with a sheer, gauzy curtain draped across the top. The rest of the room had white furniture and pink, girly shit strewn about on every available surface. If he had to wake up in this room every day, he'd throw himself in front of a truck.
"Chase, I'm serious. I have to be at work in an hour, and I know how you like to take your time."
"What the hell time is it?" he rasped, his throat sore and dry, as though he'd spent the night swallowing pinecones.
Sonja leaned across him to check her watch, which she'd discarded on the nightstand. Her breasts scraped against his chest. He had to get away from this woman. His mind was pretty logical about these things, but his manly parts weren't. They tended to respond whenever seeing a remotely attractive woman.
"It's eight o'clock," she responded.
Fabulous. He should have been at work an hour ago. He hoped his father had had a late morning, too, and wouldn't notice his tardiness. Not likely.
He kicked off the hideous, flowery, girly comforter and stood on weak legs. Not a great morning to skip his customary jog. He could really use the opportunity to regain his strength. Hell, he didn't even have time for a shower.
"Where're you going? I have a whole hour."
"I don't." He heard her moving underneath the sheets and avoided looking at her. "Where the hell are my clothes?" He'd spotted his jeans on the other side of the room, but the rest were nowhere to be seen.
"I think your shirt and shoes are still in the living room."
He swiped his jeans off the floor and was about to pull them on when he remembered he was still buck-naked. "Where's my underwear?"
"I don't know." Fake innocence laced the morning huskiness of her voice. She'd pulled herself upright and held the lavender sheet around her breasts. She watched him with deep blue eyes while nibbling on a baby-pink nail.
The last time they'd been together, she'd somehow gotten hold of his watch. Reluctantly he'd driven back here to retrieve it, at which time she'd tried to get him into bed. Heck, maybe she did have brains after all.
"What'd you do with it?" He was starting to feel foolish, standing bare-ass naked in the middle of her room.
She pulled her knees up to her chest. "I swear I didn't do anything with it. Maybe it got kicked under the bed. You were kind of in a hurry," she said with a wicked and knowing smile.
He regarded her with suspicion; she only returned his stare with the same naughty tilt of her unpainted lips. His underwear wasn't under the bed. It could be anywhere, considering he couldn't remember taking it off.
"Screw it," he said, pulling the jeans on. "I'm going commando."
Naked, Sonja walked on her knees to the edge of the bed and ran her index finger over his chest. "Why are you in such a hurry? I'm offering you more sex." Her finger continued its journey down his stomach and into his pants, along with the rest of her hand.
Damn persistent woman. He managed to tear her hand away right before it wrapped around his not-so-sensible parts. "Will you stop molesting me? I'm late for work."
She sat on her heels and crossed her arms under her breasts, completely unconcerned by her nudity. "I see you still live by the same bang-and-run motto."
"You got that right." He tossed the words over his shoulder as he walked out of her room. Sure enough, his shirt lay by the front door, along with his socks and shoes. He gathered them up and walked outside to his truck.
The early morning air was already warm, promising another unbearably hot day. Chase left his shirt off and tossed it onto the passenger seat as he climbed into the vehicle. His phone, which had been left in the cup holder all night, beeped annoyingly at him from the second he sat down. The leather seat burned his backside, one spot in particular on his left shoulder blade. He ignored the pain and picked up his phone.
One voice message. Probably his father ripping him a new one for being late.
"Where the hell are you? There's food missing from the refrigerator. Drag yourself out of whoever's bed you're in and get your ass here."
Yep, his father definitely didn't sound happy. Maybe he'd just say his alarm clock broke.
What a morning to have a hangover.
Twenty minutes later, with combed hair and fresh clothes, Chase walked into McDermott's to face a less-than-pleased Martin. At eight-thirty in the morning, the restaurant was empty except for his father and the head chef, who were gathered in the kitchen. Like every morning, sous-chefs were at work pressing fresh pasta and cutting vegetables for the day's meals.
"What happened?" Chase walked across the large room and came to a stop in front of the two men.
His father turned to acknowledge him. "You're an hour and a half late."
"Sorry. I overslept." That was as close to the truth as he'd get. "Your message said there's food missing from the fridge."
"Five pounds of halibut are missing." A muscle in his father's jaw tensed.
"How do you know?"
"I did a supply check last night when I left. I counted fifteen pounds of halibut. When I got here this morning, there were only ten pounds," Henry said. Unlike most chefs, Henry's demeanor was calm. He was one of those men with very unremarkable looks, except for the russet-colored Fu Manchu and the sideburns that grew all the way down to his jawbone. Other than that, his five-foot-nine height made it hard for him to intimidate anyone. But the man could cook anything.
Excerpted from Here Comes Trouble by Erin Kern. Copyright © 2013 Erin Kern. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Here Comes Trouble is the second book in Erin Kern¿s Trouble series. Each book can be read as a standalone. This novel is a contemporary romance set in Wyoming. The novel does have some editing issues, but not enough to deter from the overall reading experience. The tale centers on Lacy Taylor, a strong independent girl, who doesn¿t know the meaning of luck. She has had a crush on her best friend¿s brother Chase McDermott since high school. The sparks flying off these too is both hilarious and romantic. The two of them bicker back and forth like an old married couple. He knows just the right things to say and do to infuriate and frustrate her. Chase loves seeing her get flustered and can¿t figure out what it is that he likes about her, since she is defiantly not his type. When Lacy is having trouble, Chase steps in to help and after an encounter with her estranged father she shows up on Chase¿s doorstep unexpected. It turns out to be a lot more than a social visit. What follows is a steamy off and on again romance, as the two of them try to get past their own personal demons. I was able to read Here Comes Trouble in a few hours, the story unfolded quickly and kept me entertained. The subplots were interesting and gave the characters and their personality¿s credibility. If you are looking for a quick easy feel good romance you will enjoy Here Comes Trouble. I want to thank the BookRooster Team for providing me with this copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
This is the second book in the series, I have to say I did not enjoy it as much as the first book. The concept was unoriginal. And it seemed like there was too many other subplots.