The only thing that could bring Liam Monroe back to Haven, Georgia, is his loyalty to his late sisterso he’s agreed to serve as a chef at the resort his brothers have built in her honor. But he’s not staying. At least that’s the plan. . .
Macy Hayward always admired the Monroes. Adopting four kids—including the brooding, mysterious Liam—they were an example of the loving family she wanted for herself someday. Now, ironically, Macy’s got an unexpected new tenant in the apartment above her hardware store: none other than Liam.
Most of Liam’s furniture consists of weightlifting equipment, since he has no intention of settling in. He can’t wait to run away again, from his brothers and his bitter memories—and from Macy, with her relentlessly seductive curves. Still, while he’s around, he should do the poor woman a favor and teach her to cook, before she poisons someone. . .
Soon, their sessions in the kitchen are getting spicy. But Macy has roots in Haven, and she wants to plant more, including taking in a little girl who needs a home. Meanwhile, Liam has an opportunity for his own restaurant in Atlanta. Will choosing love mean giving up their separate dreams? Or will the heart find a way?. . .
Praise for Jules Bennett and Wrapped in You
“Another page turner—I couldn't put it down!” –LoriFoster New York Times bestselling author
“A solid contemporary.” –Publishers Weekly
About the Author
National bestselling author Jules Bennett is a former salon owner turned full‑time author. Considering she met her husband at the age of fourteen and they’ve been together since, Jules knows a thing or two about romance and happily ever after. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children. When Jules isn’t creating emotional, witty stories, she’s spending time with her family, working out or procrastinating on social media. She loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her through Facebook, Twitter, or her website: julesbennett.com.
Read an Excerpt
Lost in You
By Jules Bennett
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Jules Bennett
All rights reserved.
Macy tried to ignore the footsteps overhead as she went through her evening routine. As the owner of Knobs and Knockers, the only hardware store in Haven, Georgia, Macy ran a bustling business and often stayed after hours to accommodate customers.
Which was why she now found herself listening as her new tenant moved around upstairs. Her new tenant who drove her out of her ever-loving mind, who kept her awake at night, who monopolized her every thought ... well, most of them anyway. On occasion she also thought about tacos, so there was that.
And if Liam Monroe ever knew just how much mind time he inspired, he'd never let her live it down. Or he'd use it against her, which would be mortifying, because if he rejected her ...
Ugh. She ignored the path her thoughts had traveled and focused on something she could actually control. Control ... something she prided herself on, something that had gotten her through the past several years.
Macy shoved the cash and receipts into her bank bag and tucked the bulk beneath her arm. She needed to get out of the store before she had a run-in with Mr. Sexy Tenant. Liam had moved in a few months ago and she'd tried to avoid any face-to-face time when no one else was around to buffer.... So far so good.
Even though she'd known him since she was a teen, she'd never been more aware of her feelings where he was concerned. That teen crush had vanished, replaced by something intense and much more grown up. She couldn't describe how she felt now that he was back home. Knowing he was so close made her want to reach out to him, but then that fear from her past, the fear of his reaction, had her hesitating.
Damn fear. Why did she let that control her? She'd wanted one man for years, and now that he was here, she went on about her life like everything was perfectly normal.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Slinking in and out the door of her own business was absolutely not normal. Her heart accelerating each time she heard heavy footsteps upstairs was not normal.
Yet here she stood with bank bag in hand, just like every night the past two months he'd been here. The internal battle between her angel and devil never more prominent. He wasn't in town to pick up where he'd left off years ago. Not that they had shared anything to pick up. Her attraction had clearly been one-sided because she was pretty sure he didn't even flick a glance her way other than on friendly terms.
No, what brought Liam back to Haven — reluctantly — had been his family. He and his brothers, Zach and Braxton, were now owners of Bella Vous, a women-only resort and spa. The fact that three rough-around-the-edges mmen now owned something so dainty and feminine would be laughable if the circumstances surrounding their decision weren't so tear-jerkingly sweet.
Their late sister, Chelsea, had created this vision, going so far as to keep notebooks and journals about a place for women to go and relax, take a break from reality, or just have a fun girls' trip. When Chelsea unexpectedly passed away, the guys banded together to make her dream a reality.
Granted, it took Liam a bit longer to come around, but the bad blood between him and Zach had been somewhat settled ... as much as possible, considering their past and the ordeal they had been thrust into.
Just before the grand opening, Bella Vous lost its chef when the lady who'd been hired opted to take off with her boyfriend on a cross-country trip. Needless to say, the Monroe brothers were in a bind, and since Liam had been let go from his hoity-toity position at an upscale place in Savannah, he decided to fill in.
Macy knew Liam didn't want to be here. He never came out and said the words; he didn't have to. His actions, his apparent unhappiness, spoke volumes. But as much as Liam wasn't keen on being back in the town that reminded him of the tragic night that had altered his life, he wasn't about to let his family down when they needed him most.
And the last minute change of plans had left him with nowhere to live ... until Zach's intended, Sophie, mentioned the apartment over Knobs and Knockers.
So, now Macy had to hightail it out of her own territory because the man she'd been infatuated with since high school was invading her space.
As soon as she grabbed her keys from the shelf beneath the counter, Macy froze. Those footsteps overhead were now on the steps ... as in coming down the steps. Toward her. She'd hung around too long. It wasn't like she could make a mad dash for the door now.
Gripping the keys in one hand, she grabbed the bag from beneath her arm and whirled around to the back of her store. Clad in well-worn jeans and a black T-shirt that molded to his muscular form, Liam met her gaze as he crossed the wide aisle toward the counter.
The scar running along the left side of his face might have been intimidating to some, making him appear harsh, but to Macy he was the sexiest man she'd ever met. And that scar was a reminder of how close they'd all come to losing him. His broad frame, those dark eyes fanned with dark lashes, and an intense gaze only added to the appeal. The ink peeking from beneath the short sleeve didn't hurt, either. Would it be too forward to ask him to take the shirt off? Just to see the rest of the tattoo, that's all. Maybe she could trace it with her finger ... or tongue.
Yeah, this was no teenage crush anymore. This was full-on adult hormones with very adultish images scrolling through her mind each time she saw him.
"I need some putty for the faucet in the bathroom upstairs," he told her in that low, gravely tone that covered her entire body with chills in a very delicious way.
Focus, Macy. The man needs putty, not drool.
Macy loved this old building, which was full of charm; however, charm and old often went hand in hand with renovations and repairs. She'd lived above the hardware store her entire life. Her grandparents had started the business and saved money by living upstairs.
Then the store was passed to her parents when they married. Macy had never known another home until a few months ago. She and her father had moved when Macy decided to build a house, with an apartment built on the back of her garage for her father. Needless to say, she was adjusting to a new life from every possible angle.
"I'll come up and fix it." She sat her bag and keys on the counter. "Let me grab the putty."
Macy moved around the old, scarred wrap counter that sat in the middle of the store. Liam didn't budge as she approached him. She'd always been tall, but next to him she felt tiny, feminine. For a woman being five feet ten inches and owning a hardware store, Macy relished the simplest things that made her feel like a woman ... like her slight addiction to pretty lingerie. She'd always been athletic, not the type to paint her face with makeup or wear the latest styles. Sports and tools had been her staples growing up. Oh, and her cowgirl boots. She never left home without them.
"I'll fix it." He tipped his head slightly to the left, a habit she noticed and knew he didn't even realize he was doing. The vain attempt at hiding his scar came second nature to him. "Just give me the tub."
Macy crossed her arms, her elbows brushing slightly against his chest. Well, hello there, glorious muscle tone.
"You're my tenant," she reminded him, though she was mentally reminding herself as well. "I'll take care of any problems."
"I can fix the damn sink, Macy."
Why did she have to watch his lips as he said her name? Did she enjoy the torture? Apparently masochism was another trait she possessed. He didn't say her name often, but when he did she took a moment to savor the way his low, throaty tone delivered the simple word.
Macy placed a hand on his chest, to move him and to get a feel for those pecs again, and pushed him aside. She made her way to the front of the store where she'd just finished the plumbing display with all the essentials for a DIY project. Had she not stayed after to finish this project, she wouldn't be dealing with her sexy tenant.
The second she wrapped her fingers around the tub of putty, Liam reached over her shoulder and covered her hand. The warmth from his body radiated against her back and Macy closed her eyes, gritted her teeth, and willed herself not to whirl around and plaster herself against him. Would that be coming on too strong?
Still, she could take just a moment and memorize the way he perfectly curled his fingers against her own.
Flirting was second nature to her. Liam wasn't the only one with scars; Macy's just happened to be on the inside. Physical relationships were all she did. One time she'd allowed herself to foolishly fall into young lust, and she'd never been the same since.
Men were too easy. They tended to want one thing, so she gave it ... on her terms. She always remained in complete control over what she would give. Never again would a man hold any power over her — power laced with undeniable strength.
But Macy knew Liam wouldn't be easy. She knew he wasn't going to just go away or get out of her mind. Liam was a complication she couldn't afford. She'd barely recovered from the last time she opened herself and that had been years ago. She'd come back to heal from the assault, and she was still here.
"Go on home," he told her, prying the tub from her hand. "I've got this."
When she could pull in a good, solid breath, Macy turned. "Do we have to argue about this?" One broad shoulder lifted in a shrug. "I'm not arguing. I'm going upstairs to fix my sink, hit the punching bag, then try a new recipe."
That combo pretty much summed up Liam Monroe. He was as complex and simple as that.
Her eyes raked over that form-fitting T. "You don't dress like a chef."
"My whites are in the wash."
He never missed a beat to come back with some sarcastic reply. That dry humor of his had always been another pull for her. Damn him for being appealing even when his snarky side kicked in.
"Dad has a poker game tonight, so no rush for me to hurry home with dinner," she said.
Macy tried to make sure her father had a nice meal each night, though she bought takeout and brought it back to her house. Cooking definitely wasn't one of her skills. Buying for two was actually cheaper than going to the store and cooking, especially considering she'd most likely burn the dish and they'd have to buy anyway. She was frugal that way.
Actually, Macy liked having her dad close. Though they each had their own space, he was in and out of the store often, most likely checking up on her. This was the first time ever they hadn't lived under the same roof except that brief period she was away at college.
"It's Friday," Liam commented. "Go get ready for your date and just deduct the putty from my rent."
It took her a moment, but the words sank in. "I don't have a date tonight," Macy stated, propping her hands on her hips. Of course he'd assume she had a date. She dated often. She knew what people thought, though they were usually discreet about saying anything. Nobody knew she used her social life as a mask for the pain. Nobody would ever know.
Liam stared at her for another minute before shaking his head and turning away. Without a word, he started for the back of the store and went right on up the steps. Seriously? Did he think because he said so that she would just go on home? Apparently he didn't know her at all.
They'd been a few years apart in school and Macy had been swamped with keeping her good grades up and being the star player of her softball team. But she still made time to daydream and appreciate the sultry, sexy Liam Monroe. The oldest of the Monroe boys and the quietest. Why were those silent types the most intriguing?
Since she had been friends with his late sister, Chelsea, Macy had been able to get a little closer to Liam than just random passes through the hall at school. But when Liam was in an accident that left him scarred, he pulled away from people, his family most of all. That all happened around the same time Macy went off to college on a softball scholarship.
Little did she know her entire life would change in the most drastic of ways.
Shoving aside her mother's untimely death and the incident she refused to give her thoughts to, Macy made sure the store alarm was set, the outside lights turned off. Then she marched right up those steps and pounded on the door to Liam's apartment.
The entire second floor was an open living space, save for the two bedrooms and bath. Her grandparents had bought the old building with a dream and a vision. They'd established the hardware store and when her mother took over, she'd put a small shop on one side of the store that had home accents. Her grandparents had been too poor to do so. So they had lived in the upstairs, but they let nothing stand in the way of their dream.
Macy's parents had eventually renovated the space during their married life and never moved. Her father always joked that the commute was too convenient.
Macy had grown up here and the place still felt so much like home. A home when her entire world had been right, had been all sunshine and rainbows. These walls could tell so many stories of laughter, Christmas mornings, slumber parties, and late night movies. Reality and fate hit her hard when she'd been eighteen, though.
And now Liam lived here. She'd never had an intention of renting the space out, but he needed a place to live and she'd lost her mind for a split second and extended the invitation when Sophie suggested he stay.
Macy waited, but the door remained closed. Blowing out a frustrated sigh, she turned the knob and let herself in. She'd see his stubborn and raise him one.
As soon as she stepped inside, memories rushed back to her. Her father had left nearly all the furniture when he'd moved out. The familiar old brown couch sat against the wall to the right. Her mother had always wanted it in the middle of the floor with a sofa table behind it. She'd wanted people who came to visit to mingle and feel comfortable. The television wasn't in the same spot as she'd remembered, either. So many things were the same, yet completely different.
Liam's stamp now imprinted the only home she'd ever known. Tennis shoes to the left of the entrance, wallet and keys on the small table by the door. A single coffee mug rested on the corner of the sink; a large stand mixer that looked quite expensive was on the counter. There were massive-looking free weights by the coffee table. The visual image of Liam pumping iron and sweating wasn't something she needed. She was trying to mentally detach herself.
Apparently Liam wasn't too keen on unpacking. The entire wall separating the living room from the main bedroom was lined with stacked boxes. Each one labeled with thick, black marker indicating the contents.
Macy had lived up here with her father until just a few months ago, when she'd gotten her own home. But this simple space would always be hers, no matter who else lived here.
Her eyes drifted to the wood trim around the door. The pencil lines and dates had her reaching out, trailing her fingertips over the visible memory. Such innocent times, such sweet nostalgia.
"I didn't invite you in."
Macy glanced over her shoulder, blinked back the moisture, and shrugged. "You didn't lock the door, either."
Liam stood in the doorway of the room she used to call her own. If he noticed her getting all teary, he didn't say anything. Macy pushed her hair away from her face, cursing herself for leaving it down today. Ponytails were her best friend.
"I'm not being difficult," she started. "I would be here no matter the tenant. I don't expect you to do any repairs and I actually meant to replace the entire sink and faucet before you moved in, but I didn't have time. That was the only thing I didn't get to when we renovated."
"I don't need anything new, so don't replace it on my account. I hope I'm not here very long."
Macy froze. He'd leave Haven? His family? "What?"
Liam muttered a curse and turned toward the kitchen, which was only separated from the living area by a large center island. "Nothing. Just go on, Macy. I have things to do."
Excerpted from Lost in You by Jules Bennett. Copyright © 2017 Jules Bennett. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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