Book #2 in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase's dazzling new series
The Shaughnessy Brothers are back
He lives by a schedule
Aubrey Burke is on the run from an about-to-be-disastrous mistake when resort owner Hugh Shaughnessy catches her climbing through his office window. Until Aubrey tumbled into his life, Hugh had relied on work and discipline to safeguard a heart damaged by family tragedy. Now his careful world will never be the same.
She lives for the moment
Hugh's approach to life and love is the opposite of Aubrey's, but she soon finds herself falling hard for the handsome hotel mogul. There's a darker reason behind her "live for today" attitude than Hugh could possibly know, but for the first time Aubrey dares to hope this man's love might make it worth taking a chance on the future.
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Love Walks In
By Samantha Chase
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Samantha Chase
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It was completely unacceptable.
"I don't think I understand."
Hugh Shaughnessy straightened the cell phone that sat on his desk until it was completely in line with the rest of the items there — all while keeping eye contact with his assistant Dorothy. "I said," he began slowly, "it isn't going to work for me. It's unacceptable. Tell her no."
Dorothy shifted nervously. "Um ... I don't think that's an option, Hugh. You ... you can't exactly ..." She hesitated, clearly trying to choose her words. "What I mean is, I don't think you get a say in this."
He arched a brow at her. "Really?"
"I could see if it was a request for time off or for vacation, but ..."
"Technically, she is asking for time off," he said reasonably.
"No. What she's doing is quitting," Dorothy stated in the same tone.
A sigh of frustration escaped before Hugh could stop it. He rose and crossed the office to stare out the open window. "Tell her we require a minimum of two weeks' notice or else."
"Or else what?"
Looking over his shoulder, he replied, "Or there'll be no letter of recommendation. If anything, I'll make sure she never works in the industry again."
"Don't you think it's a little harsh?"
Turning and walking back to his desk, Hugh sat down, clearly restless. "Don't you think it's a little harsh for Heather to quit — with no notice — because she fell in love and wants to run off and get married in Vegas?"
Dorothy chuckled, quickly stopping when she noticed the glare on her boss's face. "Personally, I think it's romantic."
"Vegas? That's romantic for you? We run some of the most beautiful and romantic resorts in the country — hell, the world! — and you're choosing Vegas?" he snapped.
"Now I didn't say that, Hugh." She bristled. "What I said was how I thought the whole thing was romantic — meaning the relationship. Heather and Dave have waited so long for this and with his military service coming to an end, they can finally get married. And they're going to have a baby and —"
"She really hasn't told anyone, but clearly you can see why they're anxious to get married."
Honestly, he didn't. People had babies all the time without rushing out and getting married. He didn't agree with it, but that's the way it was. The fact that his special events coordinator was deserting him on such short notice to do it? Well, it just added fuel to the fire.
Folding his arms on the desk, Hugh looked at his assistant pleadingly. "Dorothy, we are getting ready to start a very busy season at our resorts. We've got full calendars. And on top of that, you know I've been courting a new wine distributor. He's due here tomorrow. Heather is supposed to sit in on those meetings and come up with a presentation to convince him to do business with us. Can't you convince her to stay through the end of the month?"
"Hugh, you're not listening. Heather's gone. She wasn't giving us a heads-up, she wasn't giving us an option. She stopped by earlier — with her bags packed, loaded, and waiting in a cab — and said good-bye. She's probably at the airport right now waiting to board a flight. Face it, we have to come up with a plan B."
"You'll have to sit in on the meeting and come up with the presentation. You know what we're looking for. You can just —"
"Hold it right there, chief," she said sternly, holding out a hand to stop him. "That is not going to happen."
"There are many things in my job description, but party and event planning isn't one of them. From everything you've told me, this guy is a little high maintenance and demands perfection. My idea of a party consists of inexpensive wine, cheese and crackers, and a deck of cards."
Hugh rolled his eyes. "Dotty ..."
"I'm serious, Hugh. I'm from another generation. I don't understand yours. My friends and I enjoy going out for a quiet dinner and then playing mah-jongg. We're not into music or the latest trends. Trust me, having me work on this would not help you in any way, shape, or form."
Unfortunately, Hugh knew she was right. He just hated being in a jam like this, and having Dorothy's help would have simplified everything. Scrubbing a weary hand across his face, he looked back at her. "Any suggestions then?"
"Off the top of my head? No. But give me a few hours to make some calls and I'll see what I can do."
"This is a nightmare," he grumbled.
Reaching across the desk, Dorothy patted his hand. "It's definitely not the greatest thing to have happened, but it's far from the worst. We'll make it work. We always do." With an encouraging smile, she turned and walked out of the room.
With a curse, Hugh reached for the phone and began scrolling through his contacts. Surely he had to know someone who could take over the position on short notice. Hell, right now he'd even consider letting his sister come and do it. Darcy was in her first year of college back in North Carolina and he needed someone right here in California, but maybe she could get school credit for this. While she didn't technically have any experience, she was young and social and in touch with the latest trends. Hell, her vivacious personality alone would be an asset.
"Now I know I'm getting desperate," he muttered. Pulling his eighteen-year-old sister out of school was not the solution to this. Although ...
The buzzing of the phone in his hand brought him out of his reverie. His brother Aidan's face showed up on the screen and Hugh almost wept with relief. A distraction was exactly what he needed right now.
"Aidan! What's up, man? You don't normally call midday."
"You know, you use that greeting on me no matter what time I call," he replied with a chuckle. "Is there a time slot when I'm supposed to call that I don't know about? Did I miss the spreadsheet?"
Hugh couldn't help but smile. He knew Aidan was right. He should be thankful for a friendly voice on the phone and not nitpick about when it came. "Sorry, bro. You just always seem to catch me off guard."
"Maybe let your guard down every once in a while. Live a little."
"Ha! This coming from the king of control. Nice!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah ... once upon a time that was me. Clearly I've passed the torch on to you."
"Whatever. So what's going on? Everyone okay?"
"Yeah, everyone's fine. I wanted to talk to you about ... um ... well, Zoe and I were thinking of having a destination wedding. And the more we talked about it, the more we figured who better to get advice from than you. So? What do you think?"
"Wow! So you're ready to start making plans? That's great! I didn't realize you were there yet."
"If it was up to me, we'd be married already. Zoe wanted us to settle in and spend time getting to know each other more, and get her business off the ground before we started planning a wedding."
"So she's ready to branch out on her own? What about Martha?"
"She's still going to do stuff with Martha, but it's going to be more like a partnership. Martha deals more with commercial accounts and Zoe really enjoys doing residential. They've been playing around with the idea for a while, and they're going to give it a trial run."
"How do you feel about it?"
Aidan chuckled. "I want Zoe to be happy and she's much happier being her own boss and choosing her own clients. So we'll see how it all goes. But that's a story for another time. We want to talk to you about options for the wedding. We want to meet with you and your event person and figure out which resort fits our needs and what the availability is. I think it would be great for the family."
"What do you mean?"
"Hugh ... when was the last time Dad went anywhere?"
Too long ago. "Okay, stupid question. Sorry. So this is your way of forcing him to break out of his rut."
"He's been making progress since Darcy left for school but ... baby steps. He goes bowling with the guys once a week, he went fishing last weekend with the same group."
"For him, it's huge. At least he's spending time with friends."
"Yeah, but it's still ... He's still sticking close to home. You travel. Riley travels. Hell, even Owen travels. But Dad?"
"Fine. I don't travel either. So it will be good for a few of us. Happy?"
Hugh laughed. "Extremely."
"Okay, so who do we need to talk to and what's your schedule like? Zoe and I are open to flying to wherever you are so we can talk in person."
"Here's the thing — I'm happy for you guys. I really am. You've just caught me at a bad time."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were busy. Why didn't you cut me off? You can call me later or —"
"No, no, no. That's not what I mean. I mean it's a bad time — my events coordinator just quit and I don't have a replacement lined up."
"Is that all?"
"Is that all?" Hugh repeated incredulously. "It's huge! We have a lot of events scheduled and without someone overseeing them, it could be a disaster!"
"She wasn't your only event coordinator, Hugh. I mean that would be ..."
"She was your only events person? You own twelve resorts, Hugh! How is that possible?"
If there was one thing Hugh hated more than chaos, it was being questioned on how he managed his business. "Look, Aidan, you run a construction business. You have no idea how to do things in the hospitality business. I know I have twelve resorts, but they're small. Intimate. We're like a family. Each resort has someone who acts as an assistant to Heather, but she was the go-to on all events."
"That's just weird. And probably not the smartest managerial decision you've ever made."
"And we're done here."
"Okay, okay ... I'm sorry. Look, give me a call when the smoke clears so we can set up a meeting. Like I said, Zoe and I aren't in a huge rush and we're willing to meet you wherever you are."
"I appreciate it, I do. But you're going to have to give me something to go on here. Are you thinking beach? Mountains? Do you want to stay stateside? Or were you thinking of Australia?"
"Get things settled where you are, Hugh, then we'll talk. Trust me, Zoe and I can wait until you're ready."
"Thanks, man. I'll give you a call soon."
Hugh placed the phone back down on his desk and sighed. Yeah, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to have one main events coordinator, but Heather had been the best. She oversaw her staff and managed to make every event unique. Now he had to figure out how to move forward and find a replacement.
He looked up when Dorothy knocked and poked her head back through the door. He knew immediately the news wasn't good. It was written all over her face. "What? What's happened now?"
"Your wine guy? William Bellows?"
"He's arriving today."
"No. He's arriving tomorrow."
She shook her head. "His assistant just called. He's on his way now. He wrapped up his other business early. She called to make sure we would have a suite ready for him."
Cursing, Hugh stood and kicked his chair out of the way. "This is unbelievable! I can't catch a break today!"
"I did manage to tell her you would be tied up in meetings and would have to stick to your original plans with him. She said it would be fine."
"Okay," she began, stepping farther into the room. "Again, it's not an ideal situation but it's not a catastrophe either. We'll make sure his suite is ready, we'll arrange for spa services and dinner and keep him pampered like a VIP. In the meantime, we'll continue to figure out who you're going to use as a replacement for Heather."
"Where's Josie? She's worked as Heather's assistant here. We'll use her as a temp."
Dorothy shook her head.
"What? Why not?"
"She's on vacation. Two weeks."
"So call her in. Tell her it's an emergency."
"Already tried. She's in Europe."
"Has everyone stopped working?" Hugh yelled. "How is it possible all of this fell into place like this?"
He glared at her. "Not the time, Dotty."
"Can I ask you something?"
He nodded even as he rubbed his temple to ward off the headache that was building.
"Why are you freaking out so much about this meeting? I've never seen you like this before and you've done business with people from all over the world. What is it about this guy that has you so overwhelmed?"
Hugh dropped his hands into his lap. "He's a little ... eccentric. Unconventional."
Dorothy quirked a brow at him. "Unconventional in what way?"
"He's not the kind of guy who follows any kind of plan. He tends to go with the flow and follow his gut instincts ... that sort of thing. One time, he was on vacation in Italy and hired a guy to handle sales of a particular wine here in the U.S. just because he liked his shoes! And the guy didn't even speak English!"
"The guy he hired or Mr. Bellows?"
"I'm glad you're having fun with this," he said in a near growl. "The guy he hired! Then Bellows hired a tutor to teach the guy English!"
"And? How did it turn out?"
Hugh raked a hand through his hair. "He's the top salesman in the company."
"Oh dear," she murmured. "And you want to do business with him? You're his complete opposite! How are you going to handle working without any structure? You know how much you hate that."
"I know, I know." He sighed. "Honestly, I'm hoping if I present a completely well-thought-out plan to him, he'll simply agree to go along with it. There won't need to be any gut instinct or flowing because I'll have it all covered."
She chuckled, and when Hugh glared at her, Dorothy quickly placed a hand over her mouth. Clearing her throat, she continued, "You're not counting on that, are you?"
Hugh straightened in his seat. "As a matter of fact, I am. That's why this presentation has to be flawless!"
"Oh, Hugh ..."
"Look, I'm getting it all worked out. It's not the way I envisioned but ..."
"You're just going to go with the flow?" she finished and then smirked.
"Let's take a walk. We'll go over to the suite we're preparing for Mr. Bellows, check on the grounds. Sometimes a change of scenery can help us brainstorm. What do you say?"
"I'd say you're talking to me like I'm a moron, and I don't like it."
She smiled at him sweetly. "But are you coming with me?"
Dammit. Without a word, he strode from his office and waited for his assistant to catch up.
* * *
An hour later, Hugh strolled back to his office. His mind was still scrambling for a solution to his current crisis, but his eyes were fixed on the immaculate landscaping along the path between the resort buildings.
He had chosen every tree, every plant. He had worked with a team of electricians to ensure guests would be able to see at night without seeing the lights. There had been dozens of meetings to find the perfect combination of mulch and stone and brick. He'd made every decision. He'd solved every crisis.
But for the life of him, he didn't have a clue how to solve this current one.
A soft breeze blew as the sun was going down in Napa. It was a beautiful time of day — very peaceful. Very tranquil. And nothing pleased him more than seeing the beauty around him. The blue oaks were in full foliage, the lawn was perfectly manicured, the hot-pink suitcase accented the ...
Wait. What? The hot-pink suitcase? "What the hell?" Hugh muttered as he looked around to see if any guests were wandering around. "Who would leave a suitcase in the middle of the lawn?" Stepping closer to it, he continued to scan the area. Sometimes guests got caught up in the scenery and stopped to take pictures on the way to their room.
It was a hideous piece of luggage. Neon pink with white polka dots, hard-shelled ... it was an eyesore. There were no tags on it and while he knew he should be suspicious, his first thought was getting rid of it so the grounds could go back to looking like they normally did.
Free of blinding pink baggage.
There was no time to call a bellhop. He was on a schedule and there was still so much he had to do. With a huff, Hugh grabbed the suitcase and rolled it behind him to the main building, hoping whoever owned it would come looking for it.
There were guests checking in at the front desk when he arrived, and rather than interrupt, he took the offensive luggage back to his office, making a note to call the concierge and let him handle it. Unfortunately, his phone started ringing as soon as he closed the door and for the next thirty minutes, he did his best to sort through the short list of assistants who might be able to fill in for Heather.
Excerpted from Love Walks In by Samantha Chase. Copyright © 2016 Samantha Chase. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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