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Silent Hearts
     

Silent Hearts

4.3 8
by Melissa West
 

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The Hamilton brothers have horse racing in their blood, and their sprawling Kentucky farm is the family’s pride and joy. But they’ve got plenty of passion to spare…

Nick Hamilton has always known he’d take the reins of the family business when his father died, but that doesn’t make it any easier when the time comes.

Overview

The Hamilton brothers have horse racing in their blood, and their sprawling Kentucky farm is the family’s pride and joy. But they’ve got plenty of passion to spare…

Nick Hamilton has always known he’d take the reins of the family business when his father died, but that doesn’t make it any easier when the time comes. Especially with his two siblings tempted by a shrewd offer from a huge corporation to buy Hamilton Industries. Needing advice, Nick turns to his sensible childhood friend, Becca Stark—and finds her suddenly grown-up beauty ignites brand-new confusion, and crystal clear desire…

Becca has loved Nick for as far back as she can remember, but she decided long ago that telling him would be a mistake. Stubborn, strong Nick doesn’t see her as anything but the tomboy she used to be—or does he? As she helps him untangle his feelings about the ranch’s future, the familiar bond between them heats into an explosive attraction—and the kind of love that just might take the lead…

Praise for Melissa West’s Racing Hearts
 
“An emotional story filled with heart, humor, and second chances, Racing Hearts is a love letter to small towns, southern pride, and the heartbeat of all tight communities—its strong families. I laughed, I cried, and I never wanted to leave. An incredible story!”  --Rachel Harris, New York Times bestselling author

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616508296
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
05/10/2016
Series:
A Hamilton Stables Novel , #3
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
1
Sales rank:
6,031
File size:
334 KB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Silent Hearts


By Melissa West

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2016 Melissa West
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61650-830-2


CHAPTER 1

"Now, that's a heart attack waiting to happen." Becca Stark eyed the overflowing plate before her, all piled high with eggs and grits and bacon. Dear Lord, bacon. The smell of the guilty meat hit her nostrils, and though she'd given the stuff up thanks to her genetic predisposition to have the cholesterol of a person who ate cheeseburgers with a side of cheeseburgers, her stomach growled.

Why couldn't broccoli taste like bacon? Or better, just make bacon healthy. Or simply make a pill that kept your cholesterol in check, and then Becca rolled her eyes at herself. "They have a pill, idiot."

"Who you calling an idiot? And what pill?" Sage Blackson, the cook, called from inside the kitchen of the diner. Like always, a navy bandanna covered his gray head, and Becca knew if the health inspectors allowed it, he'd have a cigarette dangling from his lips, too.

Come to think of it, she should thank those inspectors the next time they were in town, if only for the lawsuit they'd saved the diner, in turn saving Becca's job.

"Nothing," Becca finally replied, her eyes back on the bacon, her stomach continuing its plea. Forget what was healthy or her cholesterol, she was starving!

Taking a peek at Sage through the diner's serve window to make sure the cook wasn't watching, she reached for the extra plate of bacon he'd set to the side for the next round of orders. But before her fingers could lock around a delicious strip, Sage popped her hand and pointed his spatula at her.

"You remember what the doctor said."

Pouting, Becca crossed her arms. "It's not fair; my cholesterol isn't that high. And how do you know what my doctor said? I haven't eaten yet today, and I took over the morning shift so Caroline could go to her chiropractor."

She scanned the overcrowded diner. The walls were yellow on three sides, red on the fourth. The tables and booths were all red, puffy plastic and metal trim. The floor was black and white alternating tile. Vintage posters hung around the room. It had a fifties vibe without trying too hard — very much like Sage himself. And though he refused to admit that he owned the diner, Becca knew he did.

Everyone in town came there or to Patty's for breakfast, so the place was always packed, the food always delicious — though decidedly fattening — which had added more than a few inches to Becca's waist and thighs over the years.

Still ... she eyed the bacon again.

"You know he's not going to give you any, so you might as well stop drooling." Willow, the other waitress on duty, settled in beside Becca and leaned against the counter. "That Caroline's got herself in a pickle for sure. You know why she landed at the chiropractor's office, don't you?"

Becca looked around like she'd entered a completely different conversation. Then she remembered this was Triple Run, Kentucky, population 2,587, and home to at least that many conversations, all happening at the same time.

"Um, no, I have no idea why she went to the chiropractor, nor do I care. Nor should you. Or you." Becca pointed at Sage because while Willow was a gossip, she had nothing on Sage.

Sage ignored her. "Don't just stand there, woman, hurry up and tell us."

Becca rolled her eyes, but there was no escaping this now.

Willow leaned in conspiratorially. "'Cause she threw out her back doing the twisted taco with Mayor Phillips." She covered her mouth as she giggled and glanced around before continuing her story. "Rumor says they started shacking up a month ago. Even did it in the town hall, right in the mayor's office. Said they broke his desk. Twice. And now they've gone and broken Caroline's back."

"Her back's not broken. That's ridiculous," Becca said, which made all the rest of Willow's claims about as thin as paper. But Caroline had acted strange lately, and the mayor certainly had been single a long time. Hmm ...

Then Becca sighed heavily, annoyed at herself for falling prey to Willow and Sage's antics. Again.

"Never would've suspected those two," Sage said, shaking his head. "And he's a widower. She should know better."

"What does his being a widower have to do with anything?" Becca asked, then fisted her hands and cursed herself for fanning the gossip flame. The problem was there wasn't much else to do in Triple Run than gossip.

It was Sage's turn to lean in closer and peer around. "Them widowers are feisty."

"And how exactly would you know that?"

The sixty-two-year-old's eyes fell on Penny Lewis by the door, who was every bit of seventy, and suddenly Becca had lost her appetite. Such a shame, too — no one made bacon like Sage.

"And that's my cue to exit this absurd conversation."

But as Becca carried over table three's order, she found she was no longer jealous of the eggs and bacon and grits they were about to enjoy. No, she was jealous of Caroline, which had to be the most ridiculous thing she'd thought all day. Maybe all week. So what if Caroline had injured herself doing the twisted taco? So what if even Caroline had a better sex life than she did? What did it matter? She had things going on, lots of things, epic, big things.

Only that was a lie.

She had nothing going on; so little, in fact, that her life played out like one of those boring commercials for at-home medication delivery. And then, to add more yuck to her life's blandness, Becca's dating life revolved around the town's belief that she wasn't one of the girls but rather one of the guys. Or, more specifically, one of the Hamiltons. And there was one great problem with that belief — no, two problems.

Problem one: She wasn't a Hamilton.

Problem two, which made problem one super important: She was in love with Nick Hamilton.

See, Becca might have spent her childhood cutting through the woods behind her house, which led to the Hamiltons' farm. She might have helped them toilet paper all of Crestler's Key after they claimed to be the home of horse racing, when everyone knew that title belonged to Triple Run. And she might even have taken their dare to climb to the top of Triple Run Baptist and ring the church bell ... naked. But none of those things made her a Hamilton.

No, Becca would now, and unless the tides changed, forever be, a Stark — the very opposite of the Hamiltons.

The Hamiltons were royalty in Triple Run. They owned Hamilton Stables, the renowned Thoroughbred breeding and training farm. They had trophies and titles with their name on them. And they weren't just richer than God, they were respectable and civilized.

The Starks had no idea what either word meant.

The Hamilton brothers ruled not only all of horse racing but all of Triple Run. They were kings, and though Becca knew all three of the brothers, and she knew middle brother Nick better than anyone knew him, she would never really exist in their world. And she was fine with that fact. Completely and totally fine. Now if only she could convince her heart of as much.

But then her heart had never been safe where Nick Hamilton was concerned.

Her mind drifted through the years of friendship, always being there for each other — Nick holding her hand when her grandmother died, her comforting him through his mother's death, holding him close as he cried after his fiancée's death. And then Carter Hamilton, his father, had died, and something inside Nick seemed to die along with him. Like maybe he couldn't take anymore.

Becca went back to the counter, grabbed the next order, and continued around the diner, smiling and handing out food until she came to the booth in the back corner, a very pregnant Kate Hamilton working to slid into the booth, though her swollen belly had other ideas.

"Need some help?"

Kate's head lifted, her face flushed, and Becca had to fight off a smile. "Can you get this baby out of me? Because then yes, I'd love some help. Right this second, in fact."

"Aw, honey, I'm sorry, but I'm no help there. When were you due?"

"Eight days ago."

Becca cringed. She knew from her sister that pregnancy was almost never fun, but certainly not in those final weeks and days. To go past your due date had to rank high on the list of living the most miserable existence on the planet.

"I'm sorry. Maybe you should be lying down at home?"

"My mama's there with the kids so I could get out for a bit. I'm supposed to meet Alex here, but they were running a new colt this morning, and Nick and Trip were both there to see how he did."

At the mention of Nick, Becca's gaze snapped up. "Nick? I thought he was still out of town."

Since Carter had passed away and Nick took over Hamilton Industries, he'd been traveling more often than he'd been home, all in an effort to keep up faith in the company and build new connections. And if Becca knew Nick at all, she suspected he hated every minute of it.

The Nick Hamilton Becca knew wasn't a businessman at all. He was an outdoorsman, who used to talk about fishing professionally and sponsorships, but then he went to Northwestern, met his fiancée Britt, she died, and everything changed.

Now Kate's eyes sparkled and she smiled wide. "He just got home today. Want me to text Alex to bring Nick with him?"

Becca jerked back. "What? No. Not at all. Why would I want Nick to come to the diner?" She had taken to smoothing her apron and checking her long brunette ponytail, which did nothing more than make Kate's smile widen.

"Whatever you say. But yes, he's home. I imagine he'll call you soon. Don't y'all talk every day or something? He's always saying 'Becca said this' or 'Becca said that.' I bet the man can't make a decision without you."

A smile found its way across Becca's face before she could pocket it, and Kate turned positively giddy. "You know —"

"Hey, babe, sorry I'm late." Alex rushed up to the table, kissed his wife, then pulled back to examine the damage. "Scale of one to ten, how pissed off are you?"

A strange look crossed Kate's face as she stared at her husband, seriously considering the question, and Becca had to laugh at the nervousness on Alex's face. She never would have guessed the wildest Hamilton would now be such a worried husband and father. "At you or God? Because right now it's neck and neck. You know I can't get into these booths without your help or a solid crowbar, and I forgot my crowbar at home."

"I'm sorry." He kissed her again and then whispered something in her ear that had her smiling again. "Does that smile mean I'm forgiven?"

"That smile means you're dirty. But yes, forgiven."

Alex released a breath, then, spying Becca there, walked over. "Sorry, Bec, I didn't see you there. Was too distracted by my imminent death, but looks like I'll survive another day." Becca laughed, and he kissed her cheek before slipping into the booth across from his pregnant wife, who had pushed the table as far away from herself as possible and still had to sit sideways, her feet stretched out across the booth's seat. Kate gained forty-plus pounds with each child, ballooned up like an inflatable, and then shrunk back down immediately after birth, like all the air had been let out of her. It mystified Becca, and she suspected she wouldn't be so lucky in her own pregnancy. If she ever became pregnant, or married, for that matter.

"You talked to Nick yet?"

Becca took out her order pad and shrugged. "No, but I'm sure he's busy."

Alex and Kate both watched her curiously, and Becca wondered if she'd gotten some of the maple syrup from the bottle she took Pastor Wilkins on her hand, then touched her face or hair, and she was now slathered in the stuff.

It wouldn't be the first time that had happened.

"Um ..." Becca glanced around, unable to handle the scrutiny. "Is there a sign over my head or something? What are y'all staring at?"

Alex opened his mouth to speak, but Kate slapped his hand and his head snapped over to his wife instead. "Hey! I didn't say anything."

"That's right, you didn't. And we need to keep it that way." Kate pointed at her husband, and Becca laughed because pointing and spouting out orders was a Triple Run thing, and to see Kate doing it meant she'd become one of them.

Becca tried to let it go — surely whatever they were talking about was none of her business — but she'd always been more curious than a cat, and that curiosity had stung her more times than she could count. Still ... "Say anything about what?"

"Nothing," Kate said. "It's a stupid thing." She said this with the sort of laugh that sounded less like a laugh and more like a struggle not to choke.

"All right." Becca felt like she'd entered yet another random Triple Run conversation, but this time something told her the conversation involved her.

"It's just —" Alex started, and Kate slapped his hand again. "Good God, woman, stop it."

"Well, we talked about this."

"And I don't agree with where we left it."

"It's not your decision to make."

"No one else's making a damn decision, so might as well be me."

"Stop it."

Becca was genuinely perplexed now. "Guys, I'd love to stand here and try to work out ... whatever this is. But I have other tables, so if you could get to the ordering part." She smiled, and Kate smiled, but Alex still looked offended at his wife's antics.

Kate handed over her menu without looking at it, like most everyone else in Triple Run. In a town where everyone was a regular, she could predict orders before they were spoken. "Three pancakes, scrambled eggs, side of bacon and grits. Oh, and toast. And do you have any fresh apple butter or honey?"

Ohhh-kay, Becca thought. So she could normally predict orders, but she never would have expected Kate to order quite that much food. Surely it wouldn't all fit inside her, but then, Becca had never been pregnant before. Maybe the baby inhaled food the way the rest of us inhaled air. A shudder worked through her, the thought scaring her more than it should. She would have to rethink the whole having-a-baby thing — the insane hunger coupled with hulklike mood swings and then the pain of actually delivering made the whole thing seem this side of crazy. But then, Becca didn't even have a husband or boyfriend. The last thing she should be worrying about was a baby.

Focusing back on Kate, she said, "We have both. And homemade cherry jam."

Kate's face lit. "Cherry jam? That sounds amazing."

"It's fantastic on the biscuits."

"Ooo, biscuits. I'll take those, too. With the cherry jam." She placed her hands on her belly, clearly pleased with herself.

The women both looked over at Alex, who appeared both impressed and shocked. "Did you leave anything for the rest of the diner?" But at Kate's glare, he quickly corrected himself. "Um, I meant to say I'll have the same thing." Then he lowered his voice and added to Becca, "And a to-go box or eight."

Becca laughed and went on her way, but once she was a few steps away, she turned back and caught the couple in a deep conversation, Kate lecturing Alex, forever the teacher, and Alex shrugging her off, forever the free spirit. She started to laugh until she heard Kate say, "This is Nick's thing. We can't intervene."

"Then he needs to do something. You know as well as I do that he wants her, that she's his match. He needs to tell Becca."

"Shhh, keep your voice down," Kate said, just as Becca disappeared behind the counter.

Suddenly the diner was too hot, her skin prickly, her heart too heavy in her chest.

So that was what Alex wanted to tell her, what Kate thought Nick himself should confess. It was inevitable, right, but that didn't stop the pain.

Nick had met someone.

CHAPTER 2

Nick stepped off the elevator and waved hello to Violet, the front desk admin. Fresh coffee hit his nose from the open lounge area beside Violet, and he made a note to come back there after setting down his things.

The office had been renovated in the last two months, and where it used to have a rustic feel, everything was now bright. Bright blue, bright white. Too bright, if you asked Nick, which they hadn't, because they knew what he would say — do whatever you want.

Still, he wished he'd voiced a little opinion on this. For his eyes' sake, if for no other reason.

He continued on toward his office in the back corner, hoping if he kept his head down no one would approach him. His look had manifested over the years from sleek suits to dress shirt/tie/slacks, to it was a miracle if he wore a tie at all now. His hair, which was once cropped short and gelled into place, now flowed freely — all right, recklessly — around his head in what he'd deemed his new style. But really it was more a product of getting out of the shower and heading to the office without worrying about the state of his hair. Or his clothes. Or his beard, apparently, because he hadn't taken the time to shave in three days.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Silent Hearts by Melissa West. Copyright © 2016 Melissa West. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Melissa West writes heartfelt Southern romance and teen sci-fi romance, all with lots of kissing. Because who doesn't like kissing? She lives outside of Atlanta, GA, with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.

Connect with Melissa at www.melissawestauthor.com or on Twitter @MB_West.

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Silent Hearts 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous 15 days ago
I really enjoyed this book. Glad the story continued with another brother.
WhatsBeyondForks More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to Nick's story. This guy carries way too much on his shoulders, and he's made himself emotionally secluded from everyone. Becca is his best friend. She's the only person who's managed to put cracks in some of his walls. They hurt each other and are risking their life long friendship. Silent Hearts kept me tense while I read it. Every time either Nick or Becca's feelings got hurt, I felt it too. This was a wonderfully, emotional friends to more story.
Anlenhart1 More than 1 year ago
Silent Heart is the third book in the Hamilton series and is also the third book I have read from this author. It is the story of Becca and Nick, best friends that sustained each other through many deaths, events ect. Nick, has lost everyone in life except his brothers and Becca. His fiancee died 5 years ago, and in the last year he took over his father business, after his death. He is ready to move start dating again and is interested in his best friend Becca. She has feelings for Nick, but is reluctant to change their relationship. Can relationship evolve into something more? Can Nick find a way to balance his personal and business life? This is the best book I have read from author Melissa West. The main characters are engaging and well written. Overall, it is a good example of the friends to more romance genre. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Rhondaz More than 1 year ago
Silent Heart by Melissa West....This is the third book in the series and oh my...what a way to end the series. This story deserve more than 5 stars. Melissa West wrote each book Racing Heart, Wild Hearts and Silent Hearts to perfection, she is an amazing author. Her characters are always likable and relatable Nick and Becca are no different. Nick has experienced terrible tragedies in his life which causes him to struggle and Becca is his best friend and there to support and love him through this great book. Can these two make a relationship work? If you have not read this series or book, it is a must read. I received a complimentary book for an honest review.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
I thought this one was an awesome read! It's a great friends to lovers story between Nick and Becca. Nick is still reeling from the loss of his father. While his brothers seem to have hit their stride and are achieving great things in areas of the family ranch business, Nick's struggling and can't seem to get his footing. While his brothers are ready to sell the business Nick is in charge of, he's not ready to give up yet fearing he will be letting his father down. With the love of his family and Becca, Nick finally sees what is really important in life and is determined to get what he wants. Has he waited to long? Hurt Becca too much?? You really want to read this one and find out. I highly recommend it.
AmyBosica More than 1 year ago
“For me, there’s only ever been you.” “I don’t want to screw us up, but I don’t want anyone else. Only you, Bec. It’s always been you.” “God,did she ever love him. He was difficult and he’d hurt her worse than anyone else had dared, but she still loved him.” Melissa West has once again blown me away. She has left me speechless, with a smile on my face and a heart filled with love. Silent Hearts was just the read I needed and more. Ever since I finished Wild Hearts, I have been dying to get my hands on this book and learn more about the broody Hamilton brother, Nick. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Now, I have to tell you, I have been in the worst book funk. I mean the worst. So, when I picked up this book, I was hoping, I was praying that this book would pull me out of the funk I was in and boy did it ever. This book totally exceeded my expectations. Silent Hearts is told from dual points of view and pulls you in from the very first page. I was unable to put Silent Hearts down. I immediately got lost and consumed with Nick and Becca’s story. Nick is one of those characters that you can’t help but love. He’s complicated, broody, has alpha tendencies, but is afraid to fall in love. So many moments I either wanted to slap him or shake him. I wanted to yell at him to wake up and see Becca before he would lose her forever. And Becca….This girl…She was so sweet, and caring. The kind of girl you could always count on. She has loved Nick for as long as she remembered, but never thought she would stand a chance with a guy like Nick. Nick and Becca together were a force to be reckoned with. Their connection was so real, so undeniable. I loved their push and pull. I was captivated by the will they, won’t they moments. They made me laugh-soooo many times. They frustrated me. They brought tears to my eyes. And most of all, they made me fall in love. One of the best things for me, was how real the characters were. I can not say that enough. Melissa West made these characters feel so real to me. Like they were a part of me. She wrote them in a way that made them so easy to connect with and so easy to understand. I loved that Nick and Becca weren’t perfect. Nick had a lot of issues that he had to move past and he made a lot of mistakes along the way. You knew that he was just going to mess up. But, I gotta tell you, watching his character grow, experiencing the journey to his HEA, was just amazing. I loved every swoon-worthy, heart-breaking, angsty moment. I honestly can not say enough about this book. Silent Hearts was well written. It was a beautiful friends to lovers/second chance romance. It had just the right balance of angst, romance, and drama. I just loved it. I was consumed from beginning to end. I was taken on such an incredible, emotional journey and I just loved it! I can not wait to see what journey Melissa West will take me on next. *I was provided an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I liked the other stories in this series and honestly was most excited for Nick's story. I really liked Becca. She's so sweet and so good. And while she smarts off to Nick, when it comes to him, every decision she makes sort of revolves around him. As for Nick, he's swimming in grief and doesn't even realize it. He and Becca are just so right and perfect together that of course he has to continuously push her away and act like a jerk. The push and pull is where I started to lose my interest. I didn't think it would be all angsty all the time. Don't get me wrong, I did love the story {and the epilogue is near perfection}, but I really wanted more fluff. **Huge thanks to Lyrical Shine and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
Silent Hearts tells the story of evolving relationships. How people change due to circumstance, maturity and environment. Although understated, Nick and Becca are the spark that drives this story and his family is the match that sets it on fire. I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Family, love, friendship and business collide in this story of growth and heart.