Book #3 in Samantha Chase's popular Montgomery series
Was a little peace and quiet too much to hope for?
Mac Montgomery spent two years watching his father play matchmaker for his brothers and their wives and as the last Montgomery standing, he knew it wouldn't be long until all eyes would be on him. While he couldn't deny that things had worked out well for his siblings, the last thing that Mac wanted was to get married and settle down.
He hadn't counted on his father not wanting to set him up with anyone.
And he hadn't counted on Gina Micelli.
After more than a dozen years away from her beloved family friends, Gina Micelli comes home to take care of her ailing father. Some of her most cherished memories are of the times she spent with the Montgomerys - and her crush on Mac. She was a child when she moved away, but now as a grown woman, the thought of seeing Mac again actually has her wondering at the possibilities.
Ever the responsible one, Mac makes sure that Gina is taken care of during such an emotional time. He wants to see her as a friend, as the girl that he remembers from his youth. Unfortunately, the beautiful woman she has grown into has all thoughts of a platonic relationship flying out the window. Torn between honor and passion and peace or chaos, all Mac knows is that his life is never going to be the same.
The timing is all wrong but for two people fighting for control over their own lives, their response to one another is anything but.
Montgomery Brothers Series:
Wait for Me (Book 1)
Trust in Me (Book 2)
Stay with Me (Book 3)
Return to You (Book 4)
Meant for You (Book 5)
I'll Be There (Book 6)
What readers say about the Montgomery Brothers series:
"The Montgomery brothers are perfect romance! Love it, love it, love it!
"Great storyline, strong characters-a great read."
"I laughed, cried, felt excitement and sadness, all in a good way."
"An adventure in reading. Can't wait to see what is in store for the other Montgomerys."
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Stay with Me
By Samantha Chase
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Samantha Chase
All rights reserved.
Mackenzie Montgomery was tired. Weary to the bone exhausted. It wasn't the long hours at the office wearing him out; it was the incessant rounds of well-wishers with their "Congratulations" and "You all must be so happy" that were grating on his every last nerve.
"Must I be so happy?" he muttered under his breath. Deep down, Mac knew they all meant well; he shouldn't begrudge their pleasantries. Unfortunately, for the last two years, all he'd seemed to hear was how happy everyone was for his brothers, their wives, their lives ... Sure, it was great, but didn't anyone have anything else to think about? To focus on?
"Great news about Lucas and Emma, isn't it, Mac?"
Mac looked up, and there in the doorway stood one of his junior executives with an eager look and a wide smile on his young face. Mac tried to return the smile, but at this point in the day, it made his face hurt. "It sure is."
"Tell them I said congratulations!" the young man said before disappearing.
Mac slumped down into his plush leather chair and turned to face his wall of windows. The sun was starting to set and the view of downtown Charlotte was one of bustling activity. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was just after five, and he knew he should head to the hospital where the rest of his family had congregated to welcome the newest Montgomery.
A girl. Mac couldn't help but chuckle. His former NFL player brother, who had been so certain he was going to have a son to teach all of his moves to, now had a tiny baby girl. There was a joke in there somewhere, but right now Mac couldn't seem to find it. He'd go, meet the newest member of the family, pat Lucas on the back and hug Emma, and remember to smile at all of the excitement that was sure to be going on around him. But all he really wanted to do was go home, have a beer, and just relax.
The drive to the hospital was short, and he even remembered to stop and pick up a bouquet of flowers for his sister-in-law. As he headed toward Emma's room, the noise level told him his prediction was right on the money. He was greeted by his father first, then his brother Jason, finally making his way to shake the new father's hand before handing the flowers to Emma.
"Oh, Mac," Emma said as tears swam in her eyes. "They're perfect. Lilies for our Lily."
Right, the baby's name was Lily. Happy coincidence? Or maybe he had subconsciously remembered his father telling him that was what they had named her. Neither here nor there, the fact was he had done a good thing and now everyone was staring at him with sappy grins on their faces.
"Do you want to hold her?" Emma asked, nodding toward the bassinet next to her bed.
Mac was about to break out in a cold sweat. Hold her? The baby? Wasn't that against the rules or something? He wasn't the father! He could give her germs or drop her! Lucas must have seen the look of pure terror on his face because he chuckled and said, "I'm not ready to entrust my princess with him yet. He can't even catch a football!" The room erupted with laughter, but Mac took it all in stride since it got him out of infant holding.
"Were you planning on throwing her to me? Because I'm pretty sure the hospital has rules against that," he teased and then smiled when his mother came over and looped her arm though his, pulling him close.
"You'll have to hold her eventually," she whispered with a sassy smile.
"Sure, when she's talking in complete sentences, I'm sure I'll be fine." He heard his father's cell phone ring in the distance and watched as William quickly exited the room. Mac quirked an eyebrow at his mom, but she simply shrugged and then walked over to gaze lovingly at her new granddaughter.
His brother Jason patted him on the back. "Nice side-step with the baby; for a minute there I thought you were going to cry."
Mac took the ribbing, but his mind was on his father. Was something wrong? "Is there a problem at the office I'm not aware of?" he asked his brother, ignoring his comment.
"Not that I know of," Jason said. "Why?"
"Probably nothing, but Dad got a call and sort of bolted from the room." Mac looked toward the doorway to see if his father had returned.
Before Jason could offer any input, Lily let out a small cry and all attention was on the newborn. Mac never understood the attraction of babies, particularly newborns. They were tiny and wrinkly, fragile and terrifying, and they cried a lot. He watched in amazement as Lucas walked over and picked up his daughter with such gentleness that Mac almost couldn't look away. He was used to seeing Lucas being rough and physical; after all, years of high school sports and a career in the NFL had toughened him. But watching him now? He seemed at ease handling the tiny pink bundle and handing her to his wife. A collective sigh went out as Emma took the baby and cuddled her. Even Mac got a little misty at the sight of mother and child.
What in the world?
Taking a step back, he saw his father walking back into the room. "Everything okay, Dad?" William's face was drawn and sad. "Dad?"
William reached out and touched Mac's arm and pulled him aside. "Son," he said, his voice cracking slightly, "I need you to do something for me."
* * *
There were a million reasons why Gina Micelli should be anywhere else but where she was at the moment. She had a job that needed her, social engagements she had committed to, plants that needed to be watered, bills that needed to be paid ... but the fact was that she was walking through the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on her way to see a man who had been vastly absent from her life for more than ten years.
Arthur Micelli was a good father on paper; Gina had gone to the best schools and had a wardrobe that was the envy of all her friends. She vacationed all over the world and had a new car every three years. She had been given everything she had ever asked for. Except his time. Her parents had divorced when she was fifteen, her mother had taken her clear across the country, and her father had allowed it.
She glanced down at the Rolex her father had given her for her last birthday and saw that it was just after two in the afternoon. She was scheduled to meet William Montgomery in baggage claim at two fifteen. That made her smile a little. The Montgomerys had always been such good friends to her parents, and Gina had nothing but fond memories of the countless times they had gotten together for barbecues and holidays and even several vacations.
She often thought about the family and where they all were now. She knew Lucas had played professional football, and although Gina was not a sports fan, she remembered reading about the injury that had ended his career. She had been devastated for her old friend and could only hope he was doing well. Jason Montgomery was a couple years older, and she had seen him a couple of times in the last few years when he had flown out to the West Coast for business. It had never been intentional, but they ran in some of the same social circles, so she usually got the Reader's Digest version of what was new with his family. While hearing how his parents were doing was always nice, she somehow managed to listen politely until he got to news about Mac.
Mac had been her reason for living when she was a teenager. He was so much older, and they had absolutely nothing in common, but she had always been drawn to him. He was serious and studious and much more reserved than his brothers, but Gina found that even at a young age, she was attracted to that in a man.
He had always been polite to her and had treated her like a kid sister, but by the time she hit puberty, the last thing she wanted was to have Mac think of her like that. Gina had had big plans for turning eighteen and how she would find the courage to engage with Mac on an adult level, but her mother had moved her thousands of miles away before she ever had the chance.
Sighing, Gina picked up her pace and navigated her way through the throngs of people to get to baggage claim. Her father was in serious condition and there was little hope of him living beyond the next three months. The thought caused a tightening in her chest. Even though Arthur Micelli was an absentee father, it didn't mean she wasn't devastated by the thought of losing him.
William had promised to set up an appointment for her to talk with her father's doctors, so they could better explain Arthur's condition. Gina was not particularly looking forward to that. She was here because Arthur was her father; she had no idea how to be with him or how she was supposed to act with his medical team. When she'd made arrangements at work for a leave of absence and her boss had asked how long she'd be gone, Gina had shrugged and said, "I don't know. A couple of weeks, I guess." Surely she wasn't expected to stay until the end? What good would that do? Wouldn't it be better for her and Arthur to settle their differences so that he could die in peace?
A shudder ran down her spine at her own callous thoughts. Gina couldn't think about her father dying, not now. She wasn't ready. In her mind, it was better to act as if he was going to recover and be okay.
Yes, that was what she was going to do. She would thank William for his efforts, but then graciously decline his offer to meet with the doctors. The less she knew, the better. No, her time would be better spent just being with her dad and making peace.
Looking up, she saw the signs for the carousel where her luggage would appear and anxiously looked around for William Montgomery. It had been well over ten years since she'd last seen him, but Gina had no doubt she'd recognize him. Her gaze went over the crowd of people standing around waiting, and that's when she saw him.
What was Mac doing here? Where was his father? Why hadn't someone told her there had been a change in plans? She wasn't ready to meet up with the object of her every teenage fantasy. The flight had been over six hours; she stunk like plane and had dressed casually for the flight.
With a quick duck through the crowd, Gina ran for the nearest ladies room and did her best to freshen up. Her long, black hair had been haphazardly pulled back into a ponytail and the curls were begging to be let loose. Pulling the band from her hair, she shook it out and finger combed it to try and tame it. Unfortunately, the hair gods were not on her side and Gina thought she looked like something out of an eighties hair band video.
Sighing with frustration, she gave up the fight against her hair, pulled her small makeup bag from her purse, retouched her lipstick and blush, and used her travel toothbrush to do a quick brush and rinse to freshen her breath. The final touch was a spritz of perfume to her wrists, and then she straightened and turned to look at herself in the full-length mirror.
"Let's hope he doesn't hold too much stock in first impressions," she muttered as she squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and made her way back out into the crowd and toward one Mackenzie Montgomery.
* * *
Mac scanned the crowd again in search of Gina Micelli. When his father had asked him if he would pick her up from the airport, Mac had been less than enthused at the idea, but it got him out of being part of the big taking-baby-Lily-home festivities.
It was like trading one form of hell for another.
It had been over ten years since he'd last seen Gina, and he basically had no idea who he should be looking for. He remembered her as a kid: dark hair, glasses, and the typical awkward, gangly teen. He may not know much about these things, but he was sure she wouldn't have stayed that way. Looking at his watch, he huffed with agitation. It was two twenty. He knew for a fact that Gina's plane had arrived on time, so where was she?
With another glance around the baggage claim area, he caught a glimpse of a gypsy. That was the only way to describe the woman who seemingly floated toward the luggage belt. She was petite — maybe five foot four, tops — and she wore some sort of long, gauzy black skirt that flowed with her every step. Peeking out from beneath the filmy fabric were a pair of bejeweled sandals and hot pink — tipped toes. Mac swallowed roughly as his gaze traveled upward.
She was wearing a sheer blouse, belted at the waist, and underneath it was what promised to be a phenomenal body, covered in some sort of clingy teal-colored cami that matched the beaded necklace around her slender neck. Dark sunglasses covered her eyes, but Mac mentally bet himself they were either blue or green, and knew that either would look amazing against her tanned skin and jet-black hair.
He shifted his stance and pulled at the collar of his shirt because it certainly felt like it was getting hot in the airport. Unable to tear his eyes away, he watched, fascinated by her every graceful move, as she reached over and pulled a large black suitcase from the conveyor belt and then did her own scan of the crowd. When her gaze landed on him, Mac felt frozen to the spot.
Please don't let this be Gina, he cursed to himself.
"Excuse me." Her soft voice washed over him like silk. "Mackenzie Montgomery?"
Mac looked down and almost groaned when his gypsy took off her sunglasses and eyed him warily. "Indeed I am," he said and hated how gruff his voice sounded. "It's good to see you again, Gina. I wish it were under better circumstances."
She looked down at the ground before meeting his gaze again. "Thank you," she replied softly. "Is your father here with you? He said he'd be the one meeting me."
Mac explained about Lucas and Emma and the baby, and he wasn't sure if he saw relief or annoyance on her face. Either way, her big green eyes were staring up at him, and he had to force himself to look away. "Here," he said after a long moment, "let me take your suitcase and we'll get going." When she didn't make a move right away, he stopped and looked at her. "Is it just the one bag?"
"What?" she asked, momentarily distracted by the enticing rear view of him. "Oh, yes, I tend to travel light."
"That's a first," he joked and started walking.
Gina had to take two steps for his every one and, when she caught up to him, asked, "What is that supposed to mean?"
He shrugged. "Nothing, it just always seems to me that women pack more than they'll ever need, no matter how long or short the trip. Based on that theory, I'd have to guess you don't plan on staying very long."
"I haven't really decided yet. I'm supposed to meet with some of my father's doctors tomorrow and discuss his prognosis, but honestly, I don't want to think about it. I'd rather focus on spending time with him now, rather than watching a clock that tells me when it's going to end."
Mac wasn't sure what to say to her. From what his father had told him, Arthur's prognosis was not good. He had stage four pancreatic cancer, and his heart was failing. Not a good combination. She looked to be holding up okay, but then again, he didn't really know Gina very well. Mac thought about how he'd feel if the tables were turned and it was his own father who was dying. He wasn't fool enough to believe William was going to be around forever, but the thought of knowing his time was so quickly coming to an end was enough to cause a deep ache around Mac's heart.
Pushing those thoughts aside, he decided to change the subject. "So, Dad tells me you'll be staying in the guesthouse."
Gina nodded. "I know I could stay at my father's house, but I've never been there and I just thought it would be odd. Plus no one else is there, and the thought of being alone in a strange house was a little bit intimidating."
Mac nodded in understanding.
"When your father offered me the use of your family's guesthouse, I was a bit surprised. I figured I'd just stay at a hotel and rent a car."
"My father would never have allowed that. He and Arthur have been friends since they were kids; you're like family. And family takes care of one another."
Just what she wanted to hear, another reference to her being like family. While she didn't mind it coming from William and Monica or even Lucas or Jason, the last thing she wanted was for Mac to think of her like a sister.
"Well, that's sweet of you to say," she said as they stepped out into the sunshine and she placed her sunglasses back on. "I'm very grateful for their hospitality. Plus, I have some very fond memories of the times our families spent together. It will be nice to stay someplace familiar."
Soon they were at Mac's car and Gina settled in as he put her suitcase in the trunk. When he climbed in beside her, it was as if the entire interior had shrunk. He was big — much bigger than the last time she'd seen him. Mac stood easily over six feet tall, and even in his monstrous SUV, he overpowered the space.
He didn't try to make small talk and for that Gina was thankful. As they made their way out of the airport parking lot, she took some time to observe him discreetly. Considering his intimidating frame, he moved with grace. His hands were large and tanned, and Gina secretly wished that he'd reach out with them to offer her some comfort.
Excerpted from Stay with Me by Samantha Chase. Copyright © 2015 Samantha Chase. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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