Fresh out of a long-term relationship, Willow Parks is working two jobs and caring for her mother, whose husband left her with nothing but a pile of bills. That’s why Willow made a vow: no men until she figures out her own life.
But while she may not need a man, she could use a break. And a weekend away at a California beach to clear her head? That’s appealing. Even if the offer comes from Trey Collins, the irresistible tech-mogul millionaire who visits her coffee shop every morning like clockwork—and needs a date for his best friend’s wedding. With an adorable, occasional stutter, he refuses to take no for an answer.
Once the weekend begins, Trey is intent on proving how good they can be together. Willow’s even feeling tempted to break her vow—until reality rudely interrupts her well-deserved getaway. There’s no way she and Trey have a future, not with the colossal amount of baggage Willow has to offer.
But Trey is used to getting what he wants. He just has his work cut out for him convincing her that they want the same thing.
The steamy standalone novels in Stacey Lynn’s Crazy Love series can be read together or separately:
FAKE WIFE • KNOCKED UP • 28 DATES • WEEKEND FLING
And don’t miss her passionate Fireside series:
HIS TO LOVE • HIS TO PROTECT • HIS TO CHERISH • HIS TO SEDUCE
This standalone ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
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About the Author
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Wiping sleep from my eyes, I trudge down the hall of my childhood home. If anyone had told me I’d be living back at home after years of living on my own I would have laughed in their face. Unfortunately, the world seems to enjoy having a great laugh at my expense, drastically upending everything about my life over the last six months.
Now, I’m exhausted, seeking the coffee I can scent like a hound dog, already brewed and waiting for me at way-too-damn-early o’clock in the morning. Working two jobs, keeping my mother in the only home I’ve ever lived in is zapping all my energy these days but there’s not a whole lot to be done to fix it except to keep trying.
I’m only hoping I don’t fail.
“Mom?” I call out when I register a faint light on over the microwave. She’s never awake before I leave for my job at Java Joe’s coffee shop in downtown Portland. Heck, these days, she’s rarely awake or out of her bed at all.
“Good morning, dear,” she replies and I’m so stunned I trip over the frayed edge of carpet that meets faded linoleum flooring.
“Hey.” I speak slowly, like she’s a wounded animal, although these days that’s not too far off. She isn’t exactly adjusting well since my father walked out on her almost a year ago. She’s continually lost motivation to do anything. “What are you doing awake?”
And dressed. With her natural blonde hair pulled back with a clip at the top of her head. And with make-up on. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her take care of herself I blink before she can see my tears.
“Oh, you know.” No, no I do not. She sips her coffee like this is a normal day conversation. Her voice is dull, though, almost as lifeless as her gaze currently fixed on the gardens she once kept in pristine condition. They’re overgrown with weeds now but it appears she doesn’t notice.
So she might be dressed, but it’s not exactly a great day for her.
I pour my own cup of coffee and check the time. Five o’clock. Too damn early, but I need to get moving to be at Java’s by six. “You look nice. Any plans for the day?”
Like job hunting, maybe?
She glances down at her pink buttoned up shirt with a ruffle collar and blinks like she’s surprised she’s clothed. Damn. That’s a no on the job search. “Oh. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go for a walk or work outside.”
Her focus goes back to the garden.
My shoulders slump as I take my first drink of coffee, black to match my mood. There’s no way she’s working in the garden in that outfit and while she might look well, which is a bonus, now is definitely not the time to bring up the stack of bills I left on the table last night.
Short. Always short. If I can manage to grab an extra editing client we might be able to pay everything this month, but I’m still barely able to make a dent in everything we’re behind on. What I really need is someone to convince my mom she has to go back to work. Or she has to do something to get herself back to who she used to be.
The woman who baked me chocolate chip cookies every week. The woman who smiled and laughed like life is one large, exciting party. The woman who held my hand and took care of me when things went rough. This current role reversal is neither one I’m cut out for nor was I prepared to take on.
And I wouldn’t, had Scott not walked into our townhome one day after his job at a bank where he’s a financial case manager and out of nowhere declared our relationship over, he’s bored, wants something different and essentially kicked me out. Five years of my life with someone, down the drain without warning. It shouldn’t have been a shock considering he’d stopped hinting at engagement two years earlier, but he was comfortable. And I loved him. At least I thought I did. Now I don’t think I have any idea what love is. Not the real, forever-lasting kind of love, anyway.
It’s nothing compared to the similar ending of my mom’s thirty year marriage so I can’t exactly blame her for it shaking her so bad she needs time.
She’s now had a year.
“Mom,” I start to say and think better of it. If she’s still in a decent mood, or awake, when I get home, I’ll bring up the bills then.
“Yes, dear?” She grins at me, and for the briefest moment I see a flicker of who she used to be. The happy woman I’ve always loved.
“Nothing.” I kiss the top of her head. “I need to get to work. Have a good day.”
She pats my cheek and her smile dims. “You work too hard, honey.”
Two jobs because she needs me to even if she’s become so oblivious she doesn’t realize it. Months after my father left her she decided she was too tired to go to her job as a customer service manager anymore. Too many days of not showing up after she exhausted her available PTO and she was fired. My break-up with Scott might have actually occurred at the perfect time because when I showed up at home needing a shoulder to cry on, I instead found a pile of bills and notices declaring she hadn’t been paying her mortgage.
“Love you, mom.” I spin, not wanting her to see the frustration. It’ll be enough to send her back to bed. I work too hard because she won’t and I don’t know how to get her to see she needs help. What’s my choice? Leaving her to suffer and lose everything? I can’t.
She’s my mom.
“You should go have some fun. You never see your friends anymore. Maybe a weekend away would be good for you.”
I close my eyes, shoulders slumping further. It’s a difficult reality to wake up one day and realize not only has your long-term boyfriend walked out on you, but then realize you spent so many years trying to please him that when you need a friend, you don’t have any left.
“I’ll think about it, mom,” I call out, heading to the bathroom. Shower, dress, forget about Scott and how I gave up everything for him like some stupid naive girl. Heck, my mom’s probably done the same thing for so much longer it’s no wonder she can’t find her footing now. If I ever see Scott again, I should probably thank him. His leaving taught me a lesson that’s better to learn at twenty-five than fifty.
It’s the first time since Scott left that these thoughts have crossed my mind, and it’s so startling, it takes me a moment to remember I’m supposed to be showering. Thank Scott? Six months ago I wouldn’t have imagined doing anything when I thought of him except crumbling into a ball of tears and sorrow.
Huh. At least one of us Parks women might actually be starting to heal.
Warm sun. Sandy white beaches. A daiquiri in one hand and a salacious book in the other. I can practically taste the salty air on my tongue, breeze whipping through my hair, getting it stuck in a fruity drink or blocking my view of the page.
Damn. I haven’t been able to stop thinking, dreaming…wishing my mom’s suggestion could be an actual possibility.
If only the pile of bills and her constant sadness plus looming deadlines weren’t a weighted blanket on my shoulders.
A fierce jolt to my shoulder pulls me to the present.
“Ow.” I rub my shoulder where Molly’s has just hit. Purple hair whips behind her as she turns to me, flinging hot pink tips at the ends into her cheek.
“He’s here. The hottie who worships you is back,” she sings and clasps her hands together. If she were any more excited she’d be bouncing on the balls of her feet.
I don’t have to look to know who she’s talking about but like a magnet my eyes slide from Molly’s manic smile to the man of the hour.
Trey Collins. Multi-millionaire. Looks as good in a suit as he does in his current attire of gray sweatpants and a wrinkled navy t-shirt.
Body built for illicit activities of which I’ve imagined plenty of in the months since picking up the barista position at Java Joe’s.
Dark chocolate eyes that seem to inspect me from the inside out every time he walks up to our counter. A stutter that occasionally appears which only notches up his sexy level to hot off the charts.
He’s also a wicked flirt, despite the fact he usually sits with a perky redhead for hours most mornings. Today, it appears he’s alone, glancing down at his phone as he strolls to the counter like he has the path memorized.
Perhaps he does. He’s in here almost as often as me.