Deri "The Mistake" Crandall wants nothing more than the love and acceptance from a family. After her mother dies, she finally discovers who her father is—except he and his family aren't exactly everything she's dreamed of. Not about to let a little thing like that bother her, she strives her hardest to fit in. Though honest to a fault, she even lies to gain their affection. But who could have predicted the one man with whom she immediately clicks is the very millionaire her grandfather orders her to betray?
Cole Harrety’s life is all about work and ignoring play, until a petite, curvy bundle of quirky woman literally tumbles into his lap. From the moment he loses a staring contest with her, he knows Deri is exactly what's been missing from his mundane life and no other woman will ever compete with her.
With a web of deception already woven, can their new bond survive a shattered trust?
“Are you okay?”
Deri barely heard the anxious question as Hottie scrambled off her; she was a bit too busy screeching, “Ouch-ouch-ouch!”
The stepstool had tried to fold in the fall, though it didn’t succeed, what with her foot wedged in its way.
“Oh, God,” he uttered, kneeling at her side to lift her head onto his knee—his very warm, very muscled knee—and immediately feeling around the back of her noggin, most likely for a bump. “Where does it hurt?”
“Quick.” He snapped his fingers and pointed toward one of the men at the break room table who’d come to his feet when Deri and her hot helper crashed to the floor. “Get the ladder unfolded. Careful,” he ordered. “Her foot’s caught.”
He sucked in a breath as he found a knot on the back of her cranium.
Deri whimpered and glanced up just as he looked down. He took in the paleness no doubt printed on her face and winced. “How’re you doing?”
Deri gritted her teeth. “Hurts.”
His chocolate-brown eyes filled with sympathy as he lightly stroked her hair. “We’ve almost got you free. Just hang in there.”
A moment later, some unknown person yanked the ladder away. The release of pressure was almost more brutal than the pinching agony, but it soon dissipated to a dull throb. Deri closed her eyes and let out a breath. Her head lulled against that thigh tucked beneath her cheek, and she focused on the warmth and muscles layered under smooth cotton slacks to keep her mind off the pain.
“I’m going to check your ankle out, okay?” Large, capable fingers slipped off her shoe.
She ground her teeth and swallowed yet another whimper.
“Sorry,” he rasped. He gently cupped her heel as he examined the damage, prodding with the barest of pressure from his thumb. Deri held her breath, but the burning was not appeased.
When she heard, “Holy mother of God,” her eyes flew open, and she lifted her face.
Hot Guy shifted to block her view from the damage. “Don’t look.”
That didn’t exactly placate her. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, it’s…it’s swelling and bruising already. We need to get you to a hospital. Now.”
She nodded. “Okay.” Then she blew out a breath to hype herself. “Okay,” she said again. But how was she supposed to walk out of here? Gah, even the thought of standing made her stomach pitch with nausea.
“Wrap your arms around my neck,” he answered her unspoken question. “I’ll carry you.”
The sheer, noble romance of his command caused Deri to lose her breath.
What? Run away with you and bear your twenty children?
As long as he kept looking at her exactly as he was now, she was pretty much game for any suggestion he made.
Linda is a contemporary romance author from the midwestern USA, where she lives with her wonderful husband, daughter, and nine cuckoo clocks. The eighth and final child of dairy farmers, she was forced into having a vivid imagination if she ever wanted to do something one of her siblings hadn't already tried.
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