by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool’s Gold #18
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: July 28th 2015
Format: Paperback/eBook, 368 pages
Meet the Mitchell brothers of Fool’s Gold, California—five gorgeous men who’ve left a trail of broken hearts in their wake…
Maya Farlow learned the hard way to depend only on herself, so when she fell too deeply for the bad-boy charms of Del Mitchell, she did the only thing she could—she ran. Stunned, Del left Fool’s Gold to make his name and fortune in extreme sports.
Now ten years later, Maya’s been hired to promote her hometown’s new slogan, The Destination for Romance. The celebrity spokesman is none other than Del, the man she dumped but never forgot. Awkward!
Although Del’s not the type to hold a grudge, he’s determined to avoid falling a second time for the woman who broke his heart. He’s a daredevil, not an idiot. Trouble is, in all his adventures, he never found a rush as exhilarating as Maya’s kiss. Maybe risking his heart will prove to be the biggest thrill of all…
While the sign out front said the sports bar was closed, the door was propped open. He stepped inside and looked around.
The overhead lights were on, illuminating the big, open space. The ceilings were high with a second-story balcony wrapping around like a catwalk. Tables and chairs had been pushed out of the way for cleaning. There were dartboards, pool tables and a big stage at one end. The long bar dominated the room at the other end.
Sports memorabilia covered the walls. There were sports posters, along with a Tour de France jersey, and signed footballs and helmets.
His brother walked out from a back room and grinned.
“I heard you were dead,” Nick said cheerfully.
“Naw. I like being the middle brother. It adds symmetry.”
They hugged briefly. Del studied his sibling. Nick looked good. Older and comfortable in his surroundings. Whatever Ceallach had going on about Nick’s chosen profession, Nick wasn’t equally troubled.
“Have a seat,” Nick said, pulling a table out from the cluster by the wall, then grabbing two chairs. “Want a beer?”
Nick went behind the bar and pulled a bottle out of a refrigerator. He poured himself a soda. Del was about to ask why, then told himself Nick worked in a bar. Probably best if he wasn’t sampling product in the middle of the afternoon.
Nick returned with the drinks and they sat across from each other.
His brother was about his size. All the Mitchell sons were within an inch or so of their father’s height. Nick was more muscled than Aidan or Del. Some of that was genetic and some of it came from the heavy materials he worked with. Or it had, Del thought, wondering when his brother had stopped working with glass and started managing a bar.
“How’s business?” he asked.
“Good.” Nick grinned. “We had a bit of a rough start, but we’re busy now. We get a good crowd. A nice mix of tourists and locals. The karaoke is popular.” He nodded at the stage. “You should come sing sometime.”
Del laughed. “That’s not gonna happen.” He glanced around. “How long have you been working here?”
“Since it opened.” Nick’s humor faded. “Don’t you get on me, too. I have to take that crap from Dad. You don’t get to talk about it.”
The “it” being his brother’s talent, Del thought. Because while he and Aidan lacked Ceallach’s phenomenal ability, Nick and the twins were nearly as gifted.
Del held up both hands. “Fine. I won’t say a word.”
Nick glared at him for a second before sighing. “You saw him, didn’t you?”
“That’s the same tone of voice Aidan uses when he talks about Dad.”
“We’re not chosen,” Del said lightly, thinking about how Ceallach always dismissed their mother’s small tour company as unimportant, despite how many times it had put food on the table. From what he’d seen so far, their brother Aidan had grown the company even more. But none of that would matter to Ceallach.
“You’re still doing well,” Nick said. “Congratulations on selling the company.”
Del sipped his beer. “How’d you know?”
“I read the business section of the paper every now and then. You got a big write-up here. Local boy makes good. What are you going to do next?”
“I have no idea.”
“Part of the reason you came home?”
“That and Dad’s birthday.”
“Which isn’t for a few weeks. That’s a long time to contemplate your navel.”
Del chuckled. “Not my style. I’m helping Maya Farlow with some promotional videos for the town. To support tourism and the new slogan.”
Nick’s brows rose. “Seriously?”
“It’s no big deal.”
“You were going to marry her, and when she dumped you, you left town. Mom was hysterical for weeks. That Maya?”
“Yes, and thanks for the recap.”
“You’re welcome.” Nick studied him. “You’re really going to work with her?”
“So it seems.”
Del thought about seeing Maya. She had become an interesting combination of the girl he remembered and someone completely different. Still gorgeous, but beautiful women were easy to find. She was smart, and he liked that. Conversation was as important as sex, in his world.
“We were friends,” he told his brother. “There’s no reason for that to have changed. Besides, I’m grateful for what happened.”
“That’s an interesting way to look at it.”
Del thought about the life he’d had planned. Before Maya, he’d been ready to take over the family business and live out his days in Fool’s Gold.
“Because of her I got to travel and see the world. There’s a whole lot of interesting stuff going on out there. If I’d stayed, I would have been miserable.”
“Even with Maya?”
A question he couldn’t answer. Nor did he want to try. If Maya had married him…
For a second he allowed himself to picture a house with a yard and a couple of kids. Maya pregnant with a third. Could he have been happy with her? With them?
Ten years ago, he would have sworn the answer was yes. Now, while he wanted the wife and kids, he wasn’t sure he could handle the settling down in one place part.
“I’m happy,” he said firmly. Lonely, maybe, but still happy. “What she and I had was over years ago. I can work with her, no problem.”
Nick picked up his soda. “I find it hard to believe you’re that forgiving, but okay. I applaud your mature, if slightly puzzling, response to her being back in town.” He brightened. “Hey, make her fall in love with you again, then dump her.”
“When did you get vindictive?”
A muscle tightened in Nick’s jaw. “Shit happens.”
Del thought about asking what, but figured Nick would tell him when he was ready. “Thanks for the suggestion of revenge, but no thanks. Wanting to punish her means I’m not over her, and I am. Completely.”
He was a one-woman man, still looking for the right woman. He’d thought he’d found her twice. First with Maya and then with Hyacinth. One of the things both women had taught him was the importance of being honest. With the other person and with yourself. Hyacinth and Maya had lied to him. In different ways, but they’d still withheld the truth. If a woman couldn’t be direct and open, he wasn’t interested.
Nick raised his glass. “To getting over her.”
Del raised his bottle. He knew who his “her” was, but wondered about Nick’s. Not that he would find out. Theirs was a family that flourished on secrets.