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The Connelly Cousins, Book 3
Time is running out for Bailey Keehan. The sleepy little town of Birch Falls has been lovely, but now her dark past is catching up to her. Living everyday looking over her shoulder, keeping herself separate from everyone she meets, and unwilling to endanger anyone by getting close to them weighs heavily on her.
Until Conlan O’Leary steps in to lend a guiding hand to the lovely, lonely, wary young waitress in his employ and his grandson Michael. Conlan has to intervene before the restlessness that’s plagued the former Army Ranger leads him to wander away from Birch Falls again. Convinced that Bailey is in some kind of trouble, Mr. O’Leary asks Michael to find out what the trouble might be, and help her, if he can.
Michael suspects his grandfather has an ulterior motive; after all, the man has been known to play matchmaker. But Michael soon realizes there’s a lot more to the pretty server than meets the eye. Not only is she on the run, she’s also the one woman he’s been waiting for his entire lifetime and never truly expected to find, his heart, his croie.
Bailey is determined to keep Michael at arm’s length but after he comes to her rescue one evening, she sees him in a new light. She can’t resist a night with the dark, handsome man who’s captured her attention and has had a starring role in her private fantasies for the last six months. But that’s all it can be. One night with her knight in shining armor. Then she must move on, for his safety as well as hers.
Little does she realize that Michael has no intentions of letting her go that easily.
“If you love a true love soul mate story then just go ahead and one click.” ~ Amazon Reviewer rrm
“Loved the series and Michael and Bailey’s story was suspenseful and sexy. Plus, a novella of Jamie’s story ties up the series with perfection.” ~ Amazon Reviewer KJG
Bailey felt a rush of heat roll over her. It was him! Michael Connelly, looking good enough to eat in a black button down shirt and a pair of those well-worn blue jeans, his emerald eyes pinned directly on her.
Her dark knight.
There he stood, gloriously fierce and ready for battle, lance in hand. Okay, so maybe it was a pool cue, but she blamed the adrenaline racing through her system for coming up with that analogy.
No time for her Camelot fantasies now, though. She took a mental snapshot to recall later, much later. She had a creep on her heels, and first and foremost, she had to get away from him before she entertained any more distracting thoughts. Her eyes flicked again to the exit then back to Michael, who stood between her and escape.
Her pursuer entered the room behind her, his face a mask of thorough irritation. The attention of the occupants shifted from Bailey to the man in the doorway, and the temperature in the room grew noticeably cooler. Two large men, one with Adonis-like golden hair and one who looked very similar to her knight, stood and flanked Michael on either side.
Apparently these guys took their members-only privileges seriously.
The guy following her must have realized it, too. He reached out and grabbed at her arm. “This has gone far enough,” he hissed. “Come on, sweetheart, we both know you’re not meeting anyone here.”
Bailey barely avoided his grip with a quick twist of her shoulders. Her hopes of slipping through without incident were practically nil, not with being the center of attention as they were. She looked again at Michael, at the tense set of his shoulders and the intensity of his eyes.
What she was about to do was probably going to end any future hope of seeing her knight again, but she could see no other choice.
With purposeful steps, she made a beeline for Michael, pasting what she hoped was a cheerful smile on her face and praying that her voice didn’t crack.
“Sorry I’m so late. I thought we were meeting out by the bar.”
She reached both arms up around his neck – a full body stretch for her – and attempted to pull him down to her. For a horrible moment he did not move, and she was afraid she had wildly overestimated her probability of success, but then she felt his arms close around her and his mouth captured hers.
Marble, that’s what he felt like. Warm, hard, malleable marble. Sizzling bolts of energy radiated out from each point of contact, sending a rush of heat straight to her core. Bailey might have gasped; it would explain how Michael’s tongue managed to glide along her lower lip and then tease hers. Strong, solid arms tightened around her, pulling her closer in an unspoken command to press more of her body against his.
God only knew how long the kiss actually lasted. Two seconds. Two minutes. A month. The moment Michael’s lips touched hers, the rest of the world ceased to exist. There was only him, holding her, kissing her as if he really meant it.
She needed the strength of those arms, because every bone in her body suddenly went from solid to liquid, melting under the power of that kiss.
Apparently those fantasies she’d been having for the past eight weeks had been spot on.
When Michael finally pulled away, there was fire in his eyes. He relaxed his arms, but continued to hold her as his gaze lifted toward the door. With her body still pleasantly buzzing, she turned and saw her pursuer glaring at her, his face contorted in anger. The entire room had gone silent, waiting to see what would happen next.
Bailey was kind of wondering that herself.
~ * ~
“Maybe you didn’t see the sign. This is a private room. Members Only.” Michael spoke the words quietly, but that only added to the power behind them. He was not a man who uttered idle threats, and even a loser like the guy chasing after Bailey should be able to figure that out quick enough. And anyone who encountered the wrath of Michael Connelly would also fall into ill favor with the other patrons, as other men began to rise from their seats or set their cue sticks to the side.
Whether the outsider had had too much to drink or an innate death wish, he didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. He’d ventured where he was not welcome, and thought to push his attentions on a woman who obviously didn’t want them. And not just any woman. Bailey.
After a brief hesitation, the guy thrust his chin out defiantly and took another step into the room. “She’s with me.”
It was the wrong thing to say.
Michael’s eyes narrowed as Bailey clutched him harder. She was afraid of this guy; that much was clear. And that made Michael very, very angry. Without even realizing he was doing so, he pulled her closer to him and ran his hand soothingly against her back. Those protective instincts he’d been keeping tethered ripped free with the sudden, fierce intensity of a bolt of lightning.
And then, he knew. Bailey Keehan was his croie. His heart. The one.
That realization explained a lot. It also changed everything.
Looking over her head, his eyes found the worthless piece of shit that had driven Bailey into his arms. Medium build, medium height. Unremarkable brown hair, brown eyes. The kind of guy who could blend into the woodwork, easily overlooked, except for the gleam in his eye. Except now he’d gone and drawn attention to himself, and not the good kind.
Michael’s mouth curved up in a smile that could have frozen Niagara Falls. “Wrong. She is with me. And you should have listened the first time.”
Copyright © 2016 – 2018 Abbie Zanders.
Written by Abbie Zanders.
All rights reserved.
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