I loved writing this story. The brothers are all distinct personalities I heard chattering in my head. (I know, the crazy’s coming out!) I loved the mom, the solution they came up with, the ENDING! I hope you will too. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt. I dare you to resist clicking on that pre-order link. 🙂
Excerpt from Family Values…
Her voice came from the other side of the door. They were separated by only a few inches of wood—the closest they’d been in years.
She gave a heavy sigh, and then turned the lock. “Come in.”
Into her room? He’d never been inside while she’d lived here, although after she’d gone he’d often come to sit on her bed to talk to her whenever the loneliness crowded in. He turned the handle and stepped into her bedroom.
Angel sat on her mattress, cross-legged, gazing back at him. Her black eyelashes were starred, sticking together because of her tears.
Since he didn’t want to tower over her, and the chair in front of her vanity looked too delicate, he sat on the edge of the bed. He kept his gaze on his hands fisted on his thighs. “I’m sorry I shouted. But I’m not sorry for what I said.”
She snorted softly. “That was an apology?”
He aimed a frown at her. “I don’t have much practice.”
One corner of her mouth twitched. “I bet you don’t. Don’t get out much, do you?”
“Do you mean on dates?”
“Yeah, with women.”
Her tone was warm but slightly sarcastic. “I don’t date at all, Angel. I haven’t kissed a woman in years. Maybe it’s unnatural, but since you came of age, there hasn’t been anyone I wanted more.”
Her mouth dropped an inch then snapped closed. Her cheeks grew pink. “That was to the point.”
“I don’t know how to be any other way.”
Her chest expanded with her next shaky breath. “But you sent me away. Did I disappoint you that much?”
The quaver of her voice caused a pain inside his chest. “You were eighteen. What I wanted was wrong. The fact my brothers were after you, that only added to my worries. I didn’t want you trapped by a pregnancy before you had a chance to see a bit of the world.”
“I was on the pill. Mama told you that. And I only saw Austin.”
“That’s hardly Texas.”
She ducked her head, smiling slightly. “I never wanted to be anywhere but here,” she whispered.
Brand dropped his head, staring again at his fists. “I’m sorry, Angel. It’s all I can say. You have an education now. You’re grown. You can make your own choice.”
“But I can’t.”
He shot her a sideways glance. There were tears in her eyes. “Are you afraid of hurting one of us?”
Her chin trembled. “That, and…” Her gaze went to the wall, and she released a slow breath. “I love you. All three of you. So, you see…”
He stopped breathing when he heard the I love you. The second sentence was disappointing, but better than a rejection. She didn’t know it yet, but they were going to make this easy for her.
Brand reached out for her hand and held it inside his. It was slender, soft, and so small. He worried now about so many things. “Will you trust me? I know I haven’t given you much reason, but before I sent you away, we were friends, weren’t we?”
A tear rolled down one cheek, and she wiped it away with the back of her other hand. “You were always quiet, Brand, remote. A little too removed from me for us to be besties. But I did trust you. When I was scared, you were the one I ran to.”
“I was older. I had no business lustin’ after you.”
“Lusting?” Her plump mouth twitched again. “There’s only twelve years between us.”
He narrowed his eyes. “And back then, I could still see you in pigtails.”
“Do you see me as a child now?”
He tightened his jaw. “No,” he rasped.
“Brand…” She paused and bit her lip.
“Out with it,” he growled. “We’re bein’ honest here.”
“I was never sure you wanted me,” she whispered. “You never kissed me. Eli brought me flowers and kissed me in the barn. And you know what Nate and I did.”
He felt a muscle jump at the side of his jaw and forced himself to relax. “I wanted kisses, Angel. I wanted you in my bed. Don’t ever think I didn’t.”
She shook back her hair and angled her chin higher. “And now? Do you still want me?”
Brand saw the challenge in the jut of her chin, but he also saw the vulnerability. There in her doe-like eyes. And the only thing he could think to do, because he sure as hell couldn’t force another word past his tight throat, was lean toward her and kiss her.