She lives by the book—and is still searching for her happily ever after.
Darcy Wilde has tried hard not to live up to her last name. As a librarian in Atlanta she lives a fine life far away from the football-obsessed town of her childhood. But when her beloved Grandmother needs help, Darcy takes a leave of absence and heads back to the home and past she left behind.
He knows how to play the field—and is in no rush to settle down.
Robbie Dalton knows a thing or two about painful pasts. After bouncing around in foster care and the Army for years he is finally ready to move on and make a home for himself in Falcon, Alabama as the newest high school football coach. Sparks fly when the sexy new coach and the sharp-tongued librarian meet, but neither of them is looking to make ties.
But when it comes to love, sometimes you’ve gotta throw away the rule book to cross the finish line…
Everything changes when Darcy falls in love, not only with the gruff, protective, and smoking hot man who's sharing her days and nights, but also with the complex tapestry of people who weave Falcon together. Could this be where she belongs - and who she belongs with?
Sitting in her car in The Tavern’s parking lot, Darcy gripped the wheel so hard her fingers turned white and debated her move. People around Falcon knew too much about everything. She’d done her best not to live up to her name— Wilde. “Keep it between the lines” was her mantra.
Her mother, on the other hand, lived up to her name and more. Drinking. Drugs. Pregnant with Darcy in high school. Darcy’s father could have been one of any number of boys, and Darcy lived with the aftermath. In Falcon, stories persisted long after the guilty had escaped.
But there were instances her inner wild child flared. Skinny-dipping satisfied some primal urge probably inherited from her mama. She’d gloried in the feel of the water and wind on her bare skin, out in the open. Impractical, gorgeous underwear no one ever saw was her other indulgence.
Figuratively pulling up her big-girl panties— in reality, a ridiculously tiny scrap of black lace— she hauled herself out of the car. Only the thought of Logan waiting inside forced her toward The Tavern’s wooden double doors. If she tucked tail and ran, his teasing would be unbearable.
She’d wrestled her hair into submission with a flatiron and wore a blue tank dress that hit a couple of inches above her knees. Nothing overtly sexy or attention-seeking, but tailored and classic.
The Tavern’s dark paneling and permanent haze attested to its decades as the local watering hole and social mecca. A bar ran along one wall opposite a dance floor. The middle was awash in rickety wooden tables and chairs with a few men and women scattered like flotsam.
People glanced her way, and her face heated in spite of the years gone by. Avoiding eye contact, she sidled to the bar where Logan stacked glasses and rearranged bottles. “I thought it’d be more crowded.”
Logan glanced at his watch. “It’s early yet. Can I make you something?”
“Tea sounds good.”
“Coming right up.” He winked, one corner of his mouth drawing up. “You cleaned up nice.”
“Thanks.” She examined the room while he poured her drink. “Do you like working here?”
He slid the glass down the smooth oak like an expert and propped his arms on the bar. “Not particularly, but Milt’s ready to retire. I’m going to buy it, fix it up, turn it into something upscale. Better food, better music, better everything. The loan is pending.”
She regarded him like an unknown bug specimen. Logan? An upstanding business owner? She gulped her iced tea to mask her surprise. Coughing spasms wracked her body, and she slapped the bar.
“That … that was not tea,” she said in a creaky voice, pointing at the glass.
“Sure it was. The Long Island variety. You walked in looking like a deer on the first day of hunting season. Katherine coming?”
“She had to work. Too many cases on the docket for morning court.” Darcy completely understood but missed being able to borrow a portion of her best friend’s unrivaled confidence.
Logan wandered to the opposite end of the bar to give the servers their instructions, and she tentatively took another swig. This one went down smooth, and before she knew it, bare ice tinkled in the bottom.
Someone fired up the jukebox, and a pulsing beat underlay the increased buzz of conversation. A different bartender checked on her. “What’s your poison, sweetheart? Logan told me to take care of you. Anything you want.” Insinuation flavored the words, but his eyes were guileless.
“Long Island tea, please.” She pushed the glass toward him.
With a boyish grin that had probably gotten him into many a patron’s panties, he said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She drained the fresh drink, and the man replaced it without comment. The door opened every few seconds, belching groups of two or three. As she sipped, she observed the easy camaraderie and recognized several people. A group of popular women, who had been popular teenagers in high school, bunched around two tables close to the dance floor and attracted a fair amount of male attention. But no one approached her, and she felt invisible— in a good way.
Then he walked in. Dear God in heaven, she hadn’t exaggerated his blatant masculinity. Thick blondish hair settled in wavy clumps as if his routine involved fingers and not a comb. A red T-shirt this time. Nothing special except in the way the cotton spread over broad shoulders and tucked messily into a pair of broken-in jeans as if the shirt begged for some woman to pull it out … and maybe even off. Damn, he was hot. Tongue-lolling, fantasy-inducing, panty- dropping hot.
He scanned the room. Choosing his conquest for the evening? She was surprised none of the women raised their hands and yelled “Pick me, pick me!”
She took another sip and snorted. Although there was no way he could have heard above the din, his gaze stripped away her cloak of invisibility. In a loose-limbed amble, he approached. Several men stopped him to chat, but there was no question as to his ultimate destination. His gaze flicked to her even as he replied to them.
Heat prickled her scalp, burned down her face, through her body, and finally banked in her lower belly. Then, he was there, standing a few feet in front of her. Close enough to bask in his maleness and become high on the tang of his cologne. Her inhibitions dangerously low, her knees parted a few inches.
Keep it between the damn lines. She clamped her legs together and swiveled back to the bar. He took the stool at her side. Well-worn denim brushed the skin above her knee sending a small shiver down her leg. A beer landed in front of him without a word to the bartender.
She tapped her fingers on the bar and waited for him to say something, anything. He had stalked her from across the room and had taken the seat next to her. Nothing. What kind of game was he playing?
She opened with an eloquent, “Hi,” and immediately felt like an idiot.
His cutting gaze, expressionless face, and lack of response dampened her uncomfortably potent lust. The man could at least be freaking polite. They were in Alabama not New York, no matter what she was drinking.
She poked him in the arm. “ I said Hi. By the way, I was going to make you a blackberry pie. Maybe even pick the berries myself, but not now. No sir-ree.”
He turned and braced his legs wide, nearly encasing her. His finger hooked around the neck of the sweating beer, and he took a drag. The muscles of his throat worked, and she swallowed in response. The beer bottle landed back on the bar with a thump.
“Why would you make me anything?” he asked in a tight, suspicious voice.
“That’s what a good neighbor does. It was for taking care of Ada, maybe for the snake thing, but you can forget it. You’re not even getting dry, store-bought cookies from that stupid elf. In fact, you deserve a kick in the butt for being rude.” She poked him in the chest this time.
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