No matter where you hide, or how far you run, the past will find you.
When Ryan arrived at Winter Creek, an old ghost town that's being rebuilt, he never expected to meet a woman like Bri. The free-spirited, decade-younger woman makes his heart sing. But Ryan's living a lie. Bri doesn't even know his real name. He's hiding his true self while she's an open book.
Bri is half in love with the uptight, controlled accountant. But she's finding it easier to figure out the name of a century-old killer than getting closer to this man. At one time they used to argue, but now they barely speak to each other. She shouldn't miss fighting with the man, yet she does.
When Ryan finally tells Bri the truth about his past, it goes surprisingly well. Loving this woman is special and right, and completely fulfilling. But then his past once again comes up to haunt him, and now he needs to leave Winter Creek. He has to put things right with his past before he can move forward with his future.
Will Bri be willing to forgive him when he returns? Or has his stubbornness to go it alone made him lose her forever?
Content Warning: contains strong language and sensual sex scenes
"So do you really want to investigate our ghosts here?" Will asked.
"What?" Bri dragged her mind to the present. "Ghosts?"
"I think Kim is right." He sat forward in his seat. "Having a team of paranormal investigators check out the place is a better idea than a wedding."
Something unspoken floated between them. Something Bri had never experienced with this man before. She leaped from her chair and settled on the sofa. She needed the extra distance now.
"And I like the monthly newspaper thing too," he added, sitting back into his seat. "Kim told me you write well."
"That was kind of her." Pleasure warmed her. "But most of the things I've planned so far for the paper are real articles I've found on-line and in the information sent to me. I'm acting more as an editor than a writer. Dad sent me a mock-copy of the first edition with his suggestions. I'm editing that now. As soon as that's done and the board gives their final opinion, Dad will send the first Winter Creek Gazette out." She sat forward. "I'm thinking he and the other hotel sponsors will have to carry the entire cost of the printing and postage though. I doubt the board will be willing to reimburse him."
"Maybe I could—" Will sipped his forgotten coffee. "Jack and I could talk to the board for them. The newspaper benefits the college. Your parents shouldn't have to pick up the slack."
"Dad's fine with it. He knew his team would have to pay most of the cost."
"Good." He set the cup on the small table beside him. "Jack said you need us to go talk to the dean. If it's not about the newspaper, what is it about?"
"It's not important."
He shrugged. "If it wasn't important, you wouldn't have talked to him about it."
"Oh?" Surprise vied with pleasure. She pressed the second reaction away. "I didn't think you cared."
An unreadable look flashed in his eyes. "If that's what you really think, maybe I shouldn't."
Bri clamped her fingers into the sofa cushion. If their conversation was destined to turn into a fight, she wouldn't be the one throwing the first punch. Yelling at this man got her nowhere.
"No comment?" A hint of laughter lightened his brown eyes. "A few months ago that statement would have gotten a different reaction."
"Things have changed," she said.
He looked toward the fire, frown back in place. "Yes, I saw him."
The lines around his mouth deepened. "That…cowboy."
"Cowboy?" Oh my God, could he be jealous, of Brody? Both Kim and Barb said he was, but she didn't believe them. "He came here to speak with Wyatt about one of the stagecoaches. One of the wheels came loose."
This time she didn't fight the delight racing through her. "Brody is just my friend."
"Friend?" He huffed out a sound of disbelief. "Maybe you should let him know that."
"William Longstreet, I believe you are jealous." She rapped his crossed knee and grinned. "And here I thought you didn't like me anymore."
He shot from the chair and stepped toward the reception desk. Closed down, stiff back, and rigid control back in place. Nothing showed in him.
"I did it again," Bri whispered. A hint of the insecurity this man alone caused within her rose in her mind. "I didn't…"
Silence followed her unfinished sentence.
"Well, I guess it's time for you to leave." Bri stood, forcing away her self-doubt. Why did this man make her feel so uneasy? Maybe that was why, because he was a man. He was a good decade older than her. "It's getting late."
He still didn't move.
"My name's not—" He clamped his mouth tight on the rest. "I have a few things to do before I go to bed, so I'll see you tomorrow."
Will opened the door. Cold air rushed into the room. "Good night, Brianna."
Something had changed between them. But Will calling her by her full name didn't bother her. "Will?"
"I like how you just said my name."
His eyes widened, lips rising in a half-grin. "I'll see you tomorrow."