Love can heal the most stubborn heart…
Attorney Channing Blake is looking forward to a new chapter in his life. He’s graduated law school in Washington, DC and has returned home to the Twelve Horseshoes Ranch to take a job with Blake Enterprises. But he’s not the only one who’s back in town. Emma Winterbourne, his on-again, off-again girlfriend, has failed to make it in the Big Apple and is back in Texas, looking to pick up where she left off with good old Channing. Although the chemistry between them has always burned hot, Channing isn’t sure he wants to be her whipping boy any longer.
But when he heads back to DC to attend a friend’s engagement party, he becomes sure of it. A chance meeting with the beautiful Cassidy Shaw dredges up all the old feelings he’d felt for her in law school. He’d dated her once or twice, but she’d mysteriously disappeared without a word. His attempts to find her had come up empty. He’d had no choice but to move on. Now, with Cassidy right there, looking at him with that same longing he was feeling, he knew he owed it to himself to follow his heart. But when Cassidy disappears again and won’t take his calls, he knows something isn’t right. Cassidy is keeping something from him, and he’s not above using Blake resources to find out what.
Channing Blake gazed out of the office window of his elegant office at Blake Enterprises and took in the magnificent view of downtown Dallas. It was a beautiful, sunny day. He could feel the energy of the bustling streets below from the fiftieth floor. It had been six months since he’d moved back to Texas and begun working for his family’s company, and the transition of moving from Washington, DC back home to the Twelve Horseshoes Ranch was harder than he’d imagined. He loved country life, but he’d grown fond of the nation’s capital. He’d made some pretty good friends while in law school and was sad to see that part of his life come to an end.But there was no place like home, and the family had a lot to celebrate these days. Each Blake took their turn spoiling the newest family member Matt, Tate and Isabelle’s newborn. And his oldest brother J.J. and his wife, Sam, were expecting too. Love was abundant on the ranch, but it seemed to be eluding him. He’d given up his pursuit of his old flame, Emma Winterbourne, who was content to drop in and out of his life when she pleased. He’d had a thing for her since high school, and when he reconnected with her a couple of years ago, he thought everything was going great. She drove him crazy with her erratic behavior, and he blamed his inability to completely break things off on their amazing sexual chemistry. They hadn’t been in touch for months, and he had almost started to forget about her. Until she called him yesterday saying she was back in town and wanted to have dinner.Channing plunked back down in his comfortable black leather chair and grabbed one of the law books sprawled across his desk. Leave it to his big brother J.J. to call with a question about some obscure agriculture law in Kentucky while he was supposed to be on parental leave. So Channing had gone five floors down to the company’s law library and checked out a few books. He preferred a book in his hand over Internet searching, and Gertrude, the elderly librarian who was in charge, loved getting visits from him. There was a knock on his office door, and then it opened.“You busy?” It was Bo, his good friend and CFO of Blake Enterprises.Channing waved him into the office. “Come on in. I need the break.”“I see J.J.’s keeping you busy.”“I’ve been neck deep in Kentucky agricultural laws for two days.”“There’s some farm land he’s interested in, and he doesn’t like surprises when he’s negotiating.” Bo shut the door and sat down. “Does he know he’s on leave? I thought he wasn’t working while waiting for the baby to be born.”Channing laughed. “I think he needs something to do. He’s driving Sam crazy. I went over there for dinner on Saturday. We went to a bakery to get these cupcakes she likes, and when we got back we heard screaming coming from inside the house. J.J. sprang into action and called the paramedics as he’s running into the house. We get to the family room to find Sam watching a hockey game.” J.J. and Sam’s baby was due any day now, and his usually calm brother was bouncing off the walls.“Sam called and begged me to give him something to do.” Bo laughed. “You want to see a movie tonight? That new action flick is out. We can grab dinner after.”“How about a rain check? I’m…having dinner with Emma.” Channing pretended to peruse a book.“Really.” Bo grinned. “How long has she been back in town?”“That’s a good question. I’ll find out tonight.”“This will be round three with Emma?” Bo tapped his fingers on the desk.“Something like that,” Channing murmured. “How are you doing on the dating front?”“There are a few women in rotation but nothing serious.”Channing raised an eyebrow. “You dog. What have you done with Bodine Jamison?”“I blame our adventures in Vegas. Barring the daring escape from the male strip club, I had a good time. Hanging out with no strings attached may be just what I need right now.”“Good for you. Wanna go to DC? Some friends of mine from law school are having an engagement party next week. Maybe the bride-to-be has some single, stringless friends you can hang with.”“No way. No more parties in strange cities for me.”Channing heard a ping coming from his cell phone; it was a text message from Emma. She wanted to know what time he was picking her up. A part of him felt like he was jumping through hoops like he always did when she called. But this time it would be different. They could share a meal, and nothing had to come of it.His fingers flew over the keys, then he threw the phone down on the desk. “I have to be insane to listen to anything she has to say.”“Or horny.”“That too.” Channing pushed off from his desk. Unfortunately Bo was right about that.The sex drought had been going on for over a year. He’d made the decision to start thinking with the head that didn’t get him into romantic quagmires and spend his time more productively. He’d taken his precocious nephews to every museum on the eastern seaboard, had a workout routine that could have rivaled his brother Seth’s, and had even helped as a pit-crew member on his brother Tyler’s racing team. Hopefully he wouldn’t do anything stupid tonight. But the temptation to see her again, for better or worse, was just too great to ignore.Bo stood. “Well, I wish you all the luck one can muster when dealing with a Winterbourne woman.”“Bubba, do me a favor? Don’t tell anyone I’m going out with her. I think we’ve had enough family discussions about my relationship with Emma.”