Holiday Edition Book 7
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Ex-Navy SEAL Eli Miller is headed back to the family ranch after seventeen years of service. Starting over is tough, especially when he doesn’t know if he wants to be a cowboy again.
No one deserves a year like Addison Treadway has experienced. She’s faced an unfaithful husband, divorce, breast cancer, and major surgery. She needs time to regroup and heal. When her friend offers her a no-strings apartment on a horse ranch in Montana, it’s impossible to say no.
A year ago, Eli Miller and Addison Treadway had a one-night fling that left both of them with regret and unresolved conflicts. Neither expected to see the other again. Fate had other plans.
Eli ‘Wolf’ Miller is leaving his team, retiring to go home to his family ranch. His parents are spending half the year in Florida and his brother can use the help. The journey home is uneventful and although it’s not that late when he arrives, it’s long past bedtime for ranchers whose days start at the crack of dawn. He knows where the key is to the apartment he’ll be staying in so decides to just settle in for the night. He just grabs a beer from the fridge when he gets the shock of his life. Addison Treadway in his apartment, the woman he was falling in love with at Zane and Wendy’s wedding. He walked away after a phone call from ‘her husband’.
Addison only knows Eli walked away from her without a word. She has no idea what happened and she had far more important things to deal with, heartbreak was at the bottom of that list as she went through surgery, chemo and more. Wendy is her surgeon and she’s recuperating at the ranch. It’s truly a good place to be with fresh air and quiet, now that’s all disappearing with Eli’s presence.
Eli confronts her, well sort of and gets yelled at by his mother, then thinks he hears Addison crying when he goes to collect his laundry. He can’t stand that he made her cry and knows he needs to make amends.
This is part of that conversation and a favorite scene.
Now, realizing all she’d been through since they’d last seen each other, he felt like an ass for jumping down her throat, which only added to how horrible he felt about walking out eight months ago.
It might have been nice if his brother had clued him in. Yeah, he put having a long talk with his brother and the rest of his closed-mouthed family high on his to-do list.
“Listen, I really have to apologize for walking out last November. What I did, walking out and ghosting you, is unforgivable. I know that. I’m ashamed of how I reacted. Ashamed, embarrassed, and furious with myself. I’ve thought about that weekend almost nonstop. I know the cancer made the past year incredibly difficult, and my being an ass then and this morning didn’t help. You have to know that’s not me.” He ran his hand down his face. “Let me try to make it up to you. What can I do? How can I help?”
“While I appreciate your apology, you hurt me deeply. You have to know that.”
His head drooped, and then he looked up at her. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t know about your ex. I don’t think we spent that much time talking.” His voice was so sincere, sincere, it was hard to hold on to the grudge she’d carried around.
She chuckled. “Nope. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other.”
He grinned. “You were the sexiest woman I’d ever laid my eyes on.” His eyes grew serious. “And I am so very sorry. How can I make up for my past bad actions?”
“Honestly, there’s nothing I need. I’m doing great. Wendy is an excellent surgeon, and my incisions are healing nicely.”
“Wait. Wendy? That’s why you’re here? Wendy did your surgery?”
“Well, Risa, her sister, is a big deal breast cancer doctor and researcher in Dallas. Did you know that?”
He shook his head. His brain whirled from all the new, and surprising, information he was trying to absorb. Cancer. Mastectomy. A bastard of an ex. Now, his sister-in-law did Addison’s surgery? He was surprised the top of his head didn’t fly off. His brother had a lot of explaining to do.
“I was lucky that Risa squeezed me into her schedule and served as my primary cancer physician, coordinating my chemotherapy with an oncologist as well as doing my mastectomy. I had a plastic surgeon lined up to do the reconstruction, but—you’re never going to believe this—his wife shot him for having an affair with his nurse.”
“You have got to be kidding.”
“I’m not. She didn’t kill him, and last I heard, they were trying to work out their differences, but trust me when I say, the last thing I needed was more drama in my life.”
He rolled his eyes with a snort. “Work out their differences? Yikes. Sorry, but if my wife shot me, that would be a bridge too far.”
She grinned. “Me, too. Anyway, Risa called Wendy and twisted her arm to do my breast reconstruction. I don’t know if Zane mentioned it, but Wendy was one of the most respected plastics reconstruction surgeons in Dallas.”
“I didn’t know that. I mean, sure, I knew she was a doctor, but Zane never mentioned what kind, and I didn’t ask.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I was in my own little world out there in California. I’m glad she was able to help you.”
“So, that’s how my year has been.”
“File it under memorable, but let’s not repeat?”
“So, I’ll ask again. What can I do to help you or make amends for adding to your personal drama?”
Her gaze was steady. “Honestly, treat me normal. As much as you pissed me off out there on the patio, that’s the first time anyone hasn’t treated me with kid gloves.” She smiled. “I miss being normal.”
He nodded, his expression solemn. “Normal, it is then. I hate I wasn’t there for you this past year as a friend, as support.” He shook his head. “Again, I am so sorry. I handled the whole situation horribly.”
“That’s Denis’s fault, not yours.” She squinted at him. “On the other hand, if you’d just talked to me…”
Holding up his hands in surrender, he said, “I know, I know. I can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, but can we start over? Put that night behind us?”
“I think so. I know I’d like to.”
“Great.” He stood and turned to leave, but then looked at her again. “Want to walk over to my new place and see what has to be done to make it livable?”
She stood. “Only if I get to help buy furniture and spend your money.”
“This is going to cost me, isn’t it?”
“Maybe,” she replied with a laugh.
D’Alba, Cynthia; Authors, Paradise. Hot SEAL, Sweet and Spicy: A Navy SEAL-Cowboy-Second Chance Story. Kindle Locations (865-903). Riante, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Addison’s input along with his own assessment of his new home leads to lots of fun and renovations. There’s also the fun cooking adventures and some interesting developments with a Buffalo Chili Contest. Of course we haven’t heard the last from the ex either.
I love the way this relationship develops from the initial hot and heavy of the first meeting, to the now slow, get to know you, then the sizzle.
Thank you Cynthia for shedding light on the treatment and reconstruction surgery with breast cancer. It fit the story perfectly while giving information and hope.
5 Contented Purrs for Cynthia!
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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia D’Alba started writing on a challenge from her husband in 2006 and discovered having imaginary sex with lots of hunky men was fun.
She was born and raised in a small Arkansas town. After being gone for a number of years, she’s thrilled to be making her home back in Arkansas living in a vine-covered cottage on the banks of an eight-thousand acre lake. When she’s not reading or writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans.