NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
She won’t let any man stake a claim. —
But for him she might make an exception.
Nash Barron may be cynical toward love but he still intends to enjoy his brother’s wedding. Especially when a beautiful woman lays a surprise kiss on him that tempts his resolve. But Kelly Moss is the last woman he should want considering her complex connection to his family.
That kiss, though… it’s still taunting him days later.
Kelly has learned a lot about herself since her mother abandoned her and her half-sister, Tess. One, that parenting isn’t her strong suit and two, that showing vulnerability to any man is a weakness she can’t afford. Yet now that she and Tess are settled in Serendipity, leave it to Nash Barron to show her a kindness beneath his tough-lawyer exterior that dents her carefully constructed walls.
But Kelly is hiding something. And Nash doesn’t tolerate secrets. If he ever discovers what she’s concealed, she’s positive he’ll turn his back—and break her heart.
It’s Ethan and Faith’s wedding and Nash is ready to escape. He’s waylaid by Tess’s sister Kelly and enticed into a kiss. They’re caught by Tess and Kelly handles it well.
Tess is Ethan, Nash, and Dare’s half-sister, of all the siblings Nash is the one she really doesn’t get along with. Ethan and Faith have done a great job in reining in the rebellious Tess. Kelly will be staying with her at Ethan’s mansion while he and Faith are on their honeymoon to keep up a somewhat normal routine. One of the first things on the agenda is a parent teacher conference. Kelly and Dare were going to attend, but Dare has to work, so Nash is going to take his place. The thing is Nash hasn’t been able to stop thinking about that kiss they shared at the wedding.
We get to see a side of Nash we haven’t before as he and Kelly talk to Tess’s teacher.
This is a favorite scene.
Kelly tried not to read anything into the other woman’s words. “Yes, but no more so than many kids today,” she said with a smile. “Tess lives with her brother, Ethan. He’s away on his honeymoon.”
“So you’re all related?” Ms. Bernard asked.
“Actually, Tess and I share a mother,” Kelly explained. “Nash, Ethan, and Tess share a father. It’s complicated, as you said.”
The woman clasped her hands together on her desk. “Well, that explains a lot.”
Kelly narrowed her gaze, no longer so willing to assume the best about the woman. “I can assure you that Tess has a solid foundation behind her and people who love her. So perhaps you’d like to tell us what you mean by ‘that explains a lot.’”
“Your sister has a bit of an edge.”
So do you, Kelly thought. “So do most teenage girls.”
Nash placed a hand on her arm, warning her to relax.
“Not most teenage girls here, Ms. Moss. At Birchwood, we place higher expectations on our students.”
Could her nose reach higher in the air?
Nash leaned forward in his seat. “Is Tess acting out in class?”
Ms. Bernard met his gaze. “Not particularly.”
“Mouthing off?” Nash asked.
Kelly bit the inside of her cheek, knowing firsthand how foul Tess could get.
She shook her head. “Not with the teachers or the staff.”
“Then what’s the problem? You just don’t like her?” Kelly couldn’t help but ask. Obviously, this woman had an issue with Tess.
She pushed her glasses farther up on the bridge of her nose. “As I said, she has an edge. She does what she’s asked but often begrudgingly. Her work is completed on time but often looks rushed. She has an attitude that’s not acceptable here.”
What is acceptable? Kelly wondered. Stepford children?
“We’ll definitely talk to Tess about her attitude, but I sense there’s something more,” Nash said. “Another reason you don’t like Tess because, based on your description, I have to agree with Kelly. Tess sounds like a typical teenage girl.” He braced his hands on the desk, his knuckles white as he gripped the edge hard. “That you happen not to like.”
Kelly had picked up on Ms. Julie Bernard’s attitude, but she figured Nash would be the first one to jump all over Tess for hers. Instead, his perceptiveness surprised her.
Kelly folded her arms over her chest and waited for the woman to reply.
“Okay, fine. I’m well aware of the fact that Mr. Barron— Ethan Barron— wrote a large check to get his sister into this school. And if the institution hadn’t been financially crippled by his wife’s father, Martin Harrington, the school wouldn’t have needed the influx his cash provided.”
“And a child like Tess would have been turned away?” Kelly asked bitterly.
“Yes.” Ms. Bernard didn’t flinch as she replied.
“Shame on you,” Nash said as he rose to his feet. He grasped Kelly’s hand and pulled her to a standing position beside him.
She was too stunned to do anything but follow and admire as she watched him in action.
“Excuse me?” Ms. Bernard asked.
“I said, shame on you. As an educator, you’re supposed to be tolerant and understanding of each child as an individual. All I hear now is bias toward an innocent kid who’s had a rough life and whose brother cared enough about her to give her a second chance. Not to mention that he helped stabilize your school’s financial situation at the same time.”
Kelly wanted to applaud.
Ms. Bernard rose to her feet. Her diminutive height didn’t help her cause. “I have colleagues who lost jobs because of Faith Harrington’s father. Programs were cut. Children who were thriving here were forced to return to public school when their parents also lost their savings!” The older woman trembled with anger.
“So did my parents,” Nash said to her. “My foster father had a heart attack and died not long after. But at least my parents placed the blame with the person on whom it belongs. You’re taking your anger out on a child.”
Nash turned to leave, but Kelly, stunned by Nash’s revelations, still had one thing more to add. “You can be certain that Ethan Barron and his wife, who so generously provided money to this school, will hear about how his sister is being treated.” Kelly stormed out of the classroom, breathing hard, Nash right behind her.
Once in the hall, she turned to him. “You were amazing! The way you stood up for Tess! Ethan and Faith will be so grateful you backed them up too.”
Nash pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned against the wall, his breathing shallow. “I didn’t do it for them.”
“I know. You did it for Tess.”
“Who wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Ethan,” Nash said.
Kelly reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder. “But she wouldn’t have this opportunity, either,” she gently reminded him.
He met her gaze.
In his eyes, she saw a pain that touched her deeply. “I want to help,” she said softly.
He drew a deep breath and nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”
“Someplace where you can learn all about the Barron brothers’ sordid history.”
Carly Phillips. Destiny-Carly-Phillips (Kindle Locations 385-429). Kindle Edition.
Nash reveals the Barron brother’s history by way of a neighborhood tour as he tells her everything about Ethan, their parents, and the aftermath. Then more as he details his and Dare’s fate within the foster system.
Now, Kelly has just moved to Serendipity and has taken the position of Paralegal for Richard Bane. She has her own secrets aside from those around her mother leaving her and Tess without a backward glance.
Things really get interesting when Richard Bane has a heart attack. Kelly finds out that Nash is her friend Anna’s ex-husband and that leads to even more convoluted ties.
These two really are meant to be, however admitting that to themselves and each other is quite another story.
I couldn’t put this book down as we get to find truth among all the fiction.
5 Contented Purrs for Carly!
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Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.
Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.