Cole has to keep an eye on Eva Trout–a rich heiress worth billions, a charming and flirtatious influencer with her share of stalkers, and his brother’s fiancee.

What could possibly go wrong?

How about everything?

Start reading Cole’s Dilemma HERE


It was perfect!

Eva wrote West again, her eagerness making her reckless with the speed of her texts: “You coming?”

He finally replied: “Yes.”

“How far are you?” she asked.

“Give me about three minutes.”

“Perfect,” she wrote back. “Take the ladder up to the hayloft. You won’t believe what you’ll find there.”


Eva giggled into her hand. He was going to get a surprise that he wouldn’t soon forget. She’d heard more than enough country songs to know that hay was pretty much the most romantic spot to find a cowboy.

She picked up her phone. Running her fingers through her apps, she found TalkieTalk and set it on a live feed. She wasn’t a notorious influencer for nothing! Eva had every intention of declaring her love to the world.

West would never doubt her feelings again.

“Hey, everybody,” she told the screen when she switched on her live feed. She watched the numbers jump from zero to the hundreds, to the thousands, to the hundred-thousands. It would hit over a million views soon. She smiled.

Just how she liked it. Her sponsors were going to have a heyday with this.

“I’m in an actual hayloft in Harvest Ranch,” she told her fans. “Can you believe it? Kinda screwy for anyone to find me in the country, but that’s what people do when they’re in love.”

Wait, did she want to admit that yet?

But now the cat was scratching its way out of the bag and so, she let it out all the way by admitting everything. “Oh wow, such a funny thing to say. It feels so strange, but so right. Yeah, I’m in love!” She squealed the second the words came out. “Crazy, right? I’m finally saying it out loud. But I-I think he just doesn’t know how I feel because…” She tried to work out exactly why he didn’t know. “I’m too friendly sometimes,” she admitted, “so it’s hard for that special someone to know that they’re special, right? So anyway, I never want this guy that I care about to doubt how I feel about him again.” She lowered her voice, “His name is West Slade. I told him to meet me up here in the hayloft. As soon as he comes up that ladder and comes around that haystack, I’m going to surprise him with a kiss that’ll melt his face off. We’ll just see what he has to say.”

She smiled.

Sure, haters might criticize her for giving away the most important events of her life, but… she was a sharer! Eva just happened to be really open about her feelings. She’d grown a skin tough enough to handle all criticisms, and she did her best not to let the fame get to her head.

Right? Right?

After all, why was the tradition of kissing in front of everybody to finish the wedding ceremony at a church any different than what she was doing now?

She gulped, turning back to her fans. “And maybe I’m stupid for making this ‘live’ because I could very possibly get rejected, but what if? What if… he feels the same? I can’t let my fear get in the way anymore. I have to be honest, no matter what happens! I’m ready to put this all out there. You with me on this?”

She needed a good angle for this livestream, definitely not a shot from below. Looking around the cozy little nook, she noticed bales of hay piled up on every side of her. One stack was tiered like stairs. She could put the camera up there.

Stepping up on the first bale of hay, she made her way up, so that she could reach the highest point to set up her camera. She adjusted her phone so that the screen would catch West when he came around that first bale of hay across from her. This angle also caught her best side.

Another must!

This was going to be awesome. She put her thumb up to the screen, then noticed how dark it was in this loft. She squinted at the screen, seeing that she was entirely in the shadows. Ah great! The picture was awful. Eva searched for some sort of overhead lighting, just as she heard a sound behind her.

He was coming! She took a deep breath. This lighting would have to do.

She didn’t even have time to get off the bale of hay before she listened to West clear the ladder and walk towards her hideout. Her fingers curled into a tight fist as every part of her tensed with delight. She’d have to pull him to her because she didn’t want to accidentally knock West to the ground below.

Reenacting a Greek tragedy was the complete opposite of what she wanted to do.

She took a deep breath, trying not to laugh, but her happiness was turning her giddy. The silhouette of West rounded the bend of hay bales, and she grasped the ends of his collar and tugged him closer.

A part of her noticed that he’d gotten out of that dress shirt and put on a casual tee shirt more fitting for the country. Standing on the hay bale, she wrapped her arms around him in the darkness. “I want to tell you something.”

He let out a breath, and she planted her lips against his before he could try to talk her out of it. Eva might’ve held back everything that she’d felt for West that first time they’d kissed, but when he’d never come back for more, she’d decided that she needed to show him exactly what he was missing.

She had a wild spirit that matched his!

The lights definitely wouldn’t catch any of this on her live feed. Her TalkieTalk would be an absolute failure! She didn’t care.

West was unresponsive with shock, but slowly, slowly, his hands moved around her. She felt his heart beneath hers. Blessedly racing. It was the most emotion that she’d ever gotten out of him.

Hope beat through her as he surrendered to her kisses by gathering her close, one arm behind her waist, the other supporting her head. His lips turned demanding over hers. Oh wow, he was strong. She felt like she was disappearing in his embrace. She’d never noticed that he was so big, maybe because she’d only seen him around his brothers lately.

His fingers tangled through her hair. She felt herself melting.

Yeehaw and yippee ki-yay! Is that how they say it here? Who cares!

This kiss was something to die for. West had passion, she felt that, but something deeper too—his every move was the mark of a gentleman. His touch was meaningful, expressive, thoughtful, like he held back the strength of a storm with his gentle caresses.

This wasn’t like their kiss before. This was better!

Her knees went weak. Eva stepped back to steady herself. That’s when she felt her horrible sandal slip on the hay again. She stumbled. West tried to catch her, only for the both of them to fall back against the bale of hay together.

What a way to go! She giggled, and he let out a shaky laugh. “Eva,” he said. “I think that means you’re ‘it.’”

She ran her fingers through his hair. “Oh, West…”

“West?” he asked. He wrenched back.

She scrambled off the bale of hay and realized just how tall he was.

This wasn’t West.

She sprang away.


Cole couldn’t catch his breath, even as he made out Eva’s features through the shadows of the loft.

What had just happened?

The memory of her lips still burned against his. He tried to piece everything together that had led up to this. It wasn’t like he’d never kissed a stranger before. The women at Mo’s were always throwing their arms around him and smothering him with their love, especially after a rowdy swing dance, or even to congratulate him after he and his brothers won a round of pool… but for once, he’d actually given in.

He wasn’t sure why, only that tasting the actual sweetness of her lips after seeing that same sweetness with his nephews felt… complete.

Dah! He was an idiot!

She’d told him that she’d teach him a few lessons on love; he’d assumed she meant it in the most platonic, teasing way—until he’d come looking for her in the hayloft.

Even then, he meant to pull back, but then… her hypnotizing scent of gardenias, and the sincerity behind her soft touch was enough to make him certain that there was absolutely nothing going on between her and his brother.

That was until she’d called him West.

“Oh!” She hugged Cole again, jostling him back. He felt like a wooden post through his shock. He felt her intake of breath against his ear. “Sorry!”

Hugging him was supposed to make this all better?

Saying that he was stunned was an understatement. He listened to Charlie’s voice beneath them on the ladder. “Did you find her?”

Yeah, you could say that.

He wasn’t sure whether to be alarmed or angry, but then his heart wrenched with concern when she covered her face and burst into tears.

“Oh, no, are you okay?” Now it was his turn to take her in his arms to make amends. He rubbed her back, trying to get her to stop crying. Wait. What was he doing? He released her. “I’m so sorry.”

What was he apologizing for? She’d been the one who grabbed him first, but still he felt terrible. She didn’t know who she had, but he did. He’d kissed her back, stupidly! He was such a jerk.

Then he noticed that she wasn’t crying. She was laughing.

“I’m so, so sorry!” she said. “I… oh no!” She grabbed at her phone. He saw that she’d set it on the hay behind them.


She quickly messed with it, turning the screen black as she slipped it into the pocket of her jean shorts. “I really thought you were West,” she said. “And we kind of have this little thing that we do.”

Oh, Cole definitely didn’t want to hear this.

He held his hands up. “It didn’t happen,” he heard himself saying. “Just like I didn’t fall on you on the stairs, this especially did nothappen.”

She licked her lips. His eyes drew to that silky softness. Just seconds ago, they were… no, no, it didn’t happen! Another horrified thought hit him. What if they actually became related after this? He’d have to take this to the grave that he’d kissed his sister-in-law… and worse? That he’d liked it.

He ran his palms down his face. Not even torturers would get that admission out of him. West had already accused Hudson of going after Liv back in the day. Of course, it wasn’t true, but it was the one thing that made West feel justified about breaking up his little family.

West did not forgive.