Love on the Line
Hiding her identity was a small price to pay for freedom…
Heiress Cara Barrington fled the opulent world of her rich and famous family to carve out an idyllic existence on the California Coast. In the sleepy town of Albion Bay, she’s embraced the simple way of living she’s always craved. No one knows her identity, and she’s free from the pressures of wealth…until her sexy new neighbor threatens the unpretentious world she’s worked so hard to build.
All-Star athlete Ryan Rea enjoys his high-profile status. He’s used to charming his way into the heart and bed of any woman he desires while keeping his own heart secure behind a steel wall. When he meets Cara, she throws him a curveball—she’s unlike any woman he’s ever met, and he has to have her.
Cara’s growing attraction to Ryan endangers her hard-won anonymity, and when she inherits the family business, she must choose between the world she left behind and her new life in the community she’s come to cherish. But facing up to her responsibilities could destroy her freedom and cost her the greatest love she’s ever known.
“There! I told you I saw it!” Sam pointed to a red car parked in the driveway of a newly renovated ranch house.
Not just any red car.
Cara knew a Bugatti when she saw one; her brother had two, although he preferred muted colors.
She maneuvered a curve that brought them closer to the ranch house. Whoever had bought the old Smith property had done a speedy job of putting a new face on the dilapidated old ranch.
“It’s a Ferrari,” Timmy Brown said as he stuck his face out the window.
“It’s not. It’s an Aston Martin,” Cara heard Sam say with definite authority.
She smiled to herself. What did the name of a car matter? But hearing the awed voices of the boys did give her pause. Money could buy such a car, but unless the owner was part of a racing circuit, there was usually only one reason someone needed a two-million-dollar sports car in a rural coastal California town.
The high-end sports car was a visual reminder of the world she’d spent three years fighting to escape.
And only because she knew that novelty was scarce in Albion Bay did she slow the bus and give the boys a good look at the car.
But as she drove closer, it wasn’t the car that caught her eye.
A ridiculously handsome specimen of male was unloading a hay bale from the passenger seat of the Bugatti.
He was tall, maybe six-foot-three, and handled the hay bale as if it were a sack of feathers.
Now, that did make her smile. A sports car wasn’t a sensible vehicle for transporting hay bales. The guy was crazy, desperate or just lacked everyday common sense.
Whatever his foibles, his broad-shouldered physique and rugged good looks were likely to cause a town buzz that went well beyond a group of preteen boys. The man looked up and flashed a wave toward the bus. When he followed his gesture with the most beaming smile she’d ever seen, a smile that zinged into her core, she was sure of it.
Working in the garden after her afternoon shift of bus driving usually relaxed her, but all the talk in the community garden that afternoon had been of Albion’s newest resident, Ryan Rea.
As she’d suspected, the boys on the bus weren’t the only ones who’d noticed the flashy Bugatti of their town’s newest resident, and Cara wasn’t the sole woman to have noticed his rugged good looks.
His name made him sound like an extra from a Texas Western. And the smile he’d flashed as she’d driven past him had made her pulse leap, surprising her. She didn’t need the complication of a flashy man in her life. No indeed.
Alston Patterson might be nearing eighty, yet he had the voice of a much younger man. But her attorney’s voice always meant trouble. At least it had lately.
“No, it’s Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.”
“Just the person I was looking for. Facing the news I have might require a bit of magic.”
“Alston, I’m bordering on a headache and—”
“The news will be the same whether I tell you today or tomorrow,” he said in a gentle voice.
She’d known Alston all her life. He’d been her grandfather’s attorney, and when she needed wise counsel a few years back, she’d asked him to be hers.
“Might as well tell me now then. After wrangling thirty hyped-up school kids, dodging the latest rock avalanche that the gods of nature have thrown upon us and harvesting the world’s most stubborn earth-hugging carrots, nothing could faze me.”
“Your grandfather’s estate has finally been settled.”
“He’s also bequeathed a matching two billion to you directly. That is, if you accept the position as president of the foundation. But you won’t be able to touch that money until you’re twenty-five.”
Four billion dollars.
She could do even more good with four billion dollars. But the thought had barely materialized when she saw Laci’s face—cold, white and surrounded by the silk blankets that Cara had tucked into her coffin. She would never forget the waxy feel of Laci’s skin and the bruises that showed through the mask-like makeup the undertaker had slathered on her friend’s face. Unlike Cara, Laci hadn’t escaped.
The crowd in Detroit was rowdy. One thing about playing in center field, Ryan got a taste of the hard-core fans and their energy. He’d stolen a home run from the Tigers’ best hitter in the eighth, so he wasn’t on their happy list.
Ryan crouched and focused on Romaro, their closer, and tuned out the catcalls and obscenities. If Romaro did his job and struck out Hobbs, the final Tigers hitter, the game was theirs. But there was nothing comfortable about a one run lead. Ryan had played against Renaudo in the minors—the guy had power and, more than that, he could put the ball where he wanted it.
Romaro’s pitch was too sweet. Hobbs connected and shot it through the gap. Ryan was too far back to scoop it on a hop. He waved off Paxton in right field and dove, rolling, and then sprang tohis feet and fired the ball to Alex Tavonesi, poised and ready at first. Ryan’s throw was on the mark, and Alex stayed on the bag, but the umpire called Hobbs safe.
Ryan cursed. Sometimes close calls didn’t go your way. But Hobbs should’ve been called out, ending the game.
When the next Tigers hitter shot a line drive into shortstop Matt Darrington’s glove, the crowd booed. Usually Ryan could translate the negative energy of the opposing team’s fans into what it was—love of the game. But tonight the echoing boos just dragged him into the gloomy, black feelings he hated to give the upper hand.
They’d won—he should at least feel happy about that.
But he didn’t.
He was miserable and pissed because he had to jump on a plane, fly to Boston, and sit in a courtroom publicly facing more lies and accusations. Worse, for the first time in his Major League career, he’d miss a game.
He boarded the plane and swore that no matter what happened, he’d never miss another game. There were thousands of guys out there hungry to take his job, a hundred of them lined up, ready and waiting. But more than that, the game was sacred to him. But the law was the law, and this time he hadn’t had a choice.
About the Author
Pamela Aares is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance novels and also writes about fictional romance in sports with her new baseball romance book series titled Heart of the Game.
Her first book, Jane Austen and the Archangel (Angels Come to Earth, #1) was released in 2012. Midnight Becomes You, the second in the series will release this year as will the celebrated historical romance novel, The Lady and the Patriot.
Her popularity as a romance writer continues to grow with each new book release, so much so, that the Bay area author has drawn comparisons by reviewers to Nora Roberts.
Pamela Aares writes romance books that she loves reading, particularly those that entertain, transport and inspire dreams while captivating and tugging at the heart. She takes her readers on a journey with complex characters in both contemporary and historical settings who are thrown in situations that tempt love, adventure and self-discovery.
Before becoming a romance author, Aares wrote and produced award-winning films including Your Water, Your Life, featuring actress Susan Sarandon and NPR series New Voices, The Powers of the Universe and The Earth’s Imagination. She holds a Master’s degree from Harvard and currently resides in the wine country of Northern California with her husband, a former MLB All-Star and two curious cats.
If not behind her computer, you can probably find her reading a romance novel, hiking the beach or savoring life with friends. You can visit Pamela on the web at http://www.PamelaAares.com.