Rivers Bend Trilogy
Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.
Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff's world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.
Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?
Page Count: 374
Word Count: 97995
“How would a regular guy even meet Elizabeth Mallory’s daughter?”
She chuckled. “My mom went to Yale. One night she went to a concert at a club in New Haven. My dad was there that night with his buddies. One look at each other across a crowded, smoky club, and it was love at first sight.”
“That’s the second time today someone mentioned love at first sight to me. I’m not sure I believe in it. Lust at first sight—that I’ve experienced. But love? I don’t know.”
She smiled and looked out at the river. “I’m a believer. I have my parents as an example. And Bethanne and Francisco. But I don’t have any firsthand experience of it either.”
“Not even with Pierce?”
The calm left her face at his question. At the sight of her frown and sad eyes, he felt bad for spoiling the mellow mood of the afternoon. “Sorry for asking. It’s none of my business.”
“It’s fine. I just feel like a world-class idiot for falling for his line of bull. I should’ve seen through his pretense to the real him.”
“Been there, done that,” Jeff drawled.
“Really? You don’t seem like the sort of person who’d be easy to fool. I have the feeling under all that laid back good-old boy charm, you’re one of the sharpest people I’ve ever met.”
“Thank you.” He chuckled. “I think. There was a compliment buried in there somewhere, wasn’t there?”
She tossed back her head and laughed. It sounded as pretty to Jeff as the music of birds in the woods around them. “There was supposed to be. I meant that I think you’re very smart.”
“I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy about people, but when you give your trust to someone, if they really want to deceive you, it makes it easy for them to do it. That’s what makes a relationship scary. It really exposes all your weaknesses and leaves you open to serious hurt.”
“It’s mainly my pride that’s hurt. I guess that means I wasn’t that emotionally invested in Pierce.”
Jeff plucked absently at a long piece of grass next to him. He wasn’t one to pry into someone else’s business. If Maggie wanted to talk, then she would without his poking and prodding at her open wounds.
After a long moment of silence, Magda said, “He cheated on me. Among other, even worse things that I don’t want to talk about.”
“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead, “you know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart, “you feel like it has to be your fault—like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”
She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”
She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.
How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.
He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.
“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”
She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.
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