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Deerbourne Inn Series
Hope Kildaire gave up her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves the twenty-seven-year-old with no time for fun or relationships. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents sends her several letters, Hope ignores them. She despises the family who disowned her father and wants nothing to do with them.
Lawyer Tyler Coleman's job is simply to obtain Hope's signature on a legal document. Getting it is harder than planned, though, when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. If Ty is honest with Hope about why he's in Willow Springs, he'll fulfill his assignment but may risk hurting her.
The opportunity to have everything she's ever desired is at Hope's fingertips. Will her dream come true at the expense of Tyler's love?
Page Count: 131
Word Count: 32450
A description Tyler Coleman had never used before, but it fit the structure he stood in front of with his suitcase in one hand, his briefcase slung across his shoulder. The Deerbourne Inn. A sprawling gothic Victorian mansion in Willow Springs, Vermont, where he’d booked a room for a week, determined to put an end to one of his most daunting assignments.
Tyler stomped the wet snow from the bottom of his designer shoes and flexed his toes to get some warmth back into them. When he entered the inn, he was immediately greeted by a tall man who appeared a few years older than his thirty-one. Where Tyler was still garbed in the somber suit he’d worn to the office before driving up from Manhattan, the man looked comfortable in a long-sleeved plaid shirt, the cuffs rolled back, a white T-shirt beneath it, and jeans. Work boots covered his feet.
Tyler offered his hand and nodded.
“Nate Harte. I’m the owner.” He swiped his hand down across one thigh before shaking Tyler’s outstretched one. “Sorry. I was just in the kitchen doing some prep work.”
That accounted for the slight aroma of garlic wafting from him.
“My receptionist, Jared, is out running an errand for me, or he’d be the one greeting you. Your room’s all ready. Follow me.”
He escorted Tyler up a main staircase, wide enough for both of them to fit across. At the top, Nate turned to the left and continued to the end of a long hallway. The wooden floors groaned under their footfalls.
“When you booked the room, you mentioned you’d be working while you stayed with us”—Nate slid a brass key into the door lock and turned it—“so I gave you a corner room. It’s quieter at this end of the house.”
Tyler glanced around the room, taking in the period design and furnishings. Wallpaper covered with red and white cabbage roses adorned the walls from crown molding around the ceilings to the floor. A queen-sized bed jutted from one wall, a comforter patterned similarly to the walls, draped across it. The only other furniture in the room, aside from the braided and frayed rug on the floor next to the bed, were a bedside table with an antique glass-domed lamp on top of it and a large armoire settled in one corner. A bowl of potpourri on the table brought a momentary flashback of Christmas trees to his mind.
Rustic and homey replaced quaint in his description.
“You shouldn’t be bothered by any strange noises down here,” Nate said.
The inquisitive lawyer in him asked, “Strange noises?”
The innkeeper cupped the side of his neck and tossed him a half grin Tyler took for embarrassment. “Old house. It tends to creak and moan, especially now the weather’s gotten cold and we’ve had our first snowfall. Plus…”
Yup, embarrassed it was. But why?
“Well, since you’re booked for a week, I’m gonna assume you’ll hear someone mention our resident ghost. You might as well know about her up front. She won’t cause any trouble, but you might hear her laughing. Not everyone does, though.”
Tyler stared at him for a beat. After practicing law for over six years and dealing with all manner of people, he could tell more times than not when he was being gaslighted. Nate Harte was as serious as a heart attack.
“I’ll be one of those who won’t hear a thing,” he assured the man. “No worries.”
Nate handed him the room key. “The fireplace isn’t operational, but the room should be warm enough for you. Anything you need, you let me or my housekeeper, Liz, know. She’s around every day. You can’t miss her.”
“I’m planning on doing some skiing at Sugarbush while I’m here, and I didn’t have a chance to get any gear before I drove up. This was a last minute trip. Is there a place around here I can buy some outerwear, rent some ski equipment?”
“Well, you can rent skis at Sugarbush, but you can also get them here in town from North Sports Outfitters. You’ll find everything you need—jackets, hats, all the rest. Plus, Jacques Demers, the owner, rents equipment. Mention you’re staying here, and he’ll give you a discount.”
Before he left, Nate told him the breakfast dining room hours, gave him the password to the wireless network which was only live in the common room of the inn, and reiterated his directive to notify him or his housekeeper if he needed anything specific.
No wi-fi in the rooms posed a problem. Tyler didn’t want to take the chance any of the other inn guests or staff would see what he was working on if he opened his laptop in the public area. He understood more than anyone the benefits of privacy. Most libraries had wi-fi, and he’d spotted a café when he’d driven through town sporting a free wi-fi sticker in the window, so he had a back-up plan.
Alone now, he tossed his suitcase on the bed, then plugged in his laptop and opened a file on the desktop. A picture of the reason he’d come to this tiny town a few days before Thanksgiving popped up on the screen.
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