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Fighting for an endangered butterfly is what makes Jane Meeth tick and Tall Oaks Development is her biggest adversary. Little does she know that the CEO of the company, Marshall Linden, is none other than the handsome hiker she meets while running on the trail.
After Marshall discovers evidence of Bigfoot, he wants to establish a sanctuary to protect the creature, but he must keep it secret from the protesters of his Tall Oaks projects. He didn't count on falling in love with Jaiden making his plans nearly impossible.
When an environmental disaster threatens both of their dreams, they must throw away their prejudices to make the world safe for Bigfoots and butterflies.
Page Count: 282
Word Count: 67945
Jane Meeth hissed “preserving native plants” and “conserving wetland ecology” at her lawyer, Mr. Talbot, as he straightened his tie and approached the podium.
He waved a hand acknowledging her reminders before clearing his throat into the microphone.
The head of the planning commission for Willow Creek, Michigan, sat with the other commissioners at the head table and examined a paper. “Mr. Talbot. You have two minutes.”
“Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here today to discuss the Hickory Trails condominium development.” He met the gaze of each commissioner.
Jane found his tone pleasant and charming. His manner eased some of her nerves.
Thirty folding chairs formed a semi-circle around the speaker’s podium in anticipation of an audience that didn’t materialize. A handful of residents populated the seats.
At any previous meeting, Jane had been the only voice defending the environment against devious entrepreneurial schemes. Her lone objections didn’t stand for much in the face of the dollar signs presented by an expensive lawyer shielding a company that valued money over the environment. The company behind Hickory Trails condominiums had kept their name secret, which meant she couldn’t present any damage their previous projects had done. If she knew which company, she could research specific examples.
Get on with it. Jane tugged at the snaps on her cargo pants. She hired Mr. Talbot to make her case since the planning commission was swayed by thousand-dollar suits and designer ties, not her cargo pants. Comprehensive lists of insect habitats in danger of being destroyed by the development didn’t alter their opinion. The board ignored her arguments, reports, or protests. Maybe she could persuade them with a shiny suit.
This time, she had to win against these developers. The board approved development after development over the last five years, ignoring her protests about the long-term damage to the habitats in Willow Creek County.
“Preserving the natural resources of Willow Creek County can’t wait. Each day, more and more acreage is taken over by developers. Destroying the beauty of the county eliminates so many healthy, natural opportunities. If places to hike, fish, or swim aren’t available, tourists won’t visit the area. Tourism is a major part of Willow Creek’s economy.”
The planning commissioners caught each others’ gazes and nodded.
Jane gave herself a mental fist bump. Her arguments presented by a person in a suit had them listening.
A tall man dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt excused himself as he squeezed past her to the open place three seats down. When he sat, his knees bumped the row ahead.
“Willow Creek County has a variety of unique resources to be preserved. Wildlife already suffers from urban sprawl. We see bears and cougars closer and closer to populated areas. If we continue to encroach on their habitats, we risk endangering our pets, our children, and our families. A development like Hickory Trails not only destroys the habitat of the animals it displaces, it harms the surrounding habitats as well. Manicured green lawns have a cost. Fertilizer runoff affects the algae population in the wetlands which then destroys the delicate balances in our waterways.”
Her spokesperson was doing so well. Jane tapped her toes with glee.
The man three seats down leaned forward.
She hadn’t seen him at one of these meetings before, and she would have remembered. Who could forget his height or the mop of curly hair? A stray lock dipped in front of his forehead, and she itched to tuck it into place.
The few attendees in the courtroom nodded and whispered as her lawyer discussed the damage done to native plants by invasive species. Jane could barely keep from jumping for joy. For once, a development would be stopped.
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