SECRET MONTANA LOVE
The Burkes of Burnside Creek Series – Book Two
by Fiona Cullen
Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: July 13, 2022
Wander Aguiar Photography
Genre: Contemporary romance
Trope: Brother’s best friend, forbidden love, second chance, small-town, cowboy romance
After ten years, a shattered heart, and broken dreams, he’s back.
My brother’s best friend and my one true love.
Gorgeous, sexy and completely off-limits.
Our love was forbidden, searingly hot, and all I’d ever desired.
Losing him nearly destroyed me.
Seeing him again, I wish I were brave enough to believe what could be.
He’s all my traitorous heart desires.
Now, he wants a second chance, for him and his beautiful daughter.
Watching them together, I yearn for what we could have been.
I never could resist Chase, and the passion burning between us is hotter than ever.
But it’s not enough.
Secrets destroyed us ten years ago.
Will they shatter us again?
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Oh. My. God. The rumors of his return were true. He was back. Back to torment me with what I could never have again. Why was he here on my family’s ranch? He had to know he wasn’t wanted. Would never be wanted here again.
I tried to glare at him, but all I felt was a deep, yawning agony. When I’d needed him most, he’d spurned me. Broken his promise. Turned away from me rather than soothe my worst anguish. A rage kindled to life at the sight of him, and I clung to that rage so I didn’t feel the pain of all the empty days and nights without him. I fanned the flames of that fury so the dreams of what we could have had didn’t destroy me.
Caleb—wonderful, trustworthy Caleb—noticed my distraction and glanced in the direction of my gaze. “Shit, he returned.” He sighed and rested a hand on my tense shoulders. “I’d heard he was back in town, but I never thought he’d have the balls to come to your ranch.”
I broke eye contact with Chase, gaping at Caleb for a long moment. “How do you know anything?” I fought a shudder that my cousin and eldest brother’s best friend knew my deepest, darkest secret. I thought he’d believed my lie all those years ago.
“I know more than I’d ever want to know about the secrets the residents of the valley want to keep hidden.” His blue eyes shone with concern and resignation of the burden he carried as the most respected and trusted lawyer in the valley.
He glanced in the direction of Chase Harrington, one of his best friends growing up, and sighed. “We all have reasons to be angry with him. You most of all. But you should listen to him. Discover why he’s returned. He might surprise you.”
He kissed me on my head a moment before he stood tall with his shoulders back, any humor absent from his expression. “Chase.”
I closed my eyes, not wanting to see Chase so close. I didn’t want to see the red stubble on his jaw and imagine scraping my fingers over it. Or see his thick hair and remember the times I’d tugged on it to yank him down to kiss me. Taking a deep breath, I swore silently. He still wore the same cologne, a musky intoxicating scent that conjured images of us tangled in bed together. Of him whispering his undying love to me.
Bastard. Why were words so cheap and promises never meant to be kept?
I firmed my shoulders and opened my eyes, unable to suppress the shudder at gazing into his green eyes, glowing with a jumble of emotions as he stared at me. I glared at him, hoping none of the yearning and heartache showed. I prayed only the rage and hatred did. He didn’t deserve any of my softness.
As I stood in stiff silence, I watched as Caleb held out his hand. “Chase.” Caleb spoke in a low voice, and I heard a hint of a warning in it. “I’m surprised you chose tonight to return to the ranch.”
“It is a homecoming celebration,” he murmured, his gaze flitting to me as he saw me shiver at his deep voice. I’d always been affected by his voice. I feared I always would be. “I hoped mine would be as welcome as the itinerant Burkes.”
Caleb made a sound, but it was impossible to know if it was another warning or if he suppressed a chuckle. “Careful, Chase. You’re on thin ice and it’s on the verge of cracking.” He slapped Chase on his arm. “Visit me at my office soon. We have business to discuss.” He wandered away, leaving me alone with the man I’d hoped to never see again.
Gathering all my courage, I met his gaze, tilting my head up in a show of bravado. I’d cling to anything as long as I kept my dignity around him. “Hello.” I hoped my cool tone and curt greeting would discourage him from talking with me.
Damn him. My nickname in his compelling, beautiful voice. He should be barred from ever saying it again. Rather than replying, I nodded.
“Did you think I wasn’t able to tell? You’re standing right in front of me.” I flushed, angry at myself for not remaining aloof and quiet.
He smiled, the dimple in his right cheek flashing. I remembered tracing it over and over again as I lay on his chest when he was teasing me.
“You have no idea how I’ve longed for this moment.”
“You have no idea how I’ve dreaded it.” I remained emotionless as I saw him jerk at my barb. “How dare you return after…after…” I shook my head. “You’re not wanted here.”
Chase leaned forward, and I breathed through my mouth in an attempt to avoid smelling any more of his intoxicating scent. However, his scent enveloped me, and I felt like I was drowning in it. “Oh, AllyCat, I’m wanted here. Deep down, you want me here.” His eyes shone with determination and the knowledge he spoke the truth. They glowed with pleasure as he saw the impact his special nickname had on me. “You’re just too proud and scared to admit it.” He nodded at me as I tilted my head up in defiance of his words. “I’ll see you again soon, and we’ll have our reckoning.”
I watched as he slipped into the crowd, leaving me shaken to my core that he was back. My first love was back, and I feared life would never be the same again.
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The Burkes of Burnside Creek Series – Book One
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About the Author
Fiona Cullen likes her tea strong, loves a long-winded story, and is always rooting for the underdog. An author of sexy, small-town contemporary romance, her heroes are men you’d want to bring home to meet your parents for family dinner and her heroines are women you’d want as your best friend. Fiona calls Montana home, and is happiest when she’s fly fishing a cool, clear Montana river, hiking a trail, or immersed in the beauty around her.
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