Welcome to Fortune, Colorado—where the air is clean, the men are rugged, and the all the good ones… are bachelors.
Born into the infamous Charlemagne equestrian empire, Shannon has been raised to do whatever it takes for the family business. Even if it means going undercover and digging up dirt on a competitor. It’s easy enough when she believes he’s a bad guy whose success seems too good to be true. In fact, Shannon’s excited to put the aggravatingly sexy Irishman in his place and get back in her father’s good graces. All she needs is to stay focused on the goal … and out of Sean Muldoon’s arms.
From stealing a thoroughbred racehorse from the Irish mob to striking gold in the mountains of Colorado, there’s little Sean hasn’t experienced. But when it comes to resisting his hot new stable manager, he’s out of luck. With the mob hot on his heels, keeping Shannon off their radar is all but impossible, and he’s not about to put her in danger too. Sean wants Shannon, but how can he offer her a future … when he can’t even guarantee tomorrow?
It had been tough growing up with parents who were too busy maintaining the family name to spend any quality time with their children, but she’d had Colleen. As much as her sister made her sometimes want to wash her mouth out with soap and sit her down with a wholesome Hallmark made-for-TV movie to cleanse her corrupted brain, she was thankful every single day for her.
It helped telling herself that dissecting cadavers during medical school had warped her lovely sister’s mind, so having it permanently in the gutter wasn’t her fault.
She was joking.
Taking a big breath to help soothe her quivering stomach, she gave her sister’s hand a quick squeeze. “You’re right. I know you are. I just get so frustrated with him sometimes, you know?”
Colleen pulled her in for a swift all-business hug, the time for emotion clearly behind them. “I know. But hey, think of this adventure as fodder you can use later to write that Great American Novel you’ve always dreamed about.”
A snort escaped Shannon. “Clearly you’re delusional if you think I want to write a novel, much less have the capability,” she couldn’t help teasing.
Colleen rolled her eyes and gave Shannon’s arm a playful shove. “See what I get for being sympathetic? Sarcasm. I get sarcasm and derision from my only and most beloved sibling.” Her expression remained serious for a moment, but Shannon knew it was about to crack. Seconds later a grin split her deceptively wholesome face and she laughed. “Thank God I’m rarely sympathetic, or else that might hurt.”
Shannon laughed at that. Sensitivity wasn’t the youngest Charlemagne’s strong suit. Not by a long shot. It was one of the things that made her so incredibly strong. And it was one of the main reasons she was at the top of her class at Harvard. She was the most goal-oriented person Shannon had ever known. Colleen didn’t let pesky things like emotions get in the way of her achieving her dreams.
If only she could say the same for herself.
At that moment a very large semitruck rounded the bend in the highway behind them and lumbered past, its trailer swaying from the constant turns along the tight mountain roads. When the flannel-clad driver spotted the two of them on the side of the road, he blared his horn and made a highly inappropriate hand gesture out the window toward them. It seemed that she and her sister were being invited to take a little lap nap with him.
“In your dreams, jerk!” Colleen yelled to the retreating semitruck, making a hand gesture of her own, and then gave Shannon an incredulous look. “Can you believe that guy?” Shannon shrugged and started to talk, but Colleen cut her off by exclaiming, “Like I’d ever do that with a guy who wore flannel!”
Her sister sounded so offended that Shannon couldn’t stop the burst of laughter that let loose. “Heaven forbid!”
Colleen leveled her with a stare and said flatly, “It was plaid, Shannon. Plaid.”
Trying to wrangle her laughter but finding the effort futile, she gave into the giggle fit and braced herself against the rental car for support. It occurred to her the laughter might be misplaced nerves and that she was really just an anxiety-ridden mess over the duplicitous mission she was about embark upon.
But then again, maybe not. The look of horror on her sister’s face at the thought of sleeping with a guy who wore plaid flannel was outright hilarious. And priceless. Turns out, there actually was one thing in this world that could make the unflappable Colleen Charlemagne flappable.
“What about this Sean Muldoon?” Shannon asked her sister after the giggles had subsided and she could speak again. “You said he’s pretty hot. Would you do him if he wore plaid flannel?”
Colleen appeared to contemplate the question, but only made a little hum in her throat. “Dad’s waiting, Shan. Why don’t you get this show on the road and find out for yourself?”
Sighing at the twinge of guilt that told her she was indeed procrastinating and they both knew it, Shannon took one more calming breath and then grabbed her small duffle bag from the backseat. Everything she needed was in there. Much as she didn’t like the truth, it was time to do this thing.
Suddenly swamped with anxiety, she spun to her sister. “I can do this, right?”
Receiving a fierce hug in response, Shannon squared her shoulders and settled the duffle bag strap more comfortably across her body. She glanced down the long lane again and felt her insides shiver. She could do this. No big thing.
All that was at stake was everything.