Brothers Construction was built to reunite a family and heal a
painful past. So far it’s opened to rave reviews. But the youngest
sibling is about to discover that the right woman can shake even a
rock-solid foundation . . .
was six. At 26, he’s still the quiet type—strong and silent, most
comfortable with a hammer in his hand and work to do. But the
reassuring rhythm of his life is interrupted when his brother Beckett
decides to pay forward their unused office space to a needy start-up.
Enter Rhia Hollis, flighty, impulsive, and outspoken—everything
that drives Wyatt crazy. Only this time in the sexiest, most
irresistible way . . .
Rhia is determined to
disprove her reckless, party girl image by making her new company,
Seize the Day, the premier event planning firm in Raleigh. She has
big dreams, and the Thornes’ offer of a free command center is a
huge help. But Wyatt’s gruff, stubborn resistance to her presence
is an annoying hindrance. They’re as different as night and day,
yet when they begin to meet in the middle, the sparks fly hot. Is
this a case of opposites distract—or the beginning of a beautiful
long-term project? . . .
Asher. Gray. Eli. Ryker. Wyatt. Five out of six very different
brothers reunited—and working to make their construction firm a
success. But oldest brother Beckett just found their major new
project becoming one hard and sexy challenge . . .
rough childhood tore Beckett and his brothers apart. It took
everything he had to track them down and establish Six Brothers
Construction. He only trusts them—and his drive to win. Now if SBC
can build a billionaire team owner’s much-hyped new mansion, it
will put them on the map—and finally fulfill Beckett’s promise to
take care of his siblings. Too bad he’ll have to collaborate with
hot new rival Samantha Devine, who’s throwing him curves on-site,
out-the-box . . . and between the sheets.
knows from experience that arrogant good-ole-boy Beckett is long,
strong, and built to go the distance. But this is her only shot to
prove she and her fledgling design company can succeed on her own
terms. She’ll match Beckett’s expertise by day—and reignite the
explosive heat between them by night. But when passion threatens to
become real love, will this competition separate them for good . . .
or make the sizzling collaboration of a lifetime?
former Air Force spouse, Lee Kilraine moved seven
times over eighteen years before finally settling with her husband in
the pine woods of North Carolina. She has worked as a physical
therapy aide, a cashier, a waitress, an English tutor, a ballet
teacher and a stay-at-home mom. Holding tight to her mother’s
motto, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you try hard enough,”
Lee returned to college as an adult and graduated from the University
of North Carolina at Greensboro. Writing thirty-one papers in two
years (she counted) rekindled her love of writing, and she set her
sights on her other dream—writing romance. When she isn’t
swinging on her front porch swing or watching another of their four
young adult children leave the nest (she swears she isn’t pushing
them out!), you can find her typing away on her computer with her
golden retriever, Harley, destroying something at her feet. Lee is a
2014 Golden Heart® Finalist.
“No. No ‘uh oh.’ You swore on your stack of Scientific Americans that this time your
experiment would be fine. You assured me this trial had zero chance of failure.” Steph had also
pulled the older sister guilt trip on me. Don’t be a baby, Rhia. Besides, you owe me for helping
you pass organic chem in college.
“Just because you’re showing signs of anaphylaxis, doesn’t mean my experiment is a
failure.” She frowned as she examined my face.
“Anaphylaxis? Don’t forget we had a deal. I agreed to help you if we swung by the
Business Expo after. It closes in an hour, and I need to go apply for the ‘Pay it Forward’ grant.
Today’s the last day for applications.”
“Why in the world did you wait until the last day?” Of course, I got the older sister
eyebrow quirk from her. Because my sister, Steph, my whole family really, had no idea what it
was like to second guess yourself. They came into the world with confidence, an agenda, and a
“I wasn’t sure if I was ready to make that big of a commitment.” That was a lie. I was so
ready to jump at the next step in my new business endeavor. What took so long was tackling my
inner doubts first. And getting past all the doubts of my family.
“I don’t think you know what commitment is, Rhia. You only stuck out teaching
English, what? Two years?”
See what I mean? I taught for two long years. In college, I’d kept my options open with a
double major in business and English, but I tried my hand at teaching first. Turned out I wasn’t
made for teaching. I fell for every excuse my students gave me. I was a sucker for a sob story.
And once the kids figured that out, I lost control of the classroom.
I didn’t let myself get discouraged, though. No, ma’am. Instead of wallowing in my
failure, I remembered I was the “go-to” person in my sorority for planning all the parties and
events. In fact, I was the Event Planning Chair for two years running.
That’s how I came up with the idea of starting my event planning business, Seize the
Day. I felt good about it. Like maybe I’d finally found something I could succeed at and feel
passionate about. Just like the rest of my family. I was excited and inspired. Until I ran the
“You should have majored in one of the sciences like the rest of us,” Steph said while she
jotted something down on her clipboard. She set her paperwork aside and moved up close to peer
into my eyes. “Your pupils look normal. Maybe if you’d gone into a STEM program, you’d be
employed right now.”
Or maybe not. “You do remember those agonizing hours of organic chem tutoring, don’t
Steph winced at the memory. “Painfully so, but there were science degrees that didn’t
require organic chem. Plenty of less rigorous programs even you could have managed.”
Even you. I only flinched a little at that. I knew my sister hadn’t meant it as an insult. It
was simply a fact in my family.
“Besides, I do so have a job. I’m self-employed.”
The long-standing joke that I was adopted stopped being funny by middle school when my
average grades became a source of friction in the family. If only you’d apply yourself, Rhia. Ifonly you’d try harder, Rhia. Rhia, stop daydreaming and focus. Oh, I tried. But my brain simply
wasn’t wired like the rest of the Hollis clan.
So, no, I’d never really fit in with my brilliant family. But that hadn’t stopped me from
trying. I was tired of disappointing everyone. Especially myself. That’s why I was determined to
make my event planning business a success.
“How’s your airway?” Steph placed her fingers on my wrist and glanced at her watch.
“Breathing feel okay?”
Was my breathing okay? My family always told me I was overly dramatic, but I don’t
know, maybe my throat did feel a little closed up. I swallowed to check. No. My throat felt fine.
Must be that whole power of suggestion thing.
“I thing I’m othay.” Wait, what? That didn’t come out right. Probably because my
tongue suddenly felt too big for my mouth.
“Uh oh. Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.” My sister’s face slid into her
serious scientist expression, and she spoke into her mini handheld recorder. “Test subject number
one is showing signs of glossitis and uticaria—one-inch diameter, bright red with a pale center.”
“Whath’s glossithith and uthitharia?” Dammit. My speech slurred even worse. And my
head felt like it had last New Year’s Eve when I’d imbibed too much champagne. A giggle
escaped past my thick tongue. Ha! Imbibed. “Imbibed ith a funny word, don’t you thinth?”
“Test subject is showing signs of slurred speech. Possible intoxication.” She clicked off
her recorder and peered closer at my face. “Still breathing okay?”
“Yeth but I’m ithy.” I scratched a spot on my cheek and then noticed the same feeling on
my forearms. I held my arms out in front of me to look. “Yithes! I’m going to thill you,
Sthephanie. You promithed I’d be fine thith time. Promithed!”
“Apparently, I miscalculated on the formula. This is a great data set.” She spoke into her
recorder again with way too much excitement. “Decrease amylase dehydrate by fifty percent for
second set of trials.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. Except, I only had to narrow one eye because the other was
already half swollen shut. “Fixth thith.”
“Right.” She searched through the drawer in her desk, coming up with a bottle of
Benadryl. After shaking two out, she slapped them in my hand and handed me a bottle of water.
“Take these. You’ll be back to normal in six to eight hours.”
Six to eight hours? I glared at her with my one good eye. And I kept on glaring at her as I
swallowed down the antihistamines. I could kill my sister and hide the body somewhere here in
her lab, but I needed her to drive me to the expo, since I didn’t trust driving under the influence
of both whatever she tested on me and antihistamines. Plus, I loved her, dammit.
I picked my purse up from the top of a stainless steel storage bench with a sign Warning:
Radioactive Waste Only and snatched out my phone and car keys. I tossed the keys over to
Steph, catching her by surprise so that she juggled them before having them firmly in her grasp.
Then I texted her, since my tongue now felt incapable of forming any actual words.
We need to head to the expo. Now. Before the Benadryl knocks me out.
“Or before you blow up like a polka-dotted puffer fish.”
I texted an angry smiley face emoji to stress my pissed off-ness in case my swollen eye
and hives was disguising how upset I was with her. Although I should have known better. It was
only a few months ago when the last trial she’d guilted me into had fried my taste buds.
Everything had tasted like cardboard for a week.
“Okay, let’s go. And don’t give me that face.” She pointed at me as we exited the
building. “We’ll make it in plenty of time for you to fill out the application and make a good
“A good imprethon?” It was my turn to give her the raised eyebrow, because I sounded
like a drunk with a lisp. As soon as I let myself into the passenger seat and buckled in, I flipped
down the visor to look at the damage.
“Ack!” The face staring back at me had leprosy. Or the plague. Or sadly and too true to
be funny: I looked like I’d been created in a lab by a mad scientist. Just like Frankenstein.
I sent a text to myself. Stop saying yes to family.
And then I pulled out my concealer and did the best I could trying to cover the bright red
hives on my face and neck. When we parked at the Raleigh Convention Center, I made Steph
trade shirts with me, since hers was long-sleeved and covered the hives on my arms.
“I don’t like putting on a strip show for any perv walking by, Rhia.” Steph grumbled but
complied, giving my shirt a disgusted loook before pulling it on. “Honestly, your wardrobe looks
like the result of a sheep mating with a box of neon crayons.”
I might have rolled my eyes while I slipped on my sister’s neutral beige blouse. First,
because that didn’t even make sense. Second, what was wrong with liking color? Bright colors
made me happy. Except of course these bright red hives. Those made me unhappy. And very,
Okay, yes, this situation was less than ideal. I’d done my research on Six Brothers
Construction, the company offering the free office space for a year, and had planned on talking
with them for a few minutes to highlight my passionate, goal-oriented, future-focused, tech-
savvy personality. (All qualities listed in the book, Entrepreneur to Mogul in 37 Easy Steps.)
“Let’s go, Rhia. You have five minutes to fill out the application, and then we’re out of
here.” Steph slammed the door and beeped the locks behind us. “I’d like to get out of here before
someone sees me looking like My Little Pony threw up on my shirt.”
Like the necessity for swapping shirts was my fault? I seriously contemplated knocking
my sister over the head and pushing her into one of the display model Jacuzzis usually set up at
these shows. I’d pick one without water of course. The fact that I might need her to speak for me
if they asked any questions helped me stifle that impulse. Barely.
“Fine. Leth’s do thith.” My eye was swollen shut, the full body hives itched like I was
wearing fabric woven from poison ivy, and my tongue was still unable to form words discernable
to a human ear. It was fair to say my confidence about getting this grant had decreased by about
a thousand percent in the last hour.
Steph grimaced, her eyes avoiding mine. “It’ll be fine. Just fill out the form. I’ll do the
talking if they have any questions. What kind of business is it again?”
Once inside the building, we rode the escalators up to the exhibit space. It was packed
with every trade in the building industry pimping their wares like a modern-day bazaar. Rows
upon rows, booths laid out into a giant maze throughout the immense space. There were home
builders, interior decorators, garage door suppliers, roofers asking passersby how old their
shingles were and were they interested in a low-maintenance, metal roof.
I brought up the map of the business expo on my phone to locate the SBC booth. Left
side, halfway down over in the general contractor section. Jerking my head to direct Steph to the
left, I maneuvered through the press of people in search of the lifeline I needed to secure my
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