Have you been to Mustang Prairie yet? It Must Be Love is book 4 in the series, featuring childhood (sort of) friends and former next door neighbors Trixie & Jack.
About this book:
But grownup Trixie is back in Mustang Prairie and ready for the next chapter in her life, which includes her lingerie store Under the Skirt and starting her own line of sexy lacy things. When her past collides with her present in the form of a tall, blonde artist, Trixie has to wonder if her girlish crush could be the answer to her grownup dreams?
Jack married his high school sweetheart, only it didn’t turn out so sweet and he never got to tell her it was over. Now he has to smile and pretend while the world goes on and on about how great Marissa was, especially now that he’d brought his girls back to Mustang Prairie for good.
The one bright spot in town was the new and improved girl next door. Little Trixie wasn’t so little and Jack was more than a little interested. Too bad he wasn’t interested in another round of the rollercoaster known as love and commitment.
Too bad he can’t stay away.
Enjoy this excerpt!
Jack sat on his stool, chin in his hand and examined the work he’d done this morning. For the past year he’d ventured out of the comfort zone that had made him an incredibly wealthy man—oil paintings—and started experimenting with metal and wood. He wasn’t sure if anything would come of it but he’d been bored with his paints and canvas. It felt like a betrayal since he’d taken the art world by storm at the ripe old age of twenty-two, sold dozens of paintings for ridiculous sums of money.
Last year he’d moved back home to Mustang Prairie so his girls could have the same safe idyllic childhood he’d had. It was a smart decision for his girls, but had done nothing to inspire him. He’d set up his studio and sat down to paint and…nothing. He’d tried everyday for a month to paint something significant. Something evocative. All he’d gotten down was fruit, grass and flowers, his girls. All good, none of it worth anything though. Then one day he’d been walking down Fourth Street and spotted a weird looking metal table in the display at the new lingerie shop and he’d had a light bulb moment.
Two days later he had supplies and then about a dozen stops and starts later, he had the hang of it. And finally the chandelier he’d sketched was starting to take shape. A smile spread across his face and he stood, sliding his welding helmet back in place just as his cell dinged on the table beside him. “Hello?” His voice was gruff, rusty from hours of silence.
As soon as the voice at the other end of the line told him his oldest daughter, Abby, hadn’t shown up for Busy Bees. The Hive Mom, Christy, also told him that she’d never made it on the bus at the end of the day. He barked out a rushed thank you and disconnected the call before calling Ty while he changed shirts and stuffed his feet into shoes. “Ty, Abby is missing. She didn’t get on the bus and she’s not at Busy Bees.” He listened as Ty told him what to do first.
“I’m on my way right now. Don’t even think of getting behind the wheel.”
Jack didn’t want to stand around and wait while his little girl was missing. Sure this was Mustang Prairie and bad things rarely happened here, but a man could never be too safe when it came to his family. He paced out front waiting for Ty as his mind circled with all the ways Abby could need him. She could be hurt, sick, kidnapped or worse. She could be calling out for him and wondering why he hadn’t showed up when she needed him. Just like Marissa. “About damn time,” he muttered as he slid inside the passenger seat of Ty’s patrol car.
“I had to disperse information on Abby. If you tell me what she had on when she left for school, I’ll pass it around. All my deputies are on it,” he told Jack as he slowly drove through town. “I was in the diner when the call came in so Luna and Shirl have gone on red alert until she’s found.”
A gentle smile kicked up one side of Jack’s face, thinking of the way the elderly women had embraced his girls. “Thanks Ty.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he pulled the car to a stop outside Dylan’s house. “He’s going to use his big city experience to help us.”
Jack nodded absently, nodding at Dylan as he slid in the back. “Thanks man.”
Dylan clapped a large hand on Jack’s t-shirt clad shoulder. “Don’t worry, we’ll find her. Ty drop me off on Fourth and I’ll start at the far end. We can meet somewhere in the middle.” A terse nod later and Jack heard the driver’s door open and close and then the passenger door right behind him, as Ty freed Dylan.
When they were at the old end of Fourth Street, where the older businesses were located Ty stood with a sympathetic look on his face, blonde hair sparkling in the late afternoon sun. “Look man you’re wrecked. Go to the Stick Shift and we’ll bring her there when we find her.”
Finally his words penetrated the fog of Jack’s mind and the numbness faded. “What if you don’t find her Ty?”
Ty grabbed his shoulders and looked him straight in the eyes. “We will find her. I don’t care if it takes all night, we will bring her home so you can hug and kiss her, then ground her for life” With a cocky grin Ty walked him to the diner and set him at the counter. “Hot black coffee!” He called to the kitchen.
Moments later Shirl sauntered out in acid washed jeans, a Whitesnake t-shirt with weird red sleeves on her forearms. Jack smiled because Shirl had been a character even as a beautiful young woman back when he was a kid. “Keep your shirt on Sheriff,” she winked and rounded the counter, gathering Jack to her bosom. “You poor boy, you must be out of your mind.” She patted his cheek and went back behind the racing motif linoleum. “Here you go,” she slid a steaming mug of coffee and a slice of blackberry pie in front of him. “Eat up. Everyone who can be is out there looking for Abby. We’ll find her Jack.”
He didn’t know how Shirl, Ty or anyone else could be so sure. He sure as hell wasn’t, but he hoped like hell she was safe and unharmed. He muttered a gruff, “Thanks,” and drank his coffee. Losing the girls had been his biggest fear since bringing Abby and Andie home from the hospital. After Marissa’s death, it had only worsened.
“Daddy!” Andie shouted for him as soon as she entered the diner with Dylan trailing behind her carrying her Little Buzzers uniform since she wasn’t quite old enough for the Bees. “Did you find Abby yet? Uncle Dylan said she has to be around here somewhere.”
Jack smiled and wrapped his arms around his favorite little six year old. “She definitely is sweetie and Ty and Dylan will find her.” He looked down into those bouncy golden curls and hazel eyes that reminded him of Marissa every single day.
“I can’t believe she’s not at Trixie’s. She always sneaks away and goes there. Oops!” Andie covered her mouth and looked up at her father, big gold and brown flecked eyes on the brink of tears. “Sorry Daddy.”
“It’s okay pumpkin, show me.” He took Andie’s hand letting her lead him out of the diner and across the street. He didn’t know anyone called Trixie in town but a bad feeling settled in his stomach, which only worsened when his daughter stopped in front of the display with scraps of silk and lace lingerie.
“This is it,” she sang like it was a prize. “Is Abby in trouble?”
Hell yes. “I don’t know yet Andie.” It depended on who the hell this Trixie was and what she was doing with his kid inside this kind of shop. Andie pulled him inside and Jack felt Dylan and Ty behind him but he didn’t dare turn around to look at them as they passed all kinds of colors and patterns of slinky garments meant to drive men wild. Grown men who loved seeing grown women in these things. Not little girls like Abby. As they drew closer to the back of the store soft music played and Abby’s voice spoke excitedly.
“What do you think Trixie? It’s a little uneven right here but otherwise I did okay, right?”
Trixie smiled and hugged Abby. “You did better than alright kiddo, that looks like you paid good money for it.”
“Really?” She beamed.
“Of course,” the curvy redhead ruffled his daughter’s hair. “I wore that hairstyle in college,” she joked, making them both laugh.
Jack watched silently, fuming that this sexy woman had the gall to…do this. “What in the hell is going on back here?” He stepped through the lace and velvet curtain that separated the back from the front.
“I just finished making a shrug Dad. It’s the first thing I’ve ever made! Isn’t it cool?”
He was too furious to care about some article of clothing. Whirling on Trixie, he pointed a finger at her. “And you, where do you get off holding other people’s kids back here in your, your…dungeon of perversity?”
She gasped and Jack willed his gaze to stay above the neck. “First of all I wasn’t holding anyone anywhere. Abby came to visit me and asked for some help with her knitting, I said yes. The same way I’ve done every damn day for the past month, so the next time you stick a finger in my face,” she leaned close enough he could see the flecks of silver in her blue eyes, “be prepared to lose it.”
Damn that was hot. It was the most inappropriate thought to cross his mind but there it was. She was a sexy little spitfire, which he didn’t not care about. Not at all. “Don’t take my daughter again without my permission,” he growled.
Blue eyes rolled skyward and she sighed heavily. “Fine.”
“Fine. In this town we check in with parents.” He stood closer than was necessary for such a tiny thing, but her scent wrapped around him. Apples and vanilla swirled in the air, making it hard to breathe in anything except her sexy scent.
“I know. I grew up here.” Then she turned her back on him and said goodbye to his daughter. “See you soon, kiddo.”
“Bye Trixie. Thank you for everything.”
Jack stood rooted to his spot, stunned speechless as realization sank in. Trixie was Beatrice Robinson, the awkward redhead who grew up next door to him.
Little Beatrice was now all grown up.