Love to Believe: Fireflies ~ Book 2

 

A woman in a man’s world...

 

CPA Rebecca Walker wields a hammer and saw with skill, but it’s like fighting tooth and nail to prove to her chauvinistic father that she’s capable of managing the family construction business. Romance is a luxury Rebecca can’t afford.

 

A man with secrets...

 

Thanks to his past, romance isn’t in Sean Kinkaid’s future, so when Rebecca proposes ‘friends with benefits,’ Sean agrees. It’s the perfect scenario until love sneaks in--and Sean’s secrets tear them apart.

 

Believe...

 

But Rebecca has a secret too, one she fears Sean will never accept. It will take intervention from an unlikely source to convince these two lovers they have the one thing neither of them ever expected to find...
a love to believe
.

 

 

 

 

KUDOS FOR
LOVE TO BELIEVE

 

In
Love to Believe
by Lisa Ricard Claro, Rebecca Walker is the sister of Caleb Walker from the first book in the series. Rebecca’s got it bad for Sean Kinkaid who happens to be the brother-in-law to Maggie Kinkaid, the widow of Sean’s brother Jack. Rebecca doesn’t have time for romance and wants a no-strings arrangement for sex. Or so she thinks. So Sean is the perfect choice since he claims to want the same thing. Except they’re family--sort of. And if things don’t work and there are hard feelings, it could cause awkward family gatherings for years. It’s a risk neither of them are sure they want to take. Then there’s the guy stalking her, a missing cat, and secrets from the past on both sides that complicate the mix. The story is a fun read, with a strong unpredictable plot, and plenty of fast-paced action. A good book for an evening when you’re home alone, and don’t want to be, as it lets you connect with old friends from the first book and meet new ones. ~
Taylor Jones, Reviewer

 

Love to Believe
by Lisa Ricard Claro revolves around Rebecca Walker who’s working in her family’s construction business, against her father’s wishes. Rebecca, sister to Caleb from
Love Built to Last
, is a strong, independent woman, more than capable of taking care of herself. But she’s up to her ears in alligators, trying to do the work of three people and prove to her father that she can handle running the family business while he recovers from his heart attack. She doesn’t have time for a serious relationship. All she wants is some great, no-strings sex with a hot hunk--and who can blame her?--but when she chooses Sean Kinkaid to have it with, it’s a recipe for trouble.
Love to Believe
is a story about love, self-reliance, and miscommunication that’s well-written, heartwarming, exciting, and fun. Claro just gets better with every new book. I can’t wait for the next one. ~
Regan Murphy, Reviewer

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the following people:

 

Lauri Wellington, Faith, Elise, and the rest of the team at Black Opal Books for your efforts on this manuscript. I appreciate each of you.

 

Melissa Stevens at The Illustrated Author for another gorgeous book cover. I can’t wait to see the summertime cover for
Love to Win
!

 

Capt. Hayden Hodges with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and Jeff Montgomery, Public Information Officer, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, for answering all of my questions pertaining to Georgia law enforcement. You were both generous and thorough in your responses, and any errors contained herein are solely my own.

 

My gal pals: Terry Lynn Thomas, critique partner and touchstone, for dealing with my angst and catching me on all my bad writing habits--you never let me get away with anything. Rochelle Spurlock and Leslie Hachtel, beta readers extraordinaire, for coming through in a pinch to keep me on deadline and calm my crazies. All you ladies rock.

 

Last, but never least, Joe Claro--because you are my only somebody and you will always count--the love of my life, beat of my heart, and my real life hero.

 

 

Love to BELIEVE

 

Fireflies ~ Book 2

 

LISA RICARD CLARO

 

A Black Opal Books Publication

 

Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Ricard Claro

Cover Design by Melissa Stevens

All cover art copyright © 2015

All Rights Reserved

EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-626944-00-8

 

 

EXCERPT

 

It was over between them, so why did the sound of her voice still destroy him...

 

“Sean?”

Rebecca’s voice poleaxed him and a powerful wave of awareness washed over him, several things manifesting at once: She had the power to slay him with a single word, she sounded shaken and scared, and this must be serious because she hadn’t initiated contact with him even once since their split. A quick flash of their brief, but passionate, coming together at the gazebo stabbed into his gut, as did her statement before she retreated. ‘
I can’t do this
,’ she’d said, and he assumed she meant she couldn’t cheat on Nate. Which didn’t negate the fact that she’d been as involved in the kiss as Sean had been, but, he reminded himself for the thousandth time, just because he and Rebecca shared history and a powerful physical attraction didn’t mean that Nate hadn’t managed to win her heart, or at the very least, her loyalty. In either case, she didn’t belong to Sean. He needed to remember that.

“Sean? Are you there?”

“You sound upset.” He heard sirens through the phone and his heart damn near stopped beating as icy fear sluiced over him. “Are you okay? Have you been in an accident?”

“No, but I need you, Sean.”

His heart started pumping again and relief flooded through him. “Where are you, sweetheart? I’ll be right there.”

“No, no. Its--I need you, but I’m not asking--I need a lawyer, Sean. I’m about to be arrested.”

Comprehension doused him like an unexpected cold shower. She didn’t need
him
, she needed his legal expertise.
Ouch.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Arrested for what?”

“Resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.”

A surprised laugh escaped him. “Are you serious?”

“Can I count on you or not?”

“Jesus, yes. Of course. Are you still at the scene of the...uh...crime?”

 

 

DEDICATION

 

For my sweet, beautiful cousins, JoJo and Annie, because you both deserved a happily-ever-after.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

A key scraped in the front door of the Walker & Son Construction management office. Rebecca Walker jerked her head toward the sound, her eyes going wide. A second later the deadbolt slid to the unlocked position with a
thunk
.

“No, wait!” She scrambled for her jeans. “Don’t come in!”

The door swung open and the two men at the threshold watched with surprised appreciation as their operations manager shimmied into a holey pair of skinny jeans, affording them a brief glimpse of her butt-hugging boy-shorts. When their attention rose to her lacy push-up bra their smiles expanded.

“Rebecca? You still there?” A disembodied voice crackled from the glow of a laptop sitting on the desk, facing away from Rebecca.

Rebecca thrust her face in front of the laptop video cam. “Hold on, Vern, okay? Just gimme a second.”

“Holy crap,” fifteen-year-old Vern choked through a mouthful of sparkling orthodontia. “Are you naked?”

Rebecca slapped the laptop shut, grabbed the sweater lying on her desk and yanked it over her head without regard for the clip keeping her coppery curls under control. Helped along by the wrenching of the bulky knit, the clip popped free and bounced out of sight. When Rebecca’s head popped through the neck of the sweater her spirals sprang out in wild abandon. She opened the laptop and stuck her face in view of the screen again. “Hold on, Vern, okay? Just a sec.” To the men grinning in the doorway, she said, “What part of ‘wait, don’t come in’ did you two not understand? Shut the door, for Pete’s sake, you’re letting all the cold air in. And how’d you get a key?”

“It ain’t that we didn’t hear ya,” Trey, the younger and lankier of the two men drawled, “we just was already fixin’ to open the door.” He gulped, and his eyes bulged with the effort.

Rebecca stared, ever fascinated by Trey’s uncanny ability to look like a human Chihuahua.

“And if I may say,” the older and fleshier of the two began, his eyes bright with amusement, “you’re looking particularly lovely this--”

“No, Howard, you may not say and, if you do, you’re fired.” Rebecca dragged her gaze from Trey’s protuberant eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. She mustered a stern look and directed it at Howard, who was old enough to know better, annoyed that both men continued to gawk although she was now covered ankle to throat. “It’s after hours, and I locked that door for a reason.”

“Right. Well.” Howard shrugged and swallowed his smile. “Big Will gave us the key and the code. We’ve got finishing work on the Bartholomew building in Gainesville tomorrow and there’s some notes we’re supposed to bring. Cal made some changes.”

“Rebecca? You still there?” Vern called from the ether. “Becca?”

She grabbed the laptop and lifted it up to eye level. Vern’s pimpled face filled her line of vision. “Sorry. I’m trying to multitask, and failing. You want me to call you later?”

“I just wanted to make sure you’re still there.”

“Still here, Vern.”

“I’ll wait. You’re the best tutor out there, and this econ homework is killing me.” He adjusted his chunky glasses, and his face loomed large as he leaned closer to the camera on his end. “Hey, are you still naked?”

Rebecca snapped the laptop shut. A second later her cell phone rang out the
Hawaii 5-0
theme song she had designated for the sheriff’s deputy she was dating. She set the laptop down and snatched up the phone.

“Hey, Nate. Can you hold on?” She muted the call and turned back to the two men in the doorway. “I assume Dad told you where you’d find them.”

“Uh, yes’m.” Trey pointed to the closed door beyond Rebecca’s desk. “On a clipboard on his desk.”

She waved them in with her hand. “Be speedy. I’m trying to get out of here. I’ve got someplace to be.”

Rebecca stood in the doorway to the office her father sometimes shared with her brother, Caleb, and watched Howard and Trey poke around on the desk, a scarred and dented monstrosity purchased new by her Grampa Boone at an office supply sale down in Atlanta sometime in the 1950s. She tapped her bare foot on the thin carpet and made a mental note to talk to her father about not handing out keys to the office without first giving her a head’s up.

“Got it.” Howard held the clipboard over his head like he’d won a prize.

“Okay, guys. Out.” She closed and locked the inner office, strode across the room to the front office door and opened it with a flourish. “Not one word to anyone about seeing me in my undies. I’d hate to have to bury you under a ton of concrete. ”

“Yes’m.” Trey nodded, his Chihuahua eyes warm and sincere.

“And don’t forget who does your time cards.”

The men grinned and waved on their way out. Rebecca smiled back, locking the door behind them--
not that doing so would keep anyone out, apparently
--and took her boyfriend off mute.

“Hey, Nate. Sorry about that. I’m trying to do too many things at once.”

“I’m used to it.”

Rebecca cringed. “Are you at the party already?”

“Yes, Rebecca, I am and you’re not. Big surprise.”

“Oh, c’mon, big guy, don’t be mad. My meeting with the inspector ran over, and I promised Vern I’d help him with his econ paper.”
Vern. Oh, crap!
“Hey, Nate, hold on a sec, will you?”

“Rebecca--”

She hit the mute button and opened the laptop. Vern’s face popped into view. “Sorry about that. Can you hold on just another sec?”

“You still naked?”

She cringed. “Ice those hormones, buddy. That was a flash you weren’t supposed to see. Listen, I’ve got Nate on the phone. Wait two seconds and I’ll give you my undivided attention. Okay?”

Rebecca shut the laptop again, took a breath, and unmuted the phone.

“Nate?”

“Rebecca, this has to stop. You can’t keep standing me up.”

“I’m not standing you up. I’ll be there. I mean I have to, right? It’s my brother’s engagement party. Can’t miss that.” She forced a laugh. Nate’s silence spoke for him. “I’m really sorry. There was a problem at one of the job sites and--look, I’ll be there within the hour. Who all’s there?”

“Almost everybody. If you’re not here before eight, you’re going to miss surprising Caleb and Maddie.”

“Let’s hang up so I can help Vern with his homework, and then I’ll be on my way.”

“Can’t the kid figure it out himself?”

“Do you want to argue with me, or let me go so I can finish helping Vern and get to the party?”

After a protracted silence, Nate responded with a curt, “Bye.”

Rebecca shut her eyes and took a breath. She blew it out in a puff, tossed the phone on the desk, dropped into her chair and checked the time. She could give Vern twenty minutes and still get to the Kinkaids’ house by eight as long as nothing else held her up. She tucked her long legs underneath her, opened the laptop, and plastered on a smile.

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