Sweet Home Colorado (The O'Malley Men)

BOOK: Sweet Home Colorado (The O'Malley Men)
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Repairing More Than Just A House

Grace Saunders returns to Spruce Lake, Colorado, to oversee
the renovation of a house she’s inherited—and to get away from a bad divorce.
She’s
not
planning to run into her high school
sweetheart, Jack O’Malley. She has a secret she’ll give anything to keep, even
when it turns out that Jack’s her new contractor.

Now Jack and Grace have to work together—and work at keeping
their hands off each other. Grace is the same girl Jack used to know, the one he
never got over. Jack’s grown into a man Grace could fall in love with all over
again. And the entire O’Malley clan is rooting for a romantic reunion.

But should Grace keep her twelve-year-old secret? And if she
tells, will Jack ever forgive her?

“If I’m going to work on this house, you’re going to help
me…”

“What’s up?” Jack asked. “Your face is flushed again.”

To prevent him from asking any further questions, Grace stuck
out her hand and said, “If I agree to your outrageous terms, do we have a
deal?”

What was she saying? She couldn’t get out of town fast enough
to prevent Jack from somehow discovering the truth she’d hidden from him for
twelve long years. Yet here she was agreeing to stay and help. Still, she really
needed to have the house restored before it completely fell to pieces.

And besides, how hard could it be watching Jack working under
the hot sun? Seeing him again, she couldn’t get rid of the notion they had
unfinished business.

She’d kept her secret safe this long, she could keep it to
herself a bit longer….

Dear Reader,

One of my favorite romance themes is the reunion story. I
wonder what it’s like to be reunited with your high school or college
sweetheart?

In
Sweet Home Colorado,
Jack
O’Malley, the last of the O’Malley men to find love, is knocked off his feet
when his high school sweetheart, Grace Saunders, returns to Spruce Lake. At
first he’s reluctant to have anything to do with Grace, but he soon finds
himself under her spell and agreeing to renovate the house she’s inherited from
her great-aunt.

Jack is the one person Grace hopes she won’t run into in
Spruce Lake, but—doing a bit of matchmaking—her lawyer employs Jack as the
contractor responsible for renovating the old Victorian that now belongs to
her.

Grace has a secret she’s kept from Jack for more than a dozen
years, and now her greatest fear is that he’ll discover what it is!

Did I tell you my other favorite theme was secret babies?

Find out how Grace and Jack’s relationship develops into love
and how they resolve their differences once Jack discovers Grace’s secret.

This is the fifth and final installment of The O’Malley Men
series. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the O’Malley brothers fall in love as much
as I have.

I enjoy hearing from readers. You can write to me at
[email protected]
.

Happy reading and healthy lives!
C.C. Coburn

Sweet Home Colorado

C.C. Coburn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.C. Coburn was born in the heart of Australia’s outback,
then moved to its Pacific Coast. She’s traveled the world, lived in England,
Austria and the USA and still counts traveling as one of her passions.

She learned to ski in Austria, then discovered Colorado’s
majestic Rocky Mountains and bought a home there. She now divides her time
between Australia, Colorado and England, where one of her three children lives.
Her other children still call Australia home.

C.C. shares her life with a beautiful Labrador and a man
who, after thirty-two years of marriage, still looks pretty darned good in his
kilt.

Books by C.C. Coburn

HARLEQUIN AMERICAN ROMANCE

1283—COLORADO CHRISTMAS
1309—THE SHERIFF
AND THE BABY
1337—COLORADO COWBOY
1395—COLORADO FIREMAN

Many thanks to

My faithful reader Jan Durkin.
Talented author and nurse
Fiona Lowe.
Handyman Garth Stroble.
My wonderful editor, Paula
Eykelhof.
And as always, Keith.

Prologue

“Jack? Are you still there?”

Jack O’Malley took a seat on the front steps of the house he’d
just finished restoring in Spruce Lake, Colorado. He cradled his cell phone
against his shoulder and wiped his brow. It was hot. Damned hot for June.
Especially June in the Rockies. “I’m still here, Mike, and the answer’s still
no.”

“C’mon, it’s only an estimate. You’ve got time for that,
haven’t you?”

Jack groaned. It was flattering to be in demand for his
services as a contractor who specialized in high-quality home-building and
renovation, but one day he’d like to be able to take a holiday. With the way
work kept piling up, that wasn’t going to happen any time in the next decade.
And now his friend and lawyer, Mike Cochrane, wanted to heap on more work. He’d
already turned down the same job late last week, when Mike first contacted him
about it. Now Mike was sounding desperate.

“Like I told you, Jack, my client’s a doctor. And you know how
much I need new clients—
wealthy
ones.”

Jack gave a snort of disgust. “And like I told
you,
Mike, the answer’s still no.”

“Aw, c’mon, Jack.
Buddy,
” he said,
drawing out the last word. “You’re the only person capable of restoring that
Victorian on Lincoln.”

Just as it had last week, Jack’s heart rate kicked up a notch
at the mention of the old house. Gracie Saunders, the girl he’d dated in high
school, had lived there. Missy Saunders, her great-aunt, had owned the house,
but she’d moved to the Twilight Years retirement home a decade ago. The place
had been rented out over the years, until it fell into such a state of disrepair
no one wanted to live there. Missy had passed away a couple of years back and
Jack assumed the house had been sold to the doctor—who’d probably, like too many
of Spruce Lake’s second-home owners, use it two weeks a year and leave it vacant
for the other fifty.

He took a long swig of orange juice. “Since when did you start
pimping for clients wanting their houses restored?”

“Since a friend of a friend told this doctor I had contacts
here in Spruce Lake. Contacts who were
reliable.

Jack didn’t miss the inflection in Mike’s voice. If he said no
to the estimate, he’d be letting Mike down. Mike had done a lot for the
O’Malleys, especially helping Jack’s brother Will foil the development company
that had wanted to tear down half the old buildings on Main Street and put up a
bunch of condos and a shopping mall. Their plan would’ve destroyed the
Victorian-era character of the town. Instead, Will and his supporters had saved
the buildings from destruction and Jack had spent the past few years restoring
many of them.

But his next project was building a new home for Adam, his
wife, Carly, and their kids. Adam had got land at a bargain-basement price from
Will, who’d recently subdivided the ranch he’d bought a dozen years earlier into
ranchettes of around ten acres each. The ranchettes had funded the purchase of
buildings on Main Street to save them from destruction.

Jack couldn’t disappoint Adam and Carly. The house they
presently lived in was getting to be way too small for Adam’s growing family.
Jack’s youngest brother had married a widow with four children. Then they’d
adopted two dogs and a cat from the animal shelter. And now Carly was
pregnant.

“I’d love to restore that beauty to her former grandeur, Mike,
but right now I don’t have the time. You know I’m slated to start work on Adam
and Carly’s place next.”

It sure would be nice to renovate the old Victorian, though.
The house had stood empty and neglected for too long. Jack scratched the rash on
the inside of his elbow, then felt the need to scratch the one behind his knee.
He’d have to see a doctor about the damned things pretty soon.
Another
doctor. That senile old fool Jenkins and his
expensive creams hadn’t helped the rashes he’d been plagued with for the past
couple of months. In fact, they just kept getting worse. The guy ought to be put
out to pasture. “When’s your client going to be here?”

“Tomorrow. And I’m supposed to have found and employed a
contractor by then.”

“Again, I don’t understand why you’re so hung up on me doing
this. I didn’t know lawyers did stuff like that for their clients.”

“Jack, lawyers would walk barefoot over hot coals for their
clients.”

Jack let out a guffaw of derision. “Yeah, right! Pull the other
leg—it plays ‘Jingle Bells.’ What you mean is—so long as they pay you enough,
you’d do the hot-coals walk.”

“I’ve already received a hefty advance for finding the right
contractor. Naturally, the doc is now one of my most important clients.”

“Yeah, he’s probably, apart from me, your
only
client!”

He could hear the smile in Mike’s voice. One thing Mike wasn’t
short of was clients. Too bad a lot of them failed to pay up. “C’mon, Jack.
Gimme a break and get an estimate to me, ASAP?”

Jack grimaced. He knew what Mike was saying and it wasn’t too
far from the truth—his lawyer could do with building up his client base. A
paying
client base. Too often softhearted Mike ended
up footing the bill for his clients. Snaring a doctor, one prepared to send an
advance, was a coup.

Spruce Lake, nestled in the Colorado Rockies, was a ski and
summer resort that, until a decade ago, had been a well-kept secret. However, it
was now being discovered, and those in the know had been snapping up properties
for a good few years. That helped boost the local economy, but Jack wasn’t sure
he welcomed the change to his formerly sleepy hometown.

In Jack’s opinion, Spruce Lake was picture-postcard perfect.
Filled with a mixture of old Victorians and more modern homes, its main
attraction was an unsurpassed ski mountain during the winter. It also offered
myriad summer activities from hiking and bike riding to golfing and white-water
rafting, fishing, mine tours and a thriving Main Street market.

The only problem, according to the Chamber of Commerce, was
that the rest of the world had barely heard of the place. Sure, Aspen and Vail
were household names for the dedicated skier, celebrity and socialite, but
Spruce Lake had yet to be discovered by the glitterati—which suited Jack just
fine. Small-town life was what he knew and loved. He didn’t want to live
anywhere else, and if this rich doctor client of Mike’s wanted to preserve some
of the town’s unique beauty by restoring Missy Saunders’s old Victorian, then he
should be willing to help out—a little, anyway.

“I’ll see what I can do about an estimate, Mike.”

“Great! I knew I could rely on you, buddy. Can I have it first
thing tomorrow?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m serious. This is urgent.”

Jack sighed. Mike was certainly keen to impress his client.
“You seem to forget there’s more than the carpentry to quote on. There’s also,
plumbing, electrical, roofing—”

“Yeah, yeah. A guesstimate will be fine. I just need
something!”

Jack shook his head. Mike wasn’t going to quit nagging until he
agreed. “I’ll get it to you by noon. How’s that sound? And listen, it’s just an
estimate for comparison purposes. I really don’t have the time to do the work.
I’ve made a promise to Adam and Carly.”

“Yeah, yeah. Listen, I gotta go.” He suddenly cut the
connection.

Jack stared at his cell phone. For someone who claimed he
didn’t have enough paying clients, Mike sure was busy. Since moving back to town
from a big practice in Colorado Springs, the guy had gotten himself elected to
the Chamber of Commerce, so maybe he had some business to attend to there.

He wasn’t due anywhere for a couple of hours so Jack figured he
might as well head over to the house. He wouldn’t need a key to get in—one of
the front windows had been smashed recently by some kids on spring break. At the
very least, he should board it up against further vandalism.

BOOK: Sweet Home Colorado (The O'Malley Men)
4.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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