When 22-year-old Summer Stafford’s parents split halfway through her senior year at college, Summer’s world is rocked. Everything she thought she knew—heck, everything she thought she wanted for her own life—feels like a lie. The truth is love is a risk. And the true kind, the kind that lasts, might even be a fairy tale.
Reeling from the divorce, Summer derails her own future by breaking up with her parent-approved boyfriend and giving up her lifelong plans for a big-city career. She moves back home, business degree in hand. Dad needs her to fill the gaps her mother left behind; Summer needs to find who she is outside of the cookie-cutter life that failed so miserably for her parents.
Ford O’Neal’s future involves one person: himself. He doesn’t have a permanent address and he definitely doesn’t commit. To a place or a person. Raised by hippies, he plans just far enough ahead to secure his next stop, this one landing him at a work-study program at Heritage Plantation where he can grow his own herbal and medicinal creations.
Summer is gorgeous and smart and fun to be with, the perfect way to pass five months. It won’t be love—Ford’s got too many things to accomplish, too many places to go, before he settles down. Yet Summer pulls him in, challenging him to rethink his own philosophy.
When Ford’s five months are up, each of them must decide if love is really worth the risk.
“’Scuse me, am I interrupting?” Ford looked back and forth between us uncertainly, his body already half turned toward the exit. His boots scuffed the floor as he turned to go without waiting for an answer. How much had he heard?“No, it’s fine. Come in,” I said, before my dad could say otherwise.“Are you sure? I can come back.”“Dad was just on his way out,” I said.
My dad gave me a stern look before rising, his hat in one hand, his coffee in the other. “I’ll see you at dinner,” he said to me, his tone ominous and heavy with meaning. We weren’t done with this conversation. Fine. I’d just keep finding ways to interrupt it.
As distractions went, Ford wasn’t bad. He had on jeans snug enough around the hips that it got the imagination going. His brown work boots had seen better days; the sole was loose around the edges and stained where his frayed jeans met the laces. He still hadn’t shaved. For a fleeting moment, I wondered what the stubble would feel like against my skin.I forced my eyes down, not wanting to be caught staring—again—and saw that his shirt was blue today. It matched his eyes. I tried not to compare the two shades, willing myself to stop thinking about his eyes at all. Or any other part of him. Damn those jeans…
After a friendly exchange of hellos between the two men, Ford shuffled into the empty seat Dad left behind.“What can I do for you?” I asked, abandoning the computer for my cooling mug and trying to appear like I wasn’t picturing him naked. Well, he could keep the boots on if he wanted.
“Dean said to stop by once you got settled so I could fill out some new employee paperwork.”“Right. The internship is paid, isn’t it?”“So they tell me.”“Forms, forms,” I muttered to myself, using my free hand to explore the contents of the desk drawers on either side of me. Neither yielded the forms I needed.
I eyed the filing cabinet across the room. I’d yet to touch it or even venture that way. The entire cabinet was covered with old artwork I’d brought home as a child. My mother had secured them with magnets we’d picked up on family vacations and mother/daughter outings. I didn’t want to touch that thing. Not yet. God, the entire office still smelled like her.
“You okay?” Ford asked.
I found him studying me with a mixture of curiosity and concern. I knew my expression must’ve conveyed some of what I’d been thinking but I wasn’t about to unload all my baggage on this stranger, hot as he might be.
“I’m always great,” he said, hands folded and shoulders relaxed as he lounged in the chair.My eyes narrowed, searching for the sarcasm behind his words, but his tone was genuine and I realized he meant it. Most people answered with a snappy “fine” or “okay” and kept it moving. His upbeat answer caught me off guard.
“So … employment forms?” he prompted.
“Forms, right.” I rose and walked to the filing cabinet, opening drawers and perusing their contents while trying to ignore the pang in my gut it caused to be touching all of the old artwork, things that were so absolutely hers yet she hadn’t bothered to take a single one. She could take the knickknacks from the mantel but not the kangaroo I’d painted in elementary school, writing her name in glitter across the top.
I found the forms I needed and slid the drawer closed. It stuck, and I had to shove it hard to get it to click. Maybe I could convince Dad to spring for a new one. A clean one. And this could go out for garbage, artwork and all. I whirled, antsy to escape this corner of memory lane, and my nose bumped Ford’s chest. Not a bad way to be injured, but still.
“Sorry,” I said, jumping back. My hip bumped the drawer handle behind me and I winced. Ford looked torn between amusement and sympathy. “Employment forms,” I said, shoving them at his chest before he could say a word.
“Thank you.”“You can fill them out and bring them back later.”“Can I stay and fill them out now?”
I grimaced. He still hadn’t moved, and his closeness only heightened my discomfort. Not so much from the pain of the metal against my thigh, but from the way I could feel his presence without a single part of our bodies touching. Like when you rub a balloon for so long, you can feel it pricking at you from an inch away. I’d never felt that from another person before, let alone a man. I hadn’t known such a feeling existed. It was exciting and thrilling and terrifying.“Sure,” I answered, my voice hoarse.
When he still didn’t move, I looked up and met his eyes. He was studying me with an intensity in those blue-grays that made it hard to breathe. “Is there something else?” I managed to say through a suddenly parched throat.“Yes.” He leaned down and for a split second, I thought he was going to kiss me. I blanched and the sheet of static between us evaporated instantly. His expression smoothed so quickly I wondered if I’d imagined the entire thing. But no, there was definitely a level of tension in him too.
He cleared his throat at the same time I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.
“A pen?” he asked.
Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. She now lives in coastal VA, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, with her two adorable children. She works from home, part time, as a property manager and when she's not furiously pounding at the keyboard, or staring off into space whilst plotting a new story, she's lying on the beach, soaking in those delicious, pre-cancerous rays.
Heather loves Mexican food, hates socks with sandals, and if her house was on fire, the one thing she'd grab is her DVR player.
Heather is a co-founder of Accendo Press, a publishing group she operates with fellow authors: Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby. Accendo (a-CH-endo), A Latin word, means “to kindle, illuminate, inflame, or set fire.” This is something Accendo strives to do inside a reader’s imagination with every title released. For a complete list of titles and author bios, visit .
Don't Forget to stop at ALL the stops for this tour for more goodies!!!
--Wednesday, October 23rd
--Thursday, October 24th
--Friday, October 25th
--Saturday, October 26th
--Sunday, October 27th
--Monday, October 28th
--Tuesday, October 29th
-Wednesday, October 30th
--Thursday, October 31st
--Friday, November 1st
--Saturday, November 2nd
--Sunday, November 3rd
--Monday, November 4th
--Tuesday, November 5th
--Wednesday, November 6th
--Thursday, November 7th
--Friday, November 8th
--Saturday, November 9th
--Sunday, November 10th
--Monday, November 11th
--Tuesday, November 12th
--Wednesday, November 13th
--Thursday, November 14th
--Friday, November 15th