After a scandal torches her career, hotelier Sophie Carlisle vows to rise from the ashes. She pours her all into turning a run-down house in Austin, Texas, into a fabulous boutique hotel. Now, with the opening mere weeks away, Sophie is running out of both time and money!
So when Cade MacAllister swoops in and offers to help, it seems like a godsend. And yet Sophie is leery. Why would Cade, a hotshot adventure photographer, want to spend his days swinging a hammer for her? Sophie has learned the hard way that everything has a price--especially trust. With so much on the line, can she risk her career--and her heart--on a wanderer with secrets?
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Cade slouched in a rocking chair on the porch of his brother's log cabin as the sun crawled its way below the horizon. Beside him, Diego's old dog, Lobo, shifted and groaned.
"I don't know which of us is more pathetic, fella. You at least have old age to blame." Cade's head sank back against the rocker, and he pushed it into motion with an impatient shove of his heel. A rocking chair, he thought in disgust, fingers drumming. I'm thirty-nine years old, and I've been in this spot for two hours. He wanted to run, but he could barely walk. Wanted to race halfway across the world...but had no reason to leave and nowhere to go.
Even if anyone in his family would let him move an inch without hovering.
"Cade, honey?" called his mother from inside. "Do you need something?" Grace MacAllister appeared at the screen door.
Cade glanced up at the woman who never seemed to age. At sixty-six, Grace's hair was still more blond than silver, her back straight, her figure slender. At six foot four, he towered over her--as did all her four sons and her husband--but pure steel ran through her spine.
He adored her. They all did. She was their queen, gracious and every inch the lady, strong and loving and cherished.
But if she didn't stop treating him like an invalid... His hand clenched on the rocker's arm. "I'm fine, Mom."
She meant well, he reminded himself. He hadn't come home often as an adult, not because he didn't miss and love his family--he did. But he'd needed solitude since he was small, and he was accustomed to that life now. He'd spent the past twenty years as an adventure photographer, roaming the globe with a camera in his hand, never settling, never resting. He'd been a wanderer since he'd first learned to walk, to the dismay of his parents. He'd always needed to see what was over there. Whatever there meant at the time.
But nearly dying in the Andes had a way of changing things.
And watching his friend and guide die...
He still hadn't figured out how to handle that.
So when his mother placed a hand on his forehead, testing him for fever as she had when he was little, Cade forced himself not to tense. Instead, he clasped her hand and squeezed it in his. "Thanks, Mom. You've taken good care of me."
Grace was no fool, however, and her smile was wry when she responded. "You're restless." Not a question; she knew him well. "Itchy for a camera in your hands?"
God, no. He couldn't even look at his cameras, hadn't been able to touch one without seeing his friend's broken body. He couldn't speak to anyone of the panic that kept him awake at night, how his fingers shook when he simply picked up a camera, knowing that his obsession with the perfect shot, the one that required risk and nerves to obtain, had cost a good man his life. He'd lain there on the mountain after he'd crawled toward Jaime, waiting for death to take him, too, and somewhere during that endless night he'd lost his eye for the story behind the frame, the gift of making an image tell far more than a thousand words.
Even if he recovered fully from the injuries he'd suffered in the fall, the one thing that had made his life matter was gone. He'd lost the thirst that had driven his life.
Besides, what did his career matter in the face of three children left fatherless?
But he couldn't tell his mother any of that. "Soon," he said instead, mustering a smile for her even as he saw worry shimmer in her eyes.
She, in turn, stroked his hair as if he were still small, then bent and pressed a kiss to his forehead....
A Texas Chance
By: Jean Brashear