Nothing could stop small-town gal Reily Eckardt from heading to Nashville and living the dream...until her car and cash savings were stolen en route. Now she was high and dry in Paradise, Colorado, population 1,632, relying on the kindness of strangers--in particular, bar and grill owner Joe Miller. But why did the single dad have to be so gruff--and cute--while he was being kind? Her mission: save up and split before getting sidetracked by this sexy enigma.
Sure, Joe could offer Reily a job at his bar. Renting her his garage apartment--no problem. But giving her a place in his heart--no way! Poor Joe--it wasn't long before the country crooner had him singing a different tune.
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Reily Eckardt sat in the back of the Colorado State Police cruiser, palms sweaty, hands trembling, feeling sick down to her soul with dread. Since she'd left Montana three days ago it had been one disaster after another, but this time she had sunk just about as low as she could go.
First, in her excitement to make good time, she was pulled over for speeding as she crossed the border into Wyoming and had received a costly ticket for her carelessness. Then, halfway across the state, the water pump on her car blew and she'd had to spend the night while the part was ordered and replaced. She'd blown out a tire driving into Colorado, which turned into a four-hour fiasco that put her even further behind schedule and over budget, and she hadn't gotten back on the road until nearly four-thirty in the afternoon. But the icing on her disaster cake hadn't happened until she'd stopped at a gas station just off the highway around eight to grab a cup of coffee. She'd figured she could make up lost time by driving till midnight or so before stopping at a motel for the night. Bad move.
Apparently she'd been more tired than she had realized, or she wouldn't have left her keys in the ignition when she ran inside. And when she'd walked back out, coffee in hand, no car.
The officer who had taken her statement opened the rear door of the cruiser and gestured for her to come out of the air-conditioned interior. She grabbed her purse and climbed out. The sun had dropped below the mountains and a gentle breeze moved the hot, dry air around her. "Did you find it?" she asked, her voice filled with hope and desperation.
He shook his head grimly. "We put an APB out on the plate, but nothing so far."
Her stomach sank a little lower. It had been more than an hour since her car was stolen. Everything she owned in the world, including the money she had saved for the past two years for her new life in Nashville, had been in that car. Her clothes, her photos, her mom's guitar...it was all gone. All that was left of her worldly possessions was her purse and the change from the fifty-dollar bill she'd grabbed from the stash in her suitcase before running inside.
How could she have been so careless?
"What do you think the chances are that it'll turn up?" she asked him.
His grim expression was her answer. "You'll probably want to file a claim with your insurance. Even if it's recovered, I doubt it will be in one piece."
The car was so old, it wasn't insured for theft.
She took a deep breath and steeled herself against the wave of hopelessness and despair, fearing she might be sick right there in the parking lot. Yes, things seemed pretty bad, but life had taught her that they could always get worse. She would get through this and come out swinging. She always did.
She'd already called her cousin in Arkansas and told her she wouldn't be stopping in for a visit. Sweetheart that Luann was, she'd offered Reily a place to crash for a few days. But as a divorcee on welfare with three small children to care for, she didn't have the space or the money to be taking in destitute houseguests. Reily's aunt barely got by on her Social Security so she was in no position to be loaning Reily the money to get to Nashville, and Reily refused to go running back to Montana with her tail between her legs. Besides, she was used to taking care of herself. She would get to Nashville, and she would make it big as a country singer. It just might take a little longer than she anticipated.
"Is there somewhere I can drop you, Miss Eckardt?" the officer asked.
Reily turned to him, really seeing him for...
No Ordinary Joe
By: Michelle Celmer