Taken with You: Book Eight of The Kowalskis by Shannon Stacey - Romance>Contemporary
Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.
Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety--a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.
Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door....
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Sensuality Rating: Not rated
The snarling, possibly rabid, five hundred pound grizzly bear lurking in the trees was the final straw.
Hailey Genest stopped in her tracks, staring at the area of the forest where she'd heard the rustling. Okay, so maybe it wasn't a grizzly bear. She didn't think Maine had grizzlies, even deep in the woods. It was probably only a black bear, but it was a really big one.
"I think it was a chipmunk," her buddy system partner said.
Hailey turned her stare on Tori Burns, who'd talked her into this stupid wilderness adventure. "I hate you so much right now."
Tori grinned. "Your mascara's smudging."
"Why are we friends again?"
"Because you came into the diner during my shift and whined about being the last single woman on the entire planet because all of your friends have found their soul mates. When I pointed out I'm single, you decided we should be friends."
She hadn't been whining. She'd just had a rough day and hadn't felt like she could call her friends to vent because they were all probably greeting their menfolk at the door. And, yes, she had imagined them in aprons and pearls just because she could.
"First Paige married Mitch, then Lauren ran off to Massachusetts and married Ryan, and Katie's living with Josh." Hailey snorted and crossed her arms. "Those damn Kowalski men stole all my women."
Tori sighed. "And now I'm friends with a woman who wears makeup and new hiking boots on a wilderness adventure."
"The better I look, the better I feel and I thought I'd need the boost." She looked down at her feet, trying not to wince. "Pretty sure my blisters are reaching horror movie proportions, though."
"I told you it would be better to wear sneakers than brand-new hiking boots."
"I wanted to be fashionable."
"Yes, because limping is totally the new black."
Hailey took a few steps, trying to ignore how much her feet, calves and every other part of her body hurt, but then she stopped. "Listen."
After several seconds, Tori frowned. "I can't hear the others anymore."
"Not even the woman who sounds like she has a built-in megaphone and sucked helium for breakfast. They left us behind." Even as she said the words, which should have been cause for concern, Hailey felt a pang of relief.
If the group had left them behind, there was no pressure to keep up, which was something she'd been failing at miserably for at least a mile. She considered herself to be in good shape, but hiking for miles over uneven ground in the woods was kicking her butt. And they still had paddling canoes to look forward to, just to make sure her arms and back ached as much as her legs tomorrow.
Since her usual daily workout was pushing a cart of books from the night drop box back into the library, she could only wonder what she'd been thinking. Or drinking.
"If we hurry, we can catch them." Tori cast a doubtful glance at Hailey's feet. "If it helps, we get to sit in the canoes."
The thought of being off her feet did help a little, so Hailey did her best to keep up with her new friend. Tori wasn't very tall, but she walked with a long, confident stride that was hard to match. Trying to ignore how her impending blisters and the muscles in the backs of her calves were having a contest to see which could burn the worst, Hailey put one foot in front of the other and tried not to stumble over roots.
After what felt like miles, Tori stopped in a clearing and shook her head. There were...
Taken with You: Book Eight of The Kowalskis
By: Shannon Stacey