Look out, ladies: there's another Traub bachelor in town! Jason "Jace" Traub is every bit as gorgeous as his sexy twin brother, but rumor has it he is even more marriage-shy. There's not a woman alive who could make this restless rancher settle down....
Yet insiders whisper that Jace has been talking wedding plans with Jocelyn Bennings, the chestnut-haired beauty who ran out on her own wedding just days ago! Could the confirmed bachelor really be hooking up with heartbroken, headstrong Joss? Stay tuned, loyal readers, to find out if their marriage of convenience runs amuck--or if lasting passion will finally rope in the last single maverick!
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Family reunions. Who needs them?
Jason Traub didn't. He realized that now. And yet somehow, a few days ago, he'd decided that a trip to Montana for the annual summertime Traub family get-together would be a good idea.
Or maybe he'd just wanted to escape Midland, Texas, and the constant pressure to return to the family business. He should have realized that in Montana it would only be more of the same. Especially given that the whole family was here--and still putting on the pressure.
And why was it that the reunion seemed to get longer every year? This year, it began on the Saturday before Independence Day and would go straight through the whole week to the Sunday after the Fourth, with some family event or other taking place daily.
That first day, Saturday, June 30, featured a late-afternoon barbecue at DJ's Rib Shack. Jason's cousin DJ had Rib Shacks all over the western states. But this one happened to be at the Thunder Canyon Resort up on Thunder Mountain, which loomed, tall and craggy, above the small and charming mountain town of Thunder Canyon.
"Jace." The deep voice came from behind him. "Glad you could make it."
Jason, seated at one of the Rib Shack's long, rustic, family-style tables, glanced over his shoulder at his older brother Ethan. "Great party," Jason said. And it was. If you didn't mind a whole bunch of family up in your face in a big, big way.
His brother leaned closer. "We need to talk."
Jace pretended he didn't hear and held up a juicy rib dripping Rib Shack secret sauce. "Great ribs, as always." With the constant rumble of voices and laughter that filled the restaurant, how would Ethan know if Jace heard him or not?
Ethan grunted--and bent even closer to speak directly into his ear. "I know Ma and Pete want you back in Midland." Pete Wexler was their stepdad. "But you've got options, and I mean that. There's a place waiting for you right here at TOI Montana."
TOI--for Traub Oil Industries--was the family business. The original office was in Midland, Texas, where Jason and his five siblings had been born and raised. Pete, their stepdad, was chairman of the board. And their mother, Claudia, was CEO. Last year, Ethan had opened a second branch of TOI in Thunder Canyon. Jackson, Jason's fraternal twin, and their only sister, Rose, and her husband, Austin, were all at the new office with Ethan.
"No, thanks," Jace said, and then reminded his brother--as he kept reminding everyone in the family, "I'm out of the oil business."
Now it was Ethan's turn to pretend not to hear. He squeezed Jason's shoulder--a bone-crushing squeeze.
"We'll talk," he said.
"No point," Jace answered wearily. "I've made up my mind."
But Ethan only gave him a wave and started talking to the large elderly woman on Jace's right. Jace didn't hear what they said to each other. He was actively not listening.
A moment later, Ethan moved on. Jace concentrated on his dinner. His plate was piled high with ribs, corn on the cob, coleslaw and steak fries. The food was terrific. Almost worth the constant grief he was getting from his family--about work, about his nonexistent love life, about everything.
Across the table, Shandie Traub, his cousin Dax's wife, said, "Jason, here's someone I want you to meet." The someone in question stood directly behind Shandie. She had baby-fine blond hair and blue eyes and she was smiling at him shyly. Shandie introduced her. "My second cousin, Belinda McKelly. Belinda's from Sioux Falls."
The Last Single Maverick
By: Christine Rimmer