EXCERPT: Easy Fortune by Kristen Proby
The Boudreaux Series—Sexy. Intriguing. Easy.
Sometimes the past is better left behind you…
Lena Turner has spent her life as the outsider. Thanks to her extraordinary gifts, she’s learned to be independent—especially when it comes to men. She’s content to live her life in New Orleans as a schoolteacher, dating casually and dedicated to her small family. Long term is not part of her plan.
Sometimes the past catches up with you…
Leaving Lena behind to pursue his career was the most difficult thing Mason Coulter ever did. He told himself that it was for the best, had even convinced himself that he had only Lena’s best interests in mind. But now, after six long years, he’s back in New Orleans to settle his late eccentric aunt’s estate. All he has to do is get in and out of the city without submitting to the need to see Lena. But to Mason’s dismay, his aunt made other plans.
And sometimes the future and the past collide…
Having Mason walk back into her life is something Lena never saw coming. She could refuse to help him, but she’s never been good at telling Mason no. So she’ll do what she can to get the estate settled and Mason out of her life for good.
At least, that’s the plan. But Mason has plans of his own…
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I wipe the back of my hand over my forehead and glance at my notes when suddenly, the air in the room shifts.
It’s subtle, but I feel it. The hair stands up on my neck. I haven’t felt this in six years.
“You can get back in your Ferrari and go away,” I say casually without looking over at the doorway and do my best to ignore the damn zoo that’s come awake in my stomach.
“I don’t have a Ferrari,” he replies. His voice hasn’t changed at all. It’s thick like melted milk chocolate, and he still has his southern accent. I don’t know why that surprises me.
“Well, whatever horse you rode in on? Ride back out on it.”
I hear him sigh, but I refuse to look at him. Because just one look will suck me in, and I’ve vowed never to be sucked in by Mason Coulter ever again.
“It’s good to see you, Lena.”
“Mm hmm.” I pretend to study my notes, but I don’t actually see the words anymore. “Good to see you, too.”
“You haven’t even looked over here.”
I can hear the smile in his voice. It makes me cringe.
“What do you want?”
“I want you to look at me,” he replies.
“Well, we don’t always get what we want.” Yes, I’m being a bitch, and no, I’m not sorry. Mason was the one. The one that I fell head over heels for, the one that charmed the pants off of me, literally, and then he just left. He disappeared, and I was left here, wondering what in the hell happened. Wondering what I did wrong because I was twenty-two and naïve and so heartsick for him I thought I wouldn’t survive it.
But I did.
“So, you’re still mad?”
I blink rapidly for a second, and then I can’t help it. I turn and take him in, from the top of his gorgeous, dark head to the tip of his designer shoes, and my body immediately comes to life. Panties are singed. And if I thought it was hot in here ten minutes ago, it’s an inferno now.
Damn him. He just had to stay hot, didn’t he? I mean, couldn’t he have lost all of his hair? Gained a whole bunch of weight? Something?
“You could say I’m still mad,” I reply, proud of myself for sounding calm and indifferent to him, when I’m anything but indifferent. “So unless you came in here to tell me you have a terminal illness, you can just turn around and go. I’m not interested in chit chat.”
“You were always good at chit chat,” he says and flashes that perfect smile at me. But there’s something there, in his smile that tells me something isn’t quite right.
And I’m just a sucker because I’m about to ask him what it is. I should stay firm and ask him to go.
But first, I need to settle an old score.
“You know,” I begin and put the cap on the blue marker. I set it down and turn to fully face him. “The last time I saw you, you said you’d be right back.”
“I said I’d see you soon,” he says, the smile fully leaving his face now.
“And then you just bailed.”
He sighs and leans against the doorjamb. He crosses his arms over his chest and glances down at his shoes, then back up at me. “I owe you an apology for that.”
“Yeah. You do.”
“I’m sorry.” His grey eyes are holding my own, and I can see the sincerity there, hear it in his voice. “I am truly sorry, Lena.”
I nod and turn away. “Thanks.”
“And I need your help.”
Of course he does.
This couldn’t be a quick, I want to stop in to see how you are, apologize, and go on my merry way.
No, it has to be complicated.
“My Aunt Claudia passed away last week.”
“Oh, Mason.” I turn quickly, blinking rapidly. I’m so sorry. I liked her very much.”
He nods. “Thank you.”
Mason and his Aunt Claudia were very close. I believe that we all have that one special family member that we bond with, who is important in our lives, and for him, it was his aunt. He spent summers with her here in New Orleans when he was young.
“I hadn’t heard that she’d passed.” That must be what I see behind his eyes. I don’t have the psychic abilities that my best friend, Mallory, has. But I can sense things. I want to hug him, to comfort him, but I stay planted where I am because I know what his touch will do to me.
“I’d planned to come to town and quickly take care of her estate, but it seems Aunt Claudia had other plans.” He laughs humorlessly and shakes his head, looking at the ceiling. “The attorney informed me that she was very clear that you were to come with me to the reading of the will.”
“Me?” I frown. “Why? I only met her a couple of times.”
He shrugs and pushes his hand through his hair, in the say way he did six years ago. But now the muscles under his black T-shirt are more defined, tanner from all of the hours he spends outside digging around for old things.
Mason is a well-known and important archeologist.
“You know that she was a bit… eccentric.” He smiles. “It’s one of the reasons I loved her so much. She did what she wanted, and she wanted this.”
“I see.” I swallow and stare out of the windows at the trees. There’s a slight breeze today. I walk over and open the window, wiggle my fingers and feel the breeze blow in my room. “And if I refuse?”
“If you refuse, her estate will be donated to the city of New Orleans.” My head whips around to stare at him again. “I know, it’s a lot of pressure. I don’t need her money, Lena. Archeology has been good to me. But I loved her, and I’d like to do right by her.”
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. So, he’s not here because he wanted to see me. He’s here because his aunt didn’t give him a choice. He’s right, it is a lot of pressure.
“You can think about it,” he says. He pulls a business card from his pocket and sets it on the desk closest to him. “That’s my cell number. I need to be at the attorney’s office on Friday at 2:00 in the afternoon. If you decide you’re willing to go with me, I wrote the address on the back.”
I nod, staring at the small square of white paper.
“Yeah?” My gaze finds his again and he smiles, as if remembering something especially sweet.
“You look fantastic. You’ve hardly changed at all.”
“Oh, I’ve changed.”
Meet The Author: Kristen Proby
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.