A mischievous Christmas angel is determined to have her way this holiday season...
Lani O'Dwyer offered her heart to Ryan Connolly years ago, and he tossed it aside without so much as a backward glance. Though the town of Boulder Creek dubs him a hero,she vows she'll never again fall victim to his charms.
Ryan Connolly captains a raucous crew of firefighters at the Boulder Creek Fire Department, yet he's unprepared for the adventure of falling in love with beautiful and headstrong Lani O'Dwyer.
But when a meddling angel at the annual Fighters for Hire charity auction brings Ryan and Lani together, even regrets from the past can't thwart Ryan's plans to make Lani his own.
“Ryan, what are you doing here?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Sawdust danced in a halo around his head as he glanced up from the redwood deck without missing a stroke of the hammer. Expertly, he jostled a new panel of wood into place as he flashed a mischievous grin. “I’ll give you two guesses and the first one doesn’t count.”
“I only need one.” Alani crossed her arms and sighed with dismay as she watched sweet-natured Moe, the chocolate lab she and Grandma Cora had rescued from the animal shelter nearly a decade ago, lope over to Ryan and curl contentedly at his side. So much for loyalty…the mangy beast must have forgotten that Ryan had dumped him—and Lani, as well—when the going got tough. “You’re trespassing on my property—and, it appears that you’ve also managed to brainwash my dog into thinking you’re a friend.”
“I am a friend…you just haven’t allowed the thought to sink into that stubborn head of yours.”
“That sort of sweet talk will get you places—not.” Alani adjusted the strap of her purse over one shoulder, fishing inside it for her cellphone. “So explain yourself, and quick, before I call the law.” She located the phone and waggled it in front of Ryan’s face to add leverage to the threat.
“Really?” Ryan’s laughter rent the air. He set the hammer down and sat back on his haunches and shake sawdust from his hair. The scent mingled with pine that danced from a grove of trees flanking eastern end of the lot. Moe inched closer to him and settled his chin on Ryan’s thigh. “You wouldn’t.”
Lani crossed her arms over her chest and lifted her chin. “I would.”
“You forget that the chief of police is my dad.” Ryan splayed a hand across Moe’s head and gave him a good scratch between the ears, eliciting a delighted yawn from the traitorous beast.
“Oh…right.” Lani sighed with frustration. “Well, I’ll call anyway and he’ll…he’ll…come out here and ground you.”
“Ground me?” Ryan’s laughter grew. Now the infuriating sound echoed from the surrounding houses. “Are we fourteen again?”
“You’re acting like it.”
“Me? I’m acting like I’m fourteen?” Ryan grabbed the porch rail, giving himself a boost to stand and face her. Moe followed at his heels, as if he and Ryan had been lifelong buddies. “Look here, Alani O’Dwyer…that hotheaded Irish temper is getting the best of you again. If you would just close that pretty little mouth of yours long enough to listen…” He kept coming until he had her penned in, her back pressed against the sliding glass door facing into the kitchen. The gleam in his eyes caused the hair on the back of her neck to tickle as his aftershave—something crisp and clean as the cool air—washed over her. “Maybe I should help you with that.”
“I think not.”
“We’ll see…” He leaned in, dipping his head as if to kiss her, then seemed to think better of it and pulled back, turning away to pace the length of decking. Of course, Moe matched him step for step.
“What are you doing here?” Alani repeated, frowning at the dog as he marched loyally along at Ryan’s side. She uncrossed her arms and tucked the phone back into her purse. “Explain yourself.”