2nd Edition

Stefan Joss just can’t win. Not only does he have to go to Texas in the middle of summer to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding, but he’s expected to negotiate a million-dollar business deal at the same time. Worst of all, he’s thrown for a loop when he arrives to see the one man Charlotte promised wouldn’t be there: her brother, Rand Holloway. Stefan and Rand have been mortal enemies since the day they met, so Stefan is shocked when a temporary cease-fire sees the usual hostility replaced by instant chemistry. Though leery of the unexpected feelings, Stefan is swayed by a sincere revelation from Rand, and he decides to give Rand a chance. But their budding romance is threatened when Stefan’s business deal goes wrong: the owner of the last ranch he needs to secure for the company is murdered. Stefan’s in for the surprise of his life as he finds himself in danger as well. First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2010.

Chapter 2


I ENJOYED the afternoon visiting before my best friend’s four-day wedding extravaganza weekend for a full ten minutes before I saw her brother leaning against the bar, looking out of place and uncomfortable, talking with the groom-to-be.

“Oh my God, Char,” Tina Jacobs said from the other side of me. “How did you get your brother off that ranch of his on a Tuesday?”

I turned slowly to look at my friend Charlotte Holloway.

“Oh look.” She forced a smile. “Rand’s here. Isn’t that great, Stef?”

I just stared at her.

She smiled wider.

I scowled.

“Okay, fine,” she said sharply, because she felt guilty, and we both knew it. “I lied. My brother will in fact be at my wedding.” She grabbed my bicep tightly, making sure I couldn’t go anywhere. “But this weekend isn’t about you, it’s about me and Ben. You’re not here for fun; you’re here to keep us both sane.”

I shot her a look.

“Stefan Michael Joss,” she snapped, using my whole name, which she never did. “You will stop being annoyed this instant! This is my wedding, for crissakes!”

But she had sworn up, down, and sideways that her brother and I would not cross paths. If she had never brought it up, I would have prepared myself, but as it was, I thought he had to stay home and brand something or round something up or shoot something.

“Like I was really going to get married without Rand. How is that even possible? He’s the head of my family, Stef.”

Since when did she care?

“Use your head, Stef. We both know you didn’t actually think you were getting out of here without having to see Rand.”

But I had, because she had promised.

“He lives, like, an hour away, Stef. Did you seriously think he wasn’t going to come?”

“You promised me he was too busy to leave the ranch.” I repeated what she’d said to me over a month ago when I had been hedging.

“I lied, obviously.”

I arched an eyebrow for her.

“I’m sorry for lying, but you can’t leave. Your name is on the damn wedding program.”

She had a point. Two hundred had been printed, and they weren’t cheap. I knew because she had told me a thousand times—lots of handmade banana leaf paper and ribbon.

“And besides, you have that work thing tomorrow.”

I growled at her.

“Quit. I know you and Rand can be civil for the next four days. It won’t kill you.”

I wasn’t so sure.

Ten years ago, Charlotte Holloway had walked into my dorm room at Arizona State University and announced that she was my roommate. Since…


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