Rosie smirks. “I don’t know, Buck. Right now I think Harper and I are mostly worried about our boy Dean Wilder, here,” she says, pointing to me. “About finding him a good, solid wife. And I don’t see how that’s going to happen in Seattle.”

Jaxon laughs. “Yeah, you don’t want some woman who can’t hack it in the woods.”


Rosie furrows her brow. “Buck tells me you weren’t always a mountain man yourself, Jaxon. Careful now.”

Jaxon runs his hand over his beard, shaking his head at us. “Yeah, but you and Harper have the right disposition for this life. Not every woman does, is all.”

“I’m right here, you know,” I tell them, raising an eyebrow at this crew who thinks they know what I need.

“We know, Wilder, we know.” Buck laughs, lifting his coffee to his mouth. “We just feel bad for you. Never getting laid, all by your lonesome up there in your tiny cabin.”

I laugh, “You guys are a bunch of fuckers, you know that?”

Rosie clucks her tongue. “Regardless, we know that you need a woman, but not some city-slicker girl who won’t play nice with us.”

“You’re telling me not to get laid when I’m in Seattle?” I shake my head, knowing I’d never tell Rosie this, but the prospect of getting laid tonight is half the reason I said I’d go.

“You can sleep with whomever, Wilder. I’m just saying, don’t knock anybody up that we haven’t approved.”

“She talks to you like that, too?” I ask Buck. He just grins like a lovesick puppy. Rosie winks at her husband before going back to the kitchen.

“You know she’s just giving you a hard time, right?” Buck says.

“The girls just want you to be happy,” Jaxon says. “And selfishly they want another friend. It’s lonely up here for them, too.”

Living in the mountains is great. I set my own hours, am my own boss, and work with the greatest guys I’ve ever known. But damn, Jaxon, my oldest friend, hit the nail on the goddamn head.

“I know, I know,” I tell them, before I take another drink of my coffee, knowing just how lonely it can be up here.

Damn, maybe I need to get off this mountain more than I thought.

I need to go get laid. And badly.



2

what?” I furrow my brows not understanding why my sister can’t just support me. That’s what I need. That’s all I’ve wanted. My family to have my back.

She takes a sip of her mimosa before answering. “It’s so tacky.”

We’re having brunch in a swanky Seattle bistro, something French and something expensive and she doesn’t seem to understand that we all aren’t married to stockbrokers living in posh waterfront homes. Some of us are just trying to pay rent and a reality TV show seems like the best offer I’ve seen lately.

“You are such a talented interior designer, and you’ll make more money updating the homes of my friends. That house you did for Alana was gorgeous.”

I frown. “Buying furniture for mansions is redundant. I want something more exciting.”

“Well, this reality show is a bad idea. Those shows always make someone out to be the villain. What if that person is you? Your entire career could be ruined.”

I take a deep breath; frustrated that she doesn’t understand me. “This show could pay my bills for the entire year.”

“Or you could just move into our spare bedroom and help watch Nicolette.”

My mouth is in a tight line. “You know I love helping with my niece, but I don’t want any handouts. I want to make it on my own.”

Anna spears a piece of pineapple, eyes narrowed. “Mom and Dad think it’s embarrassing. The idea of you flaunting around on television.”

“Mom and Dad could call and talk to me about it. If they had their way I’d already be married to a guy like Brent. And that’s not going to happen. Ever.”

My sister’s husband is the last sort of guy I want to be with. I want a man who cares about more than his bank account.

Anna purses her lips. “You may think being married to Brent sounds like your worst nightmare, but he is able to support me and Nicolette. That counts for an awful lot.”

Anna married for money, not love. Just like our mother. And we may be family, but our priorities have always been different.

“It’s out of the question.” I fold my napkin and set it on the table. “I want my freedom, and I need some money in order to do that. So I’m going to try and get this gig.”

Anna shakes her head, confused. “Don’t you want a family? A husband? A baby?”

I shrug; because of course, I want those things. But I also want them on my terms. In my own time.

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