Book 2 in the Family Forever series
General Release Date: 25th January 2022
Word Count: 31,215
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, FRIENDS TO LOVERS, MEN IN UNIFORM, MULTICULTURAL
Going home can be the best medicine.
Country boy Colum Boyle has been home to work the family farm for a while now. He’s shocked when he’s sent to pick up his sister’s best friend for a wedding, and he realizes he’s never gotten over her.
Veterinarian Xaya Asher isn’t sure all the mental preparation in the world has her ready to face Colum again. The sparks between them are combustible and soon the flames erupt.
Do these two have what it takes to overcome the obstacles before them?
“Line two, Dr. Asher.”
Jogging up the hallway from the back, Xaya waved a hand in acknowledgment to her practice manager as she passed the woman’s room.
The morning had been crazy and she was trying to get to her office for a moment of rest and food. That was the main thing. The half a bagel she’d inhaled at the ass-crack of dawn this morning hadn’t been what she needed to keep up with the expenditure of energy she’d expelled so far today.
“We ordered out—there’s a sandwich on your desk because I know you didn’t bring anything in with you.”
“I love you, Mrs. Connie.” And it was true, she loved her staff.
“Yeah, yeah,” the manager teased back.
With the door closed behind her, she walked to her desk and sat with a groan. The hot roast beef sandwich tempted her and the smells rising from it had her stomach chiming in on its opinion of how this should go. Phone or food first?
She kicked off her shoes once she’d taken her seat, stole two bites just to make her mouth happy, then she picked up the phone.
“Xaya? It’s Avery.”
She frowned and shook her head before the smile overtook her. “Girl, what are you doing calling me on this line? I have a cell phone of which I’m fairly certain you have the number.”
“I wanted to give you a heads-up before I start hammering away at you on the cell.”
“I’m putting you on speaker so I can eat.” After doing just that, she took another big bite of her food and moaned in contentment.
“You sure you’re eating food and not getting dick?”
She snorted. “Positive. Now come on, tell me what this is all about. Why do I need a heads-up and what’s it going to cost me?”
“A plane ticket.”
Sucking gravy off her thumb, she scowled. “Everyone okay?”
A deep breath. “Yes. Lani’s getting married.”
“Oh my God!” Xaya clapped her hands. “This is incredible. She found someone we’re all okay with?”
“I miss you, Xaya. I love how you need to make sure you’re going to be okay with him as well, but yes. We do love him. His name is Sanders and no, not as in Colonel.”
She snorted because that was exactly where her mind had ventured. “Okay, so we approve of him, good. Why do I need a heads-up? I would love to come for the wedding. She’s like my own little sister. Where is it? Maui? Baja? Cabo? Paris? Italy? Bahamas?”
“You know Lani. It’s home.”
Her fork clattered to the desk, leaving behind a smear of mashed potatoes.
Was that her voice that squeaked when she asked that?
Xaya sighed. The denial built on her tongue. She wasn’t ready to head back to the small town she’d grown up in down south. Conception. School just hadn’t been a blast for her and to return was not something she wanted to do.
“I know,” Avery said quickly. “You didn’t have a lot of fun here, despite us having fun. It wasn’t easy for you but you did it. You survived. Lani wanted me to ask you and I’m willing to cash in any and all chips I have with you to get you here for her wedding. It’s all she wants, so what’s it going to take?”
“Nothing.” As soon as the word left her mouth she knew it was true. She would do anything for Avery, her best friend outside of her cousins, and Lani was also included in that.
“Text me the information and I’ll make the arrangements. You know there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Lani.” And that was true. She and Avery’s family had been fiercely protective of that particular Boyle sibling. “Still going to cost you, though.”
“What?” she demanded in false outrage. “Are you sure?”
“More and more so with each passing second. And you better make it worth my while.”
“Okay, how about this… I give you one hot—your words not mine—brother of mine, Colum Boyle.”
If she’d had any food in her mouth she would have spit it out. Or choked. Colum had been five years their senior and, good Lord, he’d starred in all of her fantasies. No one in school had been able to compare to him.
“Pretty sure you’re pimping out your brother and I’m not sure he’s going to be okay with that.”
“Doesn’t matter what he thinks. This is about me making sure we’re square.”
Xaya laughed. “You totally mean that, don’t you?”
“You can’t sell your brother to be my sex slave for the time I’m up there.”
“I never mentioned slavery. More like an escort.”
She dug back into her food, highly amused by the conversation. “How about we discuss payment that doesn’t include you selling off a family member for favors?”
“You’d take him.”
“Not even necessary to discuss this because we’re not using him as money.” Fuck yes, she’d take him. Especially if he’d only improved on what she remembered from the last time she’d seen him, right before he’d gone and joined the Marines.
“Dr. Asher. Hit and run inbound. They’ll be here in ten minutes.”
“Thanks, Melody.” She stole one last bite and took a drink. “Sorry to cut this short, Avery.”
“I know, I heard. I’ll text you the deets. And, Xaya?”
“Yeah?” She stood and readjusted her lab coat before swiping her cell and sticking it in her back pocket.
“Thanks for coming.”
“I meant what I said, Avery. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She hung up the phone and ran out of her office.
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About the Author
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Aliyah Burke is an avid reader and is never far from pen and paper (or the computer). She is happily married to a career military man. They are owned by six Borzoi. She spends her days at the day job, writing, and working with her dogs. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached here. She can also be found on Facebook or Twitter: @AliyahBurke96. And Pinterest.
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