The Kelly brothers have a big problem: according to their father's will, all five of them must be married by Christmas or risk losing the charity they started with their father, along with their portion of the billion-dollar family fortune.
Up against seemingly insurmountable odds, J.J., Seth, Ryan, Clark and Parker are not men who will back down from a fight. Each book is a clean romantic adventure in how each brother deals with their own challenge of saving their livelihoods and their hearts.
The whole series is on Kindle Unlimited and I have one better! This month only, each book will be going on sale for ONLY .99¢. You can stay informed about special offers and sales when you subscribe to my newsletter or follow my facebook page. I'll be letting you know when these books go on sale and you can grab up these fun, holiday stories for a buck each before Halloween.
This week, on Thursday, you can purchase my book, Her Quiet Billionaire Groom... read on to find out more.
“This is insane!” Seth Kelly loaded his profile picture to the tenth dating site that he’d joined that day. And for the tenth time, had filled in his information: 6’3” height, reddish-blond hair, blue eyes, and that he enjoyed riding horses at sunset.
Who cared about all this anyway?
Mary said he was being stupid when he put that he enjoyed sleeping in late on Saturdays and wrestling with his boxer, Maxwell. He did enjoy riding his horses, but not necessarily at sunset. What difference did any of this make, anyway?
The whole idea of finding a wife, not a girlfriend, but a wife by Christmas was totally and completely ridiculous! Christmas was less than a couple of months away. Impossible!
Time was wasting. He couldn’t afford to not tackle this…whatever this task was that Dad had set the Kelly brothers to do in the will. An idiotic, impossible…task, he thought with such bitterness his mouth began to pucker.
Profession? Oh great.
Seth sat back, scratching his chin. He needed to shave but didn’t feel like it. One of the many reasons he enjoyed being a bachelor was not having to answer to anyone. Not having to please someone else. His animals didn’t care. Maxwell didn’t care if he was scruffy. The dopey dog probably liked him more when he was scruffy and covered in sweat and dirt.
His fingers tapped out--Animal trainer.
That pretty much covered what he did in a nutshell. Some people called him the best dog whisperer in Colorado. Seth grinned, his chest puffing out a little. He was slowly climbing his way up.
But why should he also write all that out? Honestly, would any women care that he ran a rescue shelter for mistreated and retired animal performers? Not to mention the poor abandoned furbabies left along the side of the road near the ranch?
One of the reasons he’d decided to focus more on helping people train their pets was so that there would be fewer animals ending up mistreated or neglected.
Now his favorite charity project was in danger of losing its funding if he didn’t find a wife, of all things.
Insanity! That’s what this was. Complete and utter craziness. Seth had a feeling that the old man was losing his crackers during his last days.
A pang of remorse stabbed Seth in the gut for being so callous. Jack Kelly wasn’t crazy. He was a powerhouse rancher and entrepreneur. He’d turned the KB Ranch into a million-dollar empire in only a few years.
Seth sat back, admiring the picture once it finished loading. It wasn’t the most current, but it captured his blue eyes and the golden tint to his red hair. He was clean-shaven in this picture. Hopefully, that would help. Also, he wore a suit instead of his usual jean jacket and a flannel shirt.
“Not bad.” Any gal would be lucky to have him.
Seth cringed. Right. He worried over any woman he’d find who would be willing to marry him with two months’ notice.
“This is impossible!” He buried his face in the palms of his hands, trying to rub away the doubt and frustration, but failing.
“What’s impossible?” Mary Raincloud asked as she entered the kitchen where Seth sat at the large pine table working on his profile for all the dating sites. Mary and her husband Nathan had worked for the Kelly Rescue Ranch for the past three years. Nathan was half Ute and a natural at working with animals. Mary had come from New Mexico and moved to Colorado with Nate when he was hired to work on the Kelly Ranch fifteen years ago.
He’d been a friend of the Kelly family for as long as Seth could remember. Nate was good with horses and loved all animals as much as Seth did. Both had easily agreed to come work for him. Mary was in charge of his scheduling and keeping up his animal training website while helping him manage the house.
She came to stand behind him, looking over his shoulder when he didn’t answer and saw the row of tabs open in his browser. “Since when did you decide you wanted to start dating?”
Was it safe to tell Mary? He was supposed to keep this quiet from potential mates. But he had to tell someone. “In dad’s will, he said we all had to be married by Christmas or we’d lose the funding for our charities. If I lose the funding for the rescue shelter, I’ll lose everything I’ve worked so hard to do here. The training program, the extra land to house rescues … all of it.” He turned to face her. “But you can’t tell a soul. Not even Nate!”
“So.” Her brows shot up over her coffee brown eyes. “You have to find a wife in what…two months?”
It sounded just as ridiculous coming from her as it did in his head. Seth nodded as he ran his hand through his thick hair in frustration.
Mary’s mouth dropped open. She glanced once again at the computer. “How many dating sites have you signed up for?”
“I’ve found ten that cover this area. I extended it all the way to Denver. Maybe if I widen—”
“Have you lost your ever-loving mind?”
Seth slammed his fist down on the table. “What choice do I have? It’s not like I have a big pool to fish from here, now do I? This whole thing is…so stupid. You know, when we were all together last Christmas, he’d warned us that he wanted us to take finding wives more seriously. I thought it was a joke, but…”
“Jack Kelly never joked around. You know that.” Mary clicked her tongue and shook her finger in his face. “You don’t even like people. You’re not ready for a wife!”
“Right, Captain Obvious. I’m fine with my life as it is. I love my work. I enjoy helping people with their animals. I’ve been getting more contracts with film and television companies that need me to help their animal trainers. I’m hoping that with proper training, the animals will be more successful. Everything has been going great and now Dad drops this bomb in my lap. In all of our laps. My brothers are nearly as freaked out as I am.”
Mary patted his shoulder. “Take a deep breath, mijo. I have a niece in New Mexico. Perhaps I can talk her into coming—?”
“No thanks, Mary.” He draped his arm around her shoulders. “I’ll work this out. We Kellys make our own way. What I need you to do is cancel all my appointments for the next month. I’ll need to put my extra time and energy into scheduling as many dates as I can until I find someone, anyone, who might…” He rubbed at his face, knowing this was impossible.
There has been one woman that he’d thought might be the one back in college. But during his sophomore year, a prestigious veterinary college in Texas had offered him a grant if he moved down south to finish his studies.
The move meant he’d have to leave her behind. They had a terrible argument and she hadn’t spoken to him again. His fault for stupidly saying that he couldn’t be blamed because she wasn’t qualified to follow him to the new school. She’d taken his remark completely wrong. After throwing her drink in his face, then the glass at his head, which he’d narrowly dodged, she’d stormed out of his dorm room and refused to answer any of his calls or messages. Matter-of-fact, when he’d went to her dorm to speak to her, she was gone, having left early at the end of the semester.
She didn’t even return to her family’s home when he checked there for her. It was like she’d disappeared off the face of the earth!
Finally, he’d given up and made the move to the new school having to leave her behind for good.
Mary shook her head in sympathy and patted his shoulder. “I’ll go over your schedule. I don’t think you have too many appointments since the holidays are upon us.”
“Good. Don’t schedule anything else. When women start to respond, I’ll do my best to keep up with—”
“Ah, let me help. Even if I think it’s crazy, like your old man, I want to help you. It is time for you to settle down. To find someone who will help you build a life here. Maybe this is a good thing. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.”
“Mysterious, Mary. Not in absurd ways. That was reserved for my father. I can’t imagine God would want anything to do with this mess.”
She shook her finger at him again. “You’d be surprised, mijo. We are talking about a Lord who had a man swallowed by a whale. Who parted a sea. Who gave an old man and woman a baby when they were nearly a hundred!” Her full lips pursed as she bobbed her head. “He isn’t practical, but He is proficient. I’ll be praying that you find the perfect match. The good Lord might surprise you. Give Him a chance.”
Seth had been brought up in a strongly religious home. He knew God worked in people’s lives, but this… was crazy. They were talking about the person he’d join his life with, have children with. He couldn’t take this lightly and grasp onto the first female who agreed to this crazy plan.
* * * *
Noella Combs carried her vanilla coconut milk latte with an extra shot of espresso to the tiny round table that overlooked the busy street. Closing her eyes, she took a careful sip and breathed out a sigh of relief.
“Please let me have twenty-thirty minutes to just sit here. Please?” She sent up the whispered prayer. The Dynamic Duo was at the photographers. She’d promised to bring back a coffee for the kind receptionist who’d told her to leave the duo to her. They were the experts at this sort of thing.
Noella hadn’t looked back once after reaching the studio door. If she didn’t need the duo so badly to secure her slot on the local news channel, then she might consider putting the brats up for adoption. The older they got, the more turmoil they caused her.
She held the hot mug in both hands, relishing the warmth. Outside, snow began to drift from the gray sky. Wonderful. The weathermen hadn’t predicted any storms for Denver, had they? She’d tried to listen to the forecast, but Dottie had knocked the cereal box off the counter and Noella had another big mess to clean up. If it wasn’t one thing….
Don’t think about them! Just enjoy this moment of peace while you can.
What she needed to do was go over her notes for the big meeting she’d have soon with the producers. There were two other prospects they were looking at to take over the Relationships Made Easy segment of the news show. She was the top pick. So far.
The ding-dong of her cell-phone sounded from her satchel. She ignored it. Let the answering service take a message. She was determined to enjoy this moment with no interruptions. The voice mail notification dinged. Noella smiled and sipped her drink. Then the phone started ringing again.
The ringing stopped. She breathed out a sigh until the phone proclaimed, Message alert! Message alert!
Please, Lord. Just a few more minutes.
Message alert! Message alert!
Noella set the mug down so hard, coffee sloshed over her fingers. “Great! Just great.” She grabbed a napkin to wipe them off before reaching for her phone that started ringing again.
“Now what?” Deep down she knew but had hoped they would be good. The photographer said she had lots of treats to entice them and would make the shoot fun.
Maybe the call was from her sister who was expecting a baby soon. Natalie already had two kids who had just entered preschool. This latest one was unexpected, but still a welcome surprise.
Noella dug into her bag until she found the vibrating device and yanked it out along with several receipts and peppermint candies that spilled onto the floor.
“Oh man!” She flipped the phone’s case and her heart plummeted when she saw the number. “This is Noella, are you already—”
“I need you back here right this instant! Are you on your way?”
Noella cringed and left her half mug of coffee delight. Scooping up the debris from her bag, she shoved everything into another pocket and hurried out to her SUV. “Yes, I’m on my way. What happ—?”
“Stop it!” the photographer yelled. “My lights! Stop!” The line went dead.
Oh no! This wasn’t going to be good at all. Noella raced down the road, running through two “pink” lights and one very red one on her way. She took up two parking spots in front of the photographer’s building.
Only the best studio for this shoot. Noella’s manager had insisted on getting shots of the duo in a natural setting, along with them together with a few props.
They were the heart of Noella’s career and why she’d climbed so fast on social media. People absolutely loved the Dynamic Duo, as she’d dubbed them when they were puppies and so cute nobody could resist them. Now they were fully grown, except now they acted like a couple of rebellious teenagers.
The dogs had belonged to her sister, Natalie, at first. When she and her husband wanted to take a family vacation to Disney World, Noella had volunteered to watch the puppies and stay in her sister’s magnificent house. It was amazing. Her husband was an engineer and made big bucks.
Noella tried not to be jealous at all.
It was hard sometimes.
While watching over the puppies, she’d taken a lot of photos of them playing together. Then an idea hit about using them as props for the relationship articles she posted. She created a bunch of funny memes using the pair and her subscriptions sky-rocketed. Before she knew it, her blog and video chats were being featured in the local newspaper and people were sharing her bits of relationship wisdom all over social media.
Then her sister had found out she was pregnant and was going to put the dogs up for adoption. They were too much with a growing family. Noella couldn’t let them go, not after how popular and adored they’d become to her readers. So, she’d offered to take them, not realizing her apartment was no place for two active and growing dogs.
Noella rushed into the building and stopped in the front area to listen. Where they outside? A bark came from the back of the building. She rushed down the hall, looking in each room until she reached a wider area that looked as if a tornado had blown through. The sheets used as backdrops were laying on the floor in shreds. Lights had been knocked over. The bag of treats had been ripped open and scattered all over the white floor that was now covered in muddy paw prints the size of tea saucers.
Noella closed her eyes, groaning at the destruction. This was really going to cost her. Great. Just great. “Dash? Dot? Come to Mama.” Not that she really cared to be considered the beasts’ mother, but it was what they responded to because of Natalie.
Her sister had told the dogs when Noella had packed everything into her SUV, that she was their new Mama. It was amazing what they understood, and pretended to not understand.
“Come!” She called out again, her firm tone wobbling as tears rushed her eyes. What was she going to do with them? They’d become completely uncontrollable. But her whole show would center around them or she’d not have a contract at all.
It was totally unfair. She was a good relationship therapist, but her fame had come from the puppies, that were now dogs of great proportions. They ate everything in sight. She needed this job just to keep up their feeding and care.
The photographer entered the back door, her clothes stained with mud, her black hair a tangled mess and her glasses sitting at a lopsided angle on her face. Noella realized that one of the temples was broken off and sticking from the woman’s shirt pocket.
“I’m here,” Noella said with a plastered wide smile. “I…uh…did you manage to get any good pictures?”
The photographer chewed on her bottom lip as her hands went to her hips. “I should call my lawyer.”
“No please,” Noella held up her clasped hands. “I’ll pay for whatever damages they caused. I’m so sorry. But you did say you were good with dogs. You said it was okay to leave and grab a coffee, didn’t you?”
The woman glared through her broken glasses; her fists clenched at her sides. “I said it was nice of you to offer to run down and grab us a coffee. I didn’t expect you to abandon me to those monsters! And then to ignore my calls! What kind of owner are you, anyway?” She looked around. “And where’s my mocha frappe?”
“I…uh…you called before I could—” Noella tried to come up with some kind of excuse but was never good at lying.
“Just get your beasts and leave. I’m done. I’ll send you a bill for the damage. If you don’t pay up quick, you’ll definitely hear from my lawyer.”
Noella’s shoulders sank as she nodded. “Where are they?” She found their pink and blue leashes amongst the rubble of backgrounds and upturned equipment.
“In the yard, destroying my rhododendrons.” She stepped aside and gestured to the beautiful garden area where the two Danes were joyfully digging a hole to China. Every time they got around soft dirt, they wanted to wallow in it.
Noella didn’t bother calling for the Danes. They loved playing catch-me-if-you-can when she wanted them to come to her.
While they were busy destroying the beautiful flower bushes, Noella snapped on their leashes then pulled them toward the side gate. They weren’t even allowed back in the studio.
Just as well, both were covered in mulch and mud.
“Come on, let’s go for a ride.”
At the word, ride, they both barked with glee and dragged her toward the car where they waited anxiously for her to open the back door. Dottie, a Harlequin Dane, hopped into the back seat and shook the mud from her spotted black and white coat. Great. Just great. Let’s add the cost of a car detailing to get the mud off her leather seats to the growing bill she owed after today’s fiasco.
“If you two monsters weren’t so important to my job, I’d send you both to the pound.” Not that she really meant that.
Dash, a black and white Mantle Dane, rode in the very back. She slammed the back down on his contrite face. They always seemed to know when she was upset, especially Dash with his tender heart. Dot was too sassy for her own good and it took a lot for her to act as if she was sorry for her misdeeds.
Noella sighed and headed around to the driver’s side. How much trouble was this going to get her into with her business manager? She didn’t even want to consider it.
She’d have to come up with some way to turn this whole mess around or the contract would be given to someone else who wasn’t such a cost risk.
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.
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