A Mountain Haven Novel, Book 2
A rugged mountain-man, a girl next door, and a fling that will give them the adventure of a lifetime.
I don’t do small town, country living. The hustle and bustle of New York pumps through my veins. Still, when a dear friend invited me to stand up in her wedding, I decided to embrace all Colorado had to offer. I was expecting mountainous terrain and outdoor adventures. Instead, I found myself face to face with the ruggedly handsome Henry Rigby—a lumberjack fantasy come to life. It was supposed to be a short trip. Yet the time we spent together made New York seem farther and farther away...
As best man, I promised the groom I would show Kelsey a good time. I considered her one of my groomsmen responsibilities... until I saw her. Far from the high-maintenance New Yorker I expected, she was working that alluring girl next door look. Still, I had sworn off commitment and she had major trust issues. Feelings shouldn’t have factored into our time together. But, the vulnerability beneath her steadfast independence called to me. And, for the first time in a long time, I found myself regretting I couldn’t offer her the commitment she deserved.
Romance steamy enough to melt the Colorado snow comes to the small town of Telluride in the Mountain Haven Series, by Lea Coll!
+ Excerpt +
The trees cleared as the lodge came into view, the ever-present mountains the perfect backdrop. With a wraparound wood porch, an A-framed roof, stone chimneys, and large windows to showcase the view, I wasn’t sure what the right word for it was—impressive.
Everything faded—the dream job I’d applied for and the decision to take the Series 7 test—gave way to serenity. The feeling that there was something bigger and more important than what was going on in my life settled in my chest, spreading outward to my limbs, relaxing me.
Elle parked. “This will be the perfect escape for you.”
Sharp twinges pierced my heart like pins on a pincushion. At first, I thought I’d be bored taking off for a week and a half. Now, it didn’t seem long enough.
I opened the passenger side door, my boots crunching on the snow, the crisp air held the promise of more. Working as a clerk on the New York Stock Exchange, I was overdue for a reset. I was afraid to take time off, worried someone else would take over my position. Standing in front of the lodge, it was hard to care about what I’d left behind in New York. It was impossible to consider anything but what was in front of me.
“Henry,” Elle said as a man stepped down the porch steps, his arms outspread to welcome her.
After a brief hug, Elle pulled back, gesturing to me. “This is my friend, Kelsey Turner.”
“New York Kelsey.” His gravelly voice reverberated in my chest.
I stepped forward, my hand extended, trying to remember what Elle said about him. All I could remember was that he was Gray’s college friend who convinced him to move here and work at the vet clinic. “That’s right. It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Henry Rigby.” His gloved hand encased mine, his grip strong. Sandy blond hair, blue eyes, tan weather-roughened skin, and a scruff-lined chin as if he didn’t have the time or inclination to shave. He was rugged, the opposite of the men I’d met in New York. Where I’d been relaxed a second ago, everything suddenly sparked to life. My skin tingled with awareness, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. What was it about him?
“Henry is Gray’s friend from college, and the reason Gray moved here.” Elle curled a hand around his arm, her expression affectionate.
“Well then, we’re destined to be friends.” I was thrilled Elle met Gray. They were so good for each other.
Henry’s lips tipped into a smile, his eyes intent on me.
Looking away from the heat of his gaze, I said, “This place is beautiful. It’s a great location.”
“Thanks. We already had the cabins on my parents’ property. I wanted to renovate them, put them up for rent. Gray had other ideas.” Henry exchanged a smile with Elle.
“Gray convinced Henry to build the lodge, thinking some guests would prefer more luxurious accommodations.”
Henry turned to me, his expression earnest. “I want people to see what makes Telluride special. It’s not the town itself, the shops, or restaurants; it’s the mountains.”
Him. The word popped into my head without further thought. There were the mountains, the snow that seemed to hush the world around it, the crunch of the snow signaling life, and the tall pines. It all paled in comparison to this one man, his eyes swimming with the intensity of his dreams, his visions for the lodge, and his hopes for the guests.
“Telluride has its share of bed and breakfasts and inns. We’re hoping visitors will prefer the ranch feel. You can ride horses, hike, snowmobile, and ski or snowboard on the mountain.”
Elle’s voice brought me back to the conversation. My skin heated despite the cool air.
Henry’s cheeks were pink. “Elle’s wedding will be our first big event.”
“I can’t wait to see everything.” I meant the town, the countryside, and Elle’s wedding, but I also wanted to get to know Henry.
Was he content here in Telluride? Did he have another career before opening the lodge?
“Let’s get you checked in.” Henry led the way inside, stopping at the reception counter.
The interior was wood—the floors, walls, and beams—a large stone fireplace the centerpiece of one wall. Drawn to the large windows and the view at the back of the house, I wandered further into the room.
“I knew you’d love it here.” Elle’s voice came from behind me.
“Thanks for pushing me to come,” I said over my shoulder. Ever since Elle reached out to me a few months ago, we’d kept in touch. When she told me she was engaged and getting married, I was happy for her even though her goals seemed so out of reach―something happening to someone else, far from my reality. Now that I was here, Elle’s hand covering her still-flat belly, the gorgeous Colorado landscape filling my vision, I was curious. Was I happy with my life? Did I want more than a challenging career?
“We’ll clear out the furniture and have the wedding here.” Henry gestured around the room.
Without the furniture, the room was large enough for a small wedding party. Both Gray and Elle had small families, so there was no need for a big wedding.
“It’s perfect.” The only thing better would be to get married outside.
As if she’d read my mind, she added, “The weather’s too unpredictable this time of year to plan something outside. I’m happy with the snow in the background.”
“Your photographer could take some photographs outside. Is there a deck or a porch?”
Henry stood slightly behind Elle, observing us, his hands stuffed into his worn jeans. “There is.”
Elle looked from Henry to me. “I’m hoping you could work with Henry on some of the details for the wedding.”
Her tone was hesitant even though we’d discussed me coming early to assist.
My heart rate picked up. She hadn’t mentioned working with Henry. Smiling to cover my nerves, I said, “I’m happy to help.”
Being in her first trimester, Elle was exhausted.
Henry’s smile stiffened.
Was he worried about working with me?
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