I’m a sucker for a good Christmas story, and so when I saw that the 2nd book in Brenda’s Whiskey Creek series was going to take place over Christmas I was super excited as I have really come to enjoy this series.
In this clip, Cheyenne meets the man she’s going to fall in love with—a true diamond in the rough. He’s the last man she’d ever expect to be interested in, especially because she already thinks she’s in love with the ideal guy:
“Enjoying the fresh air?”
The question came from behind Cheyenne and had a sardonic edge.
When she turned, she saw a man leaning up against the cinderblock building that housed the public restrooms. With his face cast in the shadow of the overhang, she couldn’t immediately tell who he was. It took a second for her to identify the voice but her memory eventually conjured a name.
She was looking at one of the Amos boys—Dylan, the oldest. “It’s a bit chilly.” She thought the conversation would end there. Presley knew the Amos’s; she didn’t. But he spoke again.
“Who let you out of the house?”
Propping one leg against the wall behind him, he lit a cigarette, which illuminated his face. “Presley said you never go anywhere.”
“That’s not true.”
He paused before taking another drag. “She also said you’re too uptight to have any fun.”
“Why would she tell you that?” Cheyenne couldn’t imagine the Amos’s talking about her at all. She was as different from them as night and day, and that was apparent long before any type of conversation started.
“I promised her if she’d bring you along someday I’d be sure to show you a good time. But she said you wouldn’t let me, that you’ll probably remain a virgin till you die.”
Rumors about her lack of sexual experience had passed through town before, along with plenty of speculation on whether or not it could be true. But she was surprised he’d confront her with it like this. “My personal life is none of your business.”
His lips shifted to one side as he blew out a mouthful of smoke. “Doesn’t stop me from being curious.”
“Presley must’ve been high. That doesn’t make her particularly reliable.” She wasn’t sure why she bothered to dignify his remark with a response, except that she didn’t want him poking fun of her innocence.
“I gotta take what I can get.”
She shot him a disgruntled look. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She’s the only person we have in common,” he said with a shrug. “Anyway, she’s always high when she’s at our place. That’s why she comes over. She’s looking for a party. And my brothers are more than happy to give her one.”
Chey continued to grimace. It didn’t help to have her worst fears confirmed. “As I thought.”
“You blame us for your sister’s addiction?”
He’d obviously picked up on her tone.
“You could be a better influence.”
“It’s not my job to set her straight. She makes her own choices.”
“I’m not happy about the drug use.”
“I’ll make a note of that.” A laugh rumbled from deep in his throat. “Your lack of approval changes everything.”
Stung by his flippant response, she grew angry. “I hope no one’s taking advantage of her while she’s there. Because, if I find out that’s the case—”
“You’ll what?” He shoved off the wall to saunter closer. He wasn’t bad looking, but he wasn’t particularly good looking, either. He had a wiry build with broad shoulders and plenty of muscle, apparent even beneath his denim jacket and jeans. She couldn’t find any fault with his body. It was his face that bothered her. With an abundance of angles, a pair of cruel, dark eyes and a jagged scar on one temple, he looked…dangerous. That he was reckless and had a history of getting picked up by the police only added to her sense that it was better to keep her distance.
“I’ll do whatever I can to protect her,” she said, folding her arms to look more resolute.
“Relax. Nothing’s going to happen to her at my place,” he responded. “But, like I said, she makes her own decisions. And there isn’t anything either one of us can do about that.”
When he continued to advance on her, she glanced around. It was three o’clock on a Sunday. She could reasonably expect to find other people in the park, even on a cold afternoon like this one. A few dog walkers, if nothing else. But they were alone and being alone with Dylan Amos made her uncomfortable. He had a powerful presence that made others give him a wide berth. No one wanted to cross the Amos boys, especially the biggest and the baddest.
But Cheyenne was in no mood to skitter away. “Are you the one she sleeps with when she’s there?”
He stopped a foot or so shy of her. “Me? No. I’ve never been interested in Presley.”
“Why not?” She lifted her chin.
With a laugh for how quickly she’d grown defensive, he shook his head. “You don’t know whose side you’re on.”
“I’m not on yours.”
“Your sister’s a lost soul. Deep down, I think you’d have to agree with me on that.”
“And you’re not?”
He gazed at the end of his cigarette before propping it in his mouth and letting it dangle. “We aren’t talking about me.”
“Maybe we should be. Who are you to point a finger at anyone else?”
He took another long drag before flicking away the ash. He looked like such a bad ass with that scar and slightly crooked nose. “You’re the one making judgments. But it’s nice to see you’ve got some spunk. After what you’ve been through, that surprises me. I’m impressed.”
She hadn’t been trying to impress him. She preferred he give her a fight. She had to play nice with everyone else—her best friends, her sister, her dying mother. It wasn’t right or fair for her to behave any other way. But there were moments when the rage and frustration she’d known since youth threatened to consume her, made her want to rant and rave and throw whatever she could lay hands on. She felt that way now, as if she was on the brink of letting all that negative emotion spew out.
He seemed braced for the worst, as if he was poking a rattlesnake with a stick to see if it would strike. Of all the people in Whiskey Creek, she thought he could take it if she unleashed. But she didn’t. They were virtually strangers. She had no right to go after him any more than anyone else.
“No comment?” he prompted, his eyes narrowing.
“You don’t what to hear what I have to say,” she grumbled.
He tilted his head to look in her face, since she’d turned it away. “Why not?”
“It’s not polite.”
“Far as I’m concerned, polite is boring.”
“Fine. I want to slug somebody, okay?”
Dylan didn’t draw back in horror. He didn’t laugh at her, either. “It’s a wonder you haven’t done that by now. I don’t think anyone would blame you.” He leaned in to tweak her chin and lowered his voice at the same time. “But take it from me, sweet pea, there are better ways of working off your frustration.”
She knew she should let it go at that, but spoke before she could stop herself. “Like…”
He grinned. “You ever want me to show you what it feels like to have a man in your bed, you know where to find me.”
Cheyenne blinked in surprise. She’d never spoken directly to Dylan Amos before, not more than a hello when they passed at school over a decade ago—or maybe a nod of acknowledgement when they bumped into each other on the street. She resented him and his family for adding to the problems of her already confused sister and did all she could to avoid them. So this was essentially their first conversation. Had he really just propositioned her out of nowhere? “You don’t actually think—”
“That you’d give me a chance?” Smoke curled from his nostrils. “Why not? Joe certainly isn’t stepping up to give you what you need.”
Cheyenne felt her jaw drop. He knew how she felt about Gail’s brother? How? “What makes you think I want anything from Joe?” She’d quickly schooled her features in an effort to keep up the charade, but he wasn’t buying her act.
He squinted through the smoke drifting lazily up from the butt of his cigarette. “It’s tough to miss, for anyone who’s really looking,” he added.
Why was he looking? “I don’t understand.”
Suddenly, the intensity on his face disappeared behind a mask of indifference—his usual expression. “Forget I said anything.”
Tossing his cigarette on the grass, he stubbed it out with his boot and strode away. But she couldn’t let what he’d said go at that. She jogged after him, catching him before he could reach the parking lot. “Wait! How do you know? Did Presley tell you about Joe? Has she guessed?”
When he turned, those cruel eyes swept over her—except, up close, they weren’t all that cruel. They actually held enough blatant appreciation to send a tingle down her spine, and for the first time she understood why Dylan Amos appealed to so many women. It wasn’t necessarily his looks; it was a combination of raw sexuality, a surfeit of energy, a dose of fierce pride and a certain amount of unpredictability.
“Well?” she prompted.
“I would guess she doesn’t, since she’s never mentioned it,” he said. “Does that make you feel less exposed?”
Choosing not to tackle the “exposed” question, Cheyenne grabbed his arm, then realized she was actually touching him and let go. “So how is it you, of all people…”
She never finished the question. She didn’t need to.
“Maybe I’ve been watching you a little closer than anyone else.” With that he crossed to his motorcycle, which, she wasn’t surprised to see, he’d parked illegally.
“Why would you bother?” she called out.
“Why do you think?” he replied. Then he pulled on his helmet and started his bike, leaving her staring after him as he turned around and opened the throttle.
After growing up in cheap motels, moving from town to town with her sister and mother, Cheyenne Christensen is grateful to be out on her own. She’s grateful, too, for the friends she found once her family settled in California. They’ve made a huge difference in her life. But she’s troubled by the mystery of her earliest memories, most of which feature a smiling blonde woman. A woman who isn’t her mother…
Although Cheyenne’s repeatedly asked for explanations, those who could help aren’t talking. Cheyenne is set on finding answers, but without so much as a birth certificate, it isn’t easy.
Things get even more complicated when her closest friend is attracted to the man Cheyenne has secretly loved for years. For Eve’s sake, she decides to step aside, which lands her right in the arms of Dylan Amos, oldest and baddest of the hell-raising Amos brother. He represents everything she’s determined to leave behind. But maybe he’s not quite what he seems. Maybe her happiness depends on whether she can take a leap of faith—and trust her heart.