in Brandon Morgan’s blood. His family owns the best bourbon brand in the
country—or it will be with his marketing genius. And after meeting the fiery
daughter of a tequila distillery owner, he’s never been more sure.
barrels, her tequila. It’s a match made in heaven. But only if he can keep his
hands off the owner’s daughter…and his secrets to himself.
will do anything to keep Little Possum afloat, but one look at Brandon’s
gorgeous dimples and Lesa knows two things for sure: forever is not in the
cards with this man and he’s way too sexy to resist for long.
things… Brandon is hiding something, and she’ll need to get a lot closer to
figure it out and save her family’s legacy.
Brandon Morgan stood
in front of the Travel Adventures office in Puerto Vallarta and stared down at
Mexico’s youngest extreme watersports guide.
Call him Mr.
Excitement with as much sarcasm as you like, but he was on vacation, and he’d
choose the fun. The “high adventure” he’d signed up for was as appealing as a
trip to the dentist. For fillings. Without anesthetic. And it was his
vacation, damn it. If he had to leave his cozy, air-conditioned stateroom and
its wifi connection, he was going to live it up in a way that made him happy.
He looked at the kid
and said, “Sorry, bud. I think I’m gonna contribute to my life insurance for a
few more years. I’ll pass on ski-surfing today.”
you’ve already paid for the trip. If you join the tequila tour, you’ll have to
pay again.” And I’ll lose the generous tip you’d give me for bringing you
back alive. If I bring you back alive.
At least that’s what
Brandon figured he meant, so he gave the kid a few bucks and escaped into the
liquor store that had a sign reading, “Tequila
tour! Cruise guests welcome!”
Before he reached
the smiling attendant behind the counter, a familiar label caught his eye: Blue Mountain Bourbon, Dangerous Dave’s Eight
Ball. Sweet. His distribution team had managed to get it out,
right on time. It wasn’t available on the ship, so he snatched a bottle from
the shelf and carried it back to the cashier.
“This bottle, and
one ticket for the tequila tour.” He could skip the tequila tasting—yech—and
have bourbon. No cactus water for him.
“You’d better hurry,
amigo,” the attendant told him. “The bus is leaving.”
Brandon threw a
handful of bills at the guy and sprinted from the shop, across the crumbling
roadway, and leaped onto the bus filled with grinning, sunburned tourists.
As the doors shut
behind him, he fell into an empty seat next to an elderly woman with purple
hair. She didn’t glance away from the iPad she held to the window, videoing the
scenery, which in this case, consisted of a broken-down truck in front of a
store claiming to have “Authentic Aztec silver jewelry at rock bottom closeout
prices.” Brandon would have to remember to stop by there to pick up something
for his mom’s birthday. Mom would appreciate authentic rock-bottom-discounted
jewelry. After all, she’d loved—and still occasionally wore—the vending machine
plastic gemstone ring he’d given her when he was eight.
The bus jerked with
a hiss of air brakes and jolted forward.
“Welcome to the
Pequeño Zarigüeya tour! Sit back and enjoy the ride as you enjoy these hits of
Mexican radio.” The music that fuzzed through ancient speakers was nothing that
had been produced before his parents were in diapers, but then, he wasn’t a big
connoisseur of south-of-the-border pop. Maybe they did play a lot of
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass here these days.
He’d made the right
choice to bail on the extreme sports and could instead fantasize about mergers
and acquisitions to his heart’s content. He slid the bottle of bourbon into his
drawstring backpack and tucked it between his knees, grateful to have escaped
another freaking adventure.
challenged Brandon to “get the hell off the cruise ship and do something
interesting. Meet some women instead of hiding in your cabin to work, for
Chrissakes,” so for the last few stops he’d done things that his family and
friends deemed exciting. He’d gone on a zip line tour of the rain forest in
Costa Feo. And spent the next day swallowing Advil. He’d gone kayaking down the
Rio Tehuantepec and wound up with mosquito bites the size of dinner plates. At
least he was pretty sure he didn’t have Zika virus, always a bonus. Plus, he
could check “Stretch outside of comfort zone” off of his corporate leadership
self-improvement list. But he’d had enough.
tour—this was what interested him. He wouldn’t pretend that he was going to
drink instead of work—as one of the sons of a prize-winning bourbon distilling
family, sniffing samples of tequila and touring a distillery was work.
It was market research and checking out the competition, and he loved it.
“Hey! You. Mr. Cutie
Brandon grunted when
a sharp elbow dug into his ribs.
He sucked in a deep
breath and looked at his seat mate, who grinned at him. Her lipstick-smeared
teeth reminded him of a vampire ready for the second course.
VanMacintosh. From Alberta, Florida.”
“Uh, Brandon Morgan.
Crockett County, Kentucky.”
“You a coal miner or
a tobacco farmer?”
“Just kidding. I
know there’s also horses and hillbillies in K.Y. I’m a hairdresser,” she
rasped, without waiting for him to elaborate. “Was going to go on this trip
with my husband for our second honeymoon, but he went and died on me.”
“I’m sorry,” Brandon
told her after a beat. “So you’re taking this trip in his memory, that’s nice.”
“Nah.” She wheezed
with laughter. “He died fifteen years ago. I was bumping uglies with his
brother Si for a while, thought I might get him to come along, but then he
died, too. I’m on this trip hoping to find me some new man-flesh.”
She cackled and gave
his ribs another jab. “Don’t look so scared. You’re not quite man enough for
me. I like ‘em a little more broken in. A few more miles on the odometer. I
don’t want to spend ten years trying to teach you all the tricks.”
Brandon was torn
between massive relief and the need to point out that in spite of the way his
last few relationships had ended, he wasn’t wet behind the ears.
relief won out, because Edna looked like she might be inclined to want details
on his skills.
“You married? You
look like the marrying kind. I bet you’ve got two point four kids, too.”
“No, not married.”
“Well, why the hell
“Just haven’t met
the right girl, I guess.” And the one he thought was “right” turned out to be
terribly, horribly, wrong.
“Hmph. You a
Edna snorted. “Just
kiddin’. What kind of girl you lookin’ for? There’s a shit ton of horny women
on that cruise ship back there. I’ll hook you up before we make it back to San
“I’m not really
“Are you gay? ’Cause
there’s plenty of single men hanging around, too. You like the hairy ones or
the twinkly kind?”
“No, no. Not gay.
But I’m not looking for anyone on this cruise.” He decided to elaborate, before
she came up with any more wild assumptions. “Most of the girls I’ve met on this
trip are a little too busy taking selfies and Snapchatting themselves to have a
“Oh. Well, if you’re
looking for a wife, you’re gonna be looking for a while. You’re a good-looking
fella, but girls these days are all about the temporary hookup. The Redbox and
“Netflix and Chill?”
was right. He’d gone out with a few women in the past few years, but he always
found something that didn’t work for him with each one. Like…she didn’t want to
hang out while he added one last entry—or fifty—to a spreadsheet. Or she wanted
to actually go on dates instead of visiting random liquor stores to check his
company’s product placement. Or maybe she’d only pretended to be crazy for him
while she helped to steal thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory from his
family’s business. Maybe he was too picky, but some of those things were deal
“I’m not looking for
a wife,” he told her. “But some meaningful conversation would be nice.”
Edna cackled. “Is
that what you kids are calling it these days?”
The bus made a hard
left and lurched onto a—was this really a street? It seemed more like an alley.
Trees scraped the windows on each side of the bus, before parting to reveal a
boarded up house, followed by a weed-strewn yard full of broken-down cars and
A hundred yards
later, the bus groaned to a halt in front of a colorfully painted but rickety
wooden fence, and half of the occupants immediately stood and shoved into the
aisle. Brandon waited until there was a space and stood, too. He hoped Edna
would find another victim to interrogate, but alas, she actually grabbed his
belt so she wouldn’t lose him as he joined the milling crowd of partiers in
front of the gate that read Pequeño Zarigüeya Entrada in colorful
“So what are you
looking for, in case we get lucky and find you the right girl? Surgeon, lawyer,
international venture capitalist?”
venture capitalist might be nice. They did have internet at Blue Mountain, and
most of that work was on the phone or online, right? But realistically… “I
don’t know. Accountant? Tax attorney?” Someone who would want to climb the
corporate ladder with him, not over him.
The gate opened, and
a laughing, dancing, Mexican goddess swirled out into the crowd. “Welcome to
the wonderful world of tequila!” she called out. “I can’t wait to show you
Okay. Maybe he
should add “tequila distillery tour guide” to his list of options.
beenwriting since she learned to hold a crayon. Though her handwriting hasn’t
improved, her spelling is a little better now. She spends her days as an evil
genius’s sidekick in a research lab, and her nights weaving tales of heroic
hunks and sassy, smart women. When she’s not at work, Teri, Mr. Stanley, and
the Stanlettes enjoy spending time at their weekend estate, located in the
thriving metropolis of Sugartit, between Beaverlick and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.