Authors: Kendra Little
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Suspense, #Contemporary Women, #painter, #special forces, #green beret, #alpha male, #opposites attract, #military romance, #small town romance, #exmilitary hero
Copyright 2014 Kendra Little
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About THE BILLIONAIRE BOYFRIEND PROPOSAL
When Blake Kavanagh left Serendipity Bend 8
years ago, he took Cassie West's heart with him. Now he's back,
damaged from his experiences in the army and wanting to renew his
relationship with the only woman he ever loved. But Cassie wants
nothing to do with the guy who abandoned her when she needed him
most, just like everyone she ever loved.
When trouble enters Cassie's ordered life,
Blake is forced to stay with her to protect her. And that's when
Cassie's carefully constructed walls begin to crumble. She lets him
in, only to find out he's leaving her. Again.
Never trust a Kavanagh. That's been my mantra
for eight years and it has stood me in good stead. My next door
neighbors have proven time and again that they'll steamroll
everything and everyone in their path to get what they want,
including me and my house. But I wasn't going to give up lightly. I
would fight with everything I had. And what I had was a dozen
students from my art school and some equally irate neighbors who
didn't want their exclusive street overrun by developers. We made
up a contingent of one hundred, and we were loud. So loud that we
attracted the Roxburg media and the police who had me, the
unofficial leader, in their sights.
Never trust a Kavanagh. So when Blake
Kavanagh turned up in the middle of the protest, my gut instinct
was to ask why. What did he want? What was the second eldest of the
five too-gorgeous-for-their-own-good Kavanagh brothers doing back
in Serendipity Bend, Roxburg, after breaking my heart eight years
All this time I'd held myself together and
forged ahead, never looking back. I'd tried hard not to think about
him and what might have been. I'd relapsed upon Gran's death, but
I'd managed to claw my way out of the melancholy and return to the
comfortable pattern I'd established for my life.
Until Blake's powerful arms dragged me out of
danger, and his fury almost got him arrested.
Shock rippled through my body. It turned my
legs weak and made my nerves jangle. He was here, now, when I
needed him most! I'd thought about this day for so long, what I'd
say, do, wear. None of that mattered. All sensible thoughts got
shoved aside at the sight of his handsome face, strong bones and
bright blue eyes filled with a ferocity I'd never seen before.
I grasped all of that in a fraction of a
second. I wanted to gaze at him for longer, digest every small
change, but there was no time. Blake wound up his fist to punch the
policeman about to arrest me.
"Blake, don't!" I shouted. "If you get
arrested because of me…" My voice got lost in the cacophony
surrounding us and Blake wasn't listening anyway. He had murder in
his eyes and it was directed at the cop.
"Don't touch her," he snarled. "Or I'll break
I had to get him out of there before he did
serious damage. I shoved him in the chest, but it was like a fly
tapping against a brick wall. He was bigger than I remembered, his
shoulders like solid rocks, straining the seams of his black
T-shirt. Another time I would have admired them, but not now with
the swell of the crowd surging around us and the police threatening
to arrest me and my students.
"Cassie!" he shouted down at me. "Get out of
here. It's too dangerous. Go!"
"Not without you. I can't have your arrest on
my conscience too."
He blanched and took a step back as if my
hands on his chest were actually forcing him. Next thing I knew, we
were tumbling backward through the crowd. I wasn't sure who was
propelling who, but we ended up among the row of camellias at the
side of my front porch, safe. Alone.
My heart beat so fast I thought it would
burst out of my chest. It wasn't entirely from the danger I'd found
myself in. It beat like that because Blake had returned.
He was back, eight years after leaving me
with my aging Gran, my asshole of a brother, and my demons.
I got my first chance to look at him properly
since the day we'd argued on the very same porch we now stood near.
I still only came up to his chest, but the chest was bigger,
broader, his shoulders too. His forearms bulged out of the T-shirt
and I found myself staring at them. It was easier than staring at
his face with its harder lines, severe mouth, and granite jaw. His
hair was cropped close to his scalp and those alert blue eyes
harbored more shadows than the last time I'd seen him, something
I'd not thought possible. It was an uncompromising face and body,
so new yet so familiar.
He stared at me for as long as I stared at
him, taking in every inch of me. I wondered if I'd changed in eight
years as much as he had. I doubted it. My hair was still a tangle
of red curls and the freckles that were the bane of my teenage
years still splattered across my nose, but I'd made my peace with
I met his gaze with my own, refusing to back
down. I wasn't the naive girl he'd last seen crying on the front
porch. I was stronger, and I was going to let him know it. "You're
back," I said simply.
He nodded. "You okay?"
"Of course." I glanced over my shoulder. My
students had taken up a chant and held fast against the bulldozers.
The police hadn't arrested anyone else, but the protest wasn't
looking like ending any time soon. Good. Maybe Blake's older
brother, Reece, would get the message. If not, at least I'd delayed
"We tried to stop him," he said with a shake
of his head.
"Ash, Mom, Dad, all of us."
"All of you?"
"He won't listen to us. He's determined to
wipe this place off the map." Those blue eyes softened as they
scanned my face. "He's only trying to destroy his memories of—"
"Don't. Don't mention her or make him out to
be some kind of lost soul, affected by her death. She was
Blake's lips flattened and he looked
heavenward, as if he were appealing to Wendy’s spirit. She'd killed
herself twelve years ago over Blake's brother, Reece, who'd cheated
on her. I blamed Reece, but it seemed I was the only one. None of
the Kavanaghs did. Not even Blake was on my side. Our difference of
opinion had festered for four years, infecting our relationship and
destroying all the good in it until all that was left was a rotten
carcass. Our romance had finally ended on a summer evening on my
front porch and I'd never seen him again.
Until now. Where had he been for eight years?
I'd never asked the Kavanaghs, preferring to avoid them altogether,
and they'd never offered up the information. Wherever he'd been, it
had changed him. The once happy guy looked like he hadn't smiled in
"Why are you back now?" I snapped more
harshly than I'd meant to. I was tired, my home in danger of being
torn down right in front of me, and now this. My stress levels
didn't need him to turn up
"Ash called me. He thought if anyone could
talk him out of making this monumental mistake, it would be
"Guess he was wrong."
His gaze shifted to the crowd behind me. A
cry went up, followed by an answering roar from the protestors. The
rumble of the bulldozer's engine underpinned all other sounds.
"Cassie!" someone cried.
I turned to go, but Blake caught my arm. His
grip was hard but not bruising. "I won't give up, Cass. I'm here to
stay, for as long as it takes."
Was he talking about stopping Reece? Or about
something else? He looked at me with such intensity that I was sure
he could see through to my soul. For one heart-stopping moment, I
thought he would kiss me. He could have easily pulled me against
his body and I wouldn't have been able to resist.
Part of me wanted him to do it. A traitorous
part, but it was small and I was able to drown it out. I stomped on
his toe. He sucked air between his teeth and let me go.
I ran off, back into the crowd where one my
students embraced me.
I didn't see Blake again for the rest of the
day. To my utter surprise and relief, Reece arrived and called off
the bulldozer. He sent the police, media and demolition crew on
their way, and the next thing I knew he was kissing Cleo Denny, the
older sister of one of my students, like he couldn't get enough of
her. Like she'd saved him.
I couldn't tear my gaze away from them as
they leaned up against his car, encased in each other’s arms. They
called me over and Reece told me he would leave my house alone. He
was even going to do it up for me to live in and keep the rent the
Well huh. Big, bad Reece Kavanagh had a real
human heart beating inside his chest after all. It had just taken
Cleo to get it ticking again. God help us all if she ever left
I didn't see Blake again for the rest of the
day, or the next, which suited me fine. I had enough on my plate
fending off the media and seeing the garden set to rights again.
One entire bed of annuals had been trampled and the bottom porch
step was in danger of coming off if anyone heavier than me stepped
Luckily I was pretty handy with a hammer. I
had to be. My brother, Lyle, had been useless so it was no loss
when he up and left after inheriting the house. It hadn't been
Gran's idea to leave the house to her only surviving male relative.
She'd tried several times to get my late grandfather's will
overturned, but to no avail. Lyle had got it all after Gran died,
although he had promised her that I could stay. Unfortunately his
debts had mounted so high that he could no longer climb over them
and he broke that promise. He'd sold the house to Reece Kavanagh,
leaving me beholden to a member of the family that didn't like me
or I them. According to Harry and Ellen Kavanagh, I was the woman
who'd screwed up Reece by blaming him for my sister's death, and
driven away Blake because he'd stood up for his brother.
"Cassie!" called out a familiar voice from
I set down the hammer and waved at Becky
Denny, Cleo's sister and one of my art students. One of my
favorites, as it happened. Not only did she have spirit and
determination, she was just a gorgeous person inside and out.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Cleo's having lunch with the Kavanaghs so I
thought I'd get a ride and visit you."
"You weren't invited?"
She tucked her hair behind her ear, but the
blonde strands were too short to stay and worked their way free. "I
was, but I'd rather see you."
I smiled. "Thanks, Honey. It's not very
exciting here." I brandished the hammer. "Just doing some repairs.
Are you sure you don't want to eat with the Kavanaghs? They put on
a good spread."
"Nope. I'm going to help you. Got a spare
I indicated the rust-red toolbox. "No spare,
but you can pass me the nails."
She sat on the higher step and fished out the
box of nails. "It's probably just as well I'm not hammering
anything. I'd probably bang my thumb or something."
"You're not very handy?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. I've never had
to fix anything. Cleo always takes care of repairs around the
house, or she calls someone if she can’t."
I positioned the supporting bracket
underneath the step and banged in the nail. "Looks like you might
need to learn now that she's got a new project."
"What new project?"
Her mouth formed an O. "Don't let her hear
you call him a project. That sounds short term and Cleo's
definitely in it for the long haul."
I sat back on my haunches and regarded her.
"They did seem pretty serious yesterday. You think it'll last?"
"Hope so. I kind of like him." She held up
her hands when I scoffed. "When he's not being an asshole, he's
nice. Just give it time, Cassie. Maybe you'll see he's not so bad
"I've known the Kavanaghs a lot longer than
you, Becky." I left it at that. She didn't want to hear about my
sorry history with my nearest neighbors and I didn't want to go
into it. It was too damned messy and best left in the past. I
focused on the positives instead. "Ash is okay, I'll give you that.
And I admit I don't know the youngest two brothers very well. If I
see them in the street they wave, but that's about it." Ash was the
middle of the five brothers, and a good guy. If I ever had a
problem with my neighbors, I called him and he'd speak to his
parents. None of the boys lived at home anymore, even though the
house was the size of a football field. They probably didn't want
to live under the same roof as their dragon mother. "Are they all
going to lunch today?"