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By T. J. Kline
Foreword by James Patterson
Formats and Prices
- Mass Market (Combined volume) $7.99 $10.49 CAD
- ebook (Combined volume) $6.99 $8.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 31, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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THE WEDDING FLORIST: After losing her job and getting evicted from her home, the last thing florist Anna Nolan needs is to ruin her new gig. But it’s hard for her to work for the powerful and sexy Gabriel Radcliffe. Namely, because Anna’s arranging the flowers for his wedding to society girl Stephanie Maurier — and she wishes she were the bride . . .
THE HORSE TRAINER: Fallon Radcliffe can only escape her socialite family and their expectations when she’s in the stables with her horse, Destiny’s Dreamer. But she doesn’t realize that her love for racing will develop into something more: a yearning for her trainer, Travis Mitchell, even though they live worlds apart . . .
THE GOURMET CHEF: Alexandra Radcliffe has never been a dreamer. But when she meets the man of her secret fantasies — a sexy, driven chef who wants to open a restaurant — she starts to believe in happily ever after. Or is there something about the smooth Nico Donacelli that could destroy their precious, fragile bond?
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than being in love with someone you can’t have—especially when that person wants to love you back. In this book, you’ll find three of those love stories, where the characters would give anything to be together, even though the world keeps getting in their way.
Welcome to the world of the Radcliffes, San Francisco’s most elite family. Their name has been synonymous with old money ever since they made a killing during the boom of the shipping industry. You’ll understand their pedigree the moment you read about their mansion on the cliffs and their interactions with their staff.
But Gabe, Fallon, and Alexandra don’t always keep a proper distance from the people who work for them. How can they, when they find their soul mates in such unlikely and impossible places? This is a collection of stories about challenging and breaking all the rules, all in the name of love.
I had a lot of fun reading about these characters, who weren’t afraid to be bold and daring as they went after their passions. I hope that you love wrapping yourself up in their world as much as I did.
“That son of a bitch,” Anna Nolan muttered to herself as she sat, fuming, in the standstill traffic along the California 101. She was heading home after her boss had humiliated her by giving her promotion to his unqualified niece, cutting Anna’s job in the process. “That ass could have at least sent me home early enough to avoid this mess.”
She eyed the long line of brake lights flashing red ahead of her, wondering why the fast lane was the only one not moving. Maybe it was a metaphor for her career. How was she going to come up with her rent now? Her landlord was already breathing down her neck, and the warning notices he’d tacked on her door two weeks ago made one thing clear—there was a good chance she’d have to downsize apartments soon.
Anna twisted to adjust the massive jewel-toned floral centerpiece in the backseat. She’d taken it with her—okay, stolen it—from the shop’s refrigeration unit. Lifting it straighter, she felt a small sense of satisfaction. Her designs had earned her boss—ex-boss, she corrected—his high-end clientele and, since no one else had seen this one design, she wasn’t about to let him keep it and take credit for it. Or try to copy it, again. Not after kicking her to the curb without any warning. Technically—
She gasped as a flash of movement in the side-view mirror caught her attention. A speeding sports car cut through the creeping traffic, the sleek lines slipping between cars, coming closer and closer until she realized…it wasn’t slowing. Anna let go of the flower arrangement, faced forward, and stiffened as she braced herself for impact. She gripped the steering wheel and pressed her foot on the brake even harder as the sports car smashed into the rear passenger side of her car, jolting her sideways. It pushed her old Ford onto the shoulder.
Anna took a deep breath, mentally taking inventory of her situation. Nothing felt broken. Miraculously, she hadn’t rammed into the car ahead of her and the car behind her had avoided the mess. Easing her foot to the gas, she moved her vehicle away from the sports car, cringing as she heard metal scraping. Anna prayed she would at least get a glimpse of the other driver’s license plate before he bolted.
Parking on the shoulder, she looked backward in time to see a tall man slip out of the sports car. She unclipped her seat belt and shoved her door open. “What the hell were you doing? Do you have any idea—”
He held up a hand, then pointed at his cell phone to indicate she should wait until he finished his conversation. “Yeah, I just sideswiped a car on the 101. Go ahead and start without me. I won’t be home in time for dinner.”
Anna’s mouth dropped open. This man had hit her car and he couldn’t even be bothered to get off his damned phone?
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow, love.” He tapped the screen and tucked the phone into the pocket of his slacks. “Hey, sorry about this. I was late and I guess I wasn’t paying attention.” He shrugged and gave her a nonchalant smirk, as if that would remedy the entire situation, as if it was no big deal. “Don’t worry, I’ve already called CHP and reported it.”
“Excuse me?” Even in the dying light, with the sun sinking low and reflecting off the waters of the San Francisco Bay, something about this man caused a vague sense of recognition to tug at her mind. Anna narrowed her eyes. Perfect chiseled features, penetrating hazel eyes. But she couldn’t quite place him. “Don’t I know you?”
He held out his hand and gave her a dashing smile, as if he’d expected this to happen. “Gabriel Radcliffe. I’m—”
Her heart plummeted to her toes as she realized she was talking to “San Francisco’s Most Eligible Bachelor.”
“I know who you are. Everyone in San Francisco knows who the Radcliffes are.”
The man’s family had more money than Midas. No wonder he acted like she was nothing more than a minor aggravation. Ignoring his outstretched hand, Anna slipped between the two vehicles to get a look at the damage he’d done to her car.
“Shit! Really?” She threw her hands up in the air. “Could this day get any worse?”
After hurrying back to the driver’s side, she pulled the insurance card from her glove box. Then she turned to the backseat for the cell phone in her purse. Toppled on one side, with its array of colorful roses, carnations, and lilies crumpled and scattered, was her arrangement.
Oh, no! No, no, no! Forget the phone.
Water pooled around the side of her purse and over the pictures that had come loose from inside her portfolio—the one and only thing she had left to help her land another job since she’d told her ex-boss exactly where he could stick his letter of reference. One day, she’d learn to curb her tendency to burn bridges. Anna quickly yanked the photographs from the water. Shaking them off while droplets reflected the dying light, she prayed they weren’t ruined, but didn’t hold out much hope.
“Why do these things always happen to me?” she muttered to herself.
“Look, lady, why don’t I just write you a check for the damages?”
Anna looked over her shoulder and saw Gabriel leaning over the dented hood of his Audi, scribbling quickly as she tried to dab the water from the pictures with the front of her T-shirt.
“Here.” He ripped a check from the register before tossing it back inside his car and walking toward her. “This should more than cover it.”
She glanced down at the ruined pictures in her hands, then at the check in his. There were a lot of zeros on it.
Was that twenty thousand dollars?
The check was almost enough to buy a new car. It was certainly enough to cover the cost of the damages and the late rent she owed, with a little more to tide her over until she found another job. She eyed the man standing in front of her. His body language looked carefree, but even with his eyes partially shadowed by the sunset, the lift of his brows made it clear his patience was wearing thin.
There was no question she should take the money. She should call a tow truck, get her car fixed, and deem this entire disaster a blessing in disguise, but his complete disregard for her welfare and his sense of entitlement enraged her. She was tired of being overlooked and cast aside. First by her boss and now by this guy. In San Francisco, you either had to be “old money” or know someone to get ahead, and, unfortunately, she was failing on both counts.
All she wanted was to design beautiful flower arrangements, but the universe didn’t seem inclined to give her a break. Every time she seemed to get ahead, to start saving to open her own shop, karma seemed to kick her in the ass and knock her back three steps.
He shook his hand slightly, the check fluttering as he encouraged her to take it, breaking her from her thoughts. Anna held the pictures against her chest with one hand and plucked the paper from between his fingers with the other, staring at his flowing script. This might not solve her problems, but it could sure go a long way toward helping with them. If she was willing to be satisfied by a temporary fix.
As much as she might be tempted, she couldn’t accept it.
Damn my stubborn pride.
“You didn’t seem too worried that I could have been injured, or concerned that you might have ruined my chances at getting another job. You’re probably not worried about much, are you, Mr. Radcliffe? I seriously doubt you’re worried about what your insurance costs, so I can only assume that you’re trying to pay me off.”
Anna’s hands shook and her mind screamed at her to stop. Her fingers moved quickly as she tore the check in half, then in half again. Her hands didn’t stop moving until the check had been shredded into tiny pieces.
“No, no way. You’re not buying your way out of this.”
As the torn pieces of check rained down at his feet, Gabe had no doubt his shock was apparent on his face. He’d seen a lot in his thirty-two years, both in life and business, so it took a lot to render him speechless, but this scrappy redhead had just managed it. He’d assumed that she’d be impressed once she realized who he was and saw the amount of the check, especially since it was likely more money than her car had cost brand-new.
The top of her ponytail barely reached his chin, but she planted her fists on slim hips and stepped up to battle him. “I’m sick and tired of people thinking they can just toss me out like last night’s garbage. I’m a person, too.” She stormed back to her car.
Gabe ran after her. “I didn’t say—”
“You didn’t have to!” She glared at him before bending over into her backseat, giving him a view of her worn jeans that were hugging some pretty dangerous curves. “You think I haven’t met enough of you to know? Money doesn’t make you more important.”
Eyes in your head, Gabe. You’re engaged, even if you don’t want to be. Stay away from this one.
“Look,” he said, trying to soothe her again. “I’m sorry you seem to think—”
“I don’t think—”
His patience snapped. “Well, that’s obvious.”
She stood up and pierced him with her anger. “Do you see this mess?” She pointed at the backseat of her car.
Gabe glanced into the backseat to see multicolored flowers strewn all over, water spilling from a toppled vase onto more pictures of what appeared to be more floral arrangements.
“This is what was left of my career and you’ve just flushed it down the toilet.” She shook her head and hit the palm of the hand that wasn’t holding pictures against the top of her car. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to survive in this city with a job? Now try to imagine living without one.” Her gaze slid over him before she dismissed him with a scoff. “What am I thinking? You have no clue what it’s like to want for anything, do you, Mr. Radcliffe?”
“I’m sorry. I’ll buy you more flowers, okay? Settle down and I’m sure we can get this worked out.”
“Oh, you are, are you? You still think you can just throw money at this and make it go away.” She jerked several more pictures from the pile, sighing at the damage. “The flowers aren’t the problem. These are.”
She shoved several wet pictures at his chest. Gabe jumped backward, clutching them so they didn’t fall to the ground, but keeping them at arm’s length so they didn’t drip on his Armani suit. “The pictures?”
“Yes, this is—was—my portfolio.”
“I’ll pay to have the pictures reprinted.”
“Which would be great if I still had the photographers’ names, or the arrangements from the shoots.” The woman glared at him again, but this time he saw more than anger in her face. Frustration and doubt clouded her eyes. “This is nearly ten years of my career, gone to hell. All because you were in too much of a hurry to watch where you were going.”
“Now, wait a minute—”
“No, you wait a minute.” She flipped her long auburn hair back over her shoulder and jabbed a finger into his chest. Gabe forced himself not to smile at the cliché. “We’re going to exchange insurance information and you’re going to accept full responsibility for this accident. This was your fault.”
“I never said I wouldn’t.” Red and blue lights flashed as they wove between the slow-moving traffic.
Great. Of course the officer arrives when she is in a full meltdown.
Women and agitation made for a toxic combination. Gabe had no idea what she might say to a cop in her current state. He should probably consider himself lucky there wasn’t already a news crew out here. The last thing he needed right now was his grandmother breathing down his neck about embarrassing the family. It was difficult enough keeping her happy while trying to deal with her demands about his upcoming wedding.
Wait! The wedding.
Gabe looked back at the pictures in his hands. Stephanie Maurier, his fiancée, and his grandmother had been telling him they wanted him to be more involved. He knew nothing about floral arrangements, but even he could see that this woman was talented. The arrangements in the photographs looked more like artwork. He could imagine seeing them displayed in a magazine. She’d put them together in a way that used every part of the plant to make a statement. They weren’t like most arrangements he’d seen that merely looked like flowers in a vase.
He looked back at the woman muttering unintelligibly from the back of her car, tossing handfuls of blood-red roses onto the side of the highway in the middle of rush hour. There was a good chance he was going to regret this.
“What if I were to offer you a job?”
“Are you kidding?” Anna couldn’t have heard him correctly. He didn’t even know her name.
“Look, you said you needed a job. I need a florist for my wedding. And I’m still willing to pay for the damages to your car, so it’ll be a win for everyone.”
She cocked her head to one side and eyed him suspiciously. “You? Getting married?”
“We haven’t made the announcement yet, but yes.”
A California Highway Patrol vehicle slowed and pulled behind the Audi, lights flashing as the sun melted into the horizon. She squinted as she watched the police officer climb out of his car. “Is everyone okay?” he called out to them.
“See? That should have been the first question out of your mouth.” Anna glowered at this man in his expensive designer suit and shiny shoes. She thought she saw guilt flash across his eyes but dismissed it as a trick of the fading light.
“I’m offering you an opportunity to work as the florist for what will be the most talked-about wedding in San Francisco’s recent history. It could make your career. The same one you just accused me of flushing down the toilet.” He glanced quickly over his shoulder at the officer and back at her, lowering his voice as the cop approached. “I’m trying to make this right. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
Anna looked into Gabriel Radcliffe’s face, trying to read his expression. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the kind of chance people who’d been in the business for years would kill for. Too good to be true. And that was exactly why she shouldn’t trust him.
“What do we have here?” The officer walked up and stopped between them before she could answer Gabriel’s question. “Do we need to call an ambulance?”
“No, we’re both fine,” he answered for her. “I was the one who called and we were just getting ready to call a tow truck, Officer. This was completely my fault.”
The officer looked to Anna for confirmation but she pinched her lips together, reserving comment until she could figure out what Gabriel Radcliffe had up his sleeve.
“Why don’t you tell me what happened, sir?”
Gabriel proceeded to tell the officer exactly what had occurred, not even leaving out the fact that he’d been using his phone, which would earn him a bigger fine. “If you follow me back to my car, I’ll get you my insurance information, Officer.”
The cop nodded in Anna’s direction, promising to return for her documentation and her side of the story. As she watched them walk away, Anna realized that Gabriel Radcliffe had manipulated even the police officer into compliance, and was, likely, expecting the same from her. He’d anticipated that she’d take his check and when that didn’t work, he’d upped the ante with a job. It was pretty clear he was a man accustomed to achieving success in all things and wouldn’t settle until he did.
She didn’t want to roll over and be another person who bent to his will, but this was the break she’d been waiting for. There wasn’t going to be any function in San Francisco more high-profile than a Radcliffe wedding. The referrals alone would open doors she couldn’t dream of reaching any other way. This was a job that would elevate her reputation as a florist through the stratosphere. Not to mention, she needed to pay her bills.
The officer headed back toward her while Gabriel leaned a hip against the hood of his car. He was suddenly relaxed and patient. Confident. Once again, he became the man who’d first arrived at her car door.
“His information checks out, ma’am,” the officer stated as he scribbled down some information. “Can you get your license, registration, and proof of insurance for me, please?” Anna retrieved the information from her car, passing it over. “Are you sure you’re not injured?”
“I’m fine. Just a bit shaken up.”
The officer leaned his head to one side, speaking into his radio to request a tow truck before turning the volume down. “It’ll be here in a few minutes. Want to tell me your side of what happened?”
Anna told the officer about the crash as he took notes. He stopped and looked up at her dubiously. “You know who he is, right?” She nodded. “Then I’m sure you also realize you’re getting off pretty easily since Mr. Radcliffe is admitting all fault.”
She stared at the officer, dumbfounded. “That is what happened,” she insisted. Was this officer suggesting that she might be to blame?
“I’m sure it is.” He didn’t sound convinced as he wrote on the back of a business card. “Call this number later in the week to get a copy of the report for yourself. Be sure to let your insurance company know.” He waved Gabriel over and handed them both back their licenses. “If either of you have any questions, call this number,” he said, tapping the business card Anna held. “Thank you for your cooperation, Miss Nolan. Mr. Radcliffe,” he added, handing Gabriel a card, before heading back to his car.
Anna watched as the officer edged his patrol car back into traffic.
“I’ll wait with you for the tow truck,” Gabriel said as he looked at her expectantly.
He nodded, looking slightly sheepish as he leaned against the side of her damaged car. “So,” he said, drawing out the word.
“I mean, okay, I’ll take the job,” she clarified.
She bristled at the arrogance in his tone, as if he’d never doubted she would accept the offer.
Was the cost of elevating her reputation really worth the cost of her pride?
Gabriel watched the woman in front of him as she signed the documentation for the tow company. In spite of the fact that she’d just accepted his job offer, he could see how wary she was of him. He shuffled through the still-damp pictures from her portfolio while he waited for her to finish with the driver.
These really were beautiful. Some of the arrangements were obviously from weddings, but there were others from different types of events. He didn’t think Stephanie would be upset with his choice when he told her.
“Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Radcliffe. I promise you won’t be sorry.” He looked up, caught looking at her pictures, and she held out her hand. Gabe passed the photographs over to her. As she took them, her fingers brushed his and he was surprised by the rush of heat that shot up his arm. “I guess I’ll catch a ride with the driver.”
It didn’t take a genius to read the trepidation in her eyes at the thought of climbing into a truck at night with the burly stranger. The driver didn’t exactly instill Gabriel with confidence for her safety, either.
“Why don’t I take you home?” he offered. “It’s the least I can do.”
She chewed at the corner of her lip and looked back at the man waiting beside the tow truck, cringing as he spat at his feet.
“Oh, come on,” Gabe said with a laugh. “I’m a better option than that, right?”
She rolled her eyes in response, but he saw her relief. “I should be able to trust my new boss, right?”
Gabe led her back to the car and opened the passenger door, pretending that he couldn’t feel the heat emanating beneath his hand at her lower back. Shutting the door, he scolded himself the entire way to his seat. She was beautiful, but he and Stephanie were about to announce their engagement. It didn’t matter if it was a media ploy, or a way to satisfy his grandmother’s need for social advancement. His family needed him. Stephanie needed him. He was going to keep his promise to both of them. It was incentive enough to squash any attraction he felt.
Anna punched her address into the navigation system, and Gabe merged his dented car back into traffic. “So, Miss Nolan, do you have a first name?”
She eyed him from across the car. “Anna.”
“Anna,” he repeated. It suited her—simple yet elegant, pretty but not ostentatious. “Family name?”
“It was my grandmother’s.”
She studied him from the passenger seat. He could practically see the questions forming in her mind but she looked too hesitant to ask them. “Go ahead.”
“What?” She slid closer to the door.
“You look like you have things you want to know.”
She chewed nervously at her thumbnail. “Why’d you offer me a job? I mean, don’t get me wrong,” she added quickly. “I appreciate it, but I seriously doubt it’s typical for you to select your employees based on a roadside interaction.”
He bit back a grin. “Not usually. Most of the time, there aren’t cops involved and I’m the one putting someone in the hot seat, not the other way around.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry for that.” She grew animated, twisting in the seat to face him as she defended her actions. “But you have to understand, I’ve been busting my ass for the last ten years to get the promotion I was promised, only to get passed over because of nepotism. Then some guy comes out of nowhere and hits my car.”
Damn, that was a bad day. It did make him wonder why she hadn’t just accepted his check from the start, however. She obviously needed the money.
“The fact is, Mr. Radcliffe,” she went on, “I really want this job. I know I can come up with something great for your wedding. But I don’t want you to think it’s a way to buy me off.”
- "With steamy passion and love stories that suck you right in, T.J. Kline knows how to write from the heart."—Codi Gary, author of Things Good Girls Don't Do
- "T.J. Kline will leave you smiling."—Kimberly Kincaid, USA Today bestselling author
- On Sale
- Oct 31, 2017
- Page Count
- 400 pages
- Grand Central Publishing