Home > Her Hidden Falls Bodyguard Billionaire Cowboy

Her Hidden Falls Bodyguard Billionaire Cowboy
Author: Taylor Hart

Chapter 1

 

 

Angela went into warrior pose and held it, then easily dropped into downward dog. The morning sun shone through her apartment window above her little store in downtown Hidden Falls. She closed her eyes and pulled in another long breath. Mornings were the easiest times for her to relish. To forget. To relax into a place that was almost normal.

Too bad Sean Hardman’s face flashed into her mind, ruining any chance at mental peace. She’d kissed him last night. Kissed him in the way she’d wanted to kiss him for months. In the way she never should have allowed herself to kiss him.

After rolling up her yoga mat, she took a quick shower and then allowed herself extra time that she didn’t have with her makeup, deepening the smokiness of her eyes and adding a touch of purple with fake lashes and contouring. Applying her makeup soothed her. Being Angela Orion used to soothe her. Until all this nonsense with Sean.

Her mind rushed back to her time as her real self; a blond, blue-eyed barista in Boston. Back then, she’d only hoped to finish her college education and do the right thing by her older brother and mother. Maybe fall in love.

But now, she couldn’t fall in love. It wasn’t possible. Irritation pulsed through her. Sean should stop trying to push things between them.

Her hand trembled and she put her mascara down, staring at herself in the mirror. Her mind flitted to her brother. He would have known what to do about Sean. No. She couldn’t think of her brother. But it was too late. An image of his hand holding to hers in silent solidarity as they watched their mother’s coffin be lowered into the ground passed through her.

The mascara fell from her grasp and clattered to the floor. She didn’t like to think about her brother or the death of her mother—she didn’t like to think about her past at all. She bent to pick up the makeup and used a washcloth to rub out the black smear beneath her eyes.

Focus. She was Angela Orion, small town shop owner in Hidden Falls. Her hand trembled, again. Dang it. She couldn’t lose it today. Everything was fine. Just fine. It wasn’t just Sean and that kiss that had her upset. A tourist had taken a photo of her next to the shop yesterday. They’d just flashed it without asking, saying her shop was so cute.

She should have done something. Anything. She knew the risks of hiding in plain sight. Her brother had drilled that into her, before …

Angela put her hand to her stomach and slammed open the toilet lid in time for her to throw up the herbal tea she’d had earlier—a calming tea, ironically. She knelt there until the nausea abated, and then she grunted and went back to the sink, rinsing her mouth and brushing her teeth, again.

Focus. She could not think about her brother. She stared in the mirror, again, taking in the woman who stared back at her. This was the persona she’d created in this amazing little town. Angela Orion. Astrologist. Herbalist. Aromatherapy-selling entrepreneur. The kind of woman with friends. Charlotte’s and Star’s faces flashed into her mind, both of whom were true friends to her. Not to mention the Hardman family in general. She’d had the chance to get to know Madison and Jewel, too. They were true blue. She didn’t want to disappoint them, ever.

Gently, she brought her fingers up to her face and fixed her makeup again. This was not a good sign, having to pull herself together already so early in the day.

The kiss persisted in her thoughts. Sean Hardman. The youngest of the Hardman brothers and the only one no longer married. The townspeople would constantly ask her about her relationship with Sean and she would always tell them they were just friends.

For months, he’d been stopping by the store, insisting on bringing her dinner some nights, and of course, if he had food, she would eat with him. They’d fallen into a routine. A cozy, neighborly routine—at least, that was what she told herself—and she liked it.

She clenched a hand into a fist. She liked it way too much.

Somehow, she’d managed to keep him at bay, insisting that she didn’t want to date and that marriage and family weren’t in her personal stars. Too bad she’d been easily ensnared by the “Hardman trap”—the exact words she’d used when she’d teased Charlotte and Star about both of them marrying Hardmans. Now, after Kent and Jewel had built a house on the ranch and Kane and Madison had joined them, Angela had two more women to tease about getting caught in the Hardman trap.

She pounded the sink as she remembered how she’d fallen into it just like they had. It was a subtle trap, and it worked step by step.

Come to this lunch at the ranch with me.

Oh, come see my new house.

Oh, come visit little Maggie and hold her with me.

Come to dinner with all of us.

Angela cursed. The Hardmans were a hard family to resist. Truthfully, they were a force of nature in this small town. But she wouldn’t succumb and that was something Sean didn’t understand.

She cringed again, thinking of how much she cared for Star and Charlotte; she shouldn’t have gotten close to anyone enough to become friends. Yet she’d gotten to the point where she’d grown attached to young Maggie, Charlotte and Ryan’s darling eighteen-month-old daughter. Charlotte and Ryan always referred to her as Auntie Angela, much to her delight. Holding the pudgy child was like nothing in the world. She relished the opportunity to nurture the little girl.

Angela’s mind flashed to Star’s pregnant belly. Soon, she would have a baby boy. She’d been tormenting Beau by telling him she wasn’t sure what it was, but she’d confided in Angela and Charlotte that she knew.

Despite herself, Angela felt warmth blossom outward from her heart. She loved her friends so much. There was no end to her goodwill for them and their families, and she was happy for them.

Her heart ached, but she pushed the hurt away. Babies were not in the cards for her, either.

A ding sounded from the computer, and she rushed to it, typing in her pass code. She was vigilant about checking the dark web in case someone was looking for her. Her brother had trained her how to put out feelers without unwanted attention. She scrolled through the alert and rejected it. The picture it’d found wasn’t her. The facial recognition software she used was complicated, but it wasn’t always accurate.

She wouldn’t be worried at all if that lady hadn’t snapped the picture. Now, she had to go on the offensive to make sure it didn’t pop up somewhere unwanted.

Her fingers glided across the keys as she moved with practiced care to remain anonymous. Nothing.

Another alert sounded. She clicked on the picture. Yep. This was the one she’d been afraid to see. Immediately, she deleted it. But it wasn’t the picture that held her attention.

She stared at the message that had accompanied it.

S, is that you?

A chill washed over her arms. She slammed the computer shut. No, no, no!

Technically, there was no way to decipher where her shop was just from looking at the picture, but that was of little comfort. She couldn’t forget the memory of coming back to the safe house three years ago, nor the gag-inducing image of the blood streaked across the floor and her brother. She gulped and put her hand back to her stomach, wondering how she could possibly throw up again. She staggered to the bathroom anyway, then found herself dry-heaving into the toilet.

Had she been found? She fell to her knees on the linoleum beneath her, tears blurring her vision.

Hot Books
» Buy Me Sir
» Daddy's Pretty Baby
» The Greek's Forgotten Wife (The Boarding Sc
» Ruckus (Sinners of Saint #2)
» Kept (The Enforcers #3)
» The Dom's Virgin: A Dark Billionaire Romanc
» Filthy Marcellos: The Complete
» Wet
» The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)
» White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)
» Wake A Sleeping Tiger (Breeds #31)
» The Hot Shot (Game On #4)
» If You Were Mine
» Pregnant with the Sheik's Baby (The Samara
» Fallen Crest Home (Fallen Crest High #6)
» Latest books
» Hot Author