A cynical divorce attorney. A believer in happily ever after. What could possibly go wrong?

Robert Carter survived an abusive upbringing from an alcoholic father to become founder and CEO of a globally renowned, billion-dollar medical supply company. Now, he is ready to settle down and raise a houseful of kids to prove to himself that he can be a better father than the one who raised him. But the one woman he desires to make his dreams come true has other ideas about love and marriage.

As a little girl, Yasmine Reynolds fantasized about raising a family with Robert, her best friend’s older brother. Now all grown up, and in-demand as one of Boston’s best divorce attorneys money can buy, Yasmine realizes that love and marriage isn’t the bed of roses she imagined it would be. She becomes even more cynical when a relationship she thought strong enough to weather any storm unravels before her eyes.

Is Robert’s unwavering love enough to convince Yasmine that Happily Ever After does exist? Or, will her persistent fears about marriage, and the secret she has been hiding from him, send this hunk of a man tumbling into the arms of another woman?

Robert added a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt to the huge pot of water on his stove, and lit the burner under it. He pulled two kitchen towels from a drawer and spread them on the countertop beside a pair of tongs, before lifting the lid of another pot that was simmering over a low heat.

As he stirred the homemade tomato sauce, he grinned like a kid who’d gotten an early Christmas present—the one he really, really wanted but was too scared to ask for in case he got the usual answer: “You know we can’t afford that. Why you even bother to ask?”

That was the response he’d grown used to hearing from Timmy Gleason, that is, when the bastard was in a good mood. When he wasn’t, Robert would get a punch in the stomach or a smack in the head for asking. At age nine, he’d stopped asking when Timmy had taken out his anger on Michelle, just for being in the room when Robert made his request.

The fact that he could recall the violent memories of his childhood without tensing up with anger and regrets surprised Robert. It was a sign that he was stepping from the shadows of his past, embracing and appreciating his present, and looking forward to a future with
Yasmine, merely because she’d texted the words, I love YOU.

A surge of warm feelings seeped through him, causing his heart to tremble and butterflies to flutter in his belly. The sensation wasn’t rushed or sexual. It was unhurried, unwavering, and spiritual. He’d been floating in the ether ever since he’d read her text yesterday. Last night, he’d gone to bed feeling giddy, silly, fantastic, and elated, not from being in love with Yasmine, but from being loved by her. She loved him. It had taken her four years to admit it, and he looked forward to hearing it in person.

Robert tasted the sauce, his forehead furrowing as he analyzed the flavor. He added another pinch of oregano and a bay leaf and stirred one last time before replacing the lid. Pleased that it would be as good as it smelled, he left it to simmer and collected the ingredients for the massaged kale and mango salad to go along with the lasagna he was making for Yasmine. He washed the kale leaves, shook them out, stacked them one on top of the other, rolled them like a cigar, and began to cut them into thin strips before placing them into a large bowl. He loved cooking for Yasmine, and he loved that she appreciated his culinary skills, especially tonight.

He’d deliberately called her this morning during her DND hours. He’d left instructions for her to come straight to his place when she left Manchester, to be prepared to spend the night, and not to worry since he had a fresh outfit for her to wear to work on Monday. He hadn’t even mentioned her text.

There would be time to talk about her love for him all night long, he thought, as he sliced the mushrooms into thin strips. He wanted every night to be like tonight where he would come home early from work to prepare dinner and have it on the table, hot and ready for Yas when she walked in the door. Her career was a lot more stressful than his, and he didn’t mind taking care of the house and performing most of the housework once they were married.

He would do it just to feel her trembling and moaning under him each night when they finally went to bed. Much like it would be tonight.

Robert added the mushrooms to the kale and reached for the avocado when his doorbell sounded. He set the knife aside, wondering who would be calling. Before the thought was out, the doorbell sounded again, and again, and again.

“Hold on. Hold on,” he mumbled, totally annoyed now at the incessant ringing. Who the heck could be that impatient? He set the avocado aside, wiped his hands on his apron, and made his way to the front door. As he passed the dining table romantically set for two with fine china, candles, a vase of fresh roses, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and as love songs streamed from the surround sound stereo, Robert’s irritation faded.

He wasn’t going to let anything or anyone spoil his mood. Whoever was at the door had two seconds to state his or her claim and bug the hell off. The only person he was entertaining tonight was the love of his life. Taking a deep breath, Robert opened his door to find an elderly woman standing on his step.

At the sight of him, her mouth dropped open, her hand flew to her chest, and she inhaled sharply as if she were in shock.

Well, you rang my doorbell, so don’t look so surprised to see me. “Hello.” He nonetheless offered her a friendly smile. Maybe she was shy, or maybe she’d come to the wrong house.
He hoped for the latter.

“Hello, Robert,” she said in a voice that seemed to be holding back a flood of emotions, while her warm brown eyes smiled at him through the lenses of her glasses.

Robert frowned as he stared at her. Something about her seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. She was of average height and weight, and elegantly dressed in cream-colored slacks and an olive-colored silk blouse. Judging from the sprinkles of dark age spots on her pale, slightly wrinkled, yet attractive face, and her short mop of fashionably styled gray hair, he would guess that she was probably in her late sixties or early seventies. And she was wealthy, he thought, as the blue sapphires and diamonds studding the white gold frame of her spectacles shimmered in the afternoon light.

Was she one of his patients, requesting an emergency call? No. His patients never addressed him by his first name. Besides, they didn’t know where he lived—well, that was his hope. In any case, they wouldn’t be showing up at his private residence in an emergency; they would be calling his crisis hotline.

“Can I help you?” he asked, even as his gut began to tighten and his heart began to race for reasons beyond him. He transferred his gaze to her hand clutching the straps of her autumn green Bvlgari purse. He recognized the brand because his sister had one. His sister...

Also in this series

Loving Yasmine: Robert & Yasmine (Beyond Granite Falls Book 1)

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