Talented graphic artist and animator Annie Callaway has been commissioned by a Hollywood studio to create the next superhero blockbuster movie, but a bout of creative block has Annie searching the Southern California beach scene for inspiration. A local Irish bar in an old train depot, run by the ruggedly attractive and somewhat mysterious Griffin Hale, piques her interest, and she finds herself weaving fantasies about not only Griffin but also the quirky characters who work there.
The last thing Griffin Hale needs at his bar is a nosy artist looking for personal stories to turn into movie plots. He has carefully cultivated a scene of complete normalcy for people who need it more than Annie could possibly imagine, and it’s his job to protect them. But the beautiful redhead with the compelling green eyes is difficult to turn away. Annie’s fantasy world where good always conquers evil is not the life that Griffin has lived, and he can’t help but think she’ll never be satisfied with anyone less than a superhero.
After a string of bad relationships, Annie willingly admits that most real men don’t live up to her muscle-bound, cape-wearing protectors of the world, but when her stubborn curiosity propels her into a danger she never expected, she begins to realize that some heroes work in the dark…and a man who fights for you is a man worth fighting for.
While Griffin is determined to keep Annie alive, he’s not at all convinced he can give her the happily-ever-after she’s looking for. But then some stories take an unexpected turn…
PRAISE FOR BARBARA FREETHY BOOKS
“A fabulous, page-turning combination of romance and intrigue. Fans of Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell will love this book.” NYT Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah on Golden Lies
“This book has it all: heart, community, and characters who will remain with you long after the book has ended. A wonderful story.” — NYT Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber on Suddenly One Summer
“Barbara Freethy is a master storyteller with a gift for spinning tales about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and drawing readers into their lives.” — Romance Reviews Today
“I love The Callaways! Heartwarming romance, intriguing suspense and sexy alpha heroes. What more could you want?” — NYT Bestselling Author Bella Andre
A man walked into the bar. He wore dark-gray slacks, a white button-down shirt, and a striped navy-blue tie. His brown hair was cut very short, his face cleanly shaven. And he was the last person Griffin wanted to see. But whatever Paul Daniels had to say needed to be said with a bit more privacy.
He tipped his head toward a table in the corner, then poured two shots of bourbon and walked around the bar, sitting down across from a man who inspired both loyalty and frustration whenever they met up. “Could you look more like a fed?” he asked.
“I didn’t have time to change,” Paul Daniels replied. He took the shot with a swallow of satisfaction. “Smooth.”
“You must be off the clock.”
That answer didn’t make him happy. “I told you we need to take a break.”
“And we did. It’s been two months,” Paul replied. “Megan is a twenty-four-year-old woman. She’s jittery, fragile, and isn’t doing well in isolation. She needs people around her that she doesn’t have to lie to. It won’t be for long—a week, maybe ten days.”
“You always say that.”
“And I’m mostly telling the truth.”
He drank his shot, breaking his own rule about not drinking while working, then said, “Where is she?”
“In the car.”
“Rob is with her.” Paul paused, resting his forearms on the table, as his brown-eyed gaze settled on Griffin’s face. “She’s not any happier about this than you are, but I think this would be a good place for her.”
“Where is she from?”
“A long way from here. I’m not worried about danger finding her; I’m worried about her cracking or running. Some people can live a lie with no problems. Others can’t.”
He knew that better than anyone.
The door opened again, and for a split second he thought it might be the person Paul had brought to the bar, but the woman with reddish-blonde hair and sparkling green eyes was much more familiar and even more disturbing. She’d been very attractive in the orange bikini she’d had on yesterday, but it had been hard to get past the enormous fear in her eyes. Today, wearing white jeans and a clingy blue top, she looked beautiful and back on her game.
But why was she here? He couldn’t believe it was a coincidence.
“Damn,” he muttered.
“Ex-girlfriend?” Paul asked, raising an eyebrow as he followed his gaze.
“No, but not someone I wanted to see.”
“You never want to see anyone. I’m still surprised someone as unfriendly as you decided to open a bar.”
Sometimes—like today—he asked himself the same question. But while there were a lot of people in the bar, he didn’t have to interact with very many of them.
As the redhead’s gaze lit on him, a smile spread across her face. He felt like he’d just been struck by a hot, bright ray of sun. It warmed up places in his body that had gone cold a long time ago.
“I’m going to get Megan and bring her in,” Paul said, getting to his feet. “I’ll let you deal with whatever this is.”
“What?” he asked, a little distracted by the woman making her way across the bar.
“I’ll be right back.”
He had a lot more he wanted to say to Paul, but his friend was already gone, and the woman he’d pulled out of the ocean yesterday was almost at his table. He stood up, his nerves tightening. He could sense danger from a mile away. He didn’t know why this woman was trouble; he just knew that she was.
Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 60 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened Fog City Publishing in 2011 and has since sold over 7 million books! Twenty-three of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, including one title, SUMMER SECRETS, which hit #1 on the NYT. In 2014 Barbara was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of all time! She was also the first Indie writer to sell over a million books on Barnes and Noble.
Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, romance and suspense, Barbara is a six-time finalist and two-time winner in the Romance Writers of America acclaimed RITA contest for her novels DANIEL’S GIFT and THE WAY BACK HOME.
For more information, visit her website at www.barbarafreethy.com