Today we are celebrating the release of TILL THERE WAS YOU, a contemporary romance title that is part of the bestselling Green Mountain/Butler, Vermont series by Marie Force. Check out the purchase links below.
Till There Was You by Marie Force
Being an adult has its advantages…
Lucas Abbott and his identical twin grew up sharing everything—including a reputation for funny, idiotic behavior. But now that Lucas is ready to shed that lovable-idiot image, grow up and have a real, adult relationship, the joke’s on him. He and his twin have fallen for the same woman.
Crushed and hoping a few days on the slopes will work out his frustrations, he heads for Stowe, Vermont. All thought of fun and relaxation flies away as a car spins out in a snowstorm, and his firefighter/paramedic training kicks into high gear.
Danielle Rowson is hoping to pick up the pieces and build a new life for herself and her daughter in Vermont. Winding up in a ditch in the middle of a blizzard isn’t part of the plan—and neither is the kind, sexy rescuer whose strong hands pull them to safety.
Lucas has been a little kid, a big kid and now an adult—and he discovers that adulting has more than one advantage. Especially when it comes to sharing with Dani and Savannah the one thing that’s his and his alone: his love.
Purchase Till There Was You now!
As usual, their mom had made pizza from scratch for their birthday—sausage and onion for him and pepperoni and peppers for Landon, along with special orders for the others. Normally, Lucas loved the traditions and the way his mother still paid attention to the details with each of her ten children, even though they were grown and some had kids of their own.
But tonight, with Landon and Amanda seated directly across the table from him, Lucas could barely swallow the delicious pizza or the beer his father had opened for him. He had nothing to say to anyone, which was rare in and of itself. Lucas Abbott always had something to say, especially in the midst of his boisterous family, all of whom had come to celebrate their brothers’ birthday. As the eighth child in a family of ten, one learned to speak up early or be drowned out by the noise.
When everyone was there, they were close to twenty people as his siblings were pairing off, getting married and having babies like wildfire these days. Their elusive, quiet brother Wade had shocked the living shit out of them recently by showing up with a wife none of them had met until after he and Mia had said “I do.” No one had seen that coming, but Wade seemed happier than Lucas had ever seen him. Mia’s long-lost father was throwing them a big wedding in Boston in June that everyone would be going to. Would Landon bring Amanda to that, too?
The noise level in the dining room was probably registering on the Richter scale. Normally, he’d be right in the middle of the fray. Tonight, he had a splitting headache.
Elmer nudged him. “What’s up with you?” Fortunately, his grandfather kept his voice down, so the question wasn’t heard by everyone else.
“Not like you to pick at the pizza. You’re more likely to inhale than pick.”
“I’m not that hungry tonight.”
Elmer’s white brows furrowed as he placed a hand on Lucas’s forehead. “You’re not feverish.”
Molly zeroed in on Elmer’s hand on Lucas’s forehead. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. The pizza is great, Mom.”
Though she accepted his answer, he could tell by the way his mother looked at him that he hadn’t fooled her.
Per the tradition, she brought out one big cake, half chocolate for him and half vanilla for Landon, and they blew out their candles together. They’d done that twenty-six other times, and it had never once occurred to Lucas that he ought to have his own damned cake as a grown-ass man. Until now.
“Happy birthday, bro,” Landon said, giving him a warm smile.
“Same to you.” Lucas could barely stand to look at the face that was nearly the mirror image of his own. He felt naked without the beard that left almost nothing to distinguish him from his identical twin.
Clearly Amanda preferred Landon to him if the way she giggled at every stupid thing his brother said was any indication.
She’d worn her dark hair up tonight, which only accentuated her pretty green eyes and the smattering of freckles across her nose that he’d found both cute and sexy. He didn’t recall her giggling so much when they went out and was thankful for that. In general, giggling wasn’t something he found overly attractive in a woman.
But damn if he didn’t find the rest of her overly attractive. She was downright gorgeous. He’d thought so from the first time he saw her in the conference room, surrounded by sex toys as she indoctrinated the family on the line of products her company produced.
And no, it hadn’t been the sex toys that had gotten to him. It’d been her. The confident way she spoke about something that most people had trouble talking about in private, let alone in a room full of strangers, had really done it for him. This was a woman who owned her sexuality and her freedom to express it.
That’s where his attraction toward her had started. But it had only flourished during the evening they spent together talking with an ease he didn’t often experience with someone he’d just met.
They’d covered everything from their families to their hometowns to their favorite sports, movies, books, TV shows, and it had been… easy. Fun. He’d immediately wanted to do it again and had thought she felt the same way, but watching her now with Landon, he could see that she had found a connection with him, too. Perhaps a stronger connection than she’d found with Lucas. If that was the case, there was nothing he could do about it. The choice was hers to make, and she’d clearly made it.
He stood, taking his grandfather by surprise. “Where you going, boy?”
“Gotta get home. I’ve got an early morning tomorrow.”
“Where you got to be?” Landon asked.
“I’m covering for Denny.” Lucas referred to one of the paramedics they worked with. “His wife has an ultrasound, and they’re going to find out what they’re having.”
“You didn’t open your presents,” Molly said.
“I told you guys no presents.”
“When do we ever do what we’re told?” Linc asked.
Lucas took the time to open the gifts from his parents—some new tools for the shop, a sleeping bag to replace the one he’d trashed after the last camping trip, a pair of the cargo shorts he wore in the summer, a book about Lewis and Clark that he’d been meaning to get and a watch with GPS capability.
“Thanks, Mom. I love it all.”
“You’re very welcome.”
He appreciated that she seemed to get that he wanted out of there. But he hoped she knew it wasn’t because he didn’t love the time with his family.
Tomorrow, he would do the shift for Denny during the day, and then he had three days off before his next shift at the firehouse. That was enough time to hit the road and get out of town for a couple of days. If his brother was going to be falling all over Amanda, he didn’t have to stick around for the show.
After he said his goodbyes to the others, his mother met him in the mudroom.
“You really shouldn’t have gotten presents, Mom.”
She shrugged off the statement. “It’s fun for me to find things I think you’d like.”
“Well, thank you. For the gifts, the pizza, the cake. For everything.”
“Are you all right, Luc? You aren’t yourself tonight.”
“I’m all right. Just fighting off a cold.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is?”
“Yep.” The last thing he’d ever do is confess to anyone that he was jealous of his brother. Such a stupid, pointless emotion, and one he’d felt rarely enough to be unfamiliar with how to deal with it. He kissed his mother’s forehead. “I’ve got a few days off, and I’m going to take a run over to Stowe tomorrow.” One of his best friends from Bowdoin College lived there, so no one would question why he was going. They didn’t need to know that he wouldn’t be seeing Craig this time around.
“Supposed to snow tomorrow. Be careful driving.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“You know better than to tell me not to worry.”
“I’ll be fine. If there’s one thing your children know how to do, it’s take care of themselves. You saw to that.”
“True. I’m very proud of that.”
“Then don’t worry. I have snow in my DNA.” He hugged her and headed out the door before he had to see Landon and Amanda again. Was he being ridiculous running from them? Yes, and he knew it, but so be it. He didn’t want to deal with it, especially on his freaking birthday.
He got in the truck, started it and cranked the heat, hoping it wouldn’t take long to warm up. It was bloody freezing, as per usual for the last week in March in Vermont, where winter tended to hang on until after the first buds of spring appeared on the trees. Keeping an eye on his parents’ dogs, George and Ringo, who’d followed him outside, he backed out of the driveway and glanced back at the house to see his mom still at the door, watching him go.
Lucas hoped she’d forgive him for leaving the party early, but he’d needed to get out of there before he gave away how he was feeling to the whole family. This was all new territory for him. He wasn’t one to have secrets or things he wanted to keep hidden. What you saw was what you got with Lucas Abbott, and he had no clue how to navigate this situation.
Keeping an eye out for rogue moose, he drove to the family’s Christmas tree farm that was shuttered until spring planting. Normally, he loved the isolation and the serenity of life at the farm, but, like everything else the last few days, it didn’t bring the usual comfort. He was edgy, out of sorts, off his game and feeling lost in a sea of familiar places and people.
His plan to get the hell out of here for a few days was looking better to him with every passing minute. Inside the loft apartment over the barn, he started a load of laundry and pulled a duffel bag with the Butler Volunteer Fire Department logo from under the bed.
He and Landon were both lieutenants in the department, charged with handling most of the administrative work that earned them small salaries. Lucas’s was enough to cover most of his expenses, which were minor thanks to the fact that he didn’t have to pay rent. He got to live at the farm in exchange for keeping an eye on the place in the off-season and acting as the caretaker on behalf of the family business. Between his fire department salary and the sale of the furniture and other wood items he crafted, he eked out a pretty decent living, but his needs were minimal.
Would a woman like Amanda be satisfied with the life that had always more than satisfied him, or would she find it lacking? And since when did he care what anyone else thought of his life?
Since the best first date in history, that’s when.
He had put his laundry in the dryer and opened a beer when the phone rang. Seeing his grandfather’s number on the caller ID, he took the call. “What’s up, Gramps?”
“I was thinking about you on the way home and decided to give you a ring. You weren’t yourself tonight, and I’m wondering if I know why.”
Amused as always by his grandfather, Lucas leaned back against the kitchen counter and smiled. “Knock yourself out.”
“I think you and your brother have set your sights on the same woman, and that’s got you all turned around.”
Lucas knew he shouldn’t be surprised that Elmer had figured out his dilemma.
“Am I warm?”
“Ah, thought so. It’s a heck of a thing to meet someone who really strikes your fancy. Happened to me once upon a time, and it was the worst feeling in the world.”
Lucas stood up straighter. “When did it happen to you?”
“With your grandmother. I met her when she was dating my cousin.”
“Yes way, and it was awful, I tell you.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing, and that was the hardest part. I loved my cousin. We were as close as brothers. I never would’ve done anything to hurt him.”
“Since I know how this story ends, I have to know how you ended up together.”
“She told him she fancied me.”
“Whoa! How did he take that?”
“Punched me in the mouth,” Elmer said with a low guffaw. “That’s how I knew she’d picked me.”
“Wow, Gramps. I had no idea.”
“We didn’t talk about it much after the fact. I remained close to my cousin until the day he died, and I went out of my way to make sure there was never any bad blood between us.”
“Did he ever get married?”
“Yep. Married a great gal a couple years later, and the four of us ran around together for the rest of his life.”
“I’m glad he ended up happy, too.”
“Believe me—so was I. Second-happiest day of my young life was standing up for him at his wedding.” After a pause, Elmer said, “You never really know what people go through before they end up with a happily ever after, son. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns or straight lines that lead from point A to point B. A lot of times, it’s hard and messy and painful.”
“Yeah,” Lucas said, marveling at how Elmer had homed right in on everything Lucas was feeling.
“But the most important thing is family. Your brother is your closest friend, your soul mate, if you believe in such things. The two of you have been like two peas in a pod from the word go. I’d hate to see anything come between you.”
“Then don’t let it, Luc. Amanda seems like a nice gal with a good head on her shoulders. If she’s taken a shine to Landon, well, then, there’s nothing you can really do about that. But being angry with him over it isn’t going to make it better for you. It’ll only make everything worse.”
Elmer was right. Of course he was. He was always right. “Very true.”
“I’m glad you agree. Amanda is only here for a short time. Brothers are forever.”
“Especially identical twin brothers.”
Elmer laughed. “Especially that. You okay, pal?”
“Yeah, Gramps, I’m good. This helped a lot. I’m going up to Stowe for a couple of days to ski and clear my head.”
“That’s a great idea. Have a wonderful time.”
“Thanks for calling.”
“Happy birthday, Lucas. I think this is going to be your best year yet.”
“I hope so.”
“Love you, son.”
“Love you, too, Gramps.”
Lucas put down the phone, feeling thankful for the unconditional love of his grandfather, who had always been a steady presence in his life. Elmer had made an excellent point. It would be foolish to allow a woman he barely knew to come between him and the twin brother who was also his closest friend. He wasn’t going to let that happen and would use the time away to get his head back on straight.
Amanda was a great person, and he really liked her. However, she certainly wasn’t the only woman in the world. If she had decided Landon was the one for her, Lucas would find someone else. Stepping aside was the right thing to do. He had no doubt about that after talking to his grandfather.
He couldn’t believe the story Elmer had told him about the early days of his relationship with Lucas’s grandmother. He’d never thought too much about how his grandparents might’ve gotten together, but he hadn’t pictured anything like the story Elmer had relayed.
The next day, after putting in a ten-hour shift at the firehouse that had included calls to a couple of snow-related fender benders and one elderly resident who’d needed transport to the hospital, Lucas set out for Stowe. Normally a ninety-minute drive, tonight it was slow going due to the snow that continued to fall. Lucas took his time, keeping the speedometer around forty and following in the tracks left by an eighteen-wheeler that was a mile or so ahead of him.
Driving in snow was second nature to him after growing up in northern Vermont. If Vermonters stayed home every time it snowed, they’d go weeks without leaving the house some years.
He’d called his friend Craig, who’d told him to use the house while he was out of town on business. Lucas had the security code to the house and was eager for some time alone on the slopes. Physical activity always helped to clear his mind, and he hoped it would have the usual effect on him this time.
He hated being out of sorts like this and needed to shake it off and get back to normal. Moping around wasn’t his style. At the peak of ski season in Stowe, he could also count on some good nightlife. Perhaps a night with a snow bunny would fix what ailed him. One thing he knew for certain was that getting out of Butler had already made him feel better than he had in days.
Two hours into the ride, he was yawning and guzzling the coffee he’d brewed at the firehouse to keep himself awake. His eyes were tired from staring into the snow that had seemed to intensify as he got closer to Stowe. Finally, he took the exit onto the local road that led to Craig’s place and found that it hadn’t been plowed.
He slowed the truck to a crawl, inching along while hoping he was still on the actual road. As he rounded a bend, he watched with horror as the car in front of him fishtailed wildly before pitching off an embankment into a ditch.
“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” —Carl Sandburg
Purchase Till There Was You now!
CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN/ BUTLER, VERMONT SERIES
Welcome to Vermont and the Green Mountain and Butler Series, featuring the Abbott family, proprietors of the Green Mountain Country Store, and their Coleman cousins. Since All You Need Is Love was released in 2014, the Abbott/Stillman/Coleman clan has stolen the hearts of readers, and Fred the Moose has earned himself a cult following. Hope you enjoy Butler!
Green Mountain Series
Book 1: All You Need Is Love (Will & Cameron)
Book 2: I Want to Hold Your Hand (Nolan & Hannah)
Book 3: I Saw Her Standing There (Colton & Lucy)
Book 4: And I Love Her (Hunter & Megan)
Book 4.5: You’ll Be Mine, Will and Cam’s Wedding Novella
Book 5: It’s Only Love (Gavin & Ella)
Book 6: Ain’t She Sweet (Tyler & Charlotte)
Butler, Vermont Series (a continuation of the Green Mountain Series)
Book 1: Every Little Thing (Grayson & Emma)
Book 2: Can’t Buy Me Love (Patrick & Mary)
Book 3: Here Comes the Sun (Wade & Mia)
Book 4: Till There Was You (Lucus & Danielle)
About the Author
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. Duchess By Deception is the first in her new historical romance Gilded Series, that will continue with Deceived By Desire in September 2019.
Her books have sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list 30 times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journalbestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a three-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
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