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Sometimes you have to tear everything down and start over…
Private security specialist Samantha Jane Carson gets the surprise of her life when she arrives at Blake Enterprises for the annual security audit. Instead of her usual contact, she’s greeted by the company president himself, the sexy and elusive J.J. Blake. It’s her job to know everything about the Blake family, and J.J.’s recent divorce is the talk of the town. Women are lined up to become the next Mrs. Blake, and who wouldn’t want to be? J.J.’s gorgeous, rich, and has stormy green eyes that hold women captive.
J.J. Blake is making some major changes in his life. Freshly divorced from ex-wife Eden, he’s building a new house, coming to terms with the injury that ended his NFL career, and is ready to start fresh—without romance complicating things. His friends and family encourage him to get back into the dating pool, but he’d rather not be sucked into those rough waters again. Work is the obvious diversion, and he opts to handle the security audit himself for some good old-fashioned guy/tech work. But when Sam Carson walks into his office, J.J.’s brought up short. The “Sam” he was expecting turns out to be Samantha—beautiful, smart, and a tough-as-nails ex-cop in a polished, professional package. And she’s just the kind of woman who could drag him under…
J.J. Blake woke to find his bed empty and a note from Eden on the pillow saying she didn’t have it in her to say goodbye. He stared at the ceiling, wishing he could stay in bed for the rest of the day with the memory of the heady, lust-filled night with his ex-wife. He’d danced with her at Seth and Morgan’s wedding. Four dances later, they’d swiped a bottle of champagne and retired to the house for one last night of passion. As soon as J.J. opened the door, years of angst let loose like a broken dam as they stripped each other and made love into the wee hours of the night. It was the perfect way to end their otherwise disastrous marriage. Sex was only time the two of them weren’t at each other’s throats.
He roamed around his living room, taking one last look at the place. After two weeks of scouring the house he was pretty sure he’d removed anything of sentimental value. A picture of Eden and him on their wedding day sat on the mantle. It hadn’t been there yesterday. She must have brought it with her. He picked it up and smiled, thinking how happy and clueless he’d been back then. Still, it had no place in the house anymore, so he snagged it and put it in the kitchen trash. Satisfied, he went outside to put a few things in his truck.
“Mr. Blake, we should be ready for phase two in about a half hour.”
He nodded at the foreman. “Thanks, Jesse.”
A truck headed toward them on the road. He could see his mother’s red hair peeking over the steering wheel. She parked and cut the engine.
J.J. helped her get out of the vehicle. “Good morning, Momma.”
“Good morning baby. Is Eden here? I saw you leave with her last night.” She looked around for her daughter-in-law’s car.
“She left hours ago. Did you want to say goodbye?”
“No, we said our goodbyes. We had a long talk last night.”
J.J. furrowed his eyebrows. “You did?”
Teri-Lyn touched his arm. “I told her that I’m sorry things turned out the way they did and I wished her the best.”
“Wow. Thanks for saying that Momma.”
“Just because the two of you didn’t work out doesn’t mean there isn’t true happiness out there for each of you.”
“If this relationship has taught me one thing, it’s that I’m just not cut out for marriage.”
“You can’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do. It took seven years to figure that out and I will not go through it again.”
“Promise me you’ll think about it some more before you cast that die into the universe.”
The rest of the family was beginning to arrive. J.J.’s brother Seth pulled up and was helping his wife Morgan and their kids out of their truck.
Morgan came over and kissed him on the cheek. “Hey, J.J.”
“Can’t wait to see this surprise you have for us.” Seth laughed as he balanced his twin boys Connor and Colby in each arm.
“Just a little spring cleaning.” J.J. scooped his Jake nephew into his arms.
It was time to begin anew and it felt right to have his family with him when he did it. The rest of the family began pulling up. John Jacob, Tyler and Channing arrived together in his dad’s truck while Tate and Isabelle came riding up on horseback. J.J. scanned the Blake clan, who were all assembled on his front lawn. Morgan’s mouth gaped open when she spied the button in his hand. He winked at her and she nodded back, apparently she understood what he was trying to tell her. She gave him the inspiration, after all. He’d laughed for a half hour when he’d found that steamy romance novel she’d snuck into his briefcase during his visit to Philadelphia, but when he’d read it, he’d realized what was missing in his world.
“Thank you for coming out this morning as I bid goodbye to the past.” J.J. pressed the button and felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders when the house began to crumble. He’d gotten the idea to start over with a literal clean slate while he was traveling for business. He visited a prospective property for a land deal and was overtaken by the serenity of the open space with nothing but the blue sky and luscious greenery all around. When he saw the blueprints Morgan’s brother Jared had drawn up for Jake’s tree house, he knew he’d found the right architect to help him design his new home.
No one really knew what to say; the look of shock and awe was plastered on their faces. Finally his brother Tate started clapping. The rest of the family, including the twins, Connor and Colby, joined Tate.
“Uncle J.J., your house go boom.” Jake clapped.
“It sure did. Now I get to build a new one that will have a great room for you, Connor and Colby.”
“Yay!” Jake clapped harder.
“Is this your way of announcing your separation?” Channing raised an eyebrow.
“Eden and I are divorced. It was finalized last month.”
“And you waited a month to tell us because…?” Seth asked.
“I didn’t want to disrupt the festivities of your wedding,” J.J. replied.
Tyler raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you two leave together last night?”
J.J. shrugged. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, I wish you the best on to the next chapter in your life,” Channing quipped.
“All I ever wanted was for you to happy.” Tate patted his shoulder.
“Me too. So what now?” Seth added.
“It’s time to rebuild.” J.J. looked on as the construction men started clearing debris.
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