Fall For Me: Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 1 by Heather Slade
Date of Publication: August 28, 2017
Fate put her in his path, and he has no intention of ever letting her go.
Olivia Fairchild gave up her dream of being a competitive barrel racer at nineteen, to follow her first love wherever his life as an F15 pilot took them. When his plane was shot down months later, right before the birth of their daughter, Liv's world shattered. She returned to her parents' isolated ranch in Colorado to raise her daughter alone. One year led into the next, and before she knew it, her daughter was grown and gone—leaving Liv bored and cranky. She finds herself spending too much time on social media feeds, cyber-stalking the hot guitar player she met at a concert over the summer.
Ben Rice recognized her as soon as he saw her sitting at the bar. Liv, that was her name, and fate kept bringing them together. The first time he saw her, after his band CB Rice opened at Red Rocks, he watched her. She loved music—and she felt it. Not everyone did. She danced, she laughed, she smiled, she lived. That was why he remembered her name when he introduced himself at the end of the show. "I'm Liv," she'd said. And he was ready to. He'd endured too many struggles in the last few years. He'd worked hard to keep the band going, and he wasn't going to give up. With a new record about to be released, this was their year—he could feel it.
Used to getting what he wants, Ben pursued the reluctant Liv. But knowing he wanted more from her than she was willing to give, she told him following a man around the globe wasn't in the stars for her. Been there, done that, retired the t-shirt. She had her own stars to chase this time.
When those stars fall around her feet, and Ben refuses to let her sweep them up alone, how could a girl not love him? And when she does, how can she let him go? A better question is how can she ask him to stay when she sees how bright his future could be without her?
This is book can be read as a standalone with no cliffhanger.
I have a week before I have to go back,” Renie said when they finished cleaning up from the Christmas party they’d hosted the night before. “Let’s going skiing.”
“I’d love it. Where to?”
Renie stopped what she was doing. “You’re kidding, right?”
Liv laughed. “Well, you might want to go somewhere else.”
“No, Mom. Crested Butte is our place.”
When they woke the next morning the sun was shining, and the weather forecast was good for the rest of the weekend.
They packed their bags and skis and got on the road, making the two-hundred-mile drive to Crested Butte in a little over five hours.
“Let’s go to the Goat tonight,” Renie suggested after they checked into the hotel at the base of the ski area. “I’ve always wanted to hang out there.
Liv yawned and checked the time. They’d arrived at the hotel a little after five, and she was hungry.
“Do they have food?”
Renie shrugged. “How would I know?”
Liv laughed. “Right.”
Her daughter had recently turned twenty-one, so it would be the first time she’d be allowed into the bar that was a Crested Butte institution. It was located in the middle of the historic downtown district, on Elk Avenue.
“If they don’t, we can always leave and eat somewhere else.”
They took the shuttle from the ski area down to the main part of town, and walked a half block to the Goat.
“I look like I’m a hundred years older than anyone else in here,” Liv mumbled when they walked into the bar.
“You’re not, and you’re gorgeous. Everyone will think you’re my sister, not my mom. We’re staying.”
A few minutes later Liv noticed a poster promoting bands scheduled to play at the bar. CB Rice was playing the next night—what were the odds?
“What’s up, Mom?”
“CB Rice is playing here tomorrow night. Remember—”
“The guy you met at Red Rocks. Yeah, his family owns this place.”
“The Rice family. His grandfather developed the ski area. His family owned most of the businesses downtown at one point.”
“How do you know this?”
“What are the magazines they leave in hotel rooms for? Haven’t you ever read the history of Crested Butte? We’ve been coming here at least once a year since I learned to ski.”
No, she hadn’t read the history of Crested Butte. As a single mom, she had her hands full unloading bags, getting skis, boots, and snow clothes ready. Then figuring out where they’d go for dinner and how she’d entertain her daughter until bedtime. Not that Renie wasn’t helpful, or able to entertain herself, but most of the responsibility for everything they did fell on Liv’s shoulders. It had been that way since Renie was born. By the time she fell into bed each night, Liv had no energy left to read a book, or even a magazine. It was true at home and worse when they traveled.
“By the way, I didn’t meet him at Red Rocks, we saw him play at Red Rocks.”
“He’s the guy who introduced himself, I know he is. Look.” Renie pointed to a photo behind the bar. “See, that’s him right there.”
There he was, right there. Liv felt the familiar ache between her legs as she looked at the photo. The man made her quiver. She shuddered. What’s wrong with me? I cannot think this way. I’m with my daughter.
“And, wow! There he is.” Renie pointed behind her mom.
Liv turned to see Ben greet customers as he took off his red and black plaid Woolrich jacket and hung it on the coat rack inside the door. The man was gorgeous. Well over six feet tall, he had the broad shoulders of an athlete. Ben was muscular, not body-builder muscular, but hard-as-rock muscular. He reached up to put the straw cowboy hat that covered his shaved head, on the rack with his jacket.
He turned and looked straight at her, bestowing her with a charming smile.
“Hey, sweetheart.” He reached for her hand. “It’s good to see you again.”
Liv doubted he recognized her, and even if she looked familiar, she was sure he didn’t remember from where.
“You were at the show at Red Rocks last summer.”
Gah. Liv almost swallowed her tongue as Ben turned and gave Renie the same warm welcome.
Oh no. This was the worst thing ever. Liv was imagining the guy talking to her twenty-one-year-old daughter, naked. What if Ben was interested inRenie?
“What’s wrong?” Renie asked. Which part of that had she said out loud? Ben was looking at her too.
“Um…nothing, I think I left the iron on in the hotel room. Renie, can you please take me back to the hotel? You can come back later if you want to.”
“Mom, I turned the iron off. You didn’t even use it.”
Damn. She didn’t have another reason to leave. But she didn’t want to watch her daughter be wooed by a man who made her heart race the wayBen did.
“Good, you can stay. What are you drinkin’?”
“I’ll have another beer.” Wait, where had that come from? She didn’t want to stay and watch this. It would be as though she was watching the train wreck of her non-existent sex life. With her daughter driving the train.
“That’s my girl,” she heard Ben say. Who was he talking to? Her, or Renie? Her heart beat so hard she couldn’t hear herself think.
Where did Renie run off to anyway? Liv saw her a couple stools over. She was talking to a guy that came in when Ben did. Renie rested her hand on his forearm and leaned into him as he talked. A wall of male blocked her line of sight as Ben maneuvered his way back to the bar stool Renie vacated.
“Here you go. So tell me, what brings you to Crested Butte? You don’t live around here. I mean, I’d know if you did.”
“Skiing,” she answered between drinks of her beer. “My daughter goes back to school in a few days. We thought we’d sneak a quick trip in beforeshe did.”
“I’m Ben,” he said. “I’m not sure if you remember.”
“And I’m Liv.” Of course she remembered. He was being polite because he hadn’t.
“It’s nice to meet you again, Liv.” He glanced at her near-empty beer, the one he had just gotten for her. She was so nervous, she chugged her beer.
“Be mindful of the altitude, Liv. Beer goes to your head a lot quicker at nine-thousand feet than it does in…”
“We’re from Monument.” She couldn’t look him in the eye, he was too…hot.
“Is that near Denver, or is it Colorado Springs?”
“Both. It’s between the two. And we’re at 7,000 feet. But you’re right, I must’ve been more thirsty than I thought. Listen, um, I’m going to take the shuttle back to the ski area. Please tell Renie I left her these, and I’ll see her back at the hotel. Thanks.”
Liv set her car keys on the bar, and fled. She was little, five feet four, and one hundred and twenty-five pounds. She had no problem weaving her way in and out of the crowd forming in the popular bar.
Please don’t let him follow me, she silently pleaded. She saw the ski area shuttle a few feet from her. She jumped on just before the driver closedthe door.
About Heather Slade
My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.
I'm an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.
I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.