Jamison, Book 10 in the fan-favorite Farraday Country series, is set in cattle-ranching west Texas with all the friends, family and fun that fans have come to expect from USA TODAY Bestselling author Chris Keniston.
Praise for the Farraday Series:
"Loved it. Fast moving and fun." Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling Author on DECLAN
"My kind of read! Spend an afternoon with a great romance story, a feisty heroine, and one unforgettable hero." Lindsay McKenna, New York Times Bestselling Author on ADAM
"Chris Keniston gives us a world you'll never want to leave." Emily March, New York Times Bestselling Author of Eternity Springs series on FARRADAY COUNTRY SERIES
“Spellbinding!” Lori Wilde, New York Times Bestselling Author on ETHAN
More Books in the Farraday Country Series:
Adam – Book 1
Brooks – Book 2
Connor – Book 3
Declan – Book 4
Ethan – Book 5
Finn – Book 6
Grace – Book 7
Hannah – Book 8
Ian – Book 9
Jamison Book 10
Keeping Eileen - Fall 2018
Praise for Sweet Aloha Series :
"This warmhearted sweet read will draw readers in and keep them flipping to the last romantic page.” Nancy Naigle, USA TODAY Bestselling Author
"Chris Keniston never disappoints! Readers will adore Aloha Texas." RaeAnne Thayne NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author
For more on Chris and her other series check out her website
Or follow her on facebook Chris Keniston Author
Release date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Indie House Publishing
Print pages: 150
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Timing was everything, and now was the time.
Scattered pieces of crumbling construction, dust, mildew and old age mingled, creating the sweetest smell on earth. Jamison Farraday squeezed the keys to the ancient building in his hand—an establishment all his own. Well, not exactly his, but he would be the general manager. The concept, the research, the plans, those were all his. Fed and nurtured by years of observing, learning, working, and saving. Financed by one of the more successful conglomerates in the bar and nightclub industry.
“Are you sure about this?” Ian, his brother, and DJ, his cousin, swatted their arms, cutting through dangling cobwebs, making their way across the abandoned storefront.
“Never been more sure of anything in my life.”
Ian smiled at his older brother. “Anyone else and I’d have said you lost your mind, but I’m guessing this won’t be the last time you prove us short-sighted mortals wrong.”
Having the support of his family was probably the best reason he’d dared to dream, taken chances, worked his butt off at every job in the business until he was sure he could pull of his big dream. A family style Irish pub.
“You do know that Mabel Berkner is already starting up a petition to appeal the vote to sell liquor in this county.” DJ brushed the dust from his hands. “Not that she’s going to get very far with it, but she’s not the only one in town with ruffled feathers over this.”
“I expected a little flack, but by the time we’re ready and open for business and the crime rate doesn’t skyrocket overnight due to,” Jamison put on a thick southern accent, “our vile influence, everyone will settle down and get back to the business of ordinary living.”
“So what exactly is the plan?” Walking about, DJ eyed the exposed rafters.
“The architect we chose for the project is putting the most recent changes on paper. Final plans should be ready any day now. With plan approval in hand, the money men will take on the next step after the letter of intent and ink the final contract with Mr. Thomas. Then we’ll be down to a few more weeks for the title company to do their magic. I can hardly wait to get a crew in here. Clean it out and rebuild.”
“I can see it.” Ian stood in place, looking around and nodding. “I really can. Knotty pine walls?”
Jamie bobbed his head.
“Dance floor?” DJ asked.
Again, Jamie nodded. His smile pulling tighter against his cheeks. He had it all worked out. Including having lined up some of the best craft beers in Texas. One company on the verge of expanding even talked of growing out here, away from the overcrowded city.
The corners of Ian’s mouth tipped skyward, exposing the dimples the girls always gushed over. “Irish music?”
“Oh yeah.” Jamie grinned back at his brother.
DJ chuckled. “If that doesn’t have Uncle Brian here every weekend crooning with Dad, Saint Patrick isn’t Irish.”
“I’m counting on more folks than Dad feeling that way.” Jamison slapped his cousin on the back. “I wish all the legal stuff were over and done. I’ve been itching to get working on this place for months and now it’s all so close.”
“Overseeing concept, design, and now construction before the doors even open. Sounds like you’re going to be wearing an awful lot of hats on this project.” Adam Farraday crossed the threshold. “On my way back to the clinic and I saw the door open. Y’all throwing a party without me?”
“Wouldn’t think of it,” Jamie answered, glancing down at the express mail tube in his cousin’s arm. “What’s that?”
“Oh, Maggie at the post office asked me to give this to you.”
“The plans.” Jamie couldn’t get the container open fast enough.
Adam stood shoulder to shoulder with his brother. “For this place?”
“Yes.” Jamie squatted on the ground and unrolled the large pages.
His brother hovered behind him. “Why didn’t they just email them?”
“I don’t know.” Jamie studied the architectural rendering. “That’s what I was expecting.”
“You’re frowning.” Ian inched closer. “What is it?”
Jamie shook his head. He had to be looking at the wrong plans. Turning the page, he scooted around to align the front of the store with the top of the plans. There was no mistaking what he saw. Nothing was laid out the way the planning committee and the architect had originally discussed, the way he and the backers had agreed. “This doesn’t even look like a pub.” He pointed to the back section of the drawing. “This should be the dance floor.”
“I’m not an architect,” DJ leaned forward more, “but there doesn’t seem to be anything remotely like a dance floor on that page anywhere.”
“That’s because there isn’t. What should be space for a little boot scooting is an open kitchen.” Jaimie had worked enough bars and restaurants to know the concept and recognize it on paper. He looked to the corner of the drawings. Above the architect’s scales and name was the street address and town for the project. Correct. The establishment not so much. Not a pub. Not his pub. Hemingway’s International Grill. What the …
“From the look on your face,” Ian stretched upright, “I gather this is news to you?”
Jamie stabbed at his phone, held it to his ear and nodded.
“Is it that bad?” Ian asked.
“International grill,” Jamie muttered. “This town is no place for a chain restaurant.”
DJ looked from his cousin to his brother. “I suppose that’s no worse than Irish.”
“Seriously?” Jamie stared at his cousin. Before he could say another word, voice mail kicked in. “Thank you for calling Crocker International—”
“Like Betty Crocker?” Ian asked wide-eyed.
Jamie shook his head and mumbled, “No relation.” The recording came to an end and the beep signaled his turn to talk. He’d have much preferred speaking to Jeff Nimbus in person, but this would have to do. “Jeff, Jamison Farraday here. Just received the blueprints for The Public House and they’re marked Hemingway’s. Give me a call when you have a minute.”
“Don’t bite my head off,” Ian held a hand out at him, “but is there a reason an Irish pub is better suited to this town than an international grill?”
“An Irish pub is basically Abbie’s small town café with an accent. And in our case, local wine, maybe if all goes well, beer, and of course dancing. Pubs are neighborhood watering holes. People know each other. Men have a drink and tell stories that have been handed down for ages. Young and old gather.”
“He has a point.” Adam shrugged. “Except for the booze and dancing, it sounds an awful lot like the café.”
“Of course I have a point. Every small town in Ireland has and supports its own pub. The same would be true here, except Tuckers Bluff isn’t so small anymore, we’re growing.”
“With all the advertising the county’s been doing for the ghost town circuit, the vineyard the Brady’s have been working, and a hospital in town, we’re growing faster than any other small town in West Texas. And mark my words, if given a choice, folks living halfway to Butler Springs will want to come here to the pub for some dancing and a drink or two rather than go all the way to Butler Springs for the same old same old.”
DJ hooked his hand around the back of his neck. “I’ll admit, if international is code word for fancy and expensive, then Jamie’s right. Folks won’t be banging down the doors.”
“It’s worse than that.” Jamie raked his fingers through his hair and then hung his hand along the back of his neck. “Can you see the fine citizens of Tuckers Bluff eating sushi?”
“Sushi?” Adam’s forehead folded into layers. “What does Hemingway have to do with sushi?”
“The man, nothing, but the restaurant serves everything trendy. They’re based in California and last year spread their wings to Austin and Dallas. They cater to urban millennials.” In his shirt pocket, his phone buzzed. Recognizing the number, DJ was surprised to get a response from Nimbus so quickly. “Hello.”
“Hey, was on a conference call. Isn’t it great news?”
“Yes. Babcock Foods wants in. We negotiated a sweet deal. Hemingway’s is all the rage.”
“In LA, sure. Maybe even Dallas, but it’s not a fit for West Texas.”
“Nonsense. Our research shows—”
“You mean my research.”
“No, Jamison. Our merchandising department ran some backup market analysis. The pub idea is good.”
Better than good, but no point repeating that now.
“And without Babcock Foods, we would have followed through. But Babcock has very deep pockets and this is the perfect alliance for Crocker to branch out to the restaurant side of the industry. If Babcock wants Hemingway’s in Tuckers Bluff, they’re going to get it.”
This wasn’t good. “Someone needs to explain to the board that this is not the time to—”
“It’s a done deal, Jamie. There’s no explaining. Come Monday, the final papers will be signed. The question is, do you still want to be a part of this?”
* * *
Standing on her feet from dawn to dusk, and then some, was Abbie’s reality. One she and her painfully expensive shoes had made peace with a very long time ago.
“Here, drink this.” Frank, the cook, slid a warm mug in front of her. “It won’t do much for your feet, but it will help your mood.” One corner of the man’s mouth tilted up in a cheeky grin. “I put some of your special stash in it.”
She kept a bottle of Bailey’s under the counter for the occasional customer who needed a little something extra in their coffee after an especially rough day. Or night. She didn’t care much for the taste of it herself unless it was buried deep in something chocolaty, but Frank knew that. The something special wouldn’t equate to much more than a splash. His desired intent accomplished. To make her smile.
Looking out for her had become a regular part of Frank’s routine through the years. Some days she didn’t need looking after as much as others, but she always appreciated it, appreciated him. Another slow sip of the chocolaty brew slid all the way down to her toes. “Just what I needed.”
“What you need,” Frank stepped back and took his place behind the grill, “is a day off. A real day off. Or two.”
This wasn’t the first nor the last time she expected to hear the same advice. “You sound like a broken record.”
“That doesn’t make it any less true.”
“Would that be the pot calling the kettle black?” The man worked every shift right along side her. She’d tried hiring a part time cook to give Frank a break, but the sour Marine became surlier than ever. In the end he once again became ruler supreme of his kitchen kingdom.
Reluctant to set the mug down, she took another sip, lingering in the relaxation a moment longer. The dinner rush would be picking up soon and as good as Shannon, the evening shift waitress, was at her job, Abbie needed to get out of the kitchen and do her share.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” Plating an order, Frank didn’t bother to look up.
She blew on the warm liquid even though it was no longer that hot. “What’s there to worry about?”
“You could get a liquor license too.”
“This is a café, not a night club.” Besides, rumor had it the town council was considering limiting the number of liquor licenses to keep Mabel Berkner happy. That woman’s devotion to a dry county would have made her temperance ancestors very proud.
“A dance floor wouldn’t hurt. A small one.” He rang the bell for Shannon to pick up her order.
They’d had this conversation before as well. The first time had been back when word got about that a new supper club was considering setting up here in town. Then the conversation resumed when the referendum came about to change Tuckers Bluff from a dry to wet town, making the county more appealing to competition. Worried or not, either way, her mind was set about not changing the cafe. Pushing away from the stainless prep area she’d been leaning against, she blew out a short breath. If only she could expel life’s aggravations as easily. “I’ll take that out.”
Lifting his chin to see over the shiny metal on deck shelf in front of him, Frank leveled his gaze with hers but didn’t say another word. He didn’t have to. She could see the worry in his eyes. Not that he had any reason to. Today was no different than any other day over the years. Except he was right about one thing. She was tired. Not just from working six and half days a week, every week, but the kind of tired that stopped a heart from dreaming, and after all these years, she wanted to dream again.
* * *
“I’ll be honest.” Jamie’s Uncle Sean rubbed at his chin. “Never understood why you’d want to take an idea you are so sure of, do the brunt of the work for, and let someone else reap most of the benefits.”
“That’s easy.” Catherine, his cousin Connor’s wife, chimed in. “Money. Building out a restaurant where there wasn’t one before is an extremely expensive venture. Then you have to squirrel away the funds to run the operation for at least six months while the patronage grows enough to support the business, never mind make a profit. A year would be even better. And then, in this case, include the purchase of real estate involved, well…”
“How much money are we talking?” His cousin Finn, the youngest of the West Texas Farraday brothers, dropped his ankle over his knee and took a sip of his beer.
“No.” Jamie skipped over answering the original question and jumped straight to the next one he knew would be coming. No matter how confident he was, he would not put his family’s money at risk. It’s why he hadn’t said anything to his West Texas kin until the deal was an inch from signed, sealed and delivered.
“No money involved?” Finn’s wife Joanna took a seat on the arm of her husband’s chair and grinned up at Jamie. A full-time writer, the woman had an interesting sense of humor—and irony—and could tease and rag on the family as good as the members born into the Farraday clan.
Aunt Eileen stood up from her spot on the sofa beside his uncle and moved to the ottoman along side Jamie. When his aunt got that determined look in her eye, he knew the chances of walking through a cow pen on shipping day without stepping on a paddy were greater than withstanding Force Eileen.
Glancing around the room of relatives, it dawned on him that almost everyone had that same expression painted on their faces. Whether they’d been born a Farraday or married one. He should have realized when his cousins from town and their spouses had shown up for a family supper in the middle of the week that there was more to the visit than hot food and a little moral support. Something else was brewing.
Aunt Eileen set her hand on his forearm. “We’ve been talking.”
“When?” Except for the time it took to drive from town to the ranch, Jamie had been with his aunt and uncle all evening.
She shrugged. “I suppose the conversation started back when you first mentioned bringing a pub to Tuckers Bluff.”
“Thought you’d lost your mind.” Uncle Sean chuckled. “Then I started listening a little more closely to the conversations around town. Paying attention to exactly how many folks go driving to Butler Springs for a special dinner or a little Friday night shuffle. More than I’d realized, I’ll tell you that.”
Aunt Eileen rolled her eyes at her brother-in-law. “Just cause you’re a homebody doesn’t mean the rest of the world is.”
“Since when is being a family man a bad thing?” Uncle Sean’s brow knit together.
“Even family men are allowed to get out of the house once in a while.”
“I get out.”
Waving a finger at her brother-in-law, Aunt Eileen’s mouth dropped open. “The barn isn’t considered—”
A loud whistle pierced the air cutting off conversation. Finn’s fingers slid away from his lips. “Can we focus please?”
Meg, Adam’s wife, flashed a broad approving grin at Finn before picking up the dropped thread of conversation. “Look at Friday Girls’ Night. We not only spend money for food or entertainment if we go to Butler Springs, we spend a ton on gas too. Just saving money on driving, never mind the time, would bring an awful lot of folks to a new night spot.”
DJ leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “I’ll admit I’ve been a bit concerned over what this would mean for Abbie. Frankly, I think she’s a little worried too, though she won’t admit it. But Dad’s right. This town and folks nearby spend a lot of money trucking all the way to Butler Springs. As long as the place is different from what Abbie offers, I think we can handle two choices for dinner.”
“What about lunch?” Becky, DJ’s wife, asked.
Jamie shook his head. “Not practical.” Though with the new direction Crocker wanted to take, he had no idea what the group’s intentions were anymore.
“You’re frowning.” Aunt Eileen’s brows buckled to match his. “What are you thinking?”
His recent concerns over the impact of Crocker’s possible new plans wasn’t something he wanted to expand on just yet. At this point he needed to focus on what he knew would work. “To start, the pub would be open for long weekends only. Thursday through Sunday. No lunch. No hard impact on the café.”
He didn’t have to say anything else. Several men cut from the same gene pool shifted forward or back, but all grit their teeth and nodded.
DJ sucked in a long breath. “And there are no guarantees what the backers will do now?”
Jamie shook his head. He should have known better than to assume he’d be the only one in the room to put the pieces together. “If they’re not following through on the deal as originally planned, there’s no telling what else they will, or won’t, do.”
“I’m not in the real estate or restaurant business,” Uncle Sean looked to his nephew, “but that building has been an eye sore on this town, sitting empty every since the feed store expanded across the street almost two decades ago. Not many people have a need for a place that size and old Jake Thomas asked a king’s ransom of anyone who showed interest. The way I see it, he wasn’t at all serious about selling till you brought a deal to the table.”
There was a grain of truth in what his uncle said. Jamie knew for a fact that there was a sense of owing the Farradays a debt for standing behind his son in an effort to keep him out of jail. Not that Jamie had been all that sure it wasn’t more a matter of timing, wanting all his business deals off his hands, the way he’d sold the feed store to Grace’s husband. Regardless, whatever the reason for the old man’s change of heart, Jamie was kicking up his heels. Or had been.
“Actually,” Adam spoke up, “there’s a rumor going around that without Farraday involvement, the old man won’t sell.”
That had Jamie’s ears perking up. “Where’d you hear that?”
Grace’s husband, Chase, smiled and raised one finger. “I may have planted a seed or two when I spoke with Jake this afternoon. Mentioned that I could see where it would have disturbed him to hear Jamie is considering stepping out of the project. The words the new plans were doomed to fail might have been mentioned, along with folks are slow to trust strangers around here without someone from town to back them up.”
“Not bad, hubby.” Grace leaned over and kissed Chase on the cheek. She, like Jamie, knew that the deal struck by Crocker was a lower point of sale with a profit percentage over time. “Not bad at all.”
“Hey,” he ran the back of his knuckles along her chin, “I may have given up life on Wall Street, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to play the game.”
Game. Could he even consider what his family was setting up for him? Buy the place himself? Single and simple living had allowed him to stash some money. Nothing near enough for an investment like this on his own or he wouldn’t have settled for general manager to a company with Crocker’s track record. He’d dismissed business loans as an option. The kind of money he’d need, loans could be crippling when it came to getting the business off the ground. And even if he were willing to take the risk, he’d need more collateral. And that he didn’t have.
“Did you know old man Thomas carried the note for me when I bought the feed store?”
“I’d bet with the building as collateral banks would be willing to lend the money for the remodel,” Meg volunteered. “I may even still have a few connections that can help.”
He’d forgotten she used to run a boutique hotel and restaurant when she lived in Dallas. Still, the whole idea was simply crazy. Even with his savings and some good connections, with a note attached, the building wouldn’t be very attractive as collateral.
“Well, I think investing in this town is a smart idea.” Uncle Sean skewered his nephew with a stern glare. “I’d be willing to kick in for a share of the building, and I’m thinking so would your dad.”
A few voices tumbled over each other with comments along the lines of they each had money just burning a hole in their pocket. He knew they weren’t lying. He had savings as well and banks paid miserable interest rates. He also knew that risking their life’s savings wasn’t the Farraday way.
“And before you go thinking this is some silly whim,” Uncle Sean waved a finger at him, “there’s a condition attached.”
"Condition?” He hadn’t even agreed to let the family help and his uncle was already talking conditions.
“Let me guess.” Adam looked to his dad. “You want the place called Farradays.”
“Well, it does make sense,” Aunt Eileen almost scolded her oldest nephew.
“Actually,” Uncle Sean spoke directly to Jamie, “a good Irish pub needs a good Irish name.”
“Farraday’s isn’t Irish?” Aunt Eileen muttered.
“I was thinking something a bit older than that,” Uncle Sean leaned forward, “O’Fearadaigh’s.”
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