Reaching For Risks: A Bloo Moose Romance
Reading a Blue Moose Romance is all about getting lost in an adventure while watching the romance unfold.YR Reads
Quinn Charters has turned CharterGear Sporting Goods into a thriving business to spite his rich and rotten family. When they start contacting him with demands he wonders if its time to leave town. But there's a certain B&B owner who makes him want to stay. If only he could figure out why he makes her nervous.
An accident that damages Quinn's store has him staying at the B&B and helping out with the renovations. And wondering what else is hidden in that renovation notebook of hers. When Quinn's brother returns to Bloo Moose to try to strong-arm him into helping out the family business, Darby's anxiety jumps and Quinn digs deep to discover the cause.
Darby should have added Stay Alive to her Risk List.
Reaching For Risks is the second book in the Bloo Moose Romance series. Each book can be read as a standalone. The book contains some strong language and sexy times. Enjoy the read!
Release date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Jemi Fraser @ Just Jemi Books
Print pages: 340
Content advisory: The book contains some strong language and sexy times. Enjoy the read!
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Reaching For Risks: A Bloo Moose Romance
The Nosy Trinity
Darby Banks swung into the front parlor of her B&B where the Nosy Trinity graced three of the wingback chairs like lace doilies come to life. Their perfumes tickled her nose and on a bright day their glasses could start fires but they were sweet. Even better, the trio sent a whole lot of business her way.
Mrs. LeClair waved Darby over before she could place the fully-laden tray on the coffee table. The woman leaned forward to study the cookies. A small smile lifted her lips as she nabbed the one with an extra glop of icing. “Gingerbread in March, you’re so good to us, Darby.”
“Nothing but the best for your last night with us.” Darby set the tray down and poured peppermint tea into her best china cups. Marshmallow, one of the cats who’d adopted her, nudged her hand and tried to poke his nose into the cup. Should have called him Peppermint but the white coat had been matted in tiny clumps when he’d shown up so Marshmallow it was.
When she lifted the cups to the ladies, the cat turned up his nose and leapt to his favorite spot on the window ledge between the ivy and the umbrella plant.
Darby smiled as she handed out tea and cookies. The Nosy Trinity had been spending two weeks in her B&B for years. They wrote great reviews and referred many of their friends. Whatever treats they wanted, they got. If her grandmothers were still alive, she imagined they’d get along well with these three.
Darby’s only family remaining was her brother and while they were close, it wasn’t the same as having a mother or grandmother around. These ladies filled some of the gap even if they were an eccentric bunch.
“That’s a lovely sweater, Darby.” Mrs. Theriault leaned forward to rub the wool between her fingers. “Don’t you have one just the same, Maria?”
Darby’s arm jerked and she looked at Mrs. Reyes, who was nodding. “I do, except mine is blue. I wore it yesterday. That’s the one my granddaughter bought me for my birthday a few years ago. You have lovely taste, my dear.”
She was wearing the same clothes as an octogenarian?
“Oh, look. Our shoes are almost the same, too.”
No. No way.
Except yes. The styles were shockingly similar. Darby’s pulse picked up and her cheeks heated.
“You could be one of our group, Darby and join us on our tramps through the Vermont countryside.”
Everyone laughed and if anyone noticed her own was tinged with hysteria, they were too polite to mention it.
Darby didn’t spend a lot of time on her appearance, she had a B&B to run. Besides, cooking, baking, cleaning and laundry didn’t lend themselves to trendy clothes.
But, when had she bought this sweater? When was the last time she’d gone shopping?
“Have you thought about adding a splash of lipstick, Darby?”
Darby’s hand flew to her unadorned lips.
All three curly white heads tipped in her direction. Three mouths pursed in disapproval. “Men like a bit of color. On the cheeks as well. You don’t need to look sallow, you know.” Three heads bobbed in agreement.
“Washed out isn’t in, dear. You need to wear makeup.”
“Not so much that you look like a tart, though.”
Mrs. Theriault smirked. “Depends on what kind of man she’s looking to catch.”
The other two women twittered then Mrs. Theriault leaned forward in what she obviously thought was a discreet whisper. She was wrong. “Maybe it’s a woman she’s wanting to catch.” She straightened and lifted innocent eyes at Darby. “Are you one of the lesbians, dear?”
Mrs. Reyes shook her head. “Lesbians wear lipstick, too. Do keep up with the times, Jean. Leslie and Irene always look lovely. They could help you, Darby, if they weren’t back home in Boston.”
Darby managed to back up a step. Her nearest escape was the kitchen door, a dozen feet behind her.
Mrs. Reyes, of the thick-as-bread-slice nylons and sweater-twin to Darby, pointed her finger at Darby’s jeans. “You should show a little leg, Darby. Men do like to look at legs. Makes them think romantic thoughts.” The women all swished their skirts in unison.
Like geriatric cheerleaders.
Darby took another step closer to freedom.
“Have you thought of doing something differently with your hair?”
Her hair. Unable to stop, she reached up to pat at the ponytail. She didn’t have time to fuss with her hair all the time. A ponytail was practical.
Like her shoes. And sweaters. And lack of makeup.
Two hundred and fifty years of experience studied her, sized her up and found her lacking.
Worse, she wondered if they were right.
“If you need some help finding a man dear, you should have let us know earlier. We’re leaving tomorrow.” And Darby had never been more thankful. “If you’re still struggling, we’ll set up a plan next year.”
Struggling? She wasn’t struggling. She dated.
When was her last date? That boring dinner with what’s his name last summer? Or the summer before?
Yikes. She was struggling.
And it had been ten years since, well, since.
“You’re not getting younger so you’ll need to step on your game if you want to get married one day.” Mrs. LeClair nodded sharply.
Mrs. Theriault laughed. “Up, Diane, step up her game. But you’re right. Time is running out.”
Darby stumbled back another step. She was twenty-eight, not eighty. Twenty-eight was in her prime. Well, not in her dotage, anyway. If she wanted a man, she could go out and get one.
Mrs. Theriault smiled like Cruella De Ville. “I wonder if…”
“The phone,” Darby lied with no compunction, “I hear the phone ringing. Excuse me, I have to go.”
Turning, Darby fled to the relative safety of the kitchen but the women were too close. They could come in at any moment to scrounge for more cookies. Heart racing, Darby ran up to her third-floor apartment where she slammed the door shut, flipped the lock and let herself slip to the floor.
They didn’t know what they were talking about.
Sure, it had been a long time since she’d shopped for clothes or makeup but she couldn’t possibly fit in with the eighty-year-old crowd. Except they didn’t think she was quite that fashionable.
She must have made the noise aloud because Meatball turned his head almost a full inch. The orange tabby had his bulk splayed wide as he let the sunshine warm his belly.
He didn’t care what he looked like, he didn’t care what others thought. Had she turned into Meatball?
The one mirror in the room was a full-length antique mirror she’d bought at a thrift store. At some point she’d tossed an afghan over it. How long ago?
Feeling ridiculous, Darby forced herself to her feet and across the room to stand in front of the mirror. Figuring it was like a bandage, she whipped the afghan off and immediately regretted it.
It was that bad.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Darby counted to ten. Twenty. A hundred.
She certainly didn’t look like a twenty-eight-year-old woman who enjoyed her life. Nothing about her appearance said happy.
Time to put the past in the past where it belonged. Time to move forward. It had been an entire decade. Time to prove to herself that she was past it, that he couldn’t control any part of her. She was in charge.
A shudder ran through her and she glanced back at the mirror. Time for a true assessment of where she was at. Then she could make a list, figure out the equipment needed and tackle it one item at a time. Like her Reno List.
Darby’s heart slowed and her panic eased at the thought of a controllable list. For some people, New Year’s was the time for renewal but for Darby, it was the last two weeks of March. Those weeks were sacred. Every year, she scraped, painted, replaced, remodelled, buffed and polished her B&B until it was fresh and new.
Why had it never occurred to her to do the same for herself?
Because the thought was scary. A whole lot scarier than the renovations.
Too bad. No matter how much it terrified her, she was going to put the past in its place and take a few steps toward looking like a woman in her twenties, not eighties.
A craving for brownies hit her but Darby pushed it aside. Heading to the kitchen meant risking an encounter with the Nosy Trinity and her self-esteem wasn’t up to another pounding. She was going to be brave all on her own without sugar.
Meatball stretched, yawned and strolled over to rub against her legs. Darby scooped him up and picked up her notebook with her other hand. The Reno List and sublists took up pages.
Breathing deeply, she flipped to a clean page.
With a cringe, she moved back to the mirror and took a long look. Talk about depressing. The best that could be said was that she had good hygiene.
Blah ponytail. Blah face. Blah clothes.
Meatball appeared to agree as he leapt from her arms to her bed.
Darby whipped off the offensive sweater and tossed it to the middle of the floor. It would be her burn pile. Beneath the sweater, she wore one of her brother’s t-shirts. As a former Navy SEAL, Sawyer had more muscles than she had recipes and his body mass was easily twice hers. Obviously, the shirt did nothing good for her, especially when it was stained with three, no, four types of batter.
Narrowing her eyes, she took a deep breath and lifted the hem of the shirt. The jeans sagged in more places than she would have believed possible. Did she even have a butt in there?
Before the depression could worm its way in, she turned away from the mirror and focused on her notebooks. Lists always helped.
The first few items were easy.
1.Buy makeup (learn how to use it)
2. Get a hair cut
3.Buy new clothes
Breathing easier, Darby sat back. Sure the items were as scary as a basket of snakes but doable. With some research, she’d be able to figure out where to go and what to buy.
It would be a whole lot easier if she had a close friend but she’d let that lapse along with everything else. Ten wasted years. Way past time to fix it.
Her brother’s girlfriend would be a great choice for a friend. She’d spent a few weeks at the B&B and they’d become close but now Myla had moved in with Sawyer out at his cabin in the woods so they didn’t see each other as often. She could do something about that.
Blowing out a big breath, she picked up her pen and added it to the list.
4. Make a lunch date with Myla.
A glance back at the to-be-burned pile told her she’d made a good start but it wasn’t enough. Not if she was serious about stepping back into the real world. She didn’t only need to dress better but she needed to be better. To believe in herself as a person. As a woman.
5. Buy some sexy lingerie.
A giggle escaped and she squirmed in her seat. She’d obviously let things go far too long if even thinking about sexy underwear had her blushing. Catchup time. Surely wearing the lingerie would give her some power.
6. Cause some fun gossip.
7. Talk with a sexy stranger. (Flirt?)
Could she flirt? Maybe talking would be enough. Unless the lingerie came with flirting instructions, she doubted she’d be able to handle it. Talking to guests at the B&B was easy and natural but chatting with a sexy man? Awkward.
She should be able to think about flirting and lingerie without flinching. She needed to push herself harder if she wanted to end in the land of normal someday.
The next items flew onto the page.
8. Kiss a man.
9. Be kissed by a man.
10. Have a fling.
11. Whipped cream and chocolate sauce?
Laughing out loud, Darby crossed off the last two items as soon as she’d finished writing them. The thought of flirting had her hyperventilating, no way was she anywhere near capable of those last two.
But, they made her smile and she realized she’d missed the most important element of all.
She’d changed a lot since that night. He had taken a lot from her. She’d let him.
Not any more.
She was done behaving like her cats. No more hiding out inside.
Darby titled the page Risk List and added one more item. Time to take the biggest risk of all.
12. Learn to have fun.
Quinn Charters grinned as his latest customers waved and walked out of the shop. His cash register might be happy but he’d tried to talk the couple out of their purchases.
They’d insisted on buying top of the line ice-fishing gear and clothing. Didn’t matter to them that the huts had been pulled off the ice last week because the weather was heating up. More money than sense but who was he to argue with crazy tourists?
To think he’d almost put away the winter stock. Hell, if he’d had enough storage, he’d have done it by now and missed out on a grand’s worth of sales.
Couldn’t realistically avoid it any longer, though. He needed to move in all the summer stock that was currently in boxes towering in every available space. Time to commit to a decision.
He’d moved to Bloo Moose a decade ago out of sheer pissed-offness and a need to get the hell away from his family. He’d landed here because he hadn’t known where else to go.
Old Joe had hired him to help out in the sports store, probably because he’d been hanging around drooling over all the things he couldn’t afford. The old man had let him live in the storage room, helped him figure out how to be a man. A real man. Not one who lived off the misery of others.
When Joe had retired, Quinn had bought him out. Along with the help of a big-ass mortgage from the bank.
Originally, Quinn’s plan had been to become a success, thumb his nose at his family then disappear to another part of the country where he’d never have to see them again.
Not that they’d ever made any attempt to see him. Until recently. Phone calls had started a couple of months back. He hadn’t answered, hadn’t returned their calls, either. Or listened to the messages. Then letters had started arriving, letters he hadn’t opened. Registered mail he’d refused to accept.
They were circling like vultures, which could only mean they wanted something from him. He didn’t plan on giving them a single damn thing.
He could disappear. Sell the store and move. They’d never find him. CharterGear was a success—which still shocked the hell out of him. He’d never imagined himself running a retail business but he loved it.
Starting over again would add some excitement, a new challenge. He’d been edgy lately and he couldn’t lay all that at the feet of his jackass family. Something was missing from his life but he hadn’t figured out what it was.
Maybe a move would be the right step.
Except the quirky town of Bloo Moose had grown on him. He’d been eighteen when his parents had bought their fancy summer house on the bluffs so his father could try and schmooze with a senator. For the first time in Quinn’s life, his time hadn’t been strictly controlled and he’d snuck out of the house and down to the town. Often.
He’d found friends. Friends who didn’t give a shit that his family had money. Friends who played rough and lived out loud. Friends he didn’t want to leave. But he was restless, frustrated. He needed a challenge. Something new.
He couldn’t base a life decision on the fact that none of the women who’d propositioned him lately had anything to offer.
Well, they had sex to offer but that wasn’t enough anymore. They weren’t enough.
And the woman he did want couldn’t seem to look him in the eye.
Maybe it was time to move on.
Circling around the decision was making him nuts.
The chime above the door that sounded like a referee’s whistle blew again and Quinn glanced up to find his buddy Sawyer Banks and his lady, Myla, smiling at each other as they walked into the store. One of those we-only-need-each-other-so-screw-the-world smiles.
It generated another itchy feeling. Maybe it was a woman he needed. Quinn ran his hands over his face. He was driving himself crazy.
His buddy had sure lucked out when the little writer had bumped into town in that ridiculous neon green car of hers. Of course, it had been a couple of crazy weeks before Sawyer had clued in but it had been fun to watch. Well, except for the idiot from Sawyer’s past trying to off the two of them but they’d sorted that out too.
Sawyer slung his arm over Myla’s shoulder and hauled her up on her toes to kiss her like he meant it. When the kiss extended past comfortable, Quinn moved around the counter to approach them. “You guys trying to move spring along with all that heat? You’re going to make my customers think this is a whole different kind of shop.”
Myla’s cheeks flushed crimson but Sawyer just looked smug. Made Quinn’s itch itchier. Maybe he needed to rethink the hookups.
Arm still around Myla, Sawyer guided her through the racks toward the back. On her own, she nearly always got stuck between the piles of overstuffed winter clothes. “You ever going to get your ass in gear and expand already? There’s barely room to move in here.”
“Thinking about it.” He either had to expand the store up into the second-floor apartment or buy a storage unit. Something. And soon. Or move.
“Make a decision already and deal with it. You’re going to lose someone in this maze soon.”
True. “You come in to complain?”
The two exchanged a look that had Quinn squirming. They really needed to get a room.
And he needed to get laid.
Myla grinned and flashed her hand at him. Left hand. Sparkly, big-ass diamond on it. “Holy shit. You guys are engaged?” Quinn pulled Myla from Sawyer’s grip and spun her in a tight hug then kissed her on the lips.
Sawyer growled and tried to tug her back and Quinn grinned. “You jealous, man? I can kiss you too.” The burly former SEAL glowered at him. Myla laughed as Quinn put her down and then he pulled Sawyer into a hug. “Congratulations, you two. I couldn’t be happier for you.”
“You up for best man duties when the time comes?”
A jumble of emotions ran through him. Happiness. Pride. Envy. “Hell, yeah.” Another round of hugs had them all laughing when a huge crack sounded throughout the shop. The floor shook, sending vibrations all through his body.
Sawyer reacted instantly, throwing Myla to the floor and covering her body with his while yanking Quinn down with his other hand. “What the hell was that?”
Silence followed the crack for a long minute then some creaks and groans. Quinn raised up his head and he and Sawyer looked around. Myla couldn’t move from under her fiancee’s protection and recent circumstances probably had her scared to move. Although not much scared her for long. Sawyer was a lucky man.
The crash and creaks were coming from upstairs. No one was up there but that crash wasn’t someone knocking something off a shelf. Quinn pushed to his feet and spoke to Sawyer. “Take her outside. I’m heading up.” He didn’t pause to see if they listened, instead he jogged to the back and up the stairs, slowing as he neared the top, wondering if he should have grabbed some kind of weapon.
Quinn eased open the door at the top of the stairs. It didn’t take long to spot the cause of the crash. A huge hole gaped in his front wall, ripping it from the roof down to the floor. One of Bloo Moose’s iconic light poles with its lamp topped in antlers angled through the rip and hovered over his bed.
Looked like the universe wanted him to make a decision already.
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