Whisper of Love

By: Melanie Shawn

Welcome to Whisper Lake!





Whisper Lake is a spinoff of our bestselling Crossroads series. This cozy, Midwest, tourist town is home to Stone Castle (which is widely believed to be haunted) *insert spooky “oooOOOooo” here*, The Needlepoint Mafia (a knitting club run by three matchmaking “Dons” that may look like sweet, little old ladies, but prove that looks can be deceiving), seasonal festivities that include a Kissing Booth “manned” by dogs…get it…manned, and a lot of well-meaning, meddling folks that love keeping our heroes and heroines on their toes.





Dedication





The entire Whisper Lake series is dedicated to all the romance authors out there who give me endless hours of escape, entertainment, and therapy! Each book is going to highlight three authors that are near and dear to my heart and inspire me to write sassy, fun-loving, swoon-worthy love stories that (I hope) are filled with humor, heart, and heat. Most of you know who you are (because I fangirl SO HARD!) but now the world will know, too, because I am shouting it from the rooftops (and by rooftops I mean the dedication page).

First up are the three women that ignited my love of romance. Carly Phillips, Jill Shalvis, and Lori Foster are, IMHO, the Queen-B-Boss-Ladies of Romance. Each one of these gifted storytellers create worlds I want to live in, heroes I want to claim as my own, and heroines I want to be my best friend. Their books make me laugh, cry, and fall head-over-heels in love.

Whisper of Love has a blatant shout-out and hidden Easter eggs that true Carly, Jill, and Lori fans (especially those that follow their social media) will recognize. If you’re not familiar with these super­cali­fragi­listic­expi­ali­docious women’s work, I highly suggest you pick up their books and binge read EVERY WORD they’ve EVER written!

XO

Shawna








CHAPTER 1





“Are you looking at porn!?”

“What?!” KJ’s brow furrowed as his eyes remained glued to the device he was clutching in his hands. “No!”

The grunts and groans Allison Walsh had heard from the hall that had sent her to where no man dared to go—a teenage boy’s bedroom—were silenced now. Thanks to the homemade blackout curtains her nephew had put up a few months ago, the room was dark even though it was four in the afternoon. The only thing she could see through the small crack in the door was her nephew’s face illuminated by the screen of his iPad.

“Give it to me.” Ali did her best to sound authoritative as she shouldered the door pushing it open slowly. The task was made difficult due to an enormous pile of laundry halting its path. After putting her back into it, she managed to budge the blockade enough for her to finally squeeze inside.

The first thing to hit her was the overwhelming, pungent smell—a combination of dirty socks, rotten food, and the distinctive funk of teen-boy aroma—that was so thick she was choking on it. Lifting her hand to cover her mouth, she instantly regretted that she’d let the room checks slip over the last few months.

That’s not the only thing you’ve let slip, her inner—somewhat judgmental—voice chimed in.

She shook off that truth and forged ahead into the funk cloud, expertly navigating the minefield of dirty laundry, pizza boxes and general debris that covered his floor. When she reached the bed, she snatched her nephew’s iPad out of his hands.

“Hey! What are you doing!?” he shouted angrily.

Making sure you’re not watching porn. Her eyes quickly glanced at the screen and relief swept her when she saw there were no naked bodies. “You’ll get it back when your room is clean and the yard is mowed.”

Her nephew shot up to a seated position and extended his hand in an entitled belligerent manor. “You can’t take that, I need it for schoolwork.”

Shit. Ali’s mind raced as she searched her nephew’s light green irises for any hint of deception.

Was he lying?

Was he telling the truth?

She had no idea.

A year and a half in as his legal guardian, she’d yet to develop any kind of parental radar skills. Her bullshit meter was either broken or non-existent. She was officially in over her head and since he and his twin brother had only just entered the dreaded teen years, she was afraid the worst was yet to come.

Trying to get a clue as to whether KJ actually needed the device for scholastic reasons, she looked down again to see if she could figure out what he’d been watching. It didn’t take much detective work since the YouTube video was still playing. It was an MMA fight that she’d seen at least a dozen times, which for her was a dozen times too many.

“This is not schoolwork.”

“Yes, it is! It’s for my essay.”

“What essay?”

“The essay I have to write on who my hero is.”

No. Not that. Not him.

Of course she knew that her nephew looked up to the man that he was named after. Kade Jameson McKnight, the twins’ godfather, was an MMA fighter who got more press for his extra-curricular behavior than he did for his profession. He’d been the reigning Bad Boy of MMA for nearly ten years, which was not an easy title to gain much less hold. That line of work didn’t normally attract choir boys. To stand out as trouble in it was quite a feat.