Fighting Love

By: Melissa West


He took her hand, causing her to look up, those startling blue eyes searching him—Zac, someone she barely knew—for comfort and support. Like she was a little girl so desperately in need of approval that she’d accept it from anyone. And it broke him, broke through all the doubts and chaos in his mind, all the reasons he’d given himself to stay away. Because although perhaps he wasn’t inherently kind, he was a good person, and he could sense when someone needed something to keep them from falling over the edge. And Sophie Marsh didn’t need just anything.

She needed him.

With one final exhale to release the last of his uncertainty, Zac edged closer to her, pulling her to him at the same time, two magnets finding their attraction. He glided his hands over her cheeks, shaking his head slowly as he took in her beautiful face. Then, with the ducks as their only witnesses, he pressed his lips to hers, his hands gently cradling her face as she rose up to him, embracing the kiss. Embracing him and his silent promise to be what she needed.

Even if eventually what she needed was for him to say good-bye . . .






For Christi





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Thank you to God and my family for guiding me daily. To Jason, thank you for showing me real love so I have a frame of reference for my stories. To my daughters, you are the reason I push myself to always do and be better.

I have continued thanks to John Scognamiglio, Rebecca Cre-monese, Vicki Adang, and the full team at Kensington for being such a joy to work with. Thank you so much to Nicole Resciniti for supporting this series and my work.

At this point, I could not write a book without the support of Rachel Harris and Cindi Madsen. Thank you for showing me continued friendship, keeping me sane, and reading random lines over and over again. I love you girls!

And finally, thank you to all my readers, old and new. I do this for you.





Chapter One


“Shit.”

Zac Littleton stopped walking, balanced the two boxes he was carrying on his strong thigh, and peered over at his brother. Already he was on edge. Littleton Farms sold at the market every other Saturday during spring and summer, and yet every other Saturday, it was a damn three-ring circus to get everyone here and everything set up. So far that morning, they’d locked themselves out of a supply closet, broken two baskets, and Zac had snapped at the mayor, which was never a good idea. But Mr. Mayor refused to let them park without their vendor parking pass—somehow forgotten in the other delivery truck. “What now?”

Brady nodded his shaved blond head forward, his skin tanned from hours on the farm. Cargo shorts and a green Littleton Farms T-shirt completed his look. The market helped the farm meet its monthly goals, and without those Saturday sales, Zac wasn’t sure the family farm would survive. Which wasn’t an option.

The Littleton boys hadn’t always run things. Zac and his brothers had used the little bit of savings they each had to open up Southern Dive, their dream dive shop, five years ago. But then their father had a massive heart attack, followed by another, and suddenly the brothers had to juggle both jobs—their dream and their obligation to the family. And for the most part, everything had been fine, business was good. The town supported them no matter what, and that loyalty was the only thing keeping the farm in the black. Despite the fact that Littleton hadn’t made the expensive but ever popular switch to organic.

New age hippies pushed organic foods like it was gold and everything else was crap, and while Zac loved the idea of converting the farm, now wasn’t the time. They didn’t have the resources. Plus, it was easier to keep things moving than toss the lot and redo everything. And no one in town seemed to care anyway. They knew the Littletons went as natural as possible, and they respected what the farm produced. No one said a word. Well, no one except— “Shit.”

“That’s what I said.”

Zac’s gaze fixed on the booth directly across from the Littleton Farms booth, the pink and orange and green sign for Fresh Foods Organics bright and visible for all to see. Who the hell made butterflies part of a food logo? No one, that’s who.

“Ah, hell. Y’all didn’t tell me we were in for a fight today.” Charlie, Zac’s middle brother, paused beside him and baby brother Brady, all of them staring at the vixen behind the Fresh Foods table.

Unsure what to do now and more than a little pissed that Mayor Collins hadn’t warned them about this crap, Zac nodded toward their booth. “Just ignore her.”

“Like that’s possible,” Brady said with another glare in her direction. “She’s like one of those damn ladybugs that slip into your house, acting all pretty and ladybug-like, but really the thing’s still a damn bug.”