Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.
Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women...although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.
According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common--they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!
Brie Valenzuela finished her large latte and looked into the empty cup. She'd been waiting in this coffee shop for over an hour, trying to look engrossed in her newspaper, but as the time ticked by, she only grew more concerned. The man she was meeting was a witness to a murder and needed a place to hide out. She'd be hooking him up with a place to stay and a job in Virgin River as a favor to one of her colleagues from the Sacramento District Attorney's office, and when a witness was late in meeting his contact, there was reason to be concerned.
Brie wanted to make a phone call to Sacramento but didn't want to alarm anyone. Instead, she asked the barista for another latte.
This witness, now known as Conner Danson, had seen a very well-known, high-profile Sacramento businessman shoot another man. Danson had been taking trash out behind his hardware store when it had happened and had seen everything. He'd called the police and become the sole witness to the crime. Thanks to his prompt report, they'd found evidence of blood in the man's car, though it had been cleaned, but no weapon. DNA tests had proved the blood belonged to the victim. But, shortly after an arrest had been made, Danson's hardware store had burned to the ground, and a threat had been left on his home phone voice mail: You stayed out of the heat this time, but you won't slip by us again.
Clearly the suspect, Regis Mathis, a very distinguished pillar of the community, was "connected."
Brie had served as an Assistant District Attorney with Max, officially Ray Maxwell, some years ago. Max was now the D.A. He'd suspected some trouble with other witnesses' anonymity and wasn't sure whether the leak was in his office or the Federal Marshal's unit. A cautious man, he'd set up his own program. He wasn't about to take any chances on losing the only witness to a high-profile murder. Virgin River was an excellent option.
It was another twenty minutes before the door opened and a man entered, but her first thought was that he couldn't possibly be her witness. First of all, he was too young to own a prosperous hardware store that catered to custom builders--this guy was no more than thirty-five. And he was, for lack of a more refined description, hot. At about six-two, he was built like a warhorse, his muscles popping into prominence beneath the white T-shirt under his opened leather jacket. Wide shoulders, narrow hips, low-slung jeans, long legs. Although he wore a very unhappy expression at the moment, his face was perfectly symmetrical--square jaw, straight nose, thick brows and deep, dark blue eyes. He sported a very handsome, sculptured and tightly trimmed mustache and goatee.
He lifted his chin in her direction. She stood and he walked toward her. She opened her arms. "Give me a hug, Conner. Like we're old friends. I'm Brie Valenzuela."
He complied a little reluctantly, nearly swallowing her small frame in his embrace. "Nice to meet you," he said quietly.
"Sit down. I'll get you a coffee. What's your pleasure?"
"Just plain old coffee. Black."
"Got it." She went to the counter, ordered, collected the coffee and returned. "So," she said. "We're about the same age. We could pass for friends from college."
"I didn't really go to college," he said. "One semester."
"That works. How old are you?"
"Aren't you kind of young to own a successful business?"
"Used to own," he said, his expression darkening. "It was my father's. He died a dozen years ago but I was raised...