Katie Malone and her twin boys' trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on a spare. As she stands at the side of the road pondering her next move, she hears a distinct rumble. The sight of the sexy, leather-clad bikers who pull up beside her puts her imagination into overdrive.
Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. But the sight of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks. And while the guys are checking out her car, she and Dylan are checking out one another.
In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.
Katie Malone quit her job and packed up her little Vermont house. The past few years had been tough and the past few months, having been separated from her brother, Conner, her only family, had been awful. In fact, she'd been feeling so alone, she stopped herself just moments before signing on to an online dating service.
But her watershed moment came when she began to have high hopes for a romantic relationship with her boss, the sweetest pediatric dentist who ever lived and a man who had never even kissed her. And guess what? There was a logical reason he hadn't--he was gay. She was the last person he wanted to kiss.
It was high time she forgot about men and worked on bolstering her independent spirit with a return to California. One of her twins, five-year-old Andy, said something that nearly drove an arrow through her heart and caused her to realize the whole family needed a fresh start.
She was packing up a box to ship ahead to California when Andy asked, "Do we have to move in the dark again?"
She was stunned. Speechless. Here she had been thinking about kisses and loneliness while her boys were worried about fleeing in the dark of night to some strange, unknown place. A place even farther from family than they were now.
She clutched her little boy close and said, "No, sweetheart! I'm taking you and Mitch to Uncle Conner."
Andy and Mitch were a matched set, five-year-old identical twins. Mitch overheard this and came running. "Uncle Conner?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, suddenly clear on what she had in front of her. She had to get her family together, make sure her boys felt safe and secure. "Right after a little side trip. How does Disney World sound?"
They started jumping for joy, screaming "Yay!" and "Cool!" And then the celebration dissolved to the floor and into a wrestling match. Like usual.
She rolled her eyes and continued packing up.
Last winter her brother had had a devastating experience that had become a family crisis. A man had been murdered behind their family-owned hardware store and Conner called the police at once. He became the only witness in a capital murder case. Shortly after the arrest was made, the hardware store was burned to the ground and a threat was left on Conner's voice mail. This led the D.A. to decide it was in the best interest of their family to separate them. Katie and her boys were spirited off to Vermont for their own protection, about as far from Sacramento as she could get and still stay in the country, while Conner was hidden away in a tiny mountain town in Northern California.
Now it was over. The suspect in the murder had been killed before he could stand trial, Conner was no longer a witness and their family had escaped danger. Now they could get about the business of healing and bonding.
And Conner had met someone in Virgin River, Leslie, a woman he loved. He'd settled in to make a life with her.
Katie would enjoy surprising her brother, but they'd long ago established the habit of talking every day. Conner talked to the boys, if only briefly, at least every other day--the closest thing to a father they had. There was no way she could conceal her travel plans. If Conner didn't suspect, the boys would certainly tell all.
"Summer is almost here," she told Conner. "It's almost June, we're all free to roam and move around now that there's no threat. I have to get my boys back to some kind of stable life. They need you, Conner. I'd like to spend the summer in Virgin River with you, if that's okay. I want to rent my own place, of course, but the boys...