No One Needs to Know by Debbi Rawlins - Romance>Contemporary
He wants to turn her in--she wants to take him to bed!
The moment wealthy ranch owner Tucker Brennan sees Annie Sheridan's photo on a website, he knows he's finally found the woman who let his brother take the fall in an embezzlement scheme. Now Tucker is on his way to the Safe Haven animal shelter in Montana to find out what really happened...and bring Annie to justice.
With a struggling shelter and no cash, Annie Sheridan has her hands so full that she's almost forgotten why she had to go into hiding. So when the sleek and damnably good-lookin' Tucker shows up offering a donation--and potential nooky action!-- Annie figures things are finally going right.
There are secrets. There are lies. And there's one heck of an attraction. But once they give themselves over to lust, no one needs to know....
From her perch on the porch railing at the Sundance ranch, Annie Sheridan took what she called a memory shot. If she'd had her beloved old Nikon she'd have pulled it out and centered the lens on the familiar faces of her hosts, but the spectacular sunset against the Rocky Mountains would have been the star. Only to the casual observer, though, which Annie most definitely was not.
She'd become an expert at the art of watching from a distance. It didn't even bother her that much, not anymore. Two years into exile, she'd grown used to being the strange woman who ran the Safe Haven large-animal sanctuary, the one who never came to parties unless there was something her shelter needed--a favor, a donation, an adoptive home. Of course everyone in Blackfoot Falls knew who she was, and it would have stunned her if the residents of the small town hadn't made up at least a dozen stories to explain her hermit ways.
No one, she was sure, would ever come close to the truth.
She sipped from her glass of white zinfandel, a rare treat along with the scrumptious steak and baked potato she'd had earlier. The last time she'd eaten at a party was...in another life.
That sobering thought had her off the railing and heading toward Barbara McAllister and the cluster of family that surrounded the Sundance matriarch. If Annie let herself yearn for anything these days--outside of more money for Safe Haven--it was the friendship of this clan. The three brothers--Cole, Jesse and Trace--were always willing to lend a hand during an emergency. Jesse had saved many a poor animal's life, or given a horse or a llama or a potbellied pig a new home with his rescue airlifts.
Then there was Rachel and her boyfriend, Matt, so giddily in love. In the past six months two of the three McAllister brothers had hooked up. And now with Rachel taken, that only left Trace on the loose. Something the Sundance dude ranch guests, all of them single women in their twenties or early thirties, were trying to remedy.
Rachel had made several attempts at befriending her, though Annie had kept her distance. But boundary lines that had once been set in stone were becoming more flexible.
"Are you getting ready to leave?"
Annie smiled at Jesse's girlfriend. The whole reason Annie was socializing at all was due to unassuming, crazy-generous Shea. Taking a break from her high-security job as a computer programmer, she'd come to Montana over the Christmas holidays to help at Safe Haven. But she'd come back to Blackfoot Falls because of Jesse. That she'd turned out to be the sanctuary's most influential volunteer and backer was a miracle.
Annie sighed with real regret as she nodded. "I have chores."
"Not from you, although thanks for offering. You stay right here and enjoy yourself with that man of yours."
Shea blushed as she slipped her hands into the pockets of her dark gray trousers. "I'm glad you stayed so long. Jesse said you've never had dinner here before."
"You know how things are. Always something to do, what with every female animal at the shelter pregnant."
Shea laughed. "Not every one."
Annie set her glass on a big tray, knowing no one would mind that she didn't stay to clean up. "It's been a nice party."
"It has," Shea said, with more than a little surprise in her voice. "I usually hate parties. Never know what to say. But with the McAllisters it's different." She leaned in a little closer and lowered her voice. "Yesterday, I talked to Sadie from the Watering Hole for almost half an hour."