Title: Bourbon Love Notes
Series: Barrel House #1
Author: Shari J. Ryan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 13, 2020
In a split second, life can steal a last breath … and derail all future plans.
While flying home after a phone call that left me heartbroken, a row to myself would have been ideal. Instead, I was unknowingly sitting shoulder to shoulder with a strikingly attractive single dad and ex-Marine. I could have pretended not to notice the man, but there was something familiar about him.
It didn’t take long before I pieced together where I knew him from or why he was back in my life.
With chaos holding me hostage, I wanted to hide but couldn’t avoid Brett Pearson, our old family friend, and my teenage crush, because he kindly offered to help out with my family’s business—The Barrel House.
Handling my father’s distillery would be a distraction from my brutal reality. Except, I never paid close attention to the art of making bourbon, unlike Brett, who was full of bourbon knowledge. He offered to teach me a thing or two, but all I could focus on was the way his lips moved when he spoke to me.
I needed to grieve, and my head was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but my heart was splitting at the seams.
Bourbon was spilled, drinks were shared, but could passion ignite from a dying last wish?
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How can Dad be thinking about so much when he doesn’t know if there will be a tomorrow? I can’t believe he already hired someone to run the business. I can’t pretend like I ever had intentions of taking over the shop, even knowing Dad wouldn’t be able to run it forever, but the thought hadn’t crossed my mind because Dad is supposed to live well past his retirement age. Nothing has gone as I have planned since I graduated college, and while I have traveled along with the bumps in the road, everything feels like it’s crashing down on me now.
Maybe I have no business being in The Barrel House, pretending like I know everything there is to know about running a bourbon distillery.
“Melody!” It’s Brett. He’s calling after me. Doesn’t he know when a woman runs out a door, it’s probably best not to follow her?
I turn back toward the firehouse, watching him walk toward me. My instinct forces me to take a step back, which causes me to trip off the curb. I catch myself on a car, thankfully, but the car’s alarm beeps at me just to add an extra dose of humiliation to this moment.
My heart is in my throat, or maybe it’s my stomach. My head is spinning and … why did he have to come after me?
“I need to get back home. I should be with my dad,” I tell him, looking both ways to make sure I don’t get creamed by a car on top of it all. The coast is clear and I cross the street, finding my way to Mom’s car.
“Wait up for a second,” Brett continues, following me across the street. He places his hand on the door, preventing me from opening it and jumping inside. “Your dad wanted a bottle,” he says, handing me the bottle of Red Apple that Dad did, in fact, request.
“How did you—”
“He called to warn me that you were on your way down, flustered, upset, trying to be a hero, and you’d most likely forget that he requested a bottle of Red Apple.” Brett laughs sweetly, smiling benevolently. “I’m not trying to take over your family business, despite what you might be thinking. My dad has been a barrel supplier for your dad since before either of us were born. I was just asked to come help you guys out.”
“I know.” In truth, I don’t understand much of anything now. I’ve been going a mile a minute since I got that letter yesterday. I’ve been awake since five this morning, and I’m exhausted. “Thank you for coming to help,” I offer sincerely, wishing he would move his hand from my door.
“I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” The look in Brett’s eyes triggers more pain in my stomach. I’m losing my dad.
“I don’t know what else to do right now other than help him, and being in his shop feels like the only way I can help,” I explain.
The backs of my eyes burn. I’m supposed to be the strong one, but I’m falling apart. I stare up to the sky, waning away the threatening tears. Keep it together, Melody. My body doesn’t respond to my command. Tears trickle, one by one and I gasp for air as my lungs feel like they are deflating. I place my hands over my face, embarrassed to be crying in front of Brett Pearson of all people, but the pain has been building, and though I let a few tears escape this morning at the airport, it clearly wasn’t enough. “I’m sorry,” I mutter.
Arms envelop me and my head falls against his firm chest. His embrace is tight and though I don’t know the adult version of Brett well enough to feel comfort from a hug, the squeeze is alleviating some of the pressure in my chest.
The rate of my breaths slow and I’m able to stop the tears from falling. Brett must notice that I’ve calmed down because his arms release from around me and he takes a step back. I don’t know what else to say or do aside from searching his worry-filled eyes as if I’d find the answer there.
He presses the pad of his thumb beneath my eye and sweeps away a remaining tear. “Take some time to process it all,” Brett says, sounding wise beyond his years. “I don’t know how long you’ve known about your Dad becoming sick again, but I doubt there’s any length of time that’s long enough to accept or adjust to that kind of news.”
“I’m going to—” I point to the car.
Brett backs away, slipping his hands into his back pockets. I close myself into the car, rest my head back, and close my eyes for a minute before starting the engine.
A knock on the window startles my eyes to reopen. Brett is standing outside of the car holding up the bottle of Red Apple. I roll the window down and retrieve the bottle. “Thank you,” I tell him. “For everything.”
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Shari J. Ryan is an International Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance and Women’s Fiction.
She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two young sons. Shari started her career as a graphic artist and freelance writer, then found her passion for writing books back in 2011. She has been slaying words and creating imaginary friends ever since.
With over 125k books sold, Shari’s books have hit Amazon’s Top 100 bestseller list, Barnes & Noble’s Top 10, and iBooks at #1. Some of Shari’s bestselling books include Last Words, The Other Blue Sky, A Heart of Time, and Man Flu from the Man Cave Collection.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sharistwisteddrifters