Today we are sharing an excerpt from TILL THERE WAS YOU, a contemporary romance title that is part of the bestselling Green Mountain/Butler, Vermont series by Marie Force. Check out the pre-order links, and chapter 1, below. This title will be released on June 18th!
Till There Was You by Marie Force
Releasing on June 18!
Being an adult has its advantages…
Lucas Abbott and his identical twin grew up sharing everything—including a reputation for funny, idiotic behavior. But now that Lucas is ready to shed that lovable-idiot image, grow up and have a real, adult relationship, the joke’s on him. He and his twin have fallen for the same woman.
Crushed and hoping a few days on the slopes will work out his frustrations, he heads for Stowe, Vermont. All thought of fun and relaxation flies away as a car spins out in a snowstorm, and his firefighter/paramedic training kicks into high gear.
Danielle Rowson is hoping to pick up the pieces and build a new life for herself and her daughter in Vermont. Winding up in a ditch in the middle of a blizzard isn’t part of the plan—and neither is the kind, sexy rescuer whose strong hands pull them to safety.
Lucas has been a little kid, a big kid and now an adult—and he discovers that adulting has more than one advantage. Especially when it comes to sharing with Dani and Savannah the one thing that’s his and his alone: his love.
Preorder Till There Was You now!
It had taken exactly twenty-seven years for Lucas Abbott to wish he hadn’t been born a twin. Most of the time, he embraced his status as one half of the younger set of Abbott twins, who spread good humor and cheerful dispositions everywhere they went in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
But right now? He was furious with the man who was his doppelgänger in every possible way. Not only were they so identical that their own siblings often confused them, but he and Landon shared almost all the same interests. They had the same friends, the same schedule, the same everything, including, Lucas had discovered to his dismay, the same taste in women.
Earlier today, he’d overheard Landon talking about his date the night before with Amanda Pressley, the woman Lucas had been out with two nights ago.
It had been the best first date of his life, but then he’d heard Landon say the same thing to their brother Will. Hearing that, the euphoria Lucas had walked around with since his evening with Amanda had fizzled like steam hitting cold air.
Tonight, he had to go make nice with Landon and the rest of their family, who were gathering at the barn where the ten Abbott siblings had been raised, to celebrate his and Landon’s twenty-seventh birthday. Happy birthday to him and the last person on earth he wanted to hang out with right now. That, in and of itself, was a first. Lucas and Landon were known for being “thick as thieves,” as their grandfather often said.
Lucas stepped out of the shower in his loft over the barn at the family-owned Christmas tree farm that Landon managed. He hadn’t wanted to live on the property, so he’d given Lucas the apartment and found his own place on the outskirts of Butler, the town they called home. For a brief time, they’d entertained the idea of living together in the loft apartment.
Thank God they hadn’t done that, because Lucas would be packing his stuff after today.
Studying his reflection in the mirror, he encountered the face of a changed man. Maybe it was his birthday, or perhaps it was meeting a woman who truly interested him. He wasn’t sure what it was, but something was definitely different. He’d gone so far as to shave the beard he normally sported during the winter, because he’d thought she would prefer him clean-shaven. Now he was growing it back. Thankfully, his beard came in quickly. He didn’t want anyone mistaking him for Landon.
The situation had him unsettled and pissed off as he dressed in his usual winter uniform of thermals, flannel, denim and insulated boots before stepping into the frozen tundra to head to his parents’ house. He should’ve made up a fake illness to get out of the annual pizza and cake tradition, but like the rest of his siblings, Lucas was robustly healthy. They wouldn’t believe him if he’d said he was sick.
Since the last thing he needed was an Abbott family inquisition, he got into his truck and headed for Hells Peak Road, taking the most direct route through town. On Elm Street, he drove past the family’s Green Mountain Country Store on the right and his sister-in-law Megan’s diner on the left. Technically, his grandfather, Elmer, owned the diner, but Megan was the one who made it happen.
As he approached the one-lane covered bridge that was located right before the turn onto Hells Peak, he stopped short, slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting Fred, the town moose, who stood in the middle of the road, seemingly without a care in the world.
Lucas laid on the horn.
Fred gave him a perturbed look, but he didn’t move.
“Great.” Lucas shifted the truck into Park, accepting that he was going to be late for his own party. He wished he could’ve headed to his woodshop and lost himself in the work that fed his soul, especially at times like this when his soul needed nourishment. Being at odds with anyone in his family was the worst. Being at odds with Landon had the power to break him.
In a family of ten kids, there’d been plenty of arguments and actual fights. But he had never once truly argued with Landon, who had been his ally and best friend for every day of their twenty-seven years.
Until Amanda came to town and they’d both asked her out. Not wanting to hurt any feelings, she’d accepted both invitations. No one ever took him or Landon seriously, so why should she? Especially after the way they’d behaved during the intimate line demonstration she’d overseen on behalf of her company at his family’s store.
Lucas cringed thinking about the questions they’d asked and the comments they’d made. It was like they couldn’t help themselves, although who could be expected to behave in a room full of family members and sex toys? Amanda had handled them with skill that indicated it wasn’t her first rodeo when it came to dealing with buffoons. In her line of work, she probably met her fair share of guys like him and Landon, who’d found the whole thing hilarious.
She probably thought they were both jerks but had humored them by going on separate dates with them. Her company had landed a big account with their family’s store, so she was just being nice—and professional.
That made him sad and mad at the same time. If Landon hadn’t asked her out at the same time Lucas had, they wouldn’t be in the unfortunate position of pursuing the same woman. It was ludicrous when he really thought it over—neither of them had ever had any problem attracting female attention. In fact, they usually had more attention than they could handle. So why, when it truly mattered to Lucas for the first time ever, did Landon have to set his sights on the same woman?
Being at odds with Landon made Lucas feel ill. It went against every natural impulse he had to go out of his way to avoid his twin the way he had all day today. They had been the best of friends their entire lives. Even when their other siblings had fought like tomcats, he and Landon had risen above it. Sure, they had fought with their othersiblings, but never with each other. Hunter and Hannah, their older siblings, who were also twins, had been the same way—best friends.
He ached at the thought of losing that bond with Landon, especially since they were together more often than not. Between their shifts as volunteer firefighters and the time they spent doing other things, such as skiing, rock-climbing, hiking and other outdoor pursuits, they were constant companions.
And if it came to a choice—Landon or Amanda…
“Ugh.” Of course he’d choose his brother over a woman he’d only just met, but what a bitch of a dilemma.
As if he could hear Lucas, Fred let out a loud moo.
Lucas laid on the horn again, hoping to convince Fred to move along, but Fred wasn’t intimidated by a horn—or much of anything, for that matter, except Hannah. She had a way of dealing with the moose that made her husband, Nolan, crazy. He feared tiny Hannah would be smooshed by the moose that Hannah called a pussycat.
Lucas tried the siren that was built into his truck for times of emergency, but Fred shot him a look full of disdain, as if to say, Is that all you got?
Thinking about Fred was preferable to wondering what the hell he was supposed to do about his brother and Amanda.
Lucas’s date with her had been close to perfect. The conversation had flowed, they’d laughed at the same things, had similar interests, and she absolutely loved their tiny town of Butler, Vermont, as well as the Green Mountain Country Store his family had run for three generations.
She’d had a million questions about the family business and how it worked and how the Abbotts managed to keep business and personal separate. Though Lucas didn’t actually work in the store, it had always been part of his life, and he could answer her questions about the family dynamics as well as any of the others who worked in the office. He sold most of his woodworking products in the store, including hand-carved bed frames, dressers and hope chests as well as smaller items such as carved moose that sold like wildfire, so he was definitely involved.
Lucas put down the window and stuck his head out. “Come on, Fred. Be a sport. It’s my freaking birthday, and it’s already been a bitch of a day. Have a heart and move your ass, will you?”
Fred eyed him as if he was considering the request.
With another loud moo, Fred took one step forward and then another.
“Was he honestly waiting for me to say please?” Lucas asked the universe as he put up the window, put the truck in Drive and headed over the bridge toward home. He hadn’t lived in the barn in years, but it would always be home to him and his siblings. As he pulled into the driveway that was already full of pickup trucks and SUVs built to withstand brutal Vermont winters, his grandfather, Elmer, was getting out of his truck.
Lucas parked and went to greet his grandfather, who was waiting for him.
“Oh, hey, Luc.” Elmer said his name after giving him a close look to make sure he got it right. Elmer was one of the few people in their lives who almost always got it right. “I couldn’t tell what color your truck was in the dark.”
His was navy. Landon’s was black. Same model. Shocker, right?
Lucas gave his grandfather a hug. “How you doing, Gramps?”
“I’m good.” He patted Lucas on the back. “Happy birthday, buddy.”
“I can’t believe you guys are twenty-seven. Where does the time go?”
“And still such nitwits.”
“You said that, not me.”
Lucas laughed as he held the door to the mudroom for Elmer. “Saved you the trouble.”
“You boys like to have fun. Nothing wrong with that.”
A few days ago, he would’ve agreed with Elmer’s statement. Now he had reason to wonder how a guy transitioned from acting the fool to being an actual adult. That was his goal for the next year. He would be mocked ruthlessly by his siblings and others who had come to expect certain behavior from him, but he wouldn’t be deterred in his goal to take his game up a few notches.
Having a plan for himself helped as he hung his coat on the hook with his name on it, which was to the left of Landon’s. He’d been born ten minutes before Landon. Since Landon’s hook was empty, Lucas realized he’d gotten there first. Taking a quick glance at the hooks, he noted that everyone else was there.
Lucas took off his hat, tucked it into the pocket of his coat and ran his fingers through dirty-blond hair to bring some order to it. This time of year, everyone in Vermont suffered from a terminal case of hat head. He stepped into the kitchen and received a warm, welcoming smile from his mother.
“There’s one of my guests of honor.”
Lucas wondered what it might be like to have a birthday all to himself and then immediately felt guilty for having the thought. “Hi, Mom.”
Molly Abbott, her gray hair in a long braid down her back as usual and her pretty face bright with pleasure over an evening with her family, hugged him. “Happy birthday, Luc. Twenty-seven looks good on you.”
He stuck out his chin. “Better than twenty-six did?”
“He had nowhere to go but up,” their youngest brother, Max, said when he joined them in the kitchen with his baby son, Caden, in his arms.
Molly tried to hide her smile but failed miserably.
Lucas scowled at his brother and reached for the baby, noting the cacophonous noise coming from the family room where the rest of the family was probably watching the Bruins game.
Max handed the baby over to his uncle. “Don’t listen to a word he says, buddy, and don’t do anything he does.”
In light of his recent revelations, Lucas couldn’t help being slightly wounded by Max’s teasing comments. Not that he hadn’t earned the jibes. He certainly had, but that was going to change, effective immediately. He snuggled Caden into his chest and kissed the top of his silky head. The little guy always smelled so damned good. His little fist grasped ahold of Lucas’s flannel shirt, catching a bit of chest hair that made his uncle wince from the tug of pain. “Easy, pal. Uncle Luc doesn’t need any bald spots. Not yet anyway.”
“Hey!” His oldest sister, Hannah, let out a happy squeak when she came around the corner from the dining room and nearly crashed into Lucas. “Happy birthday!”
“Thank you.” He leaned down so she could kiss his cheek. “Where’s my niece?”
“With her daddy. She’s all about him these days, except for when she’s hungry. Then Mommy is number one.”
Lucas smiled at the face Hannah made to express her displeasure while knowing full well she was madly in love with the daughter she’d waited forever to have—and the husband who’d made her so damned happy. “Fred was being Fred again on the way over here. Blocking the road to the covered bridge.”
“He’s been ornery lately.” Hannah acted as if she had a direct bead on Fred’s moods, which she sort of did, not that anyone wanted to admit that out of fear of encouraging her moose-whispering activities. The best part was that she didn’t even think that her unique bond with a full-grown bull moose was weird. Everyone else did, though, especially Nolan, who was continuously freaked out by her close encounters of the moose kind. “Ever since I took Baby Dexter home with me, he’s been out of sorts.”
“Has it occurred to you that Fred liked having Baby Dexter around and maybe he didn’t want you messing with it?” Lucas asked.
“Of course it has, but he has no business raising a baby moose.”
Bouncing Caden, who seemed to have dozed off, Lucas raised his brows in disbelief. “And you do?”
“I’m better at it than Fred is. At least with me, the poor baby is getting regular meals and lots of love.”
“Which is critical to moose development.”
“Every baby needs lots of love. Moose are no different.”
It took effort on Lucas’s part not to roll his eyes. Knowing she was dead serious kept him from mocking her—that and his newfound intention to act more like an adult than a buffoon. The sound of a baby crying in the next room had Hannah spinning around to go to her daughter. “Speaking of babies…”
When they were alone, Lucas gazed down at Caden’s sleeping face. “Auntie Hannah may be nuts, buddy, but she’s the best kind of nuts.” Lucas admired his older sister more than just about anyone he knew. After enduring the devastating loss of her first husband, Caleb, in Iraq, watching her find new love with Nolan had been inspirational. And now they had baby Caleb, whom they called Callie, and Hannah smiled all the time. If taking care of a baby moose made her happy, so be it. If anyone had earned the right to be happy, it was Hannah.
“Was she going on about the baby moose again?” Nolan asked, his mouth full of cheese and cracker.
“Maybe?” Lucas hesitated to toss his sister under the marital bus.
Nolan groaned. “She’s round the bend over that baby. Wanted to bring him in the house the other night because it was too cold for him outside. I have to keep telling her he’s a wild animal, not a house pet.”
“He’ll be a house pet by the time she’s done with him.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of—having a full-grown bull moose in bed between me and my wife.”
Lucas snorted with laughter. “Might be a good idea to nip that in the bud.”
“What’re we nipping in the bud?” Lucas’s father, Lincoln, asked as he came from the family room to join them.
“Hannah’s affair with the baby moose,” Nolan said. “If she had her way, he’d be in bed with us.”
“Oh dear,” Linc said. “Probably best to not let that happen.”
“I hate to tell you this, Linc, but there’re times when your daughter is downright unmanageable,” Nolan said.
“She gets that from her mother,” Linc said.
“I can hear you, Lincoln Abbott,” Molly said, “and you will pay for that later.”
“Sorry, Nolan,” Linc said. “You’re on your own.” Heading toward his wife, Lincoln said, “You heard me wrong, love.”
“No, I did not.”
“No wonder my wife is nuts,” Nolan said. “She was raised in a nuthouse.”
Lucas cracked a grin. “You’re just figuring that out now?”
“Oh, I’ve known it for a while.” Nolan had grown up with Lucas’s older siblings and had been in and out of the Abbotts’ barn for decades. Nolan’s crush on Hannah had developed years after his close friend Caleb had died. And no one doubted Nolan’s fierce love for his wife, despite her moose antics.
The door to the mudroom slammed shut, jolting Caden.
Lucas rubbed the baby’s back. “Easy, buddy.”
“Quit slamming that door,” Molly said to Landon.
“Sorry, Mom.” Landon laid a loud smacker on Molly’s cheek. “It’s my birthday. Don’t I get a pass on door slamming?”
“No door slamming in this house, even on your birthday. It’s in the Abbott family rule book.”
“I never got my copy,” Landon said, making his twin smile. Lucas would’ve said the same thing. “Mom, you remember Amanda, right? I hope it’s okay that I invited her to join us.”
Landon had brought Amanda to their birthday dinner? No way.
“Of course it’s all right,” Molly said. “The more the merrier is the Abbott family motto, which you’d know if you’d read the rule book. Welcome to our insane asylum, Amanda.”
When Amanda laughed, Lucas wanted to turn to look at her, but remained rooted in place, barely able to breathe, let alone move. “Thank you so much for having me, Mrs. Abbott.”
“Please, call me Molly. Everyone does.”
Lucas listened to them with a surreal feeling of detachment as his mind raced to catch up. Amanda had come to their birthday dinner. With Landon.
Worst birthday ever.
“A man who dares to waste one hour of his life has not discovered the value of life.” —Charles Darwin
Preorder Till There Was You now!
CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN/ BUTLER, VERMONT SERIES
Welcome to Vermont and the Green Mountain and Butler Series, featuring the Abbott family, proprietors of the Green Mountain Country Store, and their Coleman cousins. Since All You Need Is Love was released in 2014, the Abbott/Stillman/Coleman clan has stolen the hearts of readers, and Fred the Moose has earned himself a cult following. Hope you enjoy Butler!
Green Mountain Series
Book 1: All You Need Is Love (Will & Cameron)
Book 2: I Want to Hold Your Hand (Nolan & Hannah)
Book 3: I Saw Her Standing There (Colton & Lucy)
Book 4: And I Love Her (Hunter & Megan)
Book 4.5: You’ll Be Mine, Will and Cam’s Wedding Novella
Book 5: It’s Only Love (Gavin & Ella)
Book 6: Ain’t She Sweet (Tyler & Charlotte)
Butler, Vermont Series (a continuation of the Green Mountain Series)
Book 1: Every Little Thing (Grayson & Emma)
Book 2: Can’t Buy Me Love (Patrick & Mary)
Book 3: Here Comes the Sun (Wade & Mia)
Book 4: Till There Was You (Lucus & Danielle)
About the Author
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. Duchess By Deception is the first in her new historical romance Gilded Series, that will continue with Deceived By Desire in September 2019.
Her books have sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list 30 times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journalbestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a three-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
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