Tangled Vines – An Australian Rural Romance
Publisher: Crimson Romance
This charming Australian rural romance will remind you of the true meaning of the holiday spirit and the power of love.
Kyle Davis doesn’t do Christmas since he lost his whole family in the Boxing Day tsunami last decade. His idea of celebrating is going to his Margaret River property and cuddling up with his liquor cabinet. So finding Jordan Hastings in his shower is unacceptable—no matter how his body responds to her, a relationship is not on his holiday wish list.
After being betrayed by the man she thought loved her, winemaker Jordan has taken over her father’s caretaker position—and a little bit more— at the rural vineyard. She’s trying to get her career on track by bringing the neglected grapes on the property back to life. Handsome Kyle is hard to resist, especially after they grow closer and she learns of his tragic past. But falling for a man who controls her employment is not on the table.
Yet the more time they spend together, the more it appears that taking another risk on living and loving could be the best Christmas gift after all.
Read an Excerpt
Laughter filtered through Kyle Davis’s closed door. He gave the New York stock market one last look, then shut down his computer. He would have to join the crowd.
With precise movements, he put his laptop in his bag and walked the short distance to his door. A loud chorus of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” greeted him as he opened it with a forced smile. Kyle didn’t mind going to any other office party the firm put on. Except this one—the annual Christmas party. If he could sneak out, he would. Unfortunately, his obligation as owner of the company forced him to attend.
“You okay, Kyle?” This voice he recognized. He’d heard it in all forms. Angry. Happy. Sad. Annoyed.
Smiling down at his assistant, he touched her arm briefly before putting his hand in his pants pocket. “Yes, Shey, I’m fine.”
“Thanks for hanging around. I know it’s hard.”
“Yes, you do.” He quirked his eyebrow at her. “Yet you continually arrange for this event to be held on the night I leave.”
Shey placed her hands on her hips. “That’s because this is your firm, Kyle. You have a responsibility to be here.” A waiter passed by carrying a tray full of drinks. She plucked a bottle of beer off the tray and handed it to him. “Now drink and be happy.”
Kyle took the cool bottle and brought it to his lips. He took a couple of swallows, welcoming the bitter taste of the beer. “Why do you always organize the party to be held in the office? Why not at a restaurant or private room at a club?”
“Because if I did that, you wouldn’t turn up. At least here, outside your office, you have no choice but to attend.”
“I might have to arrange for an interior designer to come in next year and change the layout of the office. I’ll make my office as far away as possible from everyone,” he grumbled.
Shey laughed and lightly punched him on his arm. “You wouldn’t. Any other time of the year you like to look out and see everyone working. The king surveying his kingdom.” She paused and took a sip of her own beer. “It’s only this time of year you act like a bear with a sore head.”
“I should fire you.”
“Not the first time you’ve said that. I imagine it won’t be the last. It’s lucky I know and love you.”
Kyle leaned down kissed her cheek. “I know.” He lowered his voice so only Shey could hear what he had to say next. “Thanks, Shey. For being you.”
Twenty minutes later, after his obligatory thank-you-for-your-hard-work speech, he headed toward the door. The people who had been working with him for a few years knew his habit of cutting out early. They never questioned him. They knew better. His staff liked their jobs too much. He paid them handsomely for their loyalty.
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder at Shey. “Yes?”
“Have a nice holiday.” She winked before she turned and headed back to the party.
The noise from the party faded as he made his way toward the bank of elevators. He glanced at his watch—it was close to ten p.m. The sensible part of him said he should wait until morning to set off for his Margaret River house. He ignored it. The car was packed. At this time of the evening traffic would be light. There would be no snarls slowing down his journey.
Solitude beckoned. He would answer her call.
Kyle inserted the key into the door that led from the garage into his kitchen. He placed his case on the ground, stretching his arms above his neck to loosen his tight muscles. The silence shrouded him. He welcomed the feeling of calm that always washed over him when he walked into this house.
He’d bought it a year ago from a couple no longer able to maintain the residence plus the ten acres of land surrounding it. He’d managed a few weekend trips during the year to enjoy the house and the Margaret River surf. But he had to admit he hadn’t managed a trip here for the last couple of months. While the house had been renovated in recent times, the vines and fruit trees had been neglected. The garden was a total mess. He’d hired a caretaker to look after the house when he wasn’t there and to do basic maintenance on the trees and vines. He had to make some decisions soon about what he was going to do with the area. Ripping it out and putting in a pool and pool house seemed a good option.
He clamped down on thoughts about property maintenance. He was here to forget it was Christmas. He’d deal with the garden in the New Year when Ted, his caretaker, was back from sick and annual leave and Kyle had his mind firmly focused on the present. Not on the past.
Kyle wandered through the house with the familiarity of someone who always walked through it in the dark.
He stripped off his shirt and made his way to the French doors overlooking the back of his property. The moon cast a bright white glow over the yard. He blinked and then blinked again. He reached over to the wall and flipped the switch. Light flooded the outside of his house.
“What the hell?” Where once slightly overgrown rows of vines resided, now sleek, straight rows greeted him. Vines that looked as neat and organized as the ones on the neighboring property.
Kyle closed his eyes; surely tiredness was causing this hallucination. He opened them and the sight remained unchanged.
Was this why he’d been signing all those checks recently? Who gave permission to tend to the vines? He hadn’t, that’s for sure. What was happening here? What didn’t he know about? But he bet Shey knew. If it weren’t so late, he’d call her and ask what the hell was going on.
A yawn ripped through him. Tomorrow. He would sort it out tomorrow. With one last look, he doused the lights and made his way to his bedroom, shedding his trousers and tossing them into the laundry room as he passed. He should take a shower, but fatigue sank its claws into him.
Fighting off another yawn, he entered his bedroom and made his way to his bed. A thought tugged at the back of his mind, a thought that things weren’t quite right in the house. A thought he should take notice of, but was too tired to try to understand.
Tomorrow everything would make sense.
Jordan Hastings washed the shampoo out of her hair while listing all the things she needed to do that day. There was nothing more invigorating than getting up as the sun rose out of the sky to begin a brand new day.
She needed to check and make sure the new shoots were growing straight, obtaining maximum sunshine on the budding fruit stock. She also needed to make sure there was no sign of mildew on the vines. After being neglected for so long, she wasn’t expecting much from this year’s harvest. With the grapes she did manage to grow and harvest, she hoped to experiment and come up with new blends, new flavors infused into the wines.
Jordan couldn’t wait for her dad to recover from his broken leg so he could help her when it came to harvesting the grapes. Good thing she happened to be visiting him when he had his accident. She tried not to think his fall was caused by hearing about her broken engagement. Or how her former fiancé had won the Golden Wine award for “Most Innovative Wine” for the wine she’d created. She tried to convince herself none of those things was the reason her father lost his balance on the ladder, fell and broke his leg. But she couldn’t help but feel responsible.
Jordan forcefully shut off the water. She wasn’t going to think about her loser ex. The only important male person in her life was her father, and she planned to keep it that way for a long time. She wasn’t going to
be fooled by a handsome face again.
She shoved the shower curtain aside and screamed.