Your Love is Mine

The Sullivans®, Book 19

Please enjoy the following excerpt of Your Love is Mine: The Sullivans® #19, copyright 2019, Bella Andre…

“Oh my gosh, she’s gorgeous.”

The words spilled from Cassie’s lips the moment she saw the man standing on the front porch of her cabin—and the baby he was holding.

Instinctively, Cassie reached out to stroke the baby’s soft hair, the same
way she might with her sister’s and cousins’ young children. But before she could make contact, the little girl buried her face in the man’s neck and held on tight, while he gathered her closer, clearly intent on protecting her.

Feeling like she’d made a huge misstep within seconds of meeting her new tenants, Cassie dropped her arm to her side and stepped back. “You must be Flynn and Ruby. Come on in.”

Slowly, Flynn walked inside the cabin, and she got the sense that he was assessing whether he wanted to stay or not. The baby lifted her head briefly at the sound of her name before burying it again in the crook of his neck.

“I’m Cassie. It’s nice to meet you. How was your trip? You must be exhausted from the flights and layovers and the drive from the airport.”

Ruby rubbed her eyes as though she was ready for a nap. Though Flynn looked like he could use one too, he simply replied, “We’re fine.”

“Great!” Cassie smiled at him even though she had a feeling any hope of an answering smile was slim to none. “I hope my cabin will work out for you. I’ve stocked the fridge. I wasn’t sure about what kind of food Ruby eats, or if she’s even on solids yet, so I got one jar of everything, from pureed carrots to peas to potatoes.” When she was nervous, Cassie talked. A lot. Unfortunately, the fewer responses she got, the more she rambled to fill the empty space. “I also found a crib for you to use, along with a changing table and a few stuffed animals and a rubber ducky for the bath, plus some soft baby blankets and diapers
in a range of sizes. The crib is set up in the master bedroom for now, but I can help you move it into the guest bedroom if that’s where you’d rather have it.”

“The master is fine.”

There was that word again. Fine. Which, in her experience, usually meant anything but.

“Honestly,” she told him, “I’d like to help. If you want to check out the cabin to see if there’s anything else you need for tonight, or would like help moving things around, I can pitch in while I’m still here.”

For a long moment, he simply stared at her. Almost like she was speaking a foreign language. Or, maybe, all foreign languages at once.

Finally, he nodded. “We’ll be right back.”

Once they had disappeared down the hall and into the master bedroom, Cassie let out a long breath. She’d made a fool of herself with all that inane chatter. If only she didn’t feel so nervous.

Part of the problem was that she’d never known how to act around good-looking men she wasn’t related to. It didn’t help that Flynn Stewart took good-looking to another level entirely.

She knew who he was, of course. An award-winning screenwriter who had recently dated one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” women, Flynn was nearly as famous as the actors who played the starring roles in his movies. But there was a big difference between seeing his photo online and meeting him in person.

Flynn was broader, bigger, and altogether more imposing live and in the flesh.

Since he was going to be living in her cabin for the next few weeks, it was high time to pull herself together and stop acting like a bumbling fool around him. So what if he was staggeringly good-looking? And brilliantly talented? She was simply offering him a place to stay, far from the glare of the Hollywood spotlight. Cassie doubted the two of them would see much of each other once he and Ruby settled in.

Her heart softened as she thought about the sweet baby in Flynn’s arms. Cassie’s cousin Smith, who was one of the biggest movie stars in the world, had given her the bare bones of Flynn and Ruby’s story. Evidently, one of Flynn’s relatives had recently passed away, and he had adopted the little girl. Now, due to his fame, they needed to go somewhere remote and private to escape the endless camera flashes and questions from the paparazzi. Smith and Valentina had loved spending their honeymoon in Cassie’s cabin earlier that year, so they’d immediately thought of it as a refuge for Flynn. Of course, any friend of Smith’s was a friend of Cassie’s, so she was more than happy to offer it.

She’d bought the cabin a few years back with the intention of renovating and flipping the run-down building set in the middle of a hundred wooded acres. But after she had put in the sweat equity of sanding and varnishing the floors, installing new kitchen cupboards, and painting each room the perfect color, she’d fallen too much in love with it to sell it. She was toying with the idea of leaving downtown Bar Harbor and living in it full time, but until it felt like the right time to make the leap, she was happy to lend it out to friends and family.

Flynn came back into the living room emptyhanded. “Ruby took one look at the crib and pretty much made a dive for it. She didn’t sleep well on the plane.” Looking utterly exhausted himself, he ran a hand over the heavy stubble on his chin. At a glance, he was rugged enough to be an outdoor adventurer, rather than someone who sat at a computer for hours on end spinning stories. “Thank you for everything you’ve done to set up your cabin for her.” His voice was slightly gruff as he added, “For both of us.”

“It’s my pleasure.” She smiled again, happy that she could help in some small way. She sincerely hoped they would be happy in this peaceful spot. “If there is anything else you need, just ask.”

“There won’t be.”

She couldn’t keep her eyebrows from rising at his definitive statement made in a rather gruff tone. “Okay.” She backed toward the door. “I’ll get out of your way.” He remained silent while she grabbed her bag and car keys. “My phone number is on the counter.” She didn’t know what else there was to say. Especially when he wasn’t adding anything into the mix. She opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch, feeling more awkward by the second. “Bye.” She pulled the door closed behind her and headed to her car.

Sliding behind the wheel, she pulled out her phone to text Smith: Flynn and Ruby are here and settling in.

His response was lightning fast: Thanks again for letting them use your cabin. I know it will make a huge difference in their lives.

Cassie sent back a smiley face: Happy to help!

And she truly was, even if Flynn obviously wanted to be left alone.

* * *

In his early twenties, Flynn had done an eighty-mile solo trek to Everest Base Camp wearing a fifty-pound backpack. He’d slept on the ground most nights and topped fifteen thousand feet in altitude.

Even then he couldn’t remember feeling as tired as he did now. So exhausted that once he went into the bedroom to check on Ruby and sat in the armchair next to the crib, he could easily have closed his eyes and fallen asleep if he hadn’t been so concerned about his niece waking up frightened in another strange bedroom.

Good thing he was used to surviving on little sleep. Until he was seventeen, he’d slept with one eye open, never sure what state his father would be in when he got home from the bar. After that, though he’d gotten away from his dad, Flynn still stayed awake at night, sure that it was only a matter of time before he was exposed as a lying fraud, certain that someone would surely realize Flynn Stewart
was a character he had created out of thin air…and desperation.

Fifteen minutes after he’d settled Ruby in the crib, just as he’d expected, she woke up with a loud wail. By the time he reached in to pick her up, she was holding on to the bars like a little prisoner, tear tracks wet on her rosy cheeks.

“It’s okay,” he said softly. “I’m here.”

She didn’t smile as he picked her up, simply let out a jagged sigh of relief as he drew her close against him. Catching sight of their reflection in a full-length mirror on the back of the door, he noted that this was how the two of them had been connected since he’d taken custody of her three weeks ago. Apart from Ruby’s sporadic naps, and when she settled into her crib for, at best, six hours each night, he was tethered to his six-month-old niece around the clock.

She was the only person on earth who truly mattered to him…even though he hadn’t known she existed three weeks ago

Excerpt from Your Love is Mine: The Sullivans® #19, copyright 2019, Bella Andre


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