Petal, Georgia #2
Joe Harris has come to Petal. His father's failing. Joe was always a bad seed, getting into trouble and fights. He joined the service and it straightened him out. Now he has bought the auto repair shop in Petal and is trying to live life the right way.
Beth has Joe in her sights. He is gorgeous and has his own business. She is not looking for forever, but just right now. She can tell that Joe wants her too but she is the little sister of his best friend William. Beth pursues him and gets him.
They seem to be getting along great but he is not confiding in her. One night his father has an episode and Joe ends it with Beth.
Is this the end? Will she just let him walk away?
I enjoyed this story. I love Joe's dog! He is such a character.
From the author:
It hasn’t been easy for Joe Harris to live down his not-so-honorable past, but the military made him a better man. He’s determined to make up for past mistakes, starting with coming home to care for his ailing father.
Things are going as planned until his best friend’s little sister comes barreling into his life. Funny, quick talking, smart, beautiful, she’s a temptation he tries—and fails—to resist.
When Beth Murphy hears Joe is back in town, she makes sure she’s the first on his welcoming committee. Though he tries to pretend he’s gruff and unworthy of her, she sees the man who spoils his dog, who touches her like she’s precious. Cherished. But there’s one wall she can’t break down—the truth about what’s happening at home.
On the night the nature of his father’s illness becomes painfully, publicly apparent, Joe does the right thing—push Beth as far away as possible. But if he thought she’d go away quietly, he’s about to learn she’s made of sterner stuff.
What he needed to do was take a ride. He’d been dealing with his father, the move, getting all the stuff in place for the shop, and none of it was fun. Joe was tired of everything. He took a glance over to where Buck had sacked out, his face near his bowl should anyone try to take it. The dog snuffled his annoyance when Joe bent to stroke over his head but groaned a little when he got his ears scratched.
“I’ll be back in a while. Don’t sleep too much.”
Buck opened one eye and then closed it again on a sigh. The sound of Joe’s keys would have sent his normally high-energy dog jumping. But he’d been playing with the dog next door while Joe had been painting earlier and had taken several runs with Joe to the shop and out to his parents’ place and clearly had had enough.
Joe got that. He wished he could lie near his bowl with a bottle of beer and sack out for hours too.
Joe snorted as he stood, looking out his kitchen window over Main Street. He’d finally finished unpacking the last boxes earlier that morning, and while he wasn’t totally moved in, he’d already come home.
Petal had been part of Joe Harris for his entire life. Even when he’d been halfway across the world, he’d never been too far from Petal’s streets. So when he backed the motorcycle out of the garage and started it up, he knew exactly where he wanted to ride.
It was a warm day. Sunny and clear, and once he’d gotten a little out of the main part of town, the scent of grass and trees replaced everything else. The hum of the road beneath him soothed nearly as much as the full-throated growl of the bike. He might have turned his life around, but a guy still had to have some fun. The bike was part of that fun. He’d miss his every-Sunday group he had back in Dallas, but he had so much to do now that he’d moved back home he wasn’t sure when he’d be able to find a new group. But he would eventually.
He needed to remind himself of that. Right now things seemed overwhelming, but they’d mellow. He’d find a routine. Get his dad some help. Get his business up and running. Maybe even find some time to date around, or at the very least have sex.
For now, the road had to be enough.
For now, it was.
“You missed a spot.”
Beth sent a look to her brother William. “Volunteer labor is notoriously imperfect. It’s a sad fact of life.” She rinsed off the window she’d been washing on his truck.
“You want to borrow the truck, you gotta wash it. That’s the deal.”
“I did wash it.” She turned the hose on him, and he jumped with a hoot, sending kids hurtling into the yard, giggling and soaked. “And now I washed the owner. You want I should break out the soap and get behind your ears?”
He grinned and shook his head. “I’ll get even for that.”
“One day maybe. But for today, I am queen.” She tossed the cloth back into the bucket and bent to turn the hose off, pausing to squirt the kids again.
“Thanks for the truck wash. And for watching the kids last night.” Her brother winked before he looked over the yard. His kids were out there running through the sprinkler along with several of her nieces and nephews belonging to their other siblings. She’d had them all at her apartment the night before for a sleepover so their parents could have a date night. She loved each and every one of those munchkins, and it was a lot of fun to have been able to spend so much time with them.
Still, when she left William’s she planned to go back to her place and take a long nap.
“No big. We made cookies and had popcorn and watched Mary Poppins a few times over.”
“We still pretending you watched that one for the kids?”
“Plenty of sprockets young enough that I can keep that up a while longer.” She grinned. Mary Poppins was one of her favorite movies of all time. She hadn’t ever seen it as a kid. Her parents weren’t much for Disney movies for their kids. That and they never had a VCR or anything like that. She’d discovered it when William’s oldest had come along. By that point, years later, she’d seen it so many times it’d become a running joke in the family and she didn’t care.
There was something fine and lovely about Mary Poppins with her perfect voice and quest for happiness in whatever task set before her. Plus, dancing penguins.
A low-throated growl of a motor sounded before she caught sight of the motorcycle that pulled up at the curb out front.
William raised his hand to wave, smiling.
“Who is that?”
“Joe Harris,” William called back over his shoulder.
Holy sweet baby Jesus.
Beth stood still, unable to move or tear her gaze away from Joe as he swung his leg over the bike to stand. And that was before he took his helmet off and all that golden hair spilled out. Her parts came to life as she swallowed hard, taking in the bulging biceps, straining against the soft-looking blue T-shirt. Tattoos made her wonder if he had any hidden out of sight. Powerful thighs filled out faded and worn jeans. His boots were more work boots than cowboy boots, but they worked too.
Worked, much like the sunglasses hiding eyes she remembered were green. He looked dangerous. And hot. More hot than scary. Definitely hot.
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