Gunnar Bond is broken.
Three years ago, he lived through the car crash that took his wife and twins away from him—though “lived” barely describes his current state. Giving up professional hockey, going off grid, and drinking himself into oblivion are his coping mechanisms. Another is texting his dead wife about his days without her. Therapeutic? Doubtful. Crazy?
Definitely. But those messages into the ether are virtually the only thing stopping him from spiraling to even darker places.
Until someone texts back . . .
Sadie Yates is losing it.
Suddenly guardian to a little sister she doesn’t know and a misbehaving hound she’d rather not know at all, she’s had to upend her (sort of) glamorous life in LA and move back to Chicago. The nanny has quit, the money’s running out, and her job is on the line. The last thing she needs is her sister’s hockey camp counselor, a judgmental Viking type, telling her she sucks at this parenting lark. Thank the goddess for her sweet, sensitive, and—fingers crossed—sexy text buddy who always knows the right thing to say. In the same city at last, they can finally see if their online chemistry is mirrored in real life. She just needs to set up a meeting …
A ruined man who claims to have used up all his love is surely a bad bet, but Sadie’s never been afraid of a challenge … even one that might shatter her heart into a million pieces.
She smoothed the skirt of her dress, a cute shift style she’d cut from an old Vogue pattern and paired with a fun, sparkly belt. Placing her hand on the door handle, she grabbed her Kate Spade, a gift from her friend Peyton, only to stall at hearing her phone buzz.
“Hold your horses, woman,” she muttered, expecting to see an all-caps text from Allegra. Instead, it was from someone rather unexpected.
LonelyHeart: It’s cold and miserable, like me. How about you?
More than twenty-four hours later, he’d texted back! About the weather, but she’d take it.
Sadie: Sunny with a chance of more sun. Like me!
She cringed at her ridiculousness. Sadie: Sorry, just being a goof. What’s going on? Forehead slap. He’s mourning his wife, that’s what.
LonelyHeart: I’ve been thinking about the 9 million numbers and how it is you have this one number. Of all the numbers. This one that means something to me.
She had no idea what to say to that. Maybe it’s fate? The goddess? Maybelline?
The dots started up again and she let him finish his thought.
LonelyHeart: Maybe it means we’re supposed to be talking.
Sadie: I think so. It has to be a sign.
LonelyHeart: So you don’t think it’s weird?
What? Talking to a man who wished he was chatting with the deceased love of his life. Nah!
Sadie: No, not at all. You don’t have to say anything, but I wanted you to know I’m here if you need to talk.
LonelyHeart: Not much of a talker.
Sadie smiled. This man—and she was sure it was a man—was much more of a “talker” than he claimed.
Sadie: Yet you can’t shut up in those texts J
LonelyHeart: Kind of chatty when there are only four wooden walls.
Sadie: You have me now.
She sent it before she had time to think about how it would sound. Presumptuous. Needy. A bridge too far.
Allegra: SADIE, WHERE ARE YOU??!!!
Damn. She waited for LonelyHeart to respond, worried she’d scared him off. Her phone rang with Allegra’s high-energy smile on the screen (Allegra had energy degrees for her smiles. This one was an eight.) Sadie let it go to voice mail. It seemed incredibly important that she waits for his response. Just a second, just one more second …
LonelyHeart: I should let you go. I’ll check in later if that’s okay.
Sadie’s heart thundered. Definitely. I’m dying to hear about the wooden walls. Are you Amish? But a user of phones? An Amish tech-lover?
LonelyHeart: No. I live in a cabin. In a forest.
Sadie: Like the Unabomber? I’m not really into revolutionary anarchy but I can tell a million jokes about it.
LonelyHeart: Jokes would be welcome during the revolution.
Sadie: Awesome! I’ll get my arsenal of bad puns ready. (Arsenal? Revolution? Get it?) Prepare to be entertained.
LonelyHeart: Is that your way of discouraging me from checking in? Because I’m not easily frightened.
Sadie: Wait until you hear my A material.
Originally from Ireland, USA Today bestselling author Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, a fire hose, or a hockey stick, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.