A man's word is his bond. His family is his strength. His heart is his own.
Superstar musician Caden Granger has spent years running from love, commitment and family. Yet despite his fame and fortune, he knows the kind of respect and adoration he needs can only come from one personthe very woman who wants nothing to do with him.
Charity volunteer and owner of a wine boutique, Shiloh Timmons finally got her life on track once her relationship with Caden ended, and she's in no hurry to revisit a romance with the man who believes she left him standing at the altar.
If Caden can't have Shiloh by his side, all the success in the world will mean nothing. Now he has a chance to renew his promises but is it too late?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Shiloh Timmons's hands trembled as she set down the newspaper she'd just read. Emotions she'd been suppressing for the past four years were reemerging, and she refused to let them get the better of her. Caden Granger would never hurt her again; she would see to it.
Hearing someone clearing their throat, she glanced across the room and saw her brother standing in the doorway of her office. Growing up, Sedrick had been her hero, the big brother every girl needed and deserved. He'd been her protector. Even now, he was trying to protect her especially since Caden had returned to town.
"It wasn't Caden, Shiloh," he said, referring to the newspaper article she'd just read.
"No, but it could have been. Did you read what that article said, Sedrick?"
He shrugged before coming into her office, closing the door behind him. "Didn't have to. It's dominated the local news since the story broke a few days ago."
Shiloh drew in a deep breath. All last week she had been in California, in the heart of Napa Valley, making purchases for the grand-opening celebration of the wine shop she'd opened a few weeks ago. When she'd returned home last night it had been late, and since she wasn't a television watcher, she hadn't turned on the set. Instead, she had showered and gone to bed, knowing this would be a busy week at the Wine Cellar Boutique. She was gearing up for a party that would put her specialty shop on the map.
She'd been sitting at her desk, about to take her first sip of coffee, but nothing could have prepared her for what she saw in the morning paper. The headlines blared out at her in bold letters: Granger Narrowly Escapes Death.
Literally holding her breath, she read that Jace Granger, Caden's older brother, had been kidnapped from the parking garage at Granger Aeronautics. He had been just seconds from losing his life when the FBI had located him in the warehouse where he'd been held hostage. Arrests had been made, and the authorities were trying to determine whether there was a possible tie-in between the kidnapping and the reported ongoing trade-secrets investigation at Granger Aeronautics. Of course, the article took the opportunity to remind the readers that Jace's father, Sheppard Granger, was serving a thirty-year sentence for murdering his wife, Sylvia, fifteen years ago.
Shiloh stood and walked over to the window. If she were to tilt her head back and slant her gaze to the right, she could see the twenty-three-story building of Granger Aeronautics. Had it really been over a month since she had been there, attending the stockholders' meeting in her mother's absence? That day she had cast the deciding vote that allowed the three Granger brothers to retain control of their family corporation. Jace and Caden's younger brother, Dalton, had been friendly to her, but Caden had not spoken one word. And she could not forget the daggered looks he'd given her.
"You need to move on with your life, Shiloh. You tried telling Caden the truth about what happened and" Sedrick began.
"And he didn't want to hear anything I had to say." Shiloh turned around, remembering that night a few weeks ago when she had gone to Sutton Hills, the Granger estates, to tell Caden that she'd recently discovered what her parentsspecifically, her fatherhad done to ruin her life. Her mother was not blameless in the whole sordid business, either, because she'd known what her husband was capable of.
That was the same night Shiloh had moved out of her parents' home and taken a place in town after giving her mother a scalding earful. Her father would have gotten more of the same had he been alive to hear it. But he had died several months ago, probably thinking he had taken all his secrets to the grave. Nonetheless, there was one secret that hadn't quite made it. And it had been by pure accident that she had stumbled upon the truth.
She saw Sedrick's concerned expression. "I have moved on, Sedrick. Honest. However, I haven't forgiven Mom for the part she played in everything. But, rest assured, Caden means nothing to me anymore." The same way he had let her know that she no longer meant anything to him. He'd even gone so far as to tell her that he couldn't stand the sight of her. His words had hurt, destroying her already broken and shattered spirit. The words he had spoken that night had been cruel, brutal and so undeserved. She doubted she would ever forgive him for that.
"I hope one day you'll find it in your heart to forgive Mom, Shiloh. She needs you more than ever. She's all alone now in that huge house. I wish you hadn't moved out."
She felt Sedrick's words were unfair. "I don't see you racing to move back home," she said curtly.
"Only because I need to be close to the hospital. Surely you understand that."
Yes, she did understand. After medical school, Sedrick had moved back to Charlottesville, whereas she had remained living in Boston after completing college. She'd returned to Charlottesville only after her mother had pleaded with her to come home seven months ago. At the time, her father was dying of lung cancer. She had been home only a few weeks before he'd passed on.
"You and I both know Mom was a bigger puppet for Dad than we were," Sedrick said, interrupting her thoughts. "Samuel Timmons expected everyone to obey any orders he dished out. And we did."
"Not all the time," Shiloh countered. "When we got older, we began thinking for ourselves," she said, recalling that time. It was after they had both moved away to go to college that they were finally able to begin to really understand how things were at home.
"I regret the day Mom and Dad forbade us to have any contact with Jace, Caden and Dalton Granger. That was wrong. After their father was sent to prison, they probably needed their friends more than ever. Instead, they were ostracized," Sedrick said.
Shiloh regretted it, as well. One day, the two families had been close, and then the next, her parents had forbidden her and Sedrick to have anything to do with the Grangers. And all because her parents believed Shep-pard Granger had killed his wife. They hadn't wanted their kids associating with the kids of an accused killer. She remembered Mr. Granger as a nice man and, for the life of her, she couldn't imagine him killing anyone. And she knew that Caden and his brothers were convinced of their father's innocence.
"Jace was my best friend growing up, and I lost him," Sedrick said, interrupting her thoughts. "Did I tell you that he didn't even recognize me that night he arrived at the hospital after his grandfather had that heart attack?"
Yes, Sedrick had mentioned it, and for him to bring it up again meant that he was bothered by it. Shiloh drew in a deep breath, remembering that Caden had been her best friend growing up. And in later years, after leaving for college, she had defied her father's orders by seeking out Caden, and they had become lovers.
"Well, since you're certain you've moved on, what about Wallace?" She lifted a brow. "Who?"
"Wallace Aiken. Another heart specialist who transferred in from a hospital in Maryland. He's a good guy, and I like him. I introduced the two of you last month when you dropped by the hospital to see me. He's asked about you several times since. He told me last week that he would like to take you out."
Shiloh couldn't remember the man Sedrick was talking about, which meant he hadn't made a lasting impression on her. But then, very few men had, compared to Caden. But not anymore. "Fine. Fix us up."
Surprise showed on her brother's face. "You're serious?"
She chuckled. "Why not? We can start off by double-dating with you and Cassie."
Her brother and Cassie Mayfield, a respiratory therapist at the hospital, had begun dating a few years ago. As far as Shiloh was concerned, it was time for Sedrick to put a ring on Cassie's finger. Samuel Timmons hadn't liked Cassie, saying she was from the wrong side of the tracks. But he hadn't been able to tear the couple apart. One of his few failures.
"Great! I'll talk to Wallace and make all the arrangements," Sedrick said, smiling. "Is this weekend okay?"
She moved back to her desk to check her calendar. She sucked in a hiss between her teeth. She might have spoken too soon. "That's a week before grand-opening night, and I'm going to have a lot to do this entire week," she said, glancing over at her brother.
After seeing the I figured you would come up with an excuse look on his face, she quickly added, "But I will make time. It will probably be the last chance I have for some fun before getting really busy at work."
"Great. And by the way, I'm impressed with how this place is shaping up. I'm glad you're doing something you enjoy."
A smile touched Shiloh's lips. "Thanks, and I do enjoy this, Sedrick. I really do."
Caden Granger frowned as he gazed across his desk at his younger brother. "You're kidding, right?"
Dalton released that crazy-ass chuckle that, at times, could grate on Caden's last nerve. "No, I'm not kidding. Just think of what could have happened to Jace if he hadn't had that tracking device on his phone."
Caden didn't want to think about it. When he and his two brothers had left Charlottesville for college years ago, each had vowed never to return. After college, they had moved to separate parts of the world, living their dreams. Caden was a well-known saxophonist touring in some of the most sought-after cities to sold-out crowds; Jace worked as an attorney for the government in California; and Dalton claimed he worked smarter and not harder by investing his money while living the life of a playboy/boy toy in Europe. In the end, Dalton was the one who'd become a billionaire. Go figure.
He, Jace and Dalton had returned to Charlottesville when their grandfather, Richard Granger, had had a fatal heart attack. It had been a couple of months ago that the three of them had made the deathbed promise to their grandfather to take over the family business, Granger Aeronautics. When they'd done so, they had no idea that in addition to inheriting a failing company, they would have to deal with employees intent on divulging trade secrets and someone they thought they could trust being a killer. The man had actually kidnapped Jace with the intention of ending his life. If it hadn't been for the tracker Dalton had convinced Jace to install on his phone, Caden didn't want to think of what might have happened.
"Fine. Put the damned tracker on my phone," Caden said, tossing a document he didn't feel like reading back into the in-box on his desk.
Dalton smiled. "I already have."
Caden's frown deepened. "You did so without my permission?"
Dalton eased up out of the chair as if he didn't have a care in the world, knowing full well that Caden really wanted to kick his ass. Caden might be two years older but, as far as Dalton was concerned, he was in way better shape than Caden. But he knew Caden wouldn't do any such thing. He and his brothers might give each other hell from time to time, but they always had each other's backs.
"So, Jace still hasn't said anything about what's going on with him and Wonder Woman?" Dalton observed.
Caden shrugged. Shana Bradford, whom Dalton liked to refer to as Wonder Woman, was the person they had hired to help get the company back on a proper footing. She was a real fixer, which was lucky since it was her team that had figured out about the trade-secrets encroachments, as well as Vidal Duncan's duplicity.
"What's there to say, Dalton? It's been obvious from day one that he had a thing for her, although he claimed indifference. After this week's rescue, I'd say it's become pretty damned obvious."
Caden was referring to the fact that the FBI agents were barely in the door to stop Jace's head from being blown off before Shana had rushed in and thrown herself in his arms. "And I didn't see him rejecting that wallop of a kiss she laid on him," he added.
"Me, either," Dalton chimed in to say, glancing at his watch. He had an appointment that he planned to keep and didn't intend to be late.
At that moment, the buzzer on Caden's desk sounded. "Yes, Brandy?"
"There's a Sandra Timmons here to see you?"
Surprise shone on both Caden's and Dalton's faces. Sandra and Samuel Timmons had been neighbors and friends of their parents. When Sylvia Granger was murdered fifteen years ago, and their father wrongly convicted of committing the crime, the Timmonses and a lot of others had forbidden their children to continue to associate with the Granger kids. Caden had been fourteen, Jace sixteen, and Dalton twelve at the time.
"Send her in, Brandy," Caden said, standing, straightening his tie.
Dalton stood, as well. "I wonder what she wants."
"I have no idea."
"Then I wouldn't see her if I were you."
Caden glanced over at Dalton. "Why?"
"She's probably here to tell you to leave Shiloh alone. She'll probably make threats and get ugly about it. She could take up where old man Timmons left offthinking we're nothing but scum."
Hearing Dalton bring up the name of the one woman Caden wanted more than anything to forget sent a flash of pain through his heart. "First of all, I'm not involved with Shiloh. She's the last woman I want to have anything to do with."
"There was a time the two of you were"
"Best friends," he interrupted to say, refusing to fall victim to his younger brother's nosiness. For months Dalton had been trying to figure out what, if anything, was going on between Caden and Shiloh. Caden had confided in Jace and told him the full story, but he figured the less Dalton knew, the better.
The door opened, and Sandra Timmons was escorted in by Brandy. As always, she looked immaculate, not a hair out of place and her clothing of the finest quality from a top-notch designer. But there was a sadness in her eyes that Caden noted immediately. Was she still mourning the loss of her husband? From what Shiloh had once told him, her parents had an unorthodox marriage that was not based on love.
"I'm glad you could see me on such short notice, Caden," she said, giving Dalton a brief nod.
"You mean no notice, don't you, Ms. Timmons?" Dalton interjected.