Some secrets are meant to be shared.
Before he gives his heart…
he’ll have to forgive himself.
Returning to Owl Creek after years away, Braden North’s determined to help his best friend, Piper Miller, save her failing diner. But as they work to revitalize her business, Braden’s convinced he must hide the truth about a tragedy from their past…or risk losing Piper for good.
If he can find the courage, might telling her everything make this Christmas a time for healing and forgiveness?
Braden watched as Piper’s eyes widened with surprise. The shock on her face made him want to laugh out loud, but he knew the situation was far from humorous. The Snowy Owl Diner was at stake, and although he’d agreed to provide his assistance, he wasn’t sure if Piper even believed it could be saved. From this point forward, she would have to tell him everything about her situation. He would have to look over the books with a fine-tooth comb. If he was truly going to help her, he needed to understand exactly what she was facing. The good, the bad and the ugly.
“A-are you serious?” she asked, sputtering.
“Completely,” he said, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “Whatever you need is what I’ll do.”
She pressed a hand to her chest. “You will? Really? You were so decisive last night. What made you change your mind?”
Braden paused before answering. “Because I owe you, Piper.”
“For what?” she asked, confusion radiating from her eyes.
Telling her the truth wasn’t an option. She wouldn’t want to know why he would forever be indebted to her. “For a million different things. You’ve always being in my corner. How could I say no to you when you’ve always said yes to me? No matter what trouble I got into or the problems I laid at your feet, you always jumped in to help me. There’s no way I could do any less for you.”
Tears slid down Piper’s face, and she made no attempt to wipe them away. She bowed her head, and he could see her lips moving. When she raised her head back up, Braden saw pure happiness emanating from her eyes.
“Thank you, Braden. I’m so grateful that you changed your mind. I know it’s complicated, but in my heart I truly feel that I was meant to carry on Daddy’s legacy. I just can’t imagine my life without this place in it. I’m willing to do just about anything to save it.”
Braden couldn’t envision Piper losing ownership of the restaurant either. It would be agonizing for her. Not to mention Trudy and Hank. They were all invested in it. The townsfolk would be both saddened and upset. Piper would be the subject of endless gossip about the circumstances of her losing ownership of the Snowy Owl. She wouldn’t be able to bear it if the townsfolk discovered that the diner had been struggling since before her father’s death.
He knew Jack’s reputation was important to Piper. People would sympathize with her as well, but he knew she would be inconsolable. If there was even a small chance of them reversing things, he wanted to give it his all. It would be his penance for shaving years off Jack’s life. If it hadn’t been for him, Jack might be here today, doing everything he could to boost the restaurant and spreading his effortless charm throughout the establishment.
“We should meet up so you can give me an opportunity to look over the books and all of your monthly bills along with revenue. That’ll at least give me a snapshot of what’s been going on.”
Piper made a sad face. “Sure thing. I hope you see something in there that I missed, but I crunched the numbers over and over again. It’s not looking good.”
“We have to look at all your options. You might need a lawyer or a consultant.”
She shook her head. “I don’t have money for an attorney. It’s a lack of money that’s gotten me into this situation in the first place.” Piper let out a frustrated groan.
“Why don’t we meet this evening to try and sort some of this out?” he suggested. From what he’d initially gathered, they had only a short window of time to get things dealt with before everything imploded. That needed to be prevented at all costs.
“That sounds good. Come by after I close up,” she told him. “I have to get back out there, but I’m so thrilled you changed your mind about helping me.” She flashed him a smile. “In case you didn’t realize it, I’m super grateful.”
Belle Calhoune lives in Connecticut with her college sweetheart husband and two daughters. After a thirteen year career as a Federal Investigator, she chose to pursue a writing career. An avid lover of romance novels since she was a teen, she enjoys writing love stories and reading them. She loves spending summers in beautiful Cape Cod and traveling to new places. A dog lover, she has a mini poodle and a chocolate lab. More than anything, she believes in happily ever afters.
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