Title: Wild One Author: Lynne Leslie Series: Kings of Bourbon Falls; Book One Genre: Romantic Suspense Release Date: February 5, 2020
Five bad boys who’ve sworn bachelorhood. Five feisty women about to challenge them. The Kings of Bourbon Falls are about to learn that when it comes to games of the heart, these ladies are all-in.
“Emmy Lou Graves is back.”
That’s all it took to turn my world upside down.
Twelve years ago, Emmy fled Bourbon Falls and the scandal surrounding her family, changing the course of both our lives. Left with a broken heart, I chose bachelorhood vowing to never give my heart again.
Until she struts into my distillery wearing those familiar red cowgirl boots.
Emmy Lou’s all grown up with the same wild that drew me to her still running in her veins.
But in a small town filled with old money, secrets don’t stay buried forever. Emmy Lou’s return for the truth has my protective instincts coming out to play and before long I’m trying to tame that wild once again.
This King of Bourbon Falls is about to come out with a winning hand.
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I park my Jeep in an empty spot in front of the huge building. After shutting off the engine, I rest my wrists over the steering wheel as I gaze out the window. It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped foot into Devils Mark Distillery. Atlas used to bring me here all the time, giving me tours, his voice full of excitement at the legacy he would soon inherit. At one time, I was sure I’d be by his side while he took it over. Until one night twelve years ago when my world was turned upside down.
It’s been just as long since I’ve seen Atlas in person. I’ve kept up with him in the Bourbon and Billionaires magazine. It’s rare that they have an issue that him or one of the other guys isn’t in. You can also find them in newspapers, online articles, or anywhere else people want to report about someone so important. The entire shit is a conundrum to me. The lifestyle is something a woman could only dream of. Luckily for me, I gave up on dreams a long time ago.
I figured it would make it easier if I could keep up with him. Watch as he took the bourbon world by storm. It didn’t take me long to realize what a mistake that was. Each time they pictured him with another woman, my heart cracked a little more. Until nothing was left but tiny shattered fragments. My heart still beats in my chest, but there’s nothing left of it anymore.
I flip the visor down so I can practice my smile in the mirror. After a few useless attempts, I smack it up with a frustrated growl.
No way do I want him to think I’m still holding on to something toward him. That shit sailed a long time ago. Particularly the week after I left, when I heard rumors that he fucked Alicia Barnes, my sworn archenemy. The girl who made my life a living hell throughout middle and high school. No doubt, he made sure the shit was plastered all over his social media just for me. It wasn’t enough that it was in words, though. He had to make sure pictures accompanied them. Pictures with enough evidence that it was hard to dispute the claims. Hell, they even made sure the more explicit ones ended up in my inbox. Never in my dreams, did I think my Duggie could be that cold, but I realized he stopped being my Duggie that night at the falls when he fucked me against his truck like I was just a warm pussy to slide into. That was when a chunk of my soul withered away.
The purr of an engine pulls me from my thoughts, and I glance to the left.
A leggy blonde steps out of the Porsche and readjusts the skirt that has ridden up. I pull in a sharp breath as recognition hits. Tabitha Warner. Real Estate heiress and Atlas James’s Friday.
I couldn't find much about their relationship, much like the other six women. Just that all the names could be tied with Atlas and that each of them is never with him any other time of the week besides a specific day.
A woman for every day of the week.
I close my eyes as my heart pinches. Resting my head against the steering wheel, I debate on turning around and leaving. Not just this distillery, but also Bourbon Falls and never looking back, but no matter how tempting it is, my father deserves the justice that he never got while he was alive.
My lip curls as I think about everything I’ve dug up over the last few years since dad was killed in prison.
I lift my head and glare at the huge bay window looking over the parking lot. Something tells me it belongs to the man I loathe to lay my eyes on.
Steeling my spine, I yank the keys from the ignition and step foot into the sweltering heat.
This town is full of secrets and I’m going to dig them up whether or not they want to be found. Those secrets and the people hiding them are the reason my father went to prison for crimes he didn’t commit and there’re crimes he was eventually killed him for. I won’t stop until everyone involved is exposed. Their money doesn’t mean shit to me. I’m only going to give Atlas a heads up because of everything we once were to one another. What he does with the news is up to him, but I hope he stays out of my way and let me do the job I’ve been doing for a long time now.
I pull open the door that has the Devils Mark Distillery logo on it and step into the familiar building. The distillery is made up of four connected warehouses. One for each operation—the stills, the barrels, the fermentation, and the labeling. The front building that I walked into holds the guys’ offices, the tasting rooms, and conference rooms.
I stop at the round desk that has a plaque stating ‘Receptionist’ on it. The woman with the headset glances up with a plastic smile, holding up a finger and resumes her conversation with the person on the other end of the phone.
Once I catch pieces of her personal conversation, I roll my eyes and decide to find Atlas’s office on my own. It shouldn’t be hard. I imagine he took over the office his dad and grandfather both used.
Her voice is high-pitched as she hollers at me to stop, but I just hold up a hand and continue walking. If Atlas doesn’t want someone barging up to his office, maybe they should hire a better receptionist to make sure that doesn’t happen.
My lips twitch at her impatient huff.
My red boots clang against the steel steps leading up to the loft that holds their offices. The pretentious of it makes me want to roll my eyes. Arnold James, Atlas’s grandfather, always had a Lord of the Manor vibe to him. It made me want to roll my eyes the first time I met him. After everything I’ve found out, he also thinks him and the rest of the good old boys are untouchable because of the money they have. Little do they know; they haven’t had little Emmy Lou Graves nipping at their heels.
The entire network of men makes me sick. I can only hope that Atlas isn’t like that. A lot can change in twelve years, though, so I'll not hold my breath.
I’m lifting my hand to knock on the office door when it’s pulled open before my knuckles connect with the wood.
The stench of sex causes my nose to wrinkle and my booted feet to take a quick step back.
The pang to my heart is harder to ignore this time.
Tabitha hasn’t caught sight of me yet, but Atlas has. His eyes flash too quick for me to pick up the emotion. Hardness settles on his face and a lazy smirk graces his lips. He holds my eyes as he grabs her by the ass and pulls her to him.
I fold my arms over my chest and lean against his door jamb with my feet crossed at the ankles. I raise a brow, urging him to continue while I pretend that watching this isn’t killing me inside.
And here I thought I was over this man I no longer recognize.
He slides his tongue into her mouth, his hands clenching on her ass as he pulls her closer, his eyes never leaving mine. I don’t give him the satisfaction of knowing the little display he’s putting on for my sake is making me feel anything other than indifference.
I hurt him when I left twelve years ago and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s holding a mean fucking grudge. It’s what all these men do. I grew up around them from the time I was a little girl until we were all eighteen. I’ve seen the way they treat someone on the other end of their grudge. It’s not pretty, which is why I’m not surprised by the show he’s putting on now. The only advantage I have is that he doesn’t realize he can still get under my skin.
After what feels like hours, they break apart. Tabitha runs her hands over her hair, and when she turns my way, I wince at the hopeful look in her eyes. When I glance at Atlas, I can tell he spotted it too and a moment of regret crosses his face reminding me of the boy I used to know. My Duggie would have never callously used a woman like that before. Of course, if he was still my Duggie, we’d probably be married with a passel of babies by now.
Tabitha’s face heats with embarrassment as she scurries from the room with a muttered, “Excuse me.”
Atlas ambles back behind his desk and takes a seat, stapling his fingers together on top. “What can I do for you, Emmy?”
I stroll into the room, my hips swaying with each step, and take a seat in the leather chair in front of his desk. I cross one bare leg over the other, satisfaction flaring when his eyes follow the move. That is, until his eyes trail up the rest of me, pausing on my ample chest underneath my tight black tee, and making their way to my face.
Fire dances across my skin.
“I came to give you a heads up.”
Atlas leans back in his chair and laces his fingers behind his head. “For?” he drawls.
“I’m getting to the bottom of what happened twelve years ago.”
“Say that again?” he growls, leaning forward, hands once again clasped together on his desk.
“I’m going to find out what happened twelve years ago,” I repeat slowly. “We both know my daddy was innocent of what they accused him of.”
“You can't be sure of that.”
My feet drop to the floor, and I lean forward resting my elbows on my knees. “Come on, Atlas. Give me better credit than that. You think I’d be back in this fucking town without proof?”
“What kind of proof?”
He snorts. “That doesn’t prove shit, Emmy, and you know it.”
I stand and brace my hands on his desk. “No. What I know is that those money trails lead right back to the fucking old money network that runs this damn town. They lead right to your father’s feet,” I snarl.
His eyes widen, my words catching him off guard. I want to laugh. Surely, he can see that even his father fucking stinks. This whole goddamn town does.
I sigh and sit back down. “Look, I just came here to give you a courtesy heads up. I’m going to be digging and there'll be people who don’t want what I find to get out. Including the families that belong to you and the other four guys that now own this place with you.”
“You’re going to stir up a damn hornet’s nest, Em.”
I shrug. “Wouldn’t be the first time in the last twelve years.”
He lifts a brow, but I’ve had enough of being in his presence. Every time I look into his emerald eyes, I’m reminded of things that are better left in the past.
“There’s a lot about me you don’t know anymore, Atlas,” I reply. “I’m not the soft, naïve girl I was twelve years ago.”
His face hardens. “If you have proof of something, take it to the police, Emmy.”
I snort. “And have it thrown in the trash because these people own the police? No thanks. I can handle it.”
His eyes run down my body, this time in contempt. “Sure you can.”
Clucking my tongue, I stand and turn toward the door. Before I get there, I look back over my shoulder and admonish him. “You know that you should never judge a book by its cover, Duggie.”
He shrugs. “Yet it’s done every day.”
I roll my eyes and continue to the door.
“And Emmy?” he calls.
I pause with my hand on the door.
“It’s Atlas,” he states coldly.
Turning to look at him one last time, I run my eyes over him, taking in the features that are the same yet so different from the boy I knew so long ago. There’s a coldness to him that was never there before. A hardness that I’m familiar with seeing in my job. Though if I’m honest, it’s the empty eyes that get to me. They remind me so much of the men he swore he never wanted to be.
“I can see that,” I reply softly.
I watch my words hit their mark before I walk out the door.
At least now I understand the boy I loved so fiercely is long gone. The man behind that closed door is a stranger I’m glad I don’t know.
Mom. Fiancee. Wine Drinker. Hot Mess. Even bigger Walking Disaster. Fluent Sarcasm Speaker. Word Writer. Collector of Readers Hearts. Taco Lover. Book Nerd.Lynne lives in the quiet country with a bossy mister and two little divas. If you don’t catch her with her nose in a book or her fingers scribbling on paper, she’s usually right in front of the television with her family. She loves anything that glitters and has a weird habit of collecting pens. She thinks seafood is disgusting, beach sand is the devil, and Tom Hardy is life.