Brighton McKenzie inherited one of the last pieces of farmland in suburban Baltimore. It has been in his family since Maryland was a colony, though it has lain fallow for years. Selling it for development would be easy, but Brighton wants to honor his grandfather's wishes and work it again. Unfortunately, an accident left him relying on a cane, so he’ll need help. Tanner Houghton used to work on a ranch in Montana until a vengeful ex got him fired because of his sexuality. He comes to Maryland at the invitation of his cousin and is thrilled to have a chance to get back to the kind of work he loves.
Brighton is instantly drawn to the intensely handsome and huge Tanner—he’s everything Brighton likes in a man, though he holds back because Tanner is an employee, and because he can’t understand why a man as virile as Tanner would be interested in him. But that isn’t the worst of their problems. They have to face the machinations of Brighton's aunt, Tanner’s ex suddenly wanting him back, and the need to find a way to make the farm financially viable before they lose it.
Releasing March 16 from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6160
Mr. Granger opened the file. “The last will and testament of Edward McKenzie,” he said ceremoniously and then began to read.
“To start with I’d like to deal with my daughter Vera Westbridge. Vera, honey, I know you and that man you married are counting on the proceeds of the farm for your retirement. Well, I got to tell you, nobody gave me anything. I worked my entire life on that land, and no one is going to use it so they can sit on their butt in Florida or some other place and bake their brains out. It’s time you did for yourself, so I’m leaving you fifty thousand dollars. It’s not enough to retire on, but that’s life. You need to stand on your own two feet, so I’m giving you a shove.”
Aunt Vera gasped and looked at Uncle Raymond, her mouth hanging open like a startled fish. She didn’t move or breathe for a long time and then burst into tears.
Mr. Granger continued, “There’s no use crying. It isn’t going to do you no good because there’s no one around to hear it who cares. You always turned on the waterworks when you wanted something, and most everyone gave in. Well, now I’m dead, so I don’t care how much you cry.” It appeared to Brighton that Mr. Granger was getting a little kick out of this, but he was too good a lawyer to say anything or let it show on his face.
“After all I did for him. His own daughter, and he did this to me.” She sniffled, and Uncle Raymond did his best to soothe her. However, that didn’t last long as the realization of what was about to happen sank in. Her expression darkened, and she glowered at Brianne and Brighton.
“For my granddaughter, Brianne McKenzie. Dear, you never needed anything from anyone. You have a firm head on your shoulders, and I know you’ll go far. I leave you fifty thousand dollars to do with as you see fit. I hope you continue with your schooling and change the world.” Mr. Granger looked up from where he was reading and smiled at Brianne, who seemed very pleased and excited. That would go a long way to ensuring a good start for her.
Brighton breathed a slight sigh of relief.
“For my other grandchildren, I leave ten thousand dollars each. I’m not specifically naming them, but they include Vera and Raymond’s children. Granger will ensure they each get their share. Now to my grandson, Brighton McKenzie. Brighton, I leave you the rest of my estate, including the farm, its contents, and any other money, on the provision that you live there for at least two years, at which point everything is yours. You are free to sell the farm, but if you do so within the first two years, the proceeds will be split evenly among yourself, Brianne, and my daughter Vera.” The lawyer paused, and Brighton gasped as the weight of what was happening fell on him. Brighton was so shocked he barely had the ability to draw air. “After your parents were killed by the drunk driver, you stepped up and raised your sister almost on your own. You had help from your aunt and uncle as well as myself, but by and large you did what needed to be done, fighting all of us sometimes to make sure you could do what you thought was right. I know we had some really whooping matches, but I was never mad at you. You stood up to all of us, and that makes you a man. You also put your own life on hold and worked as hard as you could to see to it that Brianne got through school.”
Brighton looked to Brianne. He had never talked about what he’d done for her. That had been between them.
“Your grandfather knew a great deal about you,” Mr. Granger said. “He was very intelligent and observant, and he seemed to know what was going on within his family.”
“So he gets the farm? He can’t even walk very well. How is he supposed to take care of it?” Aunt Vera said.
Brighton opened his mouth to argue, but Mr. Granger cleared his throat and returned to the will. “Now I know that my daughter Vera will try to persuade you to simply sell the land so she can get her hands on the money, and you are free to do that if you wish, but it is my hope that you will live on the farm and let it become part of you. That land has been in our family since Colonial times, longer than this country has existed. Listen to your own heart and make up your own mind.” Mr. Granger stopped. “The rest of the will contains stipulations should any of the recipients not survive him and so on. They do not pertain to you at this time.”
His aunt practically jumped to her feet. “I want a copy of this will so I can have my attorney look at it. Daddy gave me a copy of his will three years ago, and it was nothing like this.”