Home > Reluctant Husband (Whiskey Men #1)

Reluctant Husband (Whiskey Men #1)
Author: Hope Ford


Reluctant Husband © 2023 by Hope Ford

Editor: Kasi Alexander

Cover Design: Lori Jackson

Cover Model: Andrew Biernat

Image Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.






I’m scanning the front page of the newspaper as I walk up the steps to Lottie’s room. She may be eighty-one years old, but if there’s any mention of her five grandsons, she’ll spot it quickly, and heads are going to roll. She likes them to stay out of the gossip column, but it seems one, two, or heck, all five of them make their way into it at some point or another, and I’m just trying to save their asses and keep their grandmother from getting upset at the same time.

I almost trip on the stairs when I turn the paper upside down and spot Lucas Blaze. I should have known one of them would make the front page, even if it is the bottom. And there he is. Lucas Blaze, youngest brother of the billion-dollar whiskey company. He’s got his arm around some woman, and even though it looks innocent enough, the headline reads Lucas Blaze is on the Prowl Again. I would laugh at the stupid headline, but I’m too busy staring at the man in question. He looks good, but he always looks good. And just like every other time I see him, there’s a tightness in my chest and a flutter in my belly. Forcing my eyes off him, I fold up the paper as I get to the open doors of Lottie’s bedroom and en suite living room. There’s no way I can take this paper in there. No way! Heck, I don’t want to see the disappointment on her face, and I definitely don’t want to get into a conversation about Lucas and how he needs to settle down. I mean, yeah, I wish it would happen, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon and definitely not with the likes of me.

I stow it on the hall table, force a smile onto my face, and walk in. My smile falters just a little when I spot Lottie sitting in her chair with a pale face. If nothing else, the woman always has her makeup on. She says you can’t face the day if you’re not ready, and to her, ready is dressed, made up, and hair done, and she wouldn’t be caught dead without earrings.

She must see the worried look on my face because she points at the table next to her with all her makeup strewn about. “I’m getting to it. I just needed a little rest.”

I sit on the chair in front of her and shrug. “I think you’re beautiful without it.”

She reaches for me, and her frail hand squeezes mine. Her strength may not be what it used to be, but the sentiment is the same. “You’re too good to me, Issi.”

I smile and shake my head. “I could say the same about you.” The fact is, I could say a lot more. Lottie was my grandmother’s best friend and like a second grandmother to me growing up. Especially when my own grandma passed away. I know she’s trying to fill the huge gap in my life since she passed, and I love her for it. We’ve always been close but even more so lately. “What do you think, G?” I call her by the nickname I gave her a long time ago. “Do you want to go naked today?”

She gasps, and a look of shock lights up her face. “Naked! Well, I never, Isabelle Stevens.”

I can feel my face flush hot. “I meant your face... no makeup.”

She bursts out laughing. “I knew what you meant. I’m just giving you a hard time. I want to at least put some mascara on. I can’t let people think I’m already dead.”

She lifts the tube of mascara, and her hands shake as she tries to unscrew it. It’s hard seeing her like this, but there’s no way I would walk away from her. “Let me do it, G.”

She hands over the tube easily, and I take it from her. “So did you sleep well?”

And as soon as I say it, I know it was the wrong thing to say. I’m sure she remembers that last night was the big fundraiser in Jasper and that the Jasper newspaper worked through the night to get the papers delivered this morning. Her eyes widen, even as I’m coming at her with the wand in my hand. “Where’s the paper?” she asks.

I should have thought this through a little bit because there’s no way to avoid her gaze while applying mascara to her lashes. “Hold still.”

She opens her eyes wider and holds still. I finish one eye, and she doesn’t hesitate. “Okay, so what happened last night? Have you heard from any of my grandsons? What about Lucas? Is he up this morning yet?”

“Hold still,” I tell her again and lean in for the other eye. She does as I ask, but I know this is not something she’s going to let go. I finish the second eye, screw the cap, and grab the handheld mirror on the table. “What do you think?”

She barely glances at the mirror. “Yeah, yeah, Issi. It’s great, thank you. So where’s the paper?”

I wince even though I’m trying hard to keep my reactions hidden. “I think it’s in the hallway.”

She rears back, confusion on her face. “Why would it be... shitfire... they’re in there. They’ve done something, haven’t they? Those five grandsons of mine are going to be the death of me yet.”

“Now, G. There’s no reason to get upset. No one did anything scandalous or anything.” Damn, I hope they didn’t anyway. I really don’t want to be lying to her right now.

She holds her hand out to me. “Bring me the paper.” And as an afterthought, she adds, “Please.”

I stand up from my chair to go get the paper. When I come back in, I hold it out to her, and she takes it. I have to give her credit. She may be getting up in age, and her eyesight might not be what it used to be, but she finds the column a lot faster than I did. She scans the article and then zones in on the picture of Lucas before dropping the paper in her lap. “First of all, it says five most eligible bachelors. Only four of my grandsons are eligible. How is it that they always forget Beau is married and has been for some time now? How do they think Natalie feels about that?”

I know Lottie doesn’t expect an answer, so I keep my mouth shut. But I know she’s right. I really like Natalie, and the last few times I’ve seen her, there has been a sadness in her eyes. I can’t help but wonder if everything is okay with her and Beau. Before I can get too lost in thought, Lottie picks up the paper again and points at the picture, reading the caption. “On the prowl.” She flicks her hand at the paper in frustration. “That boy needs to settle down, and that’s all there is to it.”

I’m not going to call it panic, but there’s a part of me that feels the urgency of her words. “He’s the youngest brother, G. Don’t you think you should start on the others first?”

I scrunch my nose up as soon as the words leave my mouth. I always tell myself to stay out of it when she gets like this, but it looks like I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to Lucas. The fact is, I hate seeing pictures of him with other women. It guts me in a way that I’ve never felt before, but what Lottie is wanting seems too much to me. How in the world can I be here when he’s in love with another woman? Can I stay on, working as Lottie’s nurse and taking care of her while crossing paths with Lucas’ serious girlfriend or even wife in the hallway? I don’t think my heart can handle it.

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