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Almost Everything - Signed Paperback

Almost Everything - Signed Paperback

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Her fairytale ending turns into a disaster. Can her brother’s best friend convince her that she was chasing the wrong happily ever after?

Wolf Creek Ranch Book 2

Main Tropes

  • Brother's Best Friend
  • Friends to More
  • Fierce Protector


Her fairytale ending turns into a disaster. Can her brother’s best friend convince her that she was chasing the wrong happily ever after?

Everly Cooper had it all. A successful fiancé, a dream home being built, and the life she always wanted away from the spotlight.

And then it all crashed and burned publicly, and her brother’s best friend, Blake, was all too eager to race to her rescue.

Blake Lawson left the world of professional football for the small town life five years ago. His friend, Ridge, needed help, and being closer to Everly was more than just a bonus. He’d been silently in love with his best friend’s sister for years. He had everything he could possibly want, except her.

Blake refuses to watch her cry over a man who didn’t deserve her. He’s ready to fess up to Everly and show her how a real man treats the woman he loves.

When Blake's plan to win her heart backfires, he’ll have to figure out what loving someone really means before he loses Everly forever.

Almost Everything is the second audiobook in the Christian romance Wolf Creek Ranch series.

Read Chapter One

Blake pulled Applejack to a stop in front of the barn and quickly dismounted. “Sorry, AJ. Gotta run today.” He checked his watch as he led Applejack inside. He had half an hour to get to Everly’s.

Jess, the barn manager at Wolf Creek Ranch, walked out of the barn office and propped her hands on her hips. Her youthful features, high ponytail, and button nose didn’t do her any favors when she was trying to intimidate him. “Where have you been?”

“Up a creek without a paddle?” Blake guessed.

Jess reached for the reins. “I told you I needed him for a lesson today.”

Blake held up his hands in surrender. Jess ran a tight ship in the barn, and getting on her bad side wasn’t on his list of things to do today.

In fact, he only had one thing on his list: Drive Everly to the airport.

He wasn’t excited about that particular duty, since she’d be leaving him to meet up with her fiancé in Cleveland, but his brain thought any chance to spend time with Everly was cause to celebrate. Hence the mix of adrenaline and dread that had his stomach coiling in a knot.

If he kept mentally referring to Everly as his friend, maybe his wayward heart would get the memo. So far, he’d had no such luck. They were friends, but he’d always wondered what if. Mostly, what if he’d told her how he felt before she’d gotten together with her now-fiancé.

“Sorry. I thought you meant later. You usually don’t have lessons before lunch,” Blake said.

“I don’t, but Applejack is older, and I don’t want him worn out before the lesson even starts.” Jess brushed a hand down the horse’s nose and whispered, “Let’s cool you off and get you a treat.”

Blake patted the horse’s back and crooned, “Thanks for the ride.”

Jess glared at Blake as she led Applejack toward the walking yard. He’d have to shovel the stalls tomorrow to make it up to her.

Blake headed straight for the big barn sink and rolled his sleeves to the elbows. His morning mission had been to stay clean enough that he wouldn’t have to shower before picking up Everly. He’d managed to keep the dirt contained to his hands, and with the clean pair of boots in his truck, she should be able to ride the half hour to the airport without rolling the windows down.

After scrubbing his hands and arms, he jogged toward the front of the barn.

“Where you headed in such a hurry?” Brett stepped out of the last stall and propped a shovel against the wall.

Blake shouted over his shoulder as he passed, “Gotta take Everly to the airport.”

“Good luck with that. Nice chat,” Brett said as he picked up the shovel and got back to work.

Brett was Jess’s brother, but the siblings were opposites. Brett was as carefree and friendly as Jess was stern and assertive. Together, they made a good team. They both knew where Blake was going today, and while Jess had made it possible for him to be on time, Brett saw an opportunity to joke. Except Blake wasn’t in the mood for jokes about his one-sided feelings for Everly.

Those feelings were part of the reason he’d been dreading this drive. When Everly had asked him to drop her off, he’d immediately agreed. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized it was time to shut down the feelings. He’d happily lock away any romantic feelings for Everly in the back of his mind and throw away the key. If only he knew how to actually get her out of his head.

It didn’t help that they worked together. He saw her every day. Well, he made sure to see her every day. The stupid feelings were to blame.

Yet, he’d been telling himself it was possible to get over her. He’d also given himself a deadline. When he dropped her off today, he would move on.

Solid plan, right? Even his conscience was rolling in laughter.

Still, he had to try. It was time to face the music or something. He couldn’t be friends with Everly after she married David. There was a commandment about coveting your neighbor’s wife, and Blake didn’t like the thought of breaking it.

He spent the drive to Everly’s giving himself a pep talk. The motivational quotes turned to assuring chants that eventually morphed into catchy song lyrics. He’d just finished belting out the chorus of “Jessie’s Girl” when he pulled up at Everly’s house. No, it wasn’t a house. The white mansion jutting out of the snowy hills was more of an estate.

Blake groaned. Until he met Everly, his jealousy meter never blipped. Now that she was engaged to David the Jerk and decorating their dream mansion while he traveled for work, jealousy was Blake’s new default. Another thing he needed to get in check.

He parked in front of Everly’s and left the truck running. She was pulling her suitcase out the door when he jogged onto the porch.

He grabbed the handle of her suitcase. “Good morning.”

She locked the door before facing him. Her blonde hair fanned out and fell over her shoulders the way she used to wear it before she moved to Wyoming. She kept the soft waves pulled into a ponytail these days. “Good morning.”

Her voice was as soft and happy as usual. Today, he needed to remember that Everly’s happiness wasn’t for him. She was excited to see her fiancé later. If Blake kept that in mind, he’d have no trouble keeping his feelings for her in check today.

Who was he kidding? Nothing could stop the magnetic pull he felt toward Everly.

“Thanks for taking me today. Jameson didn’t mind you leaving for a little bit?” she asked.

Blake opened the passenger door for Everly and hefted her bag into the backseat of the extended cab. “Nah. A bunch of wild hogs trampled one of the ranch campsites this morning, but I think they can manage without me.”

Everly gripped his arm. “Blake! Why aren’t you there?”

It took him a minute to steady his breath. His pulse went wild when Everly touched him. “I was joking. Everything is fine, and they won’t even miss me.”

Everly lifted the gentle hand from his arm and slapped his chest. “Blake, don’t scare me like that.”

“Careful! I bruise like a peach.”

Everly gave him one of her signature grins and climbed into the truck. That expression she wore so often was the reason he felt compelled to get a rise out of her. Everly was moderate in every aspect of her life–clothing, temperament, and emotions. She had this eternal optimism that went hand-in-hand with that polite grin. Everyone else saw a constant smile–a marker of happiness. Blake saw her attempt to make everyone else happy. It was almost like she thought her smile could protect her from anything bad. For the most part, it worked. It was impossible to dislike Everly. Blake knew that better than anyone. He’d been fighting back feelings for her for years.

Everly’s seatbelt was already buckled by the time Blake settled into the driver’s seat. “You have your license?” he asked.

She held up a compact purse with a strap that crossed over her chest. “Got it all.”

“A book for the flight?” It was a rhetorical question. Everly always had a book.

She patted the small purse. “Got it.”

“There’s no way you got a book in that thing.”

Everly unzipped the bag and pulled out a tiny book. Her wide eyes dared him to question her again.

“Keys? Phone? A photo of me, so you don’t forget–”

“Yes!” She chuckled. “I have all those things.”

“You do not,” Blake said.

She held up her phone and shook it. “I have plenty of pictures of you.”

Blake cleared his throat and shifted into drive. It had been a joke, but now he couldn’t help wondering if David had anything to say about pictures of another guy on Everly’s phone, even if it was her friend. Blake knew for a fact that she wasn’t in any of those pictures of him. She hated being in pictures. He did too, but he’d let the crime slide since it was Everly. “Then I guess you’re all set.”

Everly pulled a beige folder out of her backpack and flipped through the pages until she found the one she wanted. “Give this to Ridge. Better yet, put it on the refrigerator when you get home this evening.”

Blake looked back and forth between the road and the paper a few times. “Is this your itinerary?”

Everly was a super planner. Her mom told him once that Everly had been making lists and schedules since she was little. A life on the go had given her many opportunities to make plans and execute them.

“Yes. I emailed it to him too,” Everly said as she stuffed the folder into the backpack.

“I miss these,” Blake whispered.

Everly jerked her attention to him. “What do you mean?”

“You always sent Ridge the itineraries. One for him and one for the family. I checked his email because I couldn’t count on him to pass along important information.”

They rarely talked about the NFL anymore. Blake’s former career as a sports agent felt like a different life. They’d been in Wyoming for five years now, and there wasn’t anything here to remind them of that time except each other.

They’d been different then too, and none of them missed it.

“I didn’t know you saw them. I guess it’s my way of preparing for the things I can and letting go of the things I can’t,” Everly said.

Blake folded the paper and slipped it into his shirt pocket. “It’s not a bad thing. I like your lists and plans.”

She’d never had a say in anything. Her brother’s ambitions had started when she was barely walking, and she’d spent her childhood and young adult life following along while Ridge succeeded. She’d grown up hopping from one hotel to another for her brother’s gain.

Everly straightened and clasped her hands to her chest. “I can’t believe I’ll be in Cleveland in just a few hours.”

“Don’t you get tired of traveling?” Blake asked. He sure had. Going and going drained the life out of him, and he hadn’t realized the toll it had taken until he got to Wyoming. The exhaustion of a hard day’s work was better than jetlag any day.

“Yeah, but I haven’t seen David in almost two months.”

Blake wanted to dig his pocket knife out and stab himself in the ears. Maybe agreeing to drive Everly to the airport today was a bad idea. What kind of schmuck took the woman he loved to meet another dude? Not to mention the pesky fact that she was engaged to the other dude kept gnawing at Blake.

Oh, right. He was supposed to be leaving those unrequited feelings behind today. It should help that Everly had never given him any indication that she liked him as more than a friend. He’d gotten the hint a long time ago. Friend-zone it is. Why was it so hard to let her go?

“What’s with that sour face? Are you okay?” Everly asked.

“Yeah, just worried about you traveling alone.” That was at least a partial truth.

“I’m fine. I’ve been traveling on my own for years now. I’ve had plenty of practice.”

The drive passed quickly, and Blake tried to muster some excitement for her as they got close to the airport. He’d wasted the whole half hour with her brooding, and now their time together was over.

He slowed through the departure drop-off area, and Everly straightened. She rested her hand on the door and gave him a bright smile. “Wish me luck.” She looked around as he passed the entrance. “Wait, where are you going?”

“I’m not just dropping you off at the curb,” Blake said.

“Why not? You really don’t have to do that. I can walk inside on my own.”

They entered the parking deck, and Blake started scanning for an open spot. “I know, but I want to walk with you. Plus, Ridge would walk you in.”

Everly rolled her eyes, but the expression didn’t hold any malice. He was pretty sure Everly was incapable of any negative emotion.

They didn’t talk much on the way in. Blake carried her suitcase, and Everly studied the papers in her folder. Inside, they both walked straight to check-in.

“You can’t go all the way with me,” Everly said.

Blake’s jaw tensed. “Trust me, I know exactly how far I can go.” Unfortunately, those boundaries were always in his face.

His bad mood was pouring rain right now, and this wasn’t the way he wanted Everly to remember their friendship. He’d put distance between them after today, and they’d be civil acquaintances when she got back from Cleveland. Still, he wanted her to know he’d always be close if she needed him.

Everly moved through the short line to get her boarding pass and check her bag. Blake waited to the side and tested his restraint. He could go twenty-eight seconds without looking at her. He’d counted.

She carefully folded the boarding pass and stuck it in the front pocket of her purse. “I think this is where we say good-bye.”

She’d said the words casually, but nothing about the numbness in his limbs felt casual. He wasn’t ready. He hadn’t had enough time.

How much time did he need? Her engagement wasn’t changing, and that meant their friendship had to.

He swallowed hard to clear his constricting throat and looked over Everly’s shoulder. He’d been in enough airports to last him ten lifetimes, but this was by far his worst experience. He had enough miles to get a ticket to anywhere–first class. He could get one now. Then he’d have another hour before they had to say good-bye.


He jerked his attention to Everly. A frown creased the skin between her brows, making her soft-blue eyes look darker.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You’re acting weird.”

Everything was weird. He’d been friends with Everly almost as long as he’d been friends with her brother, but things had changed along the way. Blake had missed his chance. He should have been quicker to ask her to that banquet. Instead, David had invited her first, and everything had gone downhill from there.

Well, for Blake, at least. For Everly, things were coming up roses.

She was as good as married. She was planning her happily ever after with another man. Why did his chest hurt? Was it because he wanted that future to be his? Or was it walking away right now that was cutting him into pieces?

“I’m fine. Have a safe trip.” He forced a smile that matched the one she always wore for show.

“Good.” Everly stretched up on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around him. “I’ll be back soon.”

Blake ignored the fire in his throat and closed his eyes. When he slid his arms around her, he tried to memorize the feeling. He wanted to write it in stone and lock it away. Her soft hair brushed against his cheek. Her small frame tucked close to him. Her grip around his neck. He wanted all of it, but he couldn’t have any of it. It was the answer to his prayers and a nightmare wrapped up in a torturous hug.

When she released him, she settled back onto her heels with a bounce that matched her smile. “I’ll text you when I get there.”

Blake rubbed the back of his neck where his skin still tingled from her touch. “Maybe text Ridge. I’ll probably work late this evening.” Texting later didn’t line up with his plan to cut ties.

“Okay. Thanks for the ride.”

Blake nodded. “You’re always welcome.”

She stepped around him, and time slowed. Each step held a slight bounce that shifted her hair just enough that the light shimmered over the gold strands. One hand gripped the strap of her purse, and the other swung back and forth at her side.

Blake watched her walk away and fought to keep his breaths even. Everly was going to marry someone else, and she would walk out of his life for good.

He scrubbed a hand over his jaw and turned away. If he’d known what was good for him, he’d have stayed in bed this morning. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t look back. Why did every muscle in his body want to turn and run the other way?

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