The oldest of five boys, Tripp shoulders the heavy burden of running the family businesses. His responsibilities bring with them bitterness, as his only desire is to work the family ranch away from the annoyances and frustrations of the city. However, the love he possesses for his younger brothers drive him to assume the role so they may be free to pursue their lives outside of the onerous name of Maverick. He finds himself withdrawing from the things he once loved and fears happiness is a noun that will never again apply to his life.
Hannah Price has worked hard for everything she has – which isn’t much. Born into a family mired in poverty to parents who dealt with addiction, they struggled to take care of themselves, much less raise their only daughter. Refusing to feel sorry for herself, Hannah quickly learned the value of a dollar and through her entrepreneurial spirit scraped and saved enough money to open her own business. However, the niche she thought she would be filling has been slow to catch on as the red meat loving cowboys all around her aren’t impressed by a fancy, gluten-free bakery.
Unwittingly, their paths collide and heads butt. Their struggles to reach their dreams seem to depend on the successes or failings of each other. Soon, the hard line Tripp draws between business and pleasure begins to blur, and the infallible Maverick falls.
“Hannah Price?” Right. That was it. His voice was deep and sounded hoarse as though he spent his days barking orders like a drill sergeant.
“Yes. Can I help you?”
He extended a palm the size of my dessert plates. “Tripp Maverick. I’m taking over the property management business for my father. I’ll be here the first of every month to check on the building and collect rent.”
I swallowed the dry lump that had formed in my throat before I accepted his handshake. I’d never met Tripp Maverick, but I knew his name well, and the fact that he was my new landlord was bad news for me. His reputation was that of a bulldozer—straight and steady—his will bent to no man. Or woman, as it were.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Maverick.” I pulled my hand from his strong grip and unconsciously wiped it down the apron covering my thigh. “Is everything okay with your dad?”
I didn’t know Rhett Maverick well, but he’d always been kind to me, and it seemed strange he’d turn the property management business over to his son without first notifying his tenants.
“He’s just taking a step away from some of the family businesses for a while. I’m going to fill in for him until other arrangements are made.”
The Maverick family had a long history in this part of Montana and had built an empire first through ranching, then by expanding to everything from oil to financial investments to real estate development. Through the latter, the family now owned much of downtown including the building we stood in.
“I see. May I get you a cup of coffee or a scone? The special this week is orange cranberry.”
“No thank you, ma’am. I’ll just take a quick look around to familiarize myself with the building, then collect your payment and be on my way.”
He stepped around me, the scent of pine and man dizzying. I counted six loud echoes of his boots against the floor before I found my voice again. “Mr. Maverick?”
Somer Hayes is an avid reader and writer of stories, hailing from the Midwest.