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Their relationship has been nothing but loose goats, a leaking roof, and her complete humiliation after he pays her mortgage so she won’t lose her farm. Travis wants to go back in time and start over with Poppy, but he doesn’t know how. Can a small town speed-dating event get their second chance off on the right foot?


Travis Thatcher jumped to his feet, knocking the table in front of him a foot or two forward. “Poppy,” he said, his voice low and sexy. 

“No,” she said out loud, but it wasn’t to him. It was for herself. His voice was not sexy.

Except that it one-hundred percent was.

“I’m sorry?” he asked. 

“Nothing,” she said, shaking away her surprise.

Travis gave a nervous chuckle, and she realized a flush had worked its way into his face. “I, uh, haven’t ever done this before.”

“The speed dating?” she asked.


“Me either.” She moved toward the chair and pulled it out a little further. “How’s it going?”

“Not great,” he said as he retook his seat. He smiled at her from across the table, his big, rough hands clasping together. “You?”

“Not as bad as last time,” she said.

His smile faded slightly “I thought you said you hadn’t done this.”

“Before this year,” she said, clarifying. “I signed up for two age groups. This one, and the one before it. The younger guys.”

“Ah, I see.”

“How old are you?” she asked, realizing how blunt she sounded. “I mean, that was rude. Sorry.” She gave a light laugh. “I actually belong in the younger group, but I figured someone who was forty-four was still an acceptable number of years older than me.” She shrugged, another horrible giggle coming from her mouth.

Travis’s smile brightened again. “I’m forty-two,” he said. “And I’m not from here—or any cowboy-dominated region—but my mother did teach me some manners. I won’t ask how old you are.”

Poppy grinned at him, surprised at how easy he was to talk to. He’d always been fun to be around, and she was the one who’d put up bars and barriers between them.

“Listen,” she said, leaning her elbows onto the table and inching closer to him. She told herself it wasn’t because his cologne did strange things to her pulse. “I want to apologize for making a big deal about….” She cleared her throat. “My mortgage payment.”

“I did say I was sorry for paying it,” he said. “I was just trying to help.”

“It did help,” she said. She wasn’t sure why the two words she needed to say always stuck in her throat. “Thank you.”

Travis tilted his head to the side, his dark brown cowboy hat perched so deliciously on his head. He wore a full beard, the darkness of it showing some gray and making his white teeth shine in the bright overhead lights.

“That seemed hard for you to say,” he said.

“It is,” she admitted, feeling one of her walls crumble to the ground. “I…can I tell you something?”

“I wish you would.” He grinned at her, and Poppy realized he was flirting with her. Travis Thatcher. Flirting.

She blinked out of the surprise and said, “It’s hard for me to thank people. I’m working on it.”

“Why is it hard to tell someone thank you?”

“It just is,” she said. “See, I’ve had to do everything myself for so long, and I hate feeling like I can’t do something. I hate requiring help.”

He leaned closer, a glint in those gorgeous eyes that reminded her of the color of chocolate mousse. “You’ve let me come help you. I heard you tell Gray and Elise thank you. I listened as you gushed over how helpful Cody was up in the hay loft.”

Poppy swallowed, because he wasn’t wrong. “Maybe it’s just you then.”

“Why me?”

“You make me nervous,” she admitted.

His eyebrows went up. “I do?”

“Yes.” She pulled her arms back and folded her arms as she leaned against the back of the uncomfortable chair. “Happy?”

“Not at all, Miss Harris,” he drawled.

“If you’re not a cowboy, where are you from?” she asked, the question a clear challenge.

“Raleigh,” he said. “You?”

“What makes you think I’m not from right here in Colorado?”

“I didn’t say you were from somewhere else. I just asked where you were from.” He could hold his own with her, and that made him so much more attractive to Poppy than he already was. 

Her pulse pumped out an extra beat, and a certain sense of instability flowed through her. “I’m from Laramie,” she said.

He nodded. “Why’d you move here?”

“I came with my boyfriend,” she said. “We were to live and work on the farm where I still am.”

Travis simply blinked, no judgment filled his face. “I moved here from New York City. I worked in investment banking there.”

“No wonder you could find out my private financial information so easily.”

He chuckled and shook his head. “It wasn’t like that.”

“You still haven’t told me how you figured out where I bank and how to pay your money onto my past-due mortgage.” She raised her eyebrows, wondering if he found her even slightly attractive. She’d been thinking about him for weeks and months, and she really wanted to go out with him again.

“Time’s up!” the man screeched into the microphone, and Poppy flinched.

Travis got to his feet while the guy said they had thirty seconds to move. “Hey,” he said. “What do you think about us getting out of here and continuing to talk somewhere else?” He swallowed visibly, his expression filled with anxiety and hope at the same time.

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