The Gallaghers of Montana
THE DOCTOR'S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL
Betrayed by his ex-fiancée, Dr. Wyatt Gallagher turns to the one woman he can always trust – his best friend, Mia Watson. After moving away, Wyatt has realized he wants more than friendship with the beautiful artist. With that in mind, he convinces Mia to come to Marietta for the Christmas holidays. But wooing Mia is surprisingly difficult — especially given the passionate night they’ve already shared.
Though Mia Watson has loved Wyatt Gallagher for years, he’s always seen her as a friend, never a lover. Except for one unforgettable interlude when comfort turned to passion. Then Wyatt moved back to Montana, leaving Mia with an unexpected consequence of their night together–and soon, heartbreak to follow.
Faced with the fulfillment of her dreams, Mia knows she must reveal the consequences of their night together to Wyatt. But having withheld the truth for so long, will her confession destroy his trust in her, ending their friendship and any hope of a future together?
Wyatt Gallagher needed a miracle.
He had to figure out how to get through one brother’s wedding two days before Christmas, and the birth of another brother’s new baby, due any day now, without losing it. There was only one person who knew exactly what had gone down when he lived in Denver. One person who would understand why a wedding and a baby would be hard for him. One person he wanted to be with. His best friend, the woman who’d gotten him through one of the worst nights of his life.
The wedding and baby weren’t the only reasons he wanted her to come to Montana. In fact, they weren’t even the main ones. Wyatt wanted Mia to come to Marietta because he’d finally admitted to himself how much he’d missed her. He’d accepted the reason none of his dates had been worth pursuing was because none of those women were Mia.
How to convince her to come? If he told her about Sean’s wedding and Jack’s new baby, she’d come. She was too softhearted not to, given that situation. If he told her he’d been thinking about her for months, ever since he moved, she’d probably laugh in his face, even though it was the God’s honest truth. He hadn’t exactly been good at keeping in touch. All right, more like lousy. He’d had his reasons, which in retrospect, weren’t very good ones. But all she’d see was he had hardly talked to her since he moved.
Screw it. He bit the bullet and called her.
She was painting. He could tell by the sound of her voice, short, sharp and annoyed at the interruption. She was totally in the moment and that moment was not on the telephone.
“Mia, hi, it’s Wyatt.”
He heard a thump and a muffled curse. “Sorry, I dropped the phone. Wyatt? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” I miss you. I want to see you.
“Then why are you calling?”
“Can’t I call to shoot the breeze?”
She laughed. “Sure, ‘he who hates the telephone’ is calling me to chat. You’ve called me, what, twice since you moved?”
Crap. Busted. “I’m sure I’ve talked to you more than twice. But that’s beside the point. I need a date for a wedding.”
“No, in Marietta.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m in Denver.”
He smiled. She was such a smartass. “You could come out now and stay a few weeks. We could hang out, have some fun. There’s a lot to do at Christmastime in Marietta. It’ll be great.”
“There’s more to this than you’re letting on. What’s the real reason?”
“I’ve missed you, Mia. I want to see you.”
“So you call me out of the blue to come for a visit? Just to go to a wedding? I don’t buy it.”
Damn it, he’d sound like a loser if he told her. But if he didn’t … “My brother Sean is getting married. Two days before Christmas.”
There was a long silence. “Are you all right?”
“What do you think?”
“I think you wouldn’t have called me if you were okay. Can’t you find another date?”
“I don’t want another date. I want you.”
He heard her suck in a breath. “Wyatt—”
“My brother Jack and his wife, Maya, are having a baby. Anytime now.” Okay, now he sounded desperate.
Just tell her why you want to see her so badly.
And what if she doesn’t feel the same? What if she’s good with just being friends?
Then you’ll have to convince her she wants more.
But first he had to get her there. “The scenery is spectacular. The mountains surround the town. We’re much closer to them than you are in Denver. Marietta is in Paradise Valley, between two ranges. It’s a small town, on the river. Small-town holiday sights, snow, mountains. You’ll want to paint all of it. You’ll kill to paint the landscape around here.”
Oh. My. God. I’m imploding and Wyatt’s talking about painting landscapes. I can’t do it. I can’t see him again. Not now. I just got over him.
Okay, that was an exaggeration. She was almost over him.
Shit, she wasn’t over him at all. All it took was hearing his voice and she melted into a puddle of lust and longing. “I don’t know, Wyatt.”
“Think about it. I’ve missed you, Mia.”
“I’ve… missed you too,” she said reluctantly.
“Then come to Marietta.”
“I have things,” she said vaguely.
“What kind of things? Are you in the middle of a commission?”
Just lie. She’d already committed the most enormous lie. The lie to end all lies. Even if it had been a lie of omission, a lie was still a lie. What difference would adding another small one make?
“What does that mean? Are you or aren’t you?”
“I’m, um, in negotiations.”
“Can you take a break before you start on it? I’m telling you, there are so many things you could paint, especially this time of year.”
She knew why he wanted her to come and it had nothing to do with painting and everything to do with his ex-fiancée. “Have you told your family about Loretta?”
“No, and I’m not going to.”
“Why? It’s over and done with. She’s not important.”
How Mia wished that was true. But Loretta, the lying bitch, had torn him apart. All Mia had been able to do was offer him comfort. Wyatt needed her again. As a friend? Or something more? Right. Keep dreaming, dummy.
She knew it hadn’t been easy for him to call her. No man liked to expose a vulnerability. Which, she figured, was why he wouldn’t tell his family what happened.
“I’ll pay for your airplane ticket,” he continued. “And you can stay with me. At the ranch, I mean. There’s plenty of room.”
So he was asking her to come as a friend. Not as a lover. Oh, joy.
“I can pay for my own damn ticket.”
“Does that mean you’re coming?”
He sounded happy. She loved to hear him happy. Big mistake, Mia. Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.
“Yes. I’ll get details and let you know.”
“If you could come in the next couple of days that would be good. The Christmas Stroll is the first Saturday in December and I really want to take you to it. Which reminds me, bring something to wear to the Christmas Ball. Black tie.”
Black tie? A formal? She didn’t own a formal dress. Hell, she only had two dressy dresses and they were both several years old. “How long are you planning on me staying?”
“As long as you can. And don’t forget your ski clothes and whatever equipment you want.”
Yay. An open-ended invitation to spend time, platonically, with Wyatt. Wyatt Gallagher, the man she’d been in love with for years. Wyatt Gallagher, the man who thought of her as his best friend. But not his lover. Except for that one night. That one amazing night.
Was that one night of rebound sex all she’d ever have with him? Could they ever have more?