About the Book
Ryder Waites will do anything to keep the tiny town of Gallows Grove, Kentucky, from vanishing off the map—even sell his family’s whiskey recipe to Bluegrass Bourbon in Lexington. Hopeful that the larger company can provide necessary improvements to the distillery, Ryder aims ultimately to get Gallows Grove on the Bourbon Trail… and bring in much-needed tourism revenue. But to keep producing Hanged Man Bourbon in Gallows Grove, he’ll have to convince company liaison, unbearably stuffy and seriously hot Adam Keller, that he’s worth the investment.
Adam comes from an old-money family, but he’s determined to make his own way in the world. When he’s sent to Gallows Grove, he questions the life choices that led him to a rented room in a funeral home in a town full of macabre-themed businesses. And he doesn’t know what to make of Ryder, the descendant of bootleggers who’s on a mission to save his strange town from extinction. When Adam and Ryder put aside their initial mistrust, the results are as smooth as good whiskey. But after Adam’s assignment ends, he’ll have to decide if small-town life and a future with Ryder is to his taste.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
“You’ll have to conform to company standards for recycling and packaging,” droned Adam.
Ryder finally had enough. “Do you have any hobbies besides hating horses and doing work?”
Adam blinked at him. “We’re talking about environmental standards and waste disposal, not my hobbies.”
“Oh my God,” said Ryder. “Don’t you ever stop talking like that?”
“Not when I’m at work.” Adam had a scowl between his brows. “If you find this so tedious, just express your interest to move your house line to Lexington, and I can leave. If not, then we’re going to have to go over this checklist, and you’re going to have to come up with a waste-management plan.”
“They sent you to bore me into giving you my still, along with my recipe, didn’t they?”
The second he said it, Ryder felt bad. He saw the brief flash of hurt in Adam’s eyes, and he chastised himself for being an ass. Adam went back to his checklist, and Ryder made an effort to care about the correct type of fencing around a Dumpster.
The small office grew dark as the sun faded. The grove of trees around the distillery made it seem darker outside than it was. The sun was strangled by the dying autumn leaves and thwarted by windows that were badly in need of replacement and grimy from years of use in a way that no Windex could ever clean. When he couldn’t take the shoptalk anymore, Ryder decided it was time to stop working for the day.
“You want to go get a drink?”
“We’re sitting in a distillery,” said Adam, as though somehow Ryder had forgotten.
“Yes. Thank you. Would you like to partake of the whiskey or does drinking fuck up your mechanical insides?”
Adam did not appear amused. “I like bourbon. I am from Kentucky, you know.”
“Some people don’t like it.” He shrugged. “Plenty ’round here, even. Some Baptists. You know how they are.”
“Yeah. They say they don’t like it on Sunday, then go home and drink it while engaging in deviant sex and signing up for Obamacare.”
Ryder threw his head back and laughed. “Oh my God. That was actually funny. And true. I mean, we’ve got some normal Baptists who just hate everything and don’t have fun, even in secret. But ugh.” He raised his eyebrows. “Deviant sex acts, huh?”
Adam cleared his throat. “You know.”
“Yeah.” Ryder grinned. “I do. Let’s have some bourbon. I’ll even share the good stuff.”
Adam eyed him suspiciously and then surprised Ryder by shrugging. “Why not?”
Ryder spent a long time selecting what he believed to be the perfect bourbon from a fairly impressive collection. He wanted something that would wow Adam, but not give the farm away, so to speak. In the end he grabbed a ten-year double-oak barrel that was a particular favorite, procured two glasses and—after making sure they weren’t dusty—poured them both a hefty amount. “Did you want any ice?”
“Give me some credit,” said Adam as he took his glass and brought it to his mouth. His very nice, sort-of-pouty mouth. “Neat, please.”
Ryder’s fingers were curled around his tumbler, and he tried to keep his breathing even as Adam took a drink of his bourbon. The expression on his face was one of pure pleasure, and seeing it was doing things to Ryder. Namely to his dick.
“Oh, wow.” Adam sipped again, eyes still closed. “Okay. This is—wow.”
“Told you,” Ryder said, smugly and sipped his own drink. He let the flavor of the bourbon dance on his tongue before he swallowed. He should have skipped the nostalgia tour and gone straight to the goddamn whiskey.
“Idiot,” sang a generation of his ancestors.
“No. You told me about the town and the distillery. You did not tell me about the bourbon.” Adam gave him a sharp stare. “This is really good.”
“It’s not even the best one,” Ryder informed him. “I’m saving that for when we get that spot on the Bourbon Trail. Then I’ll pour you a glass and really wow you.”
Adam smiled at him, and it transformed his face from hot to unbelievably, ball-tighteningly hot. “You should have been plying me with liquor from the moment I got here.”
Or sex. “It was, like, ten thirty in the morning. We have standards.” Ryder poured more of the bourbon into Adam’s glass. “But it’s bourbon o’clock now, so drink up.”
About the Author
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.