Cooper (The Family Simon #6) - Juliana Stone


Cooper Simon had been at his place in Maine for two weeks, and nothing was going right. Less than five days in, he’d lost power—a sudden nor’easter the culprit—and he’d been forced to stay in Fisherman’s Landing with his brother Maverick. He loved his brother, but Cooper wasn’t in the mood to be surrounded by happy. Unfortunately for him, living with Maverick and his wife, Charlie, was like being dunked in a vat of happy. A vat the size of New England.

He was gone as soon as he got word his hydro had been restored.

He’d only been home a few days when a sudden windstorm took his Godzilla weather vane along with most of his frost fence. The frost fence he couldn’t care less about—it could be replaced—the one-of-a-kind weather vane, however, was another story. Made of copper and brass, it was probably the ugliest weather vane in the entire state of Maine, but man, he loved it. So much so, he’d spent the last three hours walking his property as well as the neighboring ones looking for the damn thing. He’d trudged up and down the coast, slipping over icy rock and mushy snow, and had nothing to show for his effort. Hell, he’d even take a piece of fencing to call it a win, but none could be found.

Glaring up at the gathering clouds and then back at the dark, angry Atlantic Ocean, Cooper yanked on his hood and started toward home. It was already well into the afternoon, and he’d gotten no work done. If he got back sooner than later, he might be able to fix that.

Or not.

His mood now as black as the water behind him, Cooper hunched his shoulders against the wind and decided not to think about work. There was no point, really. Either he was gonna get it done, or he’d continue to screw the pooch.

By the time he reached the old farmhouse he’d renovated a few years back, a headache was beginning to press into the side of his head. He decided a couple of pain pills and a swig of whiskey would do the trick, and was planning on doing just that when he spied a compact red car parked not far from his door. Scowling, he shook his head. It was probably Charlie.

“Not today,” he muttered, heading to the front door. For whatever reason, Charlotte had decided he needed taking care of, and it was about time he set her straight. Cooper Simon didn’t need anyone taking care of him—especially not his brother’s wife. The whole happy thing annoyed the hell out of him.

He took the stairs two at a time and didn’t bother to shake the slush, salt, and dirt from his boots as he strode into his house. Cooper strode across the foyer but pulled up short when his cell phone rang. He patted the front pockets of his jeans and then realized the damn thing was on the hall table. He scooped it up and headed for the kitchen.

“Where have you been?”

“Where are you?” he shot back, glancing around the place. What was that smell? Pine? Cooper didn’t stop walking until he reached the fridge and, too lazy to head back to the front room where he kept his whiskey, reached inside and grabbed a Bud. Wasn’t like there was much choice, considering the only things in there were beer and yogurt.

“I’m home, with your brother.”

Cooper rummaged through the cupboard for the pain pills, tossed a few into his mouth, and then took a long swig from the bottle as he leaned his hip against the counter. Shrugging out of his jacket, he threw the heavy coat onto the kitchen table. Frowning, he took another swig and glanced outside. So whose car was out front?

“Where are you?” Charlie asked again.

“I’m home,” Cooper replied, rubbing his chin absently.


“Did you expect me to be somewhere else?”

“Well, no. But I’ve been calling for hours and you didn’t pick up. Morgan said the place was empty.”

“Morgan?” He straightened and peered into the family room.

“Thank goodness I gave her my spare set of keys.”

“Keys?” A frown firmly in place, Cooper headed back to the front of the house. “Why the hell would you give my keys to some stranger?”

“Cooper. You need someone out there, if only to clean the darn toilet and make sure there’s more food in the fridge than beer and yogurt.”

“I happen to like beer and yogurt.” Scowling, he let out a long sigh. He’d been having this conversation