Twisted Up (Taking Chances #1) - Erin Nicholas


Jake Mitchell is back in town.

Jake’s back.

Avery felt her heart rate accelerate as the text messages rang in on her phone. That ticked her off. She didn’t want her heart to speed up from a couple of text messages about that guy. She’d known the chances of him showing up today were good.

Exactly why she’d put her friends on the lookout.

She could handle seeing him if she knew she was going to see him. It was when he surprised her that she acted like an idiot.

Avery took a deep breath and reached for the mason jar in front of her. They needed to fill only three more for the centerpieces, and the decorating for the alumni dinner would be done. She wrapped the blue ribbon around the mouth of the jar, tied a bow, filled the jar with blue and white glass stones, and set a white votive candle on top. All the while attempting to ignore her phone and slow her heart rate.

He’s here.

Now all her friends had checked in.

Her alert system had worked. Now she was ready.

Avery was proud of her steady hands as she lit the votive and placed it in the nest of silver and blue confetti on the center of the table. The metallic-blue streamers running from under the edge of the white tablecloth down to the floor were a bit much, in her opinion, but she was only one person on the decorating committee, and she’d been outvoted.

“Avery, sorry I’m late. We got hung up at the farm this afternoon.”

Avery looked up to see Ben McDonald striding toward her. He was wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt splattered with paint.

“Hey, Ben,” Avery said, trying not to frown.

He wasn’t just late. He was two hours late. But she knew that the whole town was stirred up with work out on Montgomery Farms, helping prepare for the visit from the family everyone hoped would buy the farm . . . and save the town.

“So you need some lights hung?” Ben asked.

She pointed to the rolls of twinkle lights. “Yes. But we also need the wooden structure put together to hang them from.”

Ben looked from the lights to the two-by-fours propped against the wall. He sighed. “Let me get some guys over here.”

Avery smiled and nodded. “Thanks.”

She didn’t feel bad. This was Ben’s ten-year class reunion, too.

Besides, this was Chance. If someone called for help, people came to help.

“Avery!” Stacey, her reunion cochair, came rushing up. “I’m so sorry I’m late!”

Avery sighed and wondered how many times she was going to hear that sentence today.

“I was out at the farm.”

That was the other sentence that had been uttered at some point by all her crew, reunion-committee members, and just about every other person who lived in Chance.

There were, of course, many other farms around Chance, but she knew Stacey meant Montgomery Farms. A massive 350 acres of the best apple and peach trees, pumpkins, strawberries, and watermelons in the state made Montgomery Farms the largest business and employer in Chance. It was, by all measures, the farm in town. Actually, calling the operation a farm was a gross understatement.

“I was helping with the welcome baskets for the Bronsons, and I lost all track of time,” Stacey told her.

The Montgomery Farms sale was the biggest thing on anyone’s mind. And rightly so. The town of Chance needed Montgomery Farms to be even more impressive than usual.

Gigi Montgomery, the CEO and lifelong Chance resident, was sick and needed to step down. There was no one in the family who would or could take on the position of CEO, so the Montgomery family had finally decided to look for a buyer. Two brothers from Kansas had come forward with interest and would be coming with their families to Chance in two weeks to take their first look at the farm in person. They had been involved in their own family farming operation, but they were fourth and fifth in a line of six siblings and wanted to go out and do something on their own.

It was a big deal. A bigger deal than a class reunion. If the sale didn’t go through, Chance was in trouble.

They were really working on putting their best foot forward. That had meant a new coat of paint on buildings, general landscaping and cleanup, and a deep cleaning and refreshing of the farmhouse where the family would stay during their visit.

But it wasn’t just the farm that needed to wow them. Chance needed to make