Theo (Last Man Standing) by @SuzanneMWinslow is a KU Event pick #romance #kindleunlimited #giveaway
Author: Suzanne Winslow
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Theo Thomas chose his aviation career over love. A confirmed bachelor, he’s the last unmarried man among his closest peers. When a Southern California heat wave coincides with a power outage, he’s forced to his friends’ house. He’s surprised to discover their house sitter is the woman who’d forged his opinion on marriage seventeen years ago.
Chief Information Officer Emma Wilson never gave up on love, but try as she might, she hasn’t found anything close to what she felt for Theo—despite hard feelings on both sides. When a new job takes her back to California, she dreads the possibility of seeing him again. So of course, fate lands him right on her doorstep.
As grudges fade and resentment slowly turns to forgiveness, Theo sees life offering him a second chance, but Emma isn’t a starry-eyed girl anymore. She’s a woman who knows her worth, and this time, Theo will have to fight for what he wants.
Before he tried Oliver again, he turned on the air-conditioning in the Mustang for Sylvester and then went to check the side door to the garage. The door was locked. Now concerned someone had broken into the house, he took out his phone to call the police as a car drove slowly up the street. Seconds later, he shielded his eyes from a harsh, blinding light.
Terrific. One of the neighbors must have seen him and called the cops.
The police car stopped at the end of the driveway. Two officers got out. One looked close to Theo’s height; the other was shorter. He couldn’t see their faces in the spotlight, but there was no mistaking their guns pointed at him as they approached. “Put your hands up; don’t move.”
His heart raced as he did what he was told. He dangled the house key from his finger. “I’m not breaking in. I have a key. My friends live here.” Theo glanced over his shoulder and caught movement in the front window. “I think someone’s in there and I know it’s not the owners.”
Both officers lowered their weapons. Theo slowly dropped his hands. The taller cop narrowed his eyes. His name badge read Perez. “Are you sure? Because a call came from inside the house, reporting a break-in.”
His pulse gradually returning to normal, Theo held out the phone in his hand. “Do you want to talk to the people who live here?”
“We’ll check the house first.”
Officer Perez stayed behind with Theo. The second officer walked up the sidewalk to the front door. Theo heard the locks click and the door open.
A familiar, unexpected voice asked, “Is everything okay?”
Theo’s heart punched in his chest. “Emma?”
“Theo?” The sharp tone in her voice clearly accused him of being responsible for what was happening.
Perez frowned and narrowed his eyes. “Do you know each other?”
He couldn’t believe she’d called the cops on him. Or maybe he could. “That’s Emma Wilson. She knows the people who live here too.”
“How many people have keys to this house?”
Theo shrugged, deflated. At least one more than he knew about.
A couple seconds passed before Emma walked out to the driveway ahead of the other officer. She wore an emerald-green bikini, a silver naval piercing, and pale-pink polish on her toes. Her hair was shorter and straighter than he remembered. It was pulled back into a ponytail the same chestnut brown as the eyes that still showed up in his dreams. As she got closer, he looked away, but not before glimpsing more of her than he’d seen in a long time. She stopped short a few feet away, flicking her fingernails and avoiding any eye contact with him too. He didn’t blame her. Not after what he’d said at Oliver and Meg’s wedding. Last he knew, she was an IT director in Detroit. Oliver usually told him when she was visiting California, but not this time. When their eyes finally met, she folded her arms over her stomach, trying to cover herself. All the movement did was show off her cleavage. His eyebrows lifted at the futile effort.
She glared at him.
Perez sent them both a hard look. “Everything okay here?”
Theo answered yes at the same time as Emma.
“Okay, then.” Perez held out his hand. “Let’s see your IDs.” Theo took his driver’s license out of his wallet. Emma held hers in her hand with her phone and passed it to him, then crossed her arms again, a little lower this time. “Stay here.”
Theo stared back at her as the officers walked over to their vehicle. He unbuttoned the rest of his uniform shirt, shrugged it off, and held it out to her. “Did you see me on the security camera?”
She looked about ready to tell him what he could do with his shirt before she finally took it and put it on. “Thank you and no, I did not see you. I was too concerned someone was breaking into the house.”
Sweat began to trickle down his back and he loosened his white T-shirt from the waist of his slacks to cool off. “You couldn’t see me through the window? In the spotlight? With their guns pointed at me?”
Her face fell. “You had your back to me. I couldn’t see it was you.”
“Are you sure about that?” he said, now a little less suspicious that she’d humiliated him on purpose.
Her face flushed with insult under the light shining at the front of the garage. “I’m not the one holding grudges, Theo. You are.”
He crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m not holding a grudge against you.”
“Yes, you are. You blame me for our breakup. What was it you called yourself after Meg and Oliver’s reception?”
He opened his mouth and closed it again, regretting he’d embarrassed her. “Last man standing.” He’d made the sincere, yet poorly worded statement ten years ago. He hadn’t seen or heard from her since they were in college. He’d thought he’d done a reasonably good job forgetting her, but he was wrong. Seeing her again at Oliver and Meg’s wedding reminded him of everything he’d lost, and his stupid heart broke all over again. Their wedding had made him the last single man of his family and closest friends. He’d bet a promotion to the airbus that wouldn’t be true now if he’d compromised with her. Except that wasn’t how he’d phrased what he said.
No, he’d made a half-hearted toast at the end of the night and declared himself the last man standing, inadvertently embarrassing Emma when it sounded like he was thanking her for his freedom.
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Theo is not only a second chance romance, it’s a second chance at first love. This sweet novella explores a romantic relationship that ended too soon or, if you believe in fate, began far too early. Now is their time, but Theo and Emma have a past to overcome before their futures can be determined.
Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs November 15 – November 24, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on November 25, 2022.
Suzanne Winslow writes the kind of stories she loves to read—contemporary romance with relatable characters, unsung heroes and heroines, and true-to-life stories. Nurses, teachers, firefighters, and Marines top her list of champions. Give her a book about strong, brave characters with hidden vulnerabilities and a secret passion, and she’ll binge read to the end!
Suzanne and her husband call Upstate New York home. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s often planning a road trip, or if it’s summertime, hanging out at the lake. Connecting with readers through TikTok, Facebook, and newsletters is a favorite pastime.
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