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Nights Under the Tennessee Stars

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«Nights Under the Tennessee Stars» - Джоанна Рок

HEARTACHE—THE BEST PLACE TO HEALErin Finley heads home to Heartache, Tennesee, after the perfect guy turns out to be anything but. She throws herself into running a vintage store with her sister and surrounding herself with the comforts of her small town. Then one rainy night, TV producer Remy Weldon shows up and almost sweeps her off her feet!Remy sees more in Erin than she sees in herself. Quirky, beautiful and capable, he needs her for his antiques show—and for himself. Because Erin is the first star Remy’s found in the very dark night that has become his life. And she might just be able to lead him into the dawn…
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Heartache—the best place to heal

Erin Finley heads home to Heartache, Tennesee, after the perfect guy turns out to be anything but. She throws herself into running a vintage store with her sister and surrounding herself with the comforts of her small town. Then one rainy night, TV producer Remy Weldon shows up and almost sweeps her off her feet!

Remy sees more in Erin than she sees in herself. Quirky, beautiful and capable, he needs her for his antiques show—and for himself. Because Erin is the first star Remy’s found in the very dark night that has become his life. And she might just be able to lead him into the dawn…

Erin’s hand paused on the Open sign.

Her attention was thoroughly captured by the sight of Remy unfolding his long, lean frame from the vehicle.

He’d held plenty of appeal the night before with his dress shirt plastered to his chest and shoulders from the rain. Today, clean and pressed in a gray suit with a pale blue shirt open at the neck, he was a whole different kind of handsome.

Remy lifted a hand in acknowledgment when he spotted her. Her heart rate jumped a little at his smile, a fact that irritated her more than she would have liked.

Opening the door, she concentrated on the fact he was just a client like any other. And he’d be on his way back to Miami before she knew it…

I fell in love with Heartache, Tennessee, in my last Mills & Boon Superromance novel, Promises Under the Peach Tree (September 2014). So much so that I just couldn’t seem to leave! I hope you’ll indulge me for a return trip to this fictional town south of Nashville where I’ve got another story to tell about one of the Finleys, Heartache’s most prominent family. Things aren’t going so well for Erin Finley when we meet her. But then Remy Weldon, the hero I sent her way, is having a hard time, as well.

Remy and his teenage daughter are both drawn in by small-town life in Heartache. I hope you are, too! Sit for a spell and enjoy the warm spring nights of Tennessee with me. The kids are all tucked in. The katydids are singing and the fireflies are just beginning to come out to light the evening with their magical glow. Best of all, two people are about to fall in love…

Happy reading,

Joanne Rock

PS—Follow me online at, or on Twitter, @JoanneRock6. I always love to hear from readers!

Nights Under the

Tennessee Stars

Joanne Rock

While working on her master’s degree in English literature, JOANNE ROCK took a break to write a romance novel and quickly realized a good book requires as much time as a master’s program itself. She became obsessed with writing the best romance possible, and sixty-some novels later, she hopes readers have enjoyed all the “almost there” attempts. Today, Joanne is a frequent workshop speaker and writing instructor at regional and national writer conferences. She credits much of her success to the generosity of her fellow writers, who are always willing to share insights on the process. More important, she credits her readers with their kind notes and warm encouragement over the years for her joy in the writing journey.

To all you romance-loving readers,

thank you for spending long hours

in front of the romance shelves at the bookstore

or on your ereaders!

I’m so grateful to you for thinking, like me, that “happy-ever-after” is a story worth believing in and worth reimagining again and again in the pages of a book, in our hearts and in our real lives.

This book is for you, for daring to be romantic. Thank you for your optimistic view of the world and your belief that love conquers all. I hope this story lifts you up, makes you smile, and reminds you of the awesome power of love in our lives.



Back Cover Text


Title Page

About the Author


html#ulink_f464fa4f-cfd6-5c5f-ae5f-f84a38bc6e7f" id="back_ulink_f464fa4f-cfd6-5c5f-ae5f-f84a38bc6e7f">CHAPTER TWO


















ERIN FINLEY HAD plane tickets, ID and her carry-on suitcase set for a romantic long weekend. Too bad the “romantic” part was decidedly absent, since Patrick was not at the airport as promised.

“Flight 8402 to Nashville, now boarding all rows,” the airline’s desk agent announced over a tinny PA system at the gate.

Damn it. Erin checked her phone—still no messages even though she’d texted him. Nervously, she toyed with the handle on her sticker-covered 1940s-era vintage suitcase, wishing Patrick’s black leather duffel sat beside it. Her financial consultant boyfriend loved to tease her about her quirky fashion sense, which was inspired by her work as an antiques dealer and part-time boutique manager. Despite the teasing, he’d developed an artistic side since they’d met. He had taken up painting, a growing passion that he’d credited her with during a really awesome talk they’d recently had about their future. A future finally looking up for Erin. When they’d been in the shopping mall last weekend, she’d caught Patrick having a hushed conversation with a jeweler. She had every reason to think a ring might be in the works.

She checked her watch. They had traveled often in the past few months to make their long-distance relationship work, and he’d never been late for a date before. If anything, this trip should be easier than previous ones as she had stayed in Louisville, Kentucky, for a few weeks to work and he was based in Cincinnati, so, for the first time, they would be flying out of the same airport.

He’d been excited about their visit to Heartache, Tennessee, where he would meet her family for the first time. Staid, sweet Patrick didn’t seem the type to get cold feet, even though he knew all about the strained relationships among the Finley clan, which was why she purposely didn’t spend much time back home. She loved that Patrick shared her values, and she wondered if he might wait to pop the question until they were back in Heartache so she could enjoy the moment with her family—dysfunctional though they might be.

Her phone vibrated, and relief mingled with annoyance when she saw his number appear on the small screen. She thumbed the on button and tucked her cell to her ear.

“They’re boarding now,” she blurted. “Please say you’re already in the airport and past Security.” She stood on her toes to see farther down the concourse, hoping to spot his neat sandy hair and his quick, efficient steps.

“Who is this?” a woman’s voice demanded on the other end of the call.

Confused, Erin sank down to her heels.

“Excuse me?” She held the phone away from her ear to double-check the number.

Patrick’s digits were still on the screen.

“Who. Is. This.

” The speaker on the other end sounded tense. Angry.

The tone did nothing to improve Erin’s mood when she was already stressed and nervous.

“I might ask you the same question,” she shot back, raising her voice as the desk agent announced the final boarding call for her flight. “Where is Patrick and why do you have his phone?”

Had he left it behind at Security? Maybe some crazy woman had picked it up.

“You home-wrecking bitch.”

The snarled accusation ripped into Erin’s ear at full volume.

Thoughts of the airport, the flight and the romantic weekend scattered. Her focus narrowed to the call.

“Ex-excuse me?” An icy tingling started in her fingers and spread like a cold frost through her veins.

“Why are there twenty calls to you in my husband’s phone in the last three days?” The woman had shouted the questions.


Erin’s heart stopped. Her gut plunged worse than any coaster she’d ever ridden. She walked away from her suitcase to stand at the window overlooking the tarmac. She needed a quieter place. Needed a second to make sense of what was happening.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered, her voice failing her along with her brain cells.

Through the phone, she could hear a man’s voice speaking quietly. Muffled arguing.

Erin tipped her forehead to the cold pane of glass and concentrated on the voices. It couldn’t be Patrick. She knew everything about him. They’d spent almost every weekend together for months, ever since meeting in a remote Vermont town where they’d both been traveling for business. Since then, she’d coordinated several of her trips to coincide with his, never thinking twice about the fact she hadn’t been to his home. He was never there, after all—one of the many ways she’d thought they were alike. They were in love. He was meeting her family for the first time because they’d waited until they were really sure about each other. Erin was a traditional-values kind of girl.

Maybe Patrick had a crazy stalker who had a crush on him or something. A woman who wanted to get rid of the competition.

“Excuse me.” Erin straightened, hoping she could resolve this mess before she had to listen to any more lunacy from whoever had intercepted Patrick’s phone. “Are you still there?”

More muffled voices on the other end.

“Am I here? Hell yes, I’m here,” the woman said. “I will always be here. You, on the other hand, are the intruding—” the string of expletives blistered Erin’s ears “—who had better get out of my husband’s life before I hunt you down and take care of you myself.”

Erin shut out the threats and bad names. She’d grown up with a mom who suffered from severe mood swings, so Erin had plenty of experience withstanding tirades. The trick was to stay level, reasonable and get out of the conversation as fast as possible. Except what if this woman wasn’t a stalker at all? She did have Patrick’s phone.

Her stomach dropped to her toes as she grappled to make sense of this.

“Look, you may have picked up the wrong phone somewhere. My boyfriend is single—”

“Single?” A harsh laugh punctuated the word. “Is that what Pat told you? He has kids—two sons, eight and six years old—you slut. I’m hauling them to baseball games and birthday parties on my own every weekend so he can jet around the country as if he never made vows to me? As if a fancy diamond necklace would make me forget he’s a cheating bastard who can’t stay home with his family?”

The jewelry store.

He hadn’t been buying Erin a ring. He’d been buying a gift for his wife. Something shifted inside her. Her knees wobbled and she slapped one hand on the window for support.

This woman did not have the wrong phone. They were not talking about different men.

The arguing in the background of the call became more heated. Still muffled, but there was a noticeable increase in fervency and volume. Every now and then, she could hear the man’s voice more clearly. Patrick’s voice.

Erin noted it in a marginal way, her main focus on the fact that her whole sense of self had just shattered into a million pieces. The fragments lay at her feet on the industrial gray carpet of the Northern Kentucky airport.

So much for traditional values.

“You want me to put the kids on the phone so you’ll believe me?” the furious woman demanded suddenly. “Would you like to hear what Pat’s children think of the woman destroying our lives—”

Erin’s hands shook as she stabbed the disconnect button and missed. She pressed two more times before her finger made contact with the button and ended the call.

The sudden quiet hum of normal conversations around her felt jarring. Her ears still rang from the accusations and anger. When her phone rang again, her fingers were steadier as she turned the device off. She would never use that phone or that number again.

“Miss?” an older gentleman approached her, a kindly smile on his weathered face, a newspaper tucked under one arm of his corduroy jacket. “Don’t forget your bag.”

He pointed to her suitcase in the waiting area and she vaguely recalled he’d been seated near her earlier. They’d talked about the weather and the local baseball team. It seemed like a million years ago.

“Thank you.” She nodded. Swallowed. Forced herself to put one foot in front of the other, her whole body numb with shock. “I’ll go get it.”

Patrick was married. The man she thought she loved had children.

Grabbing the smooth tortoiseshell handle of the suitcase—a suitcase she’d packed so carefully and hopefully—Erin strode up the concourse and away from the flight that would have taken her home. Away from the Finley family, who expected her to show up with Mr. Right just in time for dinner.

She should be embarrassed about being so stupid and blind that she hadn’t known the love of her life had been lying to her every second they’d been together. He’d lied in the worst and most clichéd manner possible. He was married. She should feel ashamed to be an unknowing “other woman” in an era where most of her friends performed Google searches on any guy they dated.

But Erin wasn’t ready to acknowledge any of those things just yet because most of all, she felt deeply sorry that she’d wounded an unsuspecting woman—a mother, no less—whose world must be falling apart faster and harder than Erin’s today.

Focusing on the pain she’d inflicted helped keep some of her own fury at bay—at least until she arrived at her car. She dropped her bag in the trunk, then slid into the driver’s seat. Once the doors were safely locked and the windows rolled up, she succumbed to the urge to pound her fist on the steering wheel and scream. She was done with Patrick. Done with men who had complicated lives and too many secrets. Life at high speed didn’t suit her. Time to slow down. Regroup. And hope the day would come when she didn’t feel the need to scrub her skin with disinfectant to get rid of the memory of Patrick’s touch.

She needed to pack her rental place and get far away from the adulterous ass who’d done nothing but lie to her. Any other day it might have made her smile to think that what she really needed was to get back to Heartache.


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