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Can't Fight The Moonlight

Can't Fight The Moonlight

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"Emotional, unpredictable, irresistible, unforgettable. Freethy ties the heart in knots with Can't Fight the Moonlight." – Isha - BookBub

Justin Blackwood can't remember a time when he believed in the magic of anything, least of all love. A cynical businessman, who grew up in a broken home, he guards his heart with every breath he takes. His job has taken him all over the world and roots are the last thing he wants...until he meets a beautiful innkeeper in Whisper Lake.

Warm-hearted, free-spirited Lizzie Cole wants it all—the dream job of running her own inn and a man who wants to settle down. Despite a previous romantic setback, she still believes in happily ever after and her perfect soulmate. She just has to find him. While the dark-haired man with the shockingly blue eyes makes her heart beat faster, Justin Blackwood is the last man who should leave her breathless. He's her complete opposite and they don't want the same things. 

But when a lunar eclipse throws Whisper Lake into darkness, Lizzie and Justin find themselves struggling to fight the moonlight and a love that could change their lives—if they're willing to take the risk.  

What the readers are saying …

"I have just finished CAN'T FIGHT THE MOONLIGHT and WOW such an emotional book. The characters of Justin and Lizzie were so well written, with so much depth. There were scenes in this book that gave me a lump in my throat. Absolutely loved this book...and can’t wait for the next one!" Booklovers Anonymous 

"Barbara has created a town and community that leaves you wanting to return over and over again. It must be the Whisper of the lake. Or the amazing stories that surround it. Or maybe the great group of friends that make up the magical town. All I know is that I can never get enough." Mommymoose – Goodreads on Can't Fight The Moonlight

"The third installment of the Whisper Lake series is amazing. I wish this were a real place and that I could live there. Barbara Freethy has a gift for story telling. The words and story just flow, and I don't want to put the book down and deal with the real world." Cathy – BookBub



The Colorado mountains were majestic and inspiring, and Justin Blackwood knew he should be appreciating the long, winding road through the pine trees. He should be taking deep breaths, clearing his mind, finding a way to relax and appreciate the unexpected break, but he couldn't. He had a big deal on the line, and this was probably the worst possible time to take days off. He'd also been trying to get his partner and oldest friend, Eric Stark, on the phone for the past hour, but the farther he got away from Denver, the fewer bars he had on his phone. 

This was one reason why he didn't appreciate nature. He didn't want to disconnect with the world. His life was his job, and that job required him to be on the phone and at his computer, to be able to communicate with people on the far side of the globe at any time of the day. He needed to move fast. He didn't know how to do slow. 

His phone buzzed, and relief ran through him. He quickly answered the call, putting the phone on speaker as he set it on the console. "Eric, it's about time. I've left you a dozen messages."

"Sorry, I just got back into the office," Eric replied, with his usual slow drawl. "My plane from Cabo was delayed six hours. It was not the way I wanted to end my honeymoon, but we had enough time to drink a few more margaritas."

"You always find the silver lining."

"I do," he said with a laugh. "What's going on?" 

"Too much." He'd thought he'd covered himself when he'd agreed to this trip, but that had all changed in the last few hours. "I need your help."

"What? Say that again. I can barely hear you. Where are you? It sounds like you're on Mars." 

"I'm on my way to Whisper Lake."

"Where the hell is Whisper Lake? I thought you were going to London today." 

"I had a change of plans. Whisper Lake is in the Colorado mountains, and it's where my grandparents are going to renew their wedding vows this Saturday. It's their fifty-seventh wedding anniversary. I told them I could not come about a dozen times, that I had too much going on, including the biggest deal of my life."

Eric gave a knowing laugh. "And yet you're driving to Whisper Lake. You can't say no to Marie. It's impossible."

"It is. My grandmother's voice choked up like she was going to cry. I had to agree."

"She played her ace."

"She did."

"Well, fifty-seven years is impressive. It's something to celebrate. Are your parents going?"

"No. I made sure of that. Anyway, I have another problem, Eric. I had Jessica set up to handle the meeting in London, but her mom broke her hip, and Jessica is now on her way to the hospital."

"I just heard something about that. I hope you are not going to ask me to take the meeting in London."

"I know you just got back from your honeymoon."

"Which took me six months to work into our schedule."

"But you got it in, and Teresa must be happy. I'm sure she won't miss you for a few days."

"I'm sure she would. I'm a very good husband," Eric joked. "But that's not the real problem, and you know it. I'm the tech guy. I talk to engineers. I don't do sales meetings. People in suits and ties make me sweat. You're the closer. You're the person investors want to give their money to."

Everything Eric was saying was true, and his stomach churned at the realization that his deal could very well fall apart. 

"Why don't you push the meeting back a week?" Eric suggested.

"I can't. I have Tokyo next week and Australia after that."  

"You are living a crazy schedule, Justin. When's the last time you saw your apartment?"

"I honestly can't remember."

"But that's the way you like it."

"Business is good. What can I say?"

"If you can't push the meeting back, you'll have to bail on your grandparents. I'm sure they'll understand." 

"They won't understand, and they're the only two people in the world who I really can't let down. My grandparents were there for me when no one else was. You can do this, Eric." He could hear the mix of desperation and doubt in his voice. While he respected Eric's incredible intelligence and innovation, he was much better at a computer than in a boardroom. But they were running out of options.

"Even you don't believe that," Eric said. "What about Anthony?"

"He's too green. He's only been with us nine months."

"He's better than me. You have to give him a chance. I've been telling you for a year that we need more help. It took you five years to believe in Jessica, but we don't have that kind of time anymore. Things are moving fast."

"I know, but it's difficult to trust anyone to do it right." 

"I get it. But you don't have a choice."

"Is Anthony in the office now?"

"What? I can't hear you."

"Is Anthony there? If he's going to London, we need to get him on a plane as soon as possible."

"I'll find him."

"Good. I need to set up a call with him."

"What? You're breaking up."

He blew out a breath of frustration. He'd known this trip was a bad idea from the start. He never should have said yes. "Tell Anthony what's going on and I'll call you back as soon as I get to town." His gaze caught on an upcoming sign for Whisper Lake. "I'm about five miles away. Once I get to the inn, we can do a call."

"I didn't get that. Call me when you have better reception," Eric said.  

Before he could say he would, the call disconnected. He pressed down on the gas. He needed to get to town quickly. Anthony was a smart guy. He'd graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics and had spent the last three years working in sales. But he didn't have a lot of experience with the company. Anthony was also only twenty-seven years old, and while Justin wasn't a lot older at thirty-two, he'd been living and breathing his business for the past ten years. But Eric was right. He didn't have a choice. He was going to have to trust Anthony. Or…

As his doubts began to grow, he wondered if he should try to make some wild attempt to get to London for the meeting on Thursday and then back to Whisper Lake before Saturday. Then he remembered the emotion in his grandmother's voice when she'd told him how important it was to her to have him there for the week. He hadn't seen her or his grandfather in over a year. He couldn't bail on them now. 

He took the exit for Whisper Lake, driving along a tree-lined two-lane highway, past several small farms and a riding stable. On either side of the road, the mountains loomed. It was April and the higher slopes were still covered with snow. He had no doubt the spring skiing would be good. Not that he had time for skiing. Every minute that he wasn't spending with his grandparents, he would be working.

His grandparents wouldn't be happy to see him focusing on business. They were always on him to take time off, to stop and smell the roses, as his grandmother liked to say. But he didn't have time for roses; he had a global business to run, and that business was his life. There would be time for roses later. Maybe…if he could ever figure out a way to slow down. He had been moving full speed ahead for a very long time. He preferred a fast pace, a changing landscape. Too much time to think or stew was never good for him. 

Impatient to get to the inn, he sped up, then had to slow down as he went around a curve and ended up behind an old truck that was laboring down the road, laden with trees and plants and barrels of fruit, probably from one of the farms. "Dammit," he swore, frustrated once more by a pace that was not to his liking.  

He drew closer to the truck, hoping it might pull over if the driver saw him right on his tail. But then a deer darted across the road, and the truck slammed on the brakes, sending a barrel-full of lemons onto the road in front of him.

He swore as he hit the brakes hard and swerved to avoid hitting the truck. His car skidded to the side of the road, losing traction in the rolling lemons. He couldn't stop. He pushed the pedal to the floor, but there wasn't enough time to avoid smashing head-on into a fence. The windshield shattered as the front end of his rental car crumpled, and the airbag hit him in the chest. 

It took him a few breathless seconds to realize he was still in one piece, although the car was not. He forced open the door and stumbled out onto the side of the road as a woman jumped out of the truck and came running toward him. 

"Oh my God, are you all right?" she asked, fear and concern racing through a pair of spectacularly pretty light-green eyes. 

He couldn't believe she was the driver of the truck. She appeared to be in her late twenties and was dressed in tight-fitting ripped-at-the-knee jeans that showed off some very nice curves. Her brown boots were scuffed as if she did actual work in them, and her long-sleeve cream-colored top had a streak of dirt running down the front of it. Her light-brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail, with loose, messy layers falling around her face. 

"You're not talking," she said. "I'm going to call an ambulance." She patted her pocket, then swore. "Damn. My phone is in the truck. I'll get it." 

"Wait," he said, finally managing to speak. "I don't need an ambulance. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" 

"I just need a minute." He looked around him in bemusement. He was surrounded by bright- yellow lemons. They seemed to be everywhere. And then he remembered the deer, the squealing brakes, and the fact that he'd been following way too close—not that he was going to tell her that. 

"I'm really sorry about this," she said. "But you were right on my tail."

"I was in a hurry." 

"Well, I was going as fast as I could in that old truck. I had a heavy load." She groaned. "And half of it is now on the road." She drew in a breath, squared her shoulders, and forced what had appeared to be a teary look out of her gaze. "But I didn't lose everything. This is going to be fine."

"Fine?" he echoed in disbelief. "Have you looked at my car?" 

"Cars can be fixed. People can't. The important thing is you're not injured. We should exchange information. I'll get my bag and my phone. You may not need an ambulance, but you will need a tow truck." 

He would definitely need that. As she ran back to the truck, he returned to the car. Pushing the airbag out of the way, he looked for his phone, but it was no longer on the console. And that's when he realized he had an even bigger problem. He'd taken out his laptop when he'd stopped for gas and it had flown off the front seat and was now crushed by the collapsed dashboard. He had a feeling his phone was in the same place. 

This was bad—really bad. He needed his phone and his computer. He had work to do today, in the next hour, in fact. He didn't have time to hunt down replacements, and he had a feeling the notes he'd made this morning had not made their way into the cloud. Anger ran through him. This trip was turning out to be a disaster. 

"I called Tom's Towing," the woman said, coming back down the road with her phone in her hand. "He's on another call. He can't get out here for about an hour."

"That's not acceptable. I'll get someone else."

"The other service is on the west shore of the lake. It will take them just as long to get here, and they're more expensive." 

"Your insurance will have to pay; I need a car."

"My insurance? This was your fault. You were following too close. That's on you. And I only braked fast because of the deer."

She made a good point, which he found annoying as hell. "So, you're not responsible at all?"

"I'm not, but if you want me to call the police, we can do that. My brother is working today. I'm sure he'll come out."

"Your brother is a cop in Whisper Lake? Great." He knew exactly how that accident report would go down.

"Fine, I won't call my brother; I'll call 911 and whoever comes will come."

"And report back to your brother."

"That you were tailgating and ended up driving into the fence?" she snapped. "Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what they'll say." 

"I hate small towns," he muttered. 

She frowned. "Now you want to blame the town for your accident? Look, you're upset. I get that. Why don't I give you a ride to wherever you were going, and we'll take it from there? If you were just planning to drive through Whisper Lake on the way to somewhere else, there's a rental car service in town; I can drop you there. I'm sure you can get a replacement vehicle. It's all going to be okay."

"You have no idea how not okay it already is. My computer and phone are smashed. I'm going to need to replace both as quickly as possible."

"Well, our small town does sell phones and computers," she said dryly. "Can I give you a ride?"

Considering he hadn't seen a car since he'd crashed, he wasn't going to say no. And he actually wasn't all that interested in filing a police report because he had a feeling it would go down exactly the way she'd said it would. "Yes," he said. 

"You're welcome," she replied. 

He tipped his head. "Thank you." He walked to the back of his car and managed to pop the trunk. He took his overnight bag out of the vehicle and then made one last attempt to retrieve his phone and computer, but they were trapped somewhere in the mangled mess that was the front end of the car. 

"We'll work this out," she said, as she gathered armfuls of lemons and put them back in the barrel from which they'd come. Then she carried the barrel to the truck.

"Are you a gardener?" he asked, as he put his bag into the truck next to the barrel, hoping it wouldn't end up on the road the next time she stopped. 

"Today I am. I wear a lot of hats." She got behind the wheel as he slid into the passenger seat. The cab of the truck smelled like manure, and there were a bunch of empty food wrappers on the floor. 

"You like tacos, huh?" 

She followed his gaze. "Ramon likes tacos and burgers and anything else that comes fast and hot. This is his truck. My gardener sprained his ankle and couldn't make the pickup, so I had to do it." She paused. "Where can I take you?"

He thought about that. He needed a car, but the first thing he needed to do was call his office. "That depends. Can I borrow your phone?"

"Sure." She handed him her phone. "But I still have to drive you somewhere." 

"If I can make a call, then I don't need to get a car just yet. I'd rather go to the inn. Maybe they'll have a computer I can use until I can get a new one."

Her face paled as she stared back at him. "The inn?"

"The Firefly Inn. Do you know it?"

"Yes. I'm Lizzie Cole, the owner. Who are you?"

"Justin Blackwood. My grandparents made the booking. They're coming in tonight."

"Actually, they won't be here until tomorrow. I got a call a half hour ago that their flight was canceled and the next flight they can get is tomorrow."

Of course their flight was canceled, he thought cynically. So far, the trip was a complete bust. 

"All right then," Lizzie said, as she started the truck. "I'll take you to the inn and we'll get your vacation going in the right direction."

"It's not a vacation," he said automatically. "I don't take vacations."

"Then what would you call it?"

"An obligation. My grandparents want me at their vow renewal."

"I know. They told me how excited they were that you were coming. It's going to be a lovely ceremony," she added, as she pulled back onto the road. "In fact, this whole week will be packed with fun. It's a busy time in Whisper Lake. We have our usual Wednesday night happy hour tomorrow, the lunar eclipse beach picnic on Friday, and the ceremony Saturday night will be in the garden, with candles and music. It's going to be very special—magical, really. I want your grandparents to have a day they'll remember. And I want your visit to be memorable, too. I know it's not starting off on the best note, but it will get better."

He gave her a doubtful look. "Is being an optimistic cheerleader part of your duties at the inn?"

"Sometimes. But I'm just a positive person. Problems are challenges. Most can be fixed." 

Despite her words, there was a tension beneath them that suggested she didn't quite believe her own hype. "I don't think my rental car, computer or phone can be fixed. Not unless you have a magic wand to go with that idealism."

"No wand, but…" She smiled as she turned her warm gaze on him.

"What?" he asked, curious about the gleam in her eyes. 

"I have lemons, and I know exactly what I'm going to do with them."

"Make lemonade," he said, as a reluctant smile crossed his lips. 

"Exactly. It's what I do. I make lemonade out of lemons. You're going to love it. It's delicious." 

He didn't want to love her lemonade. He didn't want to like her happy, determinedly cheerful spirit, but he had a feeling he was going to lose on both counts. 

"You know what else I'm going to do?" she asked.

"I'm afraid to ask."

"I'm going to turn your obligation into a vacation."

"That's impossible."

"Challenge accepted."

He shook his head. "You will fail." 

"I don't think so." Her eyes sparkled with confidence. "You're going to have the time of your life, Justin Blackwood. Just wait and see." 

There was a very small part of him that wanted to believe her, but he'd lost his faith in the impossible a long time ago.

Irresistible romance, compelling characters, heartwarming emotion, mystery, and drama await in the Whisper Lake Series. Set in the Colorado mountains, this small-town romance series features some of your favorite storylines including runaway bride, second chance romance, enemies to lovers and more... Along with the romance, you'll find secrets and family drama, because I love to complicate a good love story and send my characters on a life-changing journey.

Each book can be read as a standalone novel. No cliffhangers.

Don't miss any of the books in the series:

  • Always With Me
  • My Wildest Dream 
  • Can't Fight The Moonlight
  • Just One Kiss
  • If We Never Met
  • Tangled Up In You
  • Next Time I Fall