So Wrong it Must Be Right (Gallagher & Ivy #1)
So Wrong It Must Be Right
Gallagher & Ivy Book One
[Dinah Gallagher & Carter Trask]
It’s all fun and games until fantasy gets real . . .
At twenty-seven, Dinah Gallagher thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s having mind-blowing online sex with a man she knows nothing about and fighting for her rightful place in the family business. Part of that battle means expanding their century-old restaurant by getting the stubborn urban farmer next door to sell them his lot.
But Carter Trask is tired of being pushed around—especially by rich families like the Gallaghers. All he has left is the little farm he’s scratched out of his grandmother’s yard. At least he can blow off steam with the anonymous woman he’s been emailing for the past eight months, who makes his every sexual fantasy come alive—even if it’s only online.
When Dinah suddenly realizes that Carter’s gardens look just like some of her mystery man’s photos, she can’t resist trying to turn her dreams into reality. Against his better judgment, Carter joins in the game. But in real life, passion has a way of becoming very complicated, very quickly. And sometimes the wrong choice can turn out to be oh so right . . .
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“You’re not still emailing with that guy!”
Dinah looked up from her phone and blinked at her cousin. It took a minute to get her bearings and remember that Kayla was waiting on her to get started.
“Actually, I was reading up on Trask. I found an article that might explain his reluctance to sell.”
Kayla snatched her phone away, then frowned at the screen. “It is sick that you get the same look on your face reading those pervy emails as you do reading stuff for work.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dinah replied primly. Okay, maybe she did know what Kayla meant, and maybe it was a little sick, but Gallagher’s Tap Room was Dinah’s blood. The Gallagher family had moved to St. Louis over a century ago, and built a little pub on the very land beneath the concrete floor under her feet. It was everything to her, and if she got a little excited about that? It was fine.
Kayla gestured toward the back door and Dinah stood to follow. Meeting with Trask was going to be it. The moment she finally proved to Uncle Craig and the board she was ready to take over as director of operations.
Being Uncle Craig’s “special assistant” had turned out to mean little more than being his bitch, and while she’d worked to be the best damn bitch she could be, she was ready for tradition to take over. From the very beginning, the eldest Gallagher in every generation took over. These days, the title was director of operations, but it was all the same.
She was the eldest Gallagher of the eldest Gallagher. She’d been told her whole life that this would be hers when her father retired, or, as it turned out to be with Dad, abandoned everyone and everything in the pursuit of his mid-life crisis.
It was time. Dinah was ready, and getting some crazy urban farmer to sell his land next to Gallagher’s for the expansion was going to be the final point in her favor. No one would be able to deny she was ready.
Director of operations was everything she’d been dreaming about since she’d been old enough to understand what the job required. Long after she’d understood what Gallagher’s meant to her family, and to her.
“So, you finally stopped emailing creepy Internet dude?”
Dinah walked with Kayla down the hallway to the back exit. “He’s not creepy.” The guy she’d somehow randomly started emailing with after she’d tipsily commented on his Tumblr page one night wasn’t creepy. He was kind of amazing.
“I’m sorry. No way I’m giving that guy up. It’s some of the hottest sex I’ve ever had.”
Dinah thought wistfully over how he’d ended his last email. And when you’re at the point you don’t think you can come again, I’ll make sure that you do. It might be only through a computer, but it was far superior to anything any other guy had ever said to her.
“He’s probably like a sixty-year-old perv. Or a woman if he’s really as good as you say he is.”
“As you pointed out, it’s fictional. Who cares?”
They stepped out into the lingering warmth of late September. The urban landscape around Gallagher’s was a mix of old and new, crumbling and modern. Soon, Gallagher’s was going to make sure the entire block was a testament to a city that could reinvent itself.
“What does he do, send you pictures of models? Oh, baby, check out my six-pack. Then suddenly he’s claiming to be David Gandy.”
“We don’t trade pictures of each other or any personal information that might identify us. I mean, he knows I have freckles. I know he has a birthmark on his inner thigh, but that’s about it. It is pure, harmless, sexy, sexy words.”
“Geez.” Kayla waved her phone in front of Dinah’s face, the screen displaying a myriad of apps. “Not even Snapchat?”
“Nope. It’s all very old-fashioned. Like Jane Austen. Or You’ve Got Mail. Only with sex stuff.”
“Go have some real sex, Dinah.”
“I do that too!” Although admittedly less and less. Maybe not for six months or so. Trying to prove herself to Uncle Craig was eating her life away, and the nice thing about a sexy email was she could read it whenever she wanted and didn’t have to remember its birthday or cook it dinner. It was perfect really, except the whole do-it-yourself aspect.
But do-it-yourself had been instilled on her from a young age, no matter how false the message rang in her adulthood.
The tract of land behind Gallagher’s that Uncle Craig wanted to buy was a strange sight in downtown St. Louis. Between one empty lot Uncle Craig had already bought, and an aging home with a scraggly yard that Craig was also after, a land of green emerged.
Not even green grass, but huge plants, archways covered in leaves, rows and rows of produce-bearing stems. So much green stuff the crumbling brick exterior of the old house behind it all was barely visible from where they stood in front of the chain-link fence that enclosed the property.
“It’s cute. Kind of funny we’re trying to get him to sell it so we can pave over it and then have a farmer’s market.”
Dinah had waged her own personal battle over the seemingly ironic or at the very least incongruous business plan her uncle had put forth, but being the black sheep of the family thanks to her dad screwing just about everything up meant Dinah didn’t have a say. Even Kayla adding her opinion as sustainability manager had done nothing to sway Craig.
So, Dinah would find a way to get Mr. Hippie Urban Farmer to sell his land, and with any luck, convince him she was doing him a favor and sign him up for a booth for next year’s market, which Kayla would be in charge of. The Gallagher & Ivy Farmer’s Market would be a success one way or another.
“Look, apparently, from what I can tell, he grew up on a real farm and his family left that one, then he worked on some other family member’s farm and they sold to a developer or something. This place was his grandmother’s house, and over the course of the past four years, he’s turned it into this. So, that may explain his refusing Gallagher’s initial offer.”
“What makes you think we can get through to him if my dad couldn’t?”
“His family has a history of selling land. He should be well versed in the benefits. Surely a guy like him wants a bigger space, and the money we’re offering will allow him that. Besides, we have a soul and decency on our side.”
Kayla snorted. “No offense, but I’m a little glad your dad went off the deep end and I’m not the only one with a soulless Gallagher as a father.”
“Gee, thanks,” Dinah muttered, trying to ignore the little stab of pain. She couldn’t be offended at the attack on her dad. It was warranted. They’d spent plenty of their childhood complaining about Kayla’s dad being a douche. But, still, it hurt. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Oh well, what could she do? She and Kayla stepped under the archway of green tendrils and the sign that read Front Yard Farm. The place was cute. Weird, no doubt, but cute.
Before they could make it past the first hurdle of beanstalks or whatever, the door to the brick house creaked open and a man stepped onto the porch. Dinah stopped mid-step, barely registering that Kayla did too.
He was tall and lanky and wearing loose-fitting khaki-colored pants covered in dirt and a flannel shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows over a faded T-shirt. It was the face, though, that really caught her attention. Sharp and angular. Fierce. Only softened by the slight curl to his dark hair, his beard obscuring his jaw line. Something about the way he moved was pure grace, and everything about his looks made Dinah’s attraction hum to attention.
“He’s like every hipster fantasy I’ve ever had come to life,” Dinah whispered, clutching Kayla’s arm briefly.
The man on the stoop, with the hoe, and the flannel, and the beard—sweet Lord—stared at them suspiciously. “Can I help you two?”
Dinah exchanged a glance with her cousin, who was valiantly trying to pretend they hadn’t been drooling.
“Hi, I’m Dinah Gallagher and this is Kayla Gallagher. We’re from Gallagher’s Ta–”
The door slammed so emphatically, Dinah jerked back. She’d barely registered the guy moving inside before he was completely gone behind that slammed door.
“What were you saying about human decency and souls making a difference?”
Dinah started picking her way across the narrow and uneven brick path to the door. “He hasn’t had a chance to see it yet. Maybe the meeting with your dad ended poorly. We’ll have to mend a few fences.”
“Before we buy them all,” Kayla muttered. “Remember when we were kids and thought we’d be calling the shots?”
“We still will be. Just need another decade.” Or two. That was how family business worked. She wasn’t going to abandon it just because it was harder than she’d expected or taking longer than she’d anticipated. No, she was going to fight.
And should Kayla ever get married, Dinah would not follow in her father’s footsteps and sleep with her best friend and family member’s spouse.
Dinah reached the door and knocked. She didn’t entertain thoughts of failing because it simply wasn’t an option. Failing Gallagher’s was never going to be an option.
The door remained closed. Dinah pursed her lips. This was not going the way she’d planned.
“Okay. Well. I won’t be deterred.”
“Come on, Dinah. Let’s go.” Kayla stood in the yard, hands shoved into the pockets of her dress. “Call him. Write him an email. I don’t want him calling the cops on us. Oh, maybe you can accidentally write him one of your sex emails. That’ll get his attention.” She sighed, loud enough to be heard across the yard. “I would so not mind getting that guy’s attention.”
“I’m going to pick something.” Dinah surveyed the plants surrounding her. She didn’t know a lot about farmers or farming, but if he was so dead set on not selling, he obviously cared deeply about this yard of produce. So, she’d lure him out that way.
“Don’t! He’ll call the cops.”
Dinah waved her off. “I’ll pick something ripe and give it back to him. I’m doing him a favor, really.”
Kayla muttered something, but Dinah ignored her. She surveyed the arches of green and splashes of color—squash maybe.
Something about it all looked very familiar. Like she’d seen it . . . somewhere. Somewhere. Well, she didn’t have time to dwell on that. She had to find something ripe to pick.
And since she had to no idea what she was doing, that was going to be a challenge.
Carter was not falling for this dirty trick. He wasn’t. If he was grinding his teeth and clenching his fists in his pockets, it was only because . . .
Aw, fuck it. She was winning. Touching his plants, his stuff, picking a damn unripe squash. He couldn’t let it go even if he knew that was her plan all along.
He threw open the window, pushing his face close to the screen. “I’m calling the cops,” he shouted.
“Oh, I wish you wouldn’t,” the red head returned, just as casual as you please. “I only want to have a civil conversation.”
“Hell to the no, lady. I know what Gallagher means by civil, and it’s ‘screw me six ways to Sunday and then expect me to thank him for it.’”
“As you can see, Mr. Gallagher isn’t here.”
“Just because you have breasts doesn’t mean I’m more inclined to talk to you.” Even if they were rather distracting when she was kneeling facing his window. From his higher vantage point, he could see down the gap between fabric and skin. Dark lace against very pale skin. A few freckles across her chest and cheeks. He briefly thought of his last email from D.
Maybe we couldn’t wait, and I unbutton and unzip your pants right there on your front porch.
He couldn’t think about the rest of that email and maintain his irritation, so he forced it out of his mind and focused on the offending party.
Her hair was a fashionable tangle of rich reddish waves. Her face was all made up with hues of pink, and the heels of her shoes sank into the mud next to his zucchini. When she stood, wrinkling her freckled nose at him, he could see that she had long, lean legs, probably as pale and freckly as her chest, but black tights obscured them. Which was good. This was one attraction he had no interest in pursuing. A Gallagher for fuck’s sake. Of course she was gorgeous. She probably paid a lot of money to be. Her family was rolling in it.
“I’m calling the cops,” he threatened again.
“Don’t you think they have better things to do?”
“All I want is ten minutes of your time, Mr. Trask. That’s all. Much easier than getting the police involved.”