A former Marine. A single mom. Two broken people.
Mac’s struggling to adjust to civilian life after the death in combat of his best friend. When a teaching job opens up in the small town where his friend used to work in the summers, Mac takes it as a sign and moves to Green Pines, hoping to find refuge from his demons.
For Julie, there’s no refuge from night feedings, a crazy mom, an ex-mother-in-law and an overdrawn bank account. She’s struggling to build a better life for herself and her baby and the only thing she knows is she’s not falling for any guy again.
There’s only one problem. You never know when love will knock you off your feet.
I Love You Three, a Green Pines Romance, is a clean and wholesome, sweet romance.
I Love You Three Excerpt
Julie squared her shoulders and looked both ways down the hall as she left the security of her office. It had been bad enough spending most days alone in the building, at the mercy of the unsettling fantasies about the new coach that she’d been enjoying for the past few weeks. She couldn’t seem to help it happening. Ever since the day he’d knocked her off that ladder, she’d had trouble concentrating whenever she was alone. It was really aggravating. She hadn’t behaved like this since junior high. And that had been before he moved to town.
That he was actually here, in the building, bothered her more than she wanted admit. She was grateful Mr. Kelley had given her advance warning that Mac would be coming in that morning, but she didn’t want to run into him more than she had to.
She heard the voices when she left the auditorium. Her stomach clenched as she recognized the sounds of the Gordon boys, and Cody Williams answering something in return. What now? She ventured down the hall, dreading the disaster she was going to discover. She hardly dared hope she might catch them before they’d wreaked their havoc. When she turned the corner, Julie stopped and blinked. It took her a moment to process what she was seeing. Surely she was dreaming.
The Gordons, Cody, and Jimmy Barker, too, she noticed, were wiping paint drops off the floor. The row of lockers behind them was gleaming with pristine, wet paint. Mac pointed toward the gym and send Cody back there with a bucket of rollers and brushes.
“Coach, how do I get this off? It dried already.” That was Mikey Gordon, his thin frame squatting and rubbing at the small strip of tile under a locker. Mac squatted next to him with a plastic bottle.
“Don’t breathe this in,” he warned, dabbing a bit of the spirits onto an old rag. “Here.”
Mikey scrunched up his nose. “Man, that stinks.”
“Didn’t I just tell you not to breathe?” Mac grinned. Julie sniffed the cadaverous smell of wood turpentine wafting toward her and almost gagged. But she couldn’t help but smile at the way Mikey scrubbed the tile, all the while glancing at Mac to make sure he was doing it right. It was sweet how the kid was already seeking his approval. Mac was good with him. Julie was impressed.
“Yeah, that’s right. You got it.” Mac closed the bottle. “I’m going to help the others clean the brushes. You finish up here and join us, okay?” Mikey nodded seriously. Mac stood up and caught Julie watching them. “Hey, look at this — didn’t these guys do a great job?” he swept his arm toward the lockers.
Julie didn’t like how all the air seemed to get squeezed out of her lungs when he looked at her. Or that agitated flutter in her stomach. She frowned, wiping her suddenly damp palms on her jeans, determined to fight the reaction. Unauthorized use of school resources, that’s what this was. School paint supplies. The principal should have signed off on this. And on his first day on the job, too. Weren’t military types supposed to be sticklers for rules and procedures? She would have pointed out all this, but then she remembered Mikey, still crouching nearby. She glanced at the kid’s hopeful face turned up to her and her frown melted away. She couldn’t remember when Mikey Gordon’s face hadn’t reflected dread at a coming punishment instead of hope. She couldn’t let her own discomfort ruin his moment. Julie smiled at the kid.
“Mikey, this is awesome. You guys did great job! The entire hallway looks so much better,” she said. Mikey’s whole demeanor lit up. He mumbled an embarrassed thank you, scooped up a drop cloth and headed into the gym to his comrades.
Julie, watching him walk away, could have sworn he looked taller than before. She glanced at Mac. Whatever he’d done, it was more than anyone else ever managed with those kids.
“That was a nice thing you did,” she said softly.
Mac raised an eyebrow and grinned. “A sentence of hard labor? Not sure they’d call it nice.”
Julie chuckled. “I’m not even going to ask what the sentence was for. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever since that bunch not being destructive.” She paused. “It isn’t really Mickey’s fault you know. He just tags along.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
Good. Maybe he was more perceptive than she might have thought. But hopefully only about kids. She didn’t need him turning that talent on her.
She turned back toward the other end of the hall. Mac stopped her.
“Was there something you wanted?” he asked.
She looked at him standing there, tattoos up his arms, paint-spattered shorts and a gray T-shirt that only highlighted how ripped he was, and forgot how to breathe. Her eyes trailed the swirl of inked words that snaked up his right bicep and slipped under the sleeve of his T-shirt. Semper Fidelis.
Always faithful? Oh, yeah, sure. Her jaw clenched. “No thanks. I just heard the kids’ voices and thought I’d better investigate.” She walked away and only let out her breath once she’d turned the corner.
Was there something she wanted? She sure wasn’t about to answer that.
About Author Milou Koenings
Milou Koenings is an award-winning USA Today best-selling author who writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with happy endings bring joy to the world and so make it a better place. I Love You Three is the fourth book, although chronologically the first, in the Green Pines Romance series.