There was a movie being made in Levi Masterson’s front yard. And Levi’s sweet, innocent, beautiful, wonderful, devilishly stubborn, twenty-two-year-old housekeeper was dressed in a skimpy fairy-witch costume. Parading around in front of at least three dozen people.
Distracting him from what he actually needed to be doing.
He didn’t know what drove him more insane—the inconvenience of the movie crew or the woman he had wanted for months.
Levi watched as that damned film director Rowland Bowles, Hollywood’s favorite hotshot, ordered everyone around in Levi’s own front yard.
Including Levi’s older brother Matt and sweet little sister-in-law.
Matt had been cast into the role of Clark’s best friend, a struggling rancher trying to make ends meet at the property next to the more thriving one where Gretta—played by Pip—had grown up. Matt was Gretta’s love interest.
Like Bowles would have ever been able to unwrap Matt and Pip long enough for another actor to take Matt’s place.
They were using Pip’s father’s homestead as Matt’s family ranch. Levi snorted at how that copied their real life. Pip was instrumental in running that ranch day to day, along with their father.
Everything was complicated and connected lately. Levi half felt he wasn’t quite finding his way through.
Especially with her.
Almost from the moment he had met Pip’s youngest sister, Pandora, he had known what he wanted. What was supposed to be, even. Levi was like that; when he knew what direction his life was going to take, he went after it full throttle. Until he had what he wanted. Needed.
Unfortunately, Pandora wasn’t cooperating
No matter what Levi did, that girl just didn’t seem to get the message that he was interested.
Levi was fast becoming the joke of their entire family.
Well, next to his brother Nate, anyway. Nate and Pip’s identical twin sister, Perci, jointly held that title. The two of them fought and bickered constantly. Levi suspected it was because of the obvious and intense attraction between the two of them. They practically caught the room on fire the moment they entered. He wished he could say the same thing about him and Pan.
They could. If she would just stop being so damned stubborn.
It was too far-fetched, too crazy to even contemplate that their eldest brother, Joel, would fall for Phoebe Tyler. Shortly after, Matt went head over heels for Pip, Phoebe’s younger sister. Nate and Perci seemed made for each other—and then there was Levi and Pandora.
Four brothers, four sisters. Crazy, far-fetched. Not really all that possible. But it had happened—or it would, if Pan ever caught on. And Nate stopped fighting Perci.
No wonder the entire town was talking.
It was no wonder some of his own friends had threatened to kick his ass for taking the last Tyler sister off the market—everyone just assumed Nate and Perci were inevitable.
Well, what was a man supposed to do? They lived in Masterson County, where attractive women—women in general—were outnumbered almost three to one. Pandora was the most gorgeous woman in the entire county. Gorgeous, sweet, loyal, brave, hardworking, beautiful, gorgeous, gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful. Perfect for him.
It might have been a mistake to tell his buddies to keep their paws off her at a county dance once, but how was he to know the woman would hold a grudge for more than six weeks? All through Pip’s, Perci’s, and Matt’s recuperation after the barn had burned and they’d all been injured, after Pip and Matt’s wedding, after all of that, you would think the woman would’ve forgiven him by now.
She still continued to question him about why he would do such a thing. She alternated between that and ignoring him—or treating him like a slightly stupid younger brother.
Dammit, Levi was tired of her looking at him like a brother. He was also tired of that idiot director Bowles putting his hands on her.
Something had to change, and soon. Before he went totally bonkers, gave his share of his ranch to his brothers, and moved to Australia to raise crocodiles or something. Or maybe head to Antarctica. Maybe that would put enough distance between him and the woman who invaded his dreams at night.
Pandora Tyler knew Levi was watching her from the window. He kind of stuck out around here. Taller than many of the men crowding onto the ranch now, stronger, broader, less polished—Levi would stand out wherever he was. He might have thought that he was hidden, but he wasn’t. She could have told him that.
If she wasn’t getting such a kick out of upsetting him, she would have.
Levi, the biggest player in Masterson County, deserved everything he got.
She’d finally figured him out.
The entire reason he’d hired her as his housekeeper wasn’t because she had worked her tail off to build a cleaning business in Masterson like she had originally thought. Taken pride in.
It wasn’t that at all.
Nope; that jerk wanted her at his place where he could seduce her. Levi had planned it out, plotted all of it. Schemed from the very beginning. Gotten her right where he wanted her.
Except for one thing.
Tylers were not easily seduced. Every choice they made was because they believed in it. Even her older sisters, Pip and Phoebe—who had fallen for two of the nicer Masterson brothers—had done so out of choice.
If Levi thought Pan was an easy mark simply because she was a Tyler and young and living on his ranch, well, he had another thought coming. Someone called her name, and Pan spun, the gossamer dress she wore shimmering out behind her.
She had to admit she was having a blast playing a fairy in a Rowland Bowles movie. A Rowland Bowles movie, of all things. Six months ago, she never would’ve imagined it. But she, all three of her sisters, and all four of her brothers had parts. As did all five of her female cousins. She and Nikki even had major roles. Well, semimajor roles. The biggest supporting roles had gone to the twins. They played royal fairy twins who had been separated at birth to protect them. Pip was Gretta. It was perfectly suited for her painfully quiet and shy sister. Perci played the fiery new fairy queen, who was in search of her missing sister.
But it was little Parker who had surprised them all with how well he had taken to acting. He was doing so well that Rowland Bowles had modified Parker’s part to be a larger piece of the entire movie. He had done the same to Pan, though she hadn’t wanted him to.
While she was enjoying herself, and she thought most of her siblings were as well, acting was not something Pan ever intended to do again.
The only reason she’d agreed to do it in the first place was because of the cold, hard cash. Rowland Bowles paid very well, and with every one of her siblings in the movie, and their family homestead being used as the location, they were going to make just enough money to be able to finally pay off the massive amount of medical bills that had hovered over their heads since her mother’s death almost two-and-a-half years ago. They needed that cash to fix everything.
Pan was in charge of the family finances, and she had spent those last two years sick with worry over where the money was going to come from. The scheming and the worrying and the fear were finally almost over.
And then she’d be able to get on with her life.
Pan wasn’t about to let that life be tied to some man ten years older than she was and rooted in Masterson County, Wyoming.
Not that Pan wanted to leave her hometown. She just wanted to explore all her options first. Before considering a man like Levi. She had goals. And for the first time in two years, a way to achieve them.
Levi could derail all of that.
She’d scrimped and saved to even take a few business classes online, and if the college hadn’t offered some minimum financial aid, she wouldn’t have been able to afford it at all.
She’d finished those classes a few weeks ago. Now it was time to take that knowledge and apply it. Somehow.
Not that it was all that easy to use business skills scrubbing Levi Masterson’s kitchen floor and folding his underwear.
That it was now her oldest sister’s floor didn’t really matter in the scheme of things.
Levi had hired her to do a job, and she did it to the best of her ability.
But the jerk had also hired her under false, nefarious, male circumstances. She was going to teach him a lesson about that.
As soon as she figured out how.
“Pandora, my sweet, sexy little fairy, I need you right here.” The director stepped up behind her. Bowles was a touchy idiot; that was for sure. He put his hands on her hips and moved her into position for the next shot.
Good thing Pan was flexible. But it was close. The guy expected too much; she wasn’t a contortionist.
Nor was there anything sexual in his hands on her hips. The instant she’d signed the contract with his company—and her siblings had done the same—he turned into a ruthless professional.
The man was good at what he did, and that was entertaining the masses.
Pan would never forget this experience.
She said her lines and knew she nailed it when Rowland crowed his pleasure. Then it was Parker’s turn and her smallest brother, dressed in a fairy archer’s costume, ran across the scene with panic in his movements. Just like he should have. Just like they’d rehearsed.
“They are coming! You must run!” he said, frantically. “You must go. Take this.” He thrust the prop into her hand then turned. The camera focused on her then, and Parker hurried out of the way, another camera capturing his movements.
He was enjoying himself, and wasn’t quite old enough to feel all the nerves that Pan was feeling. She was enjoying this gig, but it wasn’t easy.
The money was good. And that mattered.
And that money was going to buy her family’s freedom. Get her brothers a better chance at a future than she and her three sisters had had.
That was Pan’s ultimate goal. To see to it that her little brothers were free to achieve their dreams.
The way she, Perci, Phoebe, and Pip hadn’t been able to.
Levi waited until filming was done and headed toward the small bungalow that had once housed the foreman of the ranch before the Masterson brothers had purchased it to expand their neighboring spread. Rowland Bowles was renting it for the duration of his filming in Masterson.
Levi knocked with clear purpose. He and Bowles had some business to take care of.
The door swung open.
A petite strawberry blonde stood in front of him.
It wasn’t Pan
This little redhead had green eyes behind thick glasses. She wasn’t quite as pretty as Pan, but close.
Just as fiery. He’d learned that over the last two months.
She worked as Bowles’s right-hand assistant, along with a real prick, Andrew, but Levi didn’t think she liked her boss much. She certainly spoke to him with a snip in her tone on a frequent basis.
He wondered why she was even with Bowles. But she was extremely smart—no doubt, she had her reasons.
She and Pan and the Tyler sisters were becoming good friends. No wonder, with the way they were always together now.
“Levi, what can I help you with today?”
“I need to see Bowles. He around?”
“He’s taking a shower.” There was ire in the girl’s tone, and disgust.
“He’ll be out in a minute.”
“I haven’t gotten in…yet. Jenny, don’t you have things to do?” The other man came up behind her, dressed only in a towel. He smirked at his assistant. “Mousy type things?”
“Yes, Mr. Bowles, right away, Mr. Bowles. I live to serve, Mr. Bowles…” She left the front porch, muttering as she went.
“Hard to find good help these days,” Bowles said, watching her go. “And I don’t think Jenny likes me much anymore. She hasn’t since the barn burned.”
“Could it be that you’re walking around practically naked in front of her?” He looked at Bowles. The guy was a few years older than Levi, and looked like the sleek Hollywood type. Pan had certainly mentioned how attractive she found him. Repeatedly. “Aren’t you worried about her complaining?”
“Of course, I am. But I’m not ever going to touch her that way. I just want her to go back to Hollywood and leave me be.” Bowles growled out his frustration. “Before I do something completely stupid.”
“You have to know what I mean. I’ve seen you with Pandora. There she is, right in front of you. And you want to touch. You’d change your whole world for her. In an instant, just to make her smile, make her look at you like she’s proud of you. Just for that moment. And she just doesn’t see. But the difference between you and I, Mr. Masterson, is that I know I am not the kind of a man a woman like Jenny needs in her life. She belongs in a place like this, not my world.”
“Didn’t you bring her with you from your world?” Poor schmuck. He looked pitiful. All over that girl.
But Bowles was right. Levi felt the exact same way.
“That’s beside the point. Jenny needs to leave before she ruins everything. Why are you here?”
To break the guy’s fingers for touching Pan today. But after Bowles’s confession, how could he do that?
He understood the guy after all.
It sucked to be in love with a woman who just refused to see it.
He made some lame excuse to Bowles about needing the back barn in two days and hurried away.
Levi needed to find Pan. Just like always. He spent more time hunting his housekeeper than he did running the biggest spread in Masterson County. What did that say about his mental state again?
He was losing it, and he knew it.
She wasn’t stupid. Just because she hadn’t ever slept with a man—or even kissed one—didn’t mean she was clueless when one was attracted.
And when that man was staring—again—it was hard to miss.
Levi was interested; and that meant that he thought he had the right to control what she did. She had no idea where he’d gotten his archaic notions. The rest of his brothers weren’t that barbaric or chauvinistic. They were good, kind, compassionate, loving, and wonderful men—even Nate who tended to give Perci fits every chance he could.
She really liked all the Masterson brothers, Levi included.
Pan just didn’t know what she wanted to do about him.
It didn’t help that he was right there—everywhere—every time she turned around. Between the work she was juggling as his housekeeper, the movie and all that it required, and still trying to keep her bookkeeping business afloat, she was getting worn out.
But Pan wasn’t about to complain. Of course not; Tylers never complained. Tylers just dealt.
She finished cleaning the kitchen and putting all the dishes away. They’d had everyone over from her father’s house tonight.
It had been one of Perci’s rare nights off.
Somehow, Perci and Nate were working the same schedule again. Talk about mood killing. The two of them were getting ridiculous. Perci should just kiss him already, or something. Get it over with.
She understood her sister’s hesitation.
Perci still lived with their father, and Pan didn’t see that changing anytime soon. Someone had to help with the boys, especially with Perci’s limited schedule. Phoebe spent her days over there, tending to her goats and the children; Pip drove her over daily. Pip spent most of her daylight hours helping their father run the ranch, along with Pete, their sixteen-year-old brother.
When Pip wasn’t doing that, she was in town at Matt’s vet office, helping him where she could. Or just being with him because she loved him.
Or making that damned movie. No one had expected Pip’s part to be quite as large as it was. And her extremely introverted sister was wearing down. Everyone could see that. Pan was worried. And so was Matt. It was in his eyes.
He’d scooped Pip up into his arms right after dinner and carried her off to the room just off the back hall that they now shared. They would be moving out to their new home—Matt had had to remodel it first—within the month. They had managed to meld their lives together seamlessly.
As if it had been easy for them.
The way their mother had always promised it would be.
Just like Joel and Phoebe had somehow made things fit, easily. It was supposed to be easy.
But nothing about Levi Masterson was ending up easy at all. Not for her.
“Are you thinking about me?” He came up behind her after the last of his brothers left the kitchen. She fought a shiver as the scent of the mountains and Levi hit her. Yes; she was thinking about him. But Pan wasn’t about to tell him that. It might do him some good to stew a while longer; she wasn’t about to give into his Levi Masterson charm.
Levi stepped into her path and grinned. She resisted rolling her eyes; it wasn’t fair that men like him were free to walk around without a warning sign.
She could see why so many women in Masterson County found a reason to stop by whenever Levi was home. He wasn’t the tallest of the brothers—Nate towered over the rest of them—but he was still well over six feet tall, maybe six three or six four, had linebacker shoulders that he often had encased in soft-looking flannel shirts, and the man was just made for jeans and cowboy boots. Add in the face that was too perfect for a woman’s sanity, and it just wasn’t fair.
Sometimes when he smiled at her she turned into an idiot and forgot what it was she was thinking. Well, most times. Levi had a way of making her forget every plan she had ever made. “Of course not, I have better things to do with my time. I’m just…going over my lines for tomorrow. I think I’m supposed to seduce a mortal. Maybe that’s the day after. I may get to kiss Hunter. I’m not sure yet; it all depends on what Rowland thinks.”
She bit back a smile, knowing that that was sure to goad him. Levi did not like Rowland Bowles—or Hunter Louis Clark. She knew exactly why. And it wasn’t because of their ridiculously pretentious names.
“Really?” Levi took the clean plates from her and lifted them into the cabinet. Pan tried to step aside, but that didn’t work. Two strong arms came down on the countertop next to her, trapping her between them. “You sure you want your first kiss to be on camera?”
“What…what makes you think it will be my first kiss?” Damn those sisters of hers. One of them had definitely squealed.
But she would plot revenge against her sisters later. Right now she had an even bigger threat to worry about.
Levi smelled like he always did, that faint minty-and-wood-and-man scent that she would always associate with him. Until him, she had never really paid much attention to how a man smelled before—unless he needed an obvious shower. Not until Levi.
Sometimes when she wasn’t paying attention and he got too close she would just breathe him in like a total idiot, like one of those fawning goobs from town.
And good for them. She hoped one of them finally caught him and took him off her hands quickly. With all the changes that had been going on in her life lately, Pan wasn’t sure what the future was going to hold for her; she didn’t like it when she didn’t know the plan.
Not knowing left too much to chance, too many ways things could go so horribly wrong. Not having a plan drove her nuts.
And she had no doubt that Levi could make a woman go far, far too wrong.
“Well, am I wrong? Family rumor has it that you’ve been too smart to get involved with some random man. Speculation is you’ve never even been kissed before. So you’re going to let some strange actor that you don’t really know be your first?”
“Why is it any of your concern?” No, she hadn’t exactly been too fond of the idea. But there was no way she was going to tell someone that she was twenty-two years old and hadn’t ever been kissed.
It just hadn’t happened.
After her sister Pip had been sexually assaulted at the community center parking lot when Pan was seventeen, it had left a lasting impression. Everything that had happened since that night had just made it impossible for her to get involved with a man.
At least not enough to trust him well enough for any type of physical feelings to develop. Or to let him close enough to kiss her, anyway.
Well, she was certainly close to a man now. Pan trembled. She had to admit there were definitely some physical feelings between them.
Damn Levi Masterson; he had a real way of ruining her plans.