Now Reading
Read an extract from Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Read an extract from Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to Napa Valley, and when Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the starchy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly.

One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless—and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.

On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt—and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past.

Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s grayscale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her… and her very presence is turning his world upside down.


“Wait! I forgot. I have news,” Lavinia said abruptly, speed walking in Hallie’s direction. She slung their arms together and pulled her into the small parking lot that ran behind the donut shop, as well as the rest of the stores on Grapevine Way. As soon as the screen door of Fudge Judy slapped shut behind them, Lavinia lit another cigarette and hit Hallie with the kind of eye contact that screamed this is big news. Exactly the kind of distraction Hallie needed to stall her self-reflective mood.

“Remember that tasting you dragged me to a few months back at Vos Vineyard?”

Hallie’s breath hitched at the name Vos. “Yes.”

“And remember you got sloshed and told me you’ve been in love with Julian Vos, the son, since you were a freshman in high school?”

“Shhhh.” Hallie’s face had to be the color of beet juice now. “Keep your voice down. Everyone knows who they are in this town, Lavinia!”

“Would you stop? It’s just you and me here.” Squinting one eye, she took a long pull of her cigarette and blew the smoke sideways. “He’s back in town. Heard it straight from his mum.”

The parking lot seemed to shrink in around Hallie, the ground rising up like a wave of asphalt. “What? I . . . Julian?” The amount of reverence she packed into the whisper of his name would have been embarrassing if she hadn’t hidden behind this woman’s standing mixer twice in one month. “Are you sure? He lives near Stanford.”

“Yes, yes, he’s a brilliant professor. A scholar with a case of the tall, dark, and broodies. Nearly your first snog. I remember everything—and yes, I’m sure. According to his mum, the hot prodigal son is living in the guesthouse at the vineyard for the next several months to write a historical fiction novel.”

A zap of electricity went through Hallie, straight down to her feet.

An image of Julian Vos was always, always on standby, and it shot to the forefront of her mind now, vivid and glorious. His black hair whipping right and left in the wind, his family vineyard like an endless maze on all sides of him, the sky burning with bright purples and oranges, his mouth descending toward hers and stopping right at the last second. He’d been so close she could taste the alcohol on his breath. So close she could have counted the black flecks in his bourbon-brown eyes if only the sun hadn’t set.

She could also feel the way he’d snagged her wrist and dragged her back to the party, muttering about her being a freshman. The greatest tragedy of her life, right up until she’d lost her grandmother, was not landing that kiss from Julian Vos. For the last fifteen years, she’d been spinning alternate endings in her mind, occasionally even going so far as watching his history lectures on YouTube—and responding to his rhetorical questions out loud, like some kind of psychotic, one-sided conversationalist. Though she would take that humiliating practice to the grave.

Not to mention the wedding scrapbook she’d made for them in ninth grade.

“Well?” prompted Lavinia.

Hallie shook herself. “Well what?”

Lavinia waved her smoking hand around. “You might bump into the old crush around St. Helena soon enough. Isn’t that exciting?”

“Yes,” Hallie said slowly, begging the wheels in her head to stop spinning. “It is.”

“Do you know if he’s single?”

“I think so,” Hallie murmured. “He doesn’t update his Facebook very often. When he does, it’s usually with a news article about space exploration or an archaeological discovery—”

“You are literally leaching my vagina of moisture.”

“But his status is still single,” Hallie laughed. “Last time I checked.”

“And when was that, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“A year, perhaps?”

More like a month, but no one was counting.

“Wouldn’t it be something to get a second chance at that kiss?” Lavinia poked her in the ribs. “Though it’ll be far from your first at this stage of your life, hey?”

“Oh yeah, it’ll be at least my . . .”

See Also

Her friend squinted an eye, prodding the air with a finger. “Eleventh? Fifteenth?”

“Fifteenth. You got it.” Hallie coughed. “Minus thirteen.”

Lavinia stared at her for an extended moment, letting out a low whistle. “Well, Jesus. No wonder you have so much unspent energy.” She stubbed out her cigarette. “Okay, forget what I said about bumping into him, you two-kiss pony. Happenstance isn’t going to work. We must arrange some kind of sly meeting.” She thought for a second, then landed on something. “Ooh! Maybe check the Web and see if Vos Vineyard is having another event soon. He’s bound to be there.”

“Yes. Yes, I could do that.” Hallie continued to nod. “Or I could just check in with Mrs. Vos and see if her guesthouse needs some new landscaping. My waxed begonias would add a nice pop of red to any front yard. And who could turn down lantanas? They stay green all year.”

“. . . Hallie.”

“And of course, there’s that late-June discount I’m offering.”

“You can never do anything the easy way, can you?” Lavinia sighed

“I’m much better at speaking to men when I’m busy doing something with my hands.”

Her friend raised an eyebrow. “You heard yourself, right?”

“Yes, pervert, I heard,” she muttered, already lifting the phone to her ear, excitement beginning to skip around in her belly when the line started to ring. “Rebecca always said to look for signs. I just canceled that biweekly job with Veronica on Hollis Lane for a reason. So I’d be open for this one. Potentially. I might have Napa running in my blood, but wine tastings aren’t my element. This is better. I’ll have my flowers as a buffer.”

“I suppose that’s fair enough. You’re just having a little look at him.”

“Yes! A tiny baby of a look. For nostalgia’s sake.”

Lavinia was beginning to nod along with her. “Fuck me, I’m actually getting a little excited about this, Hal. It’s not every day a girl gets a second shot at kissing her lifelong crush.”

Exactly. That’s why she wasn’t going to overthink this. Act first, reflect later. Her credo worked out at least half the time. A lot of things had far worse odds. Like . . . the lottery. Or cracking open a double-yolked egg. No matter what happened, though, she’d be laying her eyes on Julian Vos again. In the flesh. And soon.

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey £9.99. By permission of Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.