Love Redesigned (Lakefront Billionaires #1) by Lauren Asher



I’m about ten seconds away from losing my goddamn mind, and I have the painfully slow driver clogging up the only road into town to blame.

The sun set twenty minutes ago, giving me nothing to focus on but the illuminated California license plate caught in my headlights. I resist the urge to flash my high beams and honk my horn, although I nearly give in when the black Mercedes-Benz sedan weaves slightly to the side before correcting itself.

Cálmate. You only have five more miles left before hitting Main Street.

While I’m tempted to cut around the other driver so I can make it in time for my godson’s talent show, I don’t want to risk damaging my new McLaren by going off-road. I didn’t spend the last few years of my life talking myself into buying my dream car only to ruin the suspension a week after having it delivered.

Cálmate: Calm down.

The blast of my phone’s ringtone startles me as my cousin’s name flashes across the screen. I take a deep breath before stabbing the button on my steering wheel.

“Where the hell are you?” The sound of Rafael’s harsh whisper fills the car.

“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

A disapproving hum follows. “But the show starts in five.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll make it before Nico takes the stage.”

“Not sure how that’s possible when he’s in the opening act.”

Mierda. “I had no clue.”

“The program schedule got switched at the last minute after a few kids came down with a bug. I texted you this morning about it.” He doesn’t bother hiding his annoyance.

My hands clutch the smooth leather wheel. “The meeting in Lake Aurora took a lot longer than expected.”

“Of course it did.”

“Things should slow down soon.”

“Sure they will.” His rough tone only fuels my irritation.

Before his wife filed for divorce two years ago, people called Rafael the easygoing Lopez cousin, with him constantly going out of his way to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Rafael’s deep sigh cuts through the silence. “It’s fine. Nico will understand.”

Mierda: Shit.

My godson might be a mature eight-year-old kid, but he isn’t that mature. And after everything he has been through with his parents’ divorce, I refuse to add myself to his growing list of family disappointments.

“Your mom saved you a seat in the back of the auditorium in case you make it.”

“Rafa, I’ll be—”

He hangs up before hearing the rest of my sentence.


Rafa and I have been butting heads more often than not lately, mostly due to his attitude and my busy schedule running my late father’s construction company. While I try my hardest to balance my personal life and Lopez Luxury expanding beyond my father’s wildest dreams, I keep falling short.

I scan the narrow space beside the road. The incline is muddy but still drivable for the handful of seconds I need to pass the car in front of me.

Stop overthinking and do it.

The rosary my mother hung from my rearview mirror spins as I turn my wheel toward the shoulder and slam my foot against the gas pedal. The engine revs as it switches gears, and my tires squeal.

My heart lodges itself in my throat as the other vehicle veers to the right and blocks my clear path.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!

Pendejo: Dick.

Time seems to speed up as our two cars collide. My headlight shatters and metal crunches as the front of my car smashes into the rear bumper of the other. I’m propelled forward, only to be shoved in the opposite direction as my seat belt locks in place.

Thankfully, the airbags don’t deploy, although my relief is short-lived as whatever spark of hope I had of making it to Nico’s show fizzles out, leaving me with nothing but a desire to yell at the reckless driver.

Take five. The memory of my dad’s voice pulls at the invisible strings wrapped around my heart until the tightness seems unbearable. I can picture him clearly as he helped me calm down from another night terror, one deep breath at a time.

I never thought I would be using the same strategy twenty-five years later, but here I am, with my eyes screwed shut as I force myself to count my breaths until the chest pain lessens and I’m no longer vibrating with rage.

I’m hit with an early October breeze as I walk toward the other car. The driver is hunched over the wheel, her dark, shoulder-length hair obstructing my view of her face.

I reach out to tap on the window, but a high-pitched shriek coming out of the car’s speakers stops me. “Don’t worry! I’m on my way!” The call cuts out after two beeps.

The woman’s panicked breathing becomes more obvious with each rapid rise and fall of her back.

“Hey.” I knock my fist against the window when she doesn’t acknowledge me. “Are you okay?”

She lifts a trembling finger to the glass while keeping her head down. “One second.” Her voice wavers.

My stomach muscles clench. “Do you need an ambulance?”

“No! I’m fine!” Her head snaps in my direction.

Vete a la chingada.

“Julian?” My name leaves Dahlia Muñoz’s parted pink lips in a hoarse whisper.

It’s been years since I heard Dahlia say my name in that soft voice of hers, and it hits harder than a sledgehammer to the chest.