Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

Beginnings: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me Meme Home (1)I’m visiting “beginnings” with this month’s excerpts, and today is a peek at my October novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which is part of the Falling For You anthology of small town romances. Meet Me in the Middle is set in the small town of Gallant Lake, which is also the setting for my upcoming Harlequin Special Edition series called…yup, you guessed it–the Gallant Lake Series.

Schoolteacher Sarah is feeling bad that breaking up with her ex has messed up her best friend’s wedding plans, since they’re still both in the wedding party. She doesn’t anticipate her friend’s solution to the problem, though, which puts Sarah much too close to her old high school crush–bad boy Ben Conway.

Ben’s only in town long enough to see his kid sister get married, then he’s hopping back on his bike and following the sun to Florida, determined to maintain his rolling stone lifestyle despite the loneliness he’s been feeling lately. But sweet Sarah Lowery makes him rethink his plans, and his life.

…………………………………………….

Sarah Jones dropped her head to her desk with a thunk and a groan.

“The full moon got to your monsters, too?”

She rolled her head just enough to open one eye and see her best friend, Jacqueline Conway, standing in the classroom doorway. They both taught at Gallant Lake Elementary School. The small resort town of Gallant Lake, nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York, had seen better days, but it was working hard to make a comeback. Kind of like Sarah.

“Just kill me now, Jackie. No, don’t bother—I’m already dead.” Sarah raised her head, rubbing her temples with her fingertips. “I’m trying to teach them about the Middle Ages, and all they want to talk about is Game of Thrones and whether Westeros is a real place. I lost control completely once someone mentioned dragons.”

“At least sixth-graders can discuss something interesting. My little minions revolted shortly after lunch, and I swear for a minute there they were plotting to lock me in the closet and take over the school.” Jackie kicked off her stylish pumps and sat on the corner of Sarah’s desk, hiking up her skirt to cross her legs. “I was trying to explain the difference between odd and even numbers, and that rotten little Billy Johnson started labeling everyone in class as odd or even. There were tears and a general meltdown of decorum, including mine. I dread the emails I’ll be getting this weekend.”

Sarah winced. Technology meant teachers were available to parents 24/7, and those ranting emails that mommies and daddies fired off at midnight were so much fun to wake up to. She nodded in sympathy. “Yeah, I used to think your second-graders would be more controllable because they were smaller, but…”

Jackie finished the thought. “But they have the attention spans of gnats.” She brushed her long, dark hair back over her shoulder, looking like a poster girl for Hot for Teacher. “So about the wedding…”  

Sarah grimaced. Jackie was getting married in a week, and Sarah felt responsible for messing up a year’s worth of careful planning.

“You know I love you…” Jackie hesitated. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. Long enough for Sarah to know there was always a “but” coming when Jackie said those words. “…but I don’t have a lot of options. The only solution is to have you with Ben…”

“Ben? No. No.” Sarah was not sitting with Jackie’s big brother at the wedding.  

“It’s not that big of a wedding party, Sarah. Carl and Nicole are best man and maid of honor. I planned on having Lashonna sit with Ben, and you with Aaron. But unless you want to spend my wedding sitting with your cheating bastard of an ex, I have to put Aaron with Lashonna, which leaves…Ben.” Jackie patted Sarah’s arm. “It’ll be fine, as long as you don’t mind being with a shaggy-haired biker. He’s probably forgotten all about you following him around like a puppy dog when we were kids.”

Note: Ben definitely did NOT forget about Sarah, or the two kisses they shared way back when. Maybe the third time will be the charm….

 

Meet Me in the Middle, Music Monday

Music Monday: Heaven (Ben & Sarah)

One of my favorite new singers is a young artist who doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a typical country artist. But Kane Brown can really sing a love song. And he’s one good-looking dude, too! I can’t get enough of his very intimate song, Heaven.

In fact, Kane reminds me of Ben in my novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which is part of the Falling For You anthology. Ben doesn’t exactly fit into any mold, either. He’s a biker with a gentle heart and an impossible-to-ignore attraction to his kid sister’s best friend.

I can easily picture Ben and Sarah slow-dancing to Kane’s song on a Friday night at The Chalet in Gallant Lake. Yeah, that could definitely happen.

Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

A First Kiss: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me GraphicYes, I’m still sharing First Kisses this month! This one is from my novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which was part of the anthology Falling For You. The anthology features ten small town romances from me and fellow award-winning and best-selling Harlequin Superromance authors. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should!

And here’s a special announcement…Meet Me in the Middle will soon be available as a stand-alone novella. Stay tuned over the next month or so for a cover reveal and release news. Ben and Sarah’s story takes place in Gallant Lake, the same town Nora’s Guy Next Door was set in (and the same town June’s The Life She Wants will be set in). While the anthology was released a few weeks after Nora’s Guy Next Door, the events in the novella technically take place a few weeks before Nora arrives in Gallant Lake for Thanksgiving.

Technically, this is Ben and Sarah’s third kiss, because this is a second chance romance. Ben just came cruising back into town on his motorcycle for his sister’s wedding, and schoolteacher Sarah’s not ready to face her bad boy high school crush again. Those first two kisses years ago didn’t stick, but this one (in the coatroom) just might…..

……………………………………..

       The logical thing would be to go back to the wedding reception and finish the night with their friends and family. That would be the safe choice. Her shoulders straightened. Maybe Ben was right. Maybe it was time to take a risk.
      “Well, I think we need to communicate more clearly about what we’re planning. No more blindsiding. We need to meet in the middle. To have a mutual agreement…”
       “And what exactly are you planning, Miss Sarah Jones?”
       She swallowed hard. “I’m planning on walking toward you. And I hope you’re planning on walking toward me. And when me meet, I’m thinking we should have a mutually agreed upon kiss.”
        She took a step, and he did the same. Then another. Until they were just inches away from each other. His hands cupped her face, his eyes so intense she could hardly bear to look into them, but she couldn’t look away. His head lowered and his lips brushed back and forth across hers. They’d never kissed like this before—tentative, careful, tender. He pressed his mouth against her and his tongue teased her for a moment before she let him in. A groan vibrated through her body, and she wasn’t sure if it came from Ben or her. She reached up and buried her fingers in his hair, while his hands slid down her body to pull her hips into his very obvious arousal.
      Those kisses in the past had been all about pent-up desire and an explosion of passion. This kiss was more like a furnace slowly being turned up until the heat could melt steel. Their moves were slower and more measured, but no less intense. A tremble started in Sarah’s chest and rolled out to her skin until her whole body shook with it. Ben must have felt it, because he growled and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her against the wall so she no longer had to worry about her legs holding her up.
        Their mouths came apart only long enough for a ragged breath, then crashed together again. This felt more like old times—heads twisting, hands moving quickly over bodies, frantic incoherent whispers. The two of them were combustible together.
Meet Me in the Middle, Nora's Guy Next Door, The Writing Life, Whatever Wednesday

Whatever Wednesday – A Timeline

GL StoriesIt’s #WhateverWednesday, and today’s “whatever” is the timeline of how my October novella, Meet Me in the Middle (part of the Falling For You anthology released yesterday) and Nora’s Guy Next Door (Harlequin Superromance) fit together. They both take place in Gallant Lake, NY, and are stand-alone stories. Chronologically in the stories, however, Meet Me in the Middle happens first – it starts in October, and runs into early November. During Thanksgiving Week, Nora meets Asher for the first time in the opening scene of Nora’s Guy Next Door (just a week or so after Ben and Sarah work things out on a mountain road).

There are a couple of characters who show up in each story: Sheriff Dan (although very briefly and “off stage” in Meet Me), and Cathy of Crazy Cathy’s Caffeine Cafe. Those readers with a sharp eye will get a clue in Meet Me of what’s going to happen with the cafe in Nora’s Guy Next Door (what does that sign say that Ben spies in Cathy’s window?). Will there be more stories from Gallant Lake – a fictional town in the Catskill Mountains? Absolutely!

Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday: It’s Release Day!

Falling For You Description (1)It’s RELEASE DAY for the Falling For You Anthology – ten small town romances set in the fall, all written by best-selling, award winning Harlequin Superromance authors (including me!). My story, Meet Me in the Middle, is a second chance romance. And here’s a little excerpt. Sarah is a schoolteacher, and she finds her old crush and best friend’s brother in the school parking lot, talking to some of her young students. He’s such a bad boy himself, and oh, so tempting…..

“Is this your bike, Mr. Conway? It’s sick!” Ricky didn’t remove his hands until he caught Sarah’s expression. Sometimes she wondered if her “teacher’s glare” would just freeze on her face someday. “Is it okay if I sit on it?”

“Sure, but only if I’m holding it.”

“Can you start it?”

“While you’re on it? Nice try, kid. No.”

“Come on! Just a quick ride around the parking…”

“Not without your parents’ permission and a helmet that fits.”

Sarah stared at him, dumbfounded.  “No one’s riding Mr. Conway’s motorcycle, or sitting on it. Motorcycles are dangerous.”

Ben’s mouth fell open, and he started to laugh. “If it’s so dangerous, why did you take a ride on it Saturday night?”

Ten little heads swung her direction in unison, eyes wide.

“Myth Jones, you rode a motorcycle? Really?” Darius looked even more shocked than her mother had been. Ricky, however, was looking at her in something close to awe. Much of tomorrow’s class would be spent fielding questions about what it was like to ride a motorcycle.  

“I let Mr. Conway give me a short ride home. It was very scary.” Ben and Ricky scoffed in unison. The truth was she’d felt a little thrill riding in the cold night air, with her arms around a very warm Ben.

“I call BS on…” Ben caught himself. “I mean, Miss Jones is just trying to be funny. I bet what she really wants is to ride the motorcycle again. Would you like me to give you a ride, Miss Jones?”

She ignored the temptation and turned toward her car, tossing her answer over her shoulder.

“No, thank you, Mr. Conway. I have my own transportation. And these children need to get home. And you need to…go do something, I’m sure.” Hoping he’d take the hint, she walked away and didn’t look back until she got to her car. The boys were dispersing, but Ben sat on his bike watching her. He nodded in her direction, started the motorcycle, and drove off.

She stood by her car and, just like Saturday night, watched until he was out of sight, doing her best to tell herself she didn’t want to chase after him.