Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday, The Writing Life

Teaser Tuesday: Two Days Before Thanksgiving

Nora's Guy Next DoorToday is the exact day my romance novel, Nora’s Guy Next Door, begins – two days before Thanksgiving.

The book opens with Nora (a Southern belle) in a crowded grocery store – you know how crazy they can get, right? I originally come from “Wegmans Country” in the Northeast – if you live anywhere near a Wegmans grocery store, you know how amazing they are (it’s like the Disney version of grocery shopping), and yes, I miss them. I don’t think the little town of Gallant Lake is big enough for a Wegmans, but I did envision their produce section while writing this scene.

I am partying up a storm today over at the Facebook group Coffee, Cupcakes and Contemporaries, with some fun giveaways to celebrate “Two Days Before Thanksgiving” – come join us!

……………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again—on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day—then all bets were off, Southern or not.

The miserable weather wasn’t helping anyone’s attitude. Three inches of snow were on the ground when she arrived in the Catskills yesterday, and she was not happy about it. Oh, sure, the stuff looked like sugar frosting on the rooftops and tree branches, but the air was cold and raw.

The forecast for the week was snow, rain, wind, more rain, then snow again. Her cousin Amanda assured her that was typical for November, which was little comfort. No wonder people were so grumpy here in the North! She’d tried to convince Amanda and her  husband, Blake Randall, to fly south for Thanksgiving with their kids, but they owned a large lakeside resort here and couldn’t be gone during a busy tourist weekend. So the family was gathering at their historic castle-turned-home, Halcyon, located right next door to the resort.

Nora unfolded the store flyer she’d picked up at the door, trying to remember where the produce section was. The only good thing about being in Gallant Lake this week was that her favorite person in the whole world, her daughter Becky, would be arriving later today. Somewhere along the line, Nora had failed as a proper Atlanta mother, because her debutante daughter had inexplicably fallen in love with the Catskills the first time she came here after Amanda and Blake’s wedding. It was disappointing, but not surprising, when Becky hopped the first plane out of Georgia when Vassar offered her a scholarship.

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

A young woman pushed a cart past Nora with a toddler in the seat and a little boy and girl in tow, all three complaining loudly. The girl stomped her feet.

“I don’t wanna eat turkey! I wanna eat ice cream!”

“You gotta eat turkey on turkey day, dummy.” Her older brother gave her a shove. “And you can’t have ice cream. You gotta eat pie!”

The littlest one, sitting in the cart, started to scream. “No pie! No pie, Mommy! No pie!”

The mother’s face was pinched and tired. Nora reached out, resting her hand on the woman’s arm. “Don’t worry, darlin’, these days will pass. Enjoy these babies while they’re young. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college like mine.”

She got a tight smile in return. “Right now, it feels like that can’t happen soon enough, but thank you.”…

 

A deep voice started cursing behind her as she reached for a bag of lemons. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted a tall, lean man in jeans and a faded flannel shirt. His gray-blue eyes were frosty with anger, but she couldn’t tell where it was directed, since he seemed to be alone.

“Damned idiots. They’re nothing but stupid-ass idiots.” He roughly tossed a bag of apples into his cart, making it rattle, causing a few heads to turn. “Stupid, stupid, stupid…” Another bag of fruit landed in his cart with a bang, and he pushed it closer to hers.

She couldn’t see a Bluetooth device in his ear, so he seemed to be having this conversation with himself. Flat out raging at himself, from the sounds of it. His face was sharp and angled, but the dark stubble along his jaw softened those lines just enough to make him strikingly attractive in a rough-hewn way. Layers of dark brown hair brushed his shoulders, and he reminded her of an aging rock star getting ready to smash a guitar somewhere.

Nora gave herself a mental shake. She hadn’t looked twice at anyone since Paul’s death, much less ogled someone in a small-town grocery store. And this bad-tempered stranger was very much not her type. But still, she couldn’t take her eyes off Hot Produce Guy.

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora - Enough - DarkIn Nora’s Guy Next Door, Nora’s daughter is having a baby. With Asher’s son. Neither Asher nor Nora are happy about it. And now they’re neighbors. And that’s when things get really complicated. In this scene, she’s just brought lunch to his furniture shop after they shared an evening together. Just an innocent lunch, so they can talk things over. And they’ve decided to take things slow and keep the relationship quiet, because people might talk. Luckily, it’s Asher’s pal, Sheriff Dan, who walks in, and Dan already has a pretty good idea what’s going on….

“Slow works for me. And quiet, too.” Asher’s thumb brushed across her cheek. “When you blush like that, your cheeks turn into little roses, all pink and sweet. It makes me lose my concentration, and all I want to do is this.” He slid off the stool and stepped up to her. She parted her legs to let him come closer, and he pressed his body against hers. Then he kissed her—long and deep, slow and possessive—and she would have slid off her stool into a puddle on the floor if he hadn’t been gripping her shoulders and holding her upright. Good god, this man could kiss!

The jingling of the bell over the shop door pulled them apart abruptly. She felt like a schoolgirl who’d been caught kissing the quarterback behind the bleachers.

Dan Adams stood in the doorway, in uniform, with a wide grin on his face.

“Let me guess—Nora passed out and you decided she needed a little mouth-to-mouth?” Dan snapped his fingers. “No, I know what happened! She has a sore throat and you were checking her tonsils, right?”

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.