Date Published: September 9, 2020
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Rebecca Layton returns to her beachside hometown of Sunnyville, California, determined to explore the possibility of rekindling her past relationship with the love of her life, Raymond Colton. She’s devastated to discover that he has moved on and is now engaged.
Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. Now she’s back and more beautiful than ever. But Raymond’s heart has been broken more than once and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn’t a gamble he’s willing to take.
When Rebecca agrees to use her marketing expertise to help Raymond’s father salvage his failing family business–Colton’s Ice Creamery–she and Raymond are thrown together, and old flames are ignited. Can they heal the wounds from their past and embrace the possibility of a brighter tomorrow?
“Hello, Raymond.” Memories and regrets flood through me as I take in his smooth, brown skin and the faded scar across the bridge of his nose from a bicycle fall. Clasping my hands, I force myself not to fiddle with them since he and I both know it’s a dead give-away that I’m nervous, guilty or, most likely, both. “How are you?”
“What are youdoing here?” The familiar voice is deep and steady with a coldness that rattles my determination to confront the mistakes of the past.
Does he think I don’t belong in my hometown because I went away to college and didn’t immediately return after graduation? “This is still my home.” Straightening my shoulders, I resolve not to allow Raymond to intimidate me the way he did his opponents on the football field. With a sinking sensation, I know that returning to Sunnyville with expectations of re-igniting a past passion with him may never happen, but I’m not going to slink away like a frightened child. I have questions that need answers—if not now, then later.
“We didn’t see you for two summers.” He spews out the bitter words as he avoids looking at me. “Guess you were too busy with your big-city life.”
“We need to talk.” I hold my hands out, squelching the apprehension surging through me as if I’m about to jump off the diving board into the deep end of a pool, unable to swim and without a life vest.
“I’m busy.” Shrugging his broad shoulders, he abruptly stands and heads to the sink. Grabbing a cloth, he swipes the clean counter.
“Really?” I scan the almost-empty creamery and place my hands on my hips. “It doesn’t appear to be overflowing with customers.”
“Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?” A muscle twitches along his strong jawline. “You see things one way and I see something different.” He nods toward the door as if signaling that it’s time for me to leave. “I’ve got a business to run.”
“Raymond.” I stand and hesitantly make my way toward him, then tentatively reach out until I’m almost touching his arm before I think better of it and drop my hand to my side. “I’d like it if we could…”
“What?” He steps back, his eyes utterly devoid of any emotion as if he’s speaking to a stranger. “You made yourself very clear the last time you were here.” He curls his upper lip and scowls at me. “You said you didn’t feel as if you belonged here. That it no longer felt like home.”
“Oh dear,” exclaims the elderly woman eating in the back loudly. I had forgotten she was there and, when I glance in her direction, bright green eyes twinkle encouragingly back at me.
“It’s more complicated than that.” Exasperated, I refocus on Raymond while fighting the tightness in my chest. “And you know it.”
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing left to say.” With several long strides, he heads through the back door of the shop. “Good-bye, Rebecca,” he calls out as he disappears from sight. As usual, he looks as good going as he does coming.
My stomach coils tight as a sailor’s knot. Why had I deluded myself into believing that speaking with Raymond about our past was going to be easy? I drop my head and remember it’s not the first time reality has demolished my fantasies. How many birthdays had I spent expecting to see my father burst through the front door, pick me up in his arms, and swing me around before promising that he’d never leave again? More times than I can count. I should know better, but, observing Raymond as he walks away, I know that tenaciousness and hard work produce positive results in business, but they might not do so in love. I need to get out of here before I embarrass myself even more.
As I pass the lone customer, she places her spoon onto the table by her bowl, dabs a paper napkin against her lips, then, quickly rises from her chair to follow me outside.
About the Author
After years of not pursuing my writing dreams, I decided it was time to stop sitting on the sidelines of my publishing aspirations. In 2019, I contracted with The Wild Rose Press for a three book series, California Hearts. The release date for my debut novel, Orange Blossoms-Love Blooms, is October 19, 2020. My novella, A Whirl With My Mocha Chocolate Swirl is part of The Wild Rose Press’ One Scoop or Two series and will be released in September 9, 2020.
I write contemporary romance and women’s fiction with emotion-driven characters and unexpected plot twists and turns. The character’s journeys are layered with heart and soul and reflect the diversity of the world around me. My stories center around love, families, friendships, following your passion, second chances and overcoming obstacles.
When I’m not busy plotting my next novel, you will find me bike riding along one of Southern, California’s scenic beaches with my husband or discussing love, life and the mysteries of the universe with my daughter.
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