Discover why readers are raving over Hearts In Winter… 💔💍 ✓ The ultimate second chance romance ✓ Childhood sweethearts ✓ A divorce that never came through ✓ Small town vibes ✓ Gorgeous holiday romance with HOT scenes READ IN KINDLE UNLIMITED
When her annoyingly gorgeous ex-husband walks back into her life eight years after their divorce, those are the last word Everley expects to hear.
Their marriage only lasted a year. They burned bright and crashed – and they both thought they’d moved on.
Shame somebody forgot to file the papers.
Now Dylan is back in town for a few months – taking a break from his work as a doctor overseas – and he’s determined to clear up the mess.
The only problem is, the more time he spends with Everley, the more he remembers how good they were together.
And the chemistry between them is too explosive to ignore.
As Christmas approaches, and Dylan is due to leave town for his job once more, Everley finds herself wondering – is it possible to fall out of love with your husband a second time?
Meet the Author
Carrie Elks writes contemporary romance with a sizzling edge. Her first book, Fix You, has been translated into eight languages and made a surprise appearance on Big Brother in Brazil. Luckily for her, it wasn’t voted out. Carrie lives with her husband, two lovely children and a larger-than-life black pug called Plato. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found baking, drinking an occasional (!) glass of wine, or chatting on social media.
Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.
Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.
Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?
Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters. She proudly wears the title of, ‘the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill,’ and loves decorating her prosthetic with the latest fashion trends. She lives in Northern Wisconsin with her own happily-ever-after and three mini-mes. Katie has a massive addiction to coffee and Twitter, and a lessening aversion to Pinterest — now that she’s quit trying to make the things she pins.
“Simone balances crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters.” —Entertainment Weekly
The holidays have never been her thing. But Christmas in Rose Bend has more than one surprise in store…
Grieving ER nurse Nessa Hunt is on a road trip with her sullen teen half sister, Ivy, and still reeling from her mother’s deathbed confession: Nessa’s dad wasn’t really her dad. Seeking answers, they arrive in Rose Bend to find a small town teeming with the kind of Christmas cheer Nessa usually avoids. But then she meets the innkeeper’s ruggedly sexy son, Wolfgang Dennison.
Wolf’s big, boisterous family is like a picture-perfect holiday card. Nessa has too much weighing on her to feel like she fits—even though the heat between her and Wolf is undeniable. And the merriment bringing an overdue smile to Ivy’s face is almost enough to make Nessa believe in the Christmas spirit. But with all her parental baggage, including lingering questions about her birth father, is there room in Nessa’s life for happy holidays and happily-ever-after?
Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.”
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.
A search for information about his grandfather’s mysterious death leads Army physician, Carter Balan, to the town of Ancient Oaks.
Fiona Moon has a secret. Her magical abilities have been fading since her 40th birthday and with Halloween only a week away, the witch fears that her powers are gone for good.
When Carter walks into her bookshop, Fiona knows exactly who he is—the first boy she ever kissed. Carter has no memory of Fiona or the fact he comes from a long line of vampire hunters. When a vampire is discovered in the woods Fiona and Carter must work together to destroy the creature. Can Carter recover his stolen memories before it’s too late? Will he accept his family history and pick up where his grandfather left off? Can Fiona find a way to harness her powers and save the town?
“We have a visitor,” said Lana. “He’s handsome and a mortal.”
“Mortal?” Fiona rose to her feet. “No way. The spell that hides Ancient Oaks is too strong.”
Lana pulled Fiona to the window. A set of wings were tucked into the fairy’s back. “See.”
Standing on the sidewalk, a man looked at the bookstore. His gaze drifted to Fiona, who gawked at him from the window. Smiling, he gave a small wave. As if a thousand butterflies had been let loose, her middle filled with fluttering.
Was there something about the man?
“Does he look familiar to you?” Fiona asked Lana. “No, but I can be his new best friend.”
The man strode through the bookshop’s door and
Fiona’s fingers began to tingle.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“And if she can’t,” Lana interjected. “I can.”
The man had the good manners to laugh, not leer. “I
visited Ancient Oaks years ago with my grandfather.” He inhaled. “He met with people in this store. I know it’s a long shot, but would anyone remember him?”
Her interest was piqued. “What’s your grandfather’s name?”
The frenzied fluttering in her belly ceased. If this man was the grandson of Rupert Balan, it meant one thing. The man was Carter Balan—the first boy Fiona ever kissed.
About the Author
Jennifer D. Bokal penned her first book at age eight. An early lover of the written word, she decided to follow her passion and become a full-time writer. From then on, she didn’t look back. She earned a master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University and became a member of the Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She has authored several short stories, novellas and poems. Winner of the Sexy Scribbler in 2015, Jennifer is the author of the Ancient World Historical series the Champions of Rome and the Harlequin Romantic Suspense series, Rocky Mountain Justice and the connected series, Rocky Mountain Justice: Wyoming Nights. Jennifer is the author of Coltons Secret History, Book 3 in the Coltons of Kansas series and Coltons Internal Affair, Book 9 in the Coltons of Grave Gulch series—also from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Happily married to her own Alpha Male for more 25 years, she enjoys writing stories that explore the wonders of love. Jen and her manly husband live in upstate New York with their three beautiful daughters, two very spoiled dogs, and a kitten that aspires to one day become a Chihuahua.
Rodeo superstar Geoff Burris is adored by legions of female fans, but life on the road makes him shun commitment. During a rare hometown visit to Bronco for a holiday competition, he’s sidelined by an injury—and meets Stephanie Brandt. She’s a local nurse who is not dazzled by his fame—and prefers to keep out of the spotlight! Geoff is captivated by the no-nonsense introvert. He’d never planned to put down roots, but when Stephanie is in his arms, all this cowboy can think about is forever…
From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.
Montana Mavericks: The Real Cowboys of Bronco Heights
Book 1: The Rancher’s Summer Secret by Christine Rimmer
Book 2: For His Daughter’s Sake by Stella Bagwell
Book 3: The Most Eligible Cowboy by Melissa Senate
Book 4: Grand-Prize Cowboy by Heatherly Bell Book 5: A Kiss at the Mistletoe Rodeo by Kathy Douglass
Book 6: Dreaming of a Christmas Cowboy by Brenda Harlen
From USA Today bestselling author Kilby Blades, a holiday proposal romance…
When billionaire Marsh’s octogenarian grandmother summons him home for an urgent family dinner, he dreads being force-fed every embarrassing truth about his family he’s tried to forget. Nevermind that Thanksgiving weekend is when he plans to propose to his girlfriend Jada, who knows nothing of his fortune, or that Marsh has hidden her away for years.
But the money may be the least of it—there’s a reason why he’s never brought her to Connecticut. The Brewsters are the special brand of unhinged reserved for the ultra-rich. Subjecting his woke Black girlfriend to his stuffy old money family seems like the least-romantic way to kick off his proposal weekend. After his family’s shenanigans, will Jada even say yes?
My lips set in amusement as my gaze shifts from Marsh to the scenery. Autumn has been mild for all the russet and gamboge leaves that still cling to the trees. The sky has the look of snow, but forecasts insist it will hold off another day. Dry roads and mild November temperatures should find us speeding up the Taconic Parkway. But Marsh is taking it slow.
“I’m not nervous.” Marsh’s smooth baritone holds a calm I once believed in when we’d first started dating. Marsh is the kind of man who can soothe nerves—or raise hell—without ever raising his voice. Quiet control is his gambit, made more believable by his natural confidence. But I’ve seen his game and know every one of his tells.
“Oh, yeah?” My sly gaze slides back to his face. “Then why are we doing forty-five in a fifty-five?”
“I like to obey traffic laws.” His slow, cheeky smile cops to the ridiculousness of the lie.
“Do you also like blood flow in your extremities?” I jut my chin toward his grip that white-knuckles the steering wheel, eyeing the speedometer again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a highway drive under sixty-five.
We’ve passed the point in our relationship that merits an out-loud answer to every question. Entire conversations are had with the slightest quirk of a lip, the precision of a gaze, or the clever maneuver of a brow. And so should it be for a couple who has been together for four years. The look he gives me then relents, admitting with the clarity of a church bell: You caught me. I’m totally freaking out.
“Baby…these are your blood relatives, not a pit of vipers. Besides, you know I can hold my own.”
Marsh does know that. Hell, everyone knows better than to go up against me, Jada Jones, titan of industry and one of the most successful venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road. Marsh is among the rare breed who actually means it when he says that being with a powerful woman is a turn-on. He has admitted to me that watching his girlfriend hand start-up CEOs their asses gets him a little hard. His eyes positively smolder when I put my bossy boots on.
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” he murmurs.
“You forget that I’ve met them. Several times,” I point out. I’ve shared good times with his divorced parents, Kate and Marshall Senior, over the years when they’ve paid separate visits to their son. “They’re a bit non-traditional…but, babe, your family’s really nice.”
“Correction. You’ve met my parents. They’re the ones who rebelled. The ones who got out of the family.”
“You make it sound like the mafia. You do realize that your family owns a textile mill and isn’t an old country crime syndicate, right?”
Marsh doesn’t share my humor. “My parents aren’t as bad as the others. They’re on the lovable end of the crackpot spectrum.”
“So it’s a spectrum, huh? What’s on the opposite end?”
He takes his eyes off of the road long enough to cast a haunted look my way.
“Totally over the top.”
I shake my head. “Please. The Bay Area is crackpot central. If I had a dollar for every chem trails conspiracy theorist I had to dodge at Berkeley Bowl…”
His responding smile looks forced. For the past two days, I’ve sensed his anxiety around returning home. Marsh has never gone to Connecticut for the holidays in all the years we’ve dated and I’ve never asked why. I’m certain he has his reasons. He has never relished the quarterly trips he makes from San Francisco to Hartford, solo voyages in service of his position on the Brewster Textiles board. And he never says much about it—only that he goes out of love and duty to his grandmother.
All I really know is that his family has run a small business milling wool for the better part of one-hundred years. His octogenarian grandmother, who Marsh calls Maw Maw, is the CEO. She’s summoned all Brewsters with special expertise to sit on the Board of Directors. Marsh has been asked because he’s an attorney—never mind that his area of expertise is human rights.
What always catches my attention whenever I overhear him on the phone with Connecticut is the change in Marsh’s tone. That he becomes so gentle when reasoning with what sounds like a stubborn woman only makes me love him more.
“JJ…” He uses his nickname for me, speaking in a low, sorrowful tone, as if breaking upsetting news. “California people are the crunchy version of quirky. Lovably eccentric quirky. Eight-dollar-bamboo-fiber-dental-floss quirky. But quirky isn’t a strong enough term for my family. They take it to another level. And I don’t want to scare you, but we’re not in California anymore. This is the East Coast.”
Marsh sounds more frantic by the second. Though, if he thinks his warnings will make me less curious to meet his extended family—especially the elusive Maw Maw—he’s wrong.
“Babe,” I argue gently, hoping he isn’t too far gone to calm down. “The only one who sounds over the top right now is you.”
ABOUT KILBY BLADES
Kilby Blades is a USA Today best selling author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist and a Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist; her recent novel, The Secret Ingredient was a finalist in the RWA Vivian Contest. She has been lauded by critics for “easing feminism and equality into her novels” (IndieReader) and “writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal” (Publisher’s Weekly). Kilby is a feminist, an oenophile, a cinephile, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story.
Brand new holiday stories from bestselling authors! This boxed set contains powerful alpha men and heroines who bring them to their knees.
Enter the world of dark mansions and mysterious heroes. The notorious Morelli family hosts their annual Christmas ball. And you are invited to experience the sensual feast.
HOLIDAY STORIES INCLUDE: O Holy Night by Pam Godwin Santa Baby by Claire Contreras All I Want for Christmas Is You by M. Robinson Last Christmas by Katee Robert Carol of the Bells by Maria Luis Silver Bells by Alta Hensley O Come All Ye Faithful by Amelia Wilde Silent Night by Sienna Snow It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Jenika Snow All I Want For Christmas Is You by Sam Mariano Little Drummer Boy by M. O’Keefe Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Giana Darling Away in a Manger by Jade West This Christmas by Theodora Taylor Hallelujah by Skye Warren
MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE is an exclusive anthology of scorching hot NEW holiday stories. Download your copy and tell a book-loving friend, because it won’t last long.
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Mistletoe, Maine, is buzzing and not just because Christmas is around the corner! Dante West, local cutie-turned-Hollywood hunk, is returning home to make his next movie. Everyone in town is excited . . . except librarian Lucy Marshall. When Dante took off for LA without warning—or even a goodbye—he broke Lucy’s heart. She swore not to spend one more minute thinking about her ex, but Dante makes an offer Lucy’s struggling library can’t refuse: a major donation to film on-site.
Dante is thrilled to help boost his hometown’s economy and finally begin making amends to the people he hurt years ago when he left, starting with Lucy. But seeing his former best friend on set every day feels a lot less like closure and more like a fresh start. It’s one thing for Dante to fall for Lucy all over again, quite another for a famous movie star and a small-town librarian to find lasting romance. Can the magic of the holiday season give Lucy and Dante’s first love a second chance?
ESCAPE TO A TROPICAL ISLAND FOR EXCITEMENT, MYSTERY, SUSPENSE AND ROMANCE IN THIS FABULOUS NOVEL BY A BESTSELLING AUTHOR.
Beautiful gallery owner Tahnee Sawyer’s beloved stepmother has been kidnapped and her father is about to have a life-threatening operation.
It’s up to her to go to Barbados to deal with it all — in secret.
Following the kidnappers’ demands, Tahnee smuggles $50 million worth of uncut diamonds onto the island. She hires bad boy-turned-sea captain Jonah Rodgers to ferry her about.
But her seemingly aimless island-hopping soon raises Jonah’s suspicions. He’s convinced she’s mixed up in a drug-smuggling ring.
Tahnee’s in a race against time to save her stepmother. She might just have a chance, if she could keep her mind off the gorgeous Jonah. And keeping him out of her business is proving a challenge in more ways than one . . .
Don’t miss this gripping and enjoyable romantic suspense novel perfect for fans of Danielle Steel, Josephine Cox, Nora Roberts or Jackie Collins.
WHAT READERS SAY ABOUT TWO-MILLION-SELLING FAITH MARTIN WRITING AS MAXINE BARRY:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I’ve read a lot of novels by Faith Martin and always thoroughly enjoyed them, this novel is different but just as gripping and you really become invested in the characters and their lives and can’t wait to see how it all works out. Brilliant.” Barbara
“Perfect romance and mystery!” M. Adlington
“A great read and a fast-paced romantic adventure.” Laura T.
“An enjoyable book. Romance with a little intrigue too.” Alexandra
Can a little girl’s wish for Santa to bring her mom a new husband come true?
In 1946, Sarah Delaney writes to Santa for a husband for her mom for Christmas. She’s never known her father, who went missing during WWII so five-year-old Sarah decides it’s the perfect gift for her mother—a husband, and a daddy for her. Her mother, Rose Delaney, has been working as a banking accountant—until Jack Campbell, the man who held the position first returns from the war and her boss gives him back his job. Rose, unhappy about losing her job begins looking for another position but can’t find one that pays well enough. Jack, feeling guilty since he’s a single guy with no child or wife responsibilities convinces his boss to hire Rose as his secretary. Rose takes up the offer as nothing else is available. Within weeks, Jack falls in love with Rose, even though she refuses to date men she works with. He has big plans in his life though and pursues her until she eventually accepts his offer of marriage. Rose can’t deny she’s in love with him also, until she learns the ‘real’ reason he’s looking for a wife.
St. Paul Minnesota
Captain Jack Campbell, a schooled architect and account, and a medic during the war, honorably discharged from the United States Army, sat on the doctor’s examination table, wondering if his leg would ever heal completely.
Dr. Richardson gave him an answer without Jack having to ask. “The leg’s better than I expected, Jack. But I’m afraid you’ll have a permanent limp for the rest of your life from the lodged shrapnel.”
Jack shrugged. “Guess dancing’s out for me.”
“You’ll be able to manage the ones that count…the slow ones. “He gave Jack a sly look. “Bet you can’t wait to hold a pretty girl in your arms for a night of dancing. You were gone nearly three years, weren’t you?”
Jack nodded. “Yes, it’s good to be back in familiar territory.
Dr. Richardson’s smile slipped. “Have you been home yet? Seen your father?”
“No. He doesn’t want to see me. I met my mother for lunch last week, though. She, at least, appreciates the fact I survived the war.”
“He’ll get over you enlisting, sooner or later. Don’t think badly of him. You are, after all, his only child. And now that you’ve returned you can take up the reins of the family business.”
“Father threatened to will the business to a distant cousin, if I enlisted. I’d never wanted to make a career out of the steel business anyway, so I gave him my blessing.”
“Think that’s a wise move?”
“It’s the smartest one I’ve ever made, Doc.”
“So, what are your plans?”
“I’m going to return to LaSalle National Bank as head accountant. Then I’m going to search for a woman willing to be my wife and bless me with children. I’ve seen friends die and know life can be too short.”
The doctor frowned. “I heard you’d made marriage plans before leaving for the war.”
“Things never worked out between Veronica and me.”
He heard bitterness in his voice when he thought about his ex-fiancée. Thought how he’d received letters from friends about how she’d been seen around the city with an old friend of his, Sedrick Hawthrone. She’d never even had the decency to write him a ‘Dear John’ letter while he was in the Army but had simply stopped replying to his own.
“Veronica Miller wasn’t your style, son. Bah! Society girls are nothing but spoiled debutantes with no brain inside their pretty little heads. You need a smart woman, one who’s independent and can think for herself; a woman who can be a helpmate, not a noose around your neck. Besides, there are plenty of ladies around who’d be proud to marry a war hero, who also happens to be a millionaire.”
Dryly, Jack said, “I won’t inherit that money until I marry. And if I don’t marry and get my millions, well, it’ll only mean I’ll have to work a while longer at the bank to save up enough money to launch my business. My grandmother and her will—it’s ridiculous.”
“Your granny sure knew how to rile things up when she was alive, but now she’s doing it from the grave, too.” The doctor chuckled. “She was a hell of a gal.”
“If it hadn’t been for my mother wanting me home in one piece, I probably would have stayed in the Army, and to hell with those millions. It’s tough being an only child.”
“Yeah, real tough,” the doctor said with a laugh, slapping Jack’s back.
Jack left the doctor’s office and limped down the street to his new model Studebaker, noticing dames of all shapes and sizes sending appreciate glances his way. He had gained twenty pounds of muscle while serving his country, so none of his pre-service clothes fit him. Home for nearly a month, he still hadn’t had a chance to have new clothes made so he still wore his Army uniform.
He started thinking about his long-range business goals and smiled, knowing he was on the right track. Soldiers were getting married every day with the ending of the war, and there was a definite housing shortage. The home-building industry was set to explode, even though his father still felt steel was the clear ticket to success.
Perhaps he was right, but Jack had never had the interest his father had in the steel mining business. He also recalled how his father would be gone for weeks at a time, running his business, traveling and selling, leaving Jack and his mother alone. Jack had long ago decided he’d work no more than nine to five at his business and spend the rest of his time surrounded by his lovely, loving wife and children.
At twenty-nine, he was ready to find the right woman to marry and settle down to a normal work schedule, unlike his father. A sweet, compliant, pretty woman with a sensible head on her shoulders would be a good companion for him; one who cared more for him more than society events. A woman who wouldn’t mind keeping a home and caring for children and having him be the provider; fulfilling his needs would be enough for his wife.
~ * ~
Rose Delaney sat in her boss’s office, fingers twisting the corner of her handkerchief, wet with her tears.
“Mrs. Delaney,” Mr. Jorgenson said carefully, “a woman’s place is in the home, unless there’s a war on. You were fully aware of the fact you’d lose your job once Jack Campbell returned from active duty.”
Disappointment settled deep inside Rose but somehow, she managed to keep her voice calm. “What am I supposed to do? I’ve a child at home to support, and no husband.”
“I’m so sorry,” he murmured.
Rose didn’t think he sounded a bit sorry though she saw color flood his cheeks. He continued, “LaSalle National Bank promised our men they’d be given their jobs back upon their return from the service, and you were informed about this when you took the job. Jack Campbell’s a decorated war hero and is ready to return to work now that his injuries have healed. His position’s the one you currently occupy.”
“Is he married?” she daringly asked.
The benign smile he’d given her he replaced with a scowl. “I don’t see why it’s any concern of yours,” he said, picking up a stack of papers from his desk and shuffling them.
“I do,” Rose said, leaning toward him. “You see, I could understand him needing this job if he were married and had a family to support. If he’s only responsible for himself, then I can’t see why he can’t find a job elsewhere and leave this one to me.”
He rose from his chair and came around to the front of his desk. Taking her elbow in a light grasp he pulled her gently from her seat and walked her to the door. “I’m sorry. Your last day is the sixteenth of the month. I’ve a meeting in a few minutes. Perhaps we can find another position for you. Let me think on it.”
In her office, she sank into the chair behind her desk. Her hand shook as she tried smoothing out her frizzy hair. What would she do now? How would she support herself and Sarah, her four-year old daughter? Then hope filled her. Perhaps Mr. Jorgenson could find another position for her, one that hopefully paid as well as her current job. She could only hope.
Her husband, Timothy, had been listed as missing in action, assumed to have died at Pearl Harbor, leaving her pregnant and jobless. Other than her neighborhood soda fountain waitress job she’d held as a teenager she hadn’t worked upon graduating from high school. She’d attended business college for two years and studied accounting. But then she and Timothy had married. They’d spent just one night together—their wedding night, before he left for active duty. Six weeks later Rose discovered she was expecting a baby. Timothy never knew about the pregnancy, nor ever saw his daughter.
Rose’s business college certificate was the reason she’d managed to secure a well-paying job at LaSalle National once America became involved in the war. The bank had been desperately seeking a head accountant and had been delighted to hire her—even if she’d been four months pregnant at the time. Now, with the return of a local war hero, they apparently had no qualms about letting her go.
Rose received a small widow’s pension but that was all. Her home was a modest one-story with a quaint, enclosed front porch, which required many repairs she couldn’t afford. Now she was faced with the dilemma of keeping up the mortgage without a decent paying job.
The next morning, after a neighbor with a child Sarah’s age picked her up in the family car to take Sarah to school as they did each school day, she dressed for work in one of three suits she’d purchased upon her hiring at LaSalle Bank. She felt extremely blessed that Sarah had been deemed with advanced intelligence and had been able to start kindergarten school a year earlier.
She pulled a navy serge suit from her closet. The jacket was double-breasted with well-padded shoulders, the skirt pencil-thin, emphasizing her trim figure. Her starched white blouse contrasted dramatically with the suit. She pinned a sapphire and diamond broach to one lapel, a wedding gift from Timothy, and stared at her reflection in the mirror positioned on the wall behind her dressing table.
Depression settled over her. She didn’t feel like venturing outdoors where it had been raining for two days but knew she must. She still had her job and two weeks of pay coming. Quickly, she pulled on her raincoat, grabbed her umbrella from its stand then locked the front door.
It rained often in the fall in the Midwest, and on this cool morning torrents of rain fell from the sky, pounding the sidewalk and streets. As Rose stood on the corner a few blocks from her house, waiting for the streetcar to take her to work downtown St. Paul, a shiny, deep blue Studebaker screamed past her. Rose caught her breath as ice-cold water splashed up into her face, soaked her feet and plastered her seamed silk stockings to her legs.
The force of the wind made her struggle to keep the umbrella over her head. Once she was certain the umbrella was stable, she dug inside her pocket, found a damp handkerchief and swiped the water from her cheeks, trying not to disturb her makeup; trying not to bawl like a baby.
She heard the shriek of a car’s wheels braking and looked up in time to see the Studebaker barreling toward her, in reverse. She jumped back from the curb, ready to flee when a man’s solicitous deep voice called out to her.
“Sorry about that, miss! I didn’t see you on the corner until the last minute. Can I give you a lift somewhere?”
Rose moved closer to the curb, bent down and peered at the man through the window he’d cranked open. His light brown hair was cut severely short on the sides, but long on top, his eyes deep blue and merry. His smile was wide, and flashing white teeth caught her attention. She was half-tempted to accept a ride but knew she couldn’t. He was a stranger—a stranger who’d drenched her from head to toe, her raincoat and umbrella having afforded her little protection.
She heard rumbling and looked up to see the streetcar arriving. Brakes screeched as the vehicle came to a grinding halt behind the Studebaker. The bus driver honked at the man to move but he didn’t budge.
“Come on! You’re soaking wet,” he shouted.
Rose’s eyes widened on the passenger door he’d swung open. She shook her head as a nervous feeling sent prickles up her spine. It was broad daylight so she shouldn’t be frightened. But there was something about the man’s confidence and tone of voice that made her uneasy. Just the little he’d said led her to believe he was the type who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
“Yes, I’m wet, thanks to you!” she finally got the nerve to shout as she continued to back away. She ran for the streetcar, tore up the steps and found a seat right behind the driver.
“You okay, miss?” the driver asked as he peered at her in his mirror. “Was that guy pestering you?”
“I’m fine,” Rose replied, her cheeks heating up.
The man had bothered her. He’d just made her aware of the fact she was, indeed, still a woman. Nearly five years had passed since Timothy left, and she hadn’t had a single date since then. But then, other than young boys and elderly gentlemen, there hadn’t been many eligible men around during the war years, not that she’d gone looking. To her mind she was still married—until Timothy’s death could be proved.
She arrived at her destination, stepped off the streetcar and walked briskly up the street toward the bank building built of red brick and eight stories high. She took the stairs to the third floor, stopped in the ladies’ room to check her makeup and comb her hair, which was hopeless. Her honey-blonde colored hair, which she’d painstakingly pin-curled to make it smoother was now an unruly mass of frizz surrounding her face. Her makeup was streaky and some of it had bled onto the once pristine white collar of her blouse. She groaned when she turned, glanced down at one leg and saw the run in her stocking. Hopefully, she still had an extra pair in her desk drawer.
Rose did the best she could with her appearance, then headed for her office. “Hello, Marianne,” she said as she passed the receptionist.
The young woman’s eyes widened. “What happened to you, Mrs. Delaney?”
As Rose moved toward her office, she said, “Let’s just say I had an encounter with a Studebaker. Okay?”
“Uh, sure. Say, Mr. Jorgenson said you should come straight to his office.”
“Let him know I’ll be in shortly.”
Marianne protested, “Oh, but he doesn’t want you to go to your office until you’ve seen him first!”
Coming to an abrupt halt, Rose narrowed her eyes on Marianne. “Don’t tell me he’s cleared my things out already.”
“Um, no, not yet, but…”
“Good, then my extra stockings should still be in my desk. Ring him and tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.”
She ignored Marianne’s stammering, opened her door and came to an abrupt halt with a gasp. Her chair was turned to face the bank of windows overlooking the city. She saw a pair of chocolate brown pants legs crossed, oxford shoes on feet settled against the windowsill—shoes she guessed that likely cost more than a week’s salary; Then she heard a man’s deep, laughing voice as he talked with someone on the telephone.
He must have heard her enter as he pulled his legs down and swiveled around to face her. She stared in wide-eyed amazement into a pair of astonished, laughing blue eyes—familiar eyes.
About the Author
Nancy Schumacher is the owner-publisher of Melange Books, LLC, still writing under the pseudonyms, Nancy Pirri and Natasha Perry. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. She is also one of the founders of the RWA chapter, Northern Lights Writers (NLW) in Minnesota.