Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Newest Release...

It's time again for By Grace's annual Brides and Bouquets anthology---a lovely tradition that started in 2005---and a tradition I'm pleased to say I've been part of each year since 2005. This year, I'm delighted to share cover space with my dearest friend and critique partner Sherry (Shara) Jones, and Judy Jarvie. I hope you enjoy this excerpt. Brides 2008 releases this coming Friday!

About my brides novella, Meant to Be:

The Foothills, New York, is the perfect place to heal body and soul after a tragic car accident. Bereft of family and fiancé, Libby Kelton isn't looking for romance. Neither is Clint Murray. But when they meet at an anniversary party, they discover that some things are meant to be.

*Meant to Be*

"Is that what you're wearing? Aren't you a bit overdressed for a picnic by the lake?" Clint stared at her denim capris and breezy button up blouse. "Are you kidding? You can't wear those shoes on a picnic. You need tennis shoes. Do you own any?"

"Are you kidding?" she echoed back at him, arching her eyebrows in mock surprise. "Common tennis shoes?"

Clint ran a hand through his hair, glaring at her. Exasperation bristled from his every pore, and Libby was delighted. "Then I guess we'll have to stop on our way. Lucky for you, we're going through a town with a discount shoe store."

"Discount shoe store? Oh no. I do not wear discount shoes." She crossed her arms awkwardly over her chest. It was difficult to project a stern resolute pose when encumbered by a pair of shoes and a jacket.

"No arguments, Missy Shoe Snob. Do you have socks?"

She beamed at him. "Yes. I do have socks. I'll go get a pair." She left her armload on the chair where she'd set her purse earlier. Moments later, she returned, the required item in hand.

One pointed look and Clint moved past her. She heard him going through her dresser drawers. None too quietly. "Okay, Sugar. Not only will I introduce you to the discount shoe store, but I'll tutor you about socks. Let's go."

"Are you mad at me?" Libby felt only a wee bit contrite. This was new territory for her, an impatient, annoyed man.

"When I'm mad at you, Sugar, you won't have to ask. You'll know," Clint assured her. "I'm gobsmacked you don't own tennies or proper socks. What do you wear on your feet when you exercise?"

"Nothing. I do yoga."

Clint glanced heavenwards and sighed. "Figures."

The shoe store was a hole in the wall in a strip mall in the next town over. Libby locked the car door after Clint alit from the car. A useless gesture, as all he had to do was push a button on his key ring to unlock them again.

"I'm not going in there. You can't make me."

Clint bent over to put his face next to hers. "You can go in under your own steam, Libby, or I'll carry you in over my shoulder."

"You wouldn't dare." Such a notion. She set her jaw at a stubborn angle.

Clint reached around her to release the seatbelt. When he tugged on her arm, she climbed out of the car with ill grace. "Oh, all right. Impossible man."

The shoe store smelled of cheap leather and those plug-in fragrances. Berry something or other. The scent combination made Libby's eyes water in protest. Clint tucked her arm into his, keeping her firmly at his side so she couldn't escape. Smart man. The minute he released her, she intended to run for the door.

"What size shoe do you wear?"

"Seven. Do we have to serve ourselves?"

Clint pulled her along down a long, darkish aisle. "Here you go. Pick a pair."

"You're joking. I can't just pick a pair. I have to try them on. I have sensitive feet. The shoe has to fit just right."

He sighed, and they made the trek back down the aisle to the front of the store to a display of socks. "Which ones do you like?"

"This is the only choice I have? These aren't very cute. They're all white. There's no print, no embroidery. Nothing. They're plain."

"So what's the problem?" Clint grabbed a three-pack off the hook and back they went to the shoes. "Sit there. I'll bring the shoes to you."

Libby decided not to push her luck any further than she already had. The hard bench bit into the backs of her legs, but she kicked off her sandals and pulled on a pair of socks. The first pair of tennies hurt her instep. The second rubbed against her ankle bone. The third were just hideous—too hideous to be worn. The fourth pair had no flair. The fifth pair squeezed her toes together. The laces on the sixth were too short. The seventh pair would do in a pinch, and she figured pinched was exactly how her feet would feel by the end of the day.

Clint looked ready to wrap laces around her neck. "I think I can manage with these." She put them back in the box, took off the socks and slipped her feet back into her sandals. "I'm ready."

"Positive 'bout that, Princess?" he drawled at her. "Be sure. There's still three more pairs you haven't tried on."

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