Excerpt from book:
Harlow glass stood on the porch of a hundred-year-old farmhouse that had more character than most people, waning daylight wrapping the structure in its loving embrace. Exterior walls once covered in chipped cream-colored paint that revealed crumbling, weathered wood now boasted new slats of paneling and a fresh coat. The broken seal on the bay window had been replaced, no more sheets of moisture collecting between the panes. Ivy used to climb all the way to the roof, but every stalk had been cut down.
She scanned the driveway. No cars.
She listened at the door. No suspicious sounds.
A smile stretched from ear to ear. After months of bad luck, something had finally worked in her favor.
Here's hoping it lasted.
Trembling, she inserted her key in the door lock. Hinges whined as the thick, wooden entrance brushed open, homey scentsfresh bread, vanilla and some kind of caramelized fruitwafting out and making her mouth water. Her empty stomach grumbled and twisted painfully.
"Hello," she called.
No one cried out a startled rebuke.
She shut the door with more confidence and entered the living room, breathing a sigh of relief. I'm ba-ack.
Her childhood home creaked out a welcome, and for a moment, one of her favorite memories played at the forefront of her mind: Martha Glass pushing the sofa to a new angle, while Harlow straddled one of the arms, pretending to ride a bucking bronco. Her dad hadn't been home to sneer insults, thank Godyou 're pathetic, you're stupid, you're such a disappointment so a relaxed, almost giddy atmosphere had pervaded.
But the cherished recollection withered against the depressing heat of realization. This might be Harlow's childhood home, but it no longer belonged to her; technically she'd just committed breaking and entering. But only technically! She'd just
well, after all the work that had been done, she'd needed an inside look at the place. And if a few items of food happened to leave with her, she'd be doing the new owners a favor, saving them from nasty fat grams.
"You're welcome, everyone," she muttered.
The owners were the newest residents of Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma. Bachelors she'd watched from a distance for weeks. Lincoln West, the one she'd dubbed Most Intelligent. Beck OckleyMost Beautiful. And Jase HollisterMost Fierce. Men she'd never spoken to and never wanted to speak to, really. In Harlow's heart, the house still belonged to her, would always belong to her, making the guys the trespassers. She had been born here, and if all went according to her life plan, she would die here. Just hopefully not today.
This was her first time inside the house since the bank had kicked her out roughly seven months ago. Spinning slowly, she drank in the only love still part of her life. Too many changes. Gone were the scuffed, stained wood floors, the "imperfections" sanded away.
What was wrong with a few flaws? In a home, or even in a person, flaws proclaimed, "Life happened here."
The wallpaper had been peeled, Sheetrock repaired and painted the color of a caramel latte. Once decrepit crown molding and wainscoting gleamed with new life. There were a few feminine touches here and there to save the place from being a total man cavethrow pillows, bowls of potpourri and lace doiliesbut she missed the cat portraits her mother had hung, random displays of china, knitting baskets, porcelain dolls and the gaudy lamps that once rested on lace-covered side tables.
Harlow braced for disappointment and headed for the bedrooms. Up first, the former guest room, now a man cave on steroids. A king-size b"With compelling stories and memorable characters, Gena Showalter never fails to dazzle."-Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author