What if you met the right man…
at the wrong time?
They say desperate times call for desperate measures. Charley Weatherly is about to realize that it’s true.
Life isn’t working out exactly the way Charley Weatherly imagined it might when she walked away from her steady paycheck as a copywriter to start her own business. It turns out that not everyone in town is knocking down the door of her tiny independent bookshop. She has lost money every quarter since she opened.
Now, with her grandmother in need of more care than Charley can provide, some difficult decisions have to be made. The rest of her 401k plus the proceeds from selling the business might keep Nana in Pacifico Manor for about a year. That would give Charley time to figure out her next move.
But when that money is irretrievably lost, Charley is faced with an impossible choice. Being a gestational surrogate for a couple who can’t have a baby on their own will bring in the kind of cash she needs. Can she really follow through? And has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?
Here’s a brand-new (and unedited) teaser from THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE.
Outside, Ben sat lost in thought. A glance down at the table showed that he’d taken his pencils and sketchbook out of his bag, but he had no recollection of having done so. His mind was still back on the redhead inside.
She’d appeared out of nowhere, just like the woman in his dreams, only this time, she’d turned around. He’d immediately found himself lost in her deep brown eyes. She’d seemed a bit surprised, but then he’d been staring right at her. How could he not? She was the girl he’d seen countless times, only now in the flesh.
Every once in a while, he risked a glance over his shoulder back into the coffee shop, as though she’d disappear like she always did in his dreams. But this was no dream. This was real life. And his last glance showed that she was on her way with a tray.
A new customer arrived at the door at the same time she did, holding open the door for her as she came out. “Thanks,” Ben heard her say. Then she was at his table.
“Your usual,” she said pleasantly. “Sorry it took so long. I’m new here.”
The huge blue mug she placed in front of him reeked of pumpkin and featured a mountain of whipped cream that doubled its size. Ben frowned at the drink and looked back up at the redhead. Then he glanced over his shoulder and saw Gina doubled over with laughter behind the counter.
Smiling softly, he nodded at the latte. “I think they played a joke on you.”
Her red eyebrows were knit in confusion. “This isn’t your usual?”
“My usual is just plain black coffee.”
The plump pink lips pressed together tightly as she shot a look inside. “I’m sorry. I’ll take care of it right away.”
A wicked idea crept into his mind. “Thanks. Be sure and tell Gina that I’m highly allergic to pumpkin.”
The woman’s eyes widened with alarm. “Holy shit, I am so sorry!” She immediately snatched up the mug. “I’ll be right back with your coffee.”
Suppressing the urge to laugh, Ben watched her scurry back into the shop and gesture animatedly as she spoke to her co-workers. Gina’s face shifted from amusement to stark terror as she looked his way.
For his part, Ben shifted a judgmental eyebrow her way before turning around and laughing to himself. A moment later, the redhead came back out, this time with a regular-sized cup of coffee on her tray.
“I am so sorry about that,” she gushed. “My new friend in there apparently thought she was being hilarious. It’s all fun and games until someone gets rushed to the hospital with anaphylactic shock, right?”
“Confession…” Ben’s lips twisted sheepishly. “I’m not actually allergic to pumpkin. I’m just not a fan.”
The redhead crossed her arms and her lips formed a large O.
“But,” Ben hurriedly added, “we don’t have to tell Gina that, do we?”
After a beat, a huge smile spread across her face and she chuckled. “I love it! She’s in there feeling terrible. I think I’ll let her swing in the breeze for a while.”
Her smile outshone the sun that inched its way overhead, and Ben felt bathed in warmth. He reached out his right hand.
Still smiling, she took his large hand in her own petite one. “I’m Charley. It’s nice to meet you, Ben.”
He nodded, still feeling as though he were in a dream, as though at any moment, his alarm would sound and she would disappear. Belatedly, he realized he was still holding her hand and he released it quickly.
“Charley,” he repeated softly.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s a nickname for Charlotte, which no one has ever called me in my entire life.”
Ben sat absorbing her words, absorbing the shape of her face, the tilt of her head, the smattering of freckles across her nose.
“Well,” she said into the silence, “I’d better get back to it. But I think I’ll keep our little secret for a while. It amuses me,” she laughed. “Let me know if I can get you anything else.”
“Will do,” he managed. “See you later, Charley.”
From the door, she wiggled her fingers in a little wave, then she was gone.
Blowing out a slow breath, Ben blinked mechanically as his mind replayed the last ten minutes of his life.
She’s real. It was a ridiculous thought. Charley was, well, Charley, not some dream lover who sometimes haunted him in his sleep. He glanced over his shoulder and saw her wiping down a table in the far corner of the shop.
Reaching for his pencil, he turned to a new page. Whatever he’d been about to sketch was forgotten. He now had something completely different in mind.Unedited excerpt from THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks