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. But as it turns out, 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 bookstore 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 decision. 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?
Between trying to keep her small business afloat and caring for her grandmother, Charley’s personal life has been nonexistent. But when she moves to the city for a few months, she finds she enjoys the freedom of her part-time gig at Bravo Java. She especially enjoys chatting up the handsome local artist who spends his mornings there. Now that her life is taking an unexpected turn, has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?
Artist Ben Campbell has had his fair share of romantic disasters. For the time being, he’s content to follow his self-imposed schedule: gym, coffee, work, repeat.
But the new barista at his favorite coffee shop piques his interest. In fact, if he’s honest with himself, she looks a lot like the elusive redhead who haunts his dreams.
She seems to be attracted to him, too. So why does Charley insist on keeping him at arm’s length?
Prefer your romance with plenty of heat and tons of heart?
You’ll love The Girl in the Guesthouse!
In this scene, Charley’s new love interest Ben is away working on a project, but his thoughts are never far from her.
With a satisfied sigh, Ben stood in the window of his hotel suite and gazed down at the once-bare brick wall across the street. Raising a cold Corona from the mini-bar, he toasted his nearly completed work. One more day would do it, he reflected. And the day after that, he’d endure Darla Huntington’s splashy unveiling party, then he’d be heading down to Austin for the photoshoot.
Sipping his beer, he sighed again, ready to be finished with all of it and on his way to Bluebell and the sanctuary of his mother’s farm. His lips quirked a bit and he shook his head. That wasn’t really what he longed for, either.
Seventeen hundred miles away was where his heart was. Tucked away in a tiny guesthouse in Pacific Heights. He wondered what Charley might be doing at that moment.
Retrieving his phone from his back pocket, he glanced at the time. It was 11:30 in Dallas, but that made it only 9:30 on the West Coast. Enjoying the flutter in his stomach, he clicked Charley’s name and lifted the device to his ear.
“Hey there,” Charley answered softly. “How are you?”
“Hey there, yourself,” Ben smiled. “Sorry it’s so late. Did I wake you?”
“No, I’m all cozy in bed reading a trashy romance novel,” she laughed. “It’s not my usual taste, but I couldn’t resist the cover. It’s really awful in the best possible way.”
Ben laughed too. “I don’t think I even want to ask.”
“No. You definitely don’t. So how was your day?”
“It was great. I’ll spend tomorrow tying up all the loose ends and it will be finished. Did you see the pictures?” He had posted three different angles of the mural on Instagram just before he left for the evening.
“I did. I may be as big a stalker as Gina,” Charley teased.
“Ha! I don’t think that’s possible,” Ben laughed again. “Although there’s a lady here who might be a serious contender.”
Instantly sorry he had opened that particular can of worms, Ben realized he had no choice other than to elaborate. “Oh, the lady who nominated me for this mural seems to have maybe had some ulterior motives.”
“Ulterior motives? How so?”
Ben shoved his free hand into his pocket and paced the length of the hotel room. “I don’t know,” he shrugged for the benefit of the empty room, “she keeps trying to get me by myself, go for drinks or something. Makes me seriously question how I ended up getting this honor in the first place.”
“Don’t be silly. You’re very talented. Ms. Sexual Harrassment might have nominated you, but the entire committee decided you were the one for the job.” Charley’s tone was decidedly protective.
Ben felt the flutter again and he smiled. “I guess you’re right.”
“Of course, I am. You’ll learn this about me; I’m always right.”
Laughing with Charley was the best thing Ben had done all day. Maybe in several days. His mind skipped to another thought. “Hey, I was thinking I might bring you a prize from Texas. I’ve been looking around a little. They have Dallas Cowboys stuff everywhere, but not everyone is a Cowboys fan.”
“You don’t need to bring me anything. Besides, I’ve never really followed basketball, so I’m sure I don’t need any Cowboys stuff.”
“Well, the Cowboys play football, so there’s that,” Ben chuckled.
“I know. I just like saying stuff like that to annoy dudes. It’s kind of a hobby.”
Laughing harder, Ben shook his head to himself. “Is that right? I’ll have to make a note. But seriously, what can I bring you?”
“Besides yourself? Nothing. There’s nothing in the world that I need.”
“Nothing at all?”
He heard her laugh on the other end of the phone. “Nothing. But if you insist on bringing something, make sure it’s extra cheesy.”
“Extra cheesy. Okay. I guess I have my work cut out for me.”THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks