It Happened One Night - Excerpt
The drizzle had stopped, which was fortunate since the only umbrella Paisley owned was both covered in bright turquoise starfish that would most definitely not compliment her outfit and it was buried so deeply among the piles of clothes in her apartment that it would likely take a fully-funded archeological team three weeks to unearth it. Since she didn’t have three weeks or a team of archeologists at her disposal—and since she was running really and truly late now—she would just have to hope that the rain was done for the evening. Spotting the approaching city bus up ahead, she skirted a puddle in her path and all but ran to reach the bus stop in time.
Pasta Delizie. When was the last time she’d eaten there? Come to think of it, when was the last time she’d eaten anywhere outside her apartment? Unless brown-bagging it in the park counted, and she seriously doubted that it did. Not that she’d even done that in a while. Good grief, was she really turning into that much of a hermit? Maybe Mabel had the right idea after all. Not about matching Paisley up with somebody, since she still couldn’t fathom how to squeeze a relationship with anything more than a potted plant into her busy life right now, but a little more human contact might not be a bad thing.
And since she remembered now that the last potted plant she’d had went belly-up a few months ago when she’d forgotten to water it for, oh, about seven or eight weeks, maybe she’d be wiser to start with something less fragile than even plant-life for now. Say, a pet rock perhaps.
And considering that it would be a long time before she had another night out, she’d better make the most of this one.
So despite the fact that she’d been maneuvered none too willingly into this whole evening, Paisley smoothed her hair with one hand, checked her reflection in the window of the restaurant, and plastered a smile on her face as she stepped inside.
Her eyes scanned the room as they adjusted to the dim lighting; not the fanciest eatery in the world, Pasta Delizie was still apparently trying for a certain amount of candlelit atmosphere that was somewhat undermined by the cartoonish mustached chef that was painted on one wall alongside smiling vegetables with googly eyes. But the smells of the food that drifted out from the kitchen… Ahhh. Well, that was more than enough to make a person forgive the décor.
Her mouth began watering, and she tried not to notice the way her stomach growled as she turned her attention away from the thought of food that wasn’t ramen-based and searched for her mystery man.
Not the guy in the red t-shirt, she decided. Too short. She knew little about this Joe guy other than that he was a mechanic, but Mabel had said that he was a good six feet tall. And he couldn’t be the man over in the corner booth, because he stood up to kiss the cheek of a redhead who then slid in next to him. Other than them, most everyone else in this place already had a dinner companion sitting at their table. Was she really so late that he’d given up on her and left? Or worse, stood her up altogether?
Then her gaze landed on a man at the other end of the room. His back was to her, but he looked like he could be about the right age, and he was certainly tall. Even sitting down, that much was obvious. Good build, too, if his shoulders were anything to go by, and the way the dark dress shirt fell across them, it certainly wasn’t doing them any harm.
Well, well. Maybe she should trust Mabel with the running of her social life more often. That was, if she actually started to develop one.
Rearranging the delicate shawl just so across her bare shoulders, Paisley approached the table and came to a stop beside it. “Hi, I’m so sorry that I’m a little late. I’m Paisley, and you must be—”
The last word of her sentence froze on her lips as the dark-haired stranger looked up at her, and she saw that he wasn’t quite a stranger after all. Unfortunately.
“Joe,” she finished flatly, staring into the familiar eyes of the man who’d collided with her in the street only last week.
Son of a…
* * *
Joe started to rise from his seat out of habit—not all of the manners his mother had tried to instill in her boys over the years had stuck, but some had—only to meet the rather disgruntled gaze of a pretty blonde who looked vaguely familiar. From the shop maybe? Or did he know her from somewhere else? Maybe from the—
Her lips pressed together in a thin line, and something clicked.
It was the straight hair that had thrown him. Last time she’d had it all done up in curls. Big retro things that could have come from the nineteen-forties. But that sour look of disapproval—Oh, yes. He remembered that look, and all too well. “You’re…”
“Paisley,” she finished for him coolly.
And then although it probably wasn’t the most intelligent thing to say just then, all Joe could do was repeat, “You’re Paisley?” What kind of cosmic joke was this?
“Yes. And saying it more than once won’t change it. But by all means, keep trying.” And then either because of the curious looks she was attracting from nearby diners or because a waitress was trying to get past her with a tray of food, the blonde slid into the chair across from Joe as stiffly as if there was an iron rod in the place where her spine should have been. Or possibly stuck up a certain other part of her anatomy, which would have been perfectly in keeping with her attitude last week.
“Mabel’s friend Paisley?” he persisted, still finding it next to impossible to reconcile the woman across from him with the adorable sweetheart that Mabel had described.
She frowned. “No, Elmo’s friend Paisley. Of course, Mabel’s friend! How many Paisleys do you think are running around Pasta Delizie tonight looking to meet up with a blind date?”
If there’s a God in heaven, there’ll be at least one more, Joe thought, but he was smart enough to keep that particular thought to himself.
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Book Two in Adventures in Blind Date...
Center Stage - Book Blurb
Enter Erika Mills: only child of one meddling mother, reluctant darling of several devoted yet squabbling aunts and uncles who are sure they know what’s best for her even if none of them can agree on what that is, and beloved grandchild of the tiny white-haired family matriarch who might just be more imp than invalid when it comes to managing family matters in spite of appearances to the contrary.
Throw in a suspicious cousin, an obnoxious ex-boyfriend who is determined to erase that whole “ex” thing from Erika’s vocabulary, and a rash deathbed promise that turned out to be less deathbed and more just a bad case of indigestion, and you get the reunion from hell—at least until the sparks begin to fly for real.
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Book Three of the Adventures in Blind Dating Series
The Fix-Up Mix-Up: Excerpt
It was a busy night, which was good for business of course, but in some ways it was a welcome reprieve from the activity inside of the dining room and the bustling in the kitchen to step outside with a couple of hefty-sized garbage bags to toss into the dumpster. Ryan did so, pausing afterwards to breathe in the night air and appreciate the quiet for just a moment.
Well, almost quiet. A soft sound came from right around the corner of the building, something that sounded to his ears like a grunt of exertion. An oddly feminine one actually.
Curious, he poked his head around the corner to investigate only to see the top half of Jenna Owens sticking out of the window of the women’s restroom with what looked like a sparkly little purse between her teeth.
He stared at her, incredulous. “What on earth are you doing?”
The sound of his voice made her gasp and jerk in surprise, but she neither withdrew back into the restroom nor climbed the rest of the way out of it. She did, however, drop her purse from her mouth in her surprise, and it landed on the ground in the dirt below her. “Oh—” Recovering from her startle, she gave him a weak smile that had a distinctly sheepish edge to it. “Hey. Um. Fancy meeting you here.”
Frowning, he went closer and picked up her purse to brush it off for her. “Are you climbing out of that window?”
“And are you stuck?”
“You’re kidding me.”
She shook her head.
It didn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to guess what might have driven her to do such a thing. “Date night, huh?”
“And he’s still in there? Waiting for you to come back?”
He was really only wondering how awful this latest guy must be to have driven her to bolt this way when the others she’d met recently—disagreeable as they were—hadn’t quite pushed her so far, but maybe she thought she heard a note of disapproval in his voice, because she was quick to speak again, defensive. “I was going to text him once I was outside. I was.”
“What did this one do?”
“For starters, he wanted to frisk me.”
Ryan blinked. “Say what?”
“And check my purse for surveillance equipment. But to tell you the truth, I’m not a hundred percent sure if he’s worried more about it being planted by the government or by...” And she pointed one index finger upward toward the sky.
“He thinks he’s being bugged by God?”
“What? No.” She frowned at him as if he was crazy to suggest such a thing. “By aliens, of course.”
Ah, yes. Because that was so much less crazy an idea.
“So excuse me for running off to hide in the ladies’ room, but I guess I just thought it might be nice to get out of here before this guy tried to... ‘beam me up’ or something, I don’t know. If I were Zoe I’m sure I’d have no problem being blunt with the guy and telling him that the date is off and to please go far, far away from me now and forever, but I’m not Zoe, which is why I’m here. Stuck in this window.” She squirmed but seemed just as stuck as before. Sighing, she slumped, which was probably no easy thing to do when halfway out a window the way she was. Certainly not comfortably.
It abruptly struck him as vaguely adorable, and he felt his mouth start to turn up at the corners. She glanced at him again, though, so he headed the smile off at the pass before she could see it for fear she’d be embarrassed; self-consciousness seemed to him to be one of her hallmarks. No, she wasn’t much like her friend Zoe at all, but she seemed to say that like it was a bad thing. Jenna without her own brand of awkward charm? Now that would be a bad thing. To his mind at least.
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