GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Candlelight Romance
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2019
The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor.
Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost a second chance at love?
The empty palate of the house now whispered potential. As Shelby walked toward the dining room, mental flashes of design vignettes caused her to smile. She paused, disturbed to realize that she didn’t find decorating a turnkey house near as exciting as one that had been gutted and renovated. That did not bode well for her future, when decorating alone appeared to be her only option. Why was Scott teaching her all this renovating stuff, anyway? And was she wasting her time cooperating?
A lidded Buona cup and a plate displaying homemade cookies with mounded clusters of mouth-watering raisins, dates, nuts, and oatmeal waited on a TV tray. Frowning, Shelby picked up the cup. Room temp now, but a sniff revealed the scent of cinnamon. Twirling it around, she beheld her name scribbled in Sharpie.
She whirled at the sound of Scott’s voice.
“I mean, it’s okay. I’m glad you’re here.” He spread his hands—dirt-encrusted, as were his jeans, and his T-shirt already stuck to him despite the mid-morning hour.
Shelby refocused her attention from her co-worker’s physique back to the snack. “Are these for me?”
“Yeah. Sorry the coffee got cold. But obviously that’s because … I thought you’d be here earlier.”
“Is this a cinnamon latte?”
Scott nodded. “I noticed you had one the first day on the job.”
“It’s my favorite. And the cookies?” Shelby didn’t try to hide her astonishment.
“Made them with Lester last night.” Grinning, Scott approached, uncovered the plate, and reached for one of the clusters. “They’re called hermits. From his mom’s cookbook.”
As he took a bite, Shelby lifted a cookie, sniffed it. More cinnamon, and other spices. “Why did you make cookies with Lester? I’m sorry, but that’s a little strange.”
“He told me he misses cooking for Ruby. I guess it’s a tradition he started when he was dating her. She was so high-class he was scared to talk to her, so he started watching for occasions to make her something. As we know, he became an awesome cook. He baked her right into getting engaged.”
“That’s sweet.” Overcoming the strange sensation that couldn’t be butterflies in her stomach, Shelby nibbled the edge of her hermit. Fall exploded onto her tongue. “Oh my.”
Scott continued to grin at her, reminding her in a bittersweet moment of the way her dad once watched her tear into her Christmas stocking. “To be honest, Lester kind of tricked me into helping, but he’s a hard man to say ‘no’ to. He wants me to come again. He has several family dishes in mind leading up to their fiftieth. The way his hands shake now, he can’t do it alone.”
Shelby swallowed, unsettled. Why had Scott brought her cookies and coffee? The cookies could be a lucky offshoot of Lester’s plan for Ruby, but the coffee showed intentionality. She couldn’t believe he’d absorbed such a small detail as her favorite brew so early in their acquaintance. Or re-acquaintance. Maybe he felt guilty for twisting her arm about the work projects.
To break the moment, she raised the cup.
Scott’s hand shot out. “Don’t drink it cold. I’ll take it to Betsy Lou’s and ask her to microwave it.”
Shelby spluttered in laughter. “You’ve met Betsy Lou, and you really think she owns a microwave? She’d probably heat it in a saucepan on the stove … if you offered her money.” She used the excuse of brushing crumbs from her lips to cover her smile.
Scott chuckled, hooking a thumb in the belt loop of his jeans. “She paid me a visit this morning and instructed me to trim rather than remove the hedges.”
“Now she thinks it looks too bare, too much view into her yard. I assured her that while we need easier access for the roofers and the stonemasons to rock over the porch stucco, we’ll re-plant something that looks better—and grows more slowly. Which reminds me …” Scott frowned, lowering his head. “You might not want to come the rest of this week.”
“Why? You running out of projects for me?”
“No. Next week you can help Seth with the wallpaper upstairs and removing tacking nails. But tomorrow they’re coming to replace the roof.”
“Oh.” As lead settled in Shelby’s stomach, she lowered the coffee. He knew. Of course he did. Everybody knew. News reports of Chet’s tragic fall on his last flip job had spread all over the state, the nation. Her grief was no private thing. At least the network possessed the sensitivity not to televise those agonizing moments when she knelt by her husband’s broken body, screaming. As a shudder moved through Shelby, Scott’s hand contacted her elbow.
“Let me heat up your coffee.”
Again, with that intensity, that touch offering quiet support, after he tried to spare her a painful situation with his advance warning. Shelby couldn’t remember the last time someone had paid such close attention to her. She took a step back, into herself. “You’ll do no such thing.”
The hurt flashed across Scott’s face faster than he could mask it. “Kind of ruins the point to drink it cold.”
Shelby cleared her throat. Rephrased. “I mean, I actually like flavored coffee any temperature. It’s great just the way it is.” When he looked doubtful, she took another sip and smiled to reassure him. “You already went out of your way, although I’m not sure why. But I won’t have you interrupting what you’re doing again. Certainly not to face Betsy Lou.”
“Okay, if you’re sure.” A smile faltered across Scott’s lips.
Funny, his slight sprinkling of whiskers had kept her from noticing how well-shaped they were.
“I’m sure. It was … incredibly kind.”
“It was a peace offering. Lester said I’ve been too bossy with the boss.”
Shelby burst into a laugh, then clasped a hand over her mouth. How could he have her laughing a few seconds after she wanted to cry?
Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.
Catch an excerpt of her newest historical release, The Witness Tree, on tomorrow’s post!
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What about you? What interests you most about Fall Flip or the excerpt Denise Weimer shared? Do you like watching house flip shows?
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