Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Charmed Excerpt

The countdown begins! Charmed is part of Crimson Romance's Love in a Small Town Romance Bundle! Ten romance books set in small towns for only $.99! http://www.crimsonromance.com/contemporary-romance-novels/love-small-town-10-homespun-heartwarming-contemporary-romances/

Read an excerpt from Charmed below:

Jamie heard a burst of laughter coming from the other side of the tall iron gates. She stopped short, looked at her watch, and realized her appointment wasn’t for another fifteen minutes. The people on the other side sounded close enough to be in the courtyard, so she decided to wait outside.

Leaning against the enormous beech tree guarding the school’s entrance, she closed her eyes as a gentle summer breeze swirled around her, and mentally reviewed everything her brother had told her about the school.

It sounded perfect. And the fact that Justin had put his silly old rivalry with the school’s headmaster aside to recommend the school, spoke volumes.

Of course, he’d also told her that Dr. Nicholas Grey, the headmaster, had completely lost his looks. Something about patchy bald spots, a double chin, and man boobs, if she remembered correctly.

She opened her eyes and looked up at the muted green leaves dangling above her. As she shielded her eyes from the rays slipping in through the branches, one particular leaf caught her artist’s eye. It was beautiful and intricate in its detail, and a familiar flutter of excitement made its way through Jamie. The leaf would make a perfect model for a gold or silver charm.

But it was out of reach. She stared at the perfect little leaf, and her thoughts traveled down a well-known road, imagining exactly what the little charm would look like finished. A wax mold would be best, and she could already see herself sculpting its unique curvature, and carving those intricate lines into it…

And the model she needed was right there.

Taking a good look around, she noticed there was a full-size black pickup parked close enough to the tree. She bit down on her lip, hard, and looked back. The brick wall surrounding the school was quite high—it would definitely cover her. Maybe she’d make a go of it after her appointment, if no one was in the courtyard when she walked out.

But a prominent bronze plated sign reading Grey Private Elementary School caught her eye and, feeling a rush of disappointment, she decided she would most definitely not climb the tree. She was in front of the school she wanted her children to attend, for Pete’s sake, and only minutes away from an interview with the headmaster.

On the other side of the gate, several pairs of feet shuffled away and voices grew distant. Jamie pushed herself off the tree. Today had been the first time in a long while she’d had an idea that truly moved her. The name Seasons now came to mind for a new collection, along with a host of other ideas for charms that tied the seasons to moments in life.

Lately, she’d been getting back to the spirited, determined person she’d once been, and these ideas were another step in the right direction. She peeked into the courtyard through the gap between the gate and the brick wall, and saw it was completely empty. How she craved her old self…

A moment later, her heart pounding, she slipped out of her heels, and climbed up onto the pickup’s rear bumper before stepping up to the rim. She’d be quick, and no one would ever find out.

When she reached out to grab the leaf she found it was farther away than she had anticipated, but there was a nearby branch she could easily climb onto, and from there it would be a piece of cake. It would take less than ten seconds. Encouraged, she took another quick glance behind her before climbing up onto the branch, and finally grabbing hold of the stem.

“What on earth is she doing?” an alarmed female voice hollered. Jamie snapped her head toward the gate and was horrified to see that by standing on the branch, she’d made her upper body visible to those on the other side of the gate.

Two people at the far side of the courtyard were gawking at her.

Heat rushed to her head, and she quickly lost her balance. She was about to regain it when she slipped. Blindly stretching an arm out, she was able to grab a weak branch with one hand, while instinctively switching to a higher, stronger branch with the other. Like a monkey.

Mortified, she wondered if she had time to let go, run to her car, and take off. A quick look down told her she wasn’t up that high, but there were hundreds of teensy, jagged rocks at the base of the tree just waiting to stab her tender bare feet if she let go.

The gate squeaked open, and she knew there was no getting out of this. She had to let go and brave both the sharp rocks and the person coming out. Closing her eyes, she winced and let go.

But her feet never hit the menacing rocks below. It took her a moment to realize she was in someone’s arms and that she’d instinctively put her arms around the person’s neck. Looking up, her eyes met a pair of heavy-lashed, jade green eyes that looked back at her with concern and confusion. It was Nick Grey.

Jamie quickly extricated her body from his arms, and carefully sidestepped the sharp stones at the base of the tree. Too embarrassed and uncomfortable to think clearly, she said, “Um, thank you, but that was unnecessary. I had the situation under control and you could’ve gotten hurt.”

“Well, it was pretty clear to me you did not have the situation under control. And I’m fine.”

Her eyes were now level with his chest. No man boobs were poking through. She glanced up and took in his full head of thick, dark brown hair, peppered with just a bit of grey. No bald spots. Anywhere. Damn Justin.

He then smiled at her, his eyes crinkling in the corners, and a blaze of heat shot through her chest and melted away toward her arms and legs. What was wrong with her?

 “Do you mind telling me who you are?” he asked.

 “Um, no, of course not. My name is Jamie Sullivan, and I have a parent interview with you at one o’clock.”

“Are you sure?” Their eyes met again for an awkward beat.

 “Yes, I made the appointment with Claire Burns last week.” Jamie was sure of it, but Nick looked doubtful. The fact that she’d been caught acting like a chimp probably had him questioning her mental capacity, and she couldn’t blame him. Instead of taking a step toward becoming the spirited Jamie she used to be, she’d taken three steps back to a place where she felt vulnerable.

“All right, then. Do you mind if I ask you what you were doing in the tree?”

Nodding and taking a deep breath, Jamie welcomed the chance to explain. She would not allow herself to take those three steps back. “I needed that leaf, right there,” she began, pointing to the leaf she’d been trying to reach. “I’m a goldsmith, and I design and craft limited edition gold and silver charms. I wanted that specific leaf because it’s so beautiful and intricate in its detail…I knew it would be an ideal model for a new charm.”

Nick looked down at the quirky heart charm on her necklace before bringing his eyes back up to hers, and Jamie tried hard not to swallow. His eyes were true jade, not a flicker of gold or brown specks in them. He smiled and she knew at once he understood. It seemed as if he was about to say something when his elderly secretary came up behind him. Claire seemed surprised to see Jamie.

“Today’s Thursday, isn’t it?” Claire asked Nick.

“Today’s Friday.”

“I’m sorry. I was looking at the wrong date this morning. Well, then.” She winked at Jamie and continued as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. “Nick, this is Jamie Sullivan, she has an interview with you today at one o’ clock. Her twin boys are applying for kindergarten. Is that right, Mrs. Sullivan? Kindergarten?”

“That’s right.” Jamie nodded. “Twin boys, kindergarten. But we can reschedule if it’s more convenient.”

Nick motioned the thought away. “No, of course not. You’re already here and now’s fine.”

Jamie walked toward the end of the roots of the tree, found her heels, and slipped them on.

“That leaf, right there?” Nick turned and pointed to her leaf.

Jamie nodded. He put his foot on the tire of the pickup, hauled himself up, and picked the leaf before climbing back down to give it to her.

“Oh, thank you.” She didn’t want him to see how touched she was by the small gesture, so she concentrated on the leaf. “See how sharp the blade is and how deep its veins are? I know it’s hard to see, but it really is perfect.” Few people noticed or cared about little details like that. Nick at least bothered to take a closer look, but she could tell he was biting back a grin, so she carefully tucked the leaf into a pocket in her handbag.

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