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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

compromise or let it go - Summer's Family Affair (Music City Hearts #3) by Cynthia Gail


Summer's Family Affair Review Blitz.jpgThe attraction sets off more fireworks than the Fourth of July. Yet, their relationship is riddled with issues neither one of them expected. Somewhere in the middle they must find a way to compromise or let go of a chance for love they may never find again.

Description:

Jenny Cohen defines successful independence: she put herself through college, couldn’t ask for better friends, owns a consulting firm, wears designer clothes, and just moved into her dream home . . . But she’s alone, except for her ailing mother whom she supports in a nursing home. As the marketing consultant for Chester, Dorsey & Tanner, she’s surrounded by male attention. Too bad it’s the overly-protective big-brother type.

Architect, Craig Stone, hasn’t looked at another woman since his wife passed away four years ago. His time is taken—building a career while trying to be both mother and father to his eight-year-old son. But when his appointment with the largest development firm in Nashville is double-booked with a black-haired beauty, he finds himself reaching for new possibilities.

The attraction sets off more fireworks than the Fourth of July. Yet, their relationship is riddled with issues neither one of them expected. Somewhere in the middle they must find a way to compromise or let go of a chance for love they may never find again.

EXCERPT




All thought froze, as a beautiful voice cut through the near-silence of the room. Craig stared at the portfolio for just a second more before turning his attention to the front desk. He couldn’t see far enough around the corner to get a good view. What he did see . . . a pair of black strappy stilettos.

“Better you than me. He’s in an awful mood. Jeffry was out for just three days and his temp messed up the entire week’s schedule.”

Craig quietly moved down the row of chairs. Though his line of sight was much improved, he still couldn’t see the face behind the voice.

“You know it’s only going to get worse. It’s just Monday. How bad is it, really?”

She must be leaning over the desk, because her voice was now a faint whisper and the scene that greeted him was a firm derriere and a pair of runner’s legs that made his heart skip a beat.

“I’m not sure. I do know that you’re double-booked with the gentleman sitting across the room. Don’t look now.” Someone cleared their throat. “He’s a new architect Nick’s consulting with on the expansion designs. Too expensive to reschedule. Sorry.”

“Oh.”

“Brandon’s supposed to be part of their meeting and the temp had it on his calendar for noon tomorrow, instead of nine today.”

“I guess I can take second place. Only because it puts Brandon at my mercy. Tell Jeffry to come to the lobby and we’ll work it out. I’m always flexible, especially when it gives me an edge.”

The women laughed, a beautiful melody that rang through his entire being. Craig watched as she straightened and he could now see long, wavy black hair, falling against a ruby-red silk blouse. She reminded him of a Victoria Secrets model—long and lean, with a hint of curve.

“That’s why I like you so much. It’ll be a few minutes, if you’d like to have a seat.”

Craig shifted his attention back to the contract in his hand and purposefully read the title five more times. Slowly. He listened as her shoes clicked across the hardwood floor, waiting until the sound stopped before turning in her direction. She’d taken the chair he’d previously occupied and was sliding her phone into a black designer clutch.

Then she greeted him with a smile that still held a spark of amusement. He took a deep breath and swallowed. She had a hint of summer tan that made her skin glow, a touch of sheer gloss on her lips, and chocolate-brown eyes that instantly warmed him to the core.

His throat went suddenly dry and his mind raced for something to say. He stared silently, feeling like a teenage boy who’d never spoken to a girl before. Somehow, he found his footing and stood, then walked over to the chair next to hers. “Craig Stone.”

*****

Jeffry started sifting through his calendar. Jenny casually peeked from the corner of her eye as Brandon led Craig through the lobby.

He was watching her. When his slow perusal drifted back up from her feet, his big blue eyes met hers and she melted on the spot. He’d instantly looked contrite, then winked as he passed by. She had goose bumps, despite the heat she felt from his gaze. He gave off an electric tension she’d never felt before.

She shook her head, shifting her thoughts back to the calendar while watching him disappear around the corner. “Tomorrow at noon. Two full hours. You’ll need to have a light lunch brought in,” she said.

Jeffry didn’t answer.

“I know it’s open. That’s where your temp had Mr. Stone originally.”

“How did you know that?” He chuckled, then waved his hand. “Oh, don’t answer. Yes, it’s available and I’ll push his one-thirty back, so you can have the full two hours. I’ll let Jack know you’ll be here and we’re serving food. He’ll be back in the office and might want to sit in.”

He gave her a conspiratorial grin. “By the way, his name is Craig and I got the distinct impression he liked the shoes, too. If you know what I mean?”

“Goodbye, Jeffry. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She turned and stepped onto the open elevator. Once the door closed, she leaned her head against the back wall, let out a long sigh, and willed her heartbeat to slow.

****

“Ms. Cohen,” he said, “we still have a few more questions, if you don’t mind sitting back down.”

“I do mind, Detective. My car is totaled.” She pointed to her red BMW Z4 convertible, now an ugly pile of metal being loaded onto the back of a tow truck. “I’m tired and sore and I want to go home. If you have any more questions, I would be happy to meet you at your office on Monday morning.”

“Ms. Cohen, you don’t understand,” he said.

“No, you don’t understand. I’ve given my statement three times and I don’t know anything else. Now, is somebody going to give me a ride home or do I need to call a cab?”

“Ms. Cohen—”

“She’s finished, Detective.”

Jenny turned and saw Craig standing less than three feet behind her. He was wearing a black suit, royal-blue shirt, and matching necktie. What a sight for sore eyes . . .

“I can give you a ride home. Let me take your bag.” He held out his hand and she let him take it. “Come on. I think you’ve had enough.”

As bad as she felt and knew she looked, she couldn’t turn away his offer. She fumbled through her purse, found a business card, and handed it to the detective. “Call me on Monday if you need more information.”

She turned back to Craig, who now stood so close she caught a hint of his cologne and couldn’t help the shiver that ran up her spine. He pulled a card from his wallet and handed it to the officer. “If you call her before Monday, call Mr. Warner first. He would be happy to make arrangements for any meeting you can justify to his satisfaction.”

Suddenly, he lifted her into his arms.

“Craig! Please, put me down,” she shrieked, then tried to compose herself. “I can walk just fine. I know I look like a train wreck, but I’m really okay.” Okay if she only referred to injuries. Being cradled against him, she could feel the taut muscles of his chest and her heart almost stopped.

“Jenny, you have no shoes and the street is covered in broken glass and plastic. I’m not letting you walk across it with just socks on your feet.”

Resigned, she relaxed and laid her head on his shoulder. “Thank you,” she whispered into his neck and breathed in a lungful of deep musk.

“That’s better. My car isn’t far. I’ll have you home in just a few minutes.”

*****

Craig waited at the bottom of the stairs. He’d escorted Carla from the house without another word and had quickly cleaned up. When Jenny appeared at the top of the steps, his heart began to pound. She wore a pair of formfitting, faded capris, a white cotton dress shirt, and multi-colored low-heeled sandals.

He met her at the bottom step. “I thought we might go by the Predator’s shop this afternoon and pick up new shirts. We need playoff gear.” Standing on that last step, even with her heels, she was barely eye-to-eye with him. He took her face in both hands and read her uncertainty.

“I’m sorry about Carla.” He kissed her forehead, then her nose, desperate to erase the tension. “I never dreamed she’d be so disrespectful. You were marvelous.”

Jenny smiled and eased her hands to his waist. “I’m glad our introduction is over. I hope we can meet on a more even field going forward.”

He wished it were true, but the look in Carla’s eyes when she’d left did little to convince him. “She really is a wonderful grandmother and she’s been so good to me. It’s going to take time for her to accept change.” He just hoped Jenny wouldn’t give up on him.

“I know. I can see that she’s a good person, who loves her family. She wants what’s best for you.”

He kissed her. Squarely on the mouth. Nose to nose. “I owe you another apology.”

“Oh?” She lifted an eyebrow.

“I hadn’t kissed you good morning yet.” His lips touched hers again, as she slid her arms around his waist and snuggled deeper into his hold.

“Well, it’s almost eleven, which means the morning is nearly over,” she whispered into his ear. “You, Mr. Stone, better get busy making it up to me.”

He inhaled her scent as she nipped his earlobe. He went hard instantly. She had no idea what her simple touch did to him. Wrapping his arms around her, he hauled her against his chest, lifted her off the step, and held her in the air. She giggled, her eyes full of amusement, as her feet dangled. She was so intoxicating.

He took her mouth again, with the desperation of a drowning man. Need pouring from his soul. If he could only wake up to this every morning for the rest of his life, he would die a happy man.

All too soon, he knew he had to stop. He hadn’t wanted to get carried away. Okay, honestly, he did want to get carried away, but he couldn’t do that right now. He’d simply wanted to sweep her off her feet.

He slowly lifted his head and whispered into her ear, “Am I forgiven?”

She shook her head and giggled. “I don’t know. When my head stops spinning, I’ll tell you.”

He laughed and set her on her feet. Mission accomplished.


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About the author:
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our three dogs. When I'm not working or writing, I can be found with family and friends. I love to bake in the winter, grill in the summer, and on occasion, I sneak away from everyone and curl up with a good book.

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