Shannon here: Jennifer Slattery shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Contemporary Romance, Falling for the Family Next Door. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: July 22nd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jennifer:
Tyler watched the cute little brunette, maybe five foot three and a buck-twenty-plus-change, climb into her yellow two-door, cast a glance back at him over her shoulder, and then drive away. She seemed completely unconcerned about the destruction caused by her customers.
He hadn’t even caught her name. If she thought she could avoid him or paying for damages, she was in for a surprise. His mom had enough to deal with trying to run her rapidly declining farm without other people taking advantage of her.
Dirt, gravel, and twigs crunched beneath his boots as he made his way to his vehicle. Inside, the smell of fries left over from the night before reminded him that he’d missed lunch. Then again, that was life on the farm, especially during harvest season. A man could work from sunup to sundown and still land two fields and a hay bale behind.
Turning the key in the ignition, he glanced back at the shack-like office building behind him. This place had been around about as long as he had. Although Tyler never would’ve called it thriving, Omar had always run it well. Tyler had to admit the new owner was much more pleasant to look at.
He smiled to himself, envisioning the soft contours of her heart-shaped face and the way the afternoon sun brought out the highlights in her sleek brown hair. Her dark brown eyes held a hint of innocence he found disarming, and maybe a shadow of sorrow.
For a moment there, he’d thought she might cry.
He frowned. He’d spoken more harshly than he’d intended. In truth, the frustration her clients had caused were but a small portion of his mom’s problems. Issues that might never have occurred had he stuck around rather than enlisting in the military as soon as he’d come of age, and then reupping whenever he got the chance.
He couldn’t help but feel as if he’d abandoned her for the past twelve years, and therefore was partially to blame for the state of her farm. But he was here now, and he planned to do everything he could to set things right.
Honestly, she needed to sell. List the property, pay off her debts, and then maybe follow him to Nebraska. He had less than a month to fix her place up and convince her to get out from under it before it buried her. The fact that they were nearly two weeks behind harvest, thanks to extended heavy rains and soggy fields, certainly didn’t help matters.
After running a few errands in town, he returned to the farm to find his brother gone—no surprise there—and his mom in the kitchen. With her lipstick and impeccably styled, shoulder-length silver hair, she appeared more suited for an office than farm work. Apron tied around a pink wrinkle-free blouse, she’d spread various baking ingredients and tools across the counter to her right and pantry items to her left.
Deep cleaning and making sweets? Not a good sign. Some folks shut down when they felt overwhelmed. Others, like his mom, started pulling out old recipes. Either that or began a massive decluttering campaign she inevitably never finished.
The fact that she was doing both simultaneously?
“What’s all this?” He picked up a rusted dinosaur-shaped cake pan on the table that his mom had used for his eighth birthday.
“Just getting ready for the farmer’s market.”
“I see.” The scent of vanilla wafted toward him. “Listen, I was making my way around the fence line today, checking what needs to be repaired and replaced, and I noticed a damaged section. I figured maybe some local teenagers had wreaked havoc, but Uncle Jed said he saw some college kids gallivanting about on off-highway vehicles.” His father’s friend had long been considered close enough to be called kin. He was also one of the more successful farmers in the area, and therefore a fella worth listening to.
“Uh-huh?” She poured a spoonful of something into a large mixing bowl.
“He pointed me to Off Roadin’ It Adventures, so I talked with the new owner.”
“Such a nice lady, isn’t she? And quite beautiful, I might add. Single, too.” She shot him a mischievous grin.
His face heated. Outside, the hum of an engine and the sound of gravel beneath tires indicated company.
The twinkle in his mother’s eyes increased, suggesting she thought, or hoped, this conversation was heading in an entirely other direction. She raised on her tiptoes to peer out the kitchen window. “Speaking of…” Smiling, she took off her apron, folded it, and placed it on the table. “Come with me.” Primping her hair, she headed toward the entryway.
She paused and studied him a moment before brushing dust or maybe horsehair off his shirt. She then opened the door to reveal the pretty lady from Off Roadin’ It Adventure Rentals. The woman held a toddler in her arms. Another child, who appeared to be four or five, stood beside her scowling. The two children had big brown eyes, the younger with sleek hair like her mother’s, the older with soft curls long enough to create something of a halo around his head.
“Daria, honey, so good to see you.” His mom enveloped the woman in a hug, the toddler sandwiched between them. Placing her hands on either side of the child’s plump-cheeked face, she kissed her forehead. “How are you, sweet pea?” She greeted the boy with an equally enthusiastic embrace. The grandmotherly gesture softened the kid’s scowl. “Y’all are just in time for some fresh-baked white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies.”
Question for Readers: Jennifer’s real life trip and rented ATVs inspired her book. What’s the most fun you’ve ever had?
About Jennifer: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who has addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministries she and her team help their local, national, and global community experience increased spiritual and emotional freedom through an ever-deepening relationship with Christ. She’s lead host of the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast and the Faith Over Fear podcast.
When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves working puzzles and going on leisurely walks with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her through her website to book her for your next women’s event. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Falling for the Family Next Door:
The home he doesn’t want could become the family he needs.
Returning home to sell his mother’s struggling farm, Tyler Reyes doesn’t expect the new neighbor to ruin his plans. But when Daria Ellis’s ATV rentals damage the property, working on repairs with the single mom is the only option. Soon the simple agreement turns into kids’ riding lessons and family dinners. With his deadline looming, Tyler knows his biggest challenge will be leaving Texas with his heart intact.
From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.
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