Sunday, June 2, 2013

Excerpt #1 from California Homecoming

Sarah Ladina turned the key and pushed open the oak door, her pulse quickening in anticipation. Stale smells of forgotten perfumes and long ago dinners wafted from the entrance hall. She crossed the threshold, shut the door behind her, and leaned against it.

Mine. This soon-to-be-inn is all mine.

She rubbed her hand on her stomach. Ours.

Cobwebs huddled in the high corners of the paneled entry and a screw sticking from the staircase newel told of a missing cap. Layers of dust added texture to the floor.

The work was also going to be all hers.

Her shoulders sank. What had she been thinking?

“If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Other people aren’t dependable.

A bark from outside made her drop her bag of cleaning supplies, snacks, and tools on the floor. Cautiously, she opened the door.

A golden retriever sat on the porch, staring up at her, dark eyes pleading entry. The dog barked again, stood, nosed the door open, and walked in. He...or she...made a beeline for the front sitting room, circled, and laid down.

Great. A dog who thinks it owns the place.

Keeping a wide berth, she walked toward the dog. “Shoo,” she said. “Go home.”

The dog looked up at her, rolled over, and beat its tail against the floor.

Definitely a girl dog.

“Go! Get out of here!” Sarah raised her voice. She did not need anything else to take care of.

The dog whined and thumped her tail harder.

Tires crunched the driveway gravel.

Sarah groaned, stomped to the door, and opened it wide.

The dog got off the floor, followed her, and sat down crowded close to her leg.

The heat of the retriever’s strong body against Sarah’s leg gave her courage, ready to face whoever was coming to call. Maybe I do need a dog. A single woman—correction: a single pregnant woman—might be at risk living alone.

She glared at the newcomer’s car, a black Jeep polished to a gleaming shine.

A tall man with broad shoulders emerged from the Jeep. His dark hair was clipped short and he stood with the rigid carriage of a soldier, an odd contrast to the banana slug T-shirt and shorts he wore. His right leg
ended in a prosthetic below the knee.

How sad.

“Hello,” he said, his deep voice easily carrying across the distance between them.

“Nice dog,” he added and walked toward her.

A rumble from the dog’s throat made her put her hand on its head. The soldier wasn’t a threat.


The man reached out his hand. Automatically, she took it. “I’m Hunter Evans.”

Her cold hand was engulfed by his strong warmth.

“I’m Sarah.” She withdrew her hand. “What can I do for you?”

“I understand you just bought this place.”

She nodded. “Today.”

“Will you sell it to me?”

She almost laughed out loud. Is he serious? “No.” She stepped back to close the door.

The dog stood.

Hunter didn’t move. “I’d really like to buy it.”

“It’s not for sale any more. I bought it.”

His green eyes glittered with determination. “I know, but you haven’t had time to get attached to it yet. I’ll give you ten percent more than you paid.”

Now she was getting irritated. Why couldn’t he accept “no” to meant “no” and move on? Typical male.

“Why do you want it so badly?”

His lips went to a thin line. “My family used to own this house. I spent some of my best years here. After spending some time in the war...” He gestured to his leg. “I was hoping to return to happier times.”

Her irritation fled. “I’m sorry, I really am, but no.” She wouldn’t give up her baby’s future for anyone, even a vet. “I wish you well, but this house is not for sale. I’m going to make it into an inn.”

“Interesting.” He took a piece of paper from his pocket and scribbled on it. “In case you change your mind.” He handed her the paper.

He gave her a mock salute, climbed into the Jeep, and drove off.
                                       * * *
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California Homecoming comes out June 24, 2013! . Stop by the blog after 2:15 pm EDT for another excerpt.

Casey Dawes


Irene Preston said...

Can't wait for your new book!

Angela Myron said...

Looks like a great story, good luck with it!

Casey Dawes said...

Thanks! Don't forget to leave an email address to be entered in the contests! Casey

Debby said...

Great excerpt. I would love to try an Inn.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Jennifer Wilck said...

Really looking forward to reading this one!

Lynn Buddenbohm said...

A faithful dog, a handsome Wounded Warrior and a new adventure, what more could Sarah ask for.