I’m very excited to share an excerpt from Susan’s new book with a review to follow in March. I also have a very special California Dreamin’ Prize Package to give away (open to US and Canada residents) – be sure to visit other stops on the tour for more opportunities to win!
“Come on,” Pam teased. “You know you want to.”
“Want to what?” Shannon Rigg asked as she walked into the studio. “I’ve had a horrible morning dealing with a misogynistic idiot from the bank who insisted on continually asking to speak to my supervisor. When I explained I was the CFO of the company, I think he had a seizure.” She paused, her blue eyes dancing with amusement. “I offered to send him a scanned copy of my business card, but he declined. Then I told him that if he didn’t get his act together, I would be moving the company’s four-hundred-million-dollar account to another bank.” She paused for dramatic effect. “I think I made him cry.”
Pam held out her arm, hand raised, for a high five. “You both constantly impress me. Nicole juggles her husband, her five-year-old son and her growing business. You’re busy frightening men who really should know better. I, on the other hand, will pick out my dog’s wardrobe for tomorrow and make biscuits from scratch. It’s sad.”
“I don’t even know what you put in the bowl to make a biscuit,” Shannon admitted as she gave her friend a high five, then turned to Nicole. “Do you?”
“Flour, water, something else.”
Shannon laughed. “Yeah, that’s where I would get lost, too. It’s the something else that always gets you.”
Nicole thought about how Pam had described her. Juggling sounded so perky and positive. Unfortunately most days she found herself cleaning up what had fallen and shattered rather than keeping her plates spinning in the air.
Okay, that was a confused and slightly depressing analogy. She really needed to think more positively. And maybe learn how to make biscuits.
Shannon had on a tailored sleeveless dress and three-inch pumps. Her legs were bare and tanned, her hair a glorious tumbling mass of auburn waves that fell past her shoulders. She wore expensive watches and elegant jewelry. She drove a BMW convertible. If Nicole could pick, she would want Pam for her mother and to be Shannon when she grew up. Only at thirty, Nicole had a feeling she was about as grown-up as she was going to get.
“Wait,” Pam said as Shannon headed for the small dressing room next to the restroom. “I thought we’d go to lunch instead of working out.”
Shannon already had her exercise clothes out of her gym bag. She turned back to Pam. “Not exercise?”
“Sure. We’re the only two today. It’s Friday, my friend. Live a little. Have a glass of wine, mock your uninformed banking friend and unwind.”
Shannon looked at Nicole and raised her eyebrows. “I’m in,” she said. “What about you?”
Nicole thought about her to-do list and the fact that she was behind on the laundry and had a stack of bills to pay and a husband who had walked away from a successful career in computer software to write a screenplay. She thought of the spinning and falling plates and how she spent her life exhausted.
She pulled the tie from her blond ponytail, shook her hair loose, grabbed her keys and her handbag and stood. “Let’s go.”
McGrath’s Pub had been around nearly as long as the Mischief Bay pier and boardwalk. Shannon remembered coming here when she’d been a teenager. The drive in from Riverside had taken about an hour, if there wasn’t any traffic. She and her girlfriends had spent the whole time talking and laughing, imagining the cute boys they were going to meet. Boys who lived by the ocean and surfed and had sun-bleached hair. Boys not like those they knew in high school.
Because back then all it took to get her heart beating faster had been sun-bleached hair and a retro convertible. She liked to think that in the past twenty-plus years she’d matured.
As she followed her friends into the pub, her gaze strayed to the sand and the ocean beyond. It was midday and low tide. No surfers out there now. As it was also a weekday in February, there weren’t any people playing volleyball. Despite the fact that it was probably seventy degrees.
McGrath’s was a three-story building with outdoor dining on the main level. Inside there was a big, open bar. Pam led the way directly to the stairs. They bypassed the second-floor dining room and went up to the top-floor eating area.
“By the window?” Pam asked, already heading in that direction.
The big windows offered a view of the Pacific. Today they were partially open, allowing in some fresh air. When temperatures dropped to anything below sixty-five they could be closed and in the summer, they were removed completely.
Shannon sat across from Nicole. Pam settled next to Nicole and put her tote on the floor next to her chair. The perfectly trained Lulu would stay hidden until they left.
The first time the three of them had played hooky and gone to lunch, Shannon had spent the entire time freaking out about Lulu. Now she saw the strange creature as the mascot for their friendship—odd, unexpected and over time, very comforting.
She turned her attention from thoughts of a Chinese crested to the restaurant location. The view should have captured their attention and left them speechless. Taupe-colored sand led the way to midnight blue water. A couple of sailboats leaned in to capture the light breeze, and in the distance container ships chugged toward the horizon and the exotic ports beyond.
But this was L.A. and amazing views existed around every turn. Whether it was a star sighting at a Whole Foods or the lapping waters of the Pacific. Instead of talking about the beauty of the moment, Pam passed out menus.
Text Copyright © 2015 by Susan Macias Redmond
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
Enter to win the fabulous California Dreamin’ Prize Package!
A Pacific blue beach towel | Pure Paradise body cream | Luxury moisturizing bath bar from the San Francisco soap company | An autographed copy of Evening Stars by Susan Mallery (the first book with a character from Mischief Bay) | Flip-flop tea candle holder | Map of Mischief Bay | The Girls of Mischief Bay Post-It book | The Girls of Mischief Bay bookmark | Handy bath mini-tote | Susan Mallery lip gloss | Susan Mallery 3D luggage tag | Susan Mallery pen