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What if the man everyone in the world has a crush on, is the man standing on your front porch?
And what if he ends up having a crush on you?
Brandon McCall AKA action star Mickey McCrory is at a crossroads and needs to get away. He’s been giving serious thought to his future in Hollywood, but the longer he stays there, the more muddled his thoughts become. So, not wanting anyone to know where he’s planning to get some down time, he rents a room in a small house on the other side of the country.
He’s set for ten days of peace, quiet, and views of a different ocean, until the woman he’s renting from tries to cancel on him.
Wedding and event planner, Millie Greene had everything going for her. She was in demand and in contact with anyone who was, or aspired to be anyone. But then life got her number and gave her a call.
In an attempt to get things back on track, Millie lists the apartment suite on the top floor of her house on a vacation site with the idea that she’ll plan a getaway for herself. Only she does nothing of the sort, and when she contacts her would be guest offering a full refund, he offers up another proposal to accommodate the both of them.
She’d be the first person to say something needs to change, but she’d be crazy to consider his suggestion… Wouldn’t she?
*Author’s Note: Take a dip in the ocean, look up at the stars, and watch out for a few swear words, a few kisses, and the admiration of a good looking man.
READ AN EXCERPT
Millie stared at the words on the screen. “That should do it.” Her email was straight and to the point and she was well within the cancellation period. Usually the cancellation policy was more for guests, but that wasn’t the case for her. She was the owner someone was leasing from.
Before she could change her mind, she sent the message and breathed a sigh of…disappointment. She hated doing it to both herself and to the man who had booked her home to vacation at. She didn’t want to seem like a flake, but there was no other option but for her to staycation.
And as long as she told herself that a million times a day, she’d eventually believe it.
Standing from her small writing desk, which she’d been sitting at for several hours, she stretched. She knew better than to sit for that long, but sometimes work—okay, procrastination—took over and she lost track of time.
Her limp was always more pronounced after being stationary for extended periods and took more effort and patience to work out.
She hadn’t taken more than a few stiff steps when the notification of an incoming email sounded behind her.
Did she continue into the kitchen for lunch? Or stop to check? Decisions, decisions…
She continued to the kitchen. The email could wait for a few minutes.
Her guest, Brandon McCall, was due to arrive at the end of the week and would need make other arrangements. It was short notice, shorter than she should’ve given him, but she offered to refund his deposit in full by the end of the day.
She glanced around the edge of the wall at her computer. Not that she could see the email that came in. X-ray vision was not one of her super powers.
Leftover potato salad, heavy on the mustard and pickle relish, and a half Cuban sandwich was her favorite summer lunch. Add in a Mountain Dew and a chocolate snack cake, she could be twelve again.
Only now, at age forty-four, she’d replaced the soda with lemon water and the snack cake with cheesecake. Homemade by the owner of The Sage Café which was located on the Outer Banks. Lucky for Millie, she’d used their catering service for a wedding and knew how amazing their baked goods and cheesecakes were, and that they would ship to her anytime she needed a fix.
Another chime from her email and she limped back to her desk. The pain in her knee wasn’t as pronounced as it had been when she first stood, but still smarted.
She settled at her desk again and took a fortifying breath before glancing at her new emails. One was the acknowledgement of a job she’d canceled, and one was a reply from her guest. There was a third one, too, but it was one she hadn’t expected to see for another couple of days, so she left it alone for now.
She didn’t want to open the one from Brandon. She didn’t want to read his angry words.
“Suck it up, Mil.” She should be used to things like this by now. She’d been ending things one right after the other for a while and was well and truly on her way to not having any business or friends.
She clicked on the email.
Two sentences and a question. That was all he sent back. And none of it made her wince. The last line, however, had her reading and re-reading the email several times.
I’m sorry your plans changed. I understand. Please don’t feel bad and you don’t need to send a refund, though I appreciate the offer.
Let me ask… What would you say to having a roommate for 10 days?
He wanted to still come. That was something she hadn’t considered. How did she feel about that?
If she said no, he’d have to make other arrangements as she’d initially thought.
If she said yes, she’d have to clean her house as had been the plan to begin with and get it ready for a guest to stay. She’d have to shower, too. Like, really shower. And wash her hair. Put on real clothes.
Not that she wouldn’t have done those things anyway, but she hadn’t expected him to want to come anyway if she wasn’t leaving on her own vacation.
She closed out the email and opened the other one to read through what a new prospective client wanted. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary and it wasn’t anything she couldn’t get done with a house guest. Though, technically, she could take the two weeks off that she’d been hoping to use on a trip away. Or maybe she could take one week off and then work the other week.
Then again, taking off work was the thing she’d become best at.
She replied to the client, offering to up the timetable for the project. If it was agreeable to them, she’d take it.
The ache in her knee turned to dull pain and she stood again, picked up her plate, and wandered back into the kitchen. She often paced as she ate, and this time was no different. Her physical therapist said moving was good for her knee, but that was a few months back when she’d thought going on vacation was on the horizon for her, too. She’d managed one bite when her cell rang.
She slipped it from her pocket and hesitated. Brandon. “Crap.”
She swallowed and was able to answer before the voicemail kicked in. “Hello?”
“Hello. I hope it’s all right that I called.”
“Yes, of course, it’s fine. I was just eating lunch.”
“I replied to your email.”
“I don’t want to bother you while you’re eating, but I’m hoping we can discuss my proposal. I know it’s unconventional, but selfishly, I really don’t want to have to change my travel plans or my destination.”
“I understand. I know the costs of change could be pretty hefty and realize how inconvenient it would be.”
“It’s not about the money.”
“What if I help you find another house to lease?”
“To be frank, Millie, yours is the one I have my heart set on. I looked at everything that was available before I contacted you. I knew it the first time I saw the picture. It’s the perfect little house at the beach far away from where I live.”
Millie smiled at his words. “I know all about needing to get away from everything.”
“Seems to be a theme in the world today. What do you think about my idea? Me coming anyway?”
“I won’t bother you,” he rushed to add. “I promise. You can do your thing and I’ll do mine. You sent me plenty of information on things to do around Wilmington and things to see along the shore.”
“Did you decide on something?” She didn’t know if she should be asking so many questions or encouraging him when she hadn’t come to a decision of her own on what to do, but she liked talking to him. She liked his voice. It sounded familiar, though she couldn’t place why.
“Honestly? I planned to relax on the deck. Read. Catch up on sleep. Be lazy. It’s been a rough year so far.”
She looked down at her new cane in the corner by the front door. “Yeah. I can get on board with that.”
“What do you say, Millie?”
“You’re awfully persistent.”
“I am. It’s part of my business. If you say no, I’ll take it without another word.”
She wanted to think about it. She also didn’t want to think about it. She’d work herself into a position of indecision and feel like shit no matter what she did.
She also knew if she told him no, she’d never hear his voice again and she liked it too much to give it up yet. “Sure,” she said, before she could talk herself out of it. “The house isn’t all that big, but it’s more than enough for two people to not trip over each other.” She could also go to her father’s house if she needed.
“Great. Are you sure? I know I’m the one insisting, but I feel like I’m pressuring you and that’s not what I want to do. I’ve just… I’ve been looking forward to these ten days for so long.”
“I don’t feel pressured. Really.”
“Thank you, Millie. I’ll be there Friday morning. I land around nine. I hope that’s not too early. I’ll email my travel itinerary later this afternoon.”
“I know I said I wouldn’t bother you and all, but maybe we can have breakfast to say hello.”
“No, of course. We can do that. Do you have anything you don’t like?”
“I eat whatever anyone puts in front of me.”
“Really? That could get you into trouble.”
He laughed and she liked the deep throated sound. A momentary pang of sadness hit her, but she shook it off as quickly as it reared its head. It was the first real conversation she’d allowed herself to have with anyone in a while and while she liked the voice on the other end of the phone, she liked the conversation even more.
“When you grow up dirt poor, you learn to eat whatever was available.”
“Oh. I… I guess so.” Dirt poor? But he said money wasn’t an issue… And he lived in California. Beverly Hills to be exact.
“How long does it take to get from the airport to your place?”
“On a good traffic day, about thirty minutes.”
“Then we’ll hope it’s a good traffic day. I look forward to meeting you in person, Millie.”
Millie stared at the phone in her hand after they disconnected. The second thoughts began kicking in almost immediately. Third and fourth thoughts quickly followed. Why had she agreed to let a stranger stay with her? For all she knew he could be a serial killer and would murder her in her sleep. She tossed that thought out of her head.
Brandon wasn’t a killer. She didn’t know what he was other than a man who said he needed a vacation, but he wasn’t a serial killer.
Her house had two floors and the upstairs had a separate outside entrance he could use.
She didn’t have a pet, or a partner and the house was pretty clean already. She lived a solitary life, both working from home and living alone, more so after her knee gave out, though.
Though, she had to admit she did miss the coffee shop vibe from the café she used to frequent each week between events for a change of scenery and to be out among people.
She told herself she needed to get back out in the world again, but she also continued to put it off. She had even started having her groceries delivered. And every company in the world made it way too easy to become a hermit with packages dropped off at the door.
One of her neighbors cut her lawn and took care of the landscaping.
She honestly couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone outside other than to get the mail.
The ache in her knee throbbed, signaling she’d been standing in one place too long and she limped her way back to her worktable.
It was time to make a list. There were things to do before Brandon arrived and it would help to keep busy. It would take every ounce of mental strength she possessed to prepare herself for company.
Publisher: Ella Claire
Length: 138 pages
Published: August 23, 2019
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Beach Romance
Cover Artist: Blackraven’s Designs