Bella Warren, 1
October 13, 2015
His business is her pleasure…
Swept off her feet by a charming restaurateur, Whitney Chester envisions a delicious happily ever after—until her prince turns into a total toad. There’s no way she’ll agree to another date with Justin Rawlings, despite their unforgettable night together. But when Justin insists on helping out on her family-run farm in exchange for another chance, it’s an offer Whitney can’t refuse…if only to get revenge on her sweet-talking suitor.
Justin needs a girlfriend to prove to his business partner that he isn’t all work and no play. Romancing Whitney should have been pure pleasure, if a work conflict hadn’t caused him to stand her up. Now he’s determined to win her back—and win his partner’s approval of their restaurant expansion. Keeping Whitney by his side until the deal closes should be easy—if he doesn’t do something foolish. Like fall in love with the small town beauty…
Excerpt Coming Soon
Saturday poker with her friends usually led to a fun night. Instead, Whitney Chester kissed her Peeps goodbye and folded her twos. In candy poker against her two sugar-holic best friends, these marshmallow babies equaled hundred dollar chips. She hadn’t meant to play them at all, let alone on a pair of twos, but, ugh. Cursed daydreaming.
She was ready to go and get out of this house. Time was ticking to grab a little air before she ended up trapped between a dirt row and her computer. “Let’s get out of here.”
Kara glanced from behind her drink. “To where?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.” Anywhere. Go shopping. Take a walk. Move and dance. Something. Whitney stopped as an idea formed. “I do care. Let’s go to Bartender Brandon’s.”
“Ohh.” Tasha pumped her brows. “Now you’re talking.”
Ha. If Tasha thought Whitney wanted to flirt with the bartender, then that would just get them there faster. “Does that mean you’ll get your shoes on?”
“As soon as I pee.” Tasha was gone from the kitchen faster than any pregnant woman should be able to move.
Kara, her other best friend, didn’t move quite so fast. Instead, she sat back in her seat and looked to be settling in.
“You shouldn’t tease her like that.”
“She’ll get over it.” Fair was fair. Tasha wanted to tease her over Brandon. Whitney ought to have the chance to return the favor. Chance taken.
“What’s at the bar you want to see? Because I know it’s not Brandon like Tasha’s thinking.”
“I don’t know. Nothing in particular. I’m just…” She shrugged, empty for words, and flopped her arms on the counter. “I don’t know. I just want to get out of here.”
Planting season at Chester Farms also meant planting season at all their commercial farms. They all came with a steady inflow of paperwork for fuel usage, seeds, irrigation control, and a host of equipment reported broken. Freedom to stay up late watching TV with a bowl of popcorn or going out with her friends was coming to a quick end. “Planting season will be here in a few weeks, and then we’re going to be stuck here. This year it seems worse.”
Kara chuckled. “Has planting changed much from how it used to be?”
“I forgot you moved back home after we planted last year.”
“I arrived just in time for harvest.” Kara had come home, started her canning business with Chester Farms’ crops, and fell in love with Whitney’s older brother all in the same summer. Which worked out well for Whitney, since she got her best friend back. “Everything’s the same.”
“You don’t sound like it’s the same.” She shook the ice loose in her glass and still made no move to get up from the chair.
Argh. Hazards of being best friends since diapers meant Kara knew everything about Whitney, including her being in a funk. She waved her arms around, trying to put words to the heavy weight on her shoulders. “Winter blues, I guess. Probably I just need mom to get here and put excitement back on the farm.”
Back in the day, she could escape planting season by sneaking off here and there, but now she had her number of rows to plant and the accounting books to maintain. If she skipped off—Lord help her—she wouldn’t get caught up until mid-May, just in time for harvest to kick in. Not to mention, she was an adult now, not a teenager. But as Kara pointed out, that’s how it’d been for a long time. The books weren’t anything new, either. Her mom started her on those years ago, and she’d been running them by herself for what seemed like ages.
“That’s it?” Kara tipped her head to the side.
“You could go sit in the greenhouse tomorrow. It’ll be warm and you can work on your tan while you soak up some vitamin D. I know that always makes you feel better.”
“Yeah.” She lifted a shoulder. “But I can’t do that until tomorrow when the sun’s up. Let’s go to the bar, get drunk, and act like we’re young enough to be doing all that.” Gosh, act like a fresh-faced twenty-one year old ready to tackle the world. Within limits. Her parents didn’t raise a wild heathen.
Kara pushed out of her chair. “All right, I’ll go, but I’m not drinking until we’re stupid.”
Thank heavens because getting drunk and dancing sounded like fun, but she was old enough to remember the morning after. “So long as you’ll dance with me, I agree. Tasha was back around the corner with her keys jingling in her hand.
“Since I’m morally obligated not to drink, I’ll volunteer to drive.” Tasha stopped in front her, and her smile fell as her nose wrinkled. “You haven’t changed yet.”
Whitney looked at her yoga pants and long sleeves. “I’m wearing the same as y’all.”
“But we’re married.”
“Oooh.” Kara faced her and pointed upstairs. “Put on that green skirt.”
“It’s forty degrees outside.”
Kara flipped her wrist. “It’ll be warm in the bar.”
“If I get sick right before planting season, Wade will have us all.”
Tasha nodded. “Put on some jeans, but make sure your shirt is something tight and low-cut to make up for the pants.”
“If it gets us out of here faster, fine. I’m sure a flood of new men flocked to Bella Warren over the last hour for me to impress.”
“It’s not about seeing a new man. It’s about the chance to see an old one in a new light. What about Kent? Kent’s cute. Y’all would make pretty babies.”
“And sweet,” Kara followed. “I adore him. He’s never given me a ticket.”
Whitney rolled her eyes. “I don’t think he’s ever given anybody a ticket.”
Tasha touched her chest. “That’s because the man has a heart of gold. You should be chasing him.”
“I’ll pass on his baby face.” Spending the rest of her life with a husband saying yes ma’am to her all the time? Pass. Unless she asked for it, but that was for different reasons than why Kent ever would.
“And who said I was looking?”
“You, since kindergarten.”
Love? Husband? Family? All sounded great. With the men she knew in town? The noise that passed through her head sounded more in tune with a dying accordion letting out its last breath. “I don’t need to be looking. Especially now.”