When Nadine loses it all, she must rebuild her life. But maybe she no longer wants what she used to have.
Nadine Baxter pieces her life back together after losing her job, her fiancé and her grandfather—all at once. She goes back to her university job working at the bookstore where she meets David, a young guy with a huge crush on her. While Nadine is flattered, she’s also well aware that she’s in a different stage of life and, more than a relationship, she wants to launch a business doing furniture restoration like her grandfather.
When David’s persistence earns him a date, Nadine is surprised by how much she likes him. His maturity and attentiveness impress her and she begins to consider the idea of being with him. Just when her life is finally looking up, her ex-fiancé Allan reappears. He wants her back and he still has power over her. As much as she wants to deny it, he really is perfect for her on paper. Everyone wants them to be together, including both their families.
With the help of an eccentric elderly lady, a couple of dogs and a long lost gift from her grandfather, Nadine must figure out whether real love has anything to do with what is perfect on paper.
General Release Date: 8th September 2015
The only black dress that Nadine owned was the one dress she couldn’t wear to her grandfather’s funeral. With its white piping trim, it was way too festive, flirty and fun for a funeral. It was a snug-fitting Alfred Sung knee-length dress that she’d bought with the bonus she’d made last year.
She didn’t dare to even think about what her life had been like then. She forced the memories out of her mind as she drove to Sally’s thrift shop. She needed to buy something—anything—black. She’d never wear it again after laying dear Grandpa Winston to rest.
“Nadine,” Sally, the shop owner, exclaimed as soon as Nadine inched past the clanging bell that dangled on the glass door. “I heard about dear Winston. I’m so sorry.”
With that, Nadine cried into Sally’s warm embrace that smelled like Coty perfume from the seventies. Nothing at Sally’s had changed in decades, even fragrance. There was solace in that. With that, the tears came.
“I need a dress for…” she sniveled. It was so hard to say the words. All she managed, by way of explanation, was, “Sunday”.
Sally gave her an empathetic smile. “I’ve just the thing, dear.”
She went to the rack along the side and pulled a long dress from it. It wasn’t something that Nadine would ordinarily wear. She eyed its shapeless form.
“You should try it on, just to be sure it fits.”
Nadine held it to herself. The thing was ugly, that was for sure, but it would definitely fit. It was loose. That was the style. She’d have to cinch it with a belt or something. It didn’t much matter. She’d figure it out at home.
“I’ll take it.”
“It’s fine. I’ll be bringing it back to you next week.”
“I know you will, dear. Why don’t you just borrow it?”
“No. Let me pay you for it.”
“All right then.”
Sally went around the counter to the old cash register that had been the same since Nadine had been a kid. She rang up the purchase.
“That’ll be three dollars.”
Nadine almost cried again. She knew that Sally was discounting the dress by several hundred percent, but she understood why. Her grandfather had also helped Sally many times over the years, offering advice and a helping hand whenever he could. He had done that for everyone in the neighborhood.
She placed a five-dollar bill in the elderly woman’s hand. “Will you be there on Sunday?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
They hugged again and Nadine left the store.
On her way home, she picked up a salad from the grocery store and, although it went against her rules, she also grabbed a bottle of merlot. She wasn’t one to drink alone, but this was different. She couldn’t be around her family. She didn’t know how to even begin to add her grandfather’s death to the horrid typhoon of events that had turned her life upside down in the past few months. It was better to be alone with her thoughts and feelings until she had a bit of a handle on them.
The past year had changed everything. It had started half a year ago when she’d lost her job at Simmons & Co, where she’d been one of their best investors. It wasn’t her fault, her manager had said, just the result of the recent market meltdown. She shouldn’t blame herself, she’d been told.
Telling Allan had been hard. All their wedding plans had already been set in motion. Their credit cards had had charges for things like deposits on the church gazebo, tent rentals, chair rentals and a big four-tier butter cream cake. He’d told her they’d get through it together, so she’d leaned on him.
Then there had been that horrible day, a couple of months later—their engagement party—when he’d left her in front of all their friends and relatives. The aunts and cousins and neighborhood ladies had all said it was a simple case of cold feet—that most men got that. But most men did not walk out on relationships they’d been in since high school just because they were a little nervous, Nadine was convinced. Though she had accepted the kinder explanations in the moment, she knew he was gone. Because even if he tried to come back, the memory was too painful for her to overcome. She knew that she could not marry a man who would leave her at their engagement party. There was just no recovering from that.
Nadine ate her salad in front of the evening news, the living room dimmed all around her. The local news did a segment on Winston’s Fine Furniture and the role her grandfather had played in the community. It was almost too much to bear.
* * * *
Sunday was cold. Nadine put on the frumpy black dress and made the best of her hair and makeup. She didn’t care how she looked. This was a day for crying.
Throughout the service she sniffled, unable to accept that he was actually gone. He’d been so present in her life, the one member of her family who had never hurt her feelings.
After the service, there was tea and cake in the community room adjacent to the chapel. Nadine took a slice of someone’s homemade lemon loaf onto a plate.
Her aunt Martha made a face and came over to her. “Careful, dear,” she said. “Now that you’re single again, you have to watch that figure.”
Was that really what she cared about on a day like today?
“Thanks,” Nadine said, taking a bite. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“You’ve got your mother’s hips. And you know what that means.”
Nadine scowled. How many times had the mean aunts made fun of her mom’s slightly larger than average hips? It was one thing at a birthday celebration, but this was Grandpa Winston’s day.
Aunt Shirley sauntered up to them. “I’m not interrupting, am I?”
“No,” Nadine said, taking another bite of lemon cake.
“So, tell us,” Aunt Shirley said with her usual gregarious smile, “are you seeing anyone yet?”
“No,” Nadine said, her tone cool and formal. “Not yet.”
“Well, no need to worry, dear. You’re young.”
Romance heroines have saved my sanity numerous times through break-ups and life changes. I find escaping into a romance both soothing and revitalizing—and even better when there are some steamy scenes to tantalize the imagination.
For most of my adult life, I’ve concentrated on carving out a serious career, but a number of love-hungry, sassy characters keep taking over my mind, insisting that I daydream, live vicariously through them and tell their stories. Watching these women emerge on the page gives me a different sort of satisfaction than I get from my day job. It is a joy to share them with readers.
I live in a tiny apartment in a crowded city and I like to think there is something romantic about this. I did manage to find my soul mate here.