[BookStrand Contemporary Romance, HEA]
Lara Haley has it all. At least that’s what everyone tells her. Husband (estranged). Home (her mother-in-law’s). Family (smothering). When she finds her estranged husband’s dead body behind her Buick along with her prize-winning camellia he was trying to steal in the – ahem – dead of night, Lara decides it’s time for a change.
Will Kenner left town in the back of the sheriff’s car and never looked back. He left behind his family (estranged), the town (smothering) and most of all, Lara (sexy). Now he’s back, intent on saving the struggling town and his family. And this time, nothing will keep him from pursuing Lara.
Passion over takes common sense and sensibility for our two lovers. A hilariously uncomfortable funeral, a protest that pits neighbor against neighbor, and a few secrets are all that keep Will and Lara from finding their happily ever after. Piece of cake.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
Technically, Lara Caldwell Haley’s ex-husband died before she hit him with the Buick. At least that’s what the coroner had said.
“At least now you won’t have to go through with the divorce,” Helen Caldwell announced, unwinding the crime scene tape that circled the porch.
Lara leaned against the stair railing for support. “Mom, the divorce would be final on Friday. Brian and I were just waiting on the paperwork.” Lara was also waiting on Brian to finally move out.
“I know. Still…” Helen let the sentence hang but Lara could finish it in her sleep. What will people think?
According to Lara’s mother, Caldwells didn’t get divorced. Caldwells married well. Caldwells were fruitful and multiplied. Caldwells lived happily ever after. It was the Caldwell way.
Lara decided yesterday she must be adopted.
It was moments like now, as her next-door neighbor samba-ed her way around the uneven boxwood hedge separating the two properties and beneath the crime scene tape flapping like a Nascar caution flag around the driveway, that Lara truly struggled with her commitment to the Caldwell way. Did Lara run into the house and pull the shades to hide? Nooooooo. Her mother should be proud.
“What really gets me is that he tried to steal my camellia.” Gently, Lara reached over and rubbed a leaf of her uprooted camellia plant now laying on the porch rather than in the garden where it belonged. It, too, was wrapped in crime scene tape though the police had decided against taking it in as evidence. Unlike the Buick, which they kept impounded. They’d also asked if she had any plans to leave town, which left her a little discombobulated.
Her mom nodded thoughtfully. “It is a beautiful camellia.”
The next door neighbor gave a semi-heartfelt Tsk, tsk, tsk to show her sympathy as she waddled up the walkway.
“Such a pity.”
Lara ignored the woman, hoping she’d go away. Another tsk tsk tsk let her know it didn’t work.
“Such a pity.”
“So young,” Candy dragged out the last word. “So very young. Then again,” the neighbor said thoughtfully, tapping one blood red nail against her chin. “You were divorcing him so maybe you don’t care.”
Lara swallowed the not so ladylike retort hovering near the tip of her tongue. It would be un-neighborly. Helen Caldwell’s daughter would never say such things. She might think them, but…
Lara sighed and looked to the October sky for strength or divine intervention. Neither seemed likely at the moment. She took the higher road as she’d been taught since childhood. “Of course I care, Candy. Just because the divorce was almost final doesn’t mean I don’t care.”
Even with the three year separation and pending divorce, he’d been her husband. She wanted to feel something more for the man she’d married, but she didn’t. It wasn’t something she was proud of at the moment but it was the truth.
“Guess Brian should have gone to see my Douglas like he was supposed to. Yep. He should have seen Douglas. If he’d just gotten that checkup he might not be–” The neighbor paused, cupped her hands around her mouth then whispered loudly, “Dead.”
She whispered it as if Lara didn’t know Brian was dead. Or the hundred other people that had stood vigil on the curb yesterday morning to watch her life fall apart didn’t know he was dead. Or the police or the medical examiner or her family didn’t know he was dead. It was just that some words were unspeakable in public unless whispered. That was the southern way. The Caldwells didn’t have influence over everything no matter what her mother may think.
“You’re right, Candy.” What else could she say? Brian was the poster child work-a-holic. Of course, thinking back to the text messages she recently discovered on an old cell phone, Lara had reason to question how much of that time he actually spent working.
Candy and Helen seemed to wait for Lara to say or do something. For the life of her, Lara couldn’t figure out what. She always did what was expected of her. She’d dated the boys her friends expected her to date. She’d married the man her parents’ expected her to marry. She’d tried to be the wife her husband expected her to be.
Whose expectations was she supposed to live up to now? Maybe it was time to stop trying. The idea appealed to her.