Shannon here: Fay Lamb shares a romantic excerpt and a chance to win a copy of her latest Contemporary Romance, Libby. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Nov 3 – 7 to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 15th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Fay:
Libby Overstreet’s gaze remained fixed on the front door of Java Lava even after her friend, Charisse Tabor, arrived for their morning ritual.
He had to arrive soon or her entire day would be ruined.
The assortment of usual customers entered the shop. Some remained, sitting in brightly colored chairs surrounding mocha colored tables. Others took their coffee and donuts, bagels, scones, and other delectable morning treats with them.
Libby leaned forward, cupping her chin with her hand. Where was he?
“Hey.” Charisse waved her hand in front of Libby’s face. “Good morning.”
“Morning.” Libby smiled and sipped her caramel-flavored iced coffee. She had good news to tell her friend, but distracted beyond measure, she could do nothing but wait.
“I try to get here a little earlier every day, but you always manage to arrive before me.” Charisse pulled out a chair and sat. “I should warn you. My big lumbering bear is meeting us here this morning.”
“Uh-huh.” Libby returned her gaze to the door. Looking at her watch, she let her shoulders slump.
“Are you expecting someone, too?” Charisse turned toward the door and then back to Libby, her eyebrows arched.
Libby flushed with warmth. Her cheeks probably looked on fire. She’d never told her best friend about her object of desire. “Not really. Delilah said she might join us.” She’d never lie, not outright, but she wouldn’t want Charisse or Delilah James to laugh at her foolish heart.
“Oh, great. Two not-so-morning people. I don’t know which one is worse, Gideon or Delilah.” As she did every morning, Charisse turned her attention to the counter and the goodies in the glass case. She rubbed her hands together, her gaze fixed on the treats just out of her reach. “I think I’m going to have an éclair. Want one? There are only three left.”
The enticing scent of baked goods mixed with the undeniably rich aroma of coffee held sway over Libby daily. Today, as usual, though, she shook her head.
The door to the coffee shop opened. Libby sat straighter. She ran a quick hand through her hair, and drank up the sight before her. As far as she was concerned, God had broken the mold with this man. Neatly trimmed brown hair touched the collar of his soft blue shirt, bangs brushed to the side. His eyes, the color of rich maple syrup, shined when he smiled, and when he was tired those same eyes reminded her of a sweet puppy that only wanted to curl up and find rest. And my goodness, she’d seen him laugh once, and she’d gotten lost in the sound of it, and in the way the laughter reached those gorgeous eyes. Sometimes, like today, he shaved; other times, he wore a shadow of a beard. Either way, when he walked through that door every weekday morning, Libby had to remind herself to breathe.
But that was only the outside. She had no idea about this man’s heart—if he was gentle. If he loved God.
Still, he was such a sight to behold.
Now, if she could only keep from staring.
“If I don’t get two of those éclairs, I won’t have anything to coax Gideon into a better mood.” Charisse sprang from her seat and stepped into line.
Libby couldn’t look away from the man. She first noticed him among the crowd of coffee drinkers a month before. As the days passed, she realized it was his habit to frequent the shop each morning. A creature of habit, he arrived around the same time. Could he have been here all along, and she hadn’t noticed him before she’d taken up her new career as a stalker?
He sat in his usual chair and laid down his newspaper. Then he raked his fingers through his oh-so thick hair. He looked in her direction and that gorgeous smile lit his face.
Libby lowered her head, turning her cup of iced coffee around as if she’d found something of interest there. She thought of taking a sip, but she couldn’t do it naturally enough to keep from looking like a fool.
“There. Got ’em.” Charisse returned with a tray filled with two coffees and her two éclairs. “Gideon can go to his courtroom a happy man. I don’t know why he’s complaining. He’s the one who called the attorneys in at seven thirty this morning. He stayed up late praying about his ruling.”
Gideon entered the shop. He looked nothing like the lumbering bear Charisse had described and everything like the genial, sweet fellow Libby had known since high school. He didn’t move directly toward his wife. Instead, he veered in the direction of—goodness—did he know her mystery man?
“Evan Carter,” Gideon’s voice boomed as he shook hands with the object of Libby’s unwavering attention.
She would never forget that name.
And Gideon knew him.
Gideon waved in their direction, and Charisse held up his éclair. He winked at his wife, waved to Libby, and turned his attention back to his friend.
“Evan’s here every time we are. Imagine that,” Charisse said.
Libby’s gaze remained fixed on Gideon’s handsome friend.
“But you’ve been doing more than imagining. You’ve been waiting for him to walk in.” Charisse lowered her voice to a conspirator’s tone.
Libby wouldn’t acknowledge Charisse’s accusations. If she did, she’d only dig herself into a deeper hole.
What was it about this man that drove her to distraction? She knew nothing about him, yet she thought of him throughout the day and at night—oh, goodness, every night. She could barely say a prayer without his handsome face entering her mind. Then she’d done something she’d never dared do before. She’d prayed God would give her this man to honor, protect, and love her—no, not love.
“Libby?” Charisse leaned over the table like a teenager telling a secret. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Libby took a long sip of her drink. Instant brain freeze. Now, look what Charisse had done with her interrogation. Libby pinched her eyes closed trying to quell the pain in her temple. When she opened them, Charisse was no longer sitting at the table. She stood at Evan’s table talking with the two men.
If Charisse dared to embarrass her, Libby would never forgive her.
“Glad to see you again, Evan. Have a great day.” Charisse waved and stepped back to the table. “Sorry about that,” she apologized.
Libby let out the breath she’d been holding and nodded. Then Gideon and Evan both stood, and she gasped.
Charisse gave her a sharp look and then smiled.
Had Charisse meddled? She and Gideon were always trying to match her with someone. Hadn’t they learned there wasn’t a man on the face of the earth who’d find her desirable? What did she have to offer? Her entire life had been spent taking care of her ailing mother until her mother’s death earlier in the year.
Evan left his newspaper on the table. Obviously, he didn’t plan on sitting with them. Why would he? One good look at her, and he no doubt would run in the opposite direction.
“Libby Overstreet, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine, Evan Carter,” Gideon introduced.
Libby pushed her glasses up on her nose. “Hi, Evan.”
“Good to meet you,” he said and held out his hand. “Gideon told me you’re thinking of buying the old Nardone’s Nursery.”
Libby nodded. She did her best to keep the tremors from her hand as she slipped hers into his. His fingers gently enveloped hers in the softest of touches. Her imagination ran wild, pretending Evan held to her for a second or two longer than required and that he seemed hesitant to release her.
When he did pull away, she put her hands into her lap and lowered her head.
“I know the place,” Evan said, and Libby looked up. She could almost convince herself that the warmth wasn’t always there in his eyes, and that his smile was just for her.
“Libby?” Charisse nudged.
“What? Oh yes.” She shook her head to clear her thoughts. She hadn’t told Charisse or Gideon the steps she’d taken to secure her dreams. Now she had to tell them in front of a stranger—an extremely attractive one at that.
“I put an offer on the place yesterday.” She forced her gaze from Evan to Gideon. “They accepted all the contingencies you told me to add, Gid. I have a week to get the place inspected.”
“You put in a threshold for repairs?” Gideon asked.
“They have to pay for any repairs over a certain amount or forfeit the contract and return my escrow.”
“And that’s where my buddy Evan comes in. Perfect timing running into him today.” Gideon clasped his hand to Evan’s shoulder and glanced at Charisse.
An all too familiar silent conversation took place between her friends. Without a doubt, they were up to something.
“I don’t understand.” Libby swallowed so hard Evan probably saw her gulp.
“Among his many talents, Evan’s an architect and a contractor. I call him an over-qualified builder.” Gideon elbowed his friend.
“Can I help you out?” Evan’s brown-eyed gaze seemed sincere enough.
“I don’t have the money to pay an over-qualified builder—I mean—an architect.” But if she did, she’d give him everything she owned if it meant they could work together on the project.
Evan smiled. “I sometimes barter jobs, and I’ll even take the risk. Let me inspect the place for you, and if everything works out and you make the purchase, I’ll trade some shrubbery for a personal job I’m working on.”
“But even I know the place is rundown. What will I do for you if I can’t purchase it?”
“Like I said, I’ll take the risk.” Evan’s smile leapt into her heart and took ownership.
“Nope,” Gideon said. “Libby will cook you dinner for a month.”
“Gideon Tabor.” Charisse gave him a playful slap.
Good. She needed to admonish her husband.
“That’s a great idea.” Charisse turned a mischievous smile in Libby’s direction.
Treason. Her friends had betrayed her. But in a nice way, she had to admit.
“So, what about it? Is it a deal?” Evan held out his hand once again.
Libby reached across the table. His hand was warm in hers, reaching into emotions she’d closed off long ago. In his gaze, though, she could almost swear she saw admiration. Men never looked at her in that way. They looked beyond her, never saw her, and this one—the one who’d caught her imagination on file—was being so nice.
With a nod of her head, her tears flowed.
About Fay: Fay Lamb is an author, editor, and writing coach.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fay.lamb?fref=ts, her Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorFay, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TacticalEd. She’s also active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FayLamb. Then there are her blogs: http://faylamb.com/ontheledge/on-the-ledge/, http://faylamb.com/innersource/, and http://tacticaleditor.faylamb.com/. And, yes, there’s one more: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1482814.Fay_Lamb.
Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about.
Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor.
When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend.
However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.
Question: Have you ever hired a contractor? If so, did it go well?
Come back Nov 10th for Laura V. Hilton!