In Sarah Hegger's latest Willow Park Romance, long-held crushes and past frenemies reunite--and wonder if there's ever a second chance to make a good first impression. . .
Holly Partridge had no plans to return to Willow Park, Illinois, until her troubled younger sister Portia fled her home and aimed herself straight at Holly's high school nemesis--too-gorgeous-to-be-true Josh Hunter. Riding a manic bipolar high, Portia's only a danger to herself, but Holly needs to find her before she crashes. That means asking Josh for help.
The ultimate love 'em and leave 'em lothario, Josh was never good for anything but a broken heart. But now he's lending a hand when Holly needs it most--and revealing surprising generosity and compassion. Has Josh shed his bad boy ways? Or is Holly suddenly grown up enough to acknowledge her own mistakes? Trusting Josh could be a disaster--or the first step in banishing the past to make way for a future happier than Holly ever imagined. . .
Josh winced around a mouthful of lukewarm beer. Time to go. He’d been nursing this beer for the last hour and his new book on Sir Isaac Newton was calling him. Age or boredom—who the hell knew?
He’d only come here for a quiet beer to unwind from his day. Granted, this particular bar was a shitty choice, but it was close to his condo, the beer was cold, and the bartender friendly.
A woman pushed through two slick broker types and fumbled a cell phone out of a pair of baggy GAP jeans. Her burgundy University of Western Ontario sweatshirt sneered like a rescue pound mongrel at the expensive Armanis flanking it.
Her brow puckered into a vicious frown.
She could be lost, or in disguise, but she did have the whole I-have-no-idea-exactly-how-hot-I-am thing going for her. A light lurking under a bushel, a diamond in the rough, a girl with an air of do me, bad boy she seemed oblivious to.
Not so clueless was every red-blooded male in her vicinity. More than one covert eye went her way.
Dark eyes, gleaming with intelligence and ringed by thick lashes, met his gaze.
A promising start—if he was looking for a pickup, which he wasn’t—but still…There was something familiar about this girl.
Diminutive and with her face devoid of makeup, she could have passed for fourteen. The air of determination marked her as older, however. Closer to his age, which meant old enough to drink, old enough to drive, and old enough for all sorts of interesting games.
Ten years ago, five even, he’d have cruised right over and worked his smolder. He knew better now.
The woman ducked her head and took a call. A mane of long wavy hair obscured her face.
The sort of hair a man liked to curl his fingers in.
Her gaze flickered up and over him. Angry eyes under a pair of lowered brows, giving him the eye so evil he almost looked over his shoulder for the true beneficiary.
Women, as a rule, didn’t look at him that way. Women dressed like bag ladies with … pencils? No kidding. It was definitely a couple of standard number twos holding her hair tightly against her head. Women like her almost never gave him the hairy eyeball.
His feelings might be a bruised.
Nope. Feelings intact but ego definitely grazed. She kept her hostile glare going. Those things could smoke a hole right through him.
Maybe she was gay. Josh winced behind his beer, glad he wasn’t voicing any of this out loud. He would sound like an egotistical prick. Okay, women didn’t often turn him down, but it happened. Sometimes.
Her glance shifted away. She was aware of him and doing her best not to show it.
He knew her. It hit him out of the blue and he stopped to think. She had the sort of face it was hard to forget. Not pretty, exactly, more compelling, and a blank canvas for every thought running through her head.
And right now she was not aiming happy thoughts in his direction.
She hunched over her phone to hear better.
The love ’em and leave ’em style of his early twenties hadn’t left many warm and fuzzy feelings behind him. Still, he came up blank. He was reasonably sure she wasn’t one of the bodies littering his youth, but this lady did not like him.
“Hey, Jo-osh?” His name was singsonged at him.
And speaking of his youth, right on cue. The timing nearly made him bust out laughing.
His mystery lady stuck her cute nose in the air. The amber glow from the lighted bar counter turned her skin to butter cream and picked out the tiniest golden freckles across her upturned nose,
The disdain rolled across the distance between them in waves.
“Hey, Josh, like, hello.” A pair of breasts intruded into his line of sight, right beneath his nose. He faced the owner of the pair.
There were three of them and all looking at him expectantly.
Ah, shit, here we go.
Over the newcomers’ shoulders the mystery lady shook her head in disgust. Her eyes raked over him and the posse in front of him and rolled.
Now, that was not entirely fair. He might even be getting a little pissed at her and her attitude. Girls like the trio facing him were knee deep in trendy Chicago bars, which this one happened to be. They were voracious hunters and he’d only been standing here minding his own business. She needn’t act like he’d encouraged them.
In the meanwhile, Bambi, Barbie, and Bubbles—or whatever—posed and primped in front of him. Their cheeks pink with a combination of alcohol and excitement.
His heart sank. He could almost script what was coming. It was his own damn fault, ultimately, but there had to come a point when the ghosts of the past went toward the fucking light or something.
“So, like, we were wondering…” Bambi/Barbie/Bubbles pursed her frosted mouth at him and stuck out her breasts.
As if he could have missed them the first time around.
Two and three were providing the flanking action, mirroring her movements and throwing in some freestyle hair tossing.
“Hi, girls.” His skin prickled. Was he really going to have to do this now? Mystery lady with the judgmental eyes was going to get her money’s worth tonight.
Who am I?
Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.
Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.
She currently lives in Littleton, Colorado, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.